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Identify skilled leaders

5 Leadership Skills to Look for When Promoting In-House

Promoting in-house is a smart way to grow your business and invest in your staff towards leadership development. Companies that promote from within often have higher satisfaction ratings from employees and there’s nothing like the possibility of a promotion to keep your team working hard. According to Adam Foroughi, a co-founder and CEO:

“Outside hires can sap the motivation for mid-level and junior-level talent to work harder and move up the ladder. When you promote from within, your employees know that the sky’s the limit, so they always work hard and deliver more for your company. In my experience, this ‘sky’s the limit’ approach creates an atmosphere of optimism that has a positive effect on everyone.”

As you look to various employees who may be similar in terms of work ethic, company loyalty and passion for the business, look for these leadership traits that set them apart. Employees who exemplify these characteristics will be better suited for a leadership position, allowing you to promote the most qualified and excited employees.

  1. Confidence

Confidence is one of the best indicators of potential success with an in-house hire. Fear of personal failure affects a staggering 31 percent of Americans according to a 2016 survey. The same survey even found that 6.1 percent of respondents had given up a promotion due to fear of failure.

While having these fears is common, employees that are confident in their decision-making skills will be more effective leaders. How do you identify confident employees? Look for the following traits, as outlined by Jeff Haden, of Inc.:

  • They take a stand—not to be right, but because they aren’t afraid to be wrong.
  • They listen more than they speak.
  • They duck the spotlight to shine it on others.
  • They freely ask for help.
  • They think, “Why not me?”
  • They don’t put other people down.
  • They aren’t afraid to look silly.
  • They make their own mistakes.
  • They seek approval from only the people who matter.
  1. Social Skills

One of the best ways to know if your new hire has leadership potential is the ‘beer and barbecue’ test, according to Brian Scudamore, CEO of O2E Brands: Would you want to have a beer with this person? Would they have a good time and make connections at a company barbecue?

If so, the person shows leadership potential, because leadership is all about effective communication. You’ve seen this employee in action, and have a good idea of what their strengths and weaknesses are. If communication is one of them—they tend to be social at group events, often organize fun shindigs in the office, or are always the first person to answer a group email—then they may be one of the top candidates.

It’s also important for leaders to recognize others and show appreciation for hard work. Only 41% of employees feel recognized at their desired frequency and 60% feel their managers don’t recognize them enough. Recognition goes a long way and understanding the importance of employee recognition can positively impact employee engagement levels.

  1. Vision

The best leaders have a good idea of what they want to bring to the table. Business News Daily says that a good internal hire will already be showing signs of this kind of vision. They’ll be motivated, focused, and already striving to make company practices as streamlined as possible.

Look for employees that are ‘hustling’ and doing their best to make the company better, rather than simply showing up and going through the motions each day. You can trust that employees who share your vision, and maybe even have their own ideas for the growth of the company, will improve the organization when in a leadership role.

  1. Critical Thinking Skills

Managers are required to think critically every day: “One of the most common duties of a manager or supervisor is to make sure that client, customer, and employee obstacles are being removed or lessened. This includes making sure questions are being answered, proper actions are being taken, and problems are being resolved,” says Lindsey Burke of Select International.

Work with the potential candidates’ direct superiors to assess their work on the last few projects. Ask questions like:

  • Have they shown the ability to analyze a situation thoroughly instead of responding to it immediately?
  • Can they find effective solutions, or do they flounder?
  • Do they regularly offer solutions in brainstorming sessions and meetings?
  1. Ownership

If you’re considering an employee for a promotion, start by giving additional responsibility as a trial; even if they don’t know they’re being considered for the promotion or that this is a trial. Then watch closely as the employee(s) inevitably make mistakes and learn through these new tasks.

Employees that show ownership of mistakes they’ve made, and can move past them and see the learning experience that comes out of it, are the employees you want to promote, according to The Muse. The skill of ownership is difficult to teach, but invaluable when it comes to leading a team. Employees that embody this trait will often be the best people for the promotion.

Start Promoting

Use these tips to find the best candidates for an in-house promotion. There are budding and excited leaders among you, it’s just a matter of finding them. Look for confidence, vision, ownership and more to identify the employees who want to help grow your business and their career.

Discover why it’s important to recognize employees and promote in-house by checking out the eBook The Case for Employee Recognition.

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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.

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Voice, Value, Feedback – The “Must Try” Communication Tool Driving Employee Engagement

Does anyone truly look forward to their annual performance review?  Leaders don’t enjoy preparing them and employees dread attending them.  According to HR analyst and industry thought leader Josh Bersin, “More than 70% of all organizations dislike the process they have, and I have yet to talk with an employee or manager who likes it at all (one client calls it a ‘soul-crushing’ exercise).” That’s why many leading organizations such as Accenture, Adobe, Gap, GE, Goldman Sachs and Microsoft all recently announced that they are remodeling this “soul-crushing exercise” and moving to something altogether new.

The most important adjustments to the classic performance review cycle are an increasing emphasis on constant feedback and a concerted effort to frame constructive feedback in more human terms.  According to a SHRM article by Dana Wilkie, “Among the changes: eliminating all numeric scales; doing away with “forced” or “stacked” rankings that create competition among employees; and replacing the once-a-year appraisal with ongoing feedback on a worker’s performance throughout the year.” This philosophical shift in the way criticism is dispensed wasn’t conjured up out of thin air. There is a practical reason behind the need for immediate feedback (and praise). As stated in an article in the March 2017 issue of Fortune magazine, “One big reason for the shift: Today’s companies now change strategy so often that annual performance reviews can be moot by the time they’ve completed them.”

Although many companies are moving away from the annual performance review, there will always be a need for direct reports to measure how they are succeeding and growing in their current roles. To ensure success, employers must set clear performance expectations while providing feedback and encouragement. In fact, research shows that team members desire to feel valued, heard and even “loved.”

According to a Gallup article by Jim Harter and Amy Adkins “Managers account for up to 70% of variance in engagement and consistent communication is connected to higher engagement.” But given that no two people communicate alike, it should not be surprising that less than 1/3 of Americans are fully engaged in their work.

George Shaw

The real challenge is that most managers think they are great communicators, when in fact, most are not. This has helped create a notable communication gap between leaders and direct reports, leading to confusion and disengagement.

Dr. JP Pawliw- Fry of the Institute for Health and Human Potential explains this gap as, “A distinct pattern we see over and over again in the leadership development training programs we run: when leaders face a difficult conversation, a feedback conversation or a performance review, most cover 85, 90 or 92% of the content of what they want to say in the conversation, but a funny thing happens when they get to the more difficult part, what we call the Last 8%. When they hit this part of the conversation – where there are consequences to what they are saying – they start to notice that the other person is becoming more anxious and (because emotions are infectious) they themselves become more anxious.”

This research goes on to explain that when the employee being coached starts to feel nervous and becomes defensive, their leader reflects those feelings, and starts to doubt their own intuition regarding the employee participating in the performance review. This is typically the moment the leader hesitates when offering uninhibited feedback. While seemingly innocuous, the real problem is that the leader might believe they have offered genuine feedback when really, they probably failed to address the issues most critical to both the employee and company alike. The failure to explain the Last 8% leaves the other person unclear on expectations. It’s not surprising then that the employee makes the same mistake several months later, with the leader becoming more disappointed and frustrated.

If managers and leaders are fearful when addressing critical business issues with their direct reports, how can we facilitate a complete constructive feedback conversation, including the Last 8%? From a brain science perspective and utilizing emotional intelligence – EI– we can learn to communicate in a way that doesn’t stimulate the “fight or flight” response typical of defensive behavior.

The first step in effective communication is listening to the other person and validating his or her feelings, because they are valid, even if they are not obvious. This level of empathy is an absolute necessity if the other person is going to be open to receiving your constructive feedback. If you start giving feedback before they are ready, their response will likely be defensive, making them unwilling to receive it. When a person’s fight or flight mechanism is activated, research shows that there are real physiological effects. Perhaps they might not hear you because their heart rate is increasing and oxygen is flowing to larger muscles, away from the thinking brain.

When a person is confronted with criticism in a performance review, it can cause an automatic negative response. “This neural response is the same type of “brain hijack” that occurs when there is an imminent physical threat like a confrontation with a wild animal. It primes people for rapid reaction and aggressive movement. But it is ill-suited for the kind of thoughtful, reflective conversation that allows people to learn from a performance review. According to an article in Strategy + Business magazine titled “Kill Your Performance Rating” by David Rock, Josh Davis, and Beth Jones

Thankfully, there is an excellent constructive communication tool that can help us all avoid the automatic “fight or flight” response. It is called the Voice, Value, Feedback (VVF) Tool, and it provides a framework for a complete, courageous, feedback conversation that even includes the Last 8%.

  1. Give the other person a Voice – share why you are having this discussion. Clarify your intention for the meeting. Seek contribution not blame – “I realize I may have not communicated clearly…” then let them share their feelings for a  few minutes.
  2. Value the person you are having this discussion with and empathize with the difficulties your employees deal with on a daily basis. Phrases such as ”I understand it’s been tough. I don’t blame you for feeling that way”, can go a long way in showing your employee that you care what they have to say, and value their perspective when addressing issues.
  3. Offer your Feedback – “I appreciate you and here is what we need from you moving forward.“ Be specific about the behaviours you would like your direct report to exhibit and focus on the actual impact they have made on your organziation, not on intentions. If necessary, share instances of past and current behaviors that are not acceptable and hope they will address moving forward. State clearly what you want from them, so there is no question as to how they can improve in the future. Use  phrases such as “We need you to…” “We expect you to..” “This organization relies on you to. . .”
  4. End the conversation by reminding this person how you feel about their contributions to your team. Recognizing an employee for their loyalty, the value they have created, and their impact on the organization can reinforce their belief that they have the skills necessary to improve on perceived shortcomings mentioned during the review.

Currently, I am coaching several leaders who have incorporated the Voice, Value, Feedback communication tool into their culture, and the benefits are real. It is critical that leaders are fearlessly proactive in the difficult conversations that are required in order to keep their direct reports engaged and at their most productive. Most importantly, as leaders, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we really having the Last 8% of that constructive feedback conversation?”

For more information on the benefits of effective feedback, and more insight on the debate over real-time feedback versus annual reviews, check out: “Real-time feedback vs. annual reviews: A showdown”.

And if you’d like to learn more about measuring employee engagement, the How’s and the Why’s, download the eBook, Employee Engagement: Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters.

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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 20 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 and 4-year old twins, Alex and Gia.