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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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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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4 KPIs to Track Your Employee Engagement

The time has come to start thinking about employee engagement as a measure of organizational success that is as important as growth and revenue. In today’s hyper competitive and connected world, true employee engagement may just be the differentiator between businesses that succeed and those that don’t.

Because engagement is a critical business metric, you may be wondering, how do you accurately measure it? It can seem a bit nebulous or qualitative, unlike the hard analytics you’re used to. Luckily, there are several ways to quantify employee engagement and track it over time. Here’s where to get started.

1. Engagement Surveys

For years, annual employee surveys were the best (and only) available tool for measuring employee engagement. But today’s leading organizations are moving away from annual surveys in favor of more frequent surveys and continuous feedback in order to get a more timely, accurate and actionable read on engagement. Here’s how you can use engagement surveys to better understand employee engagement:

  • Weekly pulse surveys that ask just a few questions. Start with something simple, like “Would you recommend us as a place to work?” and make sure to occasionally repeat the question so you can track changes.
  • Active listening interface that acts as an always-on, intelligent, open channel for employees and managers. With Achievers Listen, via a visual single-click poll, employees share day-to-day engagement confidentially. Based on employee response, Allie, an active listening interface, follows up with simple, friendly conversational questions to better understand how the employee feels and perceives work. Gather feedback, ask questions, and get updates, next actions, and ideas to impact engagement right away.
  • Historical data that shows trend lines as organizations shift. Engagement can shift as organizations go through high and low times.
  • Comparison data between departments and functions. Some parts of the organization will naturally be different from others, but use that data as a discussion starter to make sure engagement is on the right track.

2. Pulse Surveys

For employee engagement, it can be helpful to ask employees one simple question: How likely are you to recommend our business to a friend as a place to work?

The question can be measured on a 1 to 10 scale, with one being the low end and 10 the high end. Scores of 9 and 10 are promoters — employees who would actively recommend your place of work to a friend. Scores of 7 and 8 are passive — they wouldn’t take the action to recommend, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fans. Scores of six and below are detractors — if a friend were to ask about applying, they might deter them.

The beauty of this type of scoring is in its simplicity. One question can be asked quickly in regular pulse surveys that show a measure of change over a short amount of time. It can also be easily broken down by department or team, so that you can potentially identify which areas of the business (or leaders) are affecting engagement for good or bad.

3. Supervisor Satisfaction

Speaking of leadership, managers can have a massive effect on employee engagement. One out of every two surveyed professionals reports leaving a job to “get away” from a bad boss. Conversely, a good boss can make his or her team more productive, satisfied, and loyal.

But how do you measure supervisor satisfaction? Reporting a poor manager can be a frightening experience — making the reporter feel at risk of repercussions. That’s why a qualitative look is the best way to go. It not only creates a safe way to gather information, but removes potential bias from the situation as well.

First, look at both retention rates and promotion rates from a particular manager’s department. High rates of turnover may be an indicator that something isn’t right, while high rates of promotion indicate that leadership in that department is helping employees grow. Then, use the same survey measures discussed above to break the data down by department. You can go a step further by asking employees this question: How likely are you to recommend your manager as a person to work for to a friend?

Finally, be sure to use your engagement software to set baseline goals for employee engagement based on the entire company’s data. From there, you can segment by department and manager and figure out which groups are above the baseline and doing well, and which are below and may require additional attention.

4. Goal Performance

Research into human psychology indicates that goal setting helps increase feelings of autonomy, connectedness, and competence that ultimately leads to personal happiness. Further, from a business perspective, setting and achieving goals is crucial to growing your business.

Goal performance and employee engagement are directly correlated, so measuring the former can help provide insight into your employees’ state of mind. First, you’ll want to measure overall goal achievement. Part of setting goals is failing to meet some of them, so if your organization is at a 100% success rate, you may be setting your sights too low. A good number to track against is 60-80% achievement.

Furthermore, you’ll want to set and measure some goals that are a stretch. Creating high standards for employees to strive for drives healthy competition and development. Track the progress and milestones towards those moonshot goals, and don’t forget to praise and recognize employees along the way.

Simply tracking KPIs for employee engagement isn’t enough. Once you start measuring this critical business metric, you need to take action. Start by tracking your engagement workflows and major milestones in a project management tool (check out TechnologyAdvice for project management recommendations based on your needs) that lets HR and C-level stakeholders provide insight and feedback. Use the information you’ve gathered to define a strategy for improving engagement, measure success along as you roll out the strategy, and be prepared to innovate along the way.

To learn more, download Achievers’ e-book, “Employee Engagement: Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters.”

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About the Author
Taylor BurkeTaylor Burke is a writer for TechnologyAdvice, covering marketing and sales. She’s passionate about helping brands become more authentic, transparent, and connected with their audiences.

 

 

 

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leadership

Lack of Impulse Control: Is It Preventing Leaders from Engaging with Their Teams?

It all started with a client of mine whose leader had expressed frustration with her team members for being too relaxed and unprofessional. My client was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of a large healthcare company with over 600 team members. She worked closely with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who was a successful leader and had been with the organization for over 15 years.

One morning, the CEO became really frustrated with a few employees who were eating breakfast at their desks, which seemed to exacerbate the unprofessional work environment she was observing. She felt this was a time-waster and team members were losing productivity.

She lacked patience and decided to send an email to the entire company letting employees know they could no longer eat breakfast at their desks. Instead, team members had to eat before work or in the cafeteria. She did not inform her COO or the Human Resources (HR) department she would be sending this email.

Effects on Productivity and Company Culture

What effect did the CEO’s actions have on employee productivity that week? Her intention was to increase productivity, but her impulsive actions resulted in a decrease in efficiency. Many employees were confused by her email, and HR was receiving calls for clarification, with employees wondering if protein bars or nuts were considered breakfast items.  Other employees were pregnant or had health issues, would they be penalized if they had food at their desks? They felt they were being discriminated against.

Self-Awareness and Understanding

Was this leader self-aware enough to recognize her patterns of behavior that led her to act impulsively?  Was she able to have difficult conversations? Did she recognize how her behaviors impacted others? The answer to all these questions was “no.” This leader was not self-aware and was not able to understand the negative impact of her actions.

A Better Response

What could this leader have done better? She could have had a conversation with those few employees she felt were not being productive instead of sending a group email.

Lack of Control and Impulsive Behavior

Impulses such as the CEO described above can be perceived as a lack of control, maturity, or business savvy. This type of behavior often derails the offender as it can lead to termination or reduced opportunities for advancement.

How many of us have observed another team member engaging in an activity that we believe to be unproductive? Have you read an email, and immediately became defensive about the content or tone the sender was using? Then you impulsively decide to respond immediately and give your feedback via email, or even worse hit ‘reply all,’ and later regret what you said or wrote in that email. Unfortunately, you can’t take it back. It felt good in the short-term moment but left you with regret in the long-term.

With the use of email, Twitter, and texting, immediate gratification and ease of use prevents you from delaying or fully thinking about a response to another person’s communication. Research shows smart phones and other devices make us less assertive and cause us to “play small” and not stop to reflect how this impacts bigger life plans and goals.

What Is the Definition of Impulse Control?

Impulse control is one of the core competencies of emotional intelligence (EI) and is defined as the degree to which a person can control the need for immediate gratification. It may be the most significant indicator of a person’s future success in the workplace or adaptation in society in terms of building and maintaining relationships with others.

The impact of a lack of impulse control in the workplace is generally significant whether it is a one-time occurrence or a pattern of behavior. When you act on an impulse that leads to a negative outcome, it can lead to serious consequences that are life changing and result in forming a negative reputation. On the other hand, when you have a positive outcome, it gets a different type of attention. It can look like you are brilliant, and your reputation is elevated as a leader and a managed risk taker.

What Does Research Reveal About Impulse Control and Life Success?

For years parents have been testing their young children on impulse control based on the findings in The Stanford marshmallow experiment on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s, led by psychologist Walter Mischel. More recently, Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld have re-examined impulse control and America’s “culture of entitlement and instant gratification” in their book, The Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America. Both research studies reveal impulse control is a key driver of better life outcomes as measured by better academic performance, higher SAT scores, upward mobility, and professional success.

Lack of Impulse Control and “Monkey Mind”

What prevents you from being present when you are engaging with another co-worker and not getting distracted? Is it emails, false deadlines, text messages, phone calls, web surfing, or interruptions? How can you not give into the power of temptation and stay more in the present moment?

When we lack impulse control, it takes us to a place we were not planning on going. We feel hijacked in the moment – our cognitive brain is no longer in control and our emotional brain is running the show.

On average, we have 60,000 thoughts a day (according to research by Dr. Fred Luskin of Stanford University) and only about 8-9 % are present-moment thinking. This is referred to as a “monkey-mind,” which can lead to impulsive behavior or emotional reactions when our emotional brain hijacks our thinking brain especially when we feel stress or triggered. This is called an amygdala hijack.

When the emotional part of your brain, your amygdala, is hijacked, your oxygen and blood flow move away from your thinking brain to your larger muscles, so you can react or get out of a dangerous situation. That is why you can’t tap into the best of your cognitive brain to see all variables and make a better rational decision.

The word “hijacked” is a strong word, but it feels sudden, unexpected, out of control, forceful, against your will, taking you someplace you were not planning on going. You feel more certain and things are more black and white. You are right, and the other person is wrong. You lose perspective to think clearly.

What Does Impulse Control Look Like in the Workplace?

As adults and business leaders, how can we improve our impulse control to engage better with team members and become more focused, productive and creative? Research findings reveal leaders who can manage strong emotions when feeling stress or pressure, while maintaining a healthy sense of humor, are more successful in building stronger relationships, being creative and meeting professional goals.

Developing Self-Awareness and Building Your Own Impulse Control Tools

The more self-aware you become about your own emotional triggers and how you manage your impulse control, the greater the chance to avoid inappropriate outbursts and poor decisions.  Many times, you learn to control your impulsive behavior after an unfortunate event where you lost control and had to pay a big price. Hindsight is always 20/20.  When you have a moment to look back at what you said or did, you have a better understanding of how you were triggered and how your actions impacted the situation in a negative way. You may take appropriate steps to limit the damage.

You cannot change another person or situation, but you can manage how you choose to react or respond to a situation. You can take charge of your impulse control. As a result, you can choose to “play big” and achieve more happiness, engagement and success in your personal and professional life.

Here are some specific tools you can utilize to improve impulse control:

  • Stop and breathe before you react to a situation or send an email.
  • Remember that instant gratification is short-lived and is about “playing small.” You want to “play big” and maintain a healthy sense of humor.
  • Evaluate options – no response is sometimes the most powerful response.
  • Listen to hear instead of listening to respond to someone. Become aware of distractions that are preventing you from listening.
  • Don’t feel the need to respond to every email or text immediately.
  • Leave 10-minutes earlier to an appointment to give yourself a buffer and practice mindfulness if you arrive early.
  • Avoid overpromising and under delivering and practice “present moment” thinking.

I encourage you to continue your journey toward self-awareness and practicing better impulse control.  Take charge of your success in life and the workplace and build a positive leadership reputation.  Remember this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey not a destination.”

If you would like to learn more about EI, visit our website – www.swiei.com

Are you looking for more leadership tips? Discover how to effectively listen to your workforce with Achievers’ white paper on Taking the Pulse of Employee Engagement.

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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 and 6-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

 

employee disengagement

How to Address Early Signs of Employee Disengagement

According to the Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report, 75% of the causes of employee turnover are preventable. That’s excellent news for your HR budget, as the cost of replacing entry-level employees alone hovers near $4,000 per position. A small change in human behavior can be enough to indicate damage in employee motivation. Yet, detecting early signs of employee disengagement is never an easy task. It requires excellent observation skills and strong empathy to respond in a way that restores engagement across your organization.

At a time where barriers between leaders and employees are at an all-time low and with 70% of employees wanting to spend more time with their manager, simple actions stemming from emotional intelligence and intuitive leadership are powerful enough to correct a subtle motivation drop. Here’s engagement clinics to discover how you can address early signs of employee disengagement.

Note: All names have been changed for privacy considerations.

High Performers: Empowerment is Not Anarchy

Efficient, committed, and highly engaged, Jane was the next talent to accelerate.

Jane’s manager assumed that since she was a high performer, she didn’t need much handholding to sustain her performance. But Jane’s sense of achievement dropped in the course of a few months, an early sign of employee disengagement.

The challenge for any leader is to adjust space for employees to be empowered. For a high performer, too much attention to what she does is micro management. But attention to how she does it and why she does do it can give off the wrong message.

Early Signs of Disengagement - High Performers

Treatment

As any other employee, high performers need frequent recognition to protect their sense of belonging. They want strong feedback to reach excellence in their work. And they crave coaching and mentoring to level up their “soft” skills. After all, 68% of millennials who intend to stay in their company for the next 5 years are involved in mentoring programs.

Discovery of Potential: Stories and Limiting Beliefs

I remember very well Simon. Simon was the go-to expert in his area. Considering his immense knowledge and potential for relationship-building, I assumed his next step was to develop his leadership skills.

What I underestimated at the time is that Simon had little appetite for stepping out of his comfort zone. Early signs of employee disengagement showed up as plain resistance, from “I’m not sure I can do it” to “this is completely useless!”.

Each leader should pay extra attention to words of resistance. Resistance is the seed for limiting beliefs that can become given realities for the employee, and get in the way of performance.

Early Signs of Disengagement - Resistance

Treatment

80% of employees would work longer hours for a more empathetic employer. An emotionally intelligent leader knows that a huge part of the job is to attend to team members and support them towards having a delicate balance of confidence and performance. Performance starts with clear goals. Confidence grows when you support your employees as they achieve those goals, and show them where their true potential is.

In Tune with Culture: The “Selective Memory” Syndrome

How often do you try to communicate a message to your team and some still don’t get it? Frustrating, right? It’s nothing else than human nature.

Driven by fight or flight responses, humans are not wired to navigate change easily. If you try to suggest change towards the way your team behaves, you can might be criticized or worse, ignored. It could be tempting to take criticism as “venting moments”. But if left unaddressed, those early signs of employee disengagement can lead team members to question if their values are still aligned to the company’s mission and values.

Early Signs of Disengagement - Aversion

Treatment

According to Deloitte’s Talent 2020 series, “performing meaningful work” is one of the top three motivational drivers for employees. For team leaders, it could be as simple as making top level communications relatable for everyone and taking the time understand what type of work each of your team members enjoys doing.

In addition, listening to your employees on a daily basis fosters a safe space for them to express their opinion. With the availability of advanced HR technology listening to your employees on a daily basis is now easier than ever. Check out intelligent active listening interfaces such as Achievers’ Allie™. With Allie, you can get clear insights on your employees’ pulse and receive honest feedback.

Final Thoughts

 Deloitte just released its 2018 Human Capital Trends report, where it stated the following:

“Most companies are struggling to recruit and develop these human skills of the future. Despite having an increasingly clear understanding of the skills needed in a world where humans work side by side with machines, 49% of respondents do not have a plan to cultivate them.”

One of those “human skills of the future” is to ensure your leadership includes the best employee engagement and retention tactic: fostering human connections so that you can spot (and address) early signs of employee disengagement.

Do you want to learn more about employee disengagement? Check out Achievers’ white paper, The True Cost of Employee Disengagement.
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Are you free in October? Discover where the future of HR technology and employee engagement is heading by attending Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2018 in Toronto, October 23-24. Get the early bird rate and save $200 off the regular rate today. Buy now here.

Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

About the Author
Coralie Sawruk
Coralie Sawruk helps global organizations create efficient team dynamics. A people-person at heart, she believes the ultimate competitive advantage is created by the right talents working hand-in-hand, cheerfully. Coralie shares her insights on human-centric leadership and leading happy teams on her website. Get in touch on LinkedIn

 

 

 

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Improve Leadership Conversations

Why Leaders Need to Be Conversationalists Not Communicators

It’s an open secret leaders are often poor communicators. “I’m not a people person” or “I’m not good with words” are often cited as reasons for avoiding conversations with staff and colleagues. Even though it’s well documented employee performance increases when leaders give staff feedback, many in authority choose not to put in the extra effort. Why is this?

In my experience, unrealistic expectations are partly to blame. Rather than telling leaders who don’t talk to their staff to have more frequent conversations, it’s time to look at what’s stopping these professionals from communicating in the first place.

In fact, let’s call a do over.

Here’s a look at the three beliefs that make it difficult for leaders to succeed, and three new approaches to try instead.

Belief 1: Leaders Need to Be “Effective Communicators”

Unless you serve as a spokesperson for your organization or are a member of the C-Suite, it’s not actually necessary for a leader to be an “effective communicator”. Communication is mistakenly used as a catch-all term that consists of three different styles of conversation: talking, conversing and communicating. These words are used interchangeably, but in the workplace they are actually quite different. Talking does not require an agenda or a call to action. It’s a free flowing exchange of ideas such as discussing the weather. Conversing, on the other hand, is the act of discussing and seeking feedback on a particular topic with the end goal of achieving consensus.

So what is communicating? It’s the art of persuading someone to accept your idea or key message. It may or may not include a two-way dialogue as a means to prove the merit of your argument, which is different than conversing when you actively seek another person’s point of view. Communicating is what I am doing right now by inviting you to see my perspective in this blog.

Do-Over: Be an Engaged Conversationalist

The job of a leader is to maximize each conversation rather than rush to get it over with. Staff are hardwired to need the neurological high that comes from verbal discourse. It’s enough, and far more realistic, for professionals to be skilled at conversing with their staff and colleagues.

Belief 2: Leaders Just Need to “Tell It Like It Is”

There’s a general expectation that adults, and leaders in particular, should be able to communicate with one another. But the reality is “Although we are born with the gift of language, research shows that we are surprisingly unskilled when it comes to communicating with others,” says Andrew Newberg, M.D., and Mark Robert Waldman, authors of Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy. Sure, most leaders learn communication skills through life experience, but this can also cement their fear of talking to employees. Ellen Taaffe, a clinical professor of leadership at the Kellogg School, says “most people are afraid to give feedback because they don’t want to come off as mean, they don’t want to be disliked and they certainly don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.” Being a professional does not erase a person’s fear of causing social pain for someone else. Let’s encourage a leader to use these feelings to become a more empathetic conversationalist.

Do-Over: Validate First, Converse Second

Everyone wins if a leader can speak in a way that is clear and kind. There are only ever three ways to respond when someone speaks to you – defend, dismiss or validate. It’s tempting to try and help solve a situation, offer an opinion or ask for more detail. However, leaders are well served to validate what an employee says before commenting. Imagine a team member came in to share an idea they are excited about. How do you think it would go over to lead with, “I can tell you are really excited about this idea. Let’s hear it.” Instead of, “Sure I have a few minutes.” This approach will probably feel unnatural at first but the payoff will be worth it.

Belief 3: Leaders Need to “Get Over Their Fear”

Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, has proven humans become passive when they experience failure and feel like they have no control. This can lead to a constant expectation of failure and the development of “learned helplessness.” It’s no wonder some leaders dread having a conversation if their experience has told them it’s not likely to go well. But avoiding conversations with staff and colleagues is not a viable solution. A better game plan is to feel prepared for the dialogue that might come your way.

Do-Over: Conversation is a Verbal Report Card

The fear of saying the wrong thing is greatly reduced when a leader prepares for a conversation. Professional communicators are taught to follow a three step plan before ever saying a peep. The process – think, plan, write (or say) – gives the mind time to be creative, make unlikely connections and become comfortable with what is going to be said. Look at it this way – what’s the more effective way to pack for a vacation: a) make a list and pack accordingly or b) close your eyes and throw things in a suitcase and hope you did a good job? Work conversations require preparation. This may seem hokey but five minutes to collect your thoughts and jot out a few notes can make a world of difference. It’s also worth remembering everything a leader says will be heard by an employee as a verbal report card. Staff are likely to analyze the conversation and decode any hidden meanings. Be thoughtful about your word choice and ask more questions than you make statements.

Next Steps

Changing your communication style takes time. Here’s one shortcut to get you started: observe your colleagues’ conversations and notice their good (and not so good) habits. Tune into what’s being said around you and observe what’s successful. This will help your brain want to replicate what’s proven to work.

To learn more about how to effectively listen to your workforce, download this white paper: Taking the Pulse of Employee Engagement.

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And if you’re looking to improve the employee experience for your team, check out another great read covering Personalization: The Missing Link in Employee Experience.

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Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

About the Author

Janet Hueglin Hartwick

Janet Hueglin Hartwick is a communication coach, trainer and speaker. She is the founder of Conversations At Work, an evidence-based communications training program that helps leaders manage today’s emotionally engaged workforce. Janet is also is also the President of Soilleirich Communications Group, a consultancy that specializes in corporate and employee communications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assess Company Culture

5 Simple Ways to Assess Company Culture

Leadership structure, office environment, core mission and values, interpersonal relations, team engagement and communication style—these are just some of the many organizational details that shape company culture, something that is becoming more and more important to businesses of all kinds. A strong company culture improves:

  • Identity of the organization
  • Employee retention
  • Corporate image

What’s more, more people rank “workplace well-being” over monetary or “material benefits,” according to the Harvard Business Reviewand that well-being is created through a positive company culture.

This is why it’s important to assess company culture, just as you would your finances or sales process. If you’ve never done so before, use these five action-steps to critique—and ultimately improve—the culture of your organization.

  1. Evaluate the Onboarding Process

If your goal is to recruit people who are innovative, competent and dedicated to your mission, then it’s crucial to earn their loyalty and respect in the hiring and onboarding process. If the process is unorganized or they’re waiting around for someone to meet with them, they expect the organization to follow suit.

Consider if your training methods are outdated, monotonous and derivative—such as reading a company manual—or if the approach is personalized, engaging, creative and participatory. New hires are eager to learn their positions and acclimate to the team, but if the onboarding process doesn’t “provide the resources and tools they need to ramp-up, they can end up stagnating,” suggests SaplingHR.

Show a strong company culture from the beginning, with an onboarding process that’s as engaging and interesting as it educational.

  1. Gauge Openness Within Leadership

It’s important that you foster a culture of embracing change, especially if you want to be seen as relevant and accessible to young professionals. A recent headline in Harvard Business Review confirms this, Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate. The authors explain why this can be challenging:

“Innovation demands new behaviors from leaders and employees that are often antithetical to corporate cultures, which are historically focused on operational excellence and efficiency.”

When assessing company culture, determine whether leadership has the ability to be agile and fluid. Are they stuck in the “9-to-5” mindset, which can be stiff and resistant to change? If so, the next question is: how can our culture evolve despite hesitancy among executives? There may be the need for change at the top or a board meeting with those who have a say in the direction of the company.

  1. Look at Incentive Programs (Or Lack There-Of)

The act of praising and incentivizing employees who perform well or provide value to the company is critical—but you don’t have to break the bank with bonus checks that are taxed at an extremely high rate.

Instead, make this aspect of the company culture more personal. Take into account each employee’s interests, lifestyle and hobbies, and find ways to reward them with these personal details in mind. For example, if someone loves cooking, show appreciation with a gift certificate for cooking classes.

Conversely, you can give employees an option for how they want to be recognized with something as simple as gift cards, suggests Jason Mauser, VP of Sales at Hawk Incentives. They’re are ideal for satisfying a “diverse group of recipients” because “they’ll appreciate the ability to make their own decision.”

  1. Observe Team Interactions

The strongest and most sustainable company cultures are forged on relationships and human connections. As you assess culture, analyze the dynamics between co-workers and notice how they communicate or collaborate with each other.

  • Do they respect one another’s ideas and opinions?
  • Do they relate on an interpersonal level?
  • Do they function cohesively as a team?
  • Does the setting promote a free exchange of dialogue and unique perspectives?

“In a teamwork environment, people understand and believe that thinking, planning, decisions and actions are better when done cooperatively,” suggests Human Resources expert Susan Heathfield in an article for The Balance.

If there aren’t strong team connections, consider adding more team outings to the roster. These give employees a chance to get to know each other outside the stresses of the office, while you show appreciation for their hard work.

  1. Determine Attitudes from Answers

The right questions will elicit the most valuable insights about your company culture.  Instead of asking directly about culture, gauge how the current climate is affecting attitudes by asking about the success and challenges of the business. If negativity is coming through in answers, you know a change is needed to steer the ship back toward calmer waters. Certain topics may also elicit the same response company-wide, which can also be telling in terms of how the organization is handling a specific issue or challenge.

Here are a few questions to try from Lessons Learned in 29 Powerful Questions to ask in the New Year:

  • What didn’t go so well last year?
  • Were there any cringe-worthy moments?
  • What is the one thing your organization was worst at last year?
  • What did we learn from our mistakes?
  • What lessons can our company leverage?
  • What could our organization do differently over the next 12 months?
  • What break-through moments did we experience last year?
  • What is holding our company back?
  • What can each of us do to be more helpful to the team?

Assess Company Culture—Regularly

The culture of your organization impacts everything from productivity and engagement to retention and growth. While there isn’t a “company culture 101” blue print for every business to follow, you can assess on a regular basis to uncover the unique culture pillars of your organization. Use these tips to do exactly that, slowly creating a company culture that retains top talent and facilitates success.

If you don’t regularly assess your company culture and pay attention to what your employees want, you risk facing the high cost of employee disengagement. To learn more, download this white paper: Is HR a Cost Center? The True Cost of Employee Disengagement.

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Find out more about your employees’ needs and expectations by downloading this report: The Retention Epidemic: Why 74% of the North American Workforce Plans on Quitting.

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Are you ready to improve your work culture? Learn how to enhance your culture and increase employee engagement by attending Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2018 in Toronto, October 23-24. Get the early bird rate and save $200 off the regular rate today. Buy now here.

Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

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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Engage Overwhelmed Employees

3 Factors Proven to Engage Overwhelmed and Overworked Employees

When a critical piece of business technology suddenly stops operating properly, your first reaction is to find the problem and get it up and running at full-capacity, as soon as possible.

Yet, when it comes to your most valuable business asset, your employees, many company leaders aren’t as quick to react. Unfortunately, according to a new SHRM report, 38 percent of employees feel overwhelmed by how much they have to get done at work. What’s more, a January 2017 report by Kronos and Future Workplace found that 46 percent of human resources professionals blame burnout for up to half of their staff quitting each year.

The issue of an overwhelmed and burnt-out workforce is nothing new — and that’s the problem.  So, we went directly to the source to find out where the disconnect is.

Here’s what employees told us they need from their employers, along with some insights on how you can address those needs to improve employee engagement:

Recognition

When work becomes overwhelming, those who feel unappreciated will disengage even faster, increasing their chances of looking for new work. In fact, 55 percent of North American employees noted a lack of recognition as one of the main reasons they are considering changing jobs, according to our latest report.

Of course, more and better recognition won’t decrease your team’s workload, but it will make them feel appreciated for their contributions and perhaps more motivated to do their best. These shifts can enhance productivity, lightening the burden of an overwhelming workload.

Start engaging

KABOOOM!

This hard-hitting word isn’t just for sound effect. For CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System’s employees, KABOOM, their employee recognition platform, is now a way of life. The CHRISTUS team is dedicated to compassionate care, especially for those who are poor and underserved. With such an intensive mission, it’s easy for employees to feel overwhelmed.

Seeing the need for more employee support, company leaders implemented an online, points-based social recognition solution. Leaders and employees now both celebrate in-the-moment acts of accomplishment and dedication by sharing peers’ specific actions and rewarding them with points. These recognition points accumulate and employees can then use them toward a reward they desire.

The KABOOOM program was a hit for CHRISTUS St. Michael. In fact, the company saw more than a 10 percent increase in employee engagement thanks to this recognition tool.

Strong Employee-to-Work Connection

Passionless employees are disengaged employees.

It’s up to leadership to understand what drives a strong connection between employees, their individual roles, and the company’s mission and goals. Clarifying and solidifying this connection unquestionably increases retention. In fact, according to our previously mentioned report, 74 percent of employees note that making work more interesting and inspiring increases the likelihood that they will stay with an organization.

Start engaging

Go against company norms to change the way employees interact with one another and approach their daily tasks. To form a true connection, many employees need to step out of constraining routines.

Rather than hosting traditional weekly or monthly meetings, encourage employees to keep discussions ongoing via online forums. This approach to communication not only saves time, but also allows employees to stay connected with peers and their work without being interrupted by lengthy, in-person meetings.

Some employees may need a stronger disruption from the daily grind. Consider offering regular employee education hours to help employees step out of their comfort zone and reconnect with their roles, peers, and the company as a whole. During these hours, employees can job shadow a co-worker, take a course, or draw inspiration from a favorite podcast.

Each of these tactics offers a unique way for employees to find a new, interesting take on work.

Flexibility

Your team is full of unique, diverse individuals — and that’s what makes a company successful.

Unfortunately, many employees have limited flexibility when it comes to when and where they work. This constraint can result in a lack of creativity and efficiency – and even a decrease in retention. In fact, according to our report, employees are motivated to stay on board when they have more time off (57 percent) and have the ability to work remotely (55 percent).

Start engaging

Create a unique employee experience to enhance productivity and keep employees from feeling overwhelmed. Start by surveying your team to find out why they’re overwhelmed, when they feel most productive, and where they’d like to work, or what atmosphere increases their innovation.

Based on results, start changing up the employee experience. If employees say they need a more home-like atmosphere, brainstorm as a team to identify ways to make that shift. Additionally, consider offering one or two days a week during which your team can work from wherever they want.

These are great tactics to start with but it’s critical that you don’t stop here.

Continuously survey employees about their connection to work, productivity, motivation, and emotions. Look for trends in employee engagement and compare engagement scores to the days employees are able to work when and how they want. Keep altering and communicating with your team until you find something that works for everyone.

How do you engage your team when they’re feeling overwhelmed? Let us know!

Find out more about your employees’ needs and expectations by downloading our report here.

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Are you free in October? Come see me and discover how to increase employee engagement by attending Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2018 in Toronto, October 23-24. Get the early bird rate and save $200 off the regular rate today. Buy now here.

Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

About the Author

Natalie Baumgartner Dr. Natalie Baumgartner is the Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers, an employee engagement platform specifically designed to align everyone with business objectives and company values, driven by recognizing shared victories every day.

 

 

 

 

 

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Value of Mentorship

Manager and Employee Relationships: The Importance of Mentorship

The title of “manager” makes it sound like your entire responsibility is simply keeping track of your employees and maximizing their performance. Of course you want to elicit high-level productivity from your team, but your fastest route to success is to offer something back to the people who work for you. The most successful managers enter into a mentoring, or “coaching,” relationship with their direct reports. Here’s a look at why mentoring is so important, together with some best practice tips for putting together a mentorship program that really works.

Mentoring Builds Employee Alignment

Your employees have ambitions for where they want their careers to go, and it’s to your company’s benefit if the person doesn’t need to job-hop in order to realize those ambitions. Daimler Trucks has instituted a proactive mentoring plan throughout its entire 4,000 employee U.S. workforce as part of its leadership succession planning. Suz Hahn, Daimler’s Architect of Learning and Development, states that: “Daimler realizes mentoring is key to the health of our organization.” The company finds that employees who gain new skills become more engaged, and are also eager to spread their knowledge and best practices throughout the entire company.

Millennials Expect and Appreciate Mentoring

Today, more than one in three of your workers are millennials (people between the ages of 18 and 34), and this generation makes up the largest percentage of the U.S. workforce. These are the employees with the freshest skills and the keenest awareness of marketplace trends, and it’s clearly in your best interest to meet their needs. There are real differences in what this age group expects from their workplace, however, and 53 percent of managers say that it’s difficult to find and retain millennial employees. Providing mentorship is your most effective tool for attracting and retaining this demographic: A 2016 Deloitte millennial survey notes that of those respondents who plan to stay with their current company for the next five years, 68 percent say they have a mentor. To get down to exact nitty-gritty of these expectations, the millennials surveyed state that in an ideal week, 3.6 hours would be spent receiving coaching and mentoring.

Focus on Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge Transfer (sometimes shortened to KT) mentoring is described by Willis Towers Watson in their cover story for Workspan. The authors of this overview note that KT mentoring arose as a solution to the fact that fewer than half of the nation’s workers feel their employers are doing a good job of retaining a quality workforce. Clearly a new approach to employee retention is needed, and KT mentoring fills that need by introducing new standards of clarity and structure into the transfer of knowledge within a company.

Put Structure in Your Mentoring

Classic workplace mentoring is an informal relationship that’s very open-ended. Even the choice of which two people are paired together is usually made on a casual basis of who likes whom, and sometimes the very best mentee candidates can be overlooked. The mentor provides ad hoc guidance, slipping it in haphazardly when schedules allow. The informal nature of the exchange means that the mentee probably isn’t giving feedback to their mentor on how helpful he or she is, and mentoring techniques are rarely examined. Mentoring is considered to be a personal favor, and is delivered with that tone. While this informality can be appealing, giving the mentee a sense of being taken into the mentor’s confidence, the lack of structure has some obvious downsides. Here’s how KT mentoring is different:

KT mentoring approaches the process from a structured point of view. The topics to be covered are identified ahead of time, with emphasis being placed on those subjects that will be most beneficial to the organization. Selection of mentors and mentees are made on the basis of learning preferences, generational diversity and personality profiles. The number of candidates for mentorship is made as large as it can be throughout the organization. The mentor and mentee agree on time frames and knowledge goals, so that it’s clear what information will be shared and when this sharing will happen. Formal tools for giving feedback are included in the process, enabling the mentorship interaction to be continually fine-tuned. Towers Watson’s overview of their KT mentorship process emphasizes that its purpose is to sustain high levels of employee engagement.

Make Mentoring Part of Your Company Culture

For any mentorship program to be successful, your organization’s leadership has to believe in the idea. High-quality mentorship requires an investment of time and resources, but forward-thinking leaders recognize that it yields a worthwhile return in productivity and employee happiness. A Corporate Executive Board survey shows the growing recognition that structured mentorship programs are worth the effort: 25 percent of U.S. companies now host some type of formal mentorship program, as compared with only 4 or 5 percent a decade ago.

Mentorship Is About Building Relationships

Leadership coach, Luis Velasquez, notes that, “Mentoring is one method that can tip the scales on employee engagement by fostering lasting relationships among employees, promoting career development, and facilitating the transfer of knowledge within a company.” Using mentorship effectively as a tool to strengthen the organization is one of today’s key management skills. Plus, sharing what you’ve learned with an eager young protege can be a highly gratifying process.

For more insights on tools for great team-building in your organization, download our employee recognition eBook covering 3 Ways to Make Recognition an Everyday Event

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improve employee surveys

5 Things to Consider When Building Employee Surveys

Did you know that 88% of employees don’t have passion for their work? Even worse is the impact employee disengagement has on economy: employee disengagement costs more than $500 billion per year to the U.S. economy alone. Knowing all of this, I ask you, “What can your business do to address this major disengagement issue?”

Start with listening to your employees. By receiving honest feedback from employees, you can quickly determine what it takes to engage them. You’ll be aware of what your workforce is unhappy about as well as what they value most when it comes to working for your company.

The best way to receive honest feedback from employees is through employee surveys. Company-wide employee surveys are a valuable use of HR technology, and their results can yield important benefits for employee happiness and company transparency. Furthermore, with increasing emphasis on pulse surveys, companies have greater access to real-time metrics pertaining to employee engagement. Here are a handful of helpful tips for what you should look for when you’re putting together a survey for your employees.

1. Open-Ended Questions

When you’re measuring employee engagement, it’s best to leave room for employees to elaborate on specifics pertaining to their survey response. Human resources professionals need to hear about the details that make up worker safety and wellness, so it’s helpful to include some open-ended inquiries such as, “What can the company do to increase employee success?” With open-ended questions, employees get the opportunity to voice their opinion without any restrictions or influences.

2. Anonymity

You’re aiming for 100 percent participation in your employee engagement survey, and as leadership author Bob Herbold points out, anonymity is the best way to assure this. Quality HR technology software increases employee accountability by making sure that everyone has participated, while at the same time keeping individual responses private. It can also be useful in some cases to tailor the content of each survey to individual departments.

3. Individual Analytics for Each Topic

Many companies are looking to quickly institute their survey initiative, resulting in a survey that is narrow in its scope. According to USC research scientist Alec Levenson , this mistake can have major consequences when tallying the results of employee surveys. Typically, it exists when a company aims for simplicity by averaging each person’s responses into one single index number. Levenson explains that this number ends up being meaningless because it doesn’t lead to actionable insights. For this reason, it’s essential that each surveyed topic be analyzed separately.

4. An Action Plan

Of course, when you give out an employee survey, you’d like to see nothing but glowing praise and complete employee alignment with your organization’s mission and values. In the real world, however, you’re going to hear from some team members who are less than thrilled with the status quo. Research on surveying shows that 48 percent of disengaged employees say that they “would stay with a company that asks them what they want and puts that feedback into action.” Don’t forget that the main reason behind pushing out an employee survey is to discovers areas your business can improve on to boost employee engagement and happiness. Make sure to include questions about employee engagement that you are truly willing to address which will help course correct your company culture onto the right path.

5. Professional Expertise

Partnering with a professional survey provider yields numerous benefits and will yield a strong ROI in your employee retention and employee transparency numbers. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, Monster.com points out that experts in the survey field can give you valuable benchmarking data for your industry. It’s helpful to know where you stand with respect to your competition.

The next time you decide to send a company-wide employee survey out, consider our list of five things to consider when crafting effective employee surveys. Instituting regular employee surveys is the best way to create a responsive work culture. With regular feedback being provided by your employees, you’ll have the opportunity to quickly address any negative aspects of your company culture. This in turn will help in recruiting and hiring top talent, thus ensuring your company’s long-term financial health.

Are you ready to listen to your employees? Get started with Achievers Listen, the future of employee engagement. Achievers Listen allows employees to provide feedback to management on day-to-day issues via check-ins and pulse surveys, and lets front-line supervisors track trends through manager alerts. Also included with Achievers Listen is Allie, an intelligent, digital “coach” that interacts with employees in a familiar conversational way, while guiding employees with effective feedback and providing recommendations back to managers.

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Employees: Your Internal Customers

Are Your Supervisors Focused on the Right Customer?

87% of millennials say their development in a job is essential. As a new generation of employees is promoted to their first supervisory or management role, organizations continue to fail to set them up for leadership success. One of the first lessons I learned as a new supervisor at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company was that my customers were no longer my most important priority—it was now my employees (or my internal customers). Unfortunately, many new supervisors or managers do not know what focusing on and taking care of their employees really means. The problem is that we don’t start teaching new supervisors or managers any leadership habits until they have a title, which is a huge mistake. As a result, many supervisors and managers are focused on their operation or the customers’ experience rather than their employees’ experience. This is why companies often have many managers, but few leaders.

Supervisor Leadership is about a person’s ability to work through their team to achieve the desired results by motivating, guiding, and supporting them to want to deliver the desired results. When new supervisors or managers are more focused on their operation or external customers over their internal customers, employees feel neglected, and their performance suffers.

To develop leaders, we have to begin focusing on their development a lot sooner in their career. We need to be preparing future leaders for the possibility of focusing on of their internal customers over their external customers from the time they graduate their onboarding process and start mastering their daily routines. So, how should we be preparing them or what should we be preparing them with? Utilize your Human Resource team to help prepare these new supervisors and managers by providing the knowledge, skills, abilities, and desired behaviors of a leader. Human Resources can support future leaders through trainings, coaching, and mentoring. I suggest the following areas of focus be provided before any supervisor or manager title is given:

  1. Begin with the Administrative Tasks: Even though these tasks may not seem very leadership-oriented, there is one thing I have learned: if your employees are not paid correctly, don’t get the schedule they want, or the breaks they need, they will not perform at their best. Get high-performing staff involved in completing these mundane yet essential tasks early, so they understand how to keep these basics from being an excuse for lack of performance. HR can provide training on policies regarding payroll, vacations, and breaks, so all future leaders are confident on how to handle these critical issues.
  2. Make Safety a Priority: Every supervisor needs to ensure that the safety of their people is a top priority, so teach them safety procedures early on. No one comes to work to get injured and yet nothing weighs more on the mindset of an employee if they think they may be in danger. Employees should be aware of common safety concerns and be trained early on how to correct potential issues. HR can partner with Risk Management to provide relevant trainings on workplace safety.
  3. Teach Them to Train Others Correctly: Your best employees, those who deliver the right results and adhere to the values of the organization, should be the mentors and trainers for all new staff. Teach them adult learning theories, effective communication techniques, and how to give feedback. This will establish a foundation of effective leadership habits. I believe communication and coaching skills are the most important for new supervisors and managers to master. Unfortunately, these are lacking in many businesses today. By teaching high-performing employees these skills and then providing them opportunities to practice in a safe environment, you will quickly know if those employees have the right disposition to be your next generation of leaders. This is an excellent opportunity for HR’s Learning and Development team to train and mentor these employees to prepare them to train others.
  4. Ensure They Are Inclusive: It is critical that future leaders are introduced to diversity training and can identify issues within a group of people before they get a title. When I first became a supervisor and started to consider whether all members of my team really had a sense of belonging, I was surprised at the duress some of my team came under from their peers. Potential leaders need to be taught how to have conversations with staff who need to be made to feel more a part of the team while also having the tough conversations with those (often friends) who made others feel left out. In today’s work environment, it is critical that our next generation of leaders understand the importance of building one team that respects each other, their backgrounds, and their ideas. Too often, companies take respect for granted, yet based on the number of issues on harassment and inappropriate conduct coming to light, this topic is essential for new leaders to understand.
  5. Make Them Responsible for Improvement: Potential leaders need to show ownership for improving the business and achieving goals. To demonstrate their business acumen, future managers must understand the objectives of a company and the measurements by which success or failure is determined. This might begin with an understanding of profit and loss but should also include knowing about the organization’s market share, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and social responsibility. Once an employee understands goals and measurements, they should be given responsibility for achieving a department goal or improving an element of the operation. It is essential to see these employees apply business sense, methodologies, and resources in such a way that improvement is seen.

The challenge for many first-time supervisors or managers is that they have to focus so much on their development once they get a title while also managing some aspect of their operation that they are unable and unprepared to focus on the success of their team. While there are many other priorities that new leaders need to master, the ones I have suggested can be developed before any title is given, ensuring the foundation of leadership is set. Utilize the knowledge and expertise of your Human Resources department to aid in preparing your new leaders.

Supervisor with EmployeesTo conclude my thoughts, I will share with you one of Howard Shultz’s, CEO of Starbucks, best quotes: “Our first priority was to take care of our people because they were responsible for communicating our passion to our customers. If we did that well, we’d accomplish our second priority, taking care of the customer. And only if we achieved both of those goals would we be able to provide long-term value to shareholders.” When your new leaders are focused on their staff, everyone wins, but it requires organizations to prepare them a lot more and a lot better before they get that first title.

Are you still not convinced employee engagement should be a top priority? Learn more by downloading this white paper on the true cost of disengagement.

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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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Inspiration for Leaders

Words of Inspiration for Leadership: Optimism and Resiliency

When I think of optimism and resiliency in people, I think of our “greatest generation” and people like Louis Zamperini. Zamperini faces extraordinary trauma, as depicted in the book Unbroken, and he has leadership lessons for all of us. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, Unbroken, you must add it to your list.

Zamperini’s story is unbelievable that one person could survive so much and live a healthy life to age 97.  He was born in 1917, and he competed in the 1936 Olympics as a champion distance runner, and then joined the American Air Force at the outbreak of the second world war. In May 1943, his plane was shot down over the South Pacific, killing eight of the eleven crew and leaving Zamperini and two others stranded in a tiny life raft. Enduring the loss of their friend Mac from starvation, machine gun fire from passing Japanese bombers and shark attacks, Zamperini and pilot Russell Phillips held out for 47 days.

Louis Zamperini

When they finally reached the Marshall Islands, both were too weak to stand. Little did they know, that their struggle had only just begun. They were rescued by a Japanese warship and sent to various concentration camps, where they suffered sadistic beatings and threats of death daily until their release in August 1945.

In an interview for CBS, Zamperini said, “They took great joy in telling us we were going to be executed. They would always go through the motions, gesturing with samurai swords and so forth. So every morning we woke up thinking, well this is it.”

The physical and psychological trauma that Zamperini endured was unbearable, and most of us can’t imagine. He did return home and suffer from some depression and nightmares. But he went on to start a new career as a motivational speaker promoting the power of forgiveness.

You may never experience what Zamperini went through, but there are days when you feel like you are being attacked, surrounded by sharks and need someone to help you. In business and life, rapid change is the normal and it comes in waves, hurricanes and now in “bomb cyclones”. Today, leaders and their organizations are forced to address increasingly complex challenges as well as grow with uncertainty.  Speed and agility are not the only edge.  The need for effective leaders that are resilient, optimistic and emotionally intelligent is more important than ever.

The definition of optimism: The hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something.

The definition of resilience: The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Our leaders need to learn and understand better how to be resilient and optimistic especially when they are facing pressure and challenges.

Alvin Toffler

 Alvin Toffler famously said:

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Our view of the world and daily attitudes and behaviors are learned patterns to which Toffler’s insight applies with earnestness — the capacity to “learn, unlearn, and relearn” emotional behaviors and psychological patterns will be the edge leaders need to survive and thrive in this ever-changing crazy world.

How do you learn to be resilient and unlearn bad behaviors in this ever-changing world? You take time to be self-aware and understand how to think like an optimist.  Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism,  is an expert on optimism, and he shares his study on how humans and animals become passive when they experience failure and feel like they have no control.  His study reveals that we start to expect failure again and develop “learned helplessness.”

His study goes on to reveal, there was a third of the researched group of animals and people who experienced continuous failures who never become helpless. Seligman attributed this to optimism.  According to Seligman, “Over 15 years of study, my colleagues and I discovered that the answer is optimism. We developed questionnaires and analyzed the content of verbatim speech and writing to assess “explanatory style” as optimistic or pessimistic. We discovered that people who don’t give up have a habit of interpreting setbacks as temporary, local, and changeable (“It’s going away quickly; it’s just this one situation, and I can do something about it.”). That suggested how we might immunize people against learned helplessness, against depression and anxiety, and against giving up after failure: by teaching them to think like optimists.”

It is a good time to have a healthy dose of optimism whether you are struggling with your business, managing and motivating your team, negative politics, economics, finance, relationship setbacks, parenting challenges, health issues or an overall feeling that life is not turning out the way you thought it would.  Sometimes, we need to change the lens that is viewing our present moment and future and ask a few questions about our own level of optimism and how we are managing difficult situations and daily setbacks. How would Louis Zamperini view this problem and what would his attitude be?

Here is how optimists view the world:

  1. Was it me or something outside of me?
    Optimists believe it is something outside of them.
  2. Will it affect everything I do?
    No, optimist believe it will be short-lived not long-lasting.
  3. Will I change my game and adapt and do something different?
    Yes – changing your game is the answer. Optimists don’t give up.

Louis Zamperini never gave up! He continued to be an optimist until the day he died.  We can all learn from his story and from the research of Martin Seligman on optimism. Remind yourself when things are tough and the pressure is on, we have the capacity to be resilient and optimistic and don’t let anyone change your mind or influence you negatively.

To learn more, check out my blog post on Why Self-Esteem is Critical to Successful Leadership.

Are you looking for a great eBook? Check out Achievers newest eBook highlighting 3 ways to make recognition an everyday event.

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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 5-year old twins, Alex and Gia.

 

Build an Engaging Office Culture

4 Steps: How to Build an Engagement-Driven Office Culture

The importance of employee recognition and engagement cannot be overstated. Companies everywhere are shelling out billions every year for HR programs designed to enhance their office culture and improve employee productivity. Yet, according to Gallup’s 15-year study, the percentage of American workers that are “actively engaged” at the workplace remains fairly stagnant, with an average of just around 32%.

Gallup StudySource: Gallup

This begs the question: why are some employee engagement programs working while others aren’t?

Designing an engaging office culture requires more than just planning birthday parties or patting a worker on the back for a job well done. Engagement strategies can’t be forced; they need to be implemented carefully and encouraged in order to make an impact.

So what should you do to get your workforce more involved?

If you’re looking to build an engagement-driven office culture, check out these four common traits of successful culture initiatives.

  1. It All Starts with Leadership

Teams look to their leaders to set examples of proper behavior. The effect management has on employee engagement and motivation is astounding. According to Gallup’s State of the American Manager Report, leadership has the strongest impact on employee engagement levels in a workplace. Management is responsible for 70% of the variation in employee engagement levels, and workers who had proactively engaged managers were nearly 60% more likely to be engaged themselves.

There is no denying that managers are largely responsible for the office culture of their organization, and therefore, it is up to them to make the necessary changes for improvement and become employee engagement champions. When they strengthen their leadership practices and become more hands-on, teams will likely follow suit.

One practice that leaders must absolutely do away with is abusing company talent in any way, shape, or form. Only about 20% of office workers feel that management motivates them to do their best. Mismanagement, poor job design, or unfulfilled expectations are some of the leading causes of employee disengagement. Many workers feel that managers misuse their skills in the office by not providing opportunities to use their key skills. Underutilization or overworking employees are both major mistakes that can cause frustration, disengagement, and eventually, higher turnover rates.

Leaders with poor communication skills, micromanaging tendencies, or other negative traits can quickly discourage employees and create negative behavior among the team. In order to push for a more engaged environment, leadership must first establish a set standards and examples for others to follow.

  1. Focus on Culture Fit from the Start

We all have a desire to fit in with our peers, and it can be very frustrating and disheartening to new hires who just don’t quite mesh with the new company culture. In fact, IBM’s study found that 20% of workers left a position because they did not fit in with the company culture.

IBM Study Source: IBM

Culture fit is critical to employee engagement and happiness, especially when it comes to new hires. By focusing more on culture fit from the very beginning during the recruiting process, employers will find it easier to boost employee engagement levels while simultaneously decreasing turnover and increasing retention.

HR technology plays a huge role in employee engagement, and it can simplify the tedious process of finding new talent that are great culture fits. If you really want to be more accurate at finding employees that fit your culture, you can incorporate more data-driven insights into your hiring process. For example, there are certain HR tech platforms out there that can track applicant’s personality traits, problem solving abilities, and even professional values.

  1. Get Everyone Involved in Team Decisions

When you think of companies with great employee engagement programs, one that probably pops into mind is Southwest. The low-fare airline has really set the bar for employee enthusiasm and satisfaction levels by finding new ways to get the team involved with the company. When the business decided it was time to redesign company uniforms in 2016, they allowed employees to select the colors, fabrics, and details. All employees were then able to vote for a final decision.

The airline’s founder, Herb Kelleher, understands the importance of building a business that values everyone’s opinions and participation.

The things you can’t buy are dedication, devotion, loyalty – the feeling that you are participating in a crusade.” – Kelleher

Collecting honest feedback and suggestions is the key to building an office culture of innovation in which everyone can feel open to participate. An engaged employee often feels connected to their organization because they understand the unique role they play in its success.

  1. Encourage Interests Outside of the Office

69% of the healthiest and happiest organizations in the country offer programs for professional skill development, proving that a little extra motivation can make all the difference. Encouraging employees to work on things they are passionate about not only provides satisfaction, but also helps them achieve their fullest potential.

Innovative workplaces that encourage employees to get involved with passion projects will build an office culture that thrives. Google is famously known for encouraging employees to pitch their own business ideas and even pursue personal projects to fuel innovation and engagement.

Finding ways to support non-profits or good causes is more than just a nice thing that businesses can do. Fortune reported that up to 59% of respondents to a survey agreed that they would prefer to work for a company which supported a charitable organization over one that didn’t back any, and many were more likely to buy products from such businesses as well. More and more businesses are urging their employees to get involved with charities. Tom’s of Maine is a great example – they require employees to spend 5% of their paid work time volunteering.

Employee engagement shouldn’t just run from Monday to Friday, 9 to 5. It must be practiced beyond the office, too. Keeping everyone inspired to develop, grow, and improve, even after they’ve clocked out, can help everyone in the business aspire to be something better.

Over to You

Businesses that prioritize employee engagement will create more enjoyable office cultures for everyone. Leaders must set the standards, but it is also important to build a strong team from the bottom up. Getting every single person involved by listening to their opinions and encouraging personal interests can help keep the momentum going.

Building an amazing company culture takes time, but the rewards are well worth the wait!

To learn more about the importance of strong culture, check out this white paper on The True Cost of Disengagement

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Start building an engagement-driven culture with Achievers and Limeade. Watch this short video to see the partnership in action.

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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.

 

Strengthen Management

12 Traits That Make a Great Manager

Great management is essential to your company’s bottom line, but leadership skills are often considered to be inborn. The fact is, though, that these attributes can all be identified and strengthened. Moreover, a skill set that accounts for over 70 percent of the variations in employee engagement scores should not be left to each manager’s instinctive talents. While you probably rely on your own familiar set of great management skills, it never hurts to itemize what you’re already doing. If you’re still on a learning curve, these 12 traits can supply a roadmap to professional excellence.

1. They Build a Work Culture of Mutual Trust

Harvard Business Review analyzed what goes into leadership excellence, and trust is a major element. If your employees are going to feel safe coming up with possibly risky experiments, they have to be confident that you’ll be receptive to their ideas. Productive teams know that mistakes are just milestones on the road to the next great innovation.

2. They Focus on Employee Strengths

A strengths-based workplace culture offers measurable advantages: Gallup’s 2015 Strengths Meta-Analysis presents the “powerful connections between employee strengths development and business performance.” Their report shows that a strengths-based workplace increases employee retention by up to 72 percent in high-turnover industries, increases profits by 14 to 29 percent and decreases safety incidents by up to 59 percent.

3. They Do Not Micromanage

Recognizing that “Teams with great managers were happier and more productive,” Google notes that successful leaders don’t try to rule over every detail. If you’re invested in your team’s success, you might fall into the trap of feeling that you have to guard every detail. In fact, micromanaging can erode worker initiative and damage employee motivation.

4. They Are Assertive

Naturally, assertiveness must be paired with empathy and diplomacy — but marketing guru Michelle Smith points out that fearlessness is essential in a manager. A leader must be able to overcome resistance, weather social adversity and get out in front to drive employee success.

5. They Help Develop Employees’ Careers

Have you been concerned that supporting your employees’ training and development may only prepare them to move on? HR best practices suggest otherwise: Google’s manager research shows that identifying opportunities for employees to master new skills actually builds your team’s depth and strength. Furthermore, you convey a powerful message that you care about your people’s personal well-being.

6. They Handle Pressure Well

As a manager, you’re held accountable for the performance of others, and there will be days where you feel you’ve got a target pinned to your shirt. A study at the Norwegian School of Economics placed emotional stability at the very top of a list of essential management traits. Your ability to take good care of yourself and withstand work-related pressure will keep you thinking clearly during periods of stress.

7. They Communicate Honestly

Like assertiveness, candidness has to be balanced out by a sensitivity to your workers’ perspectives. However, Harvard Business Review research notes that a great manager gives direct feedback and doesn’t hide truths behind a shield of politeness. The report found that “Subordinates felt they could always count on straight answers from their leader.” Your employees will have trouble improving if they don’t understand exactly which behaviors are problematic.

8. They Are Open to New Ideas

As a manager, you need to keep an agile and open mind so you will notice when an operation can be improved. Yasmina Yousfi, Chief Business Officer at Cloudwave, comments that “Great managers let their team members share new ideas, and leave them room for creativity.”

9. They Have Strong Analytical Abilities

You may be a super-persuasive, charismatic people-person, and be skilled at communicating with your team — but those talents are still only part of the package. You’ll also want to leave yourself enough mental energy to maintain a good overview of your department’s workforce analytics. The Management Study Guide names a strong cognitive and analytic approach as one of their vital leadership traits, because it leads to good decision-making.

10. They Recognize and Reward Good Work

Only one in three U.S. workers “strongly agree that they received recognition or praise for doing good work in the past seven days,” according to research published by Gallup. The report points out that offering employee rewards and recognition is a golden opportunity for managers that is often overlooked. Employee recognition “not only boosts individual employee engagement, but it also has been found to increase productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention,” the study states.

11. They Are a Role Model

As a leader, you set an example and express the diligence, enthusiasm and other skills that you expect from the people whom you manage. In a recent report by global research firm Universum, the ability to be a role model was one of the top two qualities that executives look for when they’re choosing new managers.

12. They Communicate Employee Appreciation

Using employee rewards to let your team members know their efforts are appreciated has significant benefits throughout your organization. PR coach Kim Harrison points out that “Recognizing people for their good work sends an extremely powerful message to the recipient, their work team and other employees through the grapevine.” When you reward great work, you transform the entire climate of your company.

Each manager brings different strengths to the table, and you can use this checklist to identify those areas where you can up your game. Your organization will benefit: Gallup research shows employee engagement can double when management talent improves, and this results in an average earnings rise of 147 percent per share.

Learn more about what makes employees happy by checking out this infographic highlighting results from Achievers’ “New Year, New Job?” survey.

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why employees quit

Understanding Why Employees Quit

Knowing what makes employees quit — and then heading off those problems — is the goal of every HR department. While you’ll never be able to avoid individual events that disrupt the lives of workers and their families, it’s helpful to have an overview of preventable causes for employee churn. People leave jobs for several classic reasons, according to Harvard Business Review, all of which are somewhat predictable. The key is to understand each reason well enough to defuse it with a proactive intervention. Here are the main reasons workers cite for leaving their positions, and how you can slow this expensive leakage and build your employee retention:

They Don’t Get Along with Their Boss

This reason is the elephant in the room, and we can’t discuss employee retention without starting here. Gallup CEO Jim Clifton points out the primacy of management know-how: “When you name the wrong person manager, nothing fixes that bad decision. Not compensation, not benefits — nothing.”

When an exit interview or other feedback shows that you have a problem manager, you need to rectify the situation as soon as possible. If the person seems open to developing new skills, it’s often worthwhile to provide them with intensive management training. However, if real change doesn’t seem possible, you’ll ultimately save money by replacing them with someone who simply has better management skills.

Their Lives Take a New Direction

This may be unexpected, but research cited in Harvard Business Review notes that job-hunting rates jump by 12 percent right before a worker’s birthday. Researchers speculate that a person is often stimulated by the arrival of their birthday or another milestone to take stock of their life and see if their career is going in the direction they want. While you have limited input into this private self-examination, it’s helpful to incorporate a personal check-in along with celebrating your employees’ birthdays. Are they happy with their job? What are their current thoughts and ambitions?

Their Careers Aren’t Moving Forward

In today’s networked marketplace, your most talented employees are going to keep an eye on opportunities in their field, and Gallup’s 2017 report on the State of the American Workforce finds that 51 percent of them are ready to jump ship at any given moment by actively looking for a new job or watching for openings. Harvard Business Review notes that Credit Suisse responded to this tendency by having their internal recruiters cold-call employees to let them know about new openings arising within the company that they might be qualified to fill. This program ended up moving 300 employees into more challenging positions and saved the company $75 to $100 million in employee turnover costs.

They Don’t Feel Challenged

Human resources expert Susan Heathfield warns employers that they have to make sure their workers are actually using their skills and abilities, and Gallup’s report found that 68 percent of today’s workers feel they’re over-educated for their current positions. While this is related to building a career path, it’s not the same. A position may have a title that looks great on a resume, but if the day-to-day operations don’t actually feel interesting and engaging, the worker is going to be looking for the exit door. Heathfield notes, “Work closely with employees who report to you to ensure that each employee is engaged, excited, and challenged to contribute, create, and perform. Otherwise, you will lose them to an employer who will.”

The Company Lacks Vision

To keep great workers, you have to make it possible for them to feel aligned with a company vision that’s both meaningful and tangible. Gallup CEO Jim Clifton, in his foreword to the 2017 report, puts it succinctly: “Change from a culture of “paycheck” to a culture of “purpose.” Your very best employees are the ones with a powerful sense of internal motivation, and you nurture that motivation by showing them how their efforts contribute to the overall goals of the company. CNBC notes, “Some of the most successful companies are able to attract and retain great employees because they are great at communicating their vision all the way from the top down to the front-line workers.”

Their Efforts Aren’t Recognized

While it’s essential to give your employees the sense of purpose mentioned above, that alone is not sufficient. Even your top workers, who care passionately about doing a good job, still have a psychological need to be recognized for the effort they expend. Emotional intelligence leader Travis Bradberry comments that a failure to recognize good work is one of the biggest mistakes a manager can make. He writes, “It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all.” Establishing a system for employee rewards and recognition is fundamental to nurturing those human resources that your company is lucky enough to have.

In today’s tight labor market, it’s more expensive than ever to lose a good worker. Josh Bersin of Deloitte points out that employees are “appreciating assets,” while the cost of losing one is generally about 1.5 to 2 times the person’s annual salary. Furthermore, the increasing team emphasis of many workplaces makes it harder than ever to integrate a new hire. Keeping your workers engaged is essential to running a successful business, and every manager needs to stay focused on this goal. To learn more about employee turnover, check out our infographic 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention.

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Company Missions and Values

Top 5 Company Missions and Values

Keeping employees engaged is vital for the health of your company, but it’s not a simple task that you can just scribble at the bottom of your to-do list. Your employees respond in complex emotional ways to the culture of your company, and the more positive and well-defined that culture is, the more they will feel they belong. Missions and values articulated through mission statements define a company’s identity right from the moment of its founding. When shared widely, these expressions of an organization’s purpose are an incredibly powerful tool for creating and focusing employee loyalty. Douglas Ready, a senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, points out that the secret to getting employees engaged “lies in three organizational capabilities: being purpose-driven, performance-oriented, and principles-led. Developing the three together is referred to as creating ‘collective ambition.'” But how do you put your company’s purpose into words?

Vision, Mission, Values… Parsing the Vocabulary of Inspiration

Although a variety of terms can be used, each company statement usually expresses some guiding vision or purpose, followed by a set of practices or behaviors that aim to realize that purpose. Let’s take a look at Ericsson. The first sentence of their vision states, “Our vision is a Networked Society where every person and every industry is empowered to reach their full potential.” That vision declares what this company is aspiring to; it describes the world that they want to help create. Ericsson’s mission statement describes how they plan to proceed: “We…have set out our mission to lead transformation through mobility… We do this in three principal ways…” And then they go on to enumerate those three ways. Occasionally, companies switch up this language and use the word “mission” to describe their overall vision, and the word “values” or “strategy” to explain how they plan to get there. As PwC puts it, “Our purpose is why we exist. Our values define how we behave.”

Building Blocks for Expressing Your Purpose

If your company’s reason for existing is buried in a pile of printed brochures and hasn’t seen the light of day since your founding, or if you’re creating a mission statement for the very first time, it’s helpful to look at how other organizations have chosen to express themselves. Five qualities that characterize the very best mission statements are as follows:

1. Innovation

In most cases, today’s companies are looking to create solutions better than any that existed in the past, and they want their mission statements to express this aim. An example is Samsung’s vision statement, which begins, “Through innovative, reliable products and services…” and then goes on to elaborate how they are “taking the world in imaginative new directions.” Our own mission statement here at Achievers also centers on innovation: The purpose behind what we do every day is “To Change the Way the World Works.”

2. Optimism

Regardless of how mission statements are structured, the one quality they universally share is that of optimism. A statement may specifically address the future role of the company, as when Cott says their vision is “To become the leading North American and European Water, Coffee, Tea and Filtration service provider …” On the other hand, Bank of Montreal (BMO) simply lists as one of their values, “Make Tomorrow Better.”

3. Integrity

Ryan, LLC specifically lists integrity as one of their company’s core values. They promise to “Do the right thing” on their web page, letting employees and customers know that they can trust the company’s honesty. PwC also lists “Act with Integrity” as their very first corporate value. The company identifies the primacy of this value, along with others like “work together” and “make a difference” as the way they strengthen employee alignment.

4. Generosity and Citizenship

Businesses don’t exist in a vacuum. Even a primarily online company still participates in its surrounding community, providing employment and paying taxes. Rogers places the following statement in a bold banner at the top of their “Vision and Strategy” page: “Contributing to our community, economy, and society in a meaningful way.” They go on to elaborate, saying, “We strive to be a good business for our customers and shareholders, a good employer for our people, and a good neighbor in the communities where we operate.” PwC also directs their purpose in an outward direction: “Our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems.”

5. Employee Empowerment

The importance of a company organizing its fundamental principles around employee motivation cannot be overstated. Your employees are your most valuable asset, and managing them well requires a clear declaration of their worth. It makes a real difference when (as with Cott), a company states: “Cott employees worldwide are united by a single, unifying core value: to think and act as owners and as if Cott’s resources and reputation were our own.” One of the values listed by 3M underlines this principle: ” [We will] …value and develop our employees’ diverse talents, initiative and leadership.”

The majority of employees — 57 percent — say they aren’t motivated by their company’s mission statement. This may be because they simply aren’t aware of it: Only 39 percent of workers even know their organization’s mission statement, and just 40 percent say they are familiar with the vision or purpose behind the work they do each day. The next time you’re thinking about revamping your company’s mission statement, remember to keep in mind these shocking stats and leverage our top five company missions and values list.

To learn more about how companies like 3M, Rogers and Ericsson are effectively engaging employees, access their success stories here.

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Develop Strong Self-Esteem

Why Self-Esteem Is Critical to Successful Leadership

I was at the ACE conference hosted by Achievers in San Francisco a few years ago, and the keynote speaker was Dan Harris, a correspondent for ABC News, an anchor for Nightline and co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America and author of the book, 10% Happier. I didn’t know much about Dan except for the title of his book, and I had seen him on the news. I thought he was going to share his personal success story and how he became so accomplished in news media and found his 10% of happiness through his work. But then, he started to tell his story and silenced the audience as he revealed a very vulnerable personal experience with panic attacks. He even showed a video of himself having a panic attack on live television. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been to replay in front of hundreds of people. He went on to admit that he tried to self-medicate with legal drugs and then illegal drugs and finally discovered the power of meditation. His talk was fascinating to me. This reminded me that many people labeled “workaholics” or “overachievers” might have challenges with self-esteem. And it made me question, “When is their success good enough?”

The answer to that question is subjective, and is often left unanswered for years because of feelings of low self-esteem. The actual definition of self-esteem is confidence and satisfaction in oneself. You may be very successful, and still have low self-esteem because you are comparing yourself to someone else and unsatisfied with your results.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Low self-esteem is a funny thing. It shows up in successful people as much as it does in someone we deem as lazy. It also impacts the celebration of success – did we really earn it or deserve it or was it a bit of luck and good timing? On the other hand, a high level of self-esteem can turn into narcissism. Some people who have an excessively high self-regard may experience challenges in relationships and empathy. They may feel the need to put someone else down so they can feel better about themselves.

Low self-esteem is observed in very boisterous personalities and the timid are rarely heard from individuals. Someone could be covering up or overcompensating for low self-esteem by being the loudest in the room while others have a fear of uttering a single word in a crowd.

Low self-esteem is even seen in sports and physical appearance. A low self-esteem may be an overweight individual who doesn’t spend much time on appearance or style, or it may be a perfectly fit individual who is obsessed with body image and outer appearance. It is an odd thing that is not easily discoverable until you really get to know someone.

High self-esteem is not created by receiving praise all the time or listening to motivational talks, but it is built in having connections with others and realizing that setbacks are opportunities to grow, allowing us to have more empathy for others who are struggling. It is about finding confidence and satisfaction in our lives and our accomplishments and knowing when to silence the negative critic.

Self-esteem is a foundational competency of emotional intelligence (EI) skills. Research reveals a link between positive emotional intelligence with high self-esteem, and lower EI is related to depression and stressful behavior.

How Does High Self-Esteem Show up in a Leader?

High self-esteem is found in someone who is not threatened by other ideas. People with high self-esteem have no problem in empowering others and encouraging them to be their best. A leader with low self-esteem can often be controlling and a micro-manager, and someone who doesn’t act in ways that encourage growth and opportunity for others. They often take credit for other people’s work. A high self-esteem leader is often referred to as a servant leader, someone who puts the organization first and is the most committed to its team. This type of leader is concerned about accomplishing team goals and success and not personal gains.

If you have challenges with low self-esteem or a negative voice in your head – what can you do? Here are some suggestions for improving self-esteem:

  1. Stop listening to a negative inner narrative that says you are not good enough – because you are.
  2. Identify what is the worst-case scenario if you were to move forward and take a risk and do something outside of your comfort zone. For example – speak up or offer a different perspective or question an existing program.  Would someone ridicule you or say you are stupid?  Even if they do, what does that say about that person?  Are they working from a high self-esteem?
  3. Speak confidently – join toast masters or a group that teaches you better speaking skills. The more you do it, the better you will become.
  4. Be open to feedback without becoming defensive. If someone offers you constructive feedback they usually have a good intention, and view it is an opportunity for growth.
  5. Practice your “Power Pose” before presenting to a group and increase your testosterone levels by up to 20 % while decreasing stress hormone cortisol by 25%.
  6. Be compassionate to yourself. Practice appreciation for the good things you have in your life, even if they are small. Be kinder to yourself, and imagine if it was someone else speaking to you the way you are speaking to yourself, would you let them get away with it?

Remember, not everything you think is a true picture of reality. Question the critic and be open to new ways of thinking. Continue to practice EI skills because they really make a difference.

Check out my other guest posts for The Engage Blog here. And make sure to sign up for my 2018 public workshops. My first workshop is February 9, 2018 so don’t miss out and register now.

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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.

 

 

Improve Your Onboarding

How to Effectively Get New Hires Up to Speed

Employees are the moving gears behind a business. For this reason, employers must be sensitive on how they treat and engage their workforce. And it starts from the very beginning, an employee’s first day at work. A new hire’s first day is important because it is the day that they get a real first impression of what your company is like and is critical to setting them up for future success. Why is proper onboarding so important? Because a new employee can take up to two full years to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member. Avoid waiting two years for a new hire to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member by getting them up to speed faster. Below are a few tips to effectively onboard new hires:

Clearly Define Your Onboarding Goals

It is vital that new employees have a clear understanding of their specific goals and objectives at your company. Recruiting new employees without clearly spelling to them what is required will only lead to confusion and lower productivity. When onboarding new hires, be very clear about your onboarding goals and expectations. Strategize on how you can build transparency in your workplace and onboarding programs.

A fun and easy way to get a new employee up to speed and on target with their onboarding goals is by pairing him or her with a mentor within the organization. This will help them stay engaged in all activities that take place and have someone to turn to when they have questions. It not only helps both parties build a work relationship with another, but adds to a more engaging work culture. Choosing a mentor who is well versed in the same career path or team projects would be an effective way for employees to collaborate closer together early on. New employees and their mentor may meet once or twice a week to discuss the new hire’s progress and how they are adjusting to the new job.

Foster Strong Employee Relationships

How an employee engages and interacts with rest of the team is very crucial. As part of the Human Resources department, you have a role to play in helping to foster strong relationships amongst coworkers. Interworking relationships is a huge part of work culture and leadership’s relationship with employees in particular has a strong impact. Leaders need to lead by example and have the responsibility to live out the company’s values daily and communicate with those around them. When employees and leadership develop a strong relationship, new hires gain an instant new sense of teamwork and employee alignment.

When new employees feel free and comfortable to reach out to co-workers because of the healthy professional relationships presented, especially for the first few weeks, the learning process becomes easier for them to adapt to their new surroundings and team members.

Promote Your HR Programs

New employees should be quickly introduced to your HR programs and HR tech platforms. For example, if your company has an employee recognition and rewards program, make sure new hires are aware of it and know how to use it as soon as they start. Employee recognition programs connects employees and allows them to recognize each other for hard work. Programs like this not only provide something fun for new hires to become accustomed to but also instantly immerses them into the company culture and fosters a positive work environment. Receiving public recognition on a digital, easy-to-access HR tech platform boosts employee happiness and gives employees insight on what others are working on and accomplishing.

It’s HR’s job to not only implement HR tech platforms and programs correctly but also keep promoting them to new hires and existing employees so there is optimal use and employee engagement.

Ask for Feedback

Employees want to feel like they can be honest and heard at their company. Asking for continuous feedback and reviews are a great way to have healthy and honest conversations on how to improve the employee experience, especially the onboarding process. What better way to discover how to improve the onboarding process than by asking new hires about their experience?

Employees must be given the opportunity to participate in well-constructed outcome based reviews. This can be achieved by developing structured reviews that may include specific ratings, rankings, and written reviews on a mandated frequency. Employee surveys are also a great way to give new employees the opportunity to provide honest feedback about their overall experience and onboarding process. Through real-time feedback and pulse surveys, management is able to make the necessary adjustments and assessments for company initiatives. Getting employee feedback provides HR the insight they need to improve the onboarding process.

Provide the Right Material

New hires should not be left on their own. They should be supported from day one to ensure they feel comfortable in their work environment. Be prepared and stock their working stations with easy-to-digest guideline materials and resources so that they know where to go when they have questions. This includes contact sheets, company guidelines, access information, portal details, time-saving tools, and other onboarding material. New hires should be provided with public administration forms regarding their benefits, taxes, and direct deposits as early as day one. The more useful information, the better. And don’t limit yourself to sharing just health benefits and 401k details, add some fun collateral that represents your company culture and engages employees to want to learn more.

Companies need to invest wisely when it comes to their employees and it starts with putting attention on the onboarding process. The onboarding process is critical when it comes to setting employee up for success. When employees are set up for success, they become more engaged, satisfied, and productive. Don’t fall short with your onboarding initiatives and make sure you get your new hires up to speed quick.

To learn more about how you can enhance the employee experience through a culture of recognition, download this eBook.

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About the Author

Addison Jenning

Addison Jenning is an HR manager and a passionate writer who recruits, motivates and contributes to the development of employees. She oversees the effective and successful execution of the company’s internal strategy. Addison runs Job Descriptions Wiki and she can also be found on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Develop Employees

How Neglecting Employee Development Affects Your ROI

When businesses need to balance the books, they tend to cut corners in areas where they find it difficult to prove a return on investment. For this reason, employee development is often an aspect that gets hit – if not by outright budget cuts, then by general neglect and a lack of increased investment.

While a ROI on employee development programs can sometimes be difficult to prove, making increased investment tough to justify, it is an area where businesses get out what they put in. Below, we take a look at how neglecting your employee development programs can negatively impact your ROI.

The Value of Employee Development

The primary reason for investing in employee development programs for your employees is to provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to carry out their tasks. However, there are many ripple effects as well, ranging from improved productivity amongst those who are well-trained, to a competitive advantage over your rivals.

Of course, the value of employee development also extends to the customer as well. Generally speaking, organizations that invest in comprehensive development programs can expect to see a higher number of sales, as well as improvements to customer retention resulting from superior service.

When people think about staff development, they often view it as a synonym for training, but continuous coaching also has a role to play. Indeed, the CSO Insights 2016 Sales Enablement Optimization Study found that formal and dynamic coaching processes improved sales reps’ quota attainment by as much as 10 percent.

Impact on Employee Retention

One of the biggest effects of neglecting the development of your employees comes in the form of staff turnover. There is a direct link between the amount of time and money you invest in development, and the likelihood of staff members choosing to leave your organization.

For example, businesses on the Fortune 100 “Best Companies to Work For” list provide almost double the number of training hours for full-time employees compared to companies that aren’t on the list. Those Fortune 100 organizations saw their ROI manifested in increased employee retention; they had 65 percent lower staff turnover than other businesses in the same sector.

In the CSO Insights 2015 Sales Compensation & Performance Management Study, it is revealed that turnover is five times higher among sales employees than the US national average. This is problematic, because a single salesperson leaving an organization has the capacity to disrupt that organization for up to a year.

Essentially, what this shows is that neglecting your development programs decreases your overall return on investment, while investing fully in development programs results in a much greater ROI.

The Consequences of Neglect

Crucially, however, it is not simply investment that wins the day. Continuous employee development is a vital part of talent management, meaning that development programs must be in a constant state of evolution, adapting as products, services, business practices and market conditions change.

Neglecting employee development by failing to update procedures, can result in outdated product knowledge, longer ramp up times and a competitive disadvantage when compared to other businesses in the same industry. Worse still, neglecting development by putting it off completely can result in poor morale and unskilled staff.

“Developing employees is the classic example of a management function that’s both highly valued and highly neglected,” says Victor Lipman, writing for Forbes. “For busy managers, generally with too much to do in too little time, it’s a very easy task to put off to some indefinite point in the future.”

Finally, it is crucial that investment in employee development extends beyond new hires, to experienced staff members. According to the 2017 CSO Insights Sales Manager Enablement Report, those who spend more than $5,000 per year on developing sales managers see increased quota and revenue attainment, and improved win rates. Nevertheless, sales managers are three times more likely to receive no training at all than salespeople are.

Important Takeaways

Staff development programs require significant investment, both in terms of time and money, as they must be high in quality and evolve along with business practices and market conditions. However, employee development is also an area where it can be difficult to prove a clear ROI, which is why it is often neglected.

While the most obvious form of neglect is the reduction or removal of development services, it can also manifest as a lack of increased investment when it is needed to meet business demands. Yet, high-quality coaching and training have clear benefits when it comes to improving win rates, as well as revenue and quota attainment.

The consequences of neglecting employee development are numerous and include lower levels of customer retention, out-dated product knowledge and poor quality customer service. Additionally, there is a direct correlation between training provisions and staff turnover, with neglect resulting in more employees leaving a company.

For these reasons, neglecting employee development has a detrimental impact on your ROI. The only way to generate the right level of return from your employee development program is to invest sufficiently, spend ample time on development practices and ensure development is continuous, rather than being targeted exclusively to new hires.

To learn more about employee retention, check out this fun infographic 6 Stats That Speak to Employee Retention

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About the Author  
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director of Miller Heiman Group, a global employee development and sales training firm. It helps organizations develop effective talent management strategies through talent ready assessment. She enjoys sharing her insight and thoughts on talent management strategies and best practices.

 

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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managerial tips

5 Ways Managers Can Transform Themselves into Leaders

A quick search on Amazon.com indicates that there are more than 187,000 books with “leadership” or related words in the title. That’s a lot of content written on a single topic.

However,  the word “leader” has been applied to so many different areas of activity that it has become meaningless. Apart from political and military leaders, we have business leaders, market leaders, industry leaders, thought leaders, and so on.

The concept has become so overused that we’ve lost a true understanding of exactly what leadership is. As a result, today’s employees don’t trust their leaders like they used to. And because of this, many areas of the business might suffer, like employee engagement and employee retention.

That said, earning the title of “manager” is one of the greatest professional milestones a contributor can achieve. It means you’ve been deemed capable enough in your current job to be directing others to do it.

Even though this is a leadership role, actually being seen as a leader is no easy task. It takes a great deal of devotion, stamina, and determination.

A manager is someone who keeps operations running smoothly and ensures tasks are completed to meet the defined criteria. A leader, on the other hand, pushes the envelope and drives innovation.

“A genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus, but a molder of consensus.” – Martin Luther King

Make no mistake, both managerial and leadership roles are essential in business. However, leaders are the ones who tend to be remembered and cement their legacies in the history (and self-help) books. Here is what you can do to be one of the crème de la crème…

1. Exhibit Emotional Intelligence

An emotionally intelligent leader can be defined by five major components:

  1. Self-awareness
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Motivation/passion
  4. Empathy
  5. Social skills

Plain and simple, business is about people, both internally and externally. A good leader is well-aware of this and uses these components to pick up on the sensitivities of those around them. They can see the big picture and acknowledge opinions in the correct context of how they fit into it. Even more, they can anticipate reactions and proceed appropriately on instinct.

In terms of emotional intelligence, perhaps the most valuable trait of effective leaders is their ability to listen critically and observe neutrally. In addition to understanding what others are saying, they also take mental notes of the emotions behind the words. In many cases, these are much more important than the words themselves.

Leaders are visionaries. They know how to work with what they are given and inspire others to collectively achieve long-term goals. Speaking of vision . . .

2. Commit to Your Vision

Managers are committed to an organization and its goals. Their loyalty is to the company, and they have the reliability and inflexibility typical of the “good soldier” in that commitment. They’ll ask staff to push ahead, chasing the company’s aims. But their primary duty is to the organization.

By contrast, leaders are committed to their vision. We hear a lot about how leadership goes hand-in-hand with disruption, but unless you’ve worked with a true leader you don’t necessarily realize that disruption starts at home – in the leader’s own organization. Managers want to keep the show on the road. Leaders ask if it’s the right road, the right show, the right cast. Richard Hackman, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University and a leading expert on teams and teamwork, has this to say:

“Every team needs a deviant, someone who can help the team by challenging the tendency to want too much homogeneity, which can stifle creativity and learning.”

While managers want each day and each operation to run smoothly on well-understood lines toward predefined goals, deviants are the ones who stand back and say, “Well, wait a minute, why are we even doing this at all? What if we looked at the thing backwards or turned it inside out?”

When the Hackman deviant is just another team member, not a leader, they can be shouted down or frozen out, especially by over-organizing managers. But when they’re the one in charge, the whole team is moving toward innovation.

If you want to be a great leader, expect – and cause – the ground to shift under your feet in ways no manager would ever want. Change your vision of commitment before you commit to your vision.

3. Get Your Hands Dirty

Most great leaders have a common trait: their subordinates trust them and demonstrate unflinching loyalty to their cause. To achieve this, you must prove that you are willing to put yourself in the trenches and not delegate any task that you wouldn’t do yourself.

In other words, you must practice what you preach and not be afraid to jump into the thick of things. Working side-by-side with your subordinates will give you a better idea of exactly how things run on the ground level as well as working knowledge of the tools and methodologies your team uses to complete their tasks and streamline job management.

At the end of the day, demanding respect won’t give you the results you want. To actually earn it from those around you, one of the best things you can do is exhibit an all-for-one and one-for-all attitude.

4. Build People Up

When looking at the concept of people management, there are two major theories to consider.

The first one is Theory X. Managers who fall under the purview of Theory X are more pessimistic and generally assume subordinates do not like their job, avoid responsibility, and must be constantly controlled. These managers are typically known for stifling ideas and not focusing on the unique value each person offers. When this is the case, employees can easily lose motivation, resulting in a high turnover rate. In fact, a study by Gallup found that the odds of an employee being engaged are only 9% under such circumstances.

On the contrary, Theory Y is the one most often adopted by respected leaders. These managers live under the assumption that their subordinates are self-motivated and can work on their own initiative. When the work environment of an organization assumes and provides for such a culture, employees feel fulfilled both personally and professionally, and are motivated to do their best work.

Ultimately, it’s much harder for an organization to develop when managers tend to hold people back. A good leader encourages others to speak up and be meaningfully involved in completing the mission, rather than just following orders. Essentially, leaders coach and mentor, managers give commands.

The key to becoming a “Theory Y Leader” is by promoting transparency in the workplace. Make it a point to encourage open communication. Ask for honest feedback and value everyone’s opinions. This is how company cultures evolve and employees feel more engaged.

5. Challenge the Status Quo

As previously stated, managers keep operations running per usual. Leaders are known to break the mold and take risks. Bill Gates dropped out of college to start Microsoft. Alexander the Great marched a tired but undefeated army on and on. The best leaders are not remembered for playing it safe when opportunity arose.

To establish yourself as a leader, you must be willing to step out of your comfort zone, without being intimidated by the idea of failure. While you should always take appropriate precautions and “manage” risk, remember that leaders embrace change, even if there is nothing wrong with the current status quo. Great breakthroughs don’t happen without a significant risk factor.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

Leadership is about finding new and innovative ways to improve the norm. When you take risks, you are not judged by the extent of your success or failure. You are defined by the thought process underlying your approach, how you reacted throughout the execution, and what you did with the outcome.

Over to You

It’s important to note that leadership and management are not mutually exclusive roles. Leaders are managers by nature, and vice versa, in many instances. There will always be a need for someone to keep operations going steady. But for a business to see significant growth and development, managers must strive to push boundaries and claim new territory. The impact of a true leader is profound and influences the way people work and live. Ultimately, true leaders are those who make the world a better place.

Check out The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition to see how leaders can effectively engage, align, and set their employees up for success.

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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.

 

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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Shocking HR Stats

13 Scary Employee Engagement and Recognition Stats That Will Spook You This Halloween

Are you haunted by worries that your best people might quit right before a key deadline? Does lack of team alignment keep you awake at night? Don’t let the tentacles of leadership doubt creep into your brain during hours when you should be rejuvenating. Read through these thirteen hair-raising employee engagement and recognition statistics below and banish any lurking shadows from your company culture.

1. Workers Are Still Rewarded Just for Existing

In a scary throwback to the mid-twentieth century, 87 percent of employee recognition programs center on how long the person has been at the company. While it’s true that minimizing turnover is helpful, nobody comes to work every day because of recognition they’ll be awarded in some future year.

2. Frequent Recognition Gets Overlooked

We know, your life as a manager gets hectic, and you may assume employees can read your mind when you don’t express the appreciation you feel. Pro Tip: They can’t. A Gallup survey finds that only 1 in 3 workers strongly agree that they have been praised or recognized within the past week for doing good work.

3. Most Workers Are Not Engaged

According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workforce report, 51 percent of employees state that they are not engaged in their jobs, which means they’re likely keeping an eye open for a new job. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it? And don’t even think about the distracted workers doing jobs that have a direct bearing on other people’s health and safety.

4. Leaders Are Falling Down on the Job

Gallup provides some truly alarming figures related to the failure of leadership in today’s companies: Only 15 percent of employees “strongly agree” that their management gives them confidence about the future of the company, and only 13 percent state that the company’s leaders communicate effectively throughout the organization.

5. Actively Disengaged Workers: A Problem Waiting to Happen

The number of “actively disengaged” workers, at 24 percent, is nearly double the 13 percent of workers who say they are actively engaged. This can be expensive to your business, as Gallup points out that each instance of employee turnover costs your company an average of 1.5 times the employees’ salary.

6. Recognize Them or Lose Them

Research published in Human Resources Today finds that “the number one reason why people leave jobs is limited recognition and praise.” This is a simple statistic, easy to remember, that will help you keep your talented workers on board for the longer term.

7. Criticism Impairs Thinking

You may think constructive criticism will elicit star performances, but neuroscientists disagree. In fact, criticism activates higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which researchers say “shuts down the thinking center of our brain.” Praise, on the other hand, stimulates the basal ganglia to release pleasure hormones dopamine and oxytocin, which improve performance and attention levels.

8. Lack of Recognition Interferes with Performance

Do employees who aren’t praised work harder, in hopes of eventually being appreciated? Harvard Business Review says “No.” Their research points out that 40 percent of American workers say they would put more effort into their jobs if their employer recognized them more often.

9. Don’t Be Part of This Statistic

The Harvard Business Review study cited above also found that the average employee in their survey reported that it had been 50 days since they last felt recognized for anything they did at work. What number would your average staff person mention, if a surveyor were to ask this question?

10. Millennials Can Slip Away

A recent Deloitte survey found that 2 out of every 3 millennials expect to leave their current job by 2020. One major reason for this restlessness is that this generation feels their skills are not recognized. Only 28 percent of respondents stated that their organization is currently making full use of their skills. To keep your younger workers engaged, you need to recognize their efforts by offering development opportunities.

11. Millennial Need for Flexibility Is Overlooked

Chances are good that the millennials working for you want more flexibility. Eighty-eight percent of younger workers want more schedule flexing authority, while 75 percent want the opportunity to work for home. Meanwhile, only 43 percent of these workers are allowed to work from other locations… so it’s a good bet that some of your staff are surfing the web looking for more adaptable jobs

12. It’s Up to You

Management accounts for 70 percent of the variance in engagement scores. That’s both good and bad news. It means you have a huge influence when it comes to upping your employee engagement scores, but it also means that no other techniques for increasing engagement will be successful if you ignore your role in the solution.

13. Don’t Be Overconfident

You’ve just read a dozen statistics indicating just how big the room for improvement is. Here’s one last warning to take with you: 89 percent of senior managers feel that their company is actually very good at recognizing their workers. This means they probably won’t change. Don’t be part of that overconfident group.

The figures above come from a range of sources, but they all deliver one single message: Rewarding and recognizing your employees is a no-brainer. You work hard on all kinds of complex tasks in order to bring success and sustainability to your company. Don’t overlook the most obvious — and simple — building block of workforce loyalty: prompt, varied employee appreciation.

For more insight on the importance of recognition in the workplace, check out Achievers’ eBook, Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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Strengthen Leadership

What Does a Self-Aware Leader Look Like at Your Organization?

Although most organizations spend much of their training budget on technical skills, a large percentage of leaders do not have the necessary skills and emotional competencies to manage the demands of the new economy.

In Dan Goleman’s book, Working with Emotional Intelligence, his research shows that emotional intelligence (EI) is twice the indicator of leadership success as IQ and technical skills combined. He further explains that once people leave school and enter the workforce, IQ and technical skills are often equal among those climbing the professional ladder. The differentiator is emotional intelligence (hear Goleman discuss his research in this video on YouTube).

Mr. Goleman has written several books and articles about how stellar career performance requires a leader to have a combination of business strategy knowledge and interpersonal skills. Many leaders don’t have the qualifications to mentor, lead, adapt, inspire, and manage others on their team.

Drawing from decades of analysis of great companies, Mr. Goleman has identified that powerful leaders excel by connecting with others using emotional intelligence (EI) competencies like mindfulness, self-awareness and empathy. These skill sets exist outside the domain of technical skills or IQ.

The idea of emotional intelligence is rooted in psychology and neuroscience. It suggests that when the emotional part of our brain, the amygdala, feels threatened it triggers a fight-or-flight response that can cause people to act irrationally.

Acting in an emotionally intelligent way, one that is self-aware and aware of the emotions and motives of others, can help rewire our physiological responses in times of stress and crisis. Providing tools to leaders on how to self-manage and successfully communicate with others is highly effective in times of tension and complexity. We need more leaders who can deliver a difficult message in an authentic way, creating a trusting environment without hidden agendas.

What can you do to start to build on your own EI skills?

It starts with self-awareness. How do you respond in high-pressure moments? Are you able to understand and recognize your strengths and areas of challenge? Is there a voice in your head that is saying you are not good enough?

To become a self-aware leader, it takes time, guts, vulnerability, and experiencing failure. One of my favorite quotes from Michael Jordan is “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

Here are some things you can do to become a more self-aware leader:

  1. Test yourself or take assessments:
    Participate in a 360-Assessment, StrengthFinders, Disk, Myers-Briggs or Color Code. There are several assessments, and each one offers a great opportunity to learn more about yourself. Know your strengths and areas of challenge and get to know your peers and team members. Understand what ignites you and what triggers you.
  2. Ask for feedback
    Do you know how your emotions impact behaviors, and can you recognize when you have impacted someone else negatively? Ask your circle of influence how you are doing and what can you do to improve. Sometimes the best advice comes from others on your team. Find a mentor – someone who can offer constructive feedback without you becoming defensive.
  3. Identify patterns in your own decision making and behaviors
    Write down why you made a buying decision or why you hired or fired someone. Did it turn out as you expected? Understand your own emotional needs and what causes you to be triggered. Understand how you respond during pressure moments and move away from bad habits that sabotage your best performance. Identify things that have happened in your past that may not be serving your present or future.
  4. Learn from your setbacks or failures
    Don’t let a failure define you. Optimist view failure as a short-term setback. Are you willing to do something different and have you changed your game? Be willing to take a risk or be vulnerable to grow as a leader. Look at opportunities to balance intuition with reason and logic when taking risks.

Effective self-awareness cannot be thought of as a soft science or new age meditation. It is vital to your leadership growth. As a business coach, I find many leaders are not aware enough to admit they have a problem or opportunity for growth. Often, awareness does not come to them until they experience a significant setback. Don’t wait – work on your self-awareness right now and see the impact on your Emotional Intelligence, and then see how Emotional Intelligence will change the way you work and live.

If you would like to learn more about EI, check out the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence.

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About the Author
Bobi Seredich Headshot
Bobi Seredich is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence in Phoenix, Arizona.  She can be reached at bobi@swiei.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Execute Great Performance Management

Building Blocks of Great Performance Management: 3 Common Goals

Before we hit that reboot button on our performance management programs, let’s be absolutely clear on what performance management actually is, and why we should be doing it. As diverse as organizations are (and as diverse as their PM solutions should be) it is helpful to anchor our thinking within a basic framework. This framework represents the universal outcomes of strong performance programs— outcomes that I’ve come to recognize as indicators of great organizational performance. Think of these three interrelated goals as the essence of all performance programs and the basis from which each organization’s unique differences evolve. More simply, consider them the fundamental building blocks for the design project ahead of you.

In my experience, every high performing organization is ultimately using its performance management program to:

  1. Develop people’s skills and capabilities
  2. Reward all employees equitably
  3. Drive overall organizational performance

How these goals are prioritized or emphasized—what “good” looks like related to each goal—will differ from organization to organization. So too will the way each organization sets about making those goals a reality. But any high-performing organization will have some combination of these three ingredients in its performance management recipe.

Now let’s get familiar with our ingredients.

Goal #1: Develop People

It seems obvious that the development of employees should be a key outcome of any performance solution. After all, isn’t that what performance reviews and career discussions are all about? Well, yes, they should be. But as we discussed earlier, this objective is often the one that loses out. And things get especially muddled when we get hung up on our rewards and ratings processes. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

So let’s think about what a strong performance management solution that’s truly focused on developing people might look like. First, it should provide in-the-moment coaching, helping individuals to understand what went well and what could be enhanced the next time around. We all know this intuitively, but many of us are so used to stockpiling this feedback for the annual review that we don’t do this for our employees. Further, in-the-moment coaching provides suggestions to support their growth in an environment that allows them to absorb this feedback without feeling threatened or having something at risk (like their pay raise).

Next, individuals should have information at their disposal that provides insight into what is expected in their current role and any future roles to which they hope to advance. Resources for development might include mentors or coaches who are their advocates within the organization. There should also be self-assessment and training tools that would link to their development plan, providing ideas and resources to support their unique goals.

Goal #2: Reward Equitably

First, let’s be clear on what the word really means. ‘Equitable’ is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘fair and impartial.’ It’s important to note that ‘equally’ and ‘equitably’ are not the same thing. For example, let’s say you worked for three weeks writing a strategy for a new business unit, and your peer had proofread it and tuned it up for you. I’d sure hope you’d want your peer to receive some recognition for her support, but I doubt you’d be happy if her reward and recognition was equal to yours. Instead, you’d want the recognition to be equitable, meaning each of you would get as much credit as you deserve.

When organizations speak of differentiated pay and rewards, they are looking for those rewards to be distributed in an equitable manner—fairly, unbiased, and consistent with the level of contribution or impact. It’s also important to note that rewarding equitably is not just about pay. We’re talking about total rewards: compensation, formal and informal recognition, benefits, promotions, project assignments, you name it.

It’s also important to remember that, from an employee’s perspective, equity is all about fairness. While extrinsic rewards are rarely a driver of human behavior, the belief that a system is unfair or biased is a significant driver for dissatisfaction. In other words, confidence that the system is equitable makes for happy and engaged employees. In order to achieve that sense of fairness, you need to get a clear view of what reward equitably means to your organization and how you can best achieve that goal in your unique environment.

Goal #3: Drive Organizational Performance

There’s been plenty of research that has demonstrated the correlation between an employee’s connectedness to the mission and vision of his or her company and the measurable performance of that organization. We now understand how important it is to assure that teams and individuals are fully aligned to the goals of the company.

I’m talking about individuals and teams feeling an emotional connection to the purpose of the organization. That means they understand the vision, they believe in it, they want to be a part of it, and they see how their work and roles contribute to the broader goal. Remember, however, that this connection must also translate into a framework that helps each employee make good decisions and focus on the right work, day in and day out.

Driving organizational performance might sound like it has more to do with the organization than the employee, but it doesn’t. Sure, organizations want their teams and employees aligned, doing the right work, and not wasting time on efforts that are off-strategy. But we have to recognize that, as humans, we also crave the feeling of being a part of something. Most people want to feel like the work they are doing is important and purposeful. This connectedness is a vital part of an employee’s career satisfaction and overall performance, and considering that career satisfaction is of value to both the organization and the individual, we must find ways to make sure it happens.

As I’ve said, each organization is unique, with differing levels of maturity, mixtures of employee demographics, and diverse cultures and values. You will—and should—interpret and emphasize the Three Common Goals in a way that makes the most sense for you and your strategic goals. But make sure you think long and hard about each as you’re building your new solution. Ignore these important building blocks at your peril!

For more information on how to accurately measure key business objectives like performance, check out Achievers’ eBook Four Places to Start Measuring What Matters.

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About the Author
Tamra Chandler
Tamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.

 

 

 

 

Elite 8

Meet the Elite 8 Winners Recognized for Exceptional Commitment to Employee Engagement

The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards aim to encourage companies to reflect on the work environments they’ve curated. The quality of an output, whatever it may be, is defined by the people who execute on the process and is indicative of how engaged they are with their work. There is no exact science to employee engagement: its composition varies based on the values and mission of a company, but there are 8 elements that consistently align with engagement. As we reviewed the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards applications, we kept a special eye out for applicants that excelled in these specific elements of employee engagement: are you ready to meet the Elite 8?

Leadership

Alliance Data Systems is the engine behind loyalty and marketing campaigns for more than 1,000 consumer-facing companies worldwide. Leader transparency and interaction is a priority for them: their CEO visits most of their locations around the world every year to speak with associates, answer questions and share the long-term vision.

Communication

Electronic Arts is a leading global interactive entertainment software company that delivers games, content and online services across a variety of platforms. Agile goals that evolve alongside career development plans or business priorities paired with real-time feedback ensure constant, candid communication flows.

Culture

ARI combines ideas, technology and human perspective to curate an automotive fleet management experience that optimizes performance and impacts customers’ bottom line. Family defines their culture: from internal priorities that foster career development and recognition, to an emphasis on personal interaction – caring is key at ARI.

Rewards & Recognition

ATB Financial takes an Albertan-centric approach to banking to help foster successes within the communities of Alberta. They strive to embed recognition in their company DNA to increase personal equity, company commitment and customer service.

Professional & Personal Growth

ArcelorMittal Dofasco is Canada’s largest flat-rolled steel producer and a hallmark of advanced manufacturing in North America. From global assignments and leadership development to apprenticeship program and tuition refund, emphasis is placed on helping employees grow their careers internally.

Accountability & Performance

Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited transforms communities for a vibrant tomorrow: one of largest owners, operators and developers of retail, office, mixed-used properties in North America. Company-wide objective setting and performance coaching ensures alignment on business objectives and clarity surrounding expectations of team members.

Vision & Values

Reynolds American (RAI) and its operating companies have a bold vision to achieve US market leadership through the transformation of the tobacco industry by meeting emerging marketplace demands for innovative tobacco products while redefining how a tobacco company can help reduce the harm caused by smoking. RAI employees are innovative trailblazers who are connected by common core values to drive innovation and ignite the breakthroughs that are changing an entire industry.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Total Quality Logistics is a freight brokerage firm in North America that keeps the economy moving by connecting customers needing to move truckload, LTL or intermodal freight to carriers with the capacity to move it. They established their program to organize and amplify employee’s philanthropic efforts.

There you have it. Eight companies who have identified and developed the engagement element that drives their success. An idea can only thrive if it has the right people to execute on it: employee engagement matters.

Learn more by reading the press release announcing the Elite 8 here.

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About the Author

Sarah Clayton

Sarah Clayton is the Communications and Campaigns Specialist at Achievers, where she focuses on generating content to drive desired recognition behaviors and engagement on the platform.

 

 

 

ACE 2017 Achievers Customer Experience

ACE 2017: Day One Highlights

Achievers annual mix of festivity and networking is in full swing with the 50 Most Engaged Workplace Awards Gala and day one of Achievers Customer Experience 2017 (ACE 2017) already in the books.

The 7th annual Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces took place on Monday, September 11th at the historic Saenger Theater in New Orleans. Amidst the finely dressed titans of the HR space, exquisite cuisine, and glamorous ambiance was the highlight of the show, celebrating the companies that go above and beyond in the employee engagement space as determined by a panel of employee engagement experts. After this incredible evening of industry elegance, Achievers announced the crème de la crème, the eight most engaged workplaces. This year, the Elite Eight consists of:

  • Alliance Data for Leadership
  • Electronic Arts for Communication
  • ARI for Culture
  • ATB Financial for Rewards & Recognition
  • ArcelorMittal Dofasco for Professional & Personal Growth
  • Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited for Accountability & Performance
  • Reynolds American, Inc. for Vision & Values
  • Total Quality Logistics for Corporate Social Responsibility

After an unforgettable night of celebration, ACE 2017 kicked-off on a positive vibe. Prominent members of the Achievers Leadership team shared the success story of CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System. After partnering with Achievers in 2012, CHRISTUS St. Michael saw:

  • a 4,500% increase in recognition given compared to the organization’s prior “home-grown” manual paper solution.
  • a 10% increase in associate engagement specific to leadership recognition from 66% to 77%.
  • a decreased turnover rate to an impressively low 6.4%, significantly below the industry standard annual turnover rate of 19.6%.

In addition to the A-players of Achievers, the opening session featured Blackhawk Network CEO Talbott Roche, who said of the event, ““This is all about celebrating the success you have with Achievers. One of my favorite topics is about innovation. Achievers’ platform is used to drive not just business results, but also innovation through engagement. It’s about how to use a platform to deeply engage. Engaged employees matter to company success. Companies with engaged workers have 6% higher financial results.”

After the keynote speeches ended, it was onto the fantastic slate of HR thought leaders discussing hot-button HR tech topics like employee engagement, rewards and recognition, and how to gain executive buy-in for engagement initiatives. Among the many memorable sessions was a presentation from Rocky Ozaki of NOW Innovations, who shared culture and operational best practices you should adopt to compete in the NoW. Beginning with a brief glimpse into the history of work, Rocky explained how the connected generation, technology and the sharing economy have solidified that the future is NoW.

With the war for talent raging, attracting top talent is harder than ever before. There is a remedy that can alleviate the need for competing for the most talented candidates on the market: retaining the top talent you do have. Cara Silletto, President and Chief Retention Officer of Crescendo Strategies offered insight into how companies can be better aligned with the wants and needs of a constantly evolving workforce, ensuring that the talent you’ve worked so hard to obtain stays with your company for the long haul.

ACE 2017 also featured numerous testimonials from Achievers customers illustrating how an investment in employee engagement can lead to tangible business results such as decreased employee turnover, increased productivity, and an improved bottom line. Becky Etsby, Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Organizational Development at Coborn’s, an employee-owned grocery store with more than 120 locations, stated as much during her presentation, “When employees are engaged, they really do care about the company and can affect a company’s profitability”.

After such an amazing day, it is hard to believe there is more to come. With speakers like Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 fighter pilot, day two of ACE 2017 is sure to be equally amazing. Check out all the amazing photos from Day 1 of ACE 2017 here.

Follow the conversation on social media with #AACE17 and follow us on Twitter @ Achievers.

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Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala, always a marquee event

Brie Harvey

Brie Harvey, the face of ACE

50 ME Awards

50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala

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A-players with A-plus smiles

ACE Social Event

Achievers’ Greg Brown and Chase Dolomont getting their grub on

ACE 2017 Stilt/Juggler

Post ACE march to B.B. King’s

ACE 2017 Tarot Card Reading

“I see in your future a trip to ACE 2018”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hack your culture

The 4 C’s That Should Define Your HR Department

Since publishing my new book, Culture Hacker, a couple of months ago, I have had some great conversations and brainstorming sessions with Human Resource leaders and Executives across organizations about how to hack their culture and improve their overall employee experience. One outcome has been the development of my ‘Four C’s’ that I believe highlight the required direction of Human Resource leaders and their departments in the future. The 4 C’s refer to the HR leader and department being a Catalyst, Coach, Conductor, and Consultant within their organization. Let’s consider each in detail.

Catalyst

As a Catalyst, the HR team must be proactive and stop waiting for permission to facilitate a cultural change. I have spoken to many HR leaders who seem to be waiting for approval to begin their culture initiatives. First, culture is not an initiative- it is the collective mindset of your people. The question is not whether you have a culture, because you do. The real question is- what are you doing to positively influence the attitude of your staff to be great with customers, perform at a high level and contribute to your organization? The area of opportunity is to partner with your operations teams and work on how to improve the experience of their employees so that they are better at what they do and focused on staying where they are. Retaining employees is a key topic in today’s business world, as research from Gallup suggests that a staggering 47% of the workforce says now is a good time to find a quality job. Furthermore, 51% employees are actively looking for new jobs or watching for openings. The time is now to be the catalyst for a great employee experience.

As a catalyst, you must also be inspirational to those in the organization. Challenge the status quo and mundane by stimulating how employees in the organization think. This can be done by offering training classes, marketing ideas or quotes in screen savers or posters, circulating videos, putting out company challenges, and being a spark for thoughtful conversation when in meetings. You can stimulate the brain at any age and as long as the brain is being stimulated, people are thinking, evolving, and changing, which is necessary in today’s business environment.

Employees

Coach

As a Coach, the HR team must be out in the operations providing feedback to the managers on how they lead their teams. Author, John Le Carre, said, “the desk is a dangerous place from which to judge the world”, and I think HR spends way too much time at their desks. HR managers should spend time alongside managers guiding them on how to be better with their people. We believe 60% of all learning happens on the job, so HR cannot just limit their influence to only the classroom. 20% of all learning comes from getting effective feedback, yet it is rare for managers to get regular feedback on how they are leading. When was the last time your training team was in the operation giving feedback to managers on what they taught them in the classroom? Good trainers have operations and leadership experience and are not afraid of working alongside those they teach. They teach leadership development and have experience in managing teams. However, the reality is that many of the trainers teaching leadership classes today have little experience inspiring teams. This point leads to my next piece of advice for HR Leaders, be a conductor.

Conductor

As a Conductor, HR Executives must, like an orchestra conductor, oversee a group of experts rather than generalists. There are many aspects to being an effective HR department and I often see people moving around various roles in order to gain experience in everything that makes the department run. As a result, we often have very smart and capable generalists filling the positions, but the problem is that HR Executives need to be more focused on building a team of experts.

As an example, HR needs its own data specialists because for HR to be an effective partner in the modern business, they must be collecting and understanding data from a number of touchpoints. When it comes to training, stop promoting the capable administrator who always wanted to teach others. The great trainers, the ones that make you think and feel at the same time, have specific skills, personality traits, and experience that make them stand out. Also, developing content that resonates and stands out is not as easy as putting together a few bullet points on a slide. I truly believe the reason so many employees do not like training is because we do not have expert trainers designing and delivering content.

I also believe you need to have a manager coaching your team, or someone with management experience who can be a guide, resource, and support to your managers. HR needs to put all of its efforts into enabling and empowering their management teams rather than doing things for them, like facilitating tough conversations. I see HR departments putting too much emphasis on the staff and therefore largely ignore the most important group they should influence – their managers. Get experts on your team and elevate your office’s ability to deliver real results throughout the business.

Consultant

My final point is to be a consultant. As a consultant myself, I rely on data, introduce new ideas and best practices, develop plans, get the right people involved to execute that plan, and ensure the plan is executed. As indicated already, HR needs accurate data that will reinforce the importance of the employee experience in performance, customer satisfaction, retention, and even profitability. There are plenty of business cases, such as Lowe’s in my book, indicating that happy employees lead to better customer satisfaction, sales, and overall performance. Each HR business unit needs to have their own data.  As author Daniel Keys Moran says, “you can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” A focus on data will allow you to focus on facts- not feelings, which will introduce an ability to develop the right plan over the one you have used a dozen times before.

Next, ensure you are up to date with best practices and ideas that influence how employees are working today. There is so much HR technology available that has intentions to elevate the employee experience. If only the HR department would make it a focus…

Once data and ideas come together, develop a plan that includes objectives, measurements, due dates, assignments, and an understanding of the resources required. Too few HR teams have plans that are being shared across the organization, which is crazy because any HR plan should involve and affect every part of the organization. Once you have a plan, get the key people from across the organization on board and engaged with it. As the consultant, you will work through other managers and teams to make the positive changes you are looking to implement. And remember, you must hold everyone accountable to deliver as required. Managers work to fulfill their list of priorities and if they think the HR plan is not a priority, then it becomes an after thought. As a consultant, I require direct access to the organization’s President or owner so that I can be assured I can enforce the responsibilities assigned. It is important for you to have the same support and access.

This may seem like a lot, but then again what isn’t these days. In companies today, culture is no longer just an HR thing, it is a business thing. By being a catalyst, coach, conductor, and consultant within an organization, you elevate the credibility, relevancy, and influence of your team to truly help everyone else deliver a great business. Good luck.

Learn how to create an unbeatable culture and employee experience by downloading the eBook Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience.

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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 Inc., Cisco Systems, and BMW to reprogram their employee experiences to create loyal customers and raving fans. Visit www.ShaneGreen.com to learn more.

Follow Shane on Twitter: @_ShaneGreen
Connect with Shane on LinkedIn: Shane Green’s LinkedIn Profile

 

 

First-Time Managers Guide

Leading the Team: Tips for First-Time Managers

Congratulations, you’ve been promoted! Your hard work, enthusiasm, and initiative has finally paid off and you’ve been tasked with leading a team of your own. But how? Now that you find yourself standing in front of a sea of expectant faces, are you supposed to do that?

Transitioning into a first-time manager can be a very stressful experience and the importance of effective management has never been clearer. According to Gallup, the odds of an employee being engaged are a dismal 1 in 11 (9%), and when an organization’s leadership focuses on the strengths of its employees, the odds soar to almost 3 in 4 (73%). Now is the time to seize your new opportunity as a first-time manager and develop into a strong and influential leader for your team.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer up some handy tips for all you first-time managers to help you get off to the right start and put those leadership skills of yours to good use.

But first…

A Word of Warning About Management Styles

We all have bosses, managers, and influential people in our lives who we admire and strive to be like. Nobody forgets a great leader, so it’s only natural that we should want to imitate their style.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a step back and asking yourself, “What would my favorite manager do?” when you encounter a tricky situation. However, trying too hard to do things your management idol’s way will only limit your own potential in the long run.

Committing to a leadership style before you’ve begun to lead might be comforting, but it makes as much sense as deciding to dress for summer all year-round just because you’re a fan of warm weather—as well as looking spectacularly out of place most of the time, you’ll probably end up doing yourself more harm than good!

So by all means, be aware of the most common management styles in your industry, but don’t be too hasty to pigeonhole yourself. After all, you were hired for being you, not your ability to mimic someone else.

With that out of the way, let’s move on to those all-important management dos and don’ts.

Don’t:

Lay Down the Law

It can be tempting to try to exert your authority early on by adopting a tough, no-nonsense persona in the workplace.

By going out of your way to establish yourself as authoritative, however, you’ll inevitably end up overreacting at some point and respond to a situation inappropriately.

Come down too hard on your team and you’ll cause them to question your leadership abilities, not to mention make them reluctant to come to you in times of need. Keep calm, keep it real, and be yourself.

Shake Things Up Too Early

If this is your first management role, you’re probably itching to show the people at the top that they backed the right horse when they chose you for the job. However, you should hold off on making any drastic changes to your department until you’ve been in your new position for at least a month.

It’s perfectly natural to want to make your mark on your team, and you’ll undoubtedly have targets to hit, but the people you’re managing already have one major new thing to get used to: you. Don’t complicate matters further by making any drastic changes until you have a solid understanding of what works and have earned your team’s trust.

Try to Be Everyone’s Buddy

In some situations, employees get along well with their managers. Their personalities gel, and with so little friction in the workplace, they come to forget all about the boss-employee dynamic that exists beneath the surface.

Sadly, situations like these are rarer than we might like to think.

Trying to be everybody’s buddy at the same time as overseeing their work can eventually run into problems and in some cases, be met with suspicion from your team, who’ll interpret your attempts to befriend them as insincere.

By all means, extend the hand of friendship to the people you work with, but don’t be surprised (or offended!) if they’re reluctant to take it right away.

Be a Control Freak

Nobody likes working under a manager who over-delegates. On the flipside, though, you should be careful not to keep your staff on too short a rein.

A good manager knows how and when to delegate, trusting the members of their team to follow instructions and carry out work unsupervised. By trying to take on the bulk of the work yourself, you not only risk burnout, but your team will come to resent you and will start looking for more challenging positions elsewhere.

Besides, how will you ever know what your team are really capable of if you don’t give them the freedom to do their thing?

Take the Credit for Your Team’s Work

Be careful not to take the credit for the work that those on your team have done in your quest to show your skill as a new leader.

You might wish that you’d been the one who came up with that great new idea for a product or way to cut costs, but don’t forget that as a manager, you’re there to bring out the best in your people and for your ability to spot a good idea when it’s floated.

Embrace your role and celebrate your individual team members when they achieve something great—if you do, your team will embrace you in return as their manager.

Do:

Be the Employee You Want Your Employees to Be

Nobody likes working for a boss with double standards. It’s no fun when your manager rolls into work late, misses their own deadlines and spends the morning chatting by the watercooler, only to berate anyone on their team who behaves similarly.

A team is only as good as its manager, and if you want your team to commit to their roles, then you need to be a living, breathing example for them to follow, every single day.

That means showing up on time, sticking to your own deadlines, keeping your promises, and resisting the temptation to take those extended lunch breaks under the guise of “business meetings”.

It’s not all about working hard though—your team will also be taking cues from you on how to strike a healthy work-life balance. Be sure to impress upon them the need to step away from their desks at lunchtime. Take regular breaks to refresh yourself during work hours. Book your vacation time well in advance and encourage them to do the same.

Get Yourself a Manager Buddy

No matter how strong your team is, it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself having to handle a difficult or awkward situation in your new position as manager. Often, you’ll have to rely on your gut feeling, but it’s a good idea to reach out to a fellow manager so that you can ask their advice and share your experiences.

Your manager buddy needn’t be someone that you have contact with every day, but it’s helpful to have someone within your company that you can confide in and ask for guidance.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help—you might have been promoted based on your aptitude for leadership, but that doesn’t mean that you have to work everything out on your own 100 percent of the time.

Show Humility

“Fake it till you make it” might work in the world of show business, but as a new manager you should never be tempted to bluff your way through a tricky situation just to save face.

Your team will be watching you very closely during your first few weeks, trying to work out what kind of boss you’ll be and whether they can rely on you. There’s nothing wrong with feigning confidence if you’re nervous, but if your team catches on to the fact that you’re making things up just to avoid embarrassment, they’ll immediately lose faith in you.

It’s far better to show a little humility in your work and admit it when you need to go and check something before making a decision. Sure, your pride will take a hit, and you’ll look slightly less infallible, but being straight with your team will make you much more likeable, and your staff will appreciate your honesty.

Look for Opportunities, Not Weaknesses

It can be tempting to prove your worth as a manager by immediately highlighting any obvious weak links within your team upon your arrival, but keep in mind that it’s your job to bring out the best in people, not point out their faults.

Try to think of yourself as a sports coach who has been brought in to train an existing squad. Every member of your team, having been recruited by your talent scout, is there for a reason. They’re up to the task. What you’re there for is to nurture their abilities and get them working as a unit.

Talk to them individually. Identify the areas where they can improve and look for ways that you can play to their strengths. Your end goal is to grow your team to the point that its members can one day go off and become managers themselves.

Take Responsibility

There are few things worse than a manager who deflects responsibility onto their team when things go wrong.

Being promoted to the rank of leader might grant you additional perks and higher pay, but it also strengthens, rather than weakens, your connection to the team you’re managing. Therefore, when a member of your team drops the ball, you should consider it your fumble just as much as it is theirs—you don’t get to join the other managers on the sideline, shaking your head.

Take responsibility for your team’s missteps and show solidarity with your players—it’s the only way to win their full support and prove that your “we’re all in this together” mantra isn’t just corporate lip-service.

Embrace Your New Opportunity

Being promoted to the rank of manager can be scary, but it’s also a hugely exciting time in anyone’s career.

Instead of obsessing over the need to prove your worth, focus on getting on with the task at hand. People will judge you on how you conduct yourself, your willingness to succeed, and the change you ultimately effect. What they won’t do is applaud you for adopting a realistic managerial persona and the amount of time you spent stressing about acting the part.

Now that I’ve wrapped up a quick guide for you on how to get started as a first-time manager, it’s time to embrace your new role. Good luck!

To learn more about how to be an effective leader, check out Achievers’ blog 5 Pillars of Great Leadership.

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About the Author
Phil KendallPhilip Kendall is the digital marketing and social media executive at RotaCloud, a UK-based startup that provides cloud-based staff scheduling solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. A writer, blogger and lifelong tech nerd, Phil is never far away from a keyboard, and has worked as everything from a freelance food writer to managing a team of writers for a Tokyo-based news and entertainment site.

 

 

Improve Work Culture

Using HR Tech to Strengthen vs. Separate Your Company Culture

How many of us have ever been out to dinner and looked around to see that every person at the table is on a mobile device? Or observed a group of young people hanging out “together” while barely lifting their eyes from a screen? When we see technology being used this way (or are guilty of too much screen time ourselves) it can be easy to assume technology is pushing human beings apart.

And while internet addiction is a real thing (as one psychologist put it, we’re “carrying around a portable dopamine pump”) there is little evidence proving that technology as a whole is hurting our ability to communicate or empathize. In fact, when used correctly, it can improve these qualities.

In our personal lives, the proper use of technology can give us greater exposure to different perspectives and ways of expressing ourselves. In the workplace, HR tech can strengthen company culture by providing more avenues to engagement and socializing, while increasing productivity.

Here are five ways you can use HR technology to strengthen your company’s culture:

  1. Make Communication Comfortable (and Fun)

Many HR tech platforms include social feeds that allow employees to chat as a group, in smaller channels, or one-on-one. These channels are constantly adding fun features like emojis, reward badges, and GIFs that make using chat applications similar to how employees communicate with friends outside of work.

Far from making it less likely that employees engage with each other face-to-face, internal social channels enhance communication. They allow employees to connect, collaborate, and share a laugh, even during busy periods. They also create the freedom for employees who are introverted or not comfortable in a live, large group setting to be involved. And they create opportunities for employee recognition, particularly for remote teams.

  1. Create Transparency

Transparency is a bit of a buzzword in the modern workplace. It’s important to company culture because it implies trust, which is the basis of any strong relationship. But transparency can be hard to facilitate. First, leadership and managers across the organization must agree on what transparency means to your company. Next, a company must ensure that transparency is equitable. Is your CMO sharing profitability data with his team while your CTO is failing to share the same with hers?

HR tech can revolutionize the way you approach transparency. You can use social feeds to ensure the same messages are going company-wide, create universal trainings in your learning management system, and democratize access to your company leadership. You can also compile and share data on company culture itself, so employees can monitor progress.

  1. Prove the ROI of Culture Initiatives

When budgets are tight, it’s often employee-focused expenses such as team outings or performance awards that get the boot. These costs have long been considered as “nice-to-haves” that may bring out the smiles, but won’t bring in the revenue.

Using HR tech, you can disprove this line of thinking by tying real analytics to your company’s culture initiatives. After each culture effort, you can track real-time data to see how both performance and engagement have been affected. You can then use that data to discuss the ROI of these initiatives with your leadership. Happy employees impact the bottom line in a couple of ways. First, they are more productive. Second, they are less likely to leave (or even be absent) which means less money needs to be spent recruiting, hiring, and training replacements.

  1. Increase Benefit Engagement

HR teams spend vast quantities of time researching and implementing employee benefits that they believe will strengthen company culture. However, many employees aren’t taking advantage of those benefits from employer 401k matching to health and wellness to time off.

Often, lack of engagement with benefits is due to a lack of knowledge — the options, setup, or fine print are confusing; vacation days aren’t properly tracked; the right channels don’t exist to answer questions. HR tech can make benefits more approachable upfront and manageable in the long-term. You can use them to house benefits training opportunities, to make set-up simple, and to make it easy for employees to monitor their own usage. You can also automate reminders to both employees and managers, so that everyone knows, for example, when you need to push someone to take a vacation day.

  1. Revamp Employee Recognition

In our high-speed lives, it can be difficult to find time for “niceties” like employee recognition. And with only so much bandwidth available to focus on their teams, managers often turn their attention to employees who need extra support to succeed, assuming their top-performers are just fine on their own. While those people may be independent operators, it’s still vital that they’re acknowledged for their work. Recognition for a job well done is a huge component of employee satisfaction. In fact, 93% of employees hope to be recognized at least quarterly, if not more.

HR tech can automate both the reminders for and the process of recognizing employees. It can also track these efforts so you know if some employees are being accidently left out.

HR tech is no longer just about payroll and performance management, it’s about people. When you shift your thinking of HR tech as a help, rather than a hindrance, to communication and connectivity, you’ll see your company culture shift as well.

To learn more about the evolution of HR technology, check out Achievers’ blog post A Brief History and Future of HR Technology.

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About the Author
Taylor Burke is a contributor for TechnologyAdvice.com. She’s passionate about great company cultures. When she’s not in front of her screen, you can find Taylor reading, cooking, running, or hanging with her dog—but rarely all four at once. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

 

encourage employees

5 Ways to Empower Employees to Do Their Best Work

A business or team can only be as successful as the sum of its parts. There are several companies with effective leaders that struggle with employee turnover or poor performance. According to one Gallup poll, 24 percent of employees who aren’t in a leadership or management role feel disconnected from the company or team.

This can decrease employee satisfaction, which significantly affects performance; if employees no longer care about their job, why would they care about doing it well? Empowering your employees to do their best work and be an integral part of your company can reduce their disengagement, and in turn, boost performance.

Here are a few ways to do exactly that:

1. Challenge Your Employees (Within Reason)

To avoid employees becoming bored or stagnant with their duties or roles, set goals. This helps to push them past their comfort zone and realize their potential. The goal is to set the bar high, but not too high—the goals should be attainable, yet still challenging to reach.

To set goals that empower your employees, keep these seven tips in mind:

  • Align goals with company objectives.
  • Allow employees to identify their own job-specific goals.
  • Use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed upon, Realistic, Time-based) rule.
  • Make them attainable.
  • Keep goals between employees consistent.
  • Reward those who achieve their goals.
  • Work closely with those who miss the mark.

All of these tips allow you to use goals as a way to empower employees. They’ll just need a little guidance along the way.

2. Define Opportunities for Upward Mobility

No employee wants to be stuck in a dead-end job. If your staff feels there is no opportunity to advance in your company, they’ll seek opportunities to do so elsewhere. Be transparent and communicative about how staff members can earn more money, take on a bigger role, or advance in leadership.

“Even in the best-case scenario where managers are holding regular performance reviews with their employee, employees often don’t understand how to move either horizontally or vertically in an organization,” according to Louis Efron from Forbes. He continues, “But, for any employee that is worth retaining, a manager must make clear to them how and where they can move forward on their career path.”

In many cases, there may not be a clear trajectory for an employee within a company. In this case, uncover employees’ strengths, desires, and interests to see how they can take a larger role within the organization. When they know there’s room for growth, they’re empowered to get to that next level.

3. Encourage Open Communication

Do you have an open-door policy in your office? Do your staff members know that they can talk to you or other managers when they have questions, ideas or concerns? It’s important that your staff members feel their input matters instead of a dividing line between management and lower-level employees.

“When employees feel they can communicate freely with their leaders and each other, they’re more likely to feel valued, satisfied and motivated at work,” according to experts from The Office Club. “Finding a boss who eagerly listens to questions or concerns is harder than you think, so make your company and leadership style stand out with effective communication.

To encourage open communication, give employees the opportunity to share feedback on big, company-wide projects. Don’t forget to include every team whenever possible and use monthly meetings to remind employees about where they fit within the greater scheme of things. When they see how their work is having an impact, they’re empowered to do more.

4. Offer Praise and Recognize Strengths

While employees should be intrinsically motivated to do a good job, there still needs to be an aspect of humanity involved in the workplace. In short, workers need frequent feedback and praise. They want to know their efforts are appreciated and that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

You may think you don’t have the budget for this, but praise and recognition doesn’t necessarily mean monetary rewards. There are countless ways to recognize your employees for a job well done, including:

  • Regular verbal praise
  • “Shout outs” (flyers, cards or emails)
  • Activity-based rewards
  • Small gift cards for coffee, food or other items
  • Half-day at work

Be specific in your praise, this will help employees identify what it is they bring to the table; when they realize they’re good at something, they’re empowered to do more of it because they know they can make a difference.

5. Promote Vacation Time and Work-Life Balance

Even the most dedicated employee gets burnt out if he or she doesn’t have a work-life balance. Happy employees are both career-oriented, and dedicated to their life outside of the office. When you let them have time for the things that are important to them, they’ll have more focus and energy during the time they spend at work.

“Your employees will actually be more productive and better at their jobs if they are well-rested and rejuvenated,” says Peter Daisyme, of Business.com. He continues, “You don’t have to mandate full weeks off at a time, but you should foster an environment where a long weekend here and there is not only tolerated but actively supported.”

When you’re sympathetic to their needs and circumstances, they’ll be more willing to work hard. You show appreciation to employees and in turn, empower them to do the same.

Empowering employees to work harder and better improves the entire company and boosts retention—a win-win for everyone.

For more information on how you can empower employees to survive the most daunting corporate difficulties, such as massive change, check out this blog post on Staying Engaged During Corporate Change.

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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.

 

 

 

Performance Management Reboot

It’s a Small (but diverse) World: Performance Management for the Global Organization

I’m not going to lie to you: rebooting your performance management to effectively drive organizational performance, develop people, and reward equitably requires a good deal of serious thought. Managing performance at a global level, however, warrants serious thought on steroids. You must have a solid understanding of the legislative and regulatory issues, demographic trends, and labor laws from every jurisdiction in which you’ve got people. Hard enough. But the most critical global consideration for rebooting your performance management is to understand the cultural differences in your workforce. 

If we were to take a peek at what organizations have historically done to recognize these differences, we’d see that the tactics range dramatically from barely a nod (bad) to localized approaches custom-designed for each unique culture (excellent). Sadly, ‘barely a nod’ tends to prevail. And so many global organizations continue to struggle to optimize their talent management processes in the ever-expanding global market.

What is the right approach for implementing a performance management program for a global workforce? Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But if you agree with me that culture is the most important factor, then you’ll be sure to put a respectable amount of effort into understanding those cultural differences and how they will weigh into your solution design. And you’ll make sure your leadership is aligned with how you plan to manage various global employee groups differently from one another.

If you want to gain an appreciation for what will and won’t work here, I recommend turning to the extensive research conducted by Geert Hofsted on cultures in the workforce. In his research, Hofsted found five fundamental value dimensions that can be used to explain cultural diversity in the world. The “5 Dimensional Model”1 is one of the only models that’s based on rigorous cultural research, rather than opinion (which is why I like it). The five dimensions are:

  1. Power Distance (PDI): The degree to which people accept that power is distributed unevenly within a group or society.
  2. Individualism (IDV): The degree to which taking responsibility for oneself is more valued than belonging to a group that will look after its people in exchange for loyalty.
  3. Masculinity (MAS): The degree to which people value performance and the status that derives from it, rather than quality of life and caring for others.
  4. Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI): The degree to which people develop mechanisms to avoid uncertainty.
  5. Long-Term Orientation (LTO): The degree to which people value long-term goals and have a pragmatic approach, rather than being normative and short-term oriented.

What does this all mean for designing performance management systems? Let’s have a look at the traditional review process. The annual review is a widely accepted practice in countries like the US and the UK. In the US (and other countries with similar cultures) we score low on power distance (the degree to which people accept that power is distributed unevenly within a group or society) and high in individualism (the degree to which taking responsibility for yourself is valued more highly than belonging to a group that will look after its people in exchange for loyalty). With those defining cultural factors, we find it easy to accept the idea that very direct feedback is “the right way” to improve performance. This notion falls flat in high power distance countries, such as Japan. In fact, very direct feedback in these cultures is likely to be seen as dishonorable and disrespectful. This means that we have to take a different approach that fits these cultural norms and expectations.

Another interesting dimension to consider is how your planning horizon may vary from culture to culture. When I was at Hitachi Consulting, I learned to appreciate the very real impact of working within an organization heavily influenced by Japanese leadership. One of the most notable differences was the manner in which the Japanese leaders thought about the short and the long view. In the US we had a much shorter planning horizon in contrast to our Japanese peers. This difference in focus radically influenced how each group defined what ‘good’ looked like in both the short and long terms. At times this created conflict and stress when setting targets and measuring success.

When putting together your team to build your new global performance management solution, remember to include individuals who can help you understand cultural differences.

Rewarding equitably can be another tricky area as you navigate from culture to culture. The cash-is-king individual performance bonuses that we default to in countries like the US and UK are not a good fit in cultures that focus on greater responsibility, larger spans of control, and wider territories. Again, this showed up in my experience at Hitachi. The Japanese executives were quite surprised by our vice president’s bonus model, while the US leaders were struck by their Japanese counterparts’ lavish spending allowances. As they say, different strokes for different folks (or in this case, different cultures, different expectations). In some cultures cash rewards may even be perceived as petty. The headline? Tread carefully in this arena. If you’re planning a bonus program, be sure to consider which cultures value and expect bonuses, how you should measure them if you use them, and whether team or individual incentives would work best.

Beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed? Let me reinforce a few ideas that may help keep you grounded. First, when putting together your team to build your new performance management solution, remember to include individuals who can help you understand these cultural differences. They can be a voice for what will work and what is likely to fall flat. Get comfortable with allowing for differences across cultures. Your goal should be finding balance between meeting your desire for consistency and creating great experiences for your global team. Also, before you roll out your solution, test it in different geographies and cultures — not just the solution itself, but also the supporting content, since some degree of localization is likely to be needed on that as well.

In the end, keep humanity at the forefront of your design, and never forget that this is about your people, not the process!

If you want to learn more about performance management, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on How Performance Management Is Killing Performance – And What to Do About It. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author

Tamra ChandlerTamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.

 

Source:
1. Geert Hofstede, Culture’s Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations Across Nations (London, UK: Sage Publications, 2003).

STEM Talent

Competing for Tricky STEM Talent and What Performance Management Has to do With It

It seems like nearly every company I’ve worked with is struggling to attract and retain strong technical resources, whether their organization competes in the technology space or not. We can chalk up the demand to the advancement of science and technology’s role in nearly every industry, service, and product out there—combined with a shortage of the necessary STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) talent to support those needs. And while there’s a lot of literature available on how to meet the needs and expectations of this audience, it seems worth adding a few words on this tricky employee group, specifically in regards to performance strategies.

Let’s start with the employee’s point of view. While acknowledging that no two people will ever want or care about the exact same things, some macro themes come up again and again that resonate with STEM-oriented personalities. First, this group cares a great deal about their skills, knowledge, and experiences. They want to be current in their field, work with the latest and greatest in technology or science, and rub elbows with the best and brightest. Second, they like to be recognized for that mastery. This recognition can come in many forms, such as awards and certifications, patents, published works, or speaking at conferences—or simply being recognized by their peers as a ‘rock star’ in their space. They also care deeply about having the freedom to invent, build, design, explore, and play in their field. After all, how can you ever be a master if you don’t have the time and space to practice your craft?

Now let’s look at what the organization needs from this group. Clearly, the aforementioned mastery skills are important to organizations. Yet many companies struggle to give STEM talent the tools, training, and experiences needed to stay on the cutting edge of their field of practice. The more the performance solution you build for them can focus on identifying and aligning your best technical talent to the ‘coolest’ work, the better.

Another common tension organizations face is wanting all that STEM brain power aimed at the right work, rather than being distracted by other things. While we definitely want to put more focus on directing that talent to the best work, we also need to balance that with this groups’ desire for time and space to do their own thing. I get it: when you’re short on critical technical talent, it’s hard not to fully dedicate the talent you do have to your priority agenda items. However, you need to be a little more flexible to keep this very agile group happy. Google and other forward-thinking companies have proven that letting your people use some percentage of their time on their own pet projects pays big dividends down the line.

So how should the desires and interests of both employee and employer influence your performance design? I recommend focusing on what both care about – in other words, the win/win. Here are some ideas on how to do that:

  1. Keep your approach simple. Why? This group tends to hate formality and bureaucracy, so do you really want to irritate them with the process? Also, this is a valuable resource, so optimizing their time is essential.
  2. Push as much authority and ownership as you can down the ranks. STEM folks don’t like hierarchy any more than they like bureaucracy. The flatter your structure, the better. Create more opportunities that allow them to work in networked teams with control over their own resources. This also means more employee-driven and peer-based approaches. Let them be the rock star in their crowd.
  3. Invest in building clear technical career paths, and in creating the content necessary for enabling and communicating those paths. Share information on how they can build their mastery within your organization, and provide them with resources outside the walls as well.
  4. Build a model where you can assess the technical skills, knowledge, and capabilities that are housed within your organization. A strong technical competency/capability model will do this. It will also help to have the technical career path agenda mentioned above.
  5. Ensure that your talent review processes prioritize mobility. In other words, keep your STEM talent moving across the org to increase collaboration, the sharing of knowledge, and to enhance their growth, experiences, and learnings.
  6. Celebrate their brilliance (often). Find ways to highlight progress, solutions, invention, things of beauty, and innovation. This may be at a team level as much as it is at the individual level. Recognition can be as simple as a toast at the Friday happy hour or as formal and highly visible as company-wide recognition like displaying patents or other awards prominently in the office halls, or granting annual innovation awards internally.

And remember, always connect your investments and their rewards to the things they care about: building their mastery, recognition of that mastery, and the time and freedom to play.

If you want to learn more about performance management, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on How Performance Management Is Killing Performance – And What to Do About It. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author
Tamra ChandlerTamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.

 

 

 

Employee Engagement

Why Your CEO Doesn’t Care About Employee Engagement (Yet)

It seems that we can’t turn around today without having a conversation that touches on employee engagement. Yet despite all the attention, it hasn’t really moved the needle. In the time that Gallup has been measuring engagement, it hasn’t changed–engagement levels are hovering right around 30 percent. At the same time, Google data shows that there’s been a steady climb in searches and interest in the topic for the last five years.

But to what end? Many companies are trying to improve this measure with little or no success.

I’m going to offer two answers to this question that not only illuminate the problem, but give you some options to consider as you try to combat the problematic issue of disengaged employees.

Engagement Should Not Be an HR Program

The first response many leaders have when they get that annual feedback survey from employees to say, “Oh, no! Engagement is down. Let’s create a program to push engagement up!”

Good luck with that.

The truth is that employees are probably tired of your “programs.” Programs begin and end. A great employment relationship does more to drive engagement than a one-size-fits-all program that’s going to last a few weeks and fade into memory. Plus, as long as the company is meeting the basic elements of an employee’s needs financially, other factors come into play for influencing the level of engagement, according to motivational theory.

A large chunk of money isn’t even going to work, even though many companies can’t afford to offer that to each of their staff. More money has been shown to reduce dissatisfaction, but it doesn’t drive happiness or increased satisfaction for the employee.

The challenge is to see engagement not as a one-off activity, but as a holistic view of the employee experience. Being able to tie each of those disparate activities together into a cohesive experience that employees are proud of is a key element to ultimately driving engagement numbers. That means everything from the first moment the person applies for a job all the way through to managing work schedules, getting performance reviews, and beyond.

Every opportunity for interaction with the organization is either a plus or a minus in the engagement column, and while we can’t expect to win every battle every time, the goal is to keep that number going in a positive direction over time (and reaping the rewards of that increased engagement, which we’ll talk about below).

Engagement Should Not Be the Ultimate Outcome

Some leaders check engagement scores as if they were the latest sports scores, hoping for good things but feeling no control over the outcome. In reality, engagement is not the outcome we are shooting for–we are looking for something deeper and more meaningful. It’s time to change the way we think about this HR metric, because it needs to become a leading business metric. Consider the following examples of how engagement can lead to increased value for virtually any company:

  • Innovation. Companies everywhere are trying to create more innovative atmospheres for employees. But what if the answer isn’t open office space but a higher engagement score? Innovation is a key outcome of engagement. Research by Gallup found that 61 percent of engaged employees feed off the creativity of their colleagues, compared to a mere 9 percent of disengaged employees. In addition, it found that 59 percent of engaged employees believe their job brings out their most creative ideas, compared to only 3 percent of disengaged employees.
  • Retention. The only thing better than engaging our employees is keeping them around to deliver excellent results over time. Towers Watson research points out that retention is tied in with many of the factors that play into employee engagement, such as career advancement opportunities, confidence in senior leadership, and a manageable amount of work-related stress. Manage those factors well, and employees will stick around and produce results.
  • Revenue. In a discussion of concrete impacts, we would be remiss if we didn’t touch on the one that matters most to many organizations: the bottom line. There are several pieces of research that demonstrate the link between engagement and financial results. According to Towers Perrin research, companies with engaged workers have 6 percent higher net profit margins, and Kenexa research points out that engaged companies have five times higher shareholder returns over five years.

Each of these points helps to paint a more nuanced picture of employee engagement, establishing it not as a standalone program or an end result, but as a holistic journey towards greater business results. And that, ultimately, is how we can get the CEO, the leadership team, and the rest of the company on board with the idea of promoting and supporting engagement as a long-term business strategy.

Want to learn more about this topic and dig deeper into the concept? I’ll be leading a session titled Stop Measuring Engagement For Its Own Sake at the Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 event in New Orleans and I’d love to have you join me for the discussion.

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About the Author
Ben Eubanks
Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research
Ben Eubanks is a human capital management industry analyst who helps companies and vendors with strategy, content, and more. Ben has over seven years of tactical and strategic experience spanning all areas of HR and he is a nationally-recognized author and speaker on trends and best practices in human capital management. Ben is the principal analyst at Lighthouse Research & Advisory where he oversees the development of research, assets, and insights to support HR, learning, and talent vendors across the globe. Ben also co-founded the HRevolution conference for HR and recruiting leaders and is one of four members that holds this annual event, attracting hundreds of attendees from around the globe since its inception.

 

 

revamp performance management

Your Performance Management Is Not Fine: Defending Against the Naysayers

One busy Friday, I met with a West Coast client in the morning and then returned to my office to take a call from one of my East Coast clients in the afternoon. In the span of a few scant hours, both of my clients used the exact same phrase to describe their current performance management programs: “Our performance management program is fine.”

All weekend that phrase was stuck in my brain like an annoying popcorn hull wedged between my teeth. I pondered what those words meant to each of them and what ugly truths might lurk beneath an innocuous word like “fine.” I think that phrase spoke loudly to me because I’d heard it so many times before.

So, what do people mean when they tell me that their performance program is fine? Perhaps it’s this:

Performance Management FINE Chart

The low expectations expressed in the phrase “Our performance management is fine” are indicative of how much we’ve lost sight of our people. We seem perfectly happy to settle for “fine” on their behalf. But if our intentions for investing in performance management are to connect our teams to our strategies and goals, to recognize outstanding contributions, and to enhance the development of each individual’s capabilities, how can we possibly continue to tolerate “fine”?

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re someone who is already at least partially on board with the idea of rebooting your performance management. But no matter how comfortable you are with the idea of throwing everything out to start over (or not – after all, I’m advocating a custom approach that’s tailored to the needs of your business, and yours might not need a thorough overhaul), one of the biggest stumbling blocks you’re likely to encounter is doubt, skepticism, and downright antagonism from the old schoolers in your organization.

When I have a debate with someone who is defending the traditional performance management approach or with someone who is fearful of making changes to such a deeply rooted process (and trust me, I have many such debates), I always hear the same counterarguments. So much so, in fact, that it’s worthwhile to prepare you to answer those same objections in your own organization. Do any of the phrases below sound familiar?

“My boss will never buy it.”

It is always wise to pay special attention to “the boss.” Engage, educate, and bring him or her with you. Of course, you can’t expect this to happen overnight, especially if the boss in question leans more toward the PM traditionalist mind-set. Meet leaders where they are, build a plan, pace your progress, and maintain your resolve. Find out what they really care about, then connect your case to that theme. Be diplomatic and creative, and make sure they understand the real costs (both soft and hard costs) to your business of continuing with the old way — in terms they understand.

“We can’t trust our managers.”

Other than getting leaders on board, this is the second most common concern I hear from people, and it’s a legitimate one. Since I’m advocating implementing a design that relies heavily on good, or preferably great, managers, this problem often stops teams in their tracks. It’s not a simple issue, either. It’s cluttered with questions of structure, role definition, and manager expectations. Many organizations suffer from being over-managed and under-led. This happens because we often promote managers for technical or functional expertise and not for their people or managerial skills, and because most organizations have historically underinvested in building great leaders.

If this resonates with you, I’d encourage you to use it as motivation to address the bigger problem (i.e., the fact that you don’t trust your managers). Start by peeling your own onion to get at the root of your manager concern. Do you have too many managers or too many levels? Are they not the right people? Are their goals out of alignment with what’s valued by your organization as a whole? I’m not saying that these issues can be fixed quickly or easily; in fact, this may create a completely new agenda item for you. But the fact that you don’t trust the capability of your managers has much more far-reaching consequences than its impact on your performance management. It’s something that you’re going to need to address, no matter what.

“Legal will have a fit!”

We know we need a paper trail to document behavior and performance problems, and we think our annual review cycle does that for us. Too often, though, it doesn’t. We’re human: we tend to rate people too leniently, and to downplay or completely gloss over potentially awkward issues. This is one reason why the reviews of underperformers and good performers often read very much the same. The problem then is that if a legal issue does arise, or we simply want to take action in response to an employee’s behavior or performance, we’re caught in a bind between what we really know about that employee’s history and a series of reviews that don’t appear all that bad. This can lead to a messy situation. It’s better to avoid this potential pitfall by documenting issues as they arise. Then the issues will be fresh and more accurately recorded—giving you better legal footing and a more actionable position overall.

“Why change? Everyone else does it this way!”

While the majority of organizations still use a traditional system, the tide is definitely turning. Today we’re seeing respected and forward-thinking organizations trying to drive organizational performance, develop people, and reward equitably in new and innovative ways. These pioneers have received significant positive exposure for their innovative programs. And that attention certainly doesn’t hurt their employer brand (a measure of how positively prospective employees view you compared with your competitors). You have a decision to make here: Are you ready to be out front, or would you prefer to wait until your competition has passed you by before you take action?

Maybe you have to wait because you feel you have bigger issues to tackle. Or maybe you’re simply going to procrastinate until you’re finally dragged kicking and screaming into the new world of performance management at some point in the future. But like it or not, the world is changing, and our old accepted practices will eventually crumble under the weight of the research and the evolving expectations of our employees.

Lead or follow—the choice is yours.

If you want to learn more about performance management, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on How Performance Management Is Killing Performance – And What to Do About It. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author
Tamra Chandler
M. Tamra Chandler is a bona fide people maven. She’s spent the majority of her career thinking about people, researching how they’re motivated, and developing new and effective ways for organizations to achieve the ultimate win-win: inspired people driving inspiring performance. She’s also the CEO and co-founder of PeopleFirm, one of Washington State’s fastest-growing businesses and most successful women-owned firms. An award-winning leader in her field (she’s been recognized by Consulting Magazine twice as one of the top consultants in the U.S.), she is the author of How Performance Management is Killing Performance — and What to Do About It.

 

 

 

Common Traits of Top Talent

8 Habits of Highly Successful Employees

An employee’s success at a job can’t be predicted by his or her resume and experience. That piece of paper doesn’t tell you the full story. Sometimes, an individual’s soft skills or personal habits are a better indication of their aptitude and potential to succeed. If you can identify these common traits that successful employees share, you can find high-quality employees who will help your company thrive. Here are eight habits to be on the lookout for during your next round of hires.

  1. They are Respectful

Between co-workers, supervisors, customers and/or clients, there are many different personalities in a professional organization, so it’s unlikely that you will like everyone you encounter. Despite this, the most successful employees treat everyone with respect, regardless of personal feelings. They treat their peers and employees they manage with the same level of respect, which makes everyone feel valued and appreciated.

This mutual respect in the workplace creates a positive work environment. “When people work with one another with peace and harmony, they don’t have the time to focus on other shallow and petty ideas,” according to experts at Wisestep. “People will be more interested in finishing their assignments and boosting the levels of productivity at work.” Successful employees understand that respect is a two-way street. If they respect others, they will receive respect in return.

Question to ask: How did you handle a disagreement with another employee in the past?

  1. They Take Initiative

Individuals who truly make a difference on a team or in an organization are the ones that go above and beyond the call of duty. They don’t just do what’s asked of them, they look for opportunities to take the lead or solve problems. Managers love these types of employees because they can work independently and don’t need to be micromanaged.

Question to ask: What is one instance where you took initiative, either at work or at home? What did you do and why?

  1. They are Professional

Professionalism isn’t determined by an individual’s experience. Instead you see it in their intangible personality traits; the way employees carry themselves in the workplace.

Are they punctual or do they frequently show up late? Are they dressed appropriately and look put together or do they look like they just rolled out of bed? Do they take pride in their work and produce a product they’re proud of? Do they raise their hand and contribute insight during meetings or do they speak out of turn and interrupt other employees?

“Demonstrating professionalism is important at all levels in a company,” according to Kelsey Granowski, a Career Services Advisor from Rasmussen College. “Professionalism can benefit the company’s reputation, morale and success. It is not only the individuals in leadership roles that need to show professionalism.”

Question to ask: Give me an example of how you bring professionalism to your work.

  1. Successful Employees Are Selfless and Authentic

It’s easy for job candidates to “talk themselves up” in an interview, but can the candidate talk about their successes within teams or the greater organization? Of course, everybody wants to achieve some level of personal success, but successful employees know how to be selfless. They understand when to put the company first and why it’s important.

This is especially important for managers and executives  that will be representing your organization at client dinners, when networking, during sales calls and more. Making sure these types of employees can frame success within the greater organization is especially crucial as these interactions can inform how non-employees perceive your company.

“Authenticity is important for establishing reciprocal relationships with others in the executive arena. Long-term, rewarding professional partnerships don’t begin with a selfish attitude,” says Ted Rollins, global entrepreneur, Co-Chairman and Founding Principal of Valeo Groupe. When your employees show selflessness, they’re able to establish better relationships that ultimately improve your company and its reputation.

Question to ask: Share an example of when you were selfless at work. Why did you do that and why do you consider it selfless?

  1. They Have a Desire to Improve

Whether they’re managers, mid-level employees or entry-level workers, successful people constantly strive to improve. They’re not satisfied with the status quo and look for opportunities to get more from themselves and their team. These individuals appreciate constructive criticism and feedback because it gives them a chance to learn and improve.

If you can find employees with this desire and cultivate it within the workplace, you can be confident they will work hard to improve themselves and push the company forward.

Question to ask: Do you have any side projects or skills you’re trying to improve right now? If so, tell me about one of them.

  1. They Take Responsibility

Successful employees are honest and take responsibility for their actions. This means that if something goes wrong—they miss a deadline or produce subpar results—they own up to their mistakes rather than looking to blame others.

Suha Abughosh, a bank Regional Manager has another way of looking at this, suggesting that responsibility is the same as accountability: “For example, instead of following up with other teammates to ensure the project is completed timely, the unaccountable worker forgets about the project the minute it leaves her desk,” she says.

How do you pick this person out of the crowd? Abughosh explains, “If the project’s deadline is missed, she’ll be sure to let everyone know that she did her part.” Pinpointing this during hiring is critical to avoiding resentful feelings among co-workers later.

Question to ask: Tell me about a time when you messed something up, at work or home, and owned up to it.

  1. Successful Employees Stay Positive

Long hours, multiple projects and demanding deadlines can cause stress in an office. While it’s natural for workers to feel stressed, successful employees are able to stay positive.

“People who are negative bring down morale and demotivate,” writes Kevin Daum from Inc. “Employees create value when they help create a positive environment that others can’t wait to join.”

Question to ask: How do you stay positive when work or a project is stressful? What are your tactics?

  1. They Know When to Say No and Ask for Help

Successful people understand their limitations. While they’re eager to take on projects, challenge themselves and take initiative, they’re also realistic about what they can do. This means they’re not afraid to say “no” if they have too much on their plate, because they always want to do their best work.

Question to ask: Have you ever said no to a project because you had too much on your plate? Tell me about that experience.

When interviewing potential employees, try focusing on identifying employees that exhibit the traits and habits listed above.  Employees that exhibit some or all the qualities as described above are more likely to positively impact your company.

For more advice on how to effectively use your interview process to identify top performing employees, check out Why Recruiters Should Consider Structured Interviews.

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About the Author
Jessica Thiefels
Jessica 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 for more small business tips and ideas.

 

 

 

Increase Employee Retention

Who Owns Retention? The Real Employee Turnover Problem

What’s the biggest problem when it comes to employee turnover? No one owns retention!

At many companies, when turnover rises executives point to HR to fix it – whose plate is already overflowing with terminations, payroll, benefits management, and back-fill recruiting. HR then blames bad managers for running off good people, and the managers push back complaining that executives do not give them enough time or training to manage their people properly. They all have a point, but this blame game is costing those organizations tons of money!

Stop Focusing on the Symptoms…Find & Fix the Cause!

After much finger-pointing, companies often come to the conclusion, “We have so much turnover, we need to hire another recruiter.” Are they kidding? That’s like trying to fix a water main break with duct tape. You may temporarily slow down the deluge, but not for long! If turnover is the problem, then you don’t need to hire someone who’s good at recruiting – they’ll just struggle to fill all the positions that keep unexpectedly being vacated. You need a dedicated retention specialist who will diagnose the core issues, work to resolve them, and maintain a stable workforce moving forward.

So why is the default next step to add another recruiter? Because everyone knows what a recruiter does and which line item that goes under on the P&L.

Now before you get upset, I assure you I’m not anti-recruiter! Recruiters are great, when you need a recruiter! If turnover is a problem, it is very possible that reworking your recruiting processes might be needed as well. Perhaps you really are hiring the wrong people and/or it is time to revamp the interview process, selection criteria, and applicant communication plan. You may even need to improve your employer brand in your community if you don’t have a positive reputation as an employer in your area. These are all things a good recruiter could handle, but these changes are rarely enough if retention is rising.

So if you can get approval for a new position, how about pitching the idea of a retention specialist instead? It’s a tougher sell to get approval from the higher-ups – they’ll wonder what a retention specialist is, complain the role sounds fluffy and become convinced it’s going to add overhead costs that seem unnecessary – but you must fight for it! It’s time to get more resources to fix the real issue.

What Is a Retention Specialist Exactly?

More organizations are creating this type of position and the responsibilities certainly vary from company to company, but their primary roles are to determine why people are leaving, and to build relationships and initiatives that extend employee tenure. This often includes, but is not limited to:

  • conducting and analyzing employee surveys and stay interviews
  • building employee networks/committees
  • serving as an employee ambassador who can answer staff questions or listen to feedback
  • ensuring the onboarding process is welcoming, thorough and incorporates the company culture
  • determining gaps where additional supervisor/management training is needed
  • coordinating (and possibly conducting) supervisor/management training and development programs
  • identifying operational/system changes that help adjust to a shorter-term workforce
  • analyzing compensation, advancement opportunities and scheduling for models that better align with today’s workforce’s needs
  • implementing recognition and appreciation programs across organization
  • ascertaining ways the organization and managers can be more transparent with employees
  • developing effective staff meeting schedules, agendas, and tools for those leading meetings
  • crafting organizational messages that instill the company’s mission and core values

Sounds like a full-time job to me! Who on your current staff has time to do all these things that are needed to reduce unnecessary employee turnover?

One Person Won’t Resolve the Issue – Retention is Everyone’s Job

While having a dedicated staffer to focus on diagnosing and resolving turnover issues is essential, leaders at all levels must take turnover seriously. Just like customer service, retention should be part of everyone’s job and everyone’s training. Keep in mind, workers today will leave their jobs if they don’t like their immediate supervisor, the leadership team or their coworkers, so encouraging your entire staff to attract and retain talent is critical.

Is your organization incentivizing peer referrals? Is your company rewarding managers for improved retention within their departments? Or are they setting bonus plans according to the concept of “do more with less,” which is driving away the talent you can’t afford to lose.

Become a Champion for Retention

So where do HR professionals start? Here a few ways to attack the turnover crisis:

  1. Create recognition and/or incentive programs for employees who reach certain milestones (after one year, not five!).
  2. Demand more management training for everyone who has direct reports.
  3. Make a case for hiring (or becoming) a retention specialist.

Same Approach = Same Results

If the trajectory of your employee turnover is headed in a positive direction, keep doing what you’re doing. But if your retention is getting worse every year, it is time to try a new approach for attracting and retaining today’s new workforce!

If you want to learn more about how to effectively retain employees, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on Leading the New Workforce: The Evolution of Employee Expectations. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author
Cara Silletto
Workforce thought leader Cara Silletto, MBA, is the President & Chief Retention Officer at Crescendo Strategies, a firm committed to reducing unnecessary employee turnover by bridging generational gaps and making leaders more effective in their roles. Cara is a highly-sought-after national speaker and trainer, having conducted more than 100 engagements in 2016 alone. She has spoken to more than 10,000 leaders across the country at companies including UPS, Toyota, Humana’s Learning Consortium, and Cintas. Workforce Magazine named her a “Game Changer,” Recruiter.com included her in their 2016 “Top 10 Company Culture Experts to Watch” list, and she is a co-author of the book, What’s Next in HR. Follow Cara on Twitter @CrescendoHR.

 

Positive Work Culture

The Secret Ingredients of an Amazing Company Culture

If you were asked about your top priorities as a manager, how would you answer? Increasing productivity would probably be first on your list, along with steady company growth, low employee turnover, seamless teamwork, and high employee engagement — after all, most businesses share similar goals.

However, you might not have considered developing an excellent company culture among your top-tier priorities, even though it is the foundation for every one of your key goals. When focusing on creating an amazing company culture, you will discover that other elements of business success fall into place organically. Let’s unpack that concept a bit and see why.

What Is Company Culture?

The first step toward improving your company’s culture is to have a clear handle on what the term means. One of the most accurate definitions is offered by business change strategist John Kotter. He defines company culture as “group norms of behavior and the underlying shared values that help keep those norms in place.” The key words in this definition are “shared values.” Employee alignment with your company’s mission and values is a critical component of positive company culture. A sure indicator of poor company culture is a workforce, total or partial, that has no personal interest or investment in the overall mission of their organization.

Why Company Culture Matters

A worldwide survey of 20,000 workers, conducted by Harvard researchers, found unequivocally that “culture drives performance,” but only 31 percent of employees report they are engaged with their work. Furthermore, the average employee would only give his or her company a grade of “C” if recommending it to a friend, according to Glassdoor statistics. A Duke University survey of 1400 CEOs and CFOs found that only 15 percent said their company culture is where it needs to be, while 92 percent said improving company culture would improve the overall value of the business.

Other research published in Harvard Business Review finds that disengaged workers cause 60 percent more errors and defects in work performance, while those under stress from negative cultures can increase a company’s health care expenditures by an average of 50 percent. We could go on with the dire statistics, but we’re certain you get the idea. How do you do the right thing for your employees as well as your company?

How to Create a Positive Company Culture

An interesting roadmap for creating a positive company culture can be found in the science of self-determination theory. Researchers writing in Harvard Business Review have identified three universal human needs that are central to fostering employee motivation. These three needs are autonomy, competence and relatedness. Let’s look at each of the three in turn:

Autonomy

To build your employees’ happiness through autonomy, make sure the goals and timelines you ask them to meet are developed in a collaborative manner. Workers need to feel that they have some control over their schedules and approach to tasks, rather than having every aspect of their workday micromanaged. HR professionals know that flexible work hours are at the top of most candidates’ lists of desirable benefits and perks.

Another aspect of leadership that contributes to a positive work culture is the avoidance of pressure and stress. The aforementioned HBR report states that “Sustained peak performance is a result of people acting because they choose to—not because they feel they have to.”

Competence

One of the most powerful employee incentives you can offer is the opportunity for training and development. Showing that you care about the evolution of your workers’ careers is a powerful expression of employee appreciation. This development may take some careful guarding of educational funds in your human resources budget, but the resulting increase in employee well-being will be worth your investment.

In addition to working with your team to set performance goals, you can nurture employee success by setting learning goals. Human beings derive a deep satisfaction from increased skills and competence, independent of every other type of employee reward.

Relatedness

This term describes the need inherent in most humans to feel connected to a larger team effort, and to be recognized and appreciated by other people. Employee recognition best practices should be built around this fundamental element of human psychology, providing opportunities for both colleagues and supervisors to offer recognition and rewards. While your team members don’t exert effort for the sole purpose of receiving rewards, they will thrive in the climate of solidarity and unity that those rewards represent.

Another crucial aspect of relatedness pertains to alignment with company values. The HBR analysis points out that employees need to connect their tasks with a noble purpose, and to feel that their own personal values are expressed in the way they spend their work days.

The CEOs interviewed by Duke University researchers were unequivocal in their statements that company culture drives “profitability, acquisition decisions, and even whether employees behave ethically.”

Building an amazing company culture should be at the center of your organizational health, and it begins with the three psychological elements central to employee engagement. To learn more about fostering an amazing company culture, download our e-book: “All for One and One for All: Uniting a Global Workforce with Company Culture.”

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Do What You Love

Finding Your Career Passion

Richard Branson said, “If you find what you are truly passionate about, then finding your career will not be too far away. It’s a lesson I have learned from my years creating businesses. I’ve never had what I would call a job, but I’ve worked every day for five decades.”

What Branson describes above encapsulates why doing what you love is so important. If you’re impassioned by your career, the odds of you being successful increase exponentially. So many people work solely for a paycheck with little to no thought about whether they truly enjoy their job. These people haven’t found their career passion; their purpose. And their work can suffer from lack of joy. I see it all too often within my personal and business networks. But how does one go about discovering the passion(s) that drive them?

Defining “passion” is a good place to start. According to Merriam-Webster, “passion” can be defined as “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.” Applying Webster’s definition to the greater world, I take “passion” to mean the things that you do without concern for monetary compensation.

This could be anything from interior design to blogging about concerts, from restoring classic cars to coaching your child’s athletic team. Whichever activity you tackle with continued eagerness and enjoyment, regardless of compensation, will likely be your passion. Here are some questions to ask yourself to try and determine what you are passionate about:

  1. What gets you out of bed in the morning? (other than the alarm)
  2. Are you energized and happy when you get to work most days? If no, why not?
  3. Are you excited about the next 12-24 months? If no, why not?
  4. What or who inspires you to want to be a better person? Why?
  5. What brings you joy? Whether it’s gardening, helping people or technology – you are limited only by your imagination and resources.

I have been extremely fortunate to have worked in customer service for 30+ years. My first job was working for a well-known burger chain (no, the other one) when I was 14.  My parents told me that if I wanted anything extra, beyond what they were willing to provide, I had to pay for it myself.

Though I was reluctant to join the workforce, looking back on it, perhaps this was the best thing my parents ever did for me. It taught me the value of earning money as opposed to having it given to me. It taught me about responsibility, teamwork, and dedication. I carry many of the lessons I learned during that job with me today, so much so that I will encourage my daughter to do the same when the time comes.

Over the years, as I worked for various retailers and restaurants (including the best fish and chip restaurant in my hometown), I discovered customer service was something I was passionate about and could eventually make a career out of. And if not for the privilege of working for two extremely strong and passionate women who inspired my inner passion for leadership and customer service, Nancy Tichbon and Rhonda Bosch, the spark of passion I felt for customer service might never have become the flame that burns brightly today.

If you are one of the lucky ones, you already have a career you are passionate about.  Though you might not kick your heels up in the air every day, you probably feel that your career has meaning and that you are making a difference.

As Rhonda and Nancy did for me, it sometimes takes words of encouragement from highly respected individuals that have already discovered their career passion to point someone in the right direction. However, inspiration needs constant refreshing. My inspiration was renewed by career advice given by business tycoon Robert Herjavec, which applies to anyone looking to break into a new career. During his TV interview (you can find more information here), he offered two pieces of advice that resonated with me:

Robert’s Advice for New Grads:

“The first thing you have to do is get a job to prepare you for your next job. You should embrace internships and offer to work for free. If you don’t gain any experience the world will continue to roll right over you, especially in the marketing field where everyone wants to get in the door. Try making a deal by suggesting that you will work for free for three months and if things are going well, your employer will hire you as if you had that experience. The worst that can happen is that they say no, and in that case, you will still have gained three months of experience!”

Robert’s Advice on Retraining for a Career:

“Get into a field that statistically gives you the opportunity to have a career. A big mistake people make is choosing a job that’s difficult to make a good living in. Next, get some hardcore training from a college or other hands on program. I look for people who have hard technical skills when getting into a field. I think there is a time and place for university education and for technical experience. A two-year technical program is a great option for you as you’ll get to network and still gain many skills. The greatest value of a post-secondary program is often the chance to expand your network. Never be afraid to ask someone for an introduction, you’ll be amazed at how beneficial your network could be.”

As a people leader, I am inspired every day by the drive and energy of my team. This pushes me even harder to be the best I can be, for them and for our customers. I am fortunate to work for a company that by way of our software, inspires passion through employee engagement and recognition.

Don’t put off today what could be your passion and purpose tomorrow. Life is short; we deserve fulfillment and happiness at work as well as home.

If you have found your “passion” and want to inspire others, check out my blog post 5 Keys: How to Become an Inspirational Leader.

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About the Author

Marci PetersMarci Peters began her 20+ year Customer Experience & Contact Centre profession in the telecom space, but she has spent the last four years with Achievers – Changing the Way the World Works. She believes strongly that customer needs shape the business and employees are your most valuable investment. She has a proven track record in tactical execution of strategic customer initiatives to transform service delivery and drive positive results. View Marci Peters’ LinkedIn profile here.

 

 

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.

 

Employee Evaluations

5 Elements of a Healthy Performance Review Process

Before you start defining the elements of a healthy performance review process, it’s worth investigating how or where your process went wrong. Historically, performance reviews were created with the best of intentions and remained unchanged for centuries.

The idea that people are motivated by knowing where they stand within an organization gave birth to the “rank and yank” method of ranking employees into top, average, and poor performing tiers (and eliminating those at the bottom). This was popularized by Jack Welch, former CEO and Chairman of General Electric (1980-2001).

As with many common business practices, the millennial generation is challenging the way performance reviews work. Not only have forced ranking and merit-based raises been found ineffective, leaders and human resources professionals have reported performance reviews to be a significant waste of time.

While performance management is sometimes a necessary evil, thankfully, the delivery system and the value it provides is trending in a healthier direction. Let’s have a look at five elements of a healthy performance review process.

1. Regularity

The traditional performance review that takes place once or twice a year tends to be an anxiety-inducing event in which employees are sometimes blindsided by their supervisor’s perception of their performance. To be effective, performance feedback should be delivered on a regularly scheduled basis so it becomes less stressful and includes more than an overview of how they have performed over the last twelve months.

Employees will have a better chance to grow, improve, and possibly change their approach to work if they’re receiving timely, specific feedback rather than waiting several months to a year after the fact to hear about their performance.

2. A Strong Focus on Goals

A healthy performance review process includes more than just feedback, it’s a great opportunity to establish goals and expectations. This is another reason the review process should be done more regularly. As soon as current goals are met or exceeded, you can put new ones in place, rather than waiting until a formal review to adjust strategy. This will help keep your team members from growing bored or frustrated and keep them focused on imperative business objectives.

Meeting to discuss an employee’s performance, as well as their goals, helps you as a leader understand the direction they’re heading and how you can guide them, as well as how you can align their strengths and interests toward the shared goals of your team. If you have a learning management system in place, you can also pair some of these performance goals with specific learning or training objectives and track progress in real time.

3. Two-Way Conversations

“Talking at,” your employees can make them feel intimidated, or worse, annoyed. The lack of two-way communication is one of the many reasons the traditional performance review is ineffective — more than anything, the employee just wants it to end as they might be feeling belittled, unimportant, or unheard.

Instead, use the designated review time to have a two-way conversation. Spend time discussing how your employee feels about their own performance and how they feel about your performance as a leader. Ask for their thoughts on the company’s current mission and goals. Encourage them to be decisive, and solicit their ideas. Where possible, put what they tell you into action, so they know that your interest in their opinion isn’t perfunctory. This method of communication is more aligned with the modern workforce; today’s employees, especially the millennial generation, prefer coaches to managers.

4. Balanced Feedback

You already know that going into a performance review with only negative feedback can discourage an employee from making the corrective behavior necessary to get on track. A poor performer still needs to understand how their skills are valuable to the organization, the areas they are making strides in, and where you see potential for improvement.

Similarly, providing only positive feedback (even to an outstanding performer) isn’t helpful either. A healthy review should balance both positive and negative feedback. Growth only comes from pushing people past what they thought they were capable of, and an ambitious employee will look for a manager willing to do just that. Your job as a leader is to do the pushing; by acknowledging areas of improvement, and establishing new goals.

5. Performance-Based Incentives

A system of goals and evaluation criteria is a step in the right direction if you’re hoping to boost performance. But your employees will never feel intrinsically motivated to improve unless there is some benefit or reward tied to success. If they know the only reward for above-average work is the approval of their manager, you won’t see much growth.

Make sure your performance reviews are connected to a tangible reward or incentive for each employee. How you reward the employee should be individualized, and is dependent on available budget, but it could be anything from a restaurant gift card to a quarterly bonus, or even a permanent raise for the highest performing employees. Don’t let your most valuable employees feel unappreciated, demonstrate their value to them with tangible assets–verbal affirmation is nice, but it doesn’t pay the electric bill.

When you do away with forced rankings and outdated goals and start having meaningful conversations with your team, you can soften the cutthroat atmosphere at work and engage your employees as individuals. This in turn will create a culture of trust, allowing for constructive criticism and healthy performance reviews that include regular, balanced feedback, goal-setting, and an opportunity for a two-way conversation. Furthermore, a healthy review process tied to measurable incentives will not only result in higher performance, but happier employees as well.

To learn more, check out 6 Tips to Tackle Performance Reviews for Managers and Employees.

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About the Author
Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

 

Employee Engagement and Performance

Why Recognition Is Essential to Employee Engagement

When I entered the workforce in 1997, I wanted to find an employer that would offer me a long and fruitful career; a goal I shared with the Baby Boomer generation before me.

While this has been the experience of my wife, who has enjoyed 17+ years of employment with the company that recruited her out of college, I’ve worked for six companies in the almost 20 years since I graduated. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed? The social contract between employer and employee has changed.

Currently, the tenure of a knowledge worker is less than three years at a single company, and with the steady emergence of the “gig-economy,” I fully expect that number to continue decreasing over the next 10 years.

The rising cost of recruiting and retention accentuates the need, now more than ever before, for employers to do all they can to attract and retain high-performing individuals.

Tap into discretionary effort for maximum performance

I’ve had the good fortune of managing teams for the past 10 years. In that time, I’ve learned a great deal about how to get the most out of people.

To me, the goal of any good leader should be achieving maximum performance by tapping into the discretionary effort of their team members. By discretionary effort, I mean the level of effort people could give if they wanted; above and beyond the call of duty.

I always tell potential candidates that by hiring them, I’m purchasing 40 hours of their time per week, but my underlying intent is to tap into any discretionary effort they’re willing to exert by aligning their objectives to the success of their team, and the greater organization. To accomplish this, a clear understanding of the link between an employee’s efforts and business success is key.

Recognition for improved employee engagement

Employee recognition should be a tool that all leaders have at their disposal to elicit maximum effort from the individuals that value it (keeping in mind that not everyone does). Almost 70% of workers say they’d work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated.

Often, when employees feel valued, engaged, and emotionally committed to their work, they’re willing to go the extra mile for their company. The Corporate Leadership Council studied the engagement level of 50,000 employees around the world to determine its impact on both employee performance and retention. Two of the many important findings from this report were:

  • Engaged companies grow profits as much as 3X faster than their competitors.
  • Highly engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave the organization.

In the past, employee recognition was sporadic, often focused on tenure instead of performance. Sometimes it happened in public forums where leaders celebrated an individual’s accomplishments in a top-down fashion. Most of the time, recognition was given at the individual level in private conversations or correspondence (such as a performance review), likely not often enough to have a meaningful impact on employee engagement.

With the advent of the digital workplace, recognition can and should be given with more visibility and frequency; the end goal being a workforce made up of engaged employees.

Creating an engaging digital experience

Having tools that promote engagement and recognition is becoming essential to HR and IT initiatives in the evolving digital workplace. According to Aon Hewitt’s 2017 “Trends in Global Employee Engagement,” study, Rewards and Recognition ranked as the strongest engagement opportunity this year. But you need to find the right technology partner to help you provide an experience that your employees love to use in order for it to pay dividends.

I speak with companies daily that are faced with the challenge of replicating their “brick and mortar” culture in a digital environment. With their workforce spread out across offices, geographies, and time zones, they need to provide an employee experience that allows individuals to meaningfully connect to the company and their colleagues.

While many tools exist, those that focus on interoperability are the ones that are having the most impact. With the overwhelming quantity of tools and applications that exist inside an organization today, it’s critical to offer an integrated experience that plays to the strengths of each individual solution, resulting in a more efficient use of the entire technology portfolio.

To learn more about the impact employee recognition can have on engagement and performance, check out Achievers’ “Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition”.

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About the Author
Chris Myers Igloo
Chris Myers is VP Partnerships & Alliances for Igloo Software, a leading provider of digital workplace solutions that help companies build inspiring digital destinations for a more productive and engaged workforce. Chris owns overall partner strategy for Igloo and is responsible for three programs – Technology Alliances, Channel Partners and Developers. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

 

the value of coaching

Why Millennials Want Coaches, Not Managers

Your workforce is increasingly made up of millennials; this is unsurprising – they’re the ones with the most contemporary skills, and with each passing year they become a larger percentage of the working world. With close to 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, millennials now represent the largest subset of America’s workforce. Approaching these younger workers with the attitude and expectations of a coach, rather than the antiquated characteristics of a traditional “boss,” is key to maintaining their engagement. Here’s how a coaching style differs from the approach of a traditional manager, along with a few insights about why this shift in managerial style is so important.

Coaching responds to failure with empowerment

A manager who behaves in the classic “boss” tradition is likely to take a disciplinary tone after an employee fails or does a poor job on a project. Getting “chewed out” by the boss is a familiar trope in the stereotypical work environment. Coaching, on the other hand, takes an entirely different approach. If a player on a sports team does badly, the coach may feel frustrated, but he or she is well aware that scolding and criticizing the player is not likely to yield better results in the future. Instead, a coach views failure as a sign that the player needs more training, support, and encouragement.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) describes the behavior of award-winning college coach Mike Krzyzewski after a player’s carelessness caused his team to lose. He took the whole team out for an ice cream sundae party, emphasizing encouragement and team-building, and then he held an extra practice to help everyone come together again.

Millennials want more frequent feedback

When you picture a coach guiding a team to victory, you probably imagine lots of feedback was involved. The coach is on the sidelines, shaping the choices that the players make and shouting encouragement or suggestions. After the event, the coach probably holds a video session and works together with players to identify areas that need improvement. It’s all very hands-on.

Now, contrast that leadership style with the annual employment evaluation that typifies an old-school manager’s pattern. An employee is called in to the boss’s office and given an evaluation containing praise and criticism that might be outdated, perhaps even a year old. A coach wouldn’t have a successful team if he or she only gave feedback once a year.

Furthermore, millennials want the high-touch guidance of a coaching culture. A global survey finds that overall, millennials want feedback 50 percent more often than older employees, with most of them preferring feedback on a weekly or monthly basis.

Employee success depends on rewards and recognition

While frequent feedback is a proven method for increasing employee engagement, the quality of that feedback is equally important. An effective coaching approach is based on recognizing each person’s individual strengths. Best practices include creating a company culture that emphasizes positive feedback and employee appreciation. Positivity is necessary in every workplace, but it’s especially crucial when you’re leading a team of millennials.

A recent Gallup report noted, “Only 19 percent of millennials say they receive routine feedback. An even smaller percentage of millennials (17 percent) say the feedback they do receive is meaningful.” This same report states that fewer than 15 percent of millennials ask for the feedback they really want; so it’s up to leadership to establish these employee recognition best practices.

Managers are an important source of professional learning and development

Forbes states that most millennials identify their manager as their main source for learning and developing skills, but only 46 percent of those surveyed believe their deliver on this hope. These numbers are helpful because they indicate a direction you can take with your management style. One millennial worker quoted in the HBR article states, “It’s very important to be in touch with my manager, constantly getting coaching and feedback from him so that I can be more efficient and proficient.” And to further illustrate how much millennials crave learning and development, it’s been reported that 62 percent of executives say millennials will consider leaving their jobs because of a lack of learning and development opportunities.

Coaching takes the whole person into account

Though today’s cutting-edge companies invest serious effort into making sure their employees have a good work-life balance, they also realize that this new approach looks at employees as whole people, not just a drone carrying out a task with little to no thought. A great deal of research has gone into the psychology of coaching and the need to consider the “inner game,” but this mindset is still very new to the corporate world.

As more managers realize that helping their employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance will result in more highly engaged employee, they will likely change their style of supervision to emphasize encouragement. It’s all part of a more holistic approach to talent management; a recognition of workers’ inherent humanity and a step away from viewing them only as cogs in the wheel of a production assembly line.

It’s all about performance

Of course you want to treat your employees well for their own sake, but you also want to be an effective business person. You want to manage your team in such a way that productivity increases, both now and in the future. This often means understanding the unique needs of your millennial workers.

A coaching approach, versus a top-down “I’m-the-boss” approach gives you an incredibly powerful tool for increasing employee engagement among your younger team members. These workers will respond with higher performance and greater loyalty, bringing sustainable growth to your bottom line.

To learn more about how you can effectively introduce employee recognition to your millennial team, download our white paper, “Sink or Swim: How to Engage Millennials to Ensure the Future of your Business.”

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unbeatable workshop ideas

5 Fun Employee Workshops to Host in the Office

Office workshops break up the day, boost employee loyalty, and reduce turnover because they communicate the message that each individual contributor is more than a number. The key is in choosing the right workshops; the less they feel like a chore for employees, the more effective they’ll be. According to management training and leadership experts at Mind Tools, ineffective workshops can bring more problems than they actually solve: “Done wrong, they can be a huge waste of time and money. However, if they’re planned well, they can be incredibly valuable for everyone involved. Workshops are great for brainstorming, interactive learning, building relationships, and problem solving,”

Consider the following five workshop ideas and how they might fit with your company culture. Choose a few to sprinkle into the company calendar, adding variety and fun to the usual brainstorming sessions and project-focused meetings.

Lunch and Learn Workshop

Choose a day each month when all the members of your department converge for an hour to “network” internally. Cater lunch from a local restaurant or ask everyone to bring a potluck dish to make it more of a special event. Each month, one team or employee will share an important project they’re working on. The rest of the team can then provide constructive feedback and fresh ideas.

This open dialogue strengthens both the sense of camaraderie and level of collaboration between teams. It’s easy to operate in a siloed organization, but that’s not good for business, or your employees. Use your monthly “Lunch and Learn” to remind employees that their co-workers are valuable resources that they can and should turn to.

Self-Defense Workshop

Not all workshops need to be work related—in fact, to keep employees interested, it’s better if some aren’t. Workshops such as this one for self-defense show employees that you care about their well being, both in and out of the office:

“For companies who care about their employees, especially those whose employees regularly walk to their cars at night or alone, it would behoove employers to offer self-defense training courses for workers,” says Jeremy Pollack, self defense expert for Home Security Super Store.

The most important part of this workshop is choosing the correct instructor. Pollack suggests the following tips for vetting:

  • Does the instructor have videos you can look at?
  • Has an HR rep or a referring party been to an actual class and seen what the instructor has to offer?
  • How realistic is the instructor’s self-defense style, and how much real-world training and application does the instructor have?
  • Does he or she fit with the culture of your workplace?

Vision Board Workshop

Transform a conference room into a creative space for employees to make their own vision boards. Vision boards are a visual representation of how you want to feel or something you want to accomplish – a way to bring things inside you to life. Giving your employees the opportunity to create their own vision boards is an exercise in abstract thinking and serves as a way to help them explore avenues and inspiration for personal growth, both within the organization and as individuals.

A few key materials for this includes:

  • White boards and markers
  • Pens/pencils
  • Sticky notes
  • Magazines
  • Scissors

Host this workshop each month, allowing  a maximum of five participants each time. At the end of the workshop, have the participants share their favorite piece of the completed vision board with fellow employees. This should be inspirational and eye opening for everyone, even employees who didn’t participate that month.

Take it up a notch by inviting a life coach into the office. The five participants can talk with the life coach for 30 minutes as a group to start thinking creatively about their profession and growth. They can use this conversation to spur their ideas.

Mindfulness Workshop

Research conducted at the University of California Berkeley has found that practicing moment-to-moment awareness can reinforce an employees’ confidence, satisfaction, focus and productivity. Help them funnel these positives into their job performance by offering mindfulness workshops.

A few mindfulness workshops you can host include:

  • Meditation, guided with a focus on productivity
  • Yoga for reduced stress
  • Awareness and relaxation training
  • Work-life balance training

If employees love this workshop, you could make meditation and mindfulness a daily part of their routine. For example, schedule one conference room as “open” from 8-10am for quiet meditation every morning. People can choose to use it as they desire, boosting efficiency and well-being at the same time.

Financial Tools Workshop

Facilitating a money management seminar will help your employees understand the nuances of investment, budgeting, diversification and other financial concepts. Equipping people with the knowledge and resources to allocate their income wisely is both a source of empowerment for them and a reflection of your leadership expertise and concern for their overall well-being.

According to experts at Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, “Companies providing financial education show improvement in the workplace including increased productivity, employee morale, and company loyalty and decreased healthcare costs, absenteeism, turnover, workplace distractions, and operational risk across the company.”

As the Jumpstart experts explain, a workshop like this is also beneficial to your bottom line, “Financial education programs have the effect of contributing to the company’s bottom line between $3 and $4 for every dollar spent.”

Financial workshop ideas include:

  • Financial tracking: Creating and maintaining a budget; setting goals.
  • Smart investing: How and where to invest; how to get the most for your money.
  • Credit cards: Smart use of credit; best ways to maintain good credit; what to look for in credit card rewards.
  • Retirement: How to prepare; what the company does to help; different types of accounts, along with benefits and drawbacks of each.

Regardless of your business’ overall size or scope, company growth is dependent on an engaged, cohesive and dynamic workforce. Therefore, offering workshops that benefit your employees, both professionally and personally, can mean the difference between attracting and maintaining top-tier talent versus mediocre space-fillers. Make your team feel appreciated, and their performance will speak for itself.

Are you looking for more ideas on how to improve your office culture? Check out my blog post 5 Company Initiatives That Improve Office Culture.

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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 for more small business tips and ideas.

 

 

 

Top 5 Ways to Boost Employee Morale

Are you one of those bosses who feels their employees should simply be happy to have a job at all? Unfortunately, some supervisors really do feel this way, particularly when the job market is tight. However, it’s an expensive point of view to maintain, especially in an economy that is nearing full employment: Discouraged employees are 87 percent more likely to quit, and you’ll spend a minimum of 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary on a replacement. To avoid this unnecessary expense, follow these five simple tips on keeping employee morale high:

1. Ask for input on special events

Have you ever had a bright idea for a company party or celebration, only to find that no one seems to share your enthusiasm? To avoid lackluster celebrations that don’t do anything to boost morale, encourage your staff to anonymously submit suggestions for the venues and types of employee appreciation events they’d like to see, and then encourage everyone to vote on their favorites. Employee retention depends on giving workers the sense you care about their priorities and that you seek their input on matters that impact them.

2. Encourage honest feedback

Seek genuine opinions from your workers, and don’t be afraid to  apply changes based on their feedback. Employee engagement will increase when you’re perceived as caring and confident enough to hear negative feedback. Winning your employees’ trust not only boosts employee morale, but it improves business results as well. The Harvard Business Review revealed that employee trust is essential to a company’s financial success. Your staff will also more readily buy-in to any changes that you make. Google uses this strategy with great results, creating “Google Cafes” in which all staff members share creative new approaches.

3. Hold yourself to the highest standard

Leadership is all about modeling hard work and dedication. Show your team that even though you have the right to leave early or delegate all the hard work to subordinates, you stay in the trenches and get the job done. Employees will feel supported and inspired by your example. Great leadership is key to employee happiness and success. Gallup’s leadership research shared, “When leaders focus on and invest in their employees’ strengths, the odds of each person being engaged goes up eightfold.”

4. Promote from your own talent pool

According to Forbes, external hires made 18% more than internally promoted employees  in the same jobs. Be fair and examine your internal talent pool before jumping the gun on bringing in an external hire. Give your employees opportunities for growth and advancement so that they will want to stick around and give you their all. If you make the effort to discover the unique skills and talents of each worker, you’ll be in a better position to know whom to promote when the opportunity arises.

5. Build employee motivation with rewards and recognition

Employee recognition is key to making your staff feel that it’s worthwhile to go the extra mile. Celebrating accomplishments through rewards and recognition lets your team know that you truly appreciate their efforts. It also builds a strong sense of teamwork when you encourage workers to offer each other public statements of appreciation. It’s a strong, positive motivator knowing your hard work isn’t going unnoticed and that you’re appreciated by your coworkers and leadership.

Snack Nation’s infographic revealed 36% of employees would give $5,000 a year in salary to be happier at work. Start boosting employee morale and happiness by following employee recognition best practices. With the right recognition program, your workplace culture and company’s bottom line will strengthen. Learn more about encouraging employee success by downloading our white paper: “The Total Package: Including Recognition in the Compensation Toolkit.”

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