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Millennials and Their Desire for Always-On Feedback

The millennial generation is changing the nature of the American workplace, and as a manager you need to be tuned in. Millennials make up more than half the workforce as of 2015, and by 2025 they will account for 75 percent of it. Every workforce brings unique attributes to the business arena and this is the first that grew up in a technological world that has virtually always provided opportunities for real-time feedback. That reality has had a fundamental impact on the ways in which millennials work today. If you yourself belong to this generation, the information below may feel familiar to you. But regardless of your own experience, as a leader it is critically important to ensure that you are transforming your approach to feedback in order to meet the needs of your millennial employee base.  Let’s take a look at “why” and “how”:

This Generation Is Different

One big change, brought about by the digital revolution, is that millennials do not tend to separate work from the rest of their lives in the same manner as previous generations. The omnipresence of technology means that they are rarely disconnected from work or home, regardless of location or time of day. In fact, this segment of employees is accustomed to an “always-on” connection to every part of their lives. So, just as they stay in regular contact with friends and family around the globe through messaging and their social media network, this generation also feels most at ease when they are directly connected with their manager. It’s no surprise that the Millenial experience of being able to check in, ask questions, and get feedback in real-time in their personal life would be mirrored in their desire to have similar access and input in their professional lives. The question facing people leaders then is, how best to meet those feedback needs? Especially when no one is actively asking.

They Don’t Necessarily Ask for the Feedback They Need

It’s true. Even though thousands of words are spread all over the internet about how much millennials want regular feedback, a curious fact is that they themselves don’t tend to ask for it. Gallup research reports that only 15 percent of millennial workers “strongly agree” that they ask for routine feedback. This tendency to keep their requests muted is pervasive: Gallup found that only one-third of millennial employees state they’ve even told their manager “the one thing they need most to get their work done and why.” In light of this absence of active solicitation for feedback, the Gallup researchers offer the following advice: “Managers also need to take initiative and increase the amount of feedback they provide — regardless of what their millennial workers may or may not request.” Ok, but how?

Feedback Is a Social Act

For a generation raised on social media, using the same type of interactive, social tool for employee feedback makes sense. Some may not at first see the point of a social feedback platform, but once it’s instituted, they will likely appreciate the sense of connectedness it offers. An always-on, intelligent channel is also a great way for managers to stay in touch with their whole department and gather feedback.

Two-Way Feedback Is Vital for Engagement

That open channel between you and your team should allow information to flow in both directions. Providing the ability to ask questions and offer opinions is one of the key drivers of employee engagement. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) highlights “constant feedback from employees” as one of the ways in which managers and HR departments can build a culture of engaged workers. SHRM particularly notes that employee feedback and recognition technology can help to facilitate essential two-way communication – but it must be integrated into how you do business.

Active Listening As Part of Your Workflow

Today’s workflow often relies on technological platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and so forth. These platforms have the opportunity to integrate an active interface for listening alongside those task-related communications. The two types of conversation that exist in work — supportive and logistical — no longer need to be tackled separately. Through active listening technology, questions and ideas can flow freely between employees and managers as part of the collaboration process. Furthermore, keeping an open listening channel is a reliable way for you to stay checked-in with how each of your team members is feeling on a day-to-day basis. You no longer have to leave yourself sticky notes or alerts reminding you to ask one person if they need time off for their son’s surgery and to check in with someone else about whether their new project idea is working out. With an active listening interface, like Achievers Listen, you stay directly connected with employees by using an always-on, open channel to hear and understand what matters to each individual.

The New Era of Feedback

Comprehensive feedback practices translate directly into employee engagement and companies with highly engaged workers outperform other companies by as much as 202 percent. Gallup researchers have dug even deeper into employees’ need for feedback and have confirmed the relationship between feedback and engagement. Millennials who have regular meetings with their manager are twice as likely to be engaged at work, while engagement is at its highest among those who meet with their manager at least once a week. Unfortunately, though, fewer than half of the Gallup survey respondents reported being able to get feedback from their managers even as often as once a month, leaving those employees at risk for becoming disengaged.

The good news is that making a few simple changes to the way your company gives and receives employee feedback can ensure that your millennial employees – and all of your people – will get the input they need, placing your employer brand ahead of the competition. To learn more about engaging your workforce through active listening, download our Achievers Listen brochure and white paper: “The New Engagement Conversation: Workplace Chatbots and the Science Behind Achievers’ Allie.”

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About Dr. Natalie Baumgartner

Natalie Baumgartner is the Chief Workforce Scientist at Achievers. She has spent her career advising companies of all sizes, from entrepreneurial startups to Fortune 500 firms, on issues related to company culture. Specifically tackling key hire assessment and portfolio due diligence issues, she’s found success analyzing what most overlook – the human element. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specific focus on assessment and additional training in strength-based psychology. Natalie serves on the board of the Consulting Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association. She is a popular speaker on culture and recently did a TEDx talk on the importance of culture fit. Natalie is a culture evangelist and is passionate about the power that culture fit has to revolutionize how we work. As an avid Boot Camp aficionado, if you can’t find Natalie in the office odds are good you’ll bump into her sprinting up mountains in her hometown of Denver, CO.

 

 

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Leaders Who Drink Their Own Koolaid

“Leaders are surrounded by liars.” Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

 It really doesn’t amaze me how some leaders come to feel they are a cut above. After all, who can blame them? As they climb the organizational ladder, the probability that they’re getting honest feedback rapidly diminishes. Certainly, those above them may still be candid, but those on the lower rungs, not so much. Few employees will risk calling out their bosses on their bad behavior or inadequate efforts…and this is not good for the leader or the company’s bottom- line.

The Slippery Slope

The usual case is that remarks from those working beneath a leader tend towards the positive. Flattery, ego stroking or careful wording – whatever an employee feels is necessary to keep their job – is the route most take. Whether it be due to a socially ingrained deference to authority or out of fear of risking one’s job, most leaders simply do not get the feedback they need to become great at enlisting the best from their people. It’s easy to understand how, over time, a leader can completely lose touch with what people are really thinking.

Know Anyone Like This?

Senior leaders who have evolved double standards abound. For example, they might expect their team to return their phone calls or emails promptly, while they themselves no longer feel compelled to do the same. They may also come to expect much from others in the way of effort but they themselves don’t feel the need to break much of a sweat.

Due to the lack of honest upward-focused feedback, a leader may also have expectations disconnected from the reality of available resources. I’ve observed many situations where overworked, but committed employees, give it their all but still fall short of their boss’s requests. All this because no one wants to appear a ‘complainer’ or of somehow ‘not being up to the task’ by pointing out resource shortcomings.

All this is both de-motivating and de-moralizing for employees. If people don’t feel that their boss is behaving with mutual respect and accountability, they’ll eventually head for the hills.

The Elephant in the Room

Of all the reasons people leave companies, having a leader who they have a poor relationship with them tops the list. According to Gallup, 50% of employees who quit cite their immediate manager as the reason.

While someone may initially be drawn towards a particular company because of the compensation, mission or growth opportunities, they most often leave because they don’t have a good relationship with their boss and not because of the pull of better offers elsewhere.

It soon becomes very clear why leaders need to get honest feedback along the way. Not only is it necessary to retain their top talent, but to do otherwise is to throw money out the door.

Losing good employees costs time, talent and money. The stakes are fairly high when replacing a team member. The total cost of replacing an employee can be anywhere from thousands of dollars to 1.5 – 2x their annual salary. It involves much more than placing a new ad.

The real cost of losing an employee includes these impacts:

  • The cost of recruiting including the advertising, interviewing, screening and hiring.
  • The cost of onboarding a new hire including training and time from their new manager can be Over the course of 2-3 years a business may have to invest 10-20 percent of a new hire’s salary, or more, for training.
  • Lost productivity – it may take a new hire 1 – 2 years to get up to the speed and efficiency of an existing employee.
  • Lost engagement and cultural impact – other team members who see high turnover tend to disengage and lose their will to give their all. Both productivity and customer service can take a dive. Morale can also easily slide downwards…quickly.

The elephant in the room is the fact that many companies simply do not have programs in place to train their leaders in the primary foundation of leadership: knowing how to get the best from others.

Give Leaders Support…The Kind They Really Need

All too often leaders are thrust into their new positions with minimal support. They are not given the training or feedback that it takes to engage and get the best thinking from their team…and this is bad for business. This baptism by fire scenario pushes new leaders to fall back on what they’ve seen modeled or may understand as ‘leadership’.

One need only cast a brief glance towards the uncivil discourse within our political realm to see extraordinarily harmful examples of bullying and coercive leadership. But bad examples are everywhere. There are many examples of ‘command and control’ leadership styles throughout industry. This is why all leaders, both new and experienced, deserve and require training in how to do it differently.

Companies need to teach and coach their leaders to take an active role in building engagement plans with their employees. They should hold leaders accountable, track their progress, and ensure they continuously focus on engaging their teams. A leader’s ability to engage their teams should be part of their formal performance review process.

Research also makes clear that direct supervisors are the main components underlying how much discretionary effort employees deliver to their jobs. An engaged employee puts their heart and shoulders into their work because they want to. This is where all of the magic happens. It is this extra effort that makes the difference between acceptable productivity and stellar productivity, a mediocre product and a superb one, adequate customer service and outstanding customer service.

Where does it start?

Perhaps the most important piece in all of this is to realize that it may start with you. Take time to reflect on your own behaviors. Are you part of the problem or the solution?

If you are a leader that has elevated yourself above your team, it may mean that you are drunk on your own kool-aid. This behavior is not helping to engage your team, produce the results you want, or work through the issues that you need to face.

Being a cut above is not helping anyone. Plus, kool-aid really is for kids.

Do you want to learn more about employee engagement? Check out this recent analyst insights paper: “2018 Employee Engagement Survey: HR Professionals Share Their Advice for a More Engaged Workforce.”

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About the Author
Doug BrockwayDoug never colored within the lines as a child and believes in the healing power of dark chocolate. Despite being allergic to neck ties, he’s passionate about business. A Certified Executive Coach with global experience, he teaches leading edge approaches that help organizations create cultures that drive engagement, productivity and innovation, giving leaders and teams the skills and experience to contribute to the business in high impact ways. More information about his firm can be found at www.brockwayservices.com.

 

 

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13 HR Stats That Will Make You Lose Sleep This Halloween

Halloween goblins might be scary, but it’s flesh-and-blood people that can really keep you up at night. People are the engine that drives your company’s profits, and if you’re not recognizing employees effectively, the financial fallout can be a real-life nightmare. Look through the unsettling stats below and take them to heart, if you want to keep the horror tales at the haunted house and not in your HR office.

  1. Just Being a Good Manager Isn’t Enough

To retain your most talented workers, the stats say you have to do more than just be considerate and reasonable. When Facebook’s top HR leaders surveyed employees who stayed with their company, those workers had certain things in common: “They found their work enjoyable 31 percent more often, used their strengths 33 percent more often, and expressed 37 percent more confidence that they were gaining the skills and experiences they need to develop their careers.” The takeaway? To keep your best people, shape their jobs based around their strengths and passion.

  1. Employee Engagement Decreases With Age

A survey by HR firm Robert Half UK found that more than twice as many employees over the age of 35 state that they are unhappy in their jobs, compared with younger workers. This is vital information, since the proportion of 55-and-older workers in the labor force is rising, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that age group to represent 25 percent of the working population (40.6 million people) by 2024. Frequently recognizing employees of all generation types is vital if you want to maintain the benefit of their skills and experience.

  1. Only Half of Millennials Plan to Stay with Their Jobs

Statistics can be tricky. After reading about how older workers are less satisfied, we now find stats saying that it’s the younger people you have to worry about losing. Gallup research reveals that “21 percent of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, which is more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same.” Whether you’re dealing with older workers who are unhappily stuck in a job they don’t like, or younger ones with one foot out the door, your best defense is a strong employee feedback program.

  1. Employees Who Feel Dead-Ended Will Leave

No path for advancement is the issue “that bums working Americans out the most,” according to CNN Money. If you want to retain your best talent, you’ll want to structure your organization so that they can move their career forward right from their current position. By practicing careful employee listening, you’ll be the first to know if there’s any brewing dissatisfaction, and then strategize on how to offer a solution.

  1. Ignoring Employee Engagement Hurts You Financially

Listening to your employees and offering recognition can boost engagement levels and are central to your organization’s long-term financial viability. New research published by Gallup News reports that “A highly engaged organization can see 18 percent higher revenue per employee compared with the average.” Stats like these are vital to bring to the C-suite, especially when you need to explain the benefits of a recognition program.

  1. Employees Skip Work More If They’re Not Learning

Do you make the mistake of assuming that your team is happiest when they know everything there is to know about their job tasks? In fact, the Gallup News article cited above notes that organizations could experience 44 percent less absenteeism and 16 percent higher productivity if they give their workers a chance to learn and grow on the job.

  1. Most Workers Don’t Feel They Can be Honest With Their Boss

Don’t assume that a silent employee is a happy one. A recent study shows that only 43 percent of employees “strongly agree” that they “can express thoughts, feelings and disagreements with [their] supervisor.” You need to create a safe environment, so that every one of your employees will feel comfortable telling you what they really think.

  1. Many Employees Don’t Think Their Company Serves Customers Well

It’s all too common for HR professionals to completely separate the metrics of employee well-being from customer experience. A 2018 report by Gallup on workplace culture shows that “only 26 percent of U.S. workers believe their organization always delivers on the promises they make to customers.” Fewer than half (41 percent) of employees even agree that they know what differentiates their company’s brand from its competitors. This sense of disconnection quickly becomes a terrible feedback cycle, because discouraged employees provide poor customer service.

  1. Lack of Inclusiveness Equals Lower Employee Engagement

There is good reason why 69 percent of executives surveyed by Deloitte cited diversity and inclusion as a top priority. Deloitte’s stats show that 39 percent of employees would leave their current company for one that had a more inclusive culture, and over half (53 percent) of millennials would do so. A diverse workplace environment brings fresh perspective, and facilitates the broadest possible range of useful employee feedback.

  1. If You’re Not Listening, You Can’t Retain Ambitious Employees

In today’s tight labor market, you’re competing for top talent. In a survey of employees who quit their jobs to pursue career development, 33 percent said the job they left had not matched their expectations in this respect. When you engage your team with frequent employee check-ins and pulse surveys, nobody’s hopes and expectations will go unnoticed.

  1. It’s Really Expensive to Replace Your Employees

On average, it costs $4129 for each hire, according to SHRM’s Human Capital Benchmarking Report. Moreover, the average annual employee turnover rate is 19 percent, or almost one out of five. You can’t prevent a few workers quitting for personal and family reasons. However, it’s definitely in your best interests to avoid losing any additional people as a result of them feeling unappreciated.

  1. Employees Shame Each Other About Taking Vacation Time

Even if you’re not the one doing the shaming, 59 percent of millennials report feeling ashamed to take the vacation days that they’re entitled to. Not only that, 42 percent of them even confessed to shaming their coworkers for that reason. Your encouragement to take time off will benefit your team: Statistics from Project Time Off note that 78 percent of managers say that managers feel vacations improve employee focus, and 70 percent say that workers are more committed to the company following paid time off.

  1. Your Workers Expect You to Support Their Work-Life Balance

A Glassdoor survey found that 85 percent of employees “expect their employer to support them in balancing their life between work and personal commitments.” These type of stats speak volumes about how the workplace environment is transforming in the 21st century. Are you keeping up with these evolving expectations?

To avoid HR nightmares this Halloween, learn more about how to effectively engage your workforce. Download our e-book, “Engage or Die: How Companies that Act Fast on Engagement Outpace the Competition.”

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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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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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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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