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HR thought leaders

Words of Advice from 7 HR Thought Leaders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The best jobs turn coworkers into friends.”

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

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

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

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

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Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

employees and great culture

Attention HR: What You Need to Focus on to Facilitate a Healthy Company Culture

In my last blog, I talked about how culture is no longer an HR thing, it is a business thing. This means that every owner, executive, and manager needs to make culture a priority and make decisions that support the desired culture. But this is not to say that HR doesn’t play a critical role in culture. HR owns many of the mechanisms that influence the employee experience, and is an important part of facilitating the company culture. So, what does HR need to do to ensure a healthy company culture? Here are my top suggestions:

Reinforce Your Message: Employees are barraged with mounds of information each day, causing them to lose focus on what’s important. HR is responsible for socializing employees to the company’s purpose and values so they understand how to act and interact within the organization. I recommend using a variety of mediums to achieve this—paintings or posters in the employee areas, screen savers, desk decorations, daily pre-shift cards–you get the picture. Younger employees, having grown up in the YouTube era, are more likely to respond to a short video so consider how to bring your purpose and values to life in a fun and entertaining way. When you put this information front and center, it becomes prominent in the minds of your employees. Capitalize on every opportunity to reinforce your company’s philosophy.

Support Managers in Delivering a Great Employee Experience: Whatever process you are currently using to recruit, select, train, communicate and manage performance, stop and consider how this can be made simpler and more efficient. Managers are often so bogged down running the operation that the thought of engaging in an extensive HR task makes them shudder. In turn, they usually end up avoiding the task or taking short cuts. These shortcuts often lead to long-term issues–bad hires, untrained employees, lack of communication, zero performance management. So instead of beating the current process into the managers, consider how this can be re-worked so you get to the desired result in a more efficient way. Use technology to streamline processes, reduce paperwork, and support collaboration with your managers.

Implement a Useful Performance Management Tool: Managing performance is undoubtedly important, but the traditional performance review is no longer effective. In fact, less than half of employees feel that performance reviews help their performance, and organizations feel the same. Clearly, something needs to change. Create a feedback process that is frequent, meaningful, and focused on the right things (i.e., company values). Provide a tool, whether digital or traditional, that forces managers to look at performance and have regular coaching conversations with their employees.  Then, provide training and coaching to managers on how to have informal and formal coaching conversations. When done right, consistent feedback delivered the right way is a manager’s most important leadership tool.

Ensure New Employees Start Out Right: Despite the evidence that orientation is a critical part of a new employee’s experience, many companies still have a boring, lifeless orientation that focuses on rules and regulations and neglects to excite and inspire. HR owns orientation, which means you set the tone for the new employee’s experience. So, stop with the drudgery of endless policies and generic videos—employees can read the handbook later. Deliver an experience that your new employees will remember. Focus on making orientation interesting and engaging around the brand, culture, and customers. Give employees the information that is most important to their success with the company and in such a way that will get them excited about being a part of the company. Remember that your work is not done with orientation. Work with managers to ensure they have a well thought out onboarding plan following orientation. Nothing is worse than handing over an employee who is pumped up about the company, only for that employee to get thrown into the deep end with no training or guidance.

Develop Leaders at All Levels: Leadership development is a crucial focus for the HR team and that focus should begin a lot sooner than most companies are prepared to do. Employees want and need to be developed, yet companies still neglect to provide informative and inspiring training and development programs at all levels of the organization. This is especially true of supervisors, who are often thrown into their new role without much coaching or training on how to lead employees. Invest in a comprehensive training program that starts developing leaders well before they have their first title.

Get Connected With the Operation: I see too many HR departments that are completely disconnected from the departments they serve. Get connected with the operation by having regular conversations with managers about their challenges and needs. Immerse yourself into the operation so you can provide feedback to managers and help coach performance at all levels. HR should be a partner and a coach for the Operations team, rather than an inconvenience. HR must provide value through keeping departments well informed about important changes that affect their employees, as well as providing guidance for managers on how to lead their teams. HR must also learn to analyze and present data around the company culture and employee engagement in such a way that it can be easily understood and then worked on by the front-line leaders.

Culture is created in all areas of an organization, from line level employees to the C-suite, however HR plays a fundamental role in making employee experience exceptional. Implement the type of employee experience that drives results and emotionally connects your people to your brand and business.

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

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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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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Employee quitting

4 Ways to Prevent Your Employees From Quitting

When you hire a new employee, that person is already looking for a new job and at risk of quitting. That rather dire warning is offered by Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace and one of Forbes’ “30 under 30” list. Schawbel cites a study by his company showing that one-third of American workers are at the risk of quitting and looking to change their jobs within the next six months. Employee turnover, he points out, “costs companies a fortune,” and the numbers agree: Losing an employee in the first year of their tenure can cost your company up to three times the person’s annual salary. Clearly, employee retention is a top priority for every organization and it’s HR’s duty to build a strategy that can prevent employees from quitting. Here are four HR best practices to strengthen work culture and protect your company from the high cost of worker churn.

1. Provide Relevant Training Opportunities

As Schawbel investigated the underlying causes for employee attrition, he found a major perception gap between management and workers when it came to a training and development. Sixty percent of managers reported that they provide their employees with a clear path for advancing their careers, while only 36 percent of workers felt that this was true. This discrepancy needs your attention, because you ignore it at your peril: Employees (especially the highly talented ones you’d most like to retain) have more power than they once did, because their skills are in demand. Schawbel’s study found that 41 percent of employees say that they would leave their present companies if they found a position that offered better career advancement.

These numbers suggest that there is more to this equation than simply providing opportunities for training and development. That’s the first step, of course: A study of 4,300 workers found that 74 percent don’t feel that they’re achieving their full potential in their current position, and only 12 percent feel that the training they did receive is actually applicable to their job duties. Along with offering appropriate pathways for your workers to develop their skills, you should ask for frequent feedback to make sure that these opportunities are perceived as being relevant and useful.

2. Encourage Healthy Work-Life Balance

Thirty-nine percent of employees state that a negative balance between work obligations and the rest of their lives constituted a “major pain point” in their careers. These statistics are highlighted by Rich Hein, senior managing editor of CIO Magazine. He points out that the average tenure for an IT worker these days is less than four years, and an unmanageable set of work demands is one of the main culprits for this high turnover rate.

While you can’t necessarily relieve each employee’s outside personal challenges, Hein points out that your organization will benefit by offering flexible hours or telecommuting options. Multiple studies reflect the fact that providing flexibility to employees results in fewer sick hours, greater employee happiness, higher productivity and less stress.

3. Keep Your Managers in the Spotlight

It’s an old truism that people don’t quit jobs — they quit bosses. Even if you’re well aware of this basic human resources principle, it never hurts to be reminded that your management-level staff are key to retaining your workforce. “One manager with poor people skills can do damage to the culture and effectiveness of a company in a short period of time,” points out Maricopa County CIO David Stevens. Too often, people with outstanding technical know-how are promoted to leadership positions, where an entirely different skillset is needed. Fortunately, management training and coaching can be highly effective, and can enable your middle management staff to perform at their full potential.

Productivity consultant Laura Vanderkam adds an interesting twist to this standard advice. She points out that a manager may feel attached to keeping a “rockstar employee” in his or her department, and may be reluctant to provide development training that would advance the person’s career. For this reason, Vanderkam encourages executives and HR specialists to specifically reward managers who successfully move their outstanding employees forward into different departments. The manager’s individual loss will be the organization’s gain, as employee alignment will be strengthened by new career opportunities.

4. Show Your Employees That You Appreciate Them

Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah identifies employee rewards and recognition as one of his three key ways for retaining employees. He acknowledges how easy it is for busy managers to put employee retention “on the back burner,” and he finds that continuous positive feedback is his go-to method of letting employees know how valuable they are to the company.

There’s an art to employee recognition best practices, however: It’s important to provide feedback on an ongoing basis, but workplace expert Lynn Taylor points out that it can’t be “robotic.” Your appreciation needs to be authentic and varied, delivered in a variety of forms. To keep a sense of freshness present in your appreciation, you can change up the channels: Providing your workers with a chance to recognize and praise each other’s contributions will nurture teamwork. Similarly, you may sometimes recognize the unified efforts of a whole team or department, so that it’s clear that everyone benefits from strong employee alignment.

You invest significant resources into recruiting and hiring. Once you’ve onboarded those top-notch employees, however, your HR challenge is only beginning. Lynn Taylor reminds managers, “Retaining the best and brightest is what ultimately matters. The most innovative and successful companies today [have] taken retention efforts to an advanced level.” To learn more about the current retention epidemic and how to prevent your employees from quitting, check out our latest report highlighting key findings from a survey taken by 1,724 employees across the U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia.

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Create a Mission-Based Culture

4 Ways to Create a Mission-Based Culture Where Employees Will Thrive

A company’s mission statement is the driving force behind its company culture. It’s what ignites passion and motivation in employees.

At Achievers, our mission is simple: to change the way the world works. We aspire to do that by aligning everyone with business goals and company values, driven by recognizing shared victories every day. In short, we aim to make success a way of life.

Creating a mission-based culture is crucial for employee — and ultimately, company — success. In fact, according to our latest report, 76 percent of North American employees cited a positive corporate culture as the single most important quality in an employer.

By focusing on your mission company-wide, you open the door for more meaningful employee experiences and a more motivated team.

Here are four steps you can take to instill a mission-based culture at your company:

  1. Start with the employee

Empowering employees to adopt the company’s mission and values as their own is the first step in creating a mission-based culture.

Help your team take this step by encouraging employees to approach their work with an entrepreneurial mindset. Challenge your team to proactively and creatively find solutions to issues the company is facing.

Software companies, for instance, use hackathons to discover new solutions in programming. Leverage this idea to bring people together to accomplish challenges that can have impact throughout the company.

Jumpstart the event by asking employees to note the biggest challenges they or your customers are facing. Next, have them form teams and begin collaborating. Give employees a designated amount of time (traditional hackathons are about 48 hours) to design a program, role, or even software to solve the issues they presented.

The last step is to have employees present their solution and successfully explain how it reinforces the company’s mission. The winning team can then move forward with implementing their solution.

  1. Celebrate your mission

 Recognition isn’t just about celebrating your employees. It’s also about celebrating your company’s mission and recognizing those who exemplify it. In doing so, employees are able to see a direct connection between their efforts, the mission statement, and the company culture.

Unfortunately, it seems many companies are missing the recognition mark. In fact, our report also found that 55 percent of North American employees noted a lack of recognition and engagement as the main reasons behind wanting to change jobs.

At Achievers, we maintain a strong, positive culture by tying our communication and employee recognition efforts to employees’ work. For example, on a quarterly basis, our company comes together for a rewards and recognition (R&R) celebrations.

We place a lot of importance on giving our employees a voice and making it known throughout the company. We are not only proud of our employees, but also we value them and want to demonstrate that during the R&R celebration.

Recognitions are shared company-wide, highlighting examples of how our employees make a difference both internally and with our customers. No accomplishment is too small. They are meaningful, impactful, and push the company’s mission forward.

  1. Be transparent during the good and the bad

 Transparency allows employees to clearly see how their efforts impact overall organizational goals. To give employees a greater sense of transparency, let your company’s mission and values shine through in every situation — both good and bad.

When something great happens, like the promotion of a team member, celebrate it publicly. Explain what this employee did to earn a promotion and how their actions and attitude positively reflect the company’s mission. This way, employees can see the company mission in action and learn and grow from it.

While not as easy to do, it’s equally important to share the downsides of the job with employees. If you lose a client, for instance, be open and honest with your team about why this happened. Most importantly, use this time to inspire employees and unite them behind your mission. By discussing the issue as a team, you and the company can learn from this experience and help prevent similar issues in the future.

  1. Stay connected

 Your company and employees are constantly evolving. Even if your mission stays the same, the connections and values employees have will change. Because each employee is unique, you need to stay connected to their emotions and relationship with the company.

To accomplish this, arm your managers with the tools they need to listen to their employees, as well as offer recognition, on a consistent basis.

Technology that allows your managers to get a pulse on their direct reports on a daily basis will provide more insight into accomplishments and challenges than an annual or quarterly survey. More importantly, the data managers receive is in real-time, which allows them to take immediate action.

Giving your managers the tools they need to listen and respond to their direct reports in a personalized way brings it full-circle and back to the company mission. These practices will give leaders the opportunity to understand what matters to their employees, react in the moment, and redirect employees to a more engaged, mission-based culture.

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
Diane ScheidlerDiane Scheidler is the Head of HR 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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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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Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

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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Support Team Well-Being

6 Ways Managers Can Support Team Well-Being to Drive Engagement

Helping companies and employees feel more connected, Limeade and Achievers have joined together to create a seamless, simplified employee engagement experience. Read more about the partnership announcement here.

At Limeade, we believe true engagement happens when people feel good and have a sense of purpose.

We define employee engagement, or “Big E” engagement, as the extra energy and commitment that comes from this sense of purpose and connection. We look at engagement through the lens of well-being because our research shows that well-being is a precursor to engagement — and how your organization supports well-being is a critical part of the equation.

After a deeper look into our research, we found that the single most important way to support employee well-being is through immediate managers.

This year, make sure your managers are supporting employee well-being by following our six tips.

  1. Schedule frequent 1:1 meetings with your team members. Listen and invite an open dialogue to cultivate discussion about their projects, tasks or roadblocks.
  2. Be a role model for well-being improvement by communicating your own well-being priorities with your teams. Tell them about your goals and the steps you’re taking to reach them.
  3. Send frequent messages of support and encouragement to your teams to call out their great work. Thank you cards or real-time recognition, whether monetary or social, during team meetings are a great way to show your employees you care.
  4. Get to know your team on a personal level in order to understand what matters to each employee. Some employees will want to focus on work-related topics while others will open up about their goals and challenges.
  5. Invest in your employees for the long-term by providing career development or cross-functional training. Side projects that help them develop new skills will show them you care about their development.
  6. Assume positive intent from your employees and give them more control over their schedules. It’s about trusting employees to get their work done on a schedule that works for them.

It’s time for managers to transform themselves into leaders, and it starts with supporting employee well-being with these six tips. Do you want more tips and tricks? Check out this full list of steps to help elevate your authentic commitment to employees.

Do you want to learn more about Achievers and Limeade’s partnership? Watch the video below to see the partnership in action.

Create a connected employee engagement experience with Achievers and Limeade.

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

About the Author
Limeade is an employee engagement platform that builds great places to work by improving well-being and strengthening workplace culture.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

Managing Remote Teams

Managing remote teams: how to lead from a distance

Now that technology has made it easier than ever to telecommute, companies are relying more and more on teams of remote employees. However, these long-distance workers can pose unique challenges for the managers who supervise them. Without the traditional trappings of an office, coffee breaks, and face-to-face communication, managers need to find new ways to coach and connect. Here are three best-practice tips that are proving successful in managing remote teams:

  1. Focus on outcomes

Are you accustomed to judging your employees’ productivity according to whether they show up on time and look like they’re busy? If so, managing a team of people you can’t see will force you to find other evaluation methods and rely more on employee accountability. Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, points out that, “It’s much harder to fake productivity when you work remotely, as long as managers are focusing on goals and outcomes for their employees and teams.” She notes that successful managers set “granular tasks,” with weekly and possibly even daily milestones. If your employee is hitting all their productivity marks, you don’t need to worry about how many hours they’re actually at their desk, or whether they take a break to move their laundry.

  1. Encourage multi-function communication

Staying in touch with your remote workforce means using a range of communication channels. Regular phone conversations are important, as are emails and texting. Collaboration platforms allow remote team members to share projects at a distance, and teleconferencing software lets you gather your team together in one virtual location. In addition to these formal communication channels, Harvard Business Review recommends the use of technology to “create water cooler moments.” Impromptu conversations between colleagues are one of the most valuable aspects of in-person work, and setting up an open video link between offices is the best way to reproduce this casual team-building friendliness.

  1. Develop a strong onboarding process

Traditional onboarding involves setting up an employee’s workspace and showing them around, so it may seem less relevant to your remote workers. In fact, a carefully thought-out onboarding process is essential for building your remote team. The underlying purpose of onboarding isn’t merely to introduce logistical details; its real value lies in aligning new hires with company culture and helping them feel like part of the team. Eric Siu, CEO of San Francisco marketing company Single Grain, has set up an internal wiki using Hackpad for sharing logistical information, but he also reminds managers “Don’t skimp on face time.” Personal connections, especially at the beginning of employment, are vital to laying the foundation for employee loyalty.

Managing remote teams effectively doesn’t mean you have to develop an entirely new set of skills. If you rely on your professional instincts and simply adjust a few of your methods, you’ll find yourself leading a productive, engaged team.

 

Bad Bosses

Repairing the damage done by bad bosses

If you’re entering a leadership role after your team has suffered the ill effects of a bad boss, you’ve got a list of important tasks ahead of you to repair the damage. You may find your employees discouraged and unproductive in the wake of poor management, and you will need to introduce an entirely new climate for team operations. While this is a tricky task, it’s an important one, because you’ll be making the workplace a much more pleasant and productive place for everyone.

Encourage employee feedback

There are different kinds of bad bosses, from the micromanagers to the inept, to the disconnected and the downright mean. Find out what kind of damage control you need to do by asking employees to submit anonymous, written responses to a few questions. The anonymity will provide a sense of safety and encourage people to be honest, and open-ended questions such as, “What changes would you like to see in our operations?” allow the real problems to surface. Follow up this input with face-to-face meetings dedicated to creating a new team atmosphere. On an ongoing basis, make clear that feedback in your organization goes in both directions: Explain that supervisors and managers will continue to seek feedback from direct reports.

Build positive team relationships

You and your direct reports can set the tone for a productive workplace environment by using a multi-pronged approach:

  • Transparency: Share department goals and strategy openly with all members of your staff so that everyone feels that they have a share in working toward those goals.
  • Employee Wellness: Encourage workers to take their vacation days and get plenty of exercise, so they can recharge their energy.
  • Better Work-Life Balance: Introduce options for flexible scheduling and working from home, to ease pressure on employees with family caregiving responsibilities.
  • Employee Recognition: Give workers a boost by recognizing them when they put in extra effort on a project. Noticing and rewarding individuals who show dedication is an essential part of building employee loyalty.

“Chase the vision, not the money.” This quote, from Zappo’s uber-successful CEO Tony Hsieh, points out that the most important element to long-term success is building an organization where people love to work. It’s not easy to alleviate the disruption and disillusionment that bad bosses create within a team, but with focused effort, it’s very possible. The outcome is happier workers in the short term and a stronger department in the years to come.

Employee Coaching

How to improve your 1:1 manager meetings

Holding regular one-on-one meetings with your employees is a major component of employee alignment, coaching, and good management. Not only are they a great way to build individual relationships with your employees, but there is often information that’s not appropriate to cover in a group setting. Handled correctly, these meetings offer abundant benefits for you, your staff, and your entire company. Here’s a quick look at how you can optimize the benefits of your individual meetings with employees:

How you benefit from 1:1 meetings with your direct reports

Meeting with your individual employee allows you to see beyond their output, giving you insight into their essential wellbeing. You will know ahead of time if the person is anticipating difficulties accomplishing their work, and you’re also likely to learn about any conflicts occurring between employees. Effective management depends on your awareness of what underlies high productivity, as well as the nature of existing and future obstacles. Furthermore, you will become a better manager as you absorb and learn from your employees’ feedback.

How your employees benefit from 1:1 meetings with you

Your direct reports rely on you to help them clear any work-related roadblocks they are experiencing. When you provide employee coaching and constructive feedback, you’re showing that you value each individual worker, enhancing your relationship and enabling them to work at their highest capability.

How your company benefits from your 1:1 meetings

Employee wellbeing has a direct effect on productivity. When you take the time to have regular one-on-one meetings, you are creating an environment in which personnel problems are solved before they become acute. Your organization saves money when employee turnover is reduced, and employee loyalty is strengthened when workers understand how their tasks align with the mission and goals of the company as a whole.

5 best-practice tips for one-on-one meetings

Follow these 5 tips to maximize the benefit of your one-on-one meetings:

  • Hold them in a private, non-distracting environment.
  • Don’t use the meeting time to deal with disciplinary issues.
  • Prepare your agenda and share it ahead of time with your employee.
  • Ask open questions and encourage your employee to initiate new topics.
  • Send a short set of “minutes” to the employee afterward to strengthen and formalize the points you discussed.

When handled correctly, individual meetings enable you and your employees to effectively navigate the sometimes complex web of managerial relationships.

Executive Onboarding

3 high-powered onboarding tips for new executives

The cost of losing an employee at any level is significant. Losing an entry-level employee can cost you up to half their salary, but losing a senior level executive can cost more than 400 percent of their salary.

Those are just the direct turnover costs. When you lose executives, there are other costs to the company, including loss of momentum and sometimes damage to the company’s reputation. That’s why companies invest so much time in the executive search process. Despite all that effort, 40 percent of executives who take a new position fail during their first 18 months in the job.

A strong executive onboarding program can help reduce that risk of failure. Many companies have a standard onboarding program for employees that focuses on administrative matters, such as providing information about healthcare, 401K programs, and computer passwords. While those tasks need to be handled, they don’t meet the special needs of executives, whose work relies on relationships moreso than software.

An effective executive onboarding program needs to establish the new executive’s authority, provide an understanding of the organization’s culture, establish key stakeholder relationships, and clarify expectations and priorities. This requires an onboarding process that extends over weeks or months and provides the executive with the following:

  1. A customized overview of the organization

Onboarding should provide the executive a customized, in-depth review of the teams they’ll need to work with and the challenges they’ll need to address. This should be tailored to the department the executive will be responsible for and the issues they will be tackling.

  1. A detailed review of stakeholders

Stakeholders aren’t always obvious from an official organization chart. New executives need to understand exactly who has input into decision-making and the informal processes through which policies are discussed and consensus reached. Because management’s decisions succeed or fail based on how well lower-level employees carry them out, the new executive also needs insight into how those workers feel about the organization, their work, and the current processes.

  1. A statement of expectations

No executives can succeed when it isn’t clear what they are expected to do. Organizations should provide new executives with clear priorities, along with the metrics that will be used to measure success. Those guidelines let the new executive know where to focus his or her efforts and how to track progress.

Along with that information, new executives need a defined process that provides ongoing support for success. There should be a partnership between the new executive, management, and HR to make sure he or she gets the information needed to succeed, whether it’s day one or day 100 on the job.

Micromanager

How to reform a micromanager

Simply by position alone, managers have a major impact on employee productivity. This is good when the manager has the skills and experience to get the best work out of their direct reports. It’s not so good when managing slides into micromanaging. As anyone who has ever worked under a micromanager can tell you, it’s a surefire method of making employees feel stressed and disengaged. Here are a few tips on how you can recognize when supervisors are veering into micromanagement terrain and guide them back to supporting their staff members in a healthy way.

Identify your micromanagers

Harvard Business Review provides a handy checklist for identifying micromanaging behavior. It finds that micromanagers:

  • Are never quite satisfied with deliverables
  • Often feel frustrated because they would have gone about the task differently
  • Laser in on the details and take great pride and/or pain in making corrections
  • Constantly want to know where all their team members are and what they’re working on
  • Ask for frequent updates on where things stand and prefer to be cc’d on all emails

Productively reform your micromanager

First, it’s essential to realize that people with a tendency to micromanage are usually passionately dedicated to their work and deeply invested in good outcomes. As you assist them in taking a step back from the jungle of details they’re wading through, you can express your appreciation for their commitment to organizational goals.

Next, help your micromanagers articulate why they feel they must take responsibility for everything. Their reasons are often based in fear that too much is at stake or that the work won’t get completed correctly. Once they clearly identify their concerns, you’ll be in a position to help them logically examine these issues. In some cases, you may uncover actual personnel problems that need to be addressed, but usually you can ease their worries by presenting the benefits of stepping back a bit.

It’s also beneficial to encourage micromanagers to ask for feedback from their teams. In many instances, overly involved supervisors sincerely believe they’re being helpful by shouldering responsibilities, and they may try to change their habits if they hear from direct reports that their approach is actually counterproductive.

Strengthen productivity by improving management practices

Managing the managers is one of the trickier interpersonal challenges facing HR directors and executives, but it’s a crucial element of organizational success. Employee engagement and productivity throughout your company are nurtured when workers feel trusted to carry out tasks on their own.

The Peter Principle

Promotions & the Peter Principle: how to find the sweet spot where employees succeed

How do you choose which employees to promote? If you’re like most managers, your answer is straightforward: You move up the workers who perform their duties most competently. Unfortunately, relying on strong performance as your only criterion for promotion may cause your organization to suffer from the Peter Principle. This principle was identified over four decades ago by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull. They observed that as workers were steadily moved upward in a hierarchy, they eventually reached a position where their competence could no longer warrant further promotion. As a manager, it’s crucial that you understand and guard against the Peter Principle operating in your organization. Here are some insights to help you build an effective promotion strategy and make sure each employee is positioned at the level of his or her greatest strength.

Maintain a fluid organizational structure

Steve Jobs encouraged innovation at Apple by moving workers around from one project to another, taking advantage of individual skills and combating stagnation. Likewise, Zappos fueled its vigorous profit margin by eliminating the classic management hierarchy in favor of a model made up of team “circles.” By sidestepping the traditional hierarchies, these successful companies enable workers to display a wider range of abilities. People skilled at a particular function receive pay raises rather than promotions, thus rewarding them while maintaining them where they excel. Individuals with leadership skills are able to put their talents to use in an organic way, emerging over time as natural leaders.

Identify the unique skills each position requires

Each successive level of responsibility doesn’t necessarily require more the same skills as the previous position. Proctor and Gamble chairman A.G. Lafley observes in Harvard Business Review that promotions can be a “jump shift,” especially at the executive level. Humana Board Member William J. McDonald adds, “I think one of the biggest mistakes boards make is to assess people only in the context of their current jobs.” If you clarify the precise skill set of the new position, you can objectively decide which candidate is best equipped for the job.

Test out and nurture leadership ability

There is no magic formula for recognizing intrinsic leadership talent among the ranks of your employees. But if you make a practice of giving everyone occasional responsibilities outside of their usual duties, you can discover unexpected abilities. Switching up the standard task allotment has the additional benefit of breaking up boredom and increasing worker motivation. Management development expert Jeanette Suflita advises, “Provide your potential leaders with temporary leadership opportunities. It’s an excellent way for them to try out their skills and to identify both strengths and areas for improvement.” Those with standout management talent can be offered mentoring, coaching and formal leadership development training so that they’ll be ready when a new position becomes available.

Understanding the Peter Principle is essential for the health of your business, because an incompetent manager will drive your best employees to look for more satisfying positions. A recent Gallup study found that 50 percent of employees who left their jobs cited bad managers as their primary reason. If you promote your natural leaders to management roles, and leave the talented line workers in place to apply their unique competence, you can build a robust, productive organization.

Managing Millennials

3 reasons you should let Millennials manage

Are you hesitant to put Millennials in managerial roles because of their youth and lack of experience? This hesitancy is certainly understandable. As an experienced professional manager, you’re well aware that years in the industry provide insights that no newcomer can automatically acquire. However, it turns out that your company can still benefit from the unique skills younger staff members can bring to leadership roles. Here are three reasons you should look for Millennials with characteristics of a good leader and give them a chance to shine.

Millennials are big on transparency

Younger managers can command loyalty from their direct reports by creating an atmosphere of transparency throughout the work environment. This openness extends from compensation to strategy and company process. With this outlook, Millennial managers will expect productivity to rely on the shared efforts of the group. When problems arise, they can sidestep resentment of their authority, drawing on the collective mind for solutions.

Millennials seek networks, not hierarchy

Training Magazine points out that young adults grew up in a networked social media environment, where they’re related to a web of connections rather than a chain of command. Freed from a preoccupation with preserving authority, they can easily solicit and accept feedback. This willingness to put mutual goals ahead of personal aggrandizement can foster an open exchange of ideas, increasing company-wide trust and leading to valuable innovation.

Millennials give more frequent feedback

Millennials don’t measure productivity in terms of hours at a desk, and they’re not usually fans of formal, scheduled performance reviews. Instead, they’ll use their emotional intelligence to stay connected with their staff, rewarding effort and productivity with frequent, informal expressions of appreciation.

Fast Company reports that Millennials are ready and eager to lead: 82 percent of workers in this age group express an interest in managing, compared with only 57 percent of employees of other ages. Chief Executive Magazine advises that up-and-coming young leaders can be groomed by whetting their curiosity and exposing them to new ideas, then personalizing their contribution and activating their inherent desire to do good in the world.

When you give your most talented young leaders a chance to step forward, and balance their innovative style with the insights of more experienced staff, you’re taking steps toward establishing a robust basis for transitioning your company well into the coming decades.

Open Door Policy: 4 Links to Help Embrace Transparency at Work

The “open door” policy is ubiquitous in the business world, but following through on that practice can be a challenge. Many of us set out with the best intentions, but when we’re at the point of crossing the proverbial threshold, we chicken out.

Sound familiar? Don’t worry; you’re in good company. This week we’re sharing some of our favorite insights on infusing transparency, and creating a culture of constructive, consistent feedback in the office.

Whether your door is physical or virtual, creating a feedback-friendly environment doesn’t have to be scary. Keep these links handy for the next time you’re feeling squeamish about testing out that open door policy, and you’ll find transparency in the office opens the door to a collaborative, successful, workplace environment.

Maybe employees don’t leave managers, after all

hr_trends_and_analyst_findingsFor years, it’s been common knowledge that employees leave managers, not companies. But a new infographic from Glassdoor disagrees: according to their research, only 8 percent of employees attribute their departure to their managers. Far more common reasons were lack of career growth (33 percent), salary and compensation (27 percent), company culture (15 percent), work/life balance (14 percent), work environment (12 percent), and overall company performance (11 percent).

So why does conventional wisdom maintain that managers are the cause? The most-cited study on manager-driven turnover is the 1999 book, First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, which is based on 25 years of research by the Gallup Organization. But that report is 14 years old now; surely there’s more recent information than that?

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[Infographic] Overcome disengagement by tackling the recognition obstacle course

Is your employee engagement strategy directly tied to business results?

Top employers realize that highly engaged employees produce better business results than organizations with low levels of engagement. It just makes sense. Organizations with high engagement rates are 78 percent more productive than disengaged organizations.1 The powerful combination of engaged employees and brilliant performance is critical to business success. By implementing an employee recognition strategy to increase engagement, you amplify key behaviors that power business success.

To help you get started, we’re excited to unveil Achievers’ latest infographic, created to help you overcome the obstacles of disengagement and turn your employee engagement hurdles into results!

 

What do you believe is your company’s biggest challenge with employee engagement? Let us know in the comments below or when you share the infographic!

Overcome the Obstacle Course of Disengagement

Sources:

  1. “Hewitt point of view: What Makes a Company a Best Employer?” Hewitt and Associates. 2009. Web. 8 Apr 2013.

Analyst Insight: Empower your managers to drive employee success

employee_successBusiness Success may start with Employee Success™, but Employee Success starts with engaged managers.

In its latest report “Empowering Managers to Drive Employee Success,” the Aberdeen Group dives into the manager’s role in employee engagement. The report explores the importance of manager tools in driving success in the workplace. It found that in order to improve business results, managers need solutions to help them understand activity within their team and highlight areas to manage and optimize top talent.

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The flexibility trap: Jody Thompson tackles the telecommuting controversy in her recent webinar

webinarsJody Thompson has a message: managing sucks.

At least, managing people sucks, which is what most managers end up doing when they should be managing work. If you’re not sure what the difference is, you’re not alone. “Most managers don’t even realize they’re managing the wrong thing,” Thompson said during her recent webinar for Achievers.

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Want to be a better manager? Stop watching the clock.

webinarsManaging is a tough gig. 19 million Americans plan to leave their jobs in 2013, at an estimated turnover cost of $3 billion, and many of them will cite their managers as the cause. Meanwhile, the pressure is on for managers to transform into coaches who inspire, retain, and promote top talent. Are you getting nervous yet?

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Ask Amelia: How do you get managers engaged?

ask_achieversDear Amelia, I know managers play a key role in employees’ engagement, but how do you keep managers engaged?

I find one of the best ways to keep your leaders at all levels engaged in your organization is to show them the “what’s in it for me.” So I coach leaders to find connecting points; connect leaders around the organizational goals and connect teams and then individuals into those goals. Then praise, praise, praise!

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10 qualities of a “magnetic manager”

Like many people across the globe, I was glued to my TV for two weeks watching the Summer Olympics. Not only am I impressed by the Olympic talent, I’m also impressed by the coaches that trained them. It takes years to prepare for the games, and it’s admirable how these coaches inspire and challenge athletes to reach their greatest potential. They are the best coaches in the world because they are brilliant at leading their teams to success.

In the workplace, this type of leadership is displayed through great management. They inspire, motivate and lead employees to drive results, in addition to boosting employee retention. As I wrote in a previous post, when employees have a great relationship with their manager, there is a social cost to leaving.  Employees who are emotionally tied to their manager and company are less likely to be poached or coaxed with more money.

So what makes a great or “magnetic” manager?

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Managers need recognition, too! 3 steps for employee retention

Dear A Advisor,

I need your help! My company is having trouble with employee retention. We offer competitive salaries and we’re a strong competitor in our industry, but we just can’t seem to keep staff happy enough to stay with our company. What tools can we use to make our employees more satisfied and engaged?

Thanks for your help!

Mr. Lonely

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Warning: When recognition is needed most

“As stress, change, pressure and constraints increase in an organization, so too does the need for a concerted effort to enhance employee recognition. Managers can find it difficult to give positive feedback during tough times, and managers are least likely to use a recognition program when morale is low. Encourage leaders to recognize employees when it’s hardest to do so—that’s when it’s needed most!”

The top 3 improvements managers need to perfect the employee manager relationship

Picture this: you drag yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn for exercise boot camp. You’re barely awake but have already committed to the challenge; you just need a little guidance. The boot camp leader blows his whistle for warm up, yet remains seated and offers zero feedback during the session. Your workout falls flat and demotivation ensues.

There is nothing more demotivating than a poor leader. We’ve all experienced this trend and have suffered from the results. But it’s time to Change the Way the World Works, and send the poor managers of the world to leadership boot camp.

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SAY WHAT?! Why communication is key to employee engagement

Communication is vital to employee engagement. All high-performing organizations have great communication and, unsurprisingly, it is a top motivator for employees. Great communication within an organization can be defined as open, consistent, transparent and multi-directional.

This means that ideas and direction not only come from the top, but employees also contribute to the conversation. Dialogue is free-flowing and comes from both directions, as simple and basic as a homemade telephone with two soup cans and a string.  Managers who are great communicators are also available to their employees for support, encouragement and questions.  Finally, good leaders share the organization’s successes as well as its failures with employees because everyone has the right to know about it and transparency builds trust.

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