Achievers CARES Team

Achievers CARES: How We Engage Employees Through Giving Back

Modern workplaces struggle to attract and retain top talent. We all know this, and if you look around today it’s easy to see that workers are demanding more alignment of values in their workplace. The competition for the best-of-the-best, coupled with a growing pool of opportunities, has companies spinning to look for new and exciting ways to connect with their workers. Globally, engagement rates amongst employees is an average 15%, and it will come as no surprise that people look for more than just a ‘job’ in their employer.

I’ve worked in the non-profit sector for the bulk of my career, and when transitioning into the tech sector, it was incredibly important for me to preserve the values associated with giving back. An important deciding factor for me in selecting Achievers as my next employer was primarily based on the organization’s culture. At Achievers, employees are provided an amazing opportunity to engage with organizations meaningful to them. We are provided four volunteer days per year to help an organization of our choice. 

The importance of giving back might not be specifically measurable, but the tangible nature of enabling employees to help their community is something that no doubt impacts staff retention.

Many modern workplaces have evolved to include Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts, but not all are effectively executed. Companies need to do more than convince their workforce that what they are doing is sufficient. CSR is often employer-mandated ‘giving back’, but there are a few things that businesses can consider to ensure employees feel empowered to give back to their communities.

At Achievers, we have Achievers CARES, a staff-led initiative that is run by volunteers who help employees identify engagement opportunities and raise necessary funds for local charities. Every year, we raise thousands of dollars for local and international development initiatives that help communities impacted by poverty, mental health and other areas close to our employee’s hearts. When I joined Achievers, I was fortunate to join Achievers CARES early on – it has been a great way to jump in and get involved. The level of planning and organization that goes into this well-oiled committee has been inspiring. We make it easy for newcomers to pick up and start rolling. Not only is the plan easy to execute, but the events we plan for our employees are fun and engaging. Here are three of our most successful and enjoyable annual initiatives:

  1. Top Chef

Achievers Top ChefThis event has run for four consecutive years and encourages employees to prepare a dish or purchase a ticket to taste staff-prepared dishes; staff is selected by employees through a voting process. We also invite local chefs to help judge employee dishes (past judges include: Rosa from Caffino in Liberty Village and Markus), in the categories of appetizer, main and dessert. The chef who is crowned winner for the event selects the local charity they would like to donate all event proceeds to. This is a fun way for employees to showcase their culinary skills and taste delicious selections from the diverse backgrounds of our team members. Each June we host this event, which is an Achievers favorite and one that encourages everyone to get involved – and it just happens to have a tasty meal! Top Chef’s goal is to raise funds for local charity and showcase the culinary skills of our employees.

  1. We Care Week

We Care WeekEach fall, we launch our Achievers We Care Week. During Achievers Care Week, we have an array of activities for employees to get involved with local charities. We make things fun, keep it relevant and end off the week with a fun social event for all staff – to thank them for their participation. This year, from September 24-28, we are volunteering at CAMH, Parkdale Foodbank, Scott Mission and raising some needed funds for Save Our Scruff. Together, we are making an impact on our community, and we are proud of the initiatives we are lucky to support.

 

  1. March Madness

March Madness Charity BracketMarch Madness is a popular time for sport enthusiasts, so we decided to capitalize on this and offer an opportunity for our employees (local and remote) to compete with one another. Using the existing NCAA college basketball pool, employees who want to participate are required to purchase a ticket and select the teams they think will be victorious. At the end of the tournament, the individual who has selected the most correct winners, will be awarded the opportunity to choose a local charitable beneficiary for half of the funds pooled, and the other half goes to the employee! Coupled with a March Food drive, this initiative ran for the first time in 2018 and was a huge hit amongst our staff. This is a great addition to our initiatives because it includes remote employees, which is a typical struggle companies face.

By ensuring we are thoughtful with our approach, we have successfully raised thousands of dollars and volunteered hundreds of hours as an organization. The best part about Achievers CARES’ initiatives is that employees genuinely want to participate – and it’s mainly because the opportunities are meaningful to them. Knowing that we’ve aligned our business and employee values gives our committee a sense of pride, and further motivates us to continue to innovate for everyone at Achievers. The planning that goes into our events and initiatives is easy to replicate for any organization. Check out our 2018 calendar of events below:

Achievers CARESIf you are reading this and don’t currently have a clearly defined CSR plan, don’t wait and get started today! It’s never too late to show your employees that you care about what they care about and are willing to invest in your community.

Thank you to our amazing group of Achievers CARES volunteers who make our events a hit:

  • Kelly Lawrence, Customer Success Manager II
  • Breanne Woodrow, Sr. Manager, Professional Services
  • Megan Sylvester, Supervisor, Client Services
  • Dave Cabral, Customer Success Manager
  • Yola Lis, Implementation Manager
  • Samira Hafezi, Staff Software Engineer
  • Kaitlyn Laframboise, Sales Development Representative
  • Celeste Van Vroenhoven, Sr. Sales Development Representative
  • Monika Shtun, Customer Success Associate
  • Darren Savage, Customer Success Manager
  • Justin Rutherford, Enterprise Account Executive
  • Phoebe Licata, Customer Success Associate
  • Sheila Yue, Sales Development Representative
  • Chris McTague, Sr. Software Engineer

Achievers CARES Team

Thank you for all that you do and thank you to Achievers’ employees for caring so deeply about our communities and bettering the world around us.

Learn more by viewing the Achievers CARES photo album.

Do you want to join the A-Team and be a part of Achievers CARES? Apply for one of our open positions here.

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About the Author
Meaghen Frame
Meaghen Frame is an Operations Manager (Professional Services) at Achievers. You can find her on Twitter @meaghenframe.

 

 

 

 

 

employee communication

4 Ways to Boost Workplace Productivity (And Workplace Happiness) Through Better Communication

Between group texts and always-on social media networks, your employees already consider screens and keyboards as vital means to ongoing conversations outside of the workplace. And your company likely uses social channels to build brand awareness, target users with focused messages, handle customer service conversations and more. Now, increasing evidence shows that better communication and using social tools within the workplace can foster increased connection and productivity.

A recent study found a significant correlation between the self-reported use of social technologies across the enterprise and self-reported employee engagement in 7 of 9 factors of employee engagement – a significant contributor to employee productivity.

Hard to believe? Not when you consider how much time you – or your team – spend on just two critical but time-consuming activities.

  • 36% (17 hours) – Portion of workweek spent responding to email
  • 20%  (9.3 hours) – Portion of workweek spent tracking down information, or seeking the person needed to provide information related to a given project

Think about that … almost one-half of at-work time is spent sending, responding to, looking for, then following up on email.

Now, thinking on your own workday, consider how much time is spent sending or responding to some variety of email asking, “Did you get that thing I sent you?” And no matter how many people are copied on that ever-lengthening email string, the only thing being created is confusion. Un-needed, unproductive meetings get scheduled, time gets wasted … it’s exhausting.

Unsurprisingly, people and connection are more effective fixes than simply rolling out a newer, better tool. Below are four ways to boost productivity (and workplace happiness) through better communication.

1. Strengthen Connections Between People

A recent Harvard Business Review study looked at a large financial services company’s implementation of an enterprise-class social platform. During implementation, roughly half the company had access to the tool. The other half continued to use traditional tools. At the end of the six-month intro, HBR called the results “remarkable.”

Simply by observing conversations taking place on the social channels, users reported themselves:

  • 31 percent more likely to find coworkers whose skills would help them meet job goals.
  • 88 percent more likely to know how to find an expert on a given topic.

In the same time period, the half of the company without access showed no improvement in these key measurements.

Enterprise social fosters quicker, more spontaneous collaboration across departments and can boost productivity. While increasing numbers of tech and service companies use platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and the like for work-critical tasks and conversations, now is the time for every employer to lean in and fully embrace what enterprise social can do to increase employee connection and engagement.

You can take internal channels one step further. Taking a cue from Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) threads, internal social channels can be a great places for specialists to share what they know. For example, HR could host “Ask Me Anything About Vacation Policy” that includes relevant links to your company’s intranet, updates, holiday schedules and the like.

And don’t overlook the importance of non-work-related communication/collaboration spaces. Establish a channel that allows your workgroup (or the whole company) to interact outside of the day-to-day tasks. Additionally, the channels and chat areas that are dedicated to projects or ongoing strategic discussions can stay more focused.

Of course, enterprise social carries liabilities with it similar to email and other platforms that connect with the outside world. Your HR and IT groups should work together to build training, usage and retention policies that cover your company’s obligations to protect internal documentation and IP while retaining as much of social’s ease of use as possible.

2. Kill Your AM Status Meeting

What comes out of your typical weekly (or daily) status meetings? If you’re like most companies, blame, bitterness and resignation are the typical deliverables. But status meetings don’t have to be like that. Simply by changing the way your traditional AM meeting works can lead to huge gains in productivity.

Change your standing status meetings to actual STANDING status meetings. Get out of the chairs, out from behind the laptops and up on your feet – then do a quick roundtable of what is actually happening today for each person in the group.

This is a meeting that should focus on what the group is working on today, rather than why the group is working on it.

Everyone in the meeting should answer two questions:

  • What are you working on today?
  • Are you missing anything in order to do the work?

By focusing on actual work in progress for the day, the entire workgroup gets a picture of the most immediate priorities. And by bringing up needs or work blockages in an open setting, the entire group gets a better sense of how all the elements of a project fit together. Save all the complicated coordination pieces for your project management software and 1:1 conversations with teammates. Don’t have a project management software? Get recommendations here and start managing your projects more smoothly.

A note of caution: “Are you missing anything?” isn’t meant for calling out co-workers who haven’t delivered or complaining about what another group is or isn’t doing. By focusing on what is actually needed to do your work (“I need the most recent TPS report from accounting in order to create the slide deck”), managers can help run down deliverables and get the work back on track.

3. Consider the Whiteboard

If Kanban has taught the world of work anything, it’s that visualizing your group’s work is a powerful tool for knowing what’s working and what’s not on a day-to-day basis. But you don’t need to be fully bought into Kanban to reap key benefits.

Use the humble whiteboard to track actual work in progress and the items your group is working on today. It doesn’t replace Gantt charts, project management systems or the more detailed to-do lists that everyone uses to keep track of workflow. Instead, the WIP Whiteboard (or WIP board) creates a powerful focal point for that new AM stand-up meeting you just initiated. Also, publicly erasing the previous day’s work as it’s completed is strangely gratifying, considering how simple an act it is.

4. Food Makes Everything Better

It’s a simple idea: the path to a more connected, more productive workplace is through your coworkers’ stomachs.

Consider getting the group together over pizza, boxed lunches, food truck fare or even BYO. Then invite the head of sales, the new business people or your boss’s boss to come and discuss successes, give a quarter-in-review update or just talk about how your group’s work feeds into the company’s progress as a whole.

No workgroup is an island. But sometimes, seeing the results of your work is difficult. Lunch-and-learns are the perfect setting to share insights from outside the four walls of your department.

The tone should be informal—no Powerpoint decks, no handouts. And your invited guest should be prepped to ensure the focus is on what works, rather than running down shortcomings and losses. This lunch-and-learn is focused on giving everyone a clearer picture of how what they do every day helps keep the company running smoothly and successfully.

The More Things Change…

The evolution of the workplace is constant. Deeply staffed departments occupying multiple floors in a central HQ complex are being replaced by smaller, more nimble workgroups. Rapidly shifting business models and a hot job market means that today’s perfectly oiled machine of a team is tomorrow’s alumni group. Your coworkers are more likely to be a combination of full-timers, contractors, freelancers and some guy named Derrick who works remote from Vancouver.

The key to increasing team productivity in the new world of work, however, is pretty straightforward. Communicate early. Communicate often.

We’re social animals.It’s important to have the immediacy of face-to-face conversation. In this age of always-connected distraction screens, sometimes the most powerful thing we have to communicate with each other is actual attention and interaction.

Did you know 78% of companies with a communication strategy were able to improve their employee experience? And let’s not forget the role recognition plays when it comes to enhancing the employee experience. Access Achievers latest report on “Building a Business Case for Social Recognition” to learn more.

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About the Author
Web Webster HeadshotWeb Webster is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, covering technology, marketing, education, and healthcare for companies across the US. Implementing stand-up status meetings with a whiteboard changed his life.

 

 

 

 

Community

How to Build an Engaging Social Responsibility Strategy Into Your Culture

MLK Jr. QuoteI’ve always had a passion for giving back and caring for others, but I always struggled with the idea of choosing to go down that path as my career. I never wanted it to lose the meaning by becoming a job that I was required to do. So, I made the choice early on in my career to give back to my community in parallel with my career and that idea has never felt more supported than it does at Achievers. A while back, my co-chair, Kelly Lawrance, and I were at a discussion about how companies get buy-in, whether that be for budget, or to justify to leaders to give employees days to participate in social responsibility, etc. and one of the VP’s from Starbucks simply put, “The business case is that it is our moral obligation to give back to humanity,” and I couldn’t agree more – and luckily, neither could the Achievers Senior Leadership Team (SLT).

At Achievers, employees are given four days a year to give back. There are endless opportunities to participate in company fundraising events and personal volunteer initiatives that the company helps support financially. All of this is facilitated and set up, by the Achievers CARES committee, a volunteer-based committee that manages Achievers Corporate Social Responsibility. Along the way, we have learned a lot about building a successful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program within our culture and we have course corrected a few times to ensure that employees are engaged with the opportunities provided.

So, on behalf of the Achievers CARES team, we thought we would share a few guiding principles that you can easily apply to your organization:

  1. Leadership Buy-In Is Key, Even If It’s Just One Leader

Find a leader that shares the same passion for giving back as much as your committee does. Share with these passionate leaders your plans and goals and have a very clear idea of what you are asking of them. Are you asking for their time, approval on budget or their participation in events? Either way, go in with a plan and preferably an annual one that requires one approval.

  1. Learn What Your Employees Care About

All too often, organizations force their own personal philanthropy agendas on their employees and unfortunately, as a result, employees aren’t as engaged. After surveying our employees, we learned that giving back is personal and very diverse, with opportunities to give back ranging vastly. As a committee, we’ve always tried to balance that. We’ve done this by supporting both local and global causes. Our employees expressed that while global is extremely important, so many issues are right in our backyards. Along with our global partnership with WE, we’ve also put a really strong focus on mental illness and homelessness across cities closest to our employees. For us, that’s mostly across the GTA (Toronto area) and San Francisco. We learned that, “it is estimated that 1 in 5 Canadians and Americans will experience a mental illness throughout their lifetime”, so as a committee and organization we are highly focused on doing what we can to help. For other causes (environmental, animal cruelty, etc.), we source opportunities and host them on our recognition platform so that employees can choose to get involved. And the best part is, if it’s something that they are passionate about, they rally people to join them!

  1. Give Employees Equal Amounts of Opportunities

This was an important thing for Achievers CARES to focus on. We heard from our employees that there was a mix of employees who would prefer to give their time over money and vice versa, so it became incredibly important as a committee to ensure that we were always providing opportunities throughout the year to do both. We want to make sure employees feel connected to what they are participating in, and more importantly, aren’t restricted to participate due to financial or time constraints.

  1. Plan Out Your Year and Focus On a Common Goal

We decided about a year ago to pick a few key initiatives to facilitate as a committee and then to source opportunities; our aim was for the participation to grow organically. We set a budget at the beginning of the year, got budget approval, planned out our key events (one being Top Chef which is always a HUGE hit!) and from there we divide and conquer as a committee. Being a volunteer-based committee, it is important to divide and conquer since we are typically busy attending to our regular jobs.

  1. Have a Committee of Passionate People to Help Run the CSR Initiatives

Achievers’ CSR is 100% run through the Achievers CARES committee that is passionate about giving back and are all active volunteers. Each of us have different roles on the committee and we meet frequently to ensure that we’re sourcing opportunities, communicating to our employees and creating fun events to give back. Together, we’re able to pull off monthly activities and a few big events a year.

As a result, we’ve raised significant funds and volunteered hundreds of hours as an organization both locally (in San Francisco – Project Open Hand and Friends of the Urban Forest and Toronto – primarily Parkdale Foodbank, one of the least funded but most utilized food banks in Toronto) and globally, through our partnership with WE.

Winston Churchill Quote

If you currently don’t have a CSR strategy built into your workplace, why not? Today, employees are interviewing companies as much as companies are interviewing them. Employees are looking at a company’s values and seeing if they’re aligned to their own values. It’s safe to say almost everyone can connect to the importance of giving back. Not to mention, CSR initiatives are great way to connect with colleagues, do the right thing and feel good about giving back to the community.

A huge shout-out to our Achievers CARES team who make a difference every single day. Our success wouldn’t exist without all of you and the world would be a little less bright without your efforts – Kelly Lawrance, Megan Sylvester, Yola Lis, Meaghen Frame, Dave Sinyi, Monika Shtun, Samira Hafezi, Chris McTague, Kaitlyn Laframboise, Sheila Yue and Phoebe Licata. Thank you to our employees for caring so deeply about our communities and bettering the world around us.

Learn more by viewing the Achievers CARES photo album.

Do you want to join the A-Team? Apply for one of our open positions here.

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About the Author
headshot Breanne Woodrow
Breanne is a Senior Manager of Professional Services and leads a team of Technical Consultants at Achievers. Her teams focus is on launching and expanding success programs onto the Achievers platform. Outside of work, Breanne loves to read, do pilates and spend time with her friends, family and dog Eddy. Breanne is the Co-Chair of Achievers CARES, along with Kelly Lawrance.

 

 

 

 

HR thought leaders

Words of Advice from 7 HR Thought Leaders

We have some stellar thinkers in the HR field today, so we decided to present a sampling of their pithy advice. Each of the people profiled below have their own unique take on managing your human capital, and you may even find a favorite or two whom you want to follow.

“You can’t prevent attrition if your organization doesn’t attend to employee experience.”

Meghan M. Biro is the founder and CEO of TalentCulture and an in-demand HR analyst.

In a recent Forbes article, Biro writes about the urgent need of focusing on the employee experience. She points out the disconnect that occurs in many organizations, where human capital is given lip service but no top-level executive is in charge of overseeing the well-being of workers. “Do you have a senior people manager?” she asks, “And if so, are they in the C-Suite?” Biro is a big fan of HR tech, but in her Forbes piece she observes that technology won’t solve problems unless it’s guided by a strategic vision. And that vision has to focus on what it’s like to be an employee.

“Don’t underestimate the power of recognition and how vital it is to create a positive work environment.”

David Novak is founder and CEO of oGoLead, a leadership development program.

In his recent commentary on CNBC, Novak describes the crisis brought about by toxic leadership. He observes that “actively disengaged workers are costing the U.S. as much as $600 billion in lost productivity” and that the cost of millennial turnover may be as much as $30 billion. He points out that “everyone likes to be appreciated for their contributions” and that employee rewards should be offered along the way, whenever you see great work. That way, momentum stays strong and your people will feel personally invested in the company’s mission.

“Managers need to stop telling people how to get better when they can’t provide enough staffing, training, tools or information for their people to succeed.”

Shane Green is the author of “Culture Hacker” and the founder and president of SGEI.

When providing informal feedback to employees, Green reminds managers that they have to start off by being fair. Informal feedback, provided immediately after a particular employee action, needs to include a listening component. He points out, “Do not deliver a lecture. Staff tune out managers when all they do is give a speech.” When you listen to your people and empower them with the tools that they need, you may find that performance issues resolve themselves.

“Most of us work for a reason: we want to spend our time contributing to others and creating something bigger than ourselves.”

Founder and principal at Bersin by Deloitte, Josh Bersin is a global HR analyst.

Bersin writes about the concept of meaningful work as a necessary foundation for employee engagement. He unpacks the concept of “meaningful” in the context of a job that can often feel routine. A meaningful job has four characteristics:

  • Autonomy: Workers need the freedom to accomplish tasks in their own style.
  • Selection for Fit: Managers should match tasks and employee skills.
  • Small Teams: Human beings perform most effectively in groups where they know each other.
  • Time for Slack: Workers need a chance to reflect and compare notes.

“Ensuring employees remain interested in their work creates a greater sense of purpose and deeper connection to their tasks and the company as a whole.”

Natalie Baumgartner is Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers and she has spent her career translating engagement and culture research into software that enhances the employee experience.

In her recent Chief Executive Magazine article, Baumgartner points out that it’s important to remember humans are beings of change. Employees’ passions, interests and entire lives evolve over time. It is a costly retention error to believe talent who started their journey enthusiastically will always remain so. She shares, “While change is obviously a natural process, it’s important to catch dips in passion before employees start looking for new jobs. Use daily polls or pulse surveys to gauge interest, engagement, and overall job experiences. These frequent check-ins open the door for ongoing discussions about their future opportunities with the company.”

“I am starting to think of chatbots as your newest HR team member, one that allows employees to easily retrieve answers to frequently asked questions.”

Jeanne Meister is the founder of HR advisory firm Future Workplace and author of the 2017 book “The Future Workplace Experience.”

Meister works at the cutting edge of HR tech, and she maintains a vision of the direction that human resources is headed in. She promotes artificial intelligence as the source of solutions that make management more responsive to employee needs. When workers perceive the HR department as being their ally, performance will improve throughout the organization. Meister points out that some 75 percent of workplaces will use chatbots for some part of their HR solutions by 2020, and she notes that this technology will help HR leaders to create an employee experience “that mirrors their best customer service experience.”

“The best jobs turn coworkers into friends.”

Laurie Ruettiman is an HR leader turned writer, speaker and entrepreneur. She’s also the founder of HRBooks.

In a blog entry about the recent tax cut, Ruettiman writes about how this infusion of cash offers companies an opportunity to invest in social recognition. “I’d spend the money on a strategy that shores up your culture,” she advises, and then goes on to point out that “social recognition is a proven management practice that unlocks the full potential of people by providing purpose, meaning, and appreciation for the work they do every day.”

Fostering employee engagement is an art and a science, and HR leaders approach it from a wide variety of disciplines. Their insight can provide you with the tools you need to create a positive, productive culture in your company. To learn more, download our white paper “The True Cost of Disengagement.”

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Do you want to engage your employees? Start with social recognition. Access Achievers’ report “Building a Business Case for Social Recognition” to get started.

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Manager

Listen Up Managers: Here’s What You Need to Do to Enhance Your Company Culture

Welcome back. We’ve been discussing how company culture is everyone’s responsibility—from leaders at the top of the organization, to HR who facilitates the employee experience, to all managers and employees. In this blog, I want to speak directly to the managers because every manager has a responsibility to create and sustain a positive company culture. Listen, I get that you are busy juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities at once, but the truth is, we need to do a better job at cultivating a culture that inspires performance, and that means ensuring you are balancing all those management responsibilities with your leadership ones. So here are my top 6 areas of focus on how to deliver the right employee experience and culture:

Lead by Example With Company Values: Company values define how everyone within the organization should act and interact with their internal or external customers. As managers, it is very important that you are living the company’s values and setting a good example for your team. Managers account for 70% of the variance in engagement. Yet, we see many managers who are overworked, burned out or have become complacent in their roles, which means leadership responsibilities are often forgotten. If you are not loving what you do, putting in the effort and showing your passion and caring for your team, then how can you expect them to be inspired to perform at their best? Leadership is about inspiring others to want to do their best, so commit to showing your team what it means to live the values. Use every opportunity to reinforce the values; incorporating them into meetings, informal and formal feedback, recognition, decision-making and most noticeably who you select to join the team. The more you reference values and set the example with them, the more likely your employees are to live the values.

Select the Right Person Over a Warm Body: Don’t fall into the trap of hiring just anybody because you need to fill the job. Proper selection affects the team’s morale, as well as performance and productivity. Yet, I still see managers eager to fill the job–relying too much on experience and not considering whether the person is a good cultural fit. This is not a place where you can take shortcuts, so spend the time and put in the effort to finding the best person for the job. Select the right person by focusing on character rather than skills, asking the right behavioral questions and involving other employees in the interview process. By selecting candidates with the right cultural fit, you are reinforcing with current team members the type of heart and mind that is important to your culture and business.

Onboard and Welcome New Employees Correctly: It’s important to managers to set new employees up for success. Orientation should be an exciting and informative first day or two on the job. Partner with HR to ensure your new hires are scheduled to attend orientation. If you are responsible for conducting orientation, make sure it is interesting and engaging, focused around the brand, the culture and the customers. Onboarding, or training and immersion, should be a well thought out plan for the first 30-60 days that consists of different types of training as well as numerous opportunities for feedback and coaching. Don’t throw your employees into the deep end hoping they figure it out. This doesn’t benefit the new hire, other employees or your customers. In fact, you will likely lose the new employee because no one likes feeling like they are failing.

Recognize Those That Perform, Not Just Those That Show Up: We know recognition is important, especially when it comes to increasing engagement. But you need to get recognition right—and that means tying recognition to performance. While it is fine to acknowledge an employee’s tenure on the job, it should not be the basis for recognition. Whether your company has a formal recognition program or not, you need to be recognizing your staff (both individuals and teams) that perform well on a regular basis. Recognition should be personalized and customized. To make it personal, ensure you are providing a thank you in person that is sincere or on a hand-written note. To be customizable, you need to know what your employees like and how they like to be rewarded. This allows you to give recognition that is meaningful and inspiring. Also, provide an opportunity for employees to recognize each other, whether in person or via technology, as peer-to-peer recognition is a great way to boost engagement.

Have Tough Conversations and Make Tough Decisions: Recognizing performance is one side of the coin—the other side is ensuring poor performers are held accountable. Nothing is more demoralizing for a star employee than giving their best every day, just to see another employee completely not care, yet still allowed to be a part of the team. This is one of the quickest way to destroy a culture and ensure your best people leave. So, stop avoiding these tough conversations with low performers. During your conversation, explain the performance issues based on what you’ve observed. Offer an opportunity to help the employee improve by creating a clear, agreed-upon plan where the consequences of not improving are clear. Always be respectful by keeping your feedback about the performance, not the person. If there have been many conversations had, and there is still no improvement, it is your responsibility to let that poor performer go. It isn’t always easy, but it is what is best for the team.

Communicate so You Are Understood, Not Just Heard: We all know that communication is important, in fact, it is your most important leadership tool. But we need to do better at communicating in a way that is understood. More communication is not necessarily better so stop burying your team with endless emails and memos. Keep communication short, simple, direct and relevant. Remember if communication is important, then it should be done in person. Repeat important points often to emphasize priorities. Just because you say something once does not mean that your employees understand what you want them to do, so check for understanding. Instead of asking, “Do you understand?”, ask, “What are your next steps going to be?” or “What did this message mean to you?” Encourage your employees to ask questions or be available and accessible to them so they can come to get clarification away from the group. Communication includes listening so ensure that when you create opportunities for them to speak with you that you give them your full attention, which means no multi-tasking on phones or computers.

By following these key points, you will be on your way to creating a healthy culture that inspires performance. It isn’t always easy, but it is worth it. Thanks for reading.

Come see me at ACE 2018 to learn more about how you can reprogram your employee experience to improve customer service, retention and performance.

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About the Author
Shane GreenA world-renowned keynote speaker, author of Culture Hacker, and television personality, Shane Green is a business magnate who consults global Fortune 500 leaders on customer experience and organizational culture. Shane draws upon his foundation at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and work in multiple industries to transform employee mindsets, habits, and skills to improve customer experiences and interactions. As the President & Founder of SGEi, Shane leads a team of professionals who inspire brands like the NBA, Westfield, Foot Locker, NetJets, Cisco Systems, and BMW to reprogram their employee experiences to create loyal customers and raving fans. Visit www.ShaneGreen.com to learn more.

About SGEi
At SGEi, we help executive teams develop a cultural transformation strategy and plan. We enable and coach your management team to own the continuous development of your company and people. And we design and deliver the training and communications necessary to shift mindsets and habits to meet the objectives of the company. Please connect@sgeinternational.com to learn more about how we can assist you with your transformation needs.

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leadership

Heart and Edge: The Secret Ingredients of a High Performing Leader

When you think of a great leader or mentor who has had a positive influence on your life, how would you describe that person? Were they strong, fearless, driven, smart or were they a good listener, coach, understanding, warm, funny? We know that when leaders have too much heart, people walk all over them. When leaders have too much edge, people fear them. Can you have a combination of these traits – a heart of empathy and understanding with a strong edge of accountability and fear? The highest performing leaders know the answer to this question, and work on it daily.

Maybe you are a leader who knows the answer or wants to take your leadership performance to the next level. You might have already read several leadership books, watched numerous TED talks, and attended countless training programs. The real question you need to ask yourself is, “Do you work on your edge or your heart?” Niccolo Machiavelli, one of the most famous Italian philosophers and diplomats of the Renaissance period said, “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”  In contrast to this viewpoint, today’s leadership research identifies the most effective leaders have a combination of a heart of compassion and an edge of accountability often referred to as “steel and velvet”. It is this healthy combination, that is developed over time, that leads to leadership success.

Starting with warmth, and not fear, is essential to successful leadership performance. People need to like you first before they follow you. If you want to influence another person, you must connect with them off the bat. It doesn’t matter if you have a title over someone or not; being a warm person facilitates a trusting environment with open communication and ideas. Your body language – a smile, an open gesture, a positive nod – can show people you are pleased to be in their presence and are listening and attentive to them.

According to an article by Amy Cuddy, Matthew Kohut and John Neffinger in Harvard Business Review, it states, “The best way to gain influence is to combine warmth and strength—as difficult as Machiavelli says that may be to do. The traits can actually be mutually reinforcing.” Feeling a sense of inner strength helps people to be more open and less aggressive in stressful situations. When we, as humans, feel calm and confident, we project authenticity and friendliness.

It is challenging balancing heart and edge, especially because many of us are born or raised with a certain style of leadership that naturally favors one over the other. Self-aware leaders know that changing or improving a behavior takes time and can be very challenging. We form habits and negative self-talk that prevent us from making shifts in our leadership style for the better. This is a true test of Emotional Intelligence (EI). Are you able to manage your emotions and move away from old habits that might sabotage your highest performance? An emotionally intelligent leader can do this and is open to being vulnerable and receiving feedback without becoming defensive. Even when it is extremely uncomfortable, effective leaders know how to engage with others and prioritize their team to achieve overall success and happiness.

Research identifying the most important leadership qualities based on a study of 195 leaders in 15 countries over 30 global organizations highlights the importance of having both heart and edge. What does leadership heart and edge mean?

Heart/Velvet

This is the soft edge approach of leadership. These leaders demonstrate humility, listen without bias and build connections with others. They typically show the following traits:

  • Persuasion over raw power
  • Builds trust and shows confidence in their teams
  • Open to healthy conflict and wants to hear the opinions of others
  • Not afraid of being vulnerable
  • Want to engage with their team members on a personal and professional level
  • Warm and caring.
  • Let other team members lead and grow from challenges (or even mistakes) as long as they don’t jeopardize the team

Edge/Steel

These leaders use control and power to achieve their leadership success. They set high expectations for themselves and other team members. They typically show the following traits:

  • Hold themselves and others 100% accountable
  • Straight talkers and stand with conviction
  • Expect things to finish on time and within budget
  • Say or do things that might be unpopular

How do you show up with a combination of both even if you have a natural tendency towards one?  How do you utilize EI in your leadership style? Start by practicing self-awareness and identifying if you are a leader with more heart or edge. If you don’t know, ask others on your team. They will tell you.

If you have too much heart, here are some ideas to practice:

  1. Question if everyone on your team is performing to their highest performance. How can you set tougher short-term goals and push your team out of their comfort zone? Remember to stay strong and consistent in your leadership direction even if people complain or make excuses.
  2. Hold people on your team accountable. Allow them to have a voice and feel valued but be clear in your feedback. Have courageous conversations in a timely manner and preferably in the morning.
  3. If you are afraid you are going to hurt a team members’ feelings, quiet that voice and speak anyway because your feedback is valuable to their long-term success.

If you have too much edge, here are some ideas to practice:

  1. Create a culture where everyone feels their opinion matters and there is healthy conflict. The thing you should most fear is everyone agreeing with you.
  2. Learn how to place empathy at the center of all leadership and design decisions. You will supercharge your ability to produce breakthrough innovations.
  3. Listen more and try not to jump to a solution without hearing others’ opinions. Invite the person you might not be the biggest fan of, but has a stake in your company’s success, to your next meeting. You may even want to consider asking them to lunch.

In my leadership coaching and training experience, I see all types of leaders who each have their own set of challenges. Great leadership starts with you and your own authentic self-awareness.

“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” —Warren Bennis 

Becoming a great leader is something that evolves over time. This is hard in practice and needs to be part of your proactive growth to leadership excellence. Remember, it is this balance of heart and edge that is the key to becoming a high performing leader. Don’t give up on trying to achieve it and continue to practice EI because it really makes a difference on leadership performance.

Come see me at ACE 2018 from October 23-24 in Toronto to learn more about EI and leadership.

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About the Author
Bobi Seredich Headshot
Bobi Seredich is a recognized speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 23 years of her career dedicated to creating, directing, writing and presenting leadership programs for top companies in the U.S. and around the world.

Bobi is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence and Managing Partner of EQ Inspirations. In 2001, she founded Equanimity, Inc. also known as EQ Speakers – a speakers’ bureau and leadership training company. It fast became a top speaker bureau that booked hundreds of speakers with large Fortune 500 clients. EQ Speakers was sold in 2012 and continues to be a leader in the industry.

Her book, Courage Does Not Always Roar – Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Courage, was published by Simple Truths in the spring of 2010. The book is a collection of her experiences and stories of women who have had the courage to overcome very difficult life events.

Her passion is to guide individuals and organizations to a higher performance level through her own business knowledge, inspirational stories and leadership emotional intelligence training. Bobi lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband, Roy, and 6-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

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Millennial Employees

5 Tips for Attracting Top Millennial Talent

In recent years, the hiring world has placed an emphasis on attracting millennial talent, and for good reason: millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, according to Pew Research Center. This generation, however, is a bit different from those that came before them. They’re looking for more than a paycheck. They want transparency, feedback, experiences and the chance to explore their passions.

Your challenge is attracting this millennial talent for your business. Here are seven ways to make that happen, from bringing a more authentic voice to the experience to engaging with the millennials that already work for you.

  1. Use Social Media Authentically

This generation is social media savvy, and can spot advertisements and inauthenticy right away. They’re likely also checking your social media profiles before applying or accepting an offer, so your language needs to be authentic with everything you post, from new articles to testimonials. This is especially important if you plan to use social media as a recruiting tool. If so, keep these post ideas in mind:

Impact on Customers: Millennials want to work at companies that have a real impact because they want to be part of something bigger than just a job. Sharing your customer’s successes is a great way to show the impact their work could have on customers.

Employee Successes: Millennials want to be more than just a number. Show them you care about your employees by highlighting their successes on social media. Praising employees for a job well done on a public platform like social media shows what kind of culture your company prioritizes.

Social Good: Millennials want to work for businesses who are focused on the greater good, yet only 48 percent believe that the majority of companies behave ethically. Use social media to show that your business puts time and energy into supporting important causes.

  1. Create a Transparent Recruiting Process

Your recruiting process sets the tone for what potential new employees can expect from your business. While it’s been relatively standardized for many years, millennials are changing the game. Sarah Landrum, Forbes and Under30CEO contributor explains that the hiring process changes stemming from the demands of this generation include shorter hiring timeline and greater focus on company culture.

Ultimately, however, we see authenticity being important throughout the recruiting process as well. Landrum explains, “Millennials might have alternate expectations and might conduct themselves differently when they’re looking to start or build on their career, but the one thing they all expect is authenticity. They want to be spoken to like rational adults, and they want work that does some kind of demonstrable good in the world.”

Does your recruiting and interview processes need to be shortened? If so, how can you be effective with less time?

  1. Be Transparent About Trajectory

As you bring new potential hires through your interview process, remind them of growth they can expect within the position. In a recent Gallup poll, 87 percent of millennials say development in a job is important.

Use the recruiting process as a way to show them that their future is solid with your company. If they see themselves as managing a team, becoming CTO, or starting a new area of the business, discuss how they could work toward that within the company, and how their current role can help them learn the necessary skills.

  1. Emphasize Company Culture

It’s been said time and time again that culture is important to millennials. When looking to recruit this generation of talent, make culture front and center in your job ads and during the interview process itself.

But first, consider if your culture provides value, or if there’s more work to be done before featuring it as a benefit of working for your company. Does this sound like your company culture?

“Healthy cultures are ones where people feel valued, which in turn fosters engagement and productivity. Similarly, the best cultures foster innovation, through collaboration and non-judgement,” suggests Peer Insight’s guide, Company Culture Explained.

If the answer is yes, feature it whenever possible. For example, invite final round interviewees to attend a brief company event, like a group lunch or in-office happy hour. This shows that you’re not just saying culture is important to your company, but you’re actively making it happen.

  1. Start With Current Millennial Employees

Oliver Hurcum makes a good point in his recent article for The Undercover Recruiter: “Millennials, like most people, are looking for a workplace where they feel they belong and they are more likely to feel a sense of belonging if they are around people like them. You can bet that a millennial invited to apply for a job by another millennial is more likely to start the application process.”

This is why it can be valuable to work with your current millennial employees to attract new ones. Here are a few creative ideas to use this secret weapon to your advantage.

  • Survey or interview all millennial employees. What drew them to your company? What made them accept the position? Use their verbiage, wording and insights in job ads and social media posts.
  • Create employee videos, interviewing your millennial talent. Again, remember, authenticity in everything. Don’t tell them what to say, just encourage them to talk about why they love working for your company.
  • Introduce potential new hires to other millennials on their team; you may even consider setting up an in-house lunch so they can ask questions and get answers from the people who understand their mindset.

Attract Top Millennial Talent

Millennials may make up the majority of the workforce, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to recruit. This generation doesn’t want the typical 9 to 5 job, and they have higher expectations—which means a good salary and nice office won’t always cut it. Use these ideas to attract this unique group of valuable employees to your business.

Are you looking for new ways to incentivize millennials? Access Achievers’ e-book on “How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce.”

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About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.