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Strengthen Leadership

How to Strengthen Your Manager’s Leadership Practices and Why It’s Crucial to Enhance Employee Engagement

You know it, and I know it: The key to improving employee engagement and culture is through strengthening management’s leadership practices and capabilities. Being good at management isn’t enough. Today, more than ever, managers need to practice great leadership to manage change effectively and to seriously help others grow. Doing so results in higher employee engagement and motivation, and higher engagement ultimately improves productivity and the overall health of the organization.

Why You Need Great Leadership

If you ever need to convince others about the need to motivate and engage managers, just show them a copy of Gallup’s State of the American Manager. After years of studying data from millions of managers and employees from just under 200 countries, Gallup reports some insightful data including these highlights from their 2017 report:

  1. Managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units…just 30% of U.S. workers are engaged, demonstrating a clear link between poor managing and a nation of “checked out” employees.
  2. One in two employees have left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career.
  3. 35% of managers are engaged, 51% are not engaged and 14% are actively disengaged.
  4. Managers who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged cost the U.S. economy $319 billion to $398 billion annually.
  5. Employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than those supervised by actively disengaged managers.

How to Strengthen Management’s Leadership Practices

Have you ever worked at an organization where HR distributes copies of leadership books and articles to managers? This happened a lot when I worked at Lowe’s. At Ceridian, my VP gave all her managers a copy of Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. When I was at Lowe’s, our leadership development team would bring in nationally known speakers such as Ken Blanchard and Liz Wiseman. While giving managers books and bringing in speakers is helpful for raising awareness about leadership, more needs to be done to help managers shift from knowing to practicing leadership.

In my book, Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership, I share what I call the 21st Century Leadership Development Roadmap. The roadmap has four stages. At Stage Two, many managers realize that the old ways of managing are ineffective at engaging and building team culture, but managers fall short of putting leadership into practice. Something blocks them from reaching the third stage.

Leadership Is a Skill

To move to the Roadmap’s third stage, managers need to develop leadership the same as with any skill. Here’s what I mean:

Imagine that Player A and Player B want to get better at racquetball. They tried this by spending a week practicing for five-hours per day. During that week, they played against better opponents, and at night, they read articles about how they could improve their game.

Here’s one difference: Player A had a coach. Periodically during that week, the coach stopped the game, gave feedback, showed ways to improve form, and then gave more feedback. After a week, guess who improved more? Player A did.

In The Servant, James Hunter explains that leadership needs to be developed through practice, feedback, and follow-up. When managers just read books or attend leadership talks, their effort isn’t enough. He writes:

“Has anyone ever learned to swim reading a book? Has anyone ever become an accomplished pianist studying piano history? Has anyone ever become a great golfer watching Tiger Woods DVDs?…I have met many people over the years who know all about leadership but don’t know leadership.” (pp. xxiii-xxiv) – James C. Hunter

To get managers to adopt leadership practices sincerely, Hunter recommends a three-phased approach: Foundation, Feedback, and Friction. Foundation is acquiring leadership knowledge. This helps managers advance to the Roadmap’s Stage Two. To advance further, you need feedback and friction.

Without Feedback, You’re Left in the Dark

If you’ve ever administered 360-feedback reviews, you know that managers can act surprised by the feedback’s revelations about their behavior. Sometimes these discoveries hurt and aren’t easy to receive. But without knowing their blind spots, managers won’t know what or how to improve.

In Marshall Goldsmith’s book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, feedback is how he learns what his clients should focus on. He writes:

“I wish I had the power to snap my fingers and make these people immediately see the need to change…But I can’t and I don’t. Instead, I show these people what their colleagues at work really think of them. It’s called feedback. It’s the only tool I need to show people, “You Are Here.” (p. 8) – Marshall Goldsmith

From feedback, managers might identify several things to improve, and if they’re Type A people, they may want to attempt to resolve all behavioral issues at once. While admirable, that’s not good. If you’re administering the feedback, help managers focus on one or two behaviors that can have the most impact.

Friction: The Process for Making Sustainable Change

Getting managers to accept their feedback is one thing, but it’s another to get them to act upon the feedback effectively. Fortunately, you can guide managers by using a structure that Hunter and Goldsmith advocate. Here are the high-level steps for what you should guide managers to do:

  1. Acknowledge and apologize to those affected by their faulty behavior.
  2. Ask the affected people to help them get better. This could include calling them out when managers revert back to old habits.
  3. Advertise to others that they are trying to get better at a specific behavior. Goldsmith explains that if you don’t, people won’t notice.
  4. Rigorously follow up monthly with people affected and find out how well they’re doing. Employees and others affected by past behaviors need to realize how serious the managers are at trying to improve.

Call to Action: Guide Managers through Feedback and Friction

It’s easy to read books and attend leadership talks, but It’s not easy for managers to receive critical feedback. It’s even harder getting them to commit to the friction phase and doing the steps, especially the follow-up. In Triggers, Goldsmith writes, “People don’t get better without follow-up. So let’s get better at following up with our people.”

Guiding your managers through this process will change the dynamics and health of their teams. Fixing key behaviors could have a chain reaction to improve other behaviors, and managers modeling the drive to change will have a cascading affect upon their people. When managers get better at leadership practices, everyone on the team gets better and healthier!

Two More Things…

In addition to the Foundation/Follow-up/Friction approach, you might want to try Goldsmith’s feedforward process. His free article, Try Feedforward Instead of Feedback, is worth reading and introducing to your managers. Managers who read this will learn a positive way to change future behavior without dwelling on the past.

There are other ways to help managers, especially those in middle management. For several insights and tips, check out the eBook The Secret Weapon to Driving Employee Success.

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About Gary A. DePaul
Gary DePaul
Gary DePaul is a speaker, author, and leadership curator. He provides performance consulting services to help organizations identify gaps between what executives expect managers to do (in the current and future states) and what managers actually do. He has more than twenty years of professional and scholarly experience and has worked for companies such as Lowe’s, Ceridian, Fidelity Information Services, Johnson Controls, and Arthur Andersen. Gary welcomes inquiries and the sharing of ideas. You can reach him at gary@garyadepaul.com.

 

 

 

 

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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become a great leader

Leadership Do’s and Don’ts

Good leadership is the cornerstone of any successful business. You want to ensure that you’re offering useful and helpful leadership to your team, but you’re not sure where to start. In HR, this gets even more tricky as you’re expected to set an example for the entire organization. If you’re looking for some help, here are some do’s and don’ts of leadership that every effective leader should know.

Do: Lead by Example

You’ll be asking your team to maintain a high standard, so make sure that you’re giving the same effort as they are. Make sure you’re in on time, pull your weight, and do your share of the work. It’s much easier to respect someone who will happily pitch in with everyone else. You’ll also have a better idea of what it’s like to work on a project, so you’ll be more realistic in your requests.

Don’t: Ignore your Team’s Feelings

There’s an attitude in some businesses that emotions should be kept out of the workplace. To an extent, this is true, but everyone has feelings about every aspect of their work. It’s a bad idea to dismiss any of your team’s feelings offhand. Make time to listen to them, and act on them if necessary. Remember, the members of your team aren’t robots.

Do: Improve Your Writing Skills

Most of the communication that happens in the workplace is now through the written word. After all, how many more emails do you get now, compared to phone calls? Therefore, your writing skills are very important. Without them, you can’t effectively lead. If you feel you need some help improving your skills, try using a writing tutoring service such as The Business Writing Center, or grammar websites like State Of Writing and Via Writing. If you’re based in the UK, try one of my personal favorites, UK Top Writers. For Australian readers I recommend Best Australian Writers.

Don’t: Blame Others for Mistakes

If things go wrong, bad leaders blame the issue on their team without looking at the bigger picture. This causes resentment, and things can quickly turn sour. Instead, look at what everybody could have done better, including yourself. Ask for feedback from your team and use the lessons learned to improve in the future.

Do: Proofread your Communications

You’ve got to be clear in all the communications that you make. Your team should be able to read an email and know exactly what you need from them. This means that whatever you’re sending, you need to proofread it first. To be a good leader, you should make time to proofread these communications. If time is too tight to do this, you can enlist the help of professionals. Proofreaders at services like EliteAssignmentHelp or BigAssignments can help when you need them to.

Don’t: Talk More Than you Listen

Some leaders are under the impression that what they have to say is more important than anything else. In fact, the opposite is true. A good leader is more of a facilitator, bringing together everyone else’s ideas and making them work in unison. Aim to listen more than you speak, and you’ll get much more done with you team.

Do: Set Sensible Goals

A good leader can balance the needs of a project with what the team can realistically accomplish. If you want to excel as a leader, you need to understand what your team can reasonably accomplish, and track how well they succeed in hitting your targets. That way, you can help them increase their successes and output.

Don’t: Isolate Yourself or Your Team

Some leaders try and keep their team separate from the rest of the organization, as they feel they can do it all. They may also isolate themselves from their own team, out of a sense of self-importance. Doing this means that they’re missing out on help and key information from other workers, and actually weakening their own team.

Do: Be Optimistic and Positive

“Your attitude will rub off on your team. Think about it. Who will make you feel better about coming to work: someone who’s downbeat and pessimistic, or someone who’s upbeat and excited about the job at hand? A good leader knows that they set the tone for work,” says expert Benjamin Davids at Academized. “The more they work to raise their team’s spirits, the better that team will do.”

Don’t: Be Afraid to Make Mistakes

If you’re afraid to make mistakes, your team will be too. This means that they’ll take less risks, get less done, and contribute less than they would have otherwise. It’s much better to work to the best of your ability, and when the mistakes happen, learn from them and move on.

Do: Be Prepared

Good leaders are always thinking about the future, and looking for options that may become available to them. If you’re keeping one foot in the future, you can take advantage of opportunities as they arise, and be prepared for any issues that come your way. They also take advice from others, including their team, about what they think should be done to plan in advance.

Don’t: Take Credit for Your Team’s Successes

If your team does well, don’t take personal credit for it. Many of your peers will see through it, and your team will resent you. Instead, it’s much better to give credit where credit is due. If you take the time to credit your team, they’ll appreciate it.

Keep this points in mind, and you’ll become a great leader. Motivate your team, and help them succeed to get ahead yourself.

Great leaders have the greatest impact on a workforce. For more information how to leverage their skills, check out this eBook on The Secret Weapon to Driving Employee Success: Your Managers.

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About the Author
Mary Walton

Mary Walton is a proofreader at UK Custom Essay service. She also creates online courses on business writing and email marketing. Mary helps with content management at Grade On Fire.

 

 

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retain employees

4 Ways to Avoid the Dreaded High-Turnover Rate

The cost of employee turnover is outrageously high. When a company loses a salaried employee, it can cost anywhere from six to nine months’ worth of the departed employee’s salary to hire a replacement. This means that if an employee is being paid $40,000 a year, the cost of everything from recruiting to training expenses will be around $20,000 to $30,000. In addition to costing your company a fortune, it can discourage talented employees from joining your organization. High turnover is one of the major red flags job seekers look for when considering a new employment opportunity.

Here are four ways companies can step up their game and hold on to the talented employees they worked hard to acquire:

  1. Get Rid of Top-Down Management

Everything in the business world is evolving and the concept of management is not immune. Many of the old rules and practices no longer apply, and the lack of a modern workplace philosophy is forcing skilled workers to leave their current company and take their talent elsewhere. The top-down approach to leadership and ruling with an iron fist is no longer a popular way to run a business.

In today’s workplace, the term “collaborative leadership” is commonly cited as a strong approach to employee management. This concept emphasizes leading by example and focusing on both corporate and individual benefit. For instance, Jacob Morgan, author of The Future Of Work, explained in a Forbes article how AMP Bank in Sydney, Australia makes it a point to sit down with each employee to explain how new technologies and strategies can benefit both parties.

It’s important to realize the vital role management plays in the development of a company. Gallup estimates that managers account for 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Great leadership is a crucial factor in retaining employees; it goes back to the famous saying that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”

  1. Learn What Millennials Want

By 2020, it’s estimated that nearly half of the workforce in the United States will be comprised of millennials. Therefore, it is crucial to determine what these younger employees want out of a company. Ask yourself the following questions:

Millennials are looking for more than just a job with a steady paycheck, they want careers in which they are engaged with their company’s goals, and can develop their professional skills. A 2014 survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review and The Energy Project found that employees are most engaged when these four core needs are being met:

  • Value – Being cared for by their supervisor
  • Purpose – Finding significance in their work
  • Focus – Prioritizing
  • Renewal – Ability to take needed breaks

Regardless of the age of the employee, there is nothing worse than being stuck at a job that isn’t motivating. Fostering employee engagement can be difficult. However, emphasizing honesty and transparency for both company and employee alike can be integral in obtaining uninhibited employee feedback to gauge the direction of your workforce and what motivates them.

  1. Promote a Culture of Innovation

Everyone wants to be involved in a cutting-edge organization. Companies that want to remain ahead of their competitors must do their best to promote this mindset both internally and externally. For starters, when you’re advertising a job opening, take a step back and examine what your company is doing differently than similar organizations. Once you have a firm answer, drive this idea home and showcase what your business is collectively bringing to the big picture compared to your competitors.

Based on your business, this can be a daunting task. But, regardless of what product or service you provide, there is always room for innovation. Take Michelin for example. Tires might not seem like an innovative product but the science behind how rubber interacts with the road is complex. To promote a company-wide innovative mindset, Michelin sponsors cross-functional hackathons and internal incubators where employees are free to take risks and come up with new ideas for the good of the company.

Making sure that innovation is a strong aspect of your culture can play an enormous role in keeping employees engaged and motivated.

  1. Recognize and Reward Employees

While this one might seem obvious, it is still accurate: everyone likes to know their hard work is being noticed. Great employees are hard to find, and even harder to keep. So when you notice colleagues going above and beyond the call of duty, it’s important to provide plenty of recognition and rewards to encourage repetition. Recognition is essential to employee engagement and The Corporate Leadership Council shared in a recent report that highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave the organization.

Events like company-sponsored happy hours or weekend getaways celebrating a strong quarter can go a long way in demonstrating to employees how much their work means to an organization. Going beyond these types of “job well done” gestures, making sure top performing employees are appropriately compensated is the most important factor in employee retention.

To address this, you can try setting up recognition and rewards programs that encourages daily praises and constant appreciation. Or consider implementing programs within the workplace that are transparent when it comes to pay raising goals, such as merit-based pay structures. Just be sure to set goals at a level in which employees will need to put their best foot forward, while remaining reasonably attainable.

Talented workers tend to know their worth. If you are not paying them appropriately, they will have no problem finding an organization that will.

Over to You

Retaining high performing employees in the current business climate is very challenging, and with the many detrimental costs of employee turnover, your company’s bottom line could be adversely affected. If your turnover rate is higher than you would like, it might be time to take a close look at day-to-day operations and find the root cause as to why people are so willing to leave your organization. Sometimes, it is a simple fix. Other times, a complete organizational reinvention is needed to ensure the external perception of your organization matches the internal. At the end of the day, a company that focuses on engaging their employees, whether through strong leadership, culture, recognition, or rewards is on the right track to reducing turnover.

To learn more about employee turnover, check out the blog post How to Spot Who’s Going to Quit Next.

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About the Author
Lori Wagoner is a market research consultant. She advises small businesses on new ways to find local and national business. She’s an avid blogger and writes for sites such as Small Business Can, Tweak Your Biz and Customer Think. You can catch her on Twitter @loridwagoner.