communication skills

Mon 25 January 2021
The goal of a 360-degree assessment is to identify blind spots and vulnerabilities in your professional skillset. By getting feedback from your colleagues and comparing their perspectives to your self-assessment, you can get a deeper understanding of your work performance. 

There are generally 3 outcomes from a 360-degree assessment: 1) somebody has underestimated their abilities, 2) somebody has overestimated their abilities, or 3) somebody is self-aware about their abilities. There are ten other articles addressing the two other possible outcomes of a 360-Degree Assessment available here:

Self-Aware - People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management

Overestimating -  People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management

Understanding Underestimating your Abilities for 360-Degree Assessments

When somebody has underestimated their abilities, they are essentially giving themselves a lower score for whatever category is being measured compared to their colleagues’ score of them. At first glance, this may seem like a positive thing: “If my colleagues believe that I’m better than my self-assessed performance, then I must be doing pretty well!” This is partially true, but this article will shed light and provide examples of how underestimating your abilities can be an opportunity for improvement.

When my team and I at Ambition In Motion facilitate mentorship programs, we also include our 360-Degree Assessment (and its report) to each participant. We’ve found that our members use these insights to reveal the areas most in need of improvement. This has helped members identify the best course for professional growth and helps provide a major launching pad for helping them open up and be vulnerable in their mentor relationships.

The 5 core areas we measure in our 360-degree assessment are People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management.

This article is one in a series of articles focused on why underestimating one's score on a 360-degree assessment report based on the 5 core areas listed in the paragraph above is not necessarily advantageous for one’s career.

Communication Skills

The ability to communicate effectively affects every interaction you have personally and professionally. When you make improvements to your communication skills, you are likely going to improve your skills in every other category measured by our 360-Degree Assessment. This is because when you underestimate your abilities with these skills, it is typically caused either by a lack of effective communication with your colleagues about what you are doing or by a lack of communication back about what your colleagues appreciate about your work. Communication is based on one’s ability to listen, trust that others are speaking openly and honestly with them, and understand what others are sharing before focusing on being understood.

If you gave yourself a lower score on your communication skills than your colleagues did, this could indicate a lack of trust, strong body cues for listening without retention, or a perceived lack of patience.

Lack of trust

The reason why underestimating your communication skills compared to your colleagues could indicate a lack of trust revolves around the question of trust: do you trust that others are speaking openly and honestly you? If you feel like others can’t be open and honest with you, but your colleagues feel that they can be, it is typically a sign that you don’t trust that you are getting the full information when you are speaking with your colleagues. The key is understanding why you might feel this way. Try to consider if you have a valid reason to not trust their honesty and you might just end up realizing that your assumptions are incorrect.
Strong listening body cues but a lack of retention

When it comes to non-verbal communication, some people have naturally great body language while others must work to ensure their body language fits the situation. As humans, the majority of what we perceive in the form of communication is via body language. We believe we are heard when we perceive the physical cues that the person is listening to. However, in some cases, people are great at giving physical cues that they are listening, whether or not they are paying attention at all. While naturally good body language is a gift, you might need to check that your internal response matches your external cues. By realizing when you are listening and when you aren’t, you can gain confidence in your communication abilities and know where you need improvements.

Perceived lack of patience

Some people are hyper-aware of their feelings and level of patience with other people. Some people feel that they are losing patience when communicating with their colleagues, but their colleagues aren’t perceiving it this way. Similar to having strong listening body cues, what others pick up from you is different than your perception of yourself. The difference is that when somebody feels like they are losing patience with somebody else, they are at least aware that they are losing patience – even if it isn’t perceived by the person somebody is speaking with.

A few solutions to help close the gap in one’s communication skills is to start practicing trusting your team. Try giving them responsibilities and information that you previously felt guarded about to start building trust. You can also deliberately practice reflective listening–meaning you mirror other people’s statements back to them and consider their words carefully before responding. Just by asking your team to share their concerns for their work and the upcoming hurdles they may face, you are growing mutual trust and practicing patience.

Counter-argument

The eternal counter-argument to this is “I just set the bar really high and I feel like I am not where I would like to be in this area.” If that is the case, then you are not effectively communicating your standards to those you work with. If your colleagues don’t know your standards, then they can’t properly assess your abilities in relation to those standards.  

Overall, the goal of a 360-degree assessment and report is to identify the gaps and blindspots one may have so then they can improve their performance. The goal is to be self-aware, thus enabling you to work towards excellence in each area. Underestimating your performance might feel good at first because it shows others think highly of you, but continually failing to meet your own expectations means that you risk burning out or losing engagement. So, try being honest with yourself and setting honest goals. Professional growth is a slow process that takes dedication, consistency, and honesty, but by following the path, we are all capable of becoming our best selves.

Sun 31 January 2021
A 360-degree assessment is a unique survey that uses input from self-assessment and from colleagues’ assessments to understand a professional’s strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots. By gathering feedback from your colleagues alongside your own perspective on those same questions, we can get a deeper look at how your self-perception compares to the way your colleagues see you. 

With this data, we can break down the results of a 360-Degree Assessment into three outcomes: 

1) Somebody has underestimated their abilities (self-rating lower than colleagues’ ratings), 

2) Somebody has overestimated their abilities (self-rating higher than colleagues’), 
 or
 3) Somebody is self-aware about their abilities (self-rating matches colleagues’).

This article is going to address some possible problems and solutions that might arise for people who are self-aware of their abilities. This article is part of a series I’m writing about Ambition In Motion’s 360-Degree Assessments and how their results should be interpreted. There are ten other articles addressing the two other possible outcomes of a 360-Degree Assessment available here:

Overestimating - People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management 

Understanding Self-Awareness for 360-Degree Assessments

When somebody is self-aware about their abilities, this means that they gave themselves a similar score as the score their colleagues provided on the same skill. 

Initially, self-awareness may seem to be a cut-and-dry positive outcome but looking a bit deeper reveals some potential issues. After all, the goal of a 360-degree assessment is to identify blind spots and close the gaps between one’s self-perception and the perception of their colleagues. However, we find that there are opportunities for growth within a self-aware 360-degree assessment report and this article will review those opportunities.

At Ambition In Motion, our 360-Degree Assessment has 5 core components: 

a.                People Management
b.                Innovation
c.                Leadership Ability
d.                Communication Skills, and 
e.                Financial Management.

While self-awareness is likely the best outcome relative to the other two possibilities, I’m next going to explain how you can leverage self-awareness to grow as a professional and identify blind spots in your professional perspective. I’m going to show why self-awareness on your 360-Degree Assessment is more than just a pat on the back, even if you and your colleagues share similar views on your performance. 

Communication Skills

The ability to communicate effectively affects every interaction you have personally and professionally. When you make improvements to your communication skills, you are likely going to improve your skills in every other category measured by our 360-Degree Assessment. Communication is based on one’s ability to listen, trust that others are speaking openly and honestly with them, and understand what others are sharing before focusing on being understood.

If you are your colleagues are in agreement on your communication skills, that is excellent, but that could mean that they agree that you are a poor communicator or a great communicator.

Self-Awareness but poor performance

If your colleagues rated your communication skills relatively low and you agreed with them, that typically is an indicator that there are opportunities for growth.

You may think to yourself “I am in a pretty isolated role and communication isn’t a big part of my work.”

That may seem to be true, but that doesn’t mean that improving your communication skills will be wasteful.   

A key component of communication skills is the ability to listen to others. If others believe you are a poor listener and agree with your self-rating, this indicates that you are probably giving off negative physical cues that signal that you aren’t listening AND you aren’t actually listening to what they are saying.

This has negative consequences. If you are struggling to listen to what others are saying, it can be difficult to accomplish any work tasks because you have no idea if you are missing some key information. People can recognize a poor listener and they’ll dislike working with you because they feel like their time spent communicating with you is wasted.

The other key component to communication skills is trusting that others are being open and honest with you.

If you feel like others aren’t being open and honest with you, that is a HUGE red flag. This means that you should reflect onto yourself why you might feel that way about others. Do you feel like people are hiding things from you? Do you feel like people are skirting the truth because they only want to deliver you good news? Do you have any reason to believe that they are being dishonest or withholding the truth? Has something like this happened to you before in the past?

If your colleagues agree with you, ask yourself, why might this be? Are you giving the impression that others must give you the best news, even if that means stretching the truth? This might be a difficult pill to swallow but could this be a possibility? And if this is the case, what are the implications of this? This could mean getting blindsided, surprised, or feeling deceived. 

A great example of this is in HBO’s Silicon Valley. The show is about a group of people who found an up-and-coming startup business called Pied Piper. Pied Piper’s major antagonist is the CEO of a large conglomerate named Gavin Belson. Gavin is the type of leader who demands only good news, so much so that his people will lie to him to appease him, even if it makes him look like a fool later. A hilarious example of this rearing its ugly head is when Gavin is launching a new server called “the box”. Because Gavin is a narcissist, he requests that his signature be on every single box so his team creates a contest throughout the entire company to draft the best signature to go on the box. The signature that received the most votes was the signature “Gavin B”, which when displayed in the particular font used, looked like a phallus. The reason this scene is hilarious is because everyone on Gavin’s team can see exactly what it looks like, but Gavin is too self-centered to see anything but his name. Everyone is afraid to tell Gavin the truth, so Gavin moves forward shipping millions of boxes embossed with an ornate phallus prominently on the front.

The point is that if you feel like your team isn’t being open and honest with you and your team doesn’t feel like they can be open and honest with you either, you need to take action to create an environment and setting where others can be honest. This can start with asking for specific feedback on your work and the way you have communicated with others.

Self-Awareness and high performance

If you gave yourself a relatively high score and your colleagues agreed with you then that is excellent. That indicates that your colleagues feel comfortable being open and honest with you and they feel like you are a good listener and overall communicator. 

The question one should then consider is the balance between productivity and communication.

If you have an open-door policy or situation where anyone can ask you a question at any time, then you are making yourself available and are clearly making yourself present while having a conversation with those you work with, but are you optimally productive?

Research from Stanford shows that it is impossible to multitask and that mental residue builds up when switching between tasks. Therefore, if anyone can communicate with you at any time, the gaps in time from pausing your work and having a conversation before finally getting back on task are essentially wasted. This is also very true for emails/texts/phone calls/social media. If you focus too much on being available for everyone at every moment, you are sacrificing your ability to get into deep mental focus for the sake of being available to communicate. You are being communicative and present, but you are not being as productive as you possibly can be.

Some people have subsequently adopted office hours where they are open to people jumping in and asking them questions only during certain time periods, minimizing the gap time mental residue that is created from switching tasks. 

As new technology comes out, making it easier to communicate with those on our team, there can always be new ways to improve our communication and optimize our performance.

Overall, having a self-aware response on your 360-degree assessment report isn’t a free pass to give in to stagnation. It simply shows that you and your colleagues are on the same page. But, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement. The implications from having a self-aware score are not wholly positive or wholly negative. Instead, it is a snapshot of your current performance which can help you make informed decisions about where you need improvement. As long as you possess an open-mindedness about making improvements and are willing to measure whether the new changes worked, you can ensure that you are on a positive track towards continual growth and improvement.

Thu 18 February 2021
A 360-degree assessment helps you understand your professional performance by having both you and your colleagues assess your abilities across several key skills. 

The goal of a 360-degree assessment is to identify blind spots and vulnerabilities in your professional skillset. By getting feedback from your colleagues and comparing their perspectives to your self-assessment, you can get a deeper understanding of your work performance.  

There are generally 3 outcomes from a 360-degree assessment: 1) somebody has underestimated their abilities, 2) somebody has overestimated their abilities, or 3) somebody is self-aware about their abilities. 

This article is going to address some possible problems and solutions that might arise for people who have overestimated their abilities. This article is part of a series I’m writing about Ambition In Motion’s 360-Degree Assessments and how their results should be interpreted. There are ten other articles addressing the two other possible outcomes of a 360-Degree Assessment available here:


When somebody has overestimated their abilities, they are essentially giving themselves a greater score for whatever category is being measured compared to their colleagues’ scores of them.

At first glance, this can sting because you are essentially learning that your perception of yourself is greater than your colleagues' perception of you which may cause one to think “I must not be as good as I think I am” or “My colleagues must not realize all of the things I do to be strong in this area.”

For most people, the answer is somewhere in the middle. 

When my team and I at Ambition In Motion facilitate mentorship programs, we also include a 360-Degree Assessment and report to each participant. We do this for two reasons: 1) these reports can help reveal opportunities for growth in one’s professional skill set, and 2) deep self-reflection is a major launching pad for fostering vulnerability in a mentor relationship. These two components are crucial to developing strong, valuable mentor relationships. 

The 5 core areas we measure in our 360-Degree Assessment are: People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management.

Next, I’ll explain the significance of each of these categories, and then suggest ways that someone can learn after finding out they are overestimating their abilities in each category. This should be an opportunity for growth and understanding, not a time to be defensive and stubborn.

Communication Skills

The ability to communicate effectively affects every interaction you have personally and professionally. When you make improvements to your communication skills, you are likely going to improve your skills in every other category measured by our 360-Degree Assessment. Communication is based on one’s ability to listen, trust that others are speaking openly and honestly with them, and understand what others are sharing before focusing on being understood.

If you overestimated your communication skills that means either you gave yourself a moderate score and your colleagues gave you a low score or you gave yourself a high score and your colleagues gave you a moderate or low score.

You rated yourself moderately

There are many reasons you may have rated yourself moderately in your communication skills. It could be that you don’t believe you need strong communication skills to perform your role effectively, or it could be that you’re aware of your weakness here but haven’t found the time to focus on improving it. 

If you are of the mindset that your role doesn’t require you to have strong communication skills, you might be right, at least based on your limited view of what your role is. If you are a solo contributor, you may think “I only need to get my work done and that’s it.” These common refrains don’t tell you the whole story though. 

The issue with this mode of thinking is that it forces you to walk the tightrope of patience. When you are an individual contributor and you don’t feel like you need strong communication skills, you willingly turn yourself into a commodity; if your company can find somebody to do your work better for cheaper, the economic decision would be to fire you and hire them. The reason is that you aren’t bringing anything else to the table in terms of your contributions to the culture of the company because you have decided that you don’t need strong communication skills so subsequently your interactions with others at your company are likely to be minimal at best and a net negative at worst. Any mistake in your work becomes magnified because you have decided to not invest in your communication skills. Consider which sounds better for management: “Jon made that mistake, but he is a great guy and he pulls the team together” versus “Jon made a mistake and now I feel like he isn’t listening to me or communicating effectively with the team.” Everyone makes mistakes so which Jon would you want at your company?

Maybe you feel like you just don’t have the time to work on your communication skills. So, you gave yourself a moderate score because you “think” you are communicating fairly effectively at least. Well, let this report be the smoke signal informing you that, as the saying goes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. You are NOT communicating effectively and what you “think” is just getting by is not making the cut.

If that’s surprising or frustrating to read, try putting the shoe on the other foot.

Have you ever given instructions to somebody or been discussing some important work topic and they responded as if they weren’t listening to a word of what you said? Or they seem like they were listening but still end up acting in a way completely contradictory to what you said? Think about that frustration for a moment.

You know how frustrating it can be to feel ignored. If your team is giving you a low communication skills score, YOU are that person, or at least you are that person often enough for them to notice.

Have you ever felt like you had to sugarcoat the truth when talking with somebody? First off, that is usually a frustrating conversation. But even worse, it’s a recipe for eventual disaster, especially if they need to know the real truth of what you are trying to tell them. Based on your team’s feedback, you are the person they feel they need to sugar-coat the truth for. Your communication skills with your team keep them from feeling comfortable being open and honest with you. Instead, they don’t trust your reactions and worry that you might react poorly to bad news, but that isn’t going to make the bad news go away. When your team does not feel comfortable telling you the full truth, you may as well be flying blind.

When your team gives you a low communication skills score, they are telling you that you are an energy taker instead of an energy giver. People must exert significantly more energy communicating with you because they have to work double-time trying to find how to get their point across effectively. Instead of just getting to the point, they might need to repeat themselves. Or, since they feel that they can’t be fully honest with you, they are forced to plan out what to say so you can handle it. That type of working relationship is untenable. Poor communication skills are bad for business, bad for your team’s patience, and bad for your career stability.

You rated yourself highly

If you rate your communication skills highly and your team gave you a moderate or low score, that likely means that you are consciously trying to improve your communication skills, but it isn’t translating into reality.

People who rate their communication skills highly and then receive a lower score tend to be pretty surprised when they get their results. They may have done their “homework” and are familiar with many communication books or concepts and think they have tried ways to be better communicators. If you fall into this category, you probably are a little confused by these results.

Essentially, what this means is that the efforts you have taken to be a better communicator have not rung true for those you work with. 

For your ability to listen to others, do you ever hear what somebody says and then respond with a story or comment on something unrelated? We all do this from time to time. Maybe you felt that their point was likely over and you really needed to get that other story or comment out (what if you forgot it or the moment passed?!). What you may be neglecting is what your response is communicating to the other person. You didn’t realize that, although you heard what they said, they were expecting a relevant response to close out their comment; your completely irrelevant response about something completely irrelevant to that point makes them feel that what they said wasn’t heard. And when people pick up those signals, consciously or not, they begin to feel frustrated. By the way, I – Garrett Mintz the writer of this article – am VERY guilty of this and I try to work on improving this every day.

The other side of communications skills is fostering an environment where others feel comfortable communicating openly and honestly with you. Have you ever seen this type of thing happen with other people? If you are a fan of the television show, Game of Thrones, this type of poor listening reminds me of how people listen to Petyr Baelish, or Littlefinger, when he is talking with them. If you haven’t seen Game of Thrones, Littlefinger is a sly, fast-talking businessman who is constantly playing people off of each other. When he speaks with anyone, he always tells them what they want to hear and everyone thinks he is on their side…that is until he backstabs them and leaves them out to dry. I am not saying that the people you work with are Petyr Baelish, but I am saying that they feel like they can’t give you the whole truth, and eventually, that will rear its ugly head (e.g. turnover, upset clients/employees, missed deadlines, unmet expectations).

There are a few things you can do to improve your communication skills. First, from a listening skills perspective, you can focus on your body language. Your body communicates substantially more than what your words do, even if neither person consciously realizes it. If you feel like you are listening but others don’t think you are, your body is likely telling them another story with mixed signals. To improve your body language you can focus on standing (or sitting) up straight when speaking with others, making 80% eye contact, nodding when they make points, and taking notes (if relevant and appropriate). From a verbal perspective, you must practice actively listening when you are waiting until they are done talking before sharing your response (and don’t interrupt them either!). When you do respond, you can reiterate their perspective to confirm that you understand what they just said. E.g. “If I am hearing you correctly…”

Second, from an openness and honesty perspective, focus on asking for feedback. When people provide unsolicited feedback to others, the brainwaves that are activated by the person receiving the unsolicited feedback are similar to the brainwaves when listening to white noise/nonsense. However, when we frequently ask for specific feedback, we are inviting others to give honest feedback and you are mentally preparing yourself to actually reflect on it. They are much more likely to be conscientious when giving this feedback and compared to unsolicited feedback, it’s much more likely to be a productive critique rather than some trite complaint. 

The other thing you can do to encourage openness and honesty with your colleagues is to practice vulnerability exercises with them. In a 1-on-1 environment, ask them if they would be willing to be vulnerable with you, and you in turn be vulnerable with them. Think of the things that concern you with work and try to share these with them; they may share these exact same concerns! The benefit of doing this is that it sets the standard that it’s okay to deliver you potentially negative news on important topics because it was on your mind anyways. People tend to not give people the full truth for fear of upsetting them. By showing others that you are just as concerned, it makes it okay for them to deliver you the full truth of what is going on.

In essence, overestimating your abilities in these categories does not mean that you will forever be this way, but it does mean that there are opportunities for growth that you must tap into if you would like to improve. 

Wed 7 July 2021
Every year, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) conducts a survey of over 5,000 CEOs to assess trends and forecasts based on what these CEOs are seeing in the marketplace.

PwC’s global chairman on strategy analyzed the responses to this survey and identified two key trends that leaders need to be preparing for in 2021 and beyond. The first is urgent innovation, the ability to make quick pivots in the face of data contrary to your expectations. The second trend is fostering an environment of innovation that builds teams that feel comfortable generating bold potential solutions, turning those into actionable plans, and sharing their results after testing. 

These concepts may seem like obvious goals that all leadership teams strive for, however, the reality is that most leadership teams struggle with empowering their teams for urgent innovation and the ability to empower their teams to be innovative.

This article is for people in those companies that tried new business ideas, regardless of whether they worked. Most leaders would agree that it’s important for their company to be innovative but struggle to empower their people.

Common things I hear from leaders are:

My team always comes to me (the leader) with problems but rarely with solutions,

Or

I give my team complete autonomy, but they keep doing the same thing over and over again,

Or

My team and I talk about being innovative all the time, it’s even in our core values, but we never find time to actually innovate.

When leaders run into these pitfalls and struggle to empower their teams, it’s usually for one (or both) of these reasons:

1.       Leadership didn’t provide sufficient context, and the team fails to focus on the problem that needs to be solved or on the desired outcome being created.
2.       Leadership failed at demonstrating psychological safety. You need to be willing to showcase your own mistakes and bad ideas in a way that invites others to share their own crazy, off-the-wall ideas.

The reason this article is titled Innovation with Bumpers is Better is because this approach is a simple way of solving both challenges from a leadership perspective.

Innovation with bumpers provides context to teams because it helps outline the problem being solved and the outcome being created.

For example, if you were to ask your team to cook you an entrée and stop there, that’s not enough context (i.e., too much autonomy). If you ask them to cook you an entrée after going to the grocery store, that still wouldn’t be enough because of the near-limitless combinations of ingredients your team must pick from. However, if you ask your team to cook an entrée from what’s available in your refrigerator now–that’s how you spark some creative solutions because there are a finite number of potential entrées your team could cook.

When you narrow down the problem scope and present clear context, it becomes much easier for them to innovate. The more open-ended your innovation process is, the less likely your team is to innovate because they don’t have enough context to innovate. 

Bumpers are the context clues you provide your team based on your own experiences in the market. You still leave some problem aspects open-ended, but you focus them on achieving a specific desired outcome because you are facing a specific problem that needs a solution.

Innovation with bumpers also provides teams with the psychological safety necessary to innovate.

A great example of this is the honeypot example. A Canadian power line company faces the challenge every winter of getting snow off their power lines. Their solution has been hiring a person to climb up the wire poles and shake the snow off the lines one-by-one. Not only is this process dangerous, it’s also extremely expensive. Insurance premiums from this work are enormous, plus the one-by-one nature of de-snowing each pole is extremely inefficient.

This power line company was very clear about the problem that needed to be solved (removing snow from the power lines) and the solution it wanted but left the team open-ended on how to solve this challenge.

A team without psychological safety will defer to leadership to generate ideas because they fear what their leadership might think if they share an idea that seems nonsensical or absurd. 

The reason this is called the honeypot story is because one of this company’s lowest level employees suggested putting honeypots on top of each pole and when bears smell the honey, they will try to climb up the poles for a snack and shake off the snow in the process. 

Take a moment to let that sink in…what an insane idea!?!? For a low-level employee to feel comfortable enough to propose an idea like that, it shows a LOT about their level of psychological safety within their team. 

And although the company didn’t end up using the honeypot idea, it did spark their eventual solution: hiring helicopters to fly by their power lines and using the wind from the helicopters to knock the snow off: a cheap, safe, and efficient solution. 

Psychological safety in innovation doesn’t mean that people feel comfortable when proposing the ultimate idea. It just means they feel comfortable proposing ANY workable idea and help narrow down what the eventual idea might end up being.

One of the best ways to build psychological safety on a team is with vulnerability. As a leader, being vulnerable shows your team the emotional bumpers and that you don’t always have answers to every problem. Vulnerability also shows your team that you have made big mistakes and had awful ideas before and that those ideas help lead to better solutions. In the early days of Amazon, they had to pack their boxes on the floor, and Jeff Bezos suggested that the team needs knee pads; psychological safety helped an employee to say “No Jeff. We need packing tables”. 

When I write “innovation with bumpers is better”, this means that if we can provide enough context and psychological safety to our teams, we are much more likely to empower them and build an environment of innovation.

Sun 28 November 2021
I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest on the IBJ podcast a month ago to discuss the topic of the Great Resignation and why people are making career changes in droves. One of the consistent themes my fellow guest, Mandy Haskins, and I identified was how critical of a role that the manager plays in whether people stay or go.

One of the most important components for being a strong manager that engages their team and helps them feel connected to the work is their ability to have effective one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. 

This article is going to explain why having one-on-one meetings between managers and direct reports is so critical to being a strong manager. Next, I’ll present some tips on how to have effective one-on-ones and how you can assess the quality of those important meetings.

Gallup came out with research that identified that 70% of employee engagement variance is based on the relationship between the manager and that employee. The adage “people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses” is absolutely true. And the best way to ensure that you are consistently connecting with and having a pulse on your people is by having regular 1:1 meetings with direct reports to understand their feelings about work and their own path within the organization.

What is 1:1?

A 1:1 is time taken between a manager and direct report to discuss updates between each other and their overall feelings about the work. However, not all managers treat these meetings with the same significance. Some managers define a 1:1 as a quick chat about upcoming tasks. On the other hand, some other managers create an agenda to discuss key components of the employee’s work, keep notes from previous conversations to follow up on, and share a vision for the employee (and have the employee share a vision with them) that includes their role in the organization and their role within the particular team or department. 

The problem here is that the difference between the former and latter examples of 1:1’s is vast: you simply can’t get a good read on the situation without putting in the work to have effective 1:1’s. So I wanted to take some time to identify what an effective 1:1 looks like, what you should be discussing, and how you can assess the value of those meetings over time.

What does an effective 1:1 look like?

An effective 1:1 is a meeting between manager and direct where report the manager has asked the direct report to share some updates about their work and tasks to the manager before the meeting has started (i.e., updates on goals, perceptions of task performance, team productivity, team cohesion, and feelings about their ability to help others without being asked - organizational citizenship). This key step gives the manager context on to what has been accomplished since their last meeting and how they are feeling about work from a high level.

When the manager and direct report meet, the manager has questions prepared to ask their direct report that will help the manager better understand any gaps between the manager’s perspective and the direct report’s experience. For example, consider a case where a direct report shared before the 1:1 that they are feeling a little down on their task performance this month. However, their manager feels that the individual did a fine job and didn’t notice any signs of lower task performance. Effective managers can learn more about the cause of this gap in perception by asking questions like these in the next 1:1 meeting:

·         What areas do you think you performed well this past month and what areas do you think you could improve?
·         What aspects of your work do you like most? How do they play into your strengths and vision for where you'd like to be?
·         How do you feel about your work and the people you work with?
·         What areas of your work would benefit from greater clarity from myself or other team members?

What is critical about the questions a manager has prepared for the conversation is that they are not simple yes/no questions, nor are they “why” questions. Yes/no questions are not as effective in a 1:1 because managing and understanding your direct reports requires some curiosity from the manager to get useful answers. Binary questions leave out the details that provide needed context and understanding between manager and direct report. 

“Why” questions are also not as effective in a 1:1 because they insinuate that something needs to be justified. For example, if the manager would have asked “Why do you think you performed poorly over the past month?”, the subsequent response involves backtracking and providing a justification for why they scored themselves the way they did. It puts the employee on the defensive and hampers shared understanding. It also disincentives’ employees from being honest in future conversations and doesn’t lead to any greater understanding between manager and direct reports. What/How/Who questions are much more effective for 1:1’s because they emphasize curiosity and help a direct report feel comfortable sharing an honest assessment of themselves, their team, and their experience.

How does one measure the impact of a 1:1?

Management simply doesn’t allow for some one-size-fits-all scientific solution. Management is more of an art that needs to be adjusted on a case-by-case basis to fit their direct reports, their work, and work culture. At Ambition In Motion, we have created a tool that helps managers better understand their direct reports’ core feelings about work over time (updates on goals, feelings about their task performance, feelings about the team productivity and cohesion, and feelings about their ability to help others without being asked - organizational citizenship) called AIM Insights. 

One thing we have found to be really effective with the tool is when we measure the correlation between the number of 1:1’s had and their employees’ change in responses month-over-month trends for those core feelings on work. When there is a positive correlation, that would mean that the more meetings that manager has with that direct report, the higher the direct reports’ scores are (which means they should have more 1:1’s with that employee). When there is a negative correlation that would mean that the content and quality of those meetings need to change to help improve that employee’s feelings about work.

Of course, there are other factors that can impact how an employee is feeling at work, beyond their relationship with their manager, so this can’t solve every challenge an employee is facing at work.

However, refer back to the Gallup statistic – 70% of employee engagement variance is based on the relationship between manager and direct report. Measuring this every month can help a manager find the right communication style and cadence that works best for each direct report. This, in turn, can help managers better understand their employees, improve their engagement levels, and increase retention. As the relationship between employees and employers continues to change and evolve, I’m sure that the “winners” of the great resignation will be the managers who adapt and thrive: they will keep their best employees, develop up-and-coming stars, and provide a prime landing spot for anybody that’s sick of the old paradigm.

Thu 6 January 2022

Work Orientation is how you derive meaning from work

Everyone has their own way for deriving meaning from work. We call this your Work Orientation. Research has helped show that people generally fall into one of three major categories based on how they find meaning at work. Some people are: 
  • Career Oriented – or motivated by professional growth like getting promoted or learning new skills that support career advancement.  
  • Calling Oriented – or motivated by the fulfillment from doing the work and making a positive impact on the world with their work. 
  • Job Oriented – or motivated by gaining greater control over work/life balance and gaining material benefits to support their life outside of work.
Work Orientation is fluid, meaning it likely will change throughout your life and be impacted by both personal and professional events. Work Orientation is also on a spectrum, meaning that you aren’t necessarily purely career, calling, or job oriented, and many people have mixed orientations.
Next, I’m going to share tips on how work orientation affects your work, either as a manager or as an employee, and how you could leverage this information to create a better, more sustainable work environment.
Career Oriented
As a Career-Oriented Professional
If you are a career oriented professional, it means you are motivated by learning new skills and getting promoted. In a work setting, it can feel frustrating and uninspiring when you don’t have a clear path that you are working towards or if you feel like you have been passed up for promotions or opportunities. When this happens, you need to take the matter into your own hands and advocate for yourself.
Advocating for yourself to your manager about your professional aspirations can seem daunting because you don’t know how your manager is going to react. But, for you to get the most enjoyment from your work, it is critical that you clearly communicate your goals to your boss in a respectful way (so they aren’t surprised when you share your goals with them) yet in a meaningful way (so they can start working with you on a plan for where you would like to go professionally).
To get you started, here is one way that you could ask your manager for a meeting like this. Once you set the meeting, you can use these questions and suggestions to help you broach the topic with your manager:
  •  Hi {manager name}, I was wondering if we could have a conversation sometime over the next week or two so I can share with you some of my professional goals and collaborate with you on how our team goals can align?
    •  This may seem like a daunting question to ask your manager, but a good manager would much prefer you be upfront with them about your career goals. This helps you work towards your goals and helps you find ways to simultaneously align with the team goals. A good manager knows that for career-oriented people like you, these tough conversations are crucial to keeping you from feeling underappreciated, confused as to how you fit in with the team, and potentially wanting out of this role.
  •  What are some of our biggest team goals over the next year? How can I contribute in a positive way to help the team succeed?
  •  How do you see my position evolving over the next 6 months to a year?
  •  Who is somebody on our team (or another team you have worked on) that you feel did a great job of effectively rising through the ranks of the company by being a great team member? What did they do that helped them stand out?
  •  Some of my professional goals are {xyz}. I was wondering if you think it could be possible for me to work towards some of those goals over the next year? If so, which goals make the most sense for our team? If not, what do you think would be a realistic goal for me over the next year?
Managing a Career-Oriented Professional
Career-oriented professionals need to have a timeline that they can work towards. If you lead a career-oriented professional, ambiguity is your worst enemy.
“Great job!” and “I appreciate the hard work” only go so far with career-oriented professionals.
Eventually, they need to have some form of concrete outcome that they can work towards, or they will become disengaged and leave.
Therefore, it is critical that during discussions with this direct report, you should be considering their professional goals and help create a path for them to look forward to.
You may be thinking to yourself “I don’t have control over who gets promoted, how can I still provide a path?” The answer is that, regardless, you should create some form of roadmap for your people to look forward to that is within your control. For example, I have seen call centers provide different tiered titles to professionals based on their tenure and effectiveness like Customer Support Representative I, II, and III. Perhaps the pay is slightly higher, or unchanged, but the job title embodies the progress for that employee. What matters is that your career-oriented direct reports are very achievement-focused so having something to look forward to is vital to your effectiveness in leading them.
If you are still struggling with creating a roadmap for your career-oriented direct reports, the easiest way to start is brainstorming. Jot down all your ideas on how you might be able to create a roadmap for them and share those ideas with your boss. If your company is investing in you by providing you with AIM Insights for your team, more likely than not they are invested in helping you identify the best solutions for your direct reports.
Here are some suggested questions you can ask your career-oriented direct reports to better understand their goals and aspirations:
  • In terms of your career, what would your ideal professional situation be in 10 years? (10 years is a good length of time because it’s distant enough to remove potentially troubling topics like switching companies or taking over someone’s role).
  • What are some experiences you would like to have while working with us?
  • Who do you know whose career path you would like to emulate? Could you elaborate on their career path and what they did?
  • {Share your ideas as to tasks they can work on and when and convey how those tasks helps them achieve their goals while also helps achieve team goals} After sharing some of those ideas with you, do you think those tasks would align with some of the professional goals you are working towards?
  • I would like to schedule another conversation with you in a month. Over the next month, I would like us both to brainstorm additional tasks you can work on that will help you achieve your professional goals and help our team achieve our team goals. Does that sound okay with you? (then put the date and time on the calendar for the next meeting!)

Thu 6 January 2022

Work Orientation is how you derive meaning from work

Everyone has their own way of deriving meaning from work. We call this your Work Orientation. Research has helped show that people generally fall into one of three major categories based on how they find meaning at work. Some people are:
Career Oriented – or motivated by professional growth like getting promoted or learning new skills that support career advancement. 
Calling Oriented – or motivated by the fulfillment from doing the work and making a positive impact on the world with their work.
Job Oriented – or motivated by gaining greater control over work/life balance and gaining material benefits to support their life outside of work.
Work Orientation is fluid, meaning it likely will change throughout your life and be impacted by both personal and professional events. Work Orientation is also on a spectrum, meaning that you aren’t necessarily purely career, calling, or job oriented, and many people have mixed orientations.
Next, I’m going to share tips on how work orientation affects your work, either as a manager or as an employee, and how you could leverage this information to create a better, more sustainable work environment.
Calling Oriented
As a Calling Oriented Professional
If you are a calling-oriented professional, it means you are motivated by changing the world through your work. Your professional life and personal mission are intertwined. In a work setting, it can be frustrating if your work loses its clarity as to how it is changing the world. Eventually, you will become burnt out if you don’t receive clarity and reinforcement as to how your work is positively impacting the world.
Advocating for yourself and asking your manager to have these conversations can seem daunting, especially if your manager does not share your work orientation. But, for you to gain value and meaning from your work, it is critical that you have regular conversations with your manager about why the work is meaningful to you and find ways that reinforce and build more meaningful work practices. Your fellow coworkers may not also be calling-oriented and may not share your drive for changing the world through your work. But that is okay as long as you can work with your boss to stay cognizant of your impact and nourish your drive to continue making a difference.
Here are some suggested questions and suggestions you can use to help you broach the topic with your manager:
  • Hi {manager name}, I was wondering if we could have a conversation sometime over the next week or two so I could dive deeper with you into our work and how our work impacts the people we serve?
    • This may seem like a daunting question to ask your manager, but a good manager would much prefer you be upfront with them about your motivation for work. This helps you build a shared perspective and helps you find new ways to approach team goals. A good manager knows that for calling-oriented people like you, these tough conversations are crucial for understanding the meaning of your work and finding new ways to change the world. 
  • What is the biggest benefits people gain from the work we do? How does our work positively impact their lives?
  •  Can you share with me any recent testimonials from our clients about how our product/service positively impacted them?
  •  What are some of our goals for further impacting our clients in the future? How can I get more involved in having a positive impact on our clients?
  •  Some of my goals for impacting the world through work are {xyz}. I was wondering if you think it could be possible for me to work towards some of those goals over the next year? If so, which goals make the most sense for our team? If not, what do you think would be a realistic goal for me over the next year?
Managing a Calling Oriented Professional
Calling-oriented professionals are motivated by the belief that they are positively changing the world through their work. As a manager, you may not be calling-oriented and that is okay.
But it is critical that you nourish this drive from your calling-oriented direct reports, or they will leave to seek out work that better satisfies their calling to change the world through their work.
Calling-oriented professionals need regular confirmation that their work is making a difference. It can be easy for them to get lost in the minutiae and lose focus as to why they are doing the work. If your calling-oriented professionals lose focus on the “why” to work, they will become disengaged and eventually seek out better prospects. For example, I have seen calling-oriented professionals leave nonprofits because they lost sight of the positive outcomes driven by their work. 
Calling-oriented professionals will bend over backward to do a great job, so long as it’s clear that their hard work is making a difference. Calling-oriented professionals often can stay highly engaged, even for seemingly grueling work with long hours and not incredible pay, because truly believe in the value of the work they are doing. Often, this includes their manager regularly reinforcing how their work impacts the people they serve. 
Just to be clear, eventually, there comes a point where a calling can only get you so far. Work orientation is fluid and can change, and this shift can make previously acceptable conditions no longer tenable for a calling-oriented professional. When you are asking your people to do too much, consistent reinforcement will eventually run dry, often the case in startups with a charismatic founder. Their work orientation will adapt, and they will demand more from their work before being ready to switch back into that calling-oriented workstyle. But, if you are leading calling-oriented professionals, it is critical that you nourish their drive for impact regularly and creatively. "Regularly” is doing a lot of heavy lifting here, but once per month is a good benchmark, especially if you can find new ways to connect your employees to the greater value of their work.
Here are some suggested questions you can ask your calling oriented direct reports to better understand their goals and aspirations:
  • In your perspective, what is the best way we impact our customers?
  • How could see us making an even greater impact on the world?
  • How could you see our business growth goals also impacting the world?
  • Throughout a typical month, what typically reinforces to you that we are on track and continuing to impact the world in a positive way?
  • I would like to schedule another conversation with you in a month. Over the next month, I would like us both to brainstorm additional ways we are impacting the clients we serve and ways we can be more innovative at better serving them – even if they all aren’t realistic at the moment. Does that sound okay with you? (then put the date and time on the calendar for the next meeting!)

Thu 6 January 2022

Work Orientation is how you derive meaning from work

Everyone has their own way of deriving meaning from work. We call this your Work Orientation. Research has helped show that people generally fall into one of three major categories based on how they find meaning at work. Some people are:
Career Oriented – or motivated by professional growth like getting promoted or learning new skills that support career advancement. 
Calling Oriented – or motivated by the fulfillment from doing the work and making a positive impact on the world with their work.
Job Oriented – or motivated by gaining greater control over work/life balance and gaining material benefits to support their life outside of work.
Work Orientation is fluid, meaning it likely will change throughout your life and be impacted by both personal and professional events. Work Orientation is also on a spectrum, meaning that you aren’t necessarily purely career, calling, or job oriented, and many people have mixed orientations.
Next, I’m going to share tips on how work orientation affects your work, either as a manager or as an employee, and how you could leverage this information to create a better, more sustainable work environment.
Job Oriented
As a Job Oriented Professional
If you are a job-oriented professional, it means you are motivated by work/life balance and using your professional development to gain greater control and freedom over your life. In a work setting, it can feel frustrating when your company wants to keep pushing additional responsibilities onto you without considering your input on how this affects your workload, compensation, or balance. 
Advocating for yourself can be difficult because it might be counter to the culture that is set at the company. If your manager and everyone around you is working 16-hour days, you may feel like a slacker when you finish up after only 10 hours. But, for you to get the most value from your work, particularly with regard to your long-term engagement, it is critical that you broach this topic with your manager or you will become burnt out.
Here are some suggested questions and suggestions you can use to help you broach the topic with your manager:
  • Hi {manager name}, I was wondering if we could have a conversation sometime over the next week or two so I can gain some clarity on my role and set some expectations for the upcoming months?
    • This may seem like a daunting question to ask your manager, but a good manager would much prefer you be upfront with them about your need for work/life balance. This helps you enact greater control over your situation and can ensure that you have a say in your work/life balance. A good manager knows that failing to have these conversations with job-oriented professionals can lead to overwork and potentially an exit from the company.
  • I am struggling with creating boundaries between work and life and I was wondering if you could help me clarify my goals so then I can feel like I am holding up my share of the work?
    • Job-oriented professionals excel at finding ways to do great work when the rewards are connected to their desire for control over their work/life balance. Leaving early doesn’t mean leaving with work left undone; it means you want to find new or better ways to do your part so you can reap the fruits of your labors. 
  • Right now, my current workload is impacting my ability to {xyz – spend time with family, play videogames, spend time with friends, etc.} and that is really important to me. Would you be open to helping me structure my work schedule so then I could get my work complete and optimize my ability to {xyz}?
  • If I feel a task assigned to me is too much for what I have the capability to handle, how would you like me to communicate that to you?
  • What is the most important aspect of my work and what do I bring to the team? How can I optimize my time to be most impactful?
Managing a Job Oriented Professional
Job-oriented professionals are motivated by work/life balance and gaining control over that balance. You may have a different work orientation than somebody that is job-oriented and that is okay. Being job-oriented doesn’t mean you are lazy or disengaged, it just means you want work/life balance. Pursuing the next promotion or making an impact on the world are not significant motivators for you. This simply presents a different way for an employee to find their motivation for work, and it doesn’t mean that calling or career orientations lead to better work. In fact, after studying thousands of professionals and their work orientation, our team has found that no single orientation has greater engagement than another. Essentially, job-oriented professionals are just as engaged as everyone else.
What is critical, as managers of job-oriented professionals, is that we understand that and are conscientious of that when we add work to their plates.
When managing job-oriented professionals, it is critical that we set clear expectations with them regarding how much they expect to work, their compensation for that work, and how their work should be prioritized. Good managers must do their best to maintain standards and adapt compensation (not strictly monetary) to match changes in workload. Job-oriented professionals will be particularly frustrated when new, arduous tasks disrupt their expectations, and this leads to disengagement or leaving the company.
For job-oriented professionals, their work is not their entire life, and that is okay! Job-oriented professionals want consistency. They want to know their work or workload isn’t going to drastically change overnight so they can put their mental energy into their life outside of work.
For example, some managers of job-oriented professionals give them incredible amounts of autonomy with their work with very clear expectations. These managers know how much time it takes the average person to complete the task and what quality metrics are necessary. They support motivation for job-oriented employees by providing incentives for great work like pay bonuses, greater control over hours, or even intangible rewards like a manager’s trust when picking projects. 
However, you don’t want to cheat the system because your employee will notice, not even including the broader effects of dishonesty at work. Job-oriented professionals expect a fair deal and will respond fairly. So if you are offering half-measures or offering poor incentives, they will take notice. “Fake” rewards (e.g., offering to let them leave early for completing a task impossibly fast) will only build distrust. They are not going to fall for that trick a second time and they are going to lose trust that you have their best interests at heart.
What is critical to job-oriented professionals is clarity as to what you expect from them and that they are in agreement that your expectations are reasonable for them to complete.
Here are some suggested questions you can ask your job oriented direct reports to better understand their goals and aspirations:
  • How do you feel about your current workload? When do you feel like you are working too much? When do you feel like you are working the right amount?
  • What aspects of your work could benefit from greater clarity from myself or other team members?
  • Who on the team do you feel is working too many hours?
  • What aspects of your work do you like the most?

Mon 17 January 2022
Leadership is an aspect of work that is about to have a major overhaul. It is a skill hardly covered in higher education, yet people are expected to step up when their name is called to fill in management positions. 

Many universities have downgraded Management from being a standalone major to a co-major or a minor. When I was a student, I didn’t think much of this at the time, except for the fact that this decision dissuaded fellow business students from pursuing the field of study because it meant doing just as much work as a normal major but having the label as “co” attached to it, making the degree seem less significant. 

From my understanding, their reasoning was that most college students aren’t hired for management roles right out of college, so other degree fields are more immediately relevant to employers making hiring decisions. The notion was that these young professionals will learn and develop management skills as they enter the workforce and be ready to step up.

The issue with this mode of thinking is that most companies promote based on individual contributions within their role, and they provide little guidance to middle-management on how to be an effective leader. On top of that, the skills that make somebody a great individual contributor are not the same as the ones that make somebody a great manager. The result is burnout, and not just for the managers. Both employees reporting to untrained managers and the managers themselves suffer from the stress. A new manager that’s in over their head can go wrong in a variety of ways. They might expect their new direct reports to all perform at the same high level that the manager (thinks) they did at the time. On the other hand, they might fall prey to ruinous empathy. They want to be the cool, approachable manager, but they lack the skills to maintain discipline and have direct, potentially uncomfortable conversations with team members. This stress feedback loop between managers and direct reports rapidly degrades engagement and company culture. 

A recent Gallup report found that burnout for people managers increased from 27% in 2020 to 35% in 2021. The effects of manager burnout are distributed across a whole company. Frequent turnover and changes in leadership completely erodes psychological safety in employees, which in turn contributes to more turnover. These feedback loops are insidious problems and only grow more difficult to fix as they gain steam. 

The point is that companies need to begin thinking about increasing their training and development resources for their mid-level managers if they want to be a viable business in the years to come. The cost of hiring, training, and then re-hiring digs too much into the narrow margins most companies have allocated for maintaining long-term profitability. And for companies that are breaking even, getting started now is imperative!

When reviewing whether the company found the right manager (hired or promoted), sometimes you find it didn’t work out. It is too easy to simply chalk it up to “poor fit” or that the person did a bad job. This lets the company off the hook for their hiring choice when there’s another side to this story. The manager that didn’t work out in that position may think that “the company didn’t give me the resources to be a good manager and put me in a position to fail”. 

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. 

I believe that being a really good manager isn’t some inherent skill that people pick up naturally. It is a learned skill that can be developed and honed over time. And this skill can’t be learned in sprints; it’s learned through a marathon of consistent, focused practice on improvement. Consistency is the key. 

When people talk about their boss being a “bad manager” and vent about all the bad things that their boss is doing, I would care to argue that in almost every case, the manager is not intentionally being a bad manager. Nobody comes to the office thinking “how can I ruin your day?” and then just go ahead and do it. Pure intentions can’t hide the effects of poor execution. 

People have off-days. 

Whether they are burned out from work, stressed out from something personal, or just on edge and unsure why, people have off-days. When you are an individual contributor, having an off-day is easier to keep to yourself. It’s easier to mostly contain that negativity, or at least keep it from being an issue for your coworkers. 

But, when a manager has an off-day, there is a magnifying, exponential effect because they have an opportunity to negatively impact everyone that reports to them.

If you string enough of those off-days in a row together, you create a toxic culture. And, unsurprisingly, toxic cultures don’t make off-days less frequent. If you are a new manager, and things aren’t going how you planned, this can be deeply frustrating. You didn’t intend to create a toxic culture, and your work style and preparation didn’t change from being a great individual contributor, but your performance as a leader of people continues to dwindle. The most important thing you can do is to start working on improving it now.

So, here are a few things you can do to maintain your A-Game as a leader.

Read Leadership Books (least expensive)

To know what a good leader does on a regular basis, it is important to learn from those that have studied the best leaders. There are about a million of these books, but to get you started I’ll share a few that have influenced my thinking. I am a big fan of Simon Sinek’s Leaders Eat Last, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, Jocko Willink’s Extreme Ownership, Brene Brown’s Dare To Lead, and Kim Scott’s Radical Candor. Eventually, you’ll have your own list of the books that most influenced you on your path to becoming a great manager. 

Join an Executive Mastermind Group (moderately expensive)

Executive Mastermind Groups can vary based on industry and title, but in general, they are a group of leaders coming together to learn from each other, share their challenges, and identify solutions to the challenges they are facing. They are a great outlet when you want to have a sounding board outside of your spouse, friends, or coworkers. My company, Ambition In Motion, actually runs executive mastermind groups, both for executives and middle managers – if you are interested in learning about them, feel free to reach out. The way I look at it is that we, as leaders, are all scientists testing hypotheses and trying to find the best ways to lead our teams. 90% of what we try probably won’t work, but these mistakes teach us how to get better at finding that last 10% that’s your key to success. If we can all bring our failed and successful leadership experiments together, we can exponentially improve our leadership and speed up our learning curve.

Review your team’s data (moderately expensive)

In my last article, How to Have An Effective 1:1 with a Direct Report, I wrote about how to have an effective 1:1 and what metrics can help you understand whether your message is getting through to your team. You need to be sure that your message is being received the way you intended. If you can understand how your team is receiving you as a leader through data, you are much more likely to make tangible improvements as a leader over time than if you aren’t measuring anything at all.

Get an executive coach (more expensive)

Getting an executive coach can give you a ton of personalized attention and focus to pinpoint the exact area you are challenged with. Executive coaches can question your way of thinking and acting and reframe your leadership style to serve your team in more impactful ways. 

You can also combine all of these suggestions together to give yourself the best opportunity to improve.

Overall, leadership is undergoing a major overhaul and as current or future leaders, we must take steps to prepare ourselves for what is to come so we can lead our team the best we can.

 

Tue 19 April 2022
Congratulations, you’re in charge of your team now! The dynamic at work is changing, but don’t worry, you got this! 
If you want your direct reports to respect you, it’s important that you first show them the respect that they deserve. 
Actively treating all of your workers fairly, demonstrating your value for them through your words and actions, listening to their concerns and addressing them as best you can will set you apart as a leader that they can trust and respect. 
Garrett Mintz, founder of Ambition in Motion, discusses the way that the best leaders are the ones who dole out credit and take accountability for things that don’t go the way that they’re supposed to. 
“It’s a beautiful thing when the leader doesn’t care who gets the credit,” said in a TikTok duet about leadership with Garrett Mintz and Josh Lewis, Management Consultant.
 
=> Want more videos like this? Join our Mailing List to be part of our Executive Mastermind Group. Click the link to sign up for our newsletter: https://buff.ly/3FZfhcq 
 
            At Ambition in Motion, we don’t control the content of one’s work but we can have an impact on how people interact with each other at work. 
            At your company, you are in charge of your direct reports! The respect that you receive from them must be earned, and it begins with your ability to be confident in your actions and malleable to your new work environment. 
 
How can I get my direct reports to respect me as a leader? 
-       Give out Credit 
-       Take Accountability
 
What does it mean to take accountability? 
            Being “accountable” is more than just taking responsibility, or being reliable. 
Several veins run through a truly accountable leader. 
Accountability is a skill that requires leaders to own up to a team’s actions, decisions, and mistakes. It’s also the ability to follow up on the commitments you have made within an organization and its people. 
As a leader of others, you are actively representing your organization, and promoting the quality of work that you aim to produce and to be produced by others. When things do not go according to plan, take the initiative to be the first to shine a light on the opportunity to grow, as a team.
 
What does it mean to give out credit?
            The best leaders give credit to others, they don’t take credit for themselves. 
            When you represent a team of people, one of your biggest goals is to encourage them to be the best that they can be. Just as your team is learning and growing, you are also learning how you can help them best grow and reach their highest potential by remaining malleable to their work processes. Every member of your term plays an important role in the execution of your overall goal; the more respect and power that you give to them, the more success you will find. 
            However, mistakes happen. A leader who assumes the blame, and passes the credit, send a message that mistakes are OK and that when they happen, it will be an opportunity to learn and grow. By inspiring those in your charge, your employees will emulate your best traits, which will include assuming the blame for themselves.
            The best leaders inspire others and give credit. 
 
Why is it important that I give credit and take accountability?
            Giving credit and taking accountability sets yourself apart from the team, as a guide toward your team’s overall success. The more emphasis that you put on guiding your team, rather than showcasing your leadership (by taking credit or blaming others for mistakes), the more respect you will gain from your direct reports. Check out these leadership tips: 
 
  1. Encourage your team 
            Earning your team’s respect starts with building a trusting and positive community within the team. 
Encouraging and promoting others to do their best and work together also boosts productivity because it makes employees feel less isolated and helps them to feel more engaged with their tasks.
By creating a positive and supportive work environment, your direct reports will not only trust and respect you, but they will also work harder to produce good results as they aim to live up to the high standards that you hold for them. 
 
2. Recognize and praise good work
Although it’s important to give credit to your team, public praise is great for both recognition and learning. When you publicly share specifically what was great and why it was great, not only does it have more meaning for the person being praised, but it helps the whole team learn something new.
Remember to provide details about what the person did, the impact, and the context so that the whole team learns.
When you recognize good work, you remind your team what you’re working towards, and what they’re doing right, which in turn, inspires them to keep doing better. This plethora of inspiration and praise allows for a more open-minded environment for idealization between you and your direct reports. 
Looking for a more efficient way to evaluate performance reviews within your company? Ambition in Motion offers the software, AIM Insights reports, ensuring visibility over all ongoing activities: task performance, manager performance, organizational citizenship, team performance, and goals for direct reports. Click here to learn more about how you can simplify your performance review process! 
 
3. Correct in private
Although praise is an extremely important part of your relationships with your direct reports, it is normal for things to go wrong sometimes! However, it’s important to correct people’s mistakes in private, and then later emphasize to the team what they should avoid, without calling anyone out personally. 
Private criticism is important in order to be kind and clear. Radical Candor is not the same thing as “front-stabbing”, and it’s much kinder to criticize someone in private. 
Public criticism can feel unnecessarily harsh. Private criticism will also be clearer because it’s much less likely to trigger a person’s defense mechanisms.
 
4. Acknowledge workplace adaptation
Yes, you have new direct reports! 
Yes, the workplace dynamic is different now. Own it! 
As a new manager, it’s important to remember that just as your team is learning to adjust to you, you are also learning to adjust to them and your new position.
Do not be afraid to emphasize this learning curve to your team. In order to create a culture of respect that encourages growth and high levels of success, it’s your job to make learning a part of your daily routine in the workplace. 
Learning helps people keep a broad perspective. 
An important part of your job is to know that your direct reports are counting on you to guide them. When mistakes are made, it is no one’s fault (including you), but as a manager, you make a promise to your team to lead them in the right direction as best you can, meaning you must learn to take accountability for team mistakes. However, this is a positive part of your job! Not only will you take accountability for mistakes, but you will do it with pride, and emphasize a learning curve in everything that you do, and everything that your team does; mistakes are OK! 
 
5. Be transparent about your motives  
            Transparent communication is the act of both good and bad information being shared upward, downward, and laterally in a way that allows all to see the why behind the words. 
A workplace with transparent communication is a more collaborative and trustworthy workplace, with information being openly shared between employees and across levels of the organization. 
Transparent communication also allows employees to be more innovative since they are more informed. Additionally, transparent communication encourages others to communicate openly and increases the sharing of ideas. 
When transparent communication is present between you and your direct reports, you allow the workplace to be collectively informed about the true happenings within the organization in order for them to align their actions accordingly, ultimately making your job easier and removing any confusion about the team’s overall goals.
 
 
            These leader tips will help you set the grounds for a positive, encouraging work environment. 
Real accountability requires leaders to take responsibility and pride in the art of encouraging and guiding their employees. Being an accountable leader is not as easy as it may sound, but it is necessary to bring genuine value to your team of employees and your organization as a whole. However, taking responsibility and giving out credit whenever possible will set you apart from other leaders, and enable your direct reports to respond positively to your leadership.
Mon 2 May 2022
Congratulations on your firm acquiring a new company! You’ve been working towards this achievement, you have plans for change ready to implement, but what’s going to happen with your newly acquired employees?
Recently, an executive in our mastermind group acquired another firm in Toronto. The former owners of the newly acquired company were older in age and ready for retirement. 
The newly acquired company was historically making sales with ridiculously great prices (sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?). In the due diligence process, our executive learned that the technology used at the newly acquired firm could reduce his manufacturing costs by 50%. So, one of the first points of business was raising prices to normal prices in order to raise their profit. In addition to this, they hold plans to implement their technology into their current company in order to minimize their overall operating costs. 
Of course, for the firm that acquired this company, this plan looked GREAT. But, like anything else, there’s a catch. The biggest problem that managers face in an acquisition is how to effectively integrate the new team members into the new work culture.
 
Why is it important to put time and effort into integrating your newly acquired team into the new company you wish to build? 
 
Mergers and acquisitions represent an enormous operational and cultural change for employees. Culture is too often neglected. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap!
One basic problem is management’s tendency to focus mostly on changes that would help to capture a deal’s value targets (business and technology), meanwhile largely ignoring those required to maintain and enhance the company’s health… AKA, the people involved. 
And why is it so important to ensure that the people involved in these changes are being taken care of?
Easy: If you give them the support that they need, they will give you the support that you need. 
After all of the work that you’ve done, who needs a new team of employees making things harder? If you work to integrate them into your plans, they will work to integrate you into theirs as well. Remember, you’re in charge, but you need them on your side, and it will be in your best interest to begin forming these relationships as soon as possible! 
 
How can a manager effectively communicate with their newly acquired employees during an acquisition? 
A company acquisition can be a difficult and stressful time for your employees. Learn from these tips how you can help calm their concerns and guide them through the process with success.
  1. Make a plan to shape your introduction. 
 
Following an acquisition, it’s vital that a welcome message of some kind is delivered to the acquired business from the parent company. The employees of the acquired business will appreciate this gesture, and it will allow you to set an expectation for the type of relationship you will have moving forward. Consider whether or not your company is well known to the acquired employees. 
If you need to provide background information about your business and its history, now’s the time to do that. You can also let them know when additional communications can be expected.
The goal here is to acknowledge that the acquisition happened and that you care about them!
 
2. Help your employees understand what it means for them, right now. 
 
Give the employees the information they are most interested in—how it impacts them. To do that, figure out what’s new, what’s changing and what’s staying the same in the immediate future, and determine the best way to communicate this information.
To complement the larger organizational meetings and email summaries, leaders should hold face-to-face meetings with their individual teams. Here is where leaders can go into deeper dives about what the change means for their specific teams. Employees who may not have felt comfortable asking questions in a larger meeting may feel more at ease doing so in a smaller team setting.
With all change, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open after the initial announcement. As progress is made on initiatives, consider putting together quick one- or two-minute videos in which you speak to the successes made thus far and key areas of focus in the short term. Email the videos to teams, and/or host them on the company’s intranet page. These tips will allow you to create a mutual relationship with your team members. 
Leader videos and follow-up emails can contain calls to action for employees to complete surveys. Surveys can be hugely helpful in keeping a pulse on employees’ attitudes toward the change and any challenges or concerns that have come up. Employees have a different perspective than leaders, so including their feedback to continue certain initiatives and course-correct others can lead to greater success. In future communications, leaders can speak to how they’ve addressed survey feedback, which can go a long way toward maintaining employee support and engagement. At Ambition In Motion, we have created a tool called AIM Insights to help with that process.
 
3. Share your vision for the future. 
 
What is your vision for the future? 
After learning how the acquisition will directly impact them right now, employees will want to know what the future holds. You may not know exactly what the business will look like post-acquisition as many businesses need to go through an assessment period to understand if and when future changes will be made. However, be as transparent as you can. Let your stakeholders know that future changes may come down the pike and that you will provide them with regular updates. 
Figuring out the key information to communicate during an acquisition is just one step to building your acquisition communications plan. 
I’m sure you have lots of ideas. But what are the most important pieces of information you should share with your team? 
In order to effectively communicate with your team, they’re probably going to be wondering what the timeline is, what’s going to happen to them and their work routine, due diligence, and 1:1 meetings will be extremely helpful in this situation. 
After ensuring that you’ve developed your timeline, plans for the team, and the due diligence that they must complete, a 1:1 meeting with each of your new team members will help acclimate them to you and the workplace. 
A one-on-one meeting is a dedicated space on the calendar and in your mental map for open-ended and anticipated conversations between a manager and an employee. Unlike status reports or tactical meetings, the 1:1 meeting is a place for coaching, mentorship, giving context, or even venting.
The 1:1 goes beyond an open door policy and dedicates time on a regular cadence for teammates and leaders to connect and communicate.
Mon 23 May 2022
How important is it to help your managers succeed? 
Managers and how they manage their reporting staff members set the tone for your entire business operation. Managers are the front-line representation of your business.
It's easy to understand why managers make significant mistakes in their daily management of the people they employ. 
Many managers lack fundamental training in managing people, which is usually manifested in their inability to practice the significant soft skills necessary to lead.
But more importantly, many managers lack the values, sensitivity, and awareness needed to interact effectively all day long with people. 
The best managers fundamentally value and appreciate people. They also excel at letting people know how much they are valued and appreciated. 
 
Why is it important to prioritize the best training for your managers?
You want to make sure all of your managers are successful, right? After all, managers have a huge impact on their entire team.
They are the cogs that hold your organization together because all of your employees report to them, for better or for worse. 
The majority of communication about the business is funneled through your managers. For your business and employees to succeed, your mid-level managers must succeed and become adept at managing in a style that empowers and enables employees.
Skills and techniques are easier to teach, but values, beliefs, and attitudes are much harder to teach, and harder for managers to learn. 
These are the underlying issues that most managers struggle with being successful. 
This is why educating your managers to the best of your abilities and coaching them for success matters to you and your employees.
 
The current way that we equip new managers is flawed 
Many people aspire to get promoted and move into leadership positions. But with this exciting transition comes a natural challenge: one of the biggest tests new managers face is knowing how to go from being a peer to managing their peers.           
It’s important to be able to recognize the right employee to transition into a first-time manager, but it’s crucial to help them become the skilled leader that the organization needs. But more than likely, these new managers won’t have all of the skills they need right away.
Even if someone is excellent at their job, being a new manager comes with an entirely new skill set. They are not just responsible for themselves anymore; they have an entire team to manage.
Joining the leadership team is a great accomplishment, but it could also lead to the demise of a person’s career if not managed properly. 
The biggest flaw when equipping new managers is the outdated protocol for transitioning positions within the company. 
When anyone is given a new position, they must go through the transition process of paperwork and assessments to assure that they are fully aware of what the job entails and what their new duties are within the company. 
However, the duties of a manager include much more than just understanding how to direct their employees in a certain direction of goals that the company aims to accomplish. 
In order for a manager to fully have an impact on their new employees and the overall change of the company, they need training in more than just the protocol transition work. Understanding how to effectively make an impact as a manager, make close connections with their new direct reports and emulate a positive workplace are all things that must be implemented into the new manager transition period
Going into the job, managers will be more confident in their abilities to perform successfully if their training includes more than just the most basic protocol. 
New managers need to be confident in their promotions and know that it's possible to assimilate everyone successfully. For example, having the mindset of “I’m ready and willing to learn” will position new managers on a path toward a thriving managerial journey.
These are the kinds of things that need to be enclosed during the new manager training/transitioning period.
 
What do new managers need to have to succeed within their roles? 
It's always exciting to promote a member of your team to a management position. However, some of your other workers might not take kindly to their peer becoming their supervisor, especially if that means they’re missing out on the same opportunity.
As challenging as this may be, there are ways to get through these hoops! 
It starts with proper training. 
Beyond the basic transition guides and paperwork that a new manager must endure at the beginning of their term, it’s important for new managers to do some intentional observation of the work environment. 
Advising and teaching your new managers to observe the operations of the team through the lens of a manager rather than a peer will inspire your new managers to take notes and learn the inner workings of their new direct reports, and how they can best serve their needs. 
 
Here are a few insider tips for your new managers: 
 
●     Get to Know Their Employees
Developing a relationship with reporting employees is a key factor in managing. You don't want to be your employees' divorce counselor or therapist, but you do want to know what's happening in their lives. When you know where the employee is going on vacation or that his kids play soccer, you are taking a healthy interest in your employees' lives.
Knowing that the dog died, expressing sympathy, or that her daughter won a coveted award at school makes you an interested, involved manager. Understanding and connecting with your employees will make you a better manager who is more responsive to employee needs, moods, and life cycle events.
 
●     Provide Clear Direction 
Creating standards and giving people clear expectations as a manager is crucial so that people know what they’re supposed to do, and how they can manage their time. More importantly, they will always feel as if they have accomplished a complete task or goal if the timeline of everything is laid out in an easily understood way. 
Within your clear expectations, if you are either too rigid or too flexible, your direct reports will feel rudderless. You need to achieve an appropriate balance that allows you to lead employees and provide direction without dictating and destroying employee empowerment and employee engagement.
 
●     Trust From the Start
All managers should start out with all employees from a position of trust, which shouldn't change unless an employee proves themselves unworthy of that trust. When managers don't trust people to do their jobs, this lack of trust plays out in a number of injurious ways within the workplace.
Micromanaging and constantly checking up on others are examples of how to create an untrustworthy work environment. However, if you work to trust your employees from the start, you can create an environment that fuels creativity and trust within your direct reports’ work, allowing for an inspired and communicative work environment. 
Fri 1 July 2022
Retention has become an increasingly critical metric for driving profitability, especially the retention of highly engaged employees. Turnover has become a big problem for a lot of companies. 
But, what if you’re looking at the problem wrong? What if it’s not about doing what you can to hold on to those employees, but perhaps it’s about focusing more on creating an environment where good employees thrive and stay?
Retaining employees is an important part of building a successful team. When managers and supervisors work to make their teams feel valued and motivated, employees are more likely to stay with a company that can contribute to the company’s overall growth and prosperity. 
 
Why is it important to retain your employees? 
●     It can build a strong workforce
Steady employee retention allows managers and supervisors to invest in their team members and helps them develop into more productive employees. When employees stay with a company long-term, they often accept more responsibilities, seek professional development, and help the company grow.
●     It increases productivity
Instead of spending time looking for and training new employees, managers and supervisors can focus on helping employees be more productive. A stable staff knows what needs to be done and how they can achieve it. They have a strong foundation for advancement based on institutional knowledge and developed skills.
●     It improves employee morale
Employee retention strategies are designed to increase employee happiness and job satisfaction. When managers regularly implement these strategies, they help increase employee morale overall. Employees who feel happy at work are often more willing to work toward the company's mission and contribute to a positive work environment.
●     It is more cost-effective
Hiring and training new employees are often more expensive than offering development opportunities to current employees. Consider offering current employees an educational stipend to advance their skills, on-site training, conference options or promotions, and/or extra benefits or perks.
 
How to retain your employees
If you want to keep more high-performing employees in-house, it’s important to start by creating an effective employee retention strategy.
In this article, we discuss the importance of employee retention and offer 8 effective employee retention strategies for leaders. 
 
1. Create an engaging onboarding process
During the onboarding process, take the opportunity to make a positive first impression on a new employee. Create a process where new employees get comfortably acclimated to the workplace. Do this by creating straightforward training materials, offering support and guidance, and explaining how the company operates.
Introducing new employees to others in the office can help them feel like they are a part of the team right away. Taking them out for a team lunch is another way to make new hires feel welcome and help them get to know their coworkers quickly.
 
2. Pair with a mentor
A strategy to pair an employee with a mentor can start with the onboarding process. It’s a good way to help new employees feel welcomed and know they have someone to turn to. However, mentorship shouldn’t be offered to just new employees. Everyone can benefit from a horizontal mentor relationship whether by helping others or knowing that they are supported by more experienced teammates.
 
3. Schedule employee performance reviews
Employee performance reviews are a great way for employees to grow in their roles. Meet periodically to discuss their strengths, weaknesses, and career goals. By learning their goals, you can help them continue to advance in the company. 
Offering positive feedback during this meeting can help employees feel valued and more satisfied at work. If the budget allows, use the performance review as a time to offer the employee a raise or a bonus.
 
4. Show your appreciation
When an employee is doing a good job or has recently earned a big achievement, recognize their hard work. You can show your appreciation by saying it directly to them or making a company-wide announcement. When employees feel their efforts are noticed, they are more likely to continue to work hard and stay with the company.
 
5. Encourage a work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance is when employees can effectively manage their work and home lives and feel like they have enough time and energy for both. This element has become increasingly important to many employees.
You can help employees achieve a more balanced work-life experience by giving staff more flexibility with their schedules. Consider allowing employees to come in late and make up their work if they need to leave for an appointment. If possible, give employees the option to work remotely. Employees who are feeling sick but can still work or those with a long commute may appreciate the opportunity to work from home occasionally.
Helping employees maintain a work-life balance shows that you value their well-being. They are more likely to stay with the company when they feel like they have a manager who cares about them.
 
6. Offer professional development opportunities
Helping employees meet their professional goals may influence them to stay with the company because they see it as a place with many opportunities. You can help them by spending time coaching and mentoring team members. Offer your team additional training or education opportunities, such as funding certifications, sending them to conferences, or providing education stipends. Update equipment so coworkers can learn and produce using the latest technology.
And when possible, promote from within. By investing in your team, they can develop their skills and take on more responsibilities, both of which can lead to improved employee retention.
 
7. Provide competitive compensation and benefits
In a competitive job market, it’s essential that you reward your employees with adequate compensation and benefits when you can. If you can’t afford salary adjustments, consider giving some type of bonus, adding a retirement plan, or improving health care benefits. 
You might offer reimbursement for fitness classes or schedule talks on stress management or retirement planning services. All will help raise employees’ job satisfaction and encourage them to stay with your company.
 
8. Keep communication lines open
Maintaining an open-door policy lets employees know they can come to managers with ideas, questions, and concerns at any time. As a manager, it’s your job to ensure your team, whether on-site or remote, feels a connection to the company and each other. The feeling of belonging and being heard can go a long way toward retaining employees.

Sun 31 July 2022
The great resignation has impacted companies in many ways, and this has helped employees gain more leverage. Companies gave out inflated titles and higher salaries to lure workers, and organizations became less concerned about hiring people with frequent job changes in recent years. 

More recently, however, rising inflation is causing fear of an imminent recession, and that volatility ends up diminishing the incentives for job-hopping. This may signal the beginning of a new post-great resignation era, but its consequences will continue to ripple out in the coming years. The companies that can successfully maneuver through this transition will be far better off than the companies that don’t.

The great resignation provided many companies with an opportunity for growth in the years to come, but this opportunity requires these companies to grapple with the effects of high managerial turnover. Many 1st or 2nd-year employees have had three or four different managers since starting work, and frequent manager turnover is a major drag on building an engaging and productive company culture. 

Some of these new managers are newly promoted novice managers from within the organization that must learn on the job. Others are highly experienced outside hires that must learn the company culture with a new team. And some new managers were outside-hires without any experience managing and had to learn how to manage a team while learning the company culture as well. These all can cause friction at the company, but even a perfect hire requires more than a few months to establish a resilient team culture that can handle turnover. 

Because of the transient nature of the great resignation, employees have become used to expecting to be working under a new manager every six months. This lack of consistent leadership has eroded the trust and sense of identity professionals have with their company and companies need to start addressing this now because this erosion will have lingering ramifications for years to come. 

Why?

Because professionals that identify with their organization are what make an organization profitable. I am a sports fan, so I will create a football analogy. Most general managers in the National Football League (NFL) prefer to build the core structure of their team through the NFL draft. Rookies have relatively cost-effective contracts and are locked into those contracts for 4-5 years. Once the rookie contract ends, NFL teams determine if players are worth the massive salaries that come with paying a veteran player. Considering that the NFL has a salary cap, there is a finite amount of money that can be spent on each player, so teams that win are the ones that can get the most ROI from their players and their contracts. 

Employees that identify with their company are like football players on their rookie contracts. They are creating a surplus for the team because they are providing more value than they are receiving. I am not suggesting that companies underpay their employees. But I am saying that employees that identify with the company in which they are working will go the extra mile to make sure their work is done right.

When those employees that identify with the company become leaders, this directly benefits the company. This increases their long-term value, and this effect is multiplied as their impact propagates across multiple direct reports. 

Granted, not all employees that identify with the company are great leaders – there is typically training that is necessary for these new managers to become effective leaders. 

But my argument is that leaders that don’t identify with their company will never go the extra mile to make sure that things are done right. They will follow core leadership tenets (if they are trained), clock in, and clock out. Going the extra mile just isn’t worth it for them because whether the company succeeds or fails isn’t a major factor to them. Under normal circumstances, this doesn’t usually matter. But sometimes a make-or-break moment arises, and team success, project success, or even company success will be determined by how one leader responds to a new situation.

How can you tell if your employees have formulated an identity within your company?

One early indicator is in the words people use to refer to the company, especially around people outside the company. If they refer to the company as “they” or “them” or “it” instead of “us” or “we”, that is typically an indicator that they don’t strongly identify with the company.

Another indicator comes from responding to bad news. If bad news comes out about the company or if the company is going through a particularly stressful time, how leadership responds will be a critical factor for employees. Are your leaders going to defend the company and work through it? Or are they going to deny responsibility and make excuses?

Employees that identify with their company will go far to defend their company and ensure its success. And when things are stressful, they will stay late, take on extra tasks, and do what is necessary to make the team succeed.

Why?

Because they identify the company’s success with their success. When the company succeeds, these employees feel a sense of pride in the company. When the company makes a mistake, they feel it and want to be better.

Therefore, companies that can build that sense of identity faster than others are the ones that will succeed.

Before spending any money on leadership training and developing managers into effective coaches, mentors, and leaders, companies first need to focus on making sure that all their managers identify with the company and know how to inspire that same mindset in their direct reports.

The best way to increase the number of employees that identify with the company is by increasing engagement.

Engagement is the combination of:

·        The amount of energy employees receive from doing the work
·        The connection employees feel to the mission of the company
·        The camaraderie employees have with fellow employees
·        How much the work complements their strengths

Your plan for increasing the amount of employees that identify with the business should start with increasing all four categories of engagement. 

Therefore, if you are a business owner or leader, the questions you should be asking yourself are:

·         What are we doing to ensure that employees are getting into flow when they do their work? Are we scheduling meetings at inconvenient times for them? Are we creating bottlenecks for them from doing the work that they get energy from doing? What are we doing to help our employees manage their time? How can we help them spend more time on tasks that give them energy and optimize the time for the work that detracts from it?
·         What are we doing to connect the mission of the company to their own personal mission and goals in life? Are we tactlessly shoving the corporate mission down their throats? Or is our mission an uninspired afterthought that’s rarely shared? Are we adequately meeting the mission on our end or is there a blind spot between leadership and the rest of the company?
·         Are we creating an environment in which employees can have a good time together on non-work tasks? – Most companies are pretty good at this but this is only ¼ of the equation for boosting engagement.
·         What are we doing to identify our employees’ strengths and how are we putting them in a position to succeed? Are we only promoting strong individual contributors to management roles, even though the skills set to be successful as a manager is different than the individual role they were performing?

Companies that can set a plan to boost engagement faster than other companies will become an ideal destination for prospective employees that want to work for a company in which their employees will work hard for them because they identify with the company. 

Fri 16 September 2022
Most managers and companies tend to prioritize results and goals over other aspects of the work like team chemistry or organizational citizenship. Generally, direct reports assume the role of a vital cog in this process. However, when direct reports fail to meet expectations, it can result in a lot of work for their peers, as well as their managers. Consequently, the first step a manager will take is often a reprimand followed by termination.

Why Terminations aren’t necessarily the Best Option

            Firstly, the most important aspect of terminating, or firing an employee, is that a replacement worker must be found. Sometimes, a manager can get lucky and find a good candidate in-house, but the majority of times, they need to go through the entire hiring process once more.  

The hiring process includes posting an advertisement, reading through applications, scheduling and hosting interviews, conducting background checks, validating certifications, and on top of that, an onboarding process. In addition to that, the former employee will typically receive some form of a severance package with the parting of ways.  Termination also eats up time with exit interviews, appeals, and potential litigation as a result of unlawful termination claims. 

All in all, terminations can be very expensive for time and money. But how else should a manager deal with an employee who isn’t necessarily living up to the expectations held of them?  There are typically a few options.

Understanding the Root of the Problem

As with many other discrepancies within the workplace, communicating with an employee can often result in finding the source of the problem. Oftentimes, people have personal baggage that may make its way within the workplace. In addition to baggage, worker stress is a very real phenomenon. In most circumstances, bad employees aren’t intentionally bad employees, they just made decisions that negatively impacted the business and didn’t have anyone to bounce the idea of logic off of before acting.

Signs of worker stress include the following:

·       Reclusive Behavior- This does not include introverted behavior, but rather the contrast between this and previous behavior.
·       Change in  Body Language- This once again, does not necessarily mean introverted behavior,  but rather withdrawn activity, slumps, and similar posture.
·       Personality Clashes- When someone is in distress or dealing with trauma, they may lash out at other people, or attempt to withhold their grief. 
·       Change in Productivity- Trauma survivors tend to have harsh changes in how much work they can accomplish.

One thing to take note of is that these are often signs of distress within most areas, but are often better exposed within the workplace. If a manager notices that one of their direct reports undergoes a sudden change in attitude, while also displaying signs of anxiety or depression, it may be best to have a 1:1 with them. Being empathetic will often yield much greater results than being confrontational within this 1:1. Understand that it takes a significant amount of trauma for a person to have changed a significant amount. 

A good example of this would be from one of my jobs while in high school, which was the role of a swim coach. I was a member of a team of 7, with shifts assigned to us by our aquatics director each week, and sometimes also by our camp director. We continued in this way for two to three years, and then all of a sudden, we were either missing pay, not getting our names on the schedule, or worst of all, not receiving a schedule whatsoever. We ended up complaining to our director since it appeared that our camp director was not fulfilling her job requirements, and as a result, damaging our financial abilities with no regard for or time. 

Our boss was a very thorough individual and was able to have a healthy conversation with our camp director, out of concern for her performance, as well as her well-being. It had turned out that she had not only lost her father the previous week but had also been given additional responsibilities by the overall site director. With no other relatives, she alone was in charge of managing all probate-related duties and processes, but also organizing funeral details and bills. All in all, she was completely overwhelmed. 

Now, in worse managed work environments, this camp director, despite boasting over 15 years of experience in the field, would’ve been terminated. However, our boss knew her potential, and that this was a life-changing period of time for her. Therefore, he took on additional responsibilities and gave her as much time off as she needed. About a month later, she came back and was able to not only resume her original responsibilities but also that of her new position, to much more success. 

The moral of this story is that being empathetic is well-advised. Proper communication with direct reports is not only better for workplace relationships, but also ideal for difficult situations such as this. Providing accommodations for workers can eliminate the need for a replacement process.

How to Help Employees who are having trouble meeting expectations

While there are often employees who are undergoing significant personal situations, some employees may be unaccustomed to their new workloads, and responsibilities, or just find the material difficult. In this case, it is the manager’s responsibility and duty to try to assist these individuals. 

Using an impartial process can often help employees who are struggling. These are often known as Performance Improvement Plans or PIPs. The one problem with these is that they are often viewed extremely negatively, and often as a pathway to termination. Rather than giving strong targets that must be hit in order to maintain a job, managers should give fluid and flexible objectives that will not only allow for more success, but also for employee education and improvement. Using a device such as AIM Insights can also allow for a manager to have greater ease checking what goals have been met, along with more aggregated data about these goals, such as percent of goals achieved, and similar functions.

No manager should want to terminate an employee but may feel pressure to do so. While termination may still be required, it is best to approach these situations with empathy, and attempt to solve the problem in-house without resorting to this step.

Tue 27 September 2022
Incentivizing your employees to feel free to give feedback and challenge ideas doesn’t just happen. 
Many long-standing organizations such as Kodak, Sears, and Borders have failed to adapt to the reality of today’s world and have found themselves becoming irrelevant. 
One of the reasons is that the leaders did not receive valuable information that may have helped the organization turn around. 
Many leaders find themselves in a vacuum, unwilling to receive or seek information crucial to the health of their organization. 
In today’s highly competitive, fast-moving environment, businesses need to have everyone, and their ideas, on board. It is crucial to develop an environment that promotes and encourages constant feedback and to challenge ideas at all levels. 
According to Vip Sandhir, CEO and founder of High Ground, creating a challenge culture is key to employee engagement and an organization’s growth and future.
'The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni digs deep into five interrelated issues that undermine the performance of a team all in some way. So here are the 5 dysfunctions of a team and ways we recommend to counter them.
 
●       Issue 1: Absence of Trust. Without trust, teams cannot be completely honest with each other.
 
Solution: Confidence and building a team bond. Honesty, openness, and respect are key communication attributes of a successful culture, specifically in building trust. A culture of trust can do remarkable things for an organization. 
People who trust each other are more productive, feel a higher degree of loyalty to their team and organization, and are also known to give outstanding service.
 
What does trust look like in a workplace?
-        Confidence. If you are a person your colleagues or clients can trust, that means they have confidence in you. Confidence to:
-        Make decisions or work autonomously
-        Lead
-        Advise
-        Move up or take on more responsibilities
-        Be authentic
-        Have their back!
 
Developing trust and comfort is all about teams working together intelligently to achieve better results, reduce individual stress and create a successful culture that promotes customer loyalty. It’s where teams build collaborative relationships, communicate openly, and identify strategies for moving forward, quickly and easily, as a cohesive unit to its full potential.
 
It’s built through a process of establishing good habits in effective communication at all levels.
 
 
●       Issue 2: Fear of Conflict. Without trust, teams cannot have the healthy debate that is necessary to arrive at better understanding and decisions.
 
Solution: Feedback and strengthening your team performance helps facilitate a safe environment for authentic conversation that has space for safe conflict.
 
Feedback in dysfunctional organizations comes across as confrontational, feedback in organizations with successful cultures is regular, informal, constructive, and safe.
Safety is a fundamental human need. Your team needs to know where they stand over the short and long term. One of the best ways a team leader can do this is to provide regular feedback on performance and clarify goals, especially during times of change. The trouble with feedback is that it is often heard as criticism which could counter the feeling of safety.
Start incorporating a culture where feedback is welcomed and acknowledged for the powerful fuel it is for breakthroughs in growth and development. Set up the right environment for casual, non-confrontational feedback.
 
●       Issue 3: Lack of Commitment. If a team is not aligned with a decision, then it can naturally be difficult for everyone to be behind and committed to that decision.
 
Solution: Not everyone in the team is going to agree all the time, and nor should they but they do all need space for healthy debate. A safe space where they can say “convince me” if they need to.
 
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared his "disagree and commit" approach to healthy debate within teams in this Inc article. ‘to "disagree and commit" doesn't mean "thinking your team is wrong and missing the point," which will prevent you from offering true support. Rather, it's a genuine, sincere commitment to go the team's way, even if you disagree. 
Of course, before you reach that stage, you should be able to explain your position, and the team should reasonably weigh your concerns. But if you decide to disagree and commit, you're all in. No sabotaging the project, directly or indirectly. By trusting your team's gut, you give them room to experiment and grow, and your people gain confidence.
Having defined the right core values for your business and your team is also one of the best ways to keep your team on track and working toward commitment and your ultimate goals. 
 
●       Issue 4: Avoidance of accountability. If they are not committed to the course of action, then they are less likely to feel accountable (or hold other people accountable).
 
Solution: Follow these 5 accountability actions:
-        Giving up excuses.
-        Giving up blame.
-        Seeking Solutions.
-        Doing something. Anything!
-        Keeping score on yourself.
 
There are many roads to success, whatever form you hope that success to be, but the one action common for every single successful person, team, or organization is accountability.
Where someone has not held themselves accountable, and the other team members can call out less than optimal behaviors, actions, or a ‘dropping of the ball’; then you have true team accountability. 
 
●       Issue 5: Inattention to results. This, according to the book, is considered the ultimate dysfunction of a team and refers to the tendency of team members to care about something other than the collective goal.
 
Solution: Be inspired as a team, by your team’s mission. Being a mission-driven team will allow you and your team to bond and work together at greater levels of impact in order to achieve a common goal (your mission) together, allowing your bond as a team to strengthen. 
 
Let’s look at the value of a straight question like: Why do we come to work?
Most people when asked ‘why do you come to work?’ Will first answer “money.” But that's not the real reason why. That is not the motivation for getting up at 6:30 in the morning, rushing around, organizing kids, or ironing shirts the night before. It's because of the kids, or the house deposit they are saving for, or the next mission to help in a developing country. That's the “why.” Every person has a “why.”
That's the reason why they get out of bed every morning. And when a team is engaged in each other’s why, they then understand why they should help each other. There’s an understanding of what their teammate is working towards.
According to Ambition In Motion’s Work Orientation, some people are motivated by work/life balance, some people are motivated by growth and learning new skills, and some people are motivated by having a positive impact on the world. You can learn your Work Orientation here.
At its highest level, this is understanding each other's “why” and helping each other achieve individual goals together. Championing each other to be the best and to have the best.
When team members know why and what they are each striving for personally, and from an organizational view, they will be focused on the right results. Each person will not be focused only on their own goals; they will be working to help their colleagues meet theirs too.
 
How can the 5 Dysfunctions of a team help you?
If your team is struggling, start breaking down the issues. Take a look at the 5 dysfunctions of a team to see if you recognize anything. Then get to work on understanding what's happening for the team personally and professionally.
If you are seeking help with implementing the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team with your executive team, reach out to [email protected] to see how Ambition In Motion can help your executive team implement the methodologies taught in the book.
Tue 27 September 2022
When a company has a direct report that isn’t necessarily meeting expectations, its managers generally take action. This is not an unreasonable process, since a direct report that isn’t performing can cause complications for the rest of the team members. One of the most frequent actions taken by a manager, or potentially even Human Resources, is what is known as a Performance Improvement Plan, or a PIP. 

               The main goal of a Performance Improvement Plan is to correct an employee’s issues that management has grievances with. At least, that’s how they are perceived on paper. In actuality, PIPs are often used as a way to either remove responsibilities from a direct report or as a way to force an employee to quit of their own volition, thereby attempting to negate the need for unemployment. According to Lawyer Mike Carey, a Connecticut-based employment law attorney, only 5% to 10% of employees stay with a company after starting a PIP. 

               In many workplaces, leaders view a PIP as a “gateway” to getting that person off the team.

What else is wrong with a PIP?

               There are several problems with PIPs:

·        PIPs provide no formal legal protection- Employees under a PIP can still choose to go to litigation for wrongful termination or a hostile work environment. 
·        PIPs often cause additional work for team members- PIPs often mean that employees have reduced responsibilities to display improvement and competence, which often means that their removed responsibilities are passed along to their peers.
·        PIPs require a large amount of maintenance and supervision- A properly set up PIP with a responsible and empathetic manager requires near-constant communication and monitoring, which not only burns time but also can be overwhelming for the employee.

Can a PIP be beneficial?

               The modern-day definition of the Performance Improvement Plan, as stated above, is not sustainable, and overall, just doesn’t benefit employees or employers in any way.  However, a modified format of this plan can work but will be strongly dependent on how willing a manager is to assist the employee. 

How to determine if a PIP is appropriate to use

               The first step of a PIP should be to determine if it is even a good idea to implement or attempt to start. 

1)      Is termination the end goal? Or is the employee too good of a potential asset to consider terminating? Depending on a manager’s answers to these questions, a PIP may not be appropriate. The goal of a Performance Improvement Plan is to Improve employee performance, not intimidate them out of a position. If a manager is already dead-set on terminating an employee, it is better to do so than to attempt to not only patch this relationship and try to repair preconceived opinions. 
2)      Certain issues are better handled with a formal structured plan, while others will not benefit from that. If a direct report is having trouble with meeting deadlines, or similar performance issues, a performance improvement plan will be a good option. However, if they are encountering disciplinary issues, such as fighting with other staff, or insubordination, an improvement plan would not be the best option.
3)      Empathy can go a long way in regard to staff not necessarily meeting expectations. If a manager notices that one of their direct reports undergoes a sudden change in attitude, while also displaying signs of anxiety or depression, it may be best to have a 1:1 with them. Employees have personal lives as well, and issues can easily trickle over from the personal to professional realms. Managers should use this 1:1 to see if there are any underlying factors or circumstances that may have caused this decrease in quality from their subordinates.

Setting up a Performance Improvement Plan

               When setting up a performance improvement plan, a manager should be straight to the point with their direct reports. This conversation should include the following aspects:

·        Who- This refers to not only who will be undergoing this performance improvement plan, but also to whom they will report, as well as a contact for them within Human Resources.
·        What- This will include information such as what a performance improvement plan is since most direct reports will have a different outlook on PIPs in comparison to management.
·        Why- This will generally entail an explanation as to why the employee is being forced to undergo this PIP.  This explanation should include quantitative data, such as how often work was handed in after a deadline or a percentage of tasks that they have done that were deemed incomplete or lacking.
·        How- This would include what would be known as the “Terms and Conditions.” This will be further expanded on, but in short, the Terms and Conditions include what an employee will be required to do as part of their improvement plan. In addition to this, the terms should explicitly go into detail about what will happen if further expectations aren’t met. This is most often termination. While termination is not the desired outcome of a PIP, it is still a potential outcome, and often an option after this process.

The Terms of a Performance Improvement Plan

               The goal of a PIP is once again, to improve an employee’s performance, and help them either learn new skills or rectify previously known misconstructions. Therefore, a set of goals should be set for this employee to attempt. Similar to the goals that a manager should have, these should all be SMART Goals. As a note of reference, SMART Goals are designated as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

·        Specific allows a manager to put more explicit details on their goals, such as what they may pertain to.
·        Measurable means that there is a quantitative element to the goal
·        Attainable means that these goals are actually possible to do
·        Relevant refers to how the goal relates to company goals and mindsets
·        Time-Bound means that there is a chronological element to the goal

Here are some examples of goals that can be proposed to prospective PIP targets.

·        Employee A must have a task competition rate of at least 75% over the next three weeks
·        Employee F must conclude 85% of their training modules within the next 2 weeks
·        Employee must increase their customer conversion rate to at least 5 customers per week by the start of next month. 

One great way to measure and track these goals you are measuring with an employee you have put on a performance improvement plan is with AIM Insights.

With this advice, a manager should be able to start, create, and implement a PIP. These can be difficult to follow through with but will help not only the company but also the employee. 

 

Thu 6 October 2022
As economies are changing, the pressure to perform as a leader has intensified. Many companies are merging teams together or raising quotas/metrics for success that are difficult to achieve.
The demanding situations and crises you face over the course of your management career are likely to be the moments that define who you are as a leader. How you act in these scenarios can impact how your employees and co-workers remember you. 
Surrounded with elements of pressure, how can you, as a manager, combat these pressures? 
Jordan Christiansen of Crucial Learning sites that it’s common for leaders to react poorly in high-stress situations. Specifically, 53 percent become more closed-minded and controlling during times of crisis, instead of open and curious. A further 43 percent become more angry and heated.
As a leading manager, learning how to control yourself and maintain a level head during challenging times will serve you well over the course of your career. But that can be easier said than done. Here are three techniques that can help you manage your team during a crisis while also keeping calm.
 
  1. Communicating effectively with employees
As a manager, there can often be an element of distance from the rest of the team. This creates one of the biggest challenges for managers: bridging the distance with effective and timely communication skills.
Good managers need to develop advanced listening and speaking skills as they play a huge role in the success of their team. “A lack of interdepartmental communications” has been found to be one of the biggest causes of stress for UK employees in 2020. This means that when a manager isn’t communicating well with their team about business matters or individual progress, not only could it be damaging the manager-employee relationship, but it could also be greatly adding to employees’ work-related stress.
 
How to overcome this:
Everyone communicates differently; some methods of communication may work well for some employees, but won’t work for others. 
The best way to overcome any communication blockers is to discover the different personality types in your team.
Conducting personality tests and tests to uncover Work Orientation[1]  is a great way to find each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, how these different personality types communicate best and what they’ll respond best to.
2. Confronting performance problems
Performance problems are always going to be a concern for any manager. But in today’s fierce business environment, if your teams aren’t performing to a high standard, a competitor could easily come in and take your business.
You need to get to the root of any problems quickly. But be careful about getting the results you need and while avoiding damaging any relationships with your team members in the process. 
If you put your “strict manager” hat on too soon, you risk damaging the trust with other members of your team too.
 
How to overcome this:
If employees don’t have clear targets and goals in place, it can be easy to fall short of what is expected.
Clearly communicate targets and outline expected results to each of your team members. This way, if any results are falling short, you’re able to tackle the problem head-on by comparing expectations to actual performance.
Make sure that you’re continuously monitoring actual performance in comparison to these set targets. You can then spot any problems early on and provide constructive feedback – helping to avoid larger issues down the line.
If performance doesn’t improve, this is the time to follow up with a clear and fair discipline process.
3. Managing conflicts within your team
In a dream world, your team works well together. They’re great collaborators, feel comfortable being creative together and get on socially. Unfortunately, this dream doesn’t always come true. And when a conflict arises between two colleagues, it can be felt throughout the team.
When conflicts aren’t resolved, they can quickly affect productivity and morale, and even lead to top performers leaving the company. Managers are tasked with nipping any conflicts in the bud early before they become bigger concerns.
 
How to overcome this:
When a conflict between team members arises, it's important that you fully understand the issue before you take any action. A conflict over an area of work can be healthy and can actually lead to more innovative thinking and solutions, but it’s your job to nurture the conflict into a productive direction.
When a conflict between colleagues is personal, you should step in before it begins to affect the working relationship and the rest of the team.
One way to navigate conflict is to remind your team of your company’s culture and values. When your company’s values are built around trust, respect, and positivity, and you hire for these values, personal conflicts based on personality should be minimized.
Communicating these expectations from the start will make the type of behavior you expect and will tolerate clear during the recruitment process. This means there’s little room for deviation in the workplace.
 
4. Creating calm and reassurance in periods of turbulence
As businesses are developing and changing, they can bring a wealth of exciting opportunities. Unfortunately, these can occasionally bring less exciting consequences too.
Today’s fast-paced business environment includes scenarios such as redundancies. These situations can cause feelings of uncertainty, confusion, and frustration among teams, which managers have the extreme difficulty job of handling.
 
How to overcome this:
If a redundancy situation arises, it’s likely that, even as a manager, you may not know all the information until any final decisions have been made.
At this time your main priority becomes reassuring your employees and openly communicating what you can.
When you keep communication open with your employees and you welcome questions, you’ll keep their trust and reduce their frustrations as much as you can.
In turn, they’ll be reassured that when you know of any updates, they’ll know of them as well.
 
5. The fight against burnout
One of the hot topics in the business world over the past year has been burnout. A recent survey by Gallup found that out of 7,500 full-time employees, 23% said they felt burnout more often than not, with an additional 44% feeling burnt out sometimes. As a manager, finding the balance between great performance and taking care of both your own and your team’s health is vitally important.
Managers that don’t take time away from work and never recharge their batteries end up burning out. Not only does this harm your own well-being and engagement, but it also sets an unrealistic example for your employees.
When managers act in this way, a culture that normalizes overworking can sweep through the office, ultimately damaging productivity and morale.
 
How to overcome this:
People are at their most productive when they’re refreshed, happy and healthy. And, no surprise, this doesn’t come from working overly long hours or taking on extreme workloads.
Set an example by taking regular breaks and using your annual leave to recharge your batteries. When you do this, you let your employees know that you want them to do the same.

Fri 10 March 2023
Leading a team can be challenging, especially when you are not an expert in the type of work being done. It's essential to have a clear understanding of your role as a leader and how to build a strong team that can work together to achieve success.

 While it might seem a little daunting to have to lead a team that does something you have no ideas on how to do, it is important to remember that this is common practice in all sorts of industries. Captains of cruise ships do not necessarily know how to operate the galley, but are often required to oversee the entire operation, including the cooks. The concepts travel across all sorts of businesses.

Business magnate Elon Musk used the phrase “ I didn’t go to Harvard, but I employ people who did.” This phrase should embody your mindset with this problem. In the context of a manager who isn't an expert in the type of work being done, this phrase suggests that the manager may not have the same level of technical knowledge or experience as their employees, but they recognize and value the expertise of their team members. The manager understands that their role is to lead and support the team, rather than to be the expert in every aspect of the work.

By acknowledging the strengths and expertise of their team members, the manager can leverage those skills and knowledge to achieve the goals of the organization. The manager can also provide guidance, mentorship, and resources to help their team members succeed, even if the manager doesn't have the same level of technical expertise.

This article will go into a few ideas on how to manage despite inexperience with a task.

  1. Build a Strong Team

As a leader who is not an expert in the type of work being done, it's crucial to build a strong team. Look for individuals who have the necessary skills and experience, and who can work well together as a team. Hire people who are passionate about the work being done and who have a strong desire to learn and grow. Encourage your team members to share their knowledge and expertise with one another and create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected.

2. Be a Good Communicator

Effective communication is one of the most important skills a leader can have. As a leader who is not an expert in the type of work being done, it's essential to be clear, concise, and consistent in your communication. Keep your team informed about what is happening and be available to answer their questions. Regular communication helps to build trust and fosters a sense of teamwork and collaboration. Have frequent 1:1s with your direct reports to determine how to keep moving forward with your tasks.

3. Be a Problem Solver

A good problem solver can be useful in many different situations. When faced with a challenge, work with your team to find creative solutions that are feasible and effective. Don't be afraid to try new things and take calculated risks. Encourage your team to do the same, and create an environment where failure is seen as a learning opportunity rather than a mistake.

4. Learn from Your Team

As a leader who is not an expert in the type of work being done, it's important to learn from your team members who are. Take the time to understand what they do and how they do it. Ask questions, listen to their ideas, and be open to feedback. By doing this, you can gain a better understanding of the work being done and the challenges your team faces. It also helps to build trust and respect with your team members, as they will appreciate your interest in their work.

5. Set Clear Expectations

It is essential to set clear expectations for your team. This includes goals, deadlines, and performance expectations. By setting clear expectations, you can help your team stay on track and achieve success. Make sure your team understands what is expected of them and what success looks like. Provide regular feedback and celebrate successes along the way.

6. Be Humble

It's okay to admit when you don't know something. As a leader who is not an expert in the type of work being done, it's important to be humble. Acknowledge your limitations and rely on your team to fill in the gaps. This approach not only shows your team members that you value their expertise, but it also creates a sense of trust and respect.

7. Focus on Leadership Skills

As a leader who is not an expert in the type of work being done, it's especially essential to focus on your leadership skills. This includes skills like delegation, decision making, and problem-solving. It's also important to develop your emotional intelligence, as this will help you understand and relate to your team members.

8. Be a Visionary

As a leader, it's important to have a clear vision for your team. This includes understanding the goals and objectives of the organization and how your team fits into that vision. Communicate your vision to your team and inspire them to work towards achieving it. By having a clear vision, you can create a sense of purpose and direction for your team. Understanding your leadership style and work mentality can assist with this.

9. Be a Coach

As a leader who is not an expert in the topics that you are attempting to manage, it is vital for you to stick to the topics that you have more credibility in, or topics that you are also more comfortable in. Attempting to show expertise in a topic you have no experience will make you look worse in your direct reports’ eyes. Be a mentor to your staff. In addition to that, assist them in setting SMART Goals, and utilize AIM Insights with them. Improve their overall office skills, and assist wherever you can.


In conclusion, leading effectively when you are not an expert in the type of work being done requires a combination of humility, strong communication skills, problem-solving ability, and the ability to build and empower a strong team. By focusing on these key elements, you can overcome the challenges of leading in an unfamiliar field and achieve success.



Tue 28 March 2023
Managing your boss' expectations while keeping your team excited can be a challenging task, but it is essential for maintaining a productive and harmonious work environment. As a leader, you need to ensure that your team is motivated, engaged, and productive, while also meeting your boss' expectations and goals. 
Finding this balance between your boss’ expectations and your teams’ engagement often becomes more challenging in ever-changing situations. For example, a Fortune 500 company acquired a startup company in hopes of expanding their reach and innovation. 
The new team was thrilled to be a part of such a successful company, but they soon realized that the integration process was not going as smoothly as they had hoped. The leaders of the company tried several different approaches for the new team to focus on, but they kept changing the direction, leaving the startup team feeling burnt out and confused.
The first few weeks after the acquisition were exciting, as the team worked on exciting new projects and was given free reign to explore their creativity. But as time went on, the team began to feel the pressure of the constantly changing direction. They struggled to keep up with the ever-changing expectations and goals, which left them feeling drained.
As the weeks went on, the team's frustration continued to grow. They felt like they were constantly spinning their wheels, trying to keep up with the latest directive from their leaders. 
These are the 7 best practices to best help the manager of this team keep their team’s spirits high and stay on track with their new boss’ goals: 

  1. Understand Your Boss' Expectations:
The first step to managing your boss' expectations is to understand what they expect from you and your team. This requires clear communication and regular check-ins to ensure that you are on the same page. Your boss may have specific goals, timelines, or preferences that they want you to follow. Make sure you understand what is expected of you and your team, and communicate any challenges or concerns that you may have.

2. Keep Your Team Informed:
Once you have a clear understanding of your boss' expectations, it is important to communicate this information to your team. Share the goals and expectations with your team and ensure that they understand the importance of meeting them. Keep your team informed about any changes in direction or new priorities from your boss. This will help your team to stay focused and motivated, and it will also prevent any surprises that could impact their work.

3. Set Realistic Expectations:
It is important to set realistic expectations for your team that align with your boss' expectations. Don't overpromise and underdeliver. This can lead to disappointment and frustration, both from your boss and your team. Instead, set realistic goals and timelines that are achievable for your team. Work with your team to break down tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces, and set clear deadlines for each task. This will help your team to stay motivated and on track.

4. Encourage Feedback and Collaboration:
Encourage your team to provide feedback and collaborate with each other. This can help your team to stay engaged and motivated. It can also help to identify any potential issues or challenges early on, which can be addressed before they become bigger problems. Provide opportunities for your team to share their ideas and suggestions, and listen to their feedback. This will help to build trust and respect within your team, and it will also foster a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement.

5. Recognize and Celebrate Achievements:
Recognizing and celebrating achievements is a great way to keep your team excited and motivated. Celebrate when your team meets a goal or completes a project, and acknowledge their hard work and contributions. This can be as simple as a shout-out in a team meeting or as elaborate as a team outing or celebration. Recognizing your team's achievements will help to build morale and foster a positive work environment.

6. Provide Opportunities for Growth and Development:
Providing opportunities for growth and development is another great way to keep your team excited and motivated. Offer training, mentorship, or stretch assignments to help your team to develop their skills and advance their careers. This will show your team that you are invested in their success and that you value their contributions to the team. It will also help to keep your team engaged and motivated, as they work towards achieving their goals.

7. Communicate Regularly with Your Boss:
Regular communication with your boss is key to managing their expectations. Keep them informed about your team's progress, any challenges or roadblocks, and any successes or achievements. If there are any changes to the timeline or goals, communicate these changes to your boss as soon as possible. This will help to build trust and open communication between you and your boss, which is essential for maintaining a positive work environment.


All in all, managing your boss' expectations while keeping your team excited requires clear communication, realistic expectations, feedback and collaboration, recognition and celebration, opportunities for growth and development, and regular communication with your boss.
For the Fortune 500 company mentioned above, after reviewing these methods, the team manager called a meeting with the leaders of the company to discuss the challenges that the team was facing. The manager explained that while they were excited to be a part of the company, they were struggling to keep up with the changing expectations and goals.
After some discussion, the leaders of the company and the team came up with a plan to address the challenges. With a clear plan in place, the team began to feel more confident and motivated. They knew that their leaders were committed to their success and were invested in helping them achieve their goals. Over time, the team began to thrive, and their work began to make a significant impact on the company.
By working together, the leaders and the team were able to overcome the challenges they faced, and ultimately achieve success.


Tue 28 March 2023
Leadership is a critical aspect of any organization, and the skills and abilities of its leaders can significantly impact its success. However, not all leaders have had the benefit of formal training, and many may find themselves struggling to keep up with the demands of their roles. Fortunately, there are several effective ways for managers to upskill leaders who have received minimal formal training. Some of these include opportunities, while others include actual education.

  • On-the-Job Training- One of the most effective ways to upskill leaders is through on-the-job training. This approach involves providing leaders with opportunities to learn and develop new skills while they are actively engaged in their roles. This can include assigning them to new projects or tasks that challenge their abilities and providing them with feedback and support as they progress.
  • Mentorship and Coaching- Another effective way to upskill leaders is through mentorship and coaching. This approach involves pairing leaders with experienced mentors or coaches who can guide them through the process of developing new skills. Mentors or coaches can provide regular feedback and support, as well as offer insights into best practices and strategies for success. One way great tool to help upskill untrained leaders is AIM Insights which provides both coaching and metrics to help leaders better understand their teams.
  • Online Courses and Workshops- Many online courses and workshops are available that can help leaders develop new skills. These courses cover a wide range of topics, from leadership and management to specific technical skills, and can be completed at the leader's own pace. Online courses and workshops are particularly useful for leaders who may not have the time or resources to attend in-person training programs. Sponsoring manager’s further education can also go a long way in developing a leader and their loyalty.
  • Conferences and Networking Events- Attending conferences and networking events is another excellent way for leaders to upskill. These events provide opportunities to hear from experts, exchange ideas with peers, and build valuable professional connections. Leaders can learn about new trends and best practices and gain insights into how other organizations are approaching similar challenges.
  • Job Shadowing and Cross-Training- Job shadowing and cross-training opportunities can help leaders gain exposure to different areas of the organization and develop a broader range of skills. This approach involves temporarily switching roles with another leader or team member or spending time observing and learning from someone in a different part of the organization. Leaders can gain valuable insights into how different teams and departments operate and learn new skills that they can apply in their own roles.

In addition to the actions mentioned above, there are a few actions that direct reports and leadership can take, along with senior managers. As a leader, you have a responsibility to help newer managers learn more about leadership. Effective leadership is essential to the success of any organization, and providing guidance and support to new managers can help them develop the skills they need to be successful in their roles.

  • Encourage Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing- Encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing among managers can also help unskilled managers improve their skills. Managers who have more experience and expertise can offer valuable insights and guidance to their less experienced colleagues. Creating a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing can help managers feel more comfortable seeking advice and support from their peers and can facilitate the sharing of best practices and lessons learned.
  • Be a Role Model- One of the most effective ways to help newer managers learn about leadership is to lead by example. As a manager, you should model the behaviors and qualities that you want to see in your team. By demonstrating strong leadership skills, you can show newer managers what effective leadership looks like in action.
  • Provide Clear Expectations and Goals- Managers who lack experience or skills may struggle to meet the expectations of their roles. Providing clear expectations and goals can help managers understand what is expected of them and what they need to achieve. Setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) can help managers stay focused and motivated and can provide a roadmap for their development.
  • Offer Regular Feedback and Support -Another way to help an unskilled manager is by offering regular feedback and support. Managers who are new to their roles or who lack experience may struggle to identify areas for improvement and may not know how to address them effectively. Regular feedback and support can help managers understand their strengths and weaknesses, identify areas for improvement, and develop plans to address any shortcomings.
  • Delegate Responsibilities- Delegating responsibilities to newer managers can help them develop their leadership skills. By giving them ownership over projects or initiatives, you can provide them with opportunities to practice decision-making, communication, and other leadership skills. Be sure to provide clear guidance and support as needed but allow them to take the lead and learn from their experiences.
  • Provide Opportunities for Leadership Development- Providing opportunities for newer managers to develop their leadership skills can help them build confidence and improve their performance. Consider offering leadership development programs, mentoring, or coaching to help them build the skills they need to be effective leaders.
  • Encourage Continuous Learning- Effective leaders are always learning and growing. Encourage newer managers to seek out learning opportunities, such as attending leadership seminars or workshops, reading books on leadership, or networking with other leaders in their industry. By supporting their professional development, you can help them build the skills and knowledge they need to be successful leaders.

Helping untrained managers develop the skills they need to succeed is critical to the success of any organization. Providing training and development opportunities, offering regular feedback and support, encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing, providing clear expectations and goals, and offering coaching and mentoring are all effective ways to help unskill managers improve their skills and become more effective leaders. By investing in the development of their managers, organizations can improve their overall performance and achieve greater success. 



Fri 12 May 2023
On March 30th, 2023, Ambition in Motion hosted an executive symposium with panelists Laura Iannelli, Syriac Joswin, and Chris Mashburn. These symposiums are an effective way to network with successful executives and get to learn some of what makes them good leaders. High-level executives and thought leaders come together to discuss industry trends, share insights, and best practices, and engage in strategic discussions. The symposium typically features keynote speakers, panel discussions, and networking opportunities for attendees to connect and exchange ideas. 

The purpose of an executive symposium is to provide a platform for executives to learn from each other and gain new perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing their industries. The symposium is usually organized around a specific theme or topic, such as emerging technologies, industry disruption, or global business trends.

During this symposium, an interesting point was brought up by Chris Mashburn.  Every month Chris and his team have a meeting involving a "mistake of the month" where everyone, especially him, shares a mistake they made. In Chris’ opinion- which was soundly endorsed by Laura and Syriac- the best companies have cultures where people can feel open to being honest and owning mistakes. Now, we’ve gone over the process of building and maintaining- a company culture that embraces mistakes, but how much is this actually used, and what else can companies use to enhance not only their culture but their public image as well? 

When a company acknowledges its mistakes openly, it can earn the appreciation of the public in several ways. First, it demonstrates honesty and transparency, which can build trust with customers and stakeholders. Second, taking steps to rectify a mistake and prevent it from happening again can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Third, openly acknowledging mistakes can lead to a strengthened brand reputation, positioning the company as a leader in its industry and a trusted partner. Finally, increased employee morale can result from a company committed to doing the right thing and creating a positive impact, which can lead to long-term benefits for the company.

One example of a company that openly acknowledges its mistakes is Buffer, a social media management platform. In 2013, Buffer suffered a major security breach that resulted in the exposure of its users' passwords. Rather than trying to sweep the incident under the rug, Buffer's CEO, Joel Gascoigne, published a detailed blog post explaining what had happened, how the company was responding, and what it was doing to prevent similar breaches in the future.

Gascoigne's transparency and accountability earned him praise from both customers and industry experts. Buffer's users appreciated the company's honesty and commitment to fixing the problem, and the incident ultimately strengthened their loyalty to the brand.

Another example is Starbucks, which famously closed all of its stores for a day in 2018 to conduct anti-bias training following an incident where two black men were arrested in one of its Philadelphia locations. In addition to the training, Starbucks issued a public apology and announced a series of policy changes to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

By acknowledging its mistake and taking swift action to address it, Starbucks demonstrated its commitment to creating a culture of inclusivity and respect for all customers. The incident prompted a national conversation about racial bias in public spaces and positioned Starbucks as a leader in the fight against discrimination.

In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emissions tests for its diesel cars. The company's CEO, Martin Winterkorn, publicly apologized and resigned shortly after. Volkswagen also agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines and compensation to affected customers.

In 2016, Wells Fargo was fined $185 million for opening millions of fake customer accounts. The company's CEO, John Stumpf, faced intense criticism and eventually resigned. The company also launched a public apology campaign and implemented new policies and procedures to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.

In the 1970s, Nestle faced a boycott over its marketing of baby formula in developing countries, which was found to be contributing to infant malnutrition and mortality. The company responded by introducing new marketing practices and donating millions of dollars to infant nutrition programs. Nestle also established the Nestle Infant Formula Audit Commission, which monitors the company's compliance with international marketing standards.

In 2018, Facebook faced intense criticism after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had accessed the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent. The company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, publicly apologized and testified before Congress. Facebook also launched new privacy controls and policies to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. We are also currently seeing settlements for users as a result of this.

What most of these companies have in common is that they are all massive companies that are present to this day, despite suffering from major accidents and public relations events. By acknowledging these mistakes, they were able to salvage their reputation and preserve their customers.

Mistakes happen, and that’s okay for the business, so long as they are handled appropriately. Ambition In Motion believes in this so strongly that they are hosting an Executive Symposium on How to Build a Culture of Embracing Mistakes.

If you are interested in going to the next Ambition in Motion Executive Symposium, click here! Our next event will be on Thursday, July 27th, 2023, from 5-8pm CDT. Participants will be able to enjoy hors d’oeuvres while networking with leaders, practice working through case studies with other executives, and get to learn from 3 distinguished panelists on how they have been able to effectively build a culture of embracing mistakes, and what mistakes they have made to get to the point that they are at now.

Unable to attend this event? No worries! Click here to stay updated on future events, and to see information about our previous events. For any questions regarding these symposiums, please contact [email protected]



Fri 19 May 2023
Effective interdepartmental communication is paramount for high-level executives seeking to drive organizational success. Strong communication between departments fosters collaboration, expedites decision-making, and enhances overall business performance.

There have been many instances in which a manager has required something of another department, and due to difficult communication channels, has either been forced to go through an arduous process, or having to refer the matter to senior leadership. This creates a chain of inefficiencies which should be addressed to allow for a more streamlined business experience. Here are a few tips on how to establish this clear horizontal chain of communication. 

Please note that the phrase “horizontal communication” is used throughout this article. This is defined as lateral communication, which describes communication between departments, teams, and people who are all at equivalent levels.

  1. Establish Clear Communication Expectations- High-level executives must define and communicate clear expectations regarding interdepartmental communication. Establish guidelines concerning communication channels, preferred mediums, response times, and overall communication standards. Effectively communicate these expectations to all employees, emphasizing their significance and ensuring widespread adherence. Post these throughout the workplace and online. By setting clear communication expectations, you can then create a framework for consistent and effective interdepartmental communication.
  2. Cultivate a Culture of Open Communication- Promote a culture of openness and transparency throughout the organization. Encourage employees at all levels to freely express ideas, concerns, and suggestions. Create platforms for interdepartmental dialogue, such as regular cross-departmental meetings, forums, or collaborative projects. Lead by example by actively engaging in communication efforts, highlighting the importance of open dialogue to break down information silos and foster collaboration. Creating an open communication culture can allow greater horizontal communication throughout the company. Creating a Horizontal Mentorship Program can be critical to cultivating this culture.
  3. Facilitate Regular Interdepartmental Meetings- Schedule frequent meetings that bring together representatives from different departments. These gatherings offer an opportunity to share updates, align objectives, address challenges, and promote collaboration. Encourage active participation and ensure that meeting agendas facilitate cross-departmental communication and problem-solving. This will promote better understanding, alignment, and cooperation among departments. In addition to this, it will give your employees more opportunities to get to know people who they do not need to work with daily, further building a more integrated workforce. Regular interdepartmental meetings can also be critical for succession planning and integrating different groups of people that have be joined together via merger or acquisition.
  4. Implement Collaborative Technologies- Leverage technology to facilitate seamless interdepartmental communication. Implement collaborative tools, such as project management software, shared document repositories, and instant messaging platforms. These tools enable real-time communication, document sharing, and collaboration across departments, regardless of geographical locations. Encourage employees to utilize these tools effectively, providing necessary training and support. Leveraging technology enables executives to easily remove communication barriers, streamline information exchange, and foster efficient interdepartmental collaboration.
  5. Support Cross-Departmental Training and Development: Invest in cross-departmental training programs to enhance employees' understanding of different roles and functions. Provide opportunities for employees to learn about other departments through job rotations, mentorship programs, or cross-functional projects. This exposure fosters empathy, improves interdepartmental communication, and encourages a broader perspective among employees. By supporting cross-departmental training and development, executives promote a culture of learning, understanding, and collaboration.
  6. Cultivate Interdepartmental Communication Champions: Identify individuals who excel in interdepartmental communication and designate them as communication champions. These employees can serve as liaisons between departments, facilitating information exchange and collaboration. Encourage them to organize workshops, training sessions, or knowledge-sharing events that promote effective communication practices. Recognize and reward their efforts to motivate others to follow suit. By cultivating communication champions, executives empower employees to take ownership of interdepartmental communication, driving collaboration and fostering a culture of effective communication.
  7. Establish a Feedback Mechanism: Implement a feedback mechanism that allows employees to share their experiences, suggestions, and concerns related to interdepartmental communication. This can be achieved through regular surveys, suggestion boxes, or anonymous feedback channels. Actively review and address the feedback received, demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement, and fostering a culture where feedback is valued and acted upon. By establishing a feedback mechanism, executives create a platform for employees to contribute to the improvement of interdepartmental communication.
  8. Lead by Example: As high-level executives, your actions and communication style set the tone for the organization. Lead by example by demonstrating active listening, empathy, and respect in your interactions with employees from different departments. Seek input from all levels, encourage diverse perspectives, and promptly address conflicts or miscommunications. Show your commitment to interdepartmental communication by actively participating in cross-departmental initiatives and projects. By leading by example, executives establish a culture of effective communication, collaboration, and mutual respect.

High-level executives play a crucial role in improving interdepartmental communication. By establishing clear expectations, cultivating a culture of open communication, leveraging collaborative technologies, supporting cross-departmental training, cultivating communication champions, implementing feedback mechanisms, and leading by example, executives can facilitate effective communication and collaboration among departments. By prioritizing and investing in interdepartmental communication, high-level executives create a professional and productive work environment that propels organizational success. 



Fri 19 May 2023
In today's highly competitive business environment, exceptional leadership skills alone may not guarantee promotions. Many great leaders often wonder why their efforts and capabilities go unnoticed when it comes to advancing their careers. 
Many outstanding leaders find themselves facing a common hurdle: effectively communicating their leadership capabilities to key decision-makers. 
Leaders often encounter struggles when it comes to effectively communicating their leadership abilities. These challenges can hinder their ability to showcase their skills, connect with their teams, and gain recognition for their accomplishments. 
However, by addressing this challenge head-on and employing strategies to enhance their communication skills, leaders can distinguish themselves from the crowd and increase their chances of promotion.
The key lies in their ability to effectively communicate their leadership prowess and demonstrate their impact. This is where AIM Insights, a cutting-edge performance management tool, comes into play.

Unleashing the Power of the AIM Insights Performance Management Tool
While possessing remarkable leadership skills, extensive experience, and a track record of success, great leaders may struggle to convey their true potential to key decision-makers. This communication gap can impede their promotion prospects, leaving them feeling undervalued and overlooked. 
AIM Insights provides actionable insights and metrics to leaders and organizations to help them improve performance, enhance communication, and drive results. AIM Insights is a robust performance management tool designed to address the challenges associated with effective communication of leadership capabilities. 
By harnessing the capabilities of AIM Insights, leaders can differentiate themselves and significantly improve their chances of promotion.
 
Here are 5 reasons why AIM Insights is the tool to help you best communicate your leadership capabilities:

  1. Comprehensive Performance Metrics:
AIM Insights provides leaders with a comprehensive array of performance metrics, enabling them to track their achievements and demonstrate their impact. These metrics encompass key performance indicators (KPIs), employee engagement levels, project success rates, and financial performance, among others. By utilizing AIM Insights, leaders can quantify their contributions and showcase their ability to drive tangible results.
2. Objective Self-Assessment:
AIM Insights facilitates objective self-assessment by allowing leaders to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses with precision. This valuable feature empowers leaders to understand their leadership capabilities better, identify areas for improvement, and capitalize on their strengths. Armed with this knowledge, leaders can refine their communication strategies to effectively highlight their competencies and achievements.
3. Goal Alignment and Progress Tracking:
AIM Insights facilitates alignment with organizational goals and tracks progress towards them. By clearly demonstrating how their leadership initiatives directly contribute to overarching objectives, leaders can position themselves as valuable assets to the organization. This alignment showcases their strategic acumen and reinforces their commitment to the company's mission, setting them apart as leaders who comprehend the bigger picture.
4. Real-Time Feedback and Coaching:
AIM Insights incorporates real-time feedback mechanisms, enabling leaders to receive timely insights on their performance. This feature facilitates continuous improvement by highlighting areas that require attention or development. Through constructive feedback and targeted coaching, leaders can enhance their leadership communication skills, making them more effective at conveying their capabilities to decision-makers.
5. Dynamic Reporting and Visualization:
AIM Insights offers dynamic reporting and visualization tools that transform complex data into compelling narratives. Leaders can leverage these tools to create visually appealing reports and presentations, effectively conveying their accomplishments and impact. By presenting data-driven insights in an accessible and engaging manner, leaders can make a lasting impression and capture the attention of key stakeholders.

Leaders face the challenge of effectively communicating their leadership capabilities to secure promotions and recognition. By acknowledging and addressing these communication struggles head-on, leaders can distinguish themselves from the crowd. 
Employing techniques such as crafting compelling narratives, emphasizing results, fostering effective listening, embracing authenticity, and continuously honing communication skills will enhance leaders' ability to communicate their unique leadership capabilities. 
AIM Insights, a powerful performance management tool, empowers leaders to overcome these obstacles and distinguish themselves from the crowd. By utilizing AIM Insights' comprehensive performance metrics, objective self-assessment, goal alignment, real-time feedback, and dynamic reporting features, leaders can enhance their communication of leadership capabilities. 
Through the utilization of AIM Insights, leaders can position themselves as high-impact performers, increasing their chances of promotion and ensuring their exceptional leadership skills are recognized and rewarded accordingly.


Wed 7 June 2023
Thomas Edison tried roughly 1,200 experiments before discovering the light bulb. When asked what it felt like to fail 1,200 times, he responded that he didn’t fail 1,200 times, but rather he learned 1,200 ways to not make a light bulb. 

Good thing he was the CEO of his own company!

Imagine the workplace today. How much grace and patience do we give people to succeed?

More importantly, how much grace and patience do leaders say they give their people compared to reality? Most leaders are quick to state they support this idea, but it’s rare to see them follow through.

Instead, we see that being a “perfectionist” is the real preferred character trait from leaders that are hesitant to embrace taking chances. 

When thinking about the best, most innovative companies in the world, the core theme that aligns them all together is this emphasis on progress, not perfection. 

The companies that thrive, regardless of what is going on the economy, are the ones that are nimble enough to run multiple experiments at the same time, diagnose which experiments are achieving progress, and then experiment further until a desired result is achieved. 

This article overviews what both employees and companies can do to build a culture that embraces mistakes.

Employees:

As an employee, regardless of whether you are in a leadership position, you might wonder how much of an impact you, individually, can have on your company’s culture. You might also be wondering if these ideas run the risk of getting you fired.

Disclaimer: Applying these ideas may get you fired.

If you are at a company that would fire you for following the suggestions below, you are likely miserable at this company, and it is time for you to move on. Following these tips will expedite that process and help you move into a better work situation. Also, applying these principles effectively, and documenting them, will make you an extremely attractive candidate to any organization that does in fact embrace mistakes.

  1. Be a scientist
Being a scientist means that you run a series of experiments. To experiment means to introduce one new variable while holding all other variables constant to observe if a different (either positive or negative) result is achieved.

Examples:

●       Experimenting within the company
o   Handling a frustrating boss – Infrequent feedback from your boss can be frustrating, especially when your only chance to learn about your work is during an annual performance review. It’s nerve-wracking waiting to find out how they view your performance when feedback is so rare. If you’d like to change this, try different and unique ways to gather their feedback – perhaps ask them for help, ask them if you are making a mistake, or flat out ask for feedback.
▪        Pro tipTry documenting this process. Write down your current behavior, note what behavior you are changing, and then what your hypothesized results will be. Then create a timeline for when you will evaluate the results and use this to measure the change. Most people give up after half-heartedly trying one thing and assume their situation is doomed. By writing down the experiment, it is easier to be objective about the results and be willing to try new experiments.
o   Handling a frustrating direct report – If your direct report isn’t listening to you or not getting all of the work that you would like accomplished, you are going to have to try something different. Try a new method for better understanding their priority order, their concerns, and their roadblocks – perhaps ask them different questions to help you better understand their situation, schedule more frequent 1:1’s, or communicate why achieving whatever task needs to get done is important to you.
●       Experimenting Externally
o   Sales – If you are struggling to meet your sales numbers, allocate a certain amount of time every week to trying something new that could work. Follow the pro tip above for some help on how to effectively evaluate your experiments.
o   Operations – If you are discovering that there is a communication gap with the handoff of work between departments, communicate to both departments a new strategy for increasing the efficiency, what your hypotheses are, what the timeline of the experiment is, and what success will look like if success is achieved. Also explain that if success isn’t achieved, that a new strategy will be implemented until the desired result is achieved.

This is just the framework for how to experiment. The actual strategies you deploy for working through your work scenario are likely different and better than the strategies I proposed because you know your work situation and yourself best.

2. Communicate your experiments, hypotheses, and results throughout the company
People at your company may wonder why you are acting differently. By writing down your experiments, hypotheses and results, it is easier to communicate with others why you are acting differently. 

However, if your experiment involves other people you are working with, you can’t inform them that you are changing your behavior. If you do, you will be altering multiple variables, rendering your experiment moot. 

For example, if you want your boss to stop showing up late to meetings with you so you decide that you are going to ask your boss’s secretary to schedule their meeting with you for 5 minutes before it is actually supposed to start, if you tell your boss you are doing that, your boss is going to adjust their behavior because they now know this information.

3. Document results so others can learn from you
This is especially important for helping convey why you have an opinion on a matter moving forward. If you properly document your experiments and your results, your perspective will hold much more weight than somebody who is just giving their opinion.

Advice for Leaders at Companies:

  1. Remove “perfectionists”
Anyone who refers to themselves as a perfectionist should be approached with caution and wrangled appropriately. A perfectionist is somebody, based on their current knowledge base and skill set, that will perform the same activity over and over again the exact same way. These people are not interested in learning new ways of doing things because the amount of knowledge they would need to alter their behavior is too great, so any time spent learning a new behavior isn’t worth it. These people are also unwilling to experiment as the fear of making a mistake or not having an experiment align with the hypotheses is too great to overcome. 

Perfection is the enemy of progress. Perfectionists will do everything in their power to not change anything because they have spent all of their time and energy becoming “perfect” at one way of acting.

2. Be collaborative when diagnosing failed experiments
When an experiment is tried and it is determined it didn’t work how you were expecting, invite the entire team to participate in the evaluation process of why it failed and what can be tried in the future to achieve different results. 

This also communicates that failure is okay. 

This is particularly important for leading global teams, especially global teams that were raised in societies with different norms and perspectives on mistakes and failed experiments. 

For example, a technical executive was leading a team of software developers, mostly from India. He ended up learning that a member of his team made a mistake months ago but told nobody. He tried to fix it himself, but the problem got worse and eventually the client called him to inform him that they were pulling their contract because of the technical difficulties they were encountering. Some learning lessons he took from this were that he needs to have a process for identifying these errors and that he needs to build a culture where his team feels comfortable being vulnerable, honest and open when a mistake is made.

3. Document then celebrate the learning lessons
Once a failed experiment has been diagnosed, document it for the entire company to learn from. Holding an experiment and learning that the hypothesis didn’t work is fine. But running the same experiment over and over again and achieving the same undesired result, is not fine. Failed experiments shouldn’t be locked in some vault where only the experimenters can reflect on. Failed experiments should be celebrated! This communicates that learning from failure is endorsed by the organization and creates positive memories associated with lessons learned. 

If you are interested in continuing the dialogue, the Ambition In Motion YouTube channel will be hosting weekly live panel sessions until July 27th, 2023 with executives discussing this topic of How to Build a Culture of Embracing Mistakes.

Fri 14 July 2023
Finding a sense of inclusion and belonging is critical to finding belonging in the workplace. Without it, employees and employers can feel stagnant and disconnected from their professional growth path. It’s natural to face a myriad of challenges within the workplace, from feelings of isolation to limited career development opportunities. 

Organizations are constantly seeking innovative ways to foster growth, engage employees, and cultivate a positive work culture. One effective strategy that has gained significant recognition is the implementation of mentorship programs within Employee Resource Groups. These programs not only contribute to the personal and professional development of employees but also play a pivotal role in enhancing overall work culture. 

ERGs play a crucial role in fostering a community where employees can connect with others who share similar backgrounds, experiences, or interests. By joining an ERG, employees gain a support system, find like-minded colleagues, and receive the validation and respect they deserve. 

ERGs provide an invaluable platform for mentorship, networking, and skill-building programs. Through these initiatives, employees can connect with experienced mentors who guide them in their career journey, offer insights, and provide advice. ERGs also offer training opportunities and workshops that equip employees with new skills, enabling them to take on new challenges and advance in their careers. By actively participating in ERGs, employees have the chance to unlock their full potential and embark on a path of continuous growth and development.

The Role of Mentorship Programs within ERGs:

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are voluntary, employee-led communities formed to foster inclusion, support, and advancement of individuals sharing common interests, backgrounds, or experiences. By integrating mentorship programs into ERGs, organizations provide their employees with invaluable opportunities for growth and development. Here's why these mentorship programs are so essential:

  1. Knowledge Transfer: Mentorship programs facilitate the exchange of knowledge, expertise, and skills between experienced employees (mentors) and those seeking guidance (mentees). This transfer of knowledge enhances employee performance, improves job satisfaction, and ensures the development of a competent and skilled workforce.
  2. Career Advancement: ERG mentorship programs create a supportive environment that promotes career growth. Mentors offer guidance, insights, and advice on career paths, professional development, and overcoming obstacles. This guidance helps mentees gain confidence, acquire new skills, and navigate their career trajectories effectively.
  3. Diversity and Inclusion: Mentorship programs within ERGs actively contribute to diversity and inclusion initiatives within organizations. They provide a platform for employees from marginalized groups to connect with mentors who can provide support, share experiences, and help them overcome challenges unique to their backgrounds. This fosters a sense of belonging and creates an inclusive work culture.

The Importance of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in Work Culture:

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are integral to shaping a company's work culture. Here are some reasons why ERGs are essential:

  1. Community Building: ERGs foster a sense of community by bringing together employees with shared interests or identities. This enables individuals to form meaningful connections, build relationships, and create a supportive network within the organization. Such communities contribute to employee engagement, satisfaction, and overall well-being.
  2. Talent Retention and Recruitment: ERGs play a vital role in attracting and retaining diverse talent. Prospective employees are drawn to organizations that demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. ERGs provide a platform to showcase the company's inclusive culture, making it an attractive workplace for potential candidates.
  3. Innovation and Collaboration: ERGs encourage collaboration and innovation by providing a space for employees to share ideas, perspectives, and insights. These diverse viewpoints foster creativity, problem-solving, and drive business innovation. ERGs also serve as a resource for organizations to tap into the collective intelligence and experiences of their employees.

Horizontal Mentorship Programs at Ambition in Motion:

Ambition in Motion, a leading organization in mentorship initiatives, sets an exemplary standard for horizontal mentorship programs in the workplace. Here's why their approach is commendable:

  1. Breaking Hierarchies: Ambition in Motion's horizontal mentorship program challenges traditional hierarchical structures by promoting mentorship across all levels of the organization. This inclusive approach allows employees to seek guidance from colleagues in different departments or with varying levels of experience. It fosters cross-functional collaboration, encourages diverse perspectives, and promotes a culture of continuous learning.
  2. Skill Development and Growth: Ambition in Motion's mentorship programs focus on skill development and career advancement. By providing opportunities for employees to learn from peers who possess different expertise or skills, these programs facilitate holistic growth. This emphasis on diverse skill sets empowers employees to broaden their knowledge, strengthen their abilities, and explore new avenues within the organization.
  3. Enhanced Employee Engagement: The horizontal mentorship program creates an environment of shared accountability and mutual learning. Through these programs, employees feel more connected, valued, and engaged. The opportunity to mentor and be mentored by colleagues fosters a sense of purpose, boosts motivation, and enhances overall job satisfaction.

Ambition in Motion's horizontal mentorship programs exemplify the success of such initiatives, breaking hierarchies and emphasizing the importance of diverse skill sets. By effectively employing mentorship programs within ERGs and recognizing their significance, organizations can empower their workforce, cultivate talent, and thrive in an ever-evolving business landscape.

Mentorship programs within Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are invaluable tools that contribute to the personal and professional growth of employees. They enhance work culture, drive diversity and inclusion, and provide platforms for knowledge sharing and career development. When combined with the establishment of ERGs, organizations can create an environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, and employee engagement. 


Mon 31 July 2023
As professionals, everyone has different hopes for the workplace culture they want to experience. As leaders, many may find it difficult to actualize culture changes that every employee will embody. 

The main struggle of enacting new change is that humans are creatures of habit. Routine work habits and communication patterns become repetitive and can get anyone stuck in a rut of redundancy. After years or decades of the same unwavering schedule and workplace practices, it is hard to motivate divergent values throughout your company. As leaders, it is hard to get everybody on board with enacting a cultural shift, even when it is for the better. 

Changing company culture can be a daunting task. It can take time to unwind cultural norms that have developed over years and people can be very resistant to change in all facets of their lives. Initiating culture changes takes consistent time, effort and resources, and patience in the results. 

How do company leaders motivate change and get each employee to practice a new wave of  cultural values? 

From a bird’s eye view, it is easy to imagine the differences culture can cause in the overall makeup of a business, including increases in efficiency, improvements in workplace comradery and overall happiness at work. However, employees can sometimes be affected by tunnel vision and find it challenging to see the bigger picture and importance of workplace culture. Here are four steps on how to get your employees to join in on a new wave of culture changes:


1- Include employees in forming new values 
From an executive position, it can be difficult to know what those several levels below you can most benefit from. In forming your new company values, the most crucial step for getting every employee on board is making sure the new values are important to employees and inspire them to create change throughout the company. Find what values upper management wishes to prioritize and collaborate with other professionals at the company to find a set of values that will enhance everyone at the company. The best way to have employee buy-in is to prioritize values many already find important. Additionally, resistance to change can be minimized by transparency in new values. Many people have anxiety and growing pains when change is in effect due to uncertainty, but if the unknowns are minimized, the change resistance may be too. 

2- Initiate Training Curriculum
To implement your company's culture and get everyone on board, start at ground zero. Implement portions and examples of your culture into training and development throughout your company or better yet, create training programs tailored to specific goals and values. To ensure this is impactful, consider using different training platforms and methods, and include real life applications and examples on how you expect this culture shift to affect your company as a whole. For example, if you want your company culture to reflect a value in innovation, explain to your employees how you are working on embracing mistakes and finding creative solutions  in the workplace. 

As a second portion of training and development, consider implementing a leadership program to teach leaders how these cultural changes should be exhibited in each of their teams. Teaching leaders to lead by example can be tricky when it is in unprecedented areas for individuals. As part of a leadership training, it is important to emphasize a united front to the rest of your company to ensure buy-in from all employees firm wide. 

3- Practice what you teach
One of the most impactful methods of leadership is leading by example. If you want your company's culture to prioritize its people, show that in your everyday actions. After beginning training and development to adjust your company’s culture, be sure to exhibit these values in your everyday life. By demonstrating your ideal culture, you gain credibility and support from others, and inspire others towards new goals. Those in lower level positions look up to those within leadership and will follow your lead of implementing different priorities in your company's culture. Finally, practicing what you teach is crucial for holding yourself accountable and working towards self- growth. If you want to lead a company that prioritizes compassion but you yourself have trouble exhibiting this, your employees may have a hard time endowing such a shift. Self-growth allows us all to become more aware of ways we can better ourselves, and will exhibit to your employees that you are all working on growing and learning at the same time and that it is a team-effort that will result in improved culture for the entire company. 


4- Monitor Feedback and Celebrate Success
Sometimes from a leadership position, it is challenging to see the effect of changes from a top-down view. It is impossible to grow without feedback so, once you have implemented your cultural shifts, be sure to collect feedback at specified intervals from all levels to better understand the execution of changes throughout your employees.  In receiving feedback, it is also important to celebrate success and keep an optimistic view moving forward. Consider using different systems to celebrate success, maybe publicly recognizing those who exemplify your new cultural changes and values. Finding time for both of these items can sometimes take the back burner nevertheless, it is important to collect feedback and celebrate success for continuous execution of your revised culture. 

Remember that these changes won’t happen overnight. It is important to be patient and understanding as everyone begins to enact new habits and values throughout their professional life, it can be a long process to unwind decades of repetitive habits and values. A good leader is able to understand and empathize, be patient in understanding that it is hard to change something as broad as culture and that in practice, your company’s culture will develop and with passion, people will follow. 
Mon 31 July 2023
Regardless of the field you work in or your level of experience, it is highly likely that at some point in your career, you will be in situations where your manager or supervisor may not completely understand your role or responsibilities. As you continue to progress in your career, this will become more common. Navigating this can be confusing and frustrating but with the right strategies and mindset, you can maintain productivity, foster strong communication, and build successful working relationships.

A lack of familiarity can arise when individuals are promoted or assigned roles before they are fully prepared to handle them or when they are given responsibilities they don't fully comprehend. When your supervisor displays this unfamiliarity, it can lead to various issues that affect your work experience.


For instance, you might find yourself facing unrealistic expectations, being expected to complete tasks without the necessary resources or time. This can result in a decrease in productivity and suboptimal results. Moreover, the strain of working under such circumstances can negatively affect the relationship between you and your supervisor, potentially leading to communication breakdowns and workplace tension.

The first step in navigating this difficult situation is to reevaluate your own judgment and mindset. It's necessary to understand that your manager may not have experience supervising a role like yours or may not have experience in your skills. Additionally, being mindful of the challenges and stressors others may be facing in their lives is important, as these factors can impact their attitude and behavior. Keeping this in mind will allow you to approach the situation with a more open mindset and problem-solving approach.
 
To navigate this situation effectively, embracing a proactive approach is key. You should look at this situation as an opportunity for personal and professional growth. By utilizing the right strategies, you can bridge knowledge gaps and collaborate more effectively with your supervisor, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
 
1. Establish a two-way communication channel:
Starting by creating an open and strong communication channel between you and your supervisor can help foster a positive work environment and increase overall productivity. You can start by setting clear and realistic expectations from the beginning, giving regular updates on what you are working on, and requesting and offering constructive feedback and suggestions. Consider participating in a horizontal mentorship program, where all participants must be open-minded enough to learn from each other, regardless of their age or experience. A horizontal mentorship program encourages asking questions and sharing past mistakes, creating a two-way communication process that stimulates mutual growth.
 
 
2. Facilitate Regular Meetings:
Regular check-ins with your manager are an important aspect of navigating a work environment where your manager may not fully understand your role. These meetings provide a comfortable platform to discuss your progress, challenges, and any additional support or resources you may need to succeed in your role. By scheduling these meetings, you can ensure that your manager is aware of your progress and efforts. Moreover, it allows you to show your dedication and commitment to achieving success.
During these check-ins, it's necessary to communicate openly and honestly about any issues you may be facing. Instead of becoming frustrated with your manager's lack of understanding, view these meetings as a chance to bridge the knowledge gap. Clearly explain the nature of your tasks, the skills required, and the challenges you encounter. This can help your manager gain a deeper understanding of your role and the complexities involved, fostering a more supportive and productive relationship.
 
3. Be Proactive in Seeking Clarification:
When faced with unclear instructions or expectations, adopt a proactive approach rather than dwelling on your supervisor's lack of familiarity with your role. Instead, view these instances as opportunities to seek the support and clarity you need to perform your tasks effectively. Don't hesitate to ask questions or request additional information when something is unclear. By seeking clarification, you not only demonstrate your commitment to understanding your responsibilities thoroughly but also show a proactive attitude toward problem-solving. This approach can lead to better outcomes for your projects and tasks, as you can work with confidence, knowing you have a clear understanding of what is expected from you.
 
4. Demonstrate Willingness to Learn and Establish Credibility:
It's important to approach your work with an open mindset and attitude of continuous learning. Express your eagerness to expand your knowledge and skills in your role. This willingness to learn demonstrates your adaptability and growth mindset, which are valuable attributes in any professional setting.
At the same time, share your expertise and insights whenever appropriate. By showing your knowledge and competence in certain areas, you establish credibility within the team and with your manager. This can help build trust and respect, even in situations where your manager may not fully grasp the intricacies of your role.
 
5. Seek Support and Guidance:
Working under a manager who may not fully understand your role can be challenging but remember that you don't have to navigate this situation alone. Seek support and guidance from colleagues who have faced similar circumstances or have expertise in your field. By utilizing the knowledge and experience of your team, you can build a strong support network that empowers you to thrive, even in complex situations. Remember that seeking guidance is not a sign of weakness but rather a proactive step towards continuous improvement and professional development. You can also choose to seek a mentor. Mentors can offer valuable advice and insights, helping you develop strategies to overcome challenges and enhance your performance.
 
In conclusion, navigating a work environment with a manager who lacks a comprehensive understanding of your role can be a demanding experience. However, by adopting the strategies outlined above and maintaining open communication, you can turn this challenge into an opportunity for growth and advancement. Focus on building a strong working relationship with your manager, clarifying expectations, and seeking the necessary support to excel in your role. Embrace the chance to learn and develop professionally, as this mindset will advance your career regardless of the challenges you encounter along the way.
 


Thu 17 August 2023
It is challenging to demonstrate your company's culture in an interview yet, the hiring process is fundamental to organizational success, growth and innovation. The makeup of your team determines productivity, efficiency and the culture practiced in the workplace. 

In interviews, candidates are considering if this is the company for them, if their values align with your firm, and if they will be able to thrive on your team. As the interviewer, you should evaluate the same things. Recruiting “matches” for your company is a crucial part of the sculpting of your company culture. 

You may also struggle with how to be genuine and inclusive of all different backgrounds and experiences. Working towards embracing differences allows companies to enhance problem solving and creativity, encouraging employees to work together in growing through different sets of strengths and weaknesses. In addition to bettering the current workforce, practicing inclusivity will help attract candidates to strengthen the team. 

Using the hiring process as a mutually beneficial proceeding allows both you, as the recruiter, and the candidate to have insight on the potential and future possible. This allows both parties to better understand how aligned their future paths and values are. Being analytical and intentful throughout the process can help you better identify strong candidates who will fit in as a teammate and colleague, both professionally and socially.  

Here are 4 steps on being able to demonstrate your company culture throughout the recruiting process:

1. Get Employees on Board
 To best demonstrate your company's culture throughout the recruiting process, start by focusing on getting employees on board with your decided culture and values. If every employee is able to effectively demonstrate your cultures, it will be reflective in recruiting. If employees fail to follow set culture practices and examples, it will be challenging to express the culture your firm either has or is working towards. 

To help find employees that will hop on board with your company culture, carefully select behavioral interview questions that will reveal if this person's ideal workplace culture and values are aligned with your companies. To best get employees to follow new goals, select values that a lot of employees already believe in or prioritize at work. 

2. Be Transparent about your Opportunities and Challenges
In exhibiting company culture, many recruits will find honesty, transparency and authenticity in the recruiter to be important. In hiring, you should be open and willing to talk about future opportunities, learning and development that may be available to participate in. Take this as an opportunity to demonstrate the firm's dedication to its employees and that they are valued members of the team. 

This also brings the counter, being honest about your challenges. Whether it be within culture, technology or any other aspect of your operation, share what you see needing work to help pinpoint your strengths while acknowledging you may still have some weaknesses and opportunities for growth. To help clarify this step, consider using cultural terms and values in the job description. This will help filter to those who are aligned with your values. 

3. Engage Outside of the Interview
Consider bringing candidates to lunch or to a more casual event other than an interview. This will help you showcase the authentic culture of your company. Instead of explaining your culture and values, show it. Allowing you to get a better look at some of your recruiting candidates, see how they act and if they will fit in socially and professionally with your current workforce. Teamwork is key in all offices and having a difficult team member can heavily detriment projects or discourage teammates.  

4. Seek Feedback
For improvement in recruiting, seek feedback from all parties involved. Just as your firm may provide potential hires with feedback, you should ask the same. Ask what could have run smoother or been done differently and if they have enjoyed their interactions with all of the firm's personnel. Internally, seek feedback from interviewers, new-hires and executives that are involved in the process. Find new ways to improve and exhibit the culture you have cultivated. Additionally, requesting feedback builds a culture of transparency and openness from an executive level. Being available to hear new ideas or revisions to the process can sincerely aid you in further growth.

Moving forward in the hiring process, be intentional and cognizant of your actions. It is crucial to consider your potential recruits’ perspective and outlook on the process and how an executive outlook may differ in intentions and perspective. 

Consider references and establish a pipeline of candidates, whether that be at the university level or on hiring from within. Being able to have a reliable network of potential candidates will allow you to be more selective with their hiring and lead to better fits. 

Another aspect that executives can sometimes struggle with is finding a genuine way to approach diversity, equity and inclusion in hiring. Be conscious of diversity in all aspects, diversity of thought, background in addition to physical forms of diversity. Focus on genuine hiring practices, and prioritize finding value in diverse experiences that allow your company to grow and for new backgrounds to influence for a better future with your team. Be authentic and genuine, be inclusive and be considerate of others' experiences. 

The key to having a strong recruiting process and good experience is investing in your people, creating an authentic culture and being transparent in your conversations. Be intentional with the impact you leave with each candidate and focus on your company brand to produce an appealing and accurate image to those in the job market. 


Thu 17 August 2023
Being a great individual contributor doesn’t equate to being a great leader. As you advance in your career, you’ll need to continually enhance your leadership skills. Prove to your boss that you have what it takes to lead and inspire your team members whenever a new opportunity comes your way.

For example, if you’re a Director looking to become a VP, you should also work toward developing specific qualities that will make you a better fit for a leadership role. These include delegating tasks effectively, prioritizing assignments, setting clear goals, empowering team members, and helping motivate others at work.

Oftentimes, the path towards being an executive requires being a player/coach - meaning that you have to both lead a team and accomplish individual goals. It's crucial to maintain a delicate balance, avoiding burnout and overwork along the way. 

When you’re passionate about what you do, or maybe you just really want that promotion, it can be easy to forget that long hours, nonstop work, and saying yes to extra assignments may boost your career in the short term. But in the long run, it can send you into a terrible spiral.

You may not even see that burnout coming; it creeps up on you as you drive yourself to physical and emotional exhaustion.

The best way to avoid it—without sacrificing your commitment to success? Take a few proactive measures while your star is rising, and when you get to the top, you’ll have a great set of career best practices that will take you wherever you want to go.

Embrace the Journey of Growth

To embark on this exciting journey, embrace a growth mindset—one that celebrates the transformative power of dedication and hard work. Visualize the path ahead as an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. This mindset not only fuels your motivation but also demonstrates to decision-makers your capacity to adapt, learn, and thrive in the face of challenges.

Unleash the Power of Prioritization

It's easy to get overwhelmed by a sea of tasks and responsibilities. However, the key lies in mastering the art of prioritization. Channel your focus into areas that align with your long-term goals and resonate with the organization's vision. Embrace delegation as a means of empowering your team while you concentrate on tasks that genuinely propel you forward. Remember, it's not about doing more; it's about doing what truly matters.

Lead from Within

As an aspiring VP, the journey isn't solely about attaining a title—it's about leaving an indelible mark through your leadership. Lead by example, guiding your team with unwavering dedication and passion. Showcase your unwavering commitment to excellence, and you'll inspire others to do the same. Authentic leadership not only makes you stand out but also paves the way for your team's collective success.

Embrace Feedback 

The road to greatness is paved with feedback and self-improvement. Invite constructive criticism from peers, team members, and mentors. Let go of any defensiveness, and instead, view feedback as an opportunity to refine your skills and approach. By humbly embracing growth areas, you demonstrate your commitment to becoming a more effective leader—one who is attuned to both successes and areas for development.

Nurture Meaningful Connections

As you ascend the corporate ladder, never underestimate the power of relationships. Cultivate strong connections within and outside your organization. Engage in meaningful networking, driven not solely by ambition but by a genuine desire to learn and support others. Building relationships fosters a supportive environment, one that recognizes your potential and fuels your pursuit of success.

Champion Your Own Journey

Your accomplishments deserve recognition, and advocating for yourself is crucial on this journey. Celebrate your achievements while humbly sharing them with key decision-makers. Articulate how your contributions align with the company's vision and values. Be confident, poised, and authentic in showcasing your potential and aspirations.

Balance and Thrive

As you strive for success, don't lose sight of the importance of a balanced life. Avoid the trap of overworking yourself to exhaustion. Remember that sustainable achievement stems from a foundation of well-being. Make time for hobbies, relaxation, and loved ones, as these elements provide you with the resilience and clarity needed to thrive on your journey to VP.

In your pursuit of the VP role, you'll inevitably encounter obstacles and challenges. Rather than being deterred, approach these hurdles with a solutions-oriented mindset. Your ability to identify innovative and strategic solutions will set you apart as a leader who thrives under pressure. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and showcase your resourcefulness when faced with complex situations.

The path from Director to Vice President is both thrilling and transformative. Embrace the journey with a growth mindset, prioritizing meaningful tasks, leading with authenticity, and embracing feedback and challenges. Nurture relationships and be your own champion, advocating for the recognition you deserve. Most importantly, maintain a balanced approach, caring for your well-being along the way. 

By mastering the art of climbing the ladder with purpose, you'll not only ascend to the VP level but also leave a legacy of inspiration and leadership.


Mon 9 October 2023
An increasingly prevalent menace in the workplace, switchtasking ignites a variety of problems for productivity across all levels. Rather than devoting full attention to one task at a time, many jump from one tab to another, attempting to tackle their overload of responsibilities. 

Switchtasking is the rapid change of tasks; toggling from email, to instant messaging, to a presentation and back to the task at hand, which undermines productivity and creates inefficiencies in the workplace. In a managerial or leadership role, it is challenging to reduce switchtasking while still expecting timely responses and completion of tasks. Switchtasking has also been associated with increased mental fatigue, lack of creativity, poor quality work and employees feeling overworked.

In the modern world with technology and the seemingly instant demand of information and collaboration, how do managers regulate switchtasking to optimize their teams productivity and efficiency? 

Tackling each of these negative outcomes begins by understanding the root of the cause. The association between mental fatigue and switchtasking likely stems from individuals feeling as though they have attempted to solve a variety of problems and have worked on a number of tasks throughout the day. Yet, in reality they have worked on the same task in 20 minute increments then, have lost focus and had to re-evaluate the situation once returning to the original task. Which directly explains a lack of creativity in problem solving. Having a stop-go motion does not allow for continuous, devoted and fully developed thoughts on how to address specific situations. Being a large contributor to company success, innovation and productivity, behaviors that halt creative thinking are counter productive to the workplace. 

Switchtasking has also been associated with lower quality work and increased errors. When switchtasking, attention to detail seems to be spread among a number of different tasks `whereas in a traditional focus of one task at a time, all of the attention is devoted to one objective at a time, improving quality and clarity in outputs. Finally, the obstacle of switchtasking seems to heavily impact reports perceptions of their work-life balance. Individuals frequently feel overworked because with switchtasking, the tasks do not end once individuals leave the office. Switchtasking can frequently grow from the feeling that direct reports need to immediately respond to emails, messages and drop whatever they may be doing to address these things which will continue at home. 

Here are some tips to help managers reduce the level of switchtasking within their teams:


1. Create a clear prioritization system for direct reports
Creating a clear prioritization system for direct reports will significantly reduce switchtasking in teams. If direct-reports are able to analyze and determine the importance of tasks, they will be more apt to individually focus on one task at a time and they will be less likely to use time on less-important tasks. A prioritization system will also communicate to direct reports that each task is not urgent and can wait until they have completed their current task. This will also exhibit significant improvements in the quality of work and creativity in the workplace that impact direct reports attitudes, job satisfaction and job performance. 

2. Encourage Time Management Planning
Another contributor of switchtasking is direct-reports feeling as though they will not have enough time to address all of their responsibilities. By encouraging segmented days and improved time management with plans of certain assignments, managers can expect improved quality of work and continuous creativity as team members are devoted to specific tasks for specific amounts of time to focus. Direct-reports will be confident that they will eventually address each task they are responsible for. Additionally, direct-reports may heavily benefit from breaks in between these tasks to ensure they do not feel overworked, overwhelmed or that they are experiencing unequal work-life balance. Encouraging transitioning times throughout the day and predetermined plans will significantly decrease switchtasking in the workplace. 

3. Set communication expectations
By setting clear communication expectations, managers can indirectly discourage switchtasking. Creating clarity in expectations will allow teammates to address emails or messages once they get a chance, in a break period or, within the time they are working on that specific task. Do not expect immediate responses from every employee the instant they are contacted, appreciate that they are devoting their time and full attention to produce the best quality work possible. 

4. Lead by example
If managers expect direct-reports to avoid switchtasking and devote full attention to tasks, they should be exhibiting the same standard. When in meetings, managers should focus fully on the topic of discussion, avoid taking phone calls when in meetings with teams and, confidently demonstrate the expectation of complete attention, effort and persistence when working on tasks that will overall create better results team-wide. 

5- Be flexible!
A great deal of managers struggle to embrace mistakes. In implementing these new ideas to improve productivity, managers should focus on building a culture that embraces mistakes and allows collective learning and improvement for an entire team. Being a flexible and innovative role model will heavily improve the effectiveness of these steps. Effective leaders focus on understanding others and the best practices for specific teams. Know that sometimes switchtasking is necessary but, that does not undermine the effectiveness of these tips in a team setting that will overall contribute to the betterment of the team both in the output of work and, the well-being of the team's members. 

Reducing switchastking requires time, effort and clear explanation of the new programs for effective implementation. Managers who promote the above efforts and prioritize their employees will see results in attitude and work product. 

Although difficult, managers should remember that it may take time to see results and feedback is crucial for growth. To view metrics on the implementation of new programs, consider utilizing AIM insights to view data at any given point throughout the year. Additionally, take time to focus on relationships within teams that lead to productive and cooperative dynamics that will improve the overall efficiency in the workplace. 


Wed 18 October 2023
Leadership happy talk is the propensity for leaders to paint a rosy picture of how the business is performing to their team when the business is struggling. 

Oftentimes, business owners and executives engage in leadership happy talk because they think it is the more mature thing to do. They’d rather hold onto the stress and frustration of business struggles and not put it on other people. 

This might seem like a laudable motivation: why stress out your team? But refusing to share and be vulnerable with team members ultimately creates missed opportunities for the team to tackle problems together. This leads to poor outcomes like surprise layoffs, outbursts from leaders, and misallocated priorities during crucial periods.

This article covers some of the causes of leadership happy talk, how to catch yourself engaging in leadership happy talk, how to overcome it, and why it is critical to not engage in this behavior. 

Leadership happy talk stems from pressures, both real and perceived, to show the world and one’s team that everything is going great. Many startups engage in this behavior because they need to put on a show and generate “buzz” so investors perceive their company to be the next hot business. Many business owners engage in this behavior because they fear their employees will leave if the business isn’t performing well. From a business owner’s perspective, they would rather wait and hope their business turns around. They’d rather risk a surprise layoff than inform their employees that the business is struggling and engage them in a potential solution. Many executives for large companies engage in this behavior because they have shareholders and quarterly goals to meet, and they would rather keep up an obvious charade rather than risk looking ineffectual. But only luck can save these leaders from near-certain failure if they aren’t willing to open up. 

There’s also the egotistical explanation: They want everyone to think they are a success. 

As a leader, you might be reading this and thinking to yourself, “what if the news of our business struggling has nothing to do with my employees’ work? How will that help?”

The answer: if this person is at risk of getting laid off, being asked to work reduced hours or for reduced compensation, or having their work impacted in any way at all, they should know about it.

Why? This initial worry assumes that your team can’t handle the truth or that they may leave upon learning the news. That risk pales in comparison to the possible reward from including them in a solution that saves your business. 

By not sharing the truth of the business’s situation with the entire team, leaders are communicating to their team that they don’t trust them to work together on identifying a solution or that they aren’t smart enough to have any good ideas on how to solve the issue.

No business is going gangbusters all the time every day. Businesses tend to oscillate between up periods and down periods. As a leader, it may be tempting to paint the down periods with a rose hue because things could turn around. However, when leaders find themselves in a position of identifying some negative trends, the best decision is transparency and collaboration. 

By being vulnerable instead of stoic, leaders are communicating that they trust their team and that they value their perspective. Sure, some investors may choose not to invest, some employees may leave at the first sign of bad news, the stock price might go down temporarily, but leaders that engage in openness, transparency, and collaboration lead to healthier more resilient businesses. Strong, resilient businesses are much more likely to succeed long-term compared to businesses run by leaders that engage in leadership happy talk and can’t tell their employees the truth. Next time business is slow, take a chance and open up to your team. The solution could be right in front of your eyes, all you had to do was ask. 

 

Fri 17 November 2023
As communication has become more immediate, it is also increasingly casual. Receiving emails that are overly aggressive or written in an inappropriate tone are situations that many people encounter within the workplace. Whether it is a message from a team member or a direct report, it is important to be conscious of how to respond to these situations to remain professional while upholding boundaries. 

Here are some steps to help navigate responding to an unprofessional email: 

  1. Maintain Composure 
An initial reaction to an aggressive or rude email is often anger or frustration. It is important to recognize and refrain from acting on this initial response. Taking deep breaths to calm down or even stepping away from the situation and finding a distraction for a few minutes can help to de-escalate initial reactions. 

After regaining composure, reread the email to see if the message still seems inappropriately aggressive. If the message still seems overly harsh, identify the elements that are concerning from the actual context of the message. This will help to complete a more objective analysis of the email and allow for a more constructive response. 

2. Consider the Method of Response 
Depending on the sender of the email, a response may be most appropriate over email, the phone, or in person. If the sender is someone who works nearby, approaching them in person may be the most effective method to handle the situation. Over email, messages can be misinterpreted and words that seemed harsh may not have had that intention. Talking things out can prevent any miscommunications that result from written communication. 

The relationship with the sender may also help determine the most appropriate means of communication. If the sender is a direct report, an in-person meeting to discuss the aggressive message can help to convey the severity of their actions and deter them from communicating with this tone in the future. 

3. Establish Clear Boundaries 
When dealing with inappropriate emails, it is crucial to communicate boundaries to prevent these issues from occurring in the future. Clearly and assertively articulating areas of discomfort and that this type of behavior is unacceptable. Be concise and specific about what is inappropriate within the message. 

Establishing boundaries is an important step to communicate that their tone is not welcome in future messages, however, avoiding escalating the situation is crucial during this step. Communicating with a polite tone can help to prevent the sender from feeling attacked. Discussing the message itself rather than targeting the sender when criticizing the tone can prevent them from feeling the need to be on defense during this conversation. 

4. Proofread 
If the best method of communication is emailing, proofread any response before sending it. Ensuring that there is a neutral tone, concise sentences, and no redundant information will allow the recipient to clearly understand any response. 

Maintaining a professional tone is vital because the situation can quickly spiral out of control if there is inappropriate communication on both sides. Responding aggressively or passive-aggressively may further validate the sender's feelings and encourage them to continue this unprofessional tone going forward. 

5. Document the Interaction 
It is essential to document this interaction in case aggressive emails continue in the future. Save copies of the emails with headers and time stamps as evidence of this interaction. This documentation will be beneficial to submit to supervisors or human resources if the aggression continues. Keeping evidence will help to maintain a clear timeline of events and ensure that these interactions aren’t lost. 

When documenting the interaction, also ensure to document how the situation was handled. Saving any emails that were sent in response to this inappropriate email can help to document instances in which boundaries were set and communicated to the sender. This way if the sender continues to act unprofessionally, there is a record that they were told that this behavior is unwelcome. 

6. Seek Support 
Don’t hesitate to seek support if the inappropriate behavior persists. Reaching out to colleagues, supervisors, or human resource professionals to share concerns can be a helpful resource. Horizontal mentorship groups can also serve as a beneficial resource to gain insights from others who have encountered similar situations. Having this support system can help to navigate this difficult situation and introduce an outside perspective. Additionally, reaching out to these outside individuals within the firm may allow others to find a resolution. 

When seeking support, it is incredibly beneficial to have the documentation available to show them. This will allow these outside resources to have a better understanding of the situation at hand and allow them to provide more direct support as they are aware of what was specifically said. 

7. Learn and Improve 
The final step when dealing with an inappropriate email is to learn from the interaction. After addressing the inappropriate behavior, the next response can be used to gauge the effectiveness of how the behavior was addressed. This can help to improve personal communication skills going forward. Take note of what worked and what may have been unsuccessful to identify areas for improvement going forward. 

Although difficult to navigate, these interactions can serve as a great opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. Evaluating how personal communication contributed to the de-escalation of the situation can serve as a beneficial tool for any difficult situations that arise in the future. 

It is important to consider inappropriate messages on a case-by-case basis. The relationship with the person, their position within the firm, and the context of the email, may warrant different responses. The context of the email is particularly important to consider because in some cases, a frustrated email may not entirely be inappropriate. 

For instance, if a team member completed their portion of the project, but the remainder of the project was not completed by the deadline. In this scenario, the team member may be frustrated and rightfully so as they upheld their responsibilities. Validating their emotions and owning up to mistakes may be critical aspects of responding to an email in this capacity. 

When dealing with an inappropriate email, there are many things to consider when assessing how to respond. The most important thing to remember when handling these difficult situations is to remain professional and consider what can be done to prevent this behavior from persisting going forward. 

Mon 4 December 2023
Good managers are good listeners. As a manager, it is crucial to practice active listening to make the best decisions for an organization or team. Rather than simply hearing the words an individual says, managers should practice active listening through demonstrating genuine interest and undivided attention with their members. In active listening, managers should focus on hearing the communication beyond the explicitly stated words but understanding feelings, intentions and underlying messages. In any industry, encouraging managers to practice active listening deciphers opportunities for growth and learning that may result in increased customer and employee satisfaction. 

Leaders must practice thoughtful, active listening to foster a collaborative and thriving work environment where employees feel valued. When employees feel that they are valued by the organization, they demonstrate stronger organizational commitment and job performance which leads to increased job satisfaction. With the necessity of technology in the workplace, work from home, and hybrid cultures of companies, active listening skills in the workplace have depleted. 

When communication habits shift from in-person to online chat, communications become far less effective. Without face-to-face contact, 93% of communication is lost from nonverbal and vocal communication, leaving a mere 7% left to recognize opportunities for growth and learning. Albert Mehrabian, a body language researcher, led a research campaign to discover what portion of communication is based solely on diction. Mehrabian found that 55% of communication is non-verbal cues, 38% of communication is vocal, and only 7% is from specific words.Through using video calls, individuals may be able to recover effectiveness in conversation through vocal and non-verbal cues but, most will continue to struggle with active listening. 

Although convenient, using online chats and emails as the primary conversation medium significantly diminishes the efficacy of communication attempts. Leaders must find creative ways to combat these changes to uncover hidden growth opportunities and team discrepancies. The subtle art of reading undertones and ensuring psychological safety to team members reflects within team culture. Managers can enhance their active listening in the following seven ways:

  1. Listen for the Undertones
As is human nature, it is expected that we hear an individual’s words but only sometimes comprehend the underlying objective or purpose of the communication. Managers should be deliberate in decoding communications to find the concealed message within an interaction or suggestion from employees. Additionally, managers should be aware of differences and communication barriers between cultures. When working in international settings, leaders must consider the cultural norms and barriers that could affect communication effectiveness. 

2. Be Present
Actively listening to direct reports requires undivided attention and devotion to hearing what employees are saying. This means minimizing distractions, eliminating interruptions, and thoroughly thinking and understanding not only statements made but also body language and verbal cues that showcase the intent behind the communication. Being a present and engaged listener will aid the leader's contact with the team by valuing thoughts, opinions, and experiences. 

3. Prioritize Psychological Safety
For a strong team, diversity of thought and diverging opinions are invaluable. To encourage these crucial conversations, managers must create an environment of psychological safety that will enable direct reports to come to leaders with ideas, suggestions, and experiences that managers may use to better an organization. Those who are unaccepting of others deteriorate psychological safety within a team. In creating psychological safety, managers need to focus on empathy, support and understanding amongst all team mates. 

4. Withhold Judgment
To be better active listeners, leaders should avoid instances of judgment by entering each conversation with an open mind. In these conversations, managers should avoid responding to suggestions with defensiveness or hostility. Instead, take each conversation as a learning opportunity rather than a personal attack. Open mindedness and improved relationships with team members will enhance problem solving and creative thinking team-wide. 

5. Cultivate Empathy
An essential part of active listening is cultivating empathy and understanding for those around you. Managers must prioritize a culture of empathy by being understanding and adaptable to their employees. Adding to a culture of compassion, leaders must focus on making every team member feel valued and welcomed. Once a team has established a culture of empathy, all members will grow as active listeners, streamlining communication for all parties. 

6. Ask Questions
In practicing active listening, asking questions is imperative to thoroughly understand the topic. Asking questions demonstrates genuine care and interest in the case, leading employees to feel heard and understood, even if their suggestion is not implemented. In asking questions, prioritize creating a conversation of open dialogue, with explanations and reasoning on either side, to encourage a culture that welcomes diverse opinions and embraces mistakes, allowing for further growth and success. 

7. Ask for Feedback
Managers seeking feedback on their active listening skills are crucial for team growth. Regardless of the industry or specific role, all leaders must be good communicators, meaning strong listening and speaking skills. One without the other will not foster the productive work environment that makes groups successful. Managers should consider their self-awareness and seek opportunities to grow in the communication field. To collect this feedback, consider using AIM Insights, which will provide continuous feedback for all organizational levels, enabling constant improvement.

 Leaders may encourage the process of prioritizing psychological safety for active listening by establishing group norms or policies within their team. For example, a manager may have an “open door policy” to welcome any concerns, questions, and suggestions from employees. Other managers may cultivate this through weekly team-wide discussion meetings that allow individuals to share their concerns. In determining which approach is best, leaders need to evaluate their teams  to determine which route is most impactful for their team.

Throughout the process of improving active listening skills, managers should remember that changes may take time to happen. It takes time for trust to be fostered within a team and psychological safety to develop. Growth paths may not always be linear, but should have ups and downs and obstacles along the way. By actively listening to feedback, managers can find the next step forward for bettering their team. 


Mon 4 December 2023
Emotional intelligence is a unique strength that doesn't just benefit those who possess it; it enriches the entire organizational ecosystem and is something you want to incorporate into your business in order to have an edge.

Effective leadership goes beyond strategic decision-making and task management. Leaders who possess high emotional intelligence (EQ) can create an organizational culture that fosters trust, collaboration, and overall team satisfaction. This article delves into the profound impact of emotional intelligence on leadership, emphasizing the importance of understanding team members' emotions and needs. 

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence comprises four core elements: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. It involves recognizing and understanding emotions in oneself and others and using this awareness to manage one's behavior and relationships.

Emotional Intelligence and Trust Building

Leaders with high emotional intelligence showcase a keen awareness and understanding of their own emotions, as well as those of their team members. This heightened emotional awareness enables leaders to navigate interpersonal relationships with empathy and authenticity, laying the foundation for trust and rapport.

When a leader demonstrates empathy by acknowledging and validating the emotions of their team members, it creates a positive work environment. AIM Insights, as a performance management tool, aligns with this principle by encouraging individuals to express their feelings and challenges in a safe and confidential space. By articulating their concerns in writing, employees may find it easier to open up about their emotions, fostering vulnerability and trust.

Positive Work Environment and Employee Satisfaction

Leadership styles heavily influence the work environment. Leaders with high emotional intelligence tend to create a positive and supportive atmosphere where team members feel valued and appreciated. This, in turn, boosts employee morale and satisfaction.

AIM Insights takes this a step further by prompting individuals to articulate their ambitions and the "why" behind their work. Through this reflective process, employees gain a deeper understanding of their personal and professional motivations. Managers armed with this knowledge can tailor their leadership approach, aligning organizational goals with the individual aspirations of team members.

Guide: Enhancing Leadership through Emotional Intelligence with AIM Insights

  • Understand Work Challenges:
    • Encourage team members to express their biggest work challenges using AIM Insights.
    • Leverage insights to address specific obstacles hindering productivity.
  • Explore Professional Ambitions:
    • Prompt individuals to articulate their aspirations and career goals through AIM Insights.
    • Align organizational objectives with personal ambitions to foster growth.
  • Uncover the "Why" Behind the Work:
    • Use AIM Insights to delve into the deeper motivations driving professional pursuits.
    • Align job responsibilities with personal passions to enhance job satisfaction.
  • Empathy in Leadership:
    • Develop and demonstrate empathy by understanding challenges expressed through AIM Insights. 
    • Proactively address concerns, fostering a supportive work environment.
  • Tailor Leadership to Individual Needs:
    • Leverage AIM Insights to reveal individual ambitions and work preferences.
    • Customize leadership strategies to support individual growth and enhance team dynamics.

Work Challenges: The Power of Vulnerability

When employees have the opportunity to articulate their biggest work challenges, they often reveal more profound insights than in face-to-face interactions. The act of typing out concerns allows individuals the time and space to express themselves with greater vulnerability. Leaders who leverage AIM Insights gain access to a more authentic understanding of the obstacles hindering their teams' productivity.

Example: A team member might express concerns about feeling overwhelmed with tasks. This insight provides leaders with the opportunity to address workload distribution, implement strategies to alleviate stress, and demonstrate a commitment to employee well-being.

Ambitions: Fostering Growth and Development

Understanding individual ambitions is crucial for leadership that promotes growth and development. AIM Insights prompts individuals to articulate their professional aspirations, creating a roadmap for leaders to align organizational objectives with personal goals.

Example: A team member might express a desire to lead a project or develop a particular skill. Armed with this knowledge, a leader can offer targeted mentorship, assign relevant tasks, or provide opportunities for skill enhancement, ultimately contributing to the employee's growth and job satisfaction.

The "Why" Behind the Work: Aligning Purpose and Productivity

AIM Insights delves into the fundamental question of "why" individuals engage in their work. This introspective query uncovers the deeper motivations that drive professional pursuits.

Example: Consider a scenario where a team member expresses a strong passion for environmental sustainability. Armed with this knowledge, a leader can explore ways to align the employee's role with projects related to sustainability, fostering a sense of purpose and contributing to heightened job satisfaction.

Empathy in Leadership

Empathy is a cornerstone of emotional intelligence. Leaders who empathize with their team members build stronger connections and trust. AIM Insights, by encouraging individuals to share their experiences in a written format, provides leaders with a unique opportunity to develop and demonstrate empathy.

Example: By understanding the challenges expressed through AIM Insights, leaders can proactively address concerns, demonstrating a commitment to the well-being of their teams. This empathetic approach fosters a supportive work environment, enhancing employee satisfaction and loyalty.

Tailoring Leadership to Individual Needs

One-size-fits-all leadership approaches often fall short of addressing the diverse needs of a team. AIM Insights helps leaders tailor their strategies by revealing individual ambitions and the "why" behind each team member's work.

Example: A leader who learns about a team member's aspiration to take on more responsibility may provide opportunities for leadership development. This customized approach not only supports individual growth but also enhances overall team dynamics.

Leaders who prioritize understanding and responding to the emotions and needs of their team members foster trust, collaboration, and job satisfaction. Embracing emotional intelligence and leverage tools like AIM Insights are poised to not only navigate challenges effectively but also inspire and lead their teams to new heights of success and fulfillment.


Fri 15 December 2023
Communicating layoffs to employees is a tough situation that requires considerable thought and compassion. Layoffs can have a dramatic effect on the organization and steps must be taken to help preserve workplace culture when relaying such changes. When informing employees about these difficult decisions, creating a strong communication plan can assist in lessening the emotional turmoil resulting from layoffs. 

Here are 4 steps to developing a strong initial communication plan: 

  1. Be Transparent
Employee response to layoffs is largely determined by the perceived fairness and transparency utilized throughout the decision-making and communication processes. Clear messaging regarding why the decision was made, alternative solutions considered, and the future of the organization will help prevent employees from creating their assumptions. Increased transparency works to build trust with employees and reduces damage to company morale. 

2. Include Employees in the Process
During the process of determining layoffs, all possible solutions are often exhausted prior to reaching a decision. However, if appropriate include employees from all levels in identifying solutions. Motivations for layoffs are most often to take cost cutting measures.  Engaging with employees to gather feedback and consider alternative areas to reduce costs can help empower employees and increase collaboration. Inclusion within the problem-solving process also helps to gain a better understanding of the process that was utilized to come to the solution of laying off employees. 

3. Consider Word Choice
An important, but often overlooked, consideration is word choice. Being sensitive to nuances will avoid a negative tone. Phrases that sound voluntary such as “leaving” or euphemisms like “restructuring” detract from the situation at hand and can diminish the hard work contributed by the employees who are laid off. Consider the feelings of the employees who are being let go and develop a tone that is sensitive to these emotions. 

4. Consistent Messaging
Regardless of whether a message is intended solely for employees, information may get leaked to media outlets or other outside sources. When developing internal and external messages, messaging should be consistent. Conflicting information will increase confusion and cause distrust among stakeholders. All messages should be crafted with the idea that any stakeholder may see the information. Additionally, all stakeholders should be addressed when communicating the news of layoffs. Since, likely, all stakeholders will eventually hear about the layoffs, creating specific content for each audience can ensure that no group of stakeholders is left out of the loop

Transparency, inclusion, word choice consideration, and consistency are key elements that can guide the communication process across all stakeholders. Since employees are personally being impacted by layoffs, increased consideration of how to approach communication with this group of stakeholders is vital. Whether the employee is being laid off or one of their peers is being let go, all employees will feel the effects of the organizational change.  

When communicating with laid-off employees and remaining employees, here are some important considerations to best support both groups: 

Support Laid Off Employees: 
  • Individualize the Process
Conducting one-on-one meetings with laid-off individuals is an empathetic approach to communicating the difficult news. Individual meetings communicate respect for the employees who are laid off and serve as an opportunity to support their emotional needs. During this time, laid-off employees can feel heard and ask questions that will help them get a better understanding of reasoning and future steps. 

  • Share Support Resources
When initially receiving the news that they are laid off, employees may not fully process the news and may have questions they fail to ask during the individual meeting. Providing additional support resources for employees following these meetings is a key way to address concerns and continue to demonstrate empathy. Support resources may include a contact within the company that can be used to answer further questions regarding the layoffs or details about benefits and severance packages.  

Address Remaining Employees: 
  • Clarify Effects Going Forward
While layoffs are particularly difficult for employees losing their jobs, the remaining employees also endure emotional hardship. The remaining employees are tasked with the ramifications of the layoffs and will need to navigate the new environment. Providing specific operational changes that will be implemented can help to reduce the uncertainty for remaining employees. 
 
  • Recognize Productivity May Decrease 
Following layoffs, it is common for teams to work at a lower capacity. This lower productivity can result from increased workloads for remaining employees as well as the emotional toll from losing team members. While it may seem effective to continue to motivate employees to work at 100% efficiency, allowing employees time and space to grieve these changes will provide more significant benefits. Allowing time for positive adjustments to change will work to strengthen employee morale and engagement as they will be able to better process these changes. 

  • Assure No More Layoffs
When undergoing layoffs, there will be increased fear of future layoffs for the organization. While assuring there won’t be future layoffs certainly shouldn’t be done if there are plans for continued layoffs, if there aren’t plans for additional layoffs that should be communicated to the remaining employees. It is natural for employees to stress about their jobs when they see peers losing their jobs. Offering support to team members through open communication and availability for questions can help ease the minds of remaining employees. 

Anytime a company has to lay off employees there are a lot of hardships. Ultimately, effective communication with all stakeholders is important to best navigate the changing environment. While layoffs have many negative implications on the employees leaving the company, consistency, honesty, and empathy must be utilized through all phases of communication to prevent the company image from being damaged and best guide the company toward future success.  


Fri 15 December 2023
Mergers and acquisitions present opportunities for companies to streamline their operations, develop economies of scale, create synergies, and establish various other growth opportunities. Despite all these beneficial changes a company may experience, mergers and acquisitions can be a stressor for employees as there are many uncertainties. 

Undergoing mergers and acquisitions can create structural and cultural changes for organizations, leaving employees unsure of what to anticipate. Organizational changes and redundancies within the workforces of both companies can lead employees to have serious concerns about their job security. 

Even minor changes that result from mergers and acquisitions such as cultural shifts, slight process adjustments, or changes in communication channels can enhance the anxious environment and threaten psychological safety. Recognizing the emotions arising from these changes is essential for a smooth transition and continued team success. 

Here are some ways to create a more people-focused approach to navigating a team through a merger or acquisition: 

  1. Develop a Communication Plan
When conveying the news of a merger or acquisition it is important to consider how to best articulate the intentions of the decision. Communicating the overarching vision, company beliefs, and future of the company that led to the decision can help employees better understand the motivations for undergoing such changes. Presenting an optimistic vision for the company will encourage employees to support the new direction of the company. 

Lack of communication or poor communication can lead to the spreading of misinformation and decreased employee engagement. To prevent issues from arising with employees drawing inaccurate conclusions about future steps, ensure that there is constant communication as the process evolves. Immediately when information is allowed to be shared with direct reports, communicate the information to demonstrate that all employees are valued and informed. 

2. Ensure Transparency
Simply communicating updates to the team isn’t sufficient during uncertain times. Honest and frequent updates are most suitable for ensuring all members of the team understand how the changes will personally impact them. 

When permissible, communicate as much detail as possible about the deal's implications. Although it may feel obligatory to reassure team members that everything will work out and they won’t be negatively affected, it is important to communicate the truth. If there is a risk that the team will be impacted by layoffs or structural changes, communicate that uncertainty and work with them to develop action plans. If the team does experience negative changes as a result of the deal, it is best to avoid a complete blindside. 

3. Positive culture 
Continuing to celebrate team successes can help to improve team morale and motivation. Amidst these big changes going on within the organization, recognizing the achievements of individuals or the team as a whole can help empower the team and reinforce a positive future outlook for the team. 

Connecting these celebrations to the core values of the merged company. Aligning the celebrations to organizational values reinforces their importance within the organization. Drawing these parallels will ultimately help reassure the team that their efforts are valued and key attributes of the entire organization. 

4. Involve and Empower Team
During times of uncertainty, it is crucial to allow direct reports to be involved wherever possible. Opportunities to share concerns, feedback, or other insights will allow employees to feel heard. Providing such opportunities will allow for a smoother transition to the new organization since adjustments can be made to best support the team. 

Team involvement develops a sense of ownership. During times of uncertainty, employees may begin to search for outside opportunities. Allowing employees to make an impact on the organization through their input and inclusion in the decision-making process, will increase their sense of commitment to the firm. 

5. Provide Resources
As a manager, providing ample resources for team members to navigate these changes is a necessary step. Mentorship initiatives, training programs, or external professional development opportunities can help employees prepare for potential future steps. 

Directing team members to consult with human resources or other applicable internal resources can serve as a good reminder of the readily available options they can contact. Continuing to identify various resources that can support team members will help ensure that they feel more in control of their future and can make more informed decisions. 

6. Lead by Example 
Increased stress is inevitable when transitioning through a merger or acquisition, however, employees look to their manager as an example of how to handle these unpredictable times. Remaining composed and adaptable will encourage the team to exemplify these characteristics as well, and embody the vision of the organization. 

Exemplifying other characteristics such as prioritization of work-life balance is another key way to guide a team to stay on track. During periods of change, ensuring all team members take care of their well-being and not overworking themselves can help to prevent additional stress. When direct reports see their manager balancing their personal life and their work obligations, they will feel more comfortable making balance one of their priorities which will ultimately lead to a more sustainable work environment. 

As a manager, it is important to continue to advocate for the team and take steps to support their best interests. During these periods of uncertainty, managers serve as a guide for their team to help them understand what is going on around them. 

Determining the best method to navigate these organizational changes can be incredibly difficult. Utilizing horizontal peer mentor groups can be a powerful tool to gain insight into how others in similar situations manage their teams. Within these groups, peers can share strategies they found to be successful and advice specific to the situation at hand. 

Remember that managing a team through large organizational changes such as mergers and acquisitions is specifically difficult for managers as they must balance personal stress resulting from the changing environment along with team concerns. Strategies on how to best lead a team depend on the team dynamics and the changes the organization is experiencing. Keep in mind that big changes are stressful and personal mental health should be prioritized. A sound-minded manager will be most suitable for leading a successful team through mergers and acquisitions. 


Thu 28 December 2023
Effective communication is a key component of successful leadership, and an important contributing factor to developing effective communication is word choice. Carefully chosen words when communicating can help to empower, motivate, and guide teams more effectively. While many managers recognize the importance of word choice, it can be difficult to identify areas of improvement. 

When communicating with a team or direct reports there are two main considerations: what to say and how to say it. While the message is incredibly important, how the message is communicated can directly affect how it is received and interpreted. Being conscious of how words can be used to properly communicate messages is an important skill for managers to develop. 

These are some strategies to consider when communicating with a team and direct reports: 

  1. Use Confident Verbs
Replacing words that undermine a leader's confidence is an important word choice consideration. Weak verbs should be substituted for more confident phrasing such as “we will”, “I know”, or “I believe” to convey reassurance and empowerment to a team. Dedicating time to developing more assertive language will help to improve team buy-in and can even contribute to improved self-confidence. 

A common way that managers compromise their confident word choice is through over-apologizing. While it is important for managers to be conscious of when they have made a mistake and to own their actions, over-apologizing can be a detrimental habit. Continuously apologizing for a mistake can present miscommunications and decrease credibility tremendously. Ultimately, over-apologizing spends unnecessary time and shifts managers away from their confident word choices. 

2. Be Concise 
Avoiding overly complex language and unnecessary jargon is a great practice for creating concise wording. Simplifying word choice can help ensure all team members understand and avoid confusion. Choosing specific words that are simple yet effective will also make communication more efficient. 

When developing more concise language, eliminating idioms and metaphors can also prove beneficial. If a team member doesn’t understand a figure of speech or is unfamiliar with it, the phrase can lose its meaning and cause a lot of unnecessary confusion. Working to avoid such phrases can help ensure that everyone understands the message while eliminating unnecessary words that take up additional time. 

3. Take Time 
Devoting time to consider proper word choice is an underutilized practice. If an instance occurs that seems difficult to navigate and may not have a ‘right answer’, don’t feel pressured to respond right away. Stepping back and communicating that more time is needed before providing a firm answer can help to ensure ideas are communicated correctly. 

Taking time to carefully consider a response can be done with both written and verbal communication. While more commonly implemented for written communication, stepping back from a conversation can be used with verbal communication similarly. During the conversation, indicate that more time will be needed to properly consider the next steps and provide a specific timeline of when they can expect a response. Clearly articulating the future steps is necessary to ensure that both parties understand when the situation can be resolved. 

4. Specify Terms 
When communicating with a team, specificity is key to ensuring everyone is on the same page. Terms such as ‘commitment’ may be interpreted differently across a team. To one team member commitment to a project may mean staying over time until completion, others may interpret commitment as delaying other projects until further notice. Being specific about how the team should be committed to the project would provide more unified results. Similar terms such as punctuality can also have varying interpretations across a team (or even between a manager and an individual). Clarifying expectations and being conscious of these words can help to ensure everyone has the same understanding. 

Avoiding standardized responses to team members can also work to improve specific word choices. Rather than telling a team member “I will look over your work and get back to you”, more concrete language should be used “I will review your work and provide feedback by Wednesday”. Articulating more specifically what the team members can expect will help them to feel more valued. Using generic language will leave increased ambiguity for team members and create an uneasy environment. 

5. Positive Intent 
Articulating a positive intent when communicating with a team is vital to improve morale. Even during difficult times, shifting language to have a positive frame will motivate employees.

When developing more positive word choice while relaying constructive criticism, avoiding the negative construction of sentences should be implemented. Words such as just, try, and maybe are passive words that aren’t empowering to a team. Using phrases like “we will’ gives a much more positive energy. 

6. Inclusive and Respectful 
Specifcially when communicating within a team setting, leaders must be inclusive of everyone. Utilizing words that address the group as a whole will ensure that everyone is prioritized throughout the meeting. 

Avoiding unintended microaggressions is another key aspect of developing inclusive and respectful word choice. Addressing personal unconscious bias can work to consider how they may be present within word choice and help to take steps for more inclusive wording. Employee engagement and sense of belonging can be diminished when there is a lack of inclusivity and respect from their managers. By carefully considering word choice, managers can ensure everyone feels comfortable within the workplace. 

Identifying strategies for improving communication is incredibly important in making adjustments, however, it is equally important to develop a plan to ensure consistency and proper application. An effective way to improve word choice is to model communication off of executives who are well-known for their communication skills. Finding executives with styles of communication that are effective can give inspiration on how to handle difficult situations or even more day-to-day examples. 

A word choice reminder is another method that can be used to ensure consistency. Designating certain items such as a bracelet or ring as a word choice reminder can be a way to constantly form these beneficial habits. Even more directly writing a note or daily phone reminder to keep word choice in mind throughout the day can effectively make these adjustments. 
When considering these strategies it is important to develop tangible ways to 

Practicing the implementation of proper word choice strategies is one of the most effective ways to ensure improvement. Role-playing a scenario with a peer or coach can help to thoroughly consider the precise wording to use when tasked with communicating difficult messages to a team. During these practices, peers or coaches can help to provide feedback and continue to ensure effective communication. 

Managers who recognize the impact of word choice can positively contribute to the improvement of their work environment. By developing strategies and concrete improvement steps, managers can enhance their communication skills and build a stronger team. Remembering that the words managers choose can have a direct impact on the productivity of their team will guide the team to be more effective and cohesive. 


Fri 12 January 2024
The success of an organization is heavily dependent on the collective performance of its teams. With these cross-functional collaboration dynamics, managers can encounter situations where the underperformance of teams outside of their direct oversight impacts their team's performance. Addressing and rectifying the underperformance of other teams may appear challenging due to the intricacies of organizational dynamics. Through embracing proactive strategies and creating a positive environment, managers can develop mutual support and elevate the organization's performance. 

Identify the Issue 
Determining that an inefficiency stems from the underperformance of another team may be easy, but it may prove difficult to identify the specific issue caused by this underperformance. Gathering data to specifically support observations can help to uncover the root of the issue. Data can be observational data or even the collection of performance metrics for the team/ projects. 

Gathering data can also be conducted through receiving feedback from direct reports. Their sentiments and experiences working in conjunction with the underperforming team may yield important insights that are not reflected in the data. Feedback can be gathered outside of the team as well. It is possible that other teams that collaborate with the underperforming team are experiencing similar issues and may have a different perspective on the situation. Consider gathering as much information as possible to develop a complete understanding of the current problem. 

Communicate with Team Leader 
After gathering information and identifying the issue, communicating with the other team leader is an imperative next step. As a manager of an outside team, no feedback should be given directly to individual team members; any concerns should be directed to the manager of that function. Set up a one-on-one meeting with the other manager and transparently communicate the situation. 

During this conversation, ensure that the productivity concerns are shared in an empathetic manner. Placing blame on the manager will not evoke a productive conversation as it will put them on the defensive. Clearly articulate the data that was collected to demonstrate how the underperformance is impacting the organization and other teams. 

It helps to practice this conversation ahead of time. Having a coach to help practice and guide the conversation can be incredibly helpful in the message sticking. 

This conversation is also an opportunity to collaborate on a mutually beneficial solution. Come prepared with potential resolutions that the other team manager could implement. Recognize that as an outside party, these solutions may not be feasible, so be conscious that the other manager may have a different perspective. 

Setting clear expectations is another key component of communicating underperformance. Articulate key metrics that should be improved and actionable steps the team will take to make these improvements. Implementing changes can take time, so collaborate on a feasible timeline so that these steps can be accomplished. Making numerous drastic changes in a short period could worsen the underperformance. 

Provide Resources 
Recognize that an underperforming team can be incredibly difficult for the other team leader to navigate. As a peer, providing additional support and resources can create a more efficient route to resolution. At the intersection of functions, there may be areas where both teams can improve their processes to streamline performances. 

With many team responsibilities, directly providing support to the other manager may be difficult. Sharing resources such as performance tracking software or external coaching can provide relief without personally assuming responsibility for providing constant support. 

Document Everything 
From the beginning stages of addressing the underperformance of teams, ensure that all information is documented. Specifically, when communicating with the team leader of the underperforming team, it is crucial to create a record. During the conversation, ensure that diligent notes are taken regarding the issue that is communicated, resolution steps, and future expectations. Following the conversation, share the meeting documentation with the other team leader to ensure both parties are on the same page and provide a reference for the future. 

Documentation serves as a record if further steps are required. If collaboration with the other team leader is difficult or the resolution steps are not adhered to, reaching out to upper management may be the next step. Providing this record of previous communication and acknowledged expectations will allow upper management to have a better understanding of the steps previously taken to resolve the issue. 

Reach Out to Upper Management 
The previous strategies are good methods to work towards a solution, however, complications while collaborating on a solution can arise. After valiant efforts to solve the issue don’t prove successful, consider reaching out to upper management. If both managers have exhausted all potential solutions, involving another member of leadership can help to provide a different perspective. 

Another instance that may require upper management involvement is if the other manager has extreme resistance to resolving the solution. Serious efforts should be made to collaborate with the other manager or even encourage them to independently consider strategies to increase performance. However, if they are unwilling to discuss the problem or refuse to make adjustments, involving management may be a more effective step. Using the extensive documentation of all the steps taken to resolve the issues, communicate what the problem is and potential solutions. Articulate that the other manager was contacted and share the records of attempts to resolve the issues with them before deferring to upper management. 

Monitor Progress 
Following the implementation of adjustments, monitor for improvements. Analyzing key performance indicators (KPIs) for the underperforming team's responsibilities for improvement can help track the impact of the implemented solutions. Gathering feedback from both teams can also serve as a gauge of the effectiveness of the solution. 

Periodic check-ins with the other manager are another beneficial method for monitoring progress. Dedicating time to discuss the adjustments made and how it has affected both teams will help to make sure both teams are moving in a positive direction. Results from adjustments may not be observed immediately. After some time, if there is little improvement, consider finding an alternative solution. 

Support a Positive Environment 
When improvements occur, recognize and celebrate them. Continued positive reinforcement can motivate the team to sustain these improvements. Making changes can be difficult, so even the small success should be celebrated. Approaching the situation with understanding and a positive attitude will encourage everyone to truly help the team succeed. 

The ability to address and help resolve the underperformance of teams outside of one's oversight is a testament to effective leadership. Communicating, collaborating, and problem-solving can contribute tremendously to overall success. Proactively addressing team underperformance will not only elevate their success but also develop a culture focused on collaborative success. 


Fri 9 February 2024
In 1998 Daimler Motor Company Group (now Mercedes-Benz) attempted a merger with Chrysler Corporation. On paper, Daimler-Chrysler was a perfect combination. Daimler and Chrysler brought price points for different target audiences and their respective leaders had high hopes for a successful merger of the companies. Internally, Daimler had a vertical structure with enforced hierarchical roles while Chrysler used a horizontal structure with less formalities. The two entities split shortly after because they could not find a mutually beneficial culture or compromise the two hierarchical structure approaches. 

Finding the perfect team culture is challenging as is. Combining with another entity only creates additional battles for managers to face. Finding ways to maintain team or group culture through organizational changes puts a further burden on executive leadership and team managers within companies. 

In learning to deal with this new, unique workplace challenge, here are ten tips for managers in leading their teams through organizational changes:

  1. Understand the Stages of Team Development
Using the four normative stages of team development, leaders should allow teams to autonomously develop and grow into a culture that fosters specific team values. Allowing teams the time to go through the stages of forming, morning, storming, and performing to find the best-fit roles can be a daunting challenge for hands-on leaders going through organizational changes. However, by enabling new teams to flow through these changes, they will develop a productive team environment that allows a team to be efficient and effective.

2. Practice Effective Communication
Effectively communicating in times of change enables leaders to collect feedback and grow from two-way communication with their direct reports. Leaders practicing active listening will be able to voice employee concerns throughout the process of organizational change. On the flip side, leaders effectively communicating with their direct reports will provide clarity and reduce resistance to changes within a company. 

3. Use Inclusive Decision Making
In management decisions, allowing direct reports to voice concerns and opinions whenever possible will improve adaptability and allow for creative solutions that will satisfy all levels within an organizational hierarchy. Ensuring that team members feel heard and valued will foster a team culture that is beneficial to employees and executive management. Inclusive decision-making empowers company leadership to adapt from direct reports' experiences when undergoing an organizational change in addition to whole team efforts to creative problem solving that will be most beneficial to sustaining the organization's culture. 

4. Develop Employee Support Programs
If managers find that certain employees struggle with organizational changes, they should consider developing an employee support program. This may be as simple as having a point person for employees to direct questions to or creating a guide of all expected changes and how the firm will adapt. Unexpected changes create anxiety for team members that some may struggle to overcome. In dealing with anxiety in crucial conversations and organizational changes, managers need to practice caution and 

5. Prioritize Psychological Safety
In addition to developing employee support resources, a necessary concern for management should be the psychological safety of all professionals in the organization. Psychological safety can be a largely impactful aspect of an individual's ability to adjust to organizational changes and to maintain the most beneficial culture for the company. To maintain an environment of psychological safety, managers should focus on clear communication and allowing individuals a safe environment to grow and learn with the company. 

6. Foster Cohesion
In going through a merger, acquisition, or general organizational changes, establishing an environment that fosters cohesion and camaraderie can make a drastic difference. Facing changes as a united front will communicate support and community to all direct reports, especially those struggling with finding their place in organizational changes. A cohesive group also creates a safe environment for direct reports to voice concerns, opinions, or opportunities for growth. 

7. Set SMART Goals
A smart goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Managers setting team-wide SMART goals will provide realistic and effective areas for professionals to concentrate on when undergoing hectic changes that frequently disorient teams' progress. Setting SMART goals with continuous feedback is essential for the stable growth of an organization undergoing foundational changes. 

8. Celebrate Success
Celebrating successes through an organizational change brings a variety of benefits to the team working to maintain their group culture. Specifically, celebrating success at all levels will boost team morale and work to reinforce the best practices before and throughout big changes. The ability to reinforce best practices will highlight values, behaviors, and achievements that are best for the organization. In addition to moral support, acknowledgments of individuals' hard work and dedication throughout the process.

9. Collect & Utilize Continuous Feedback
The collection and use of continuous feedback is crucial to sustaining an organization's culture through large changes, mergers, or acquisitions. In collecting this feedback, consider using a platform such as AIM Insights that will aid in setting SMART goals, finding measures of feedback, and collecting the feedback year-round to provide opportunities for continuous growth across all hierarchical levels in an organization. 

10. Seek Guidance
If a manager feels that they need additional support for guiding a team through a foundational organizational change they should consider finding additional support and guidance. First, leaders should consider joining a horizontal mentorship group that will create an environment for executives and managers to speak to other professionals at their level for collective feedback and learning. Additionally, if managers feel that they need additional guidance in aiding their team, they should reach out to their company's human resources department. The HR professionals will likely have developed guides or tools that will help teams practice flexibility and adapt to continuous changes within a firm. 

Addressing organizational changes is a unique challenge with unique experiences for every team. Although a daunting challenge, managers have the tools necessary to sustain organizational culture throughout times of change. It is crucial to collect and use feedback from direct reports as the most impactful tool for determining a team's next steps, growth areas, and opportunities for learning or development. In supporting teams through organizational changes, leaders can boost employee engagement, hopefully improving job satisfaction and commitment. 


Thu 22 February 2024
Sarah is a diligent project manager at a thriving tech company. She's skilled at what she does, leading her team with precision and effectiveness. However, Sarah often finds herself isolated within her department's bubble, unaware of the challenges and triumphs experienced by colleagues in other divisions. Despite her dedication, she feels disconnected from the broader company culture, yearning for stronger bonds and improved communication across departments.

Sarah's experience is not uncommon in modern workplaces where information silos can hinder collaboration and innovation. Building robust team communication and overcoming these silos is crucial for fostering a cohesive company culture where every employee feels valued and connected. 

Understanding the Importance of Connectivity
At the heart of a thriving company culture lies effective communication and collaboration. When employees interact across departments, they gain valuable insights, share diverse perspectives, and develop a deeper understanding of the organization as a whole. This interconnectedness fosters creativity, enhances problem-solving capabilities, and cultivates a sense of belonging among team members.

A strong company culture is the foundation upon which successful organizations are built. Cultivating connections within your team can foster a sense of belonging, collaboration, and shared purpose. Research has shown that employees who feel connected to their colleagues and organizations are more engaged, satisfied, and motivated.

By encouraging open communication, fostering team-building activities, and promoting a supportive work environment, you create opportunities for connection to flourish. Studies indicate that positive workplace relationships not only boost employee morale but also improve productivity and overall performance. Investing in connections within your company culture can create a sense of belonging that inspires creativity, innovation, and loyalty among your team members.

5 Ways to Break Down Information Silos
  1. Encourage Cross-Departmental Collaboration: Create opportunities for employees from different departments to collaborate on projects or participate in cross-functional teams. This not only promotes knowledge sharing but also builds trust and strengthens relationships among team members.
  2. Utilize Technology: Implement communication tools and platforms that facilitate seamless information sharing and collaboration. Whether it's project management software, instant messaging apps, or virtual meeting platforms, leveraging technology can break down geographical barriers and foster real-time communication across departments.
  3. Promote Open Communication Channels: Establish open-door policies and encourage employees to voice their ideas, concerns, and feedback. Regular team meetings, town halls, and suggestion boxes can provide avenues for transparent communication and ensure that everyone's voice is heard.
  4. Organize Social Events and Team-Building Activities: Foster a sense of community by organizing social events, team-building activities, and networking sessions. These informal gatherings provide opportunities for employees to connect on a personal level, forge meaningful relationships, and strengthen team bonds outside of work tasks.
  5. Lead by Example: Cultivate a culture of collaboration and inclusivity starting from the top. Leaders and managers should actively participate in cross-departmental initiatives, demonstrate transparent communication practices, and prioritize building relationships across the organization.

Embracing a Unified Company Culture
As Sarah implements these strategies within her company, she begins to witness a transformation. Cross-departmental projects ignite creativity, communication channels flourish with meaningful exchanges, and social events foster a sense of camaraderie among colleagues. With each interaction, Sarah and her peers develop a deeper appreciation for the interconnectedness of their roles within the organization.

Fostering team communication and overcoming information silos is not merely about sharing data; it's about building relationships, cultivating trust, and embracing a unified company culture. This represents a shared responsibility in a company’s workplace for all employees to work together to embrace company culture, stemming from the company’s leadership teams. 

A company’s culture needs to be adaptable. There are many external factors exerting pressure on any business as well as internal changes such as leadership transitions and expansions. The culture needs to change to keep up with these changes. Attempts to lock in a certain type of culture over the long term at best will fail; at worst, they will hinder the organization’s competitiveness and sustainability.

This points to a key requirement of the shared responsibility approach to culture-building. Changes to the culture must be explicitly communicated and vetted by all. Everyone may not agree with the changes, but they must understand them and agree to support them.

To achieve the desired culture, everyone must have a clear, consistent, common understanding of it and everyone must work together in a deliberate and coordinated effort to cultivate it. While each person or group is accountable in their own way, everyone shares accountability for achieving the desired culture.

By breaking down barriers and promoting collaboration across departments, organizations can harness the collective power of their workforce, driving innovation, and success. As Sarah and her colleagues demonstrate, when every part of the company is bonded together, the result is a vibrant, cohesive culture where every employee thrives.


Fri 15 March 2024
Sarah is leading a team of 700 talented individuals toward success. However, the winds of change bring a daunting task: she must trim down the team by 300 members, nearly half its size. The question is large: how does one execute such a significant reduction in workforce effectively?


Sarah ponders over various strategies. Does she opt for a series of gradual layoffs, minimizing the shock but prolonging the uncertainty? Or does she choose the bold approach of a single, decisive cut, akin to ripping off a bandaid? Each path presents its challenges, but Sarah knows that communication and trust will be the cornerstones of her approach.


One option is to stagger the layoffs over several months, allowing individuals to prepare emotionally and financially. However, this method risks creating a sense of instability and anxiety among the remaining employees. Sarah worries about the toll it may take on morale and productivity.


On the other hand, a swift and decisive action could minimize prolonged uncertainty and allow the organization to swiftly realign its resources. However, the shockwave from such a move could erode trust and breed resentment among the workforce.


Sarah pondered over various strategies: 

  • Does she opt for a series of gradual layoffs, minimizing the shock but prolonging the uncertainty? 
  • Or does she choose the bold approach of a single, decisive cut, akin to ripping off a bandaid?


1. Gradual Layoffs Strategy

  • Advantages:
    • Minimizes immediate shock and disruption to the workforce.
    • Allows individuals time to prepare emotionally and financially.
    • Provides opportunities for retraining or redeployment for those at risk.
  • Challenges:
    • Prolongs uncertainty, potentially impacting morale and productivity.
    • Requires careful planning and coordination to manage ongoing transitions.
    • May lead to a perception of instability within the organization.


2. One Big Bandaid Rip-Off Strategy

  • Advantages:
    • Offers swift resolution and clarity to the workforce.
    • Minimizes prolonged uncertainty and speculation.
    • Allows the organization to quickly realign resources and move forward.
  • Challenges:
    • Poses a significant shock to the workforce, potentially eroding trust and morale.
    • Requires meticulous planning to mitigate immediate impact and support affected individuals.
    • Carries a higher risk of negative perception both internally and externally.


Building Trust Through Communication


Sarah recognizes the importance of transparency and honesty in navigating this delicate situation. 


First, she starts with identifying what metrics are not being met and what needs to be changed for the organization to right the ship. She realizes that it can be anxiety-inducing if there isn’t a clear goal or metric that everyone is working towards as if there isn’t a clear goal or metric being worked towards, it is unclear whether or not anyone’s job is safe.


By clarifying those metrics and where the team has fallen short, and giving them a few months to try and turn things around, she can start to make the reductions in force.


The reason she chose this mode of decision-making versus just announcing the layoffs was that it gave clarity to her team as to what metrics needed to be hit for the company to succeed. Even if the metrics were vastly different from where they were when she first announced the metrics, there is still clarity as to why a change like a reduction in force is necessary. Essentially, her team felt less blindsided when they knew they were underperforming.


As the months pass, Sarah maintains open lines of communication, offering regular updates on progress and addressing any concerns or questions that arise. She fosters a culture of transparency and inclusivity, inviting feedback and suggestions from her team members.


Throughout the process, Sarah remains steadfast in her commitment to building trust and maintaining morale. She acknowledges the challenges and uncertainties but instills confidence in the team's ability to get through this together.


By the end of the period in which performance is being evaluated, Sarah still needs to lay team members off. She decides to do the layoff in one big bandaid rip-off strategy. She then reinforces that everyone after the layoff is safe and why they are safe - e.g. the metrics they were achieving were aligned with the metrics she set at the beginning.


Being clear is kind and having clear expectations from the very beginning, allowing team members the time to change their behavior and attempt to turn their performance around, and following through on the unfortunate need of laying people off for those that aren’t performing creates the best outcome from a tough situation. By prioritizing the well-being of her team and fostering a culture of transparency, she ensures that even in the face of adversity, they emerge stronger and more resilient than before.



Fri 15 March 2024
Nearly every individual will at some point in their career face an ethical dilemma. Whether that question comes from a superior or direct report, these decisions take a significant toll on mental health, psychological safety, and burnout in the workplace. 

Ethical concerns can take place in a variety of ways. Every ethical question is not as extreme as fraud or lying on financial statements but, ethical dilemmas can be seen in everyday workplace experiences. For example, consider Kelly, who is a senior manager at a large sales firm. Executives of the firm are expecting to be acquired by a much larger company and thus, are pushing for increased sales and revenue from Kelly’s sales team. Because of this, Kelly’s team members are pressured into making one-time sales so the acquirer notes better results for the firm rather than the more accurate, transparency of the expected revenue. How do these decisions affect the health and psychological safety of these parties?

To begin, these employees are now subject to immense stress to make sales, which will likely negatively impact psychological safety and contribute to burnout. Additionally, these individuals' psychological safety and mental health may be negatively impacted if they have to confront their manager or miss a sales goal. If there are pay differences due to falling short of a sales goal during this time, these individuals may become significantly dissatisfied leading to impacts on mental health, psychological safety, or even turnover. On the other hand, Kelly is now stressed and concerned that her team will not meet these sales goals and, she is concerned about what the acquirer will find once they are bought out and the sales decrease. 

Once the firm is bought, many parties may see an adverse effect from the inauthenticity of the sales revenues. For example, the purchasing company may move forward with laying off or letting go of employees because the sales projections based on the perceived recurring revenues right before the sale of the company (which turn out not to be recurring and therefore shouldn’t be in the projections) are not met. Additionally, the purchasing company may potentially alter the compensation structure of the employees, negatively impacting their motivation to work if compensation is based on inaccurate data, these sales goals may be challenging or unachievable for these employees. For example, sales and performance quotas based on projections that aren’t based in consistent results.

Now, how should Kelly address her concerns with her current boss, Michael? 

If Kelly approaches Michael with this ethical concern, she may see unfavorable effects, especially moving into a merger or acquisition with the firm. In discussing this sensitive matter, it is crucial for professionals to be extremely cognizant of the surrounding environment to find the right time and manner to discuss a concern without becoming accusational or placing blame on superiors. Here are 5 tips for discussing an ethical concern with a superior:
  1. Be Objective
In bringing up concerns about a sensitive topic, it is crucial for individuals to maintain objectivity and avoid placing blame on the superior. For example, in the aforementioned situation, Kelly may ask to schedule a meeting and begin by saying she is concerned about how sustainable the sales are. This statement does not place blame on Michael or suggest that he is acting unethically. Rather, this statement brings up a sincere concern. Additionally, this statement does not bring up the variety of negative effects that may be possible in the situation but just focuses on the one main concern to be addressed. Kelly may also not realize the pressure Michael is under and that he might not have been the person that decided to fluff up the sales numbers but was instead following orders.
2. Propose Solutions
Continuing in the meeting with a superior, leaders should be cognizant of their attitude and propose potential solutions to move forward with. These solutions should be constructive and should directly address ethical concerns. For example, Kelly should consider offering solutions to the situation of sales data representation. Perhaps Kelly can head a new and sustainable marketing campaign for current clients or, suggest a different way to encourage sustainable sales in this situation. 
3. Highlight Possible Consequences
If Michael needs additional convincing to approach this ethical concern, Kelly should consider bringing up possible negative consequences, backed by data. For example, Kelly could share that if sales are to drop after the acquisition, her team may be downsized or, brand reputation or morale may have negative effects for the team moving forward. In this area of the conversation, individuals need to bring concerns that are sincere possibilities with adverse effects and, avoid blame placing. Being empathetic to the superior will always help both parties better understand the other and how to best move forward. Kelly could also acknowledge who benefits from having inaccurately boosted sales numbers, their proximity to everyone else at the company, and who may face consequences after the sale is completed.
4. Encourage Open Dialogue
In these discussions with a superior, managers should be considerate in finding a comparable solution for the superior's objectives to be met in a more ethically sound manner. In Kelly's case, suggesting possible solutions and then asking for feedback or other ideas to find a compromise of the way the problem is approached and the objective solution that is best for the company. Managers in this situation should also listen carefully to the superior to find any other information or data that could help find an ideal solution to move forward with. 
5. Seek Guidance
Finally, managers should consider seeking guidance in moving forward with an ethical concern. To find help, managers can consider a variety of methods. First, the manager could reach out to the firm's human resources. But, leaders should be conscious that these individuals may be required to report potential problems or concerns within the company. If an individual is seeking some mentorship outside of the firm, they should find a horizontal mentorship program or an executive mastermind group. These programs focus on building relationships with peers in other organizations at similar levels or, with more experience. Being able to privately discuss concerns with other professionals is a fantastic resource for effectively approaching sensitive topics. For example, Kelly may benefit from a horizontal mentorship by speaking with a sales manager at a different firm and learning more about how to best approach the situation from an outside perspective. This method also works to reinforce psychological safety that promotes open discussion and conversation. 

Although challenging, voicing concerns about ethical topics is crucial for companies to maintain their cultures and positive work environments. And, as leaders, managers have a responsibility to represent their direct reports and work in their, and the company's best interest. In this pivotal role, individuals can become stressed and overworked so, it is necessary for leaders to maintain clarity and thought processes in decision-making processes that will affect a whole team. 


Mon 25 March 2024
Jane is a middle manager who finds herself at a pivotal point in her company's future. Her company has been exploring new initiatives that would entirely pivot from their current business focus. Although there is immense excitement between management about this potential new direction, Jane recognizes that navigating the balance of honoring the legacy business that her current team is a part of while also embracing the future innovation is a precarious task. 

With her team's focus on the legacy business, Jane must continue to keep her team engaged, excited, and informed about the potential shift without discouraging her team and slowing progress. The following strategies can be implemented to ensure high morale, sustain engagement, and effective communication during this transition. 


Communicating Effectively 

Navigating proper communication methods during these transformative periods is an incredibly difficult task. With a gap of knowledge between management and team members regarding the shifting landscape, determining what information to share and when can prove challenging. Work closely with upper level management to determine when information will be available to non-management staff. Once information can be shared, have an open conversation with the team to ensure transparency. Detail what the new initiative is and why the company believes this is the most advantageous avenue to pursue going forward. Emphasize that there are still unknowns in the evolving environment and that they will be informed as the situation continues to develop. 


Communicating effectively may also manifest through facilitation of feedback. Establish channels for team members to provide feedback regarding the transition. This can be achieved through allowing one on one conversations, anonymous surveys, or even team wide discussion. Implementing methods for team members to voice their questions and concerns will make them feel validated and heard during these uncertain times. Feedback is also an essential mechanism for company wide improvement. Gaining additional insights from current staff will steer the company to be more united as it moves towards this new direction. 


Ensuring High Morale 

Amidst the uncertain environment, it is imperative to ensure enthusiasm within the legacy team. As a middle manager, recognizing and appreciating team members can make a large impact on maintaining morale. Whether the achievement is big or small, celebrating the successes of team members can help the team gain a sense of importance and confidence. Take note of these accomplishments as it may be reassuring for team members to have a record of their achievements. 


Maintaining a high morale may also be achieved through allowing increased autonomy. A sense of responsibility and pride can arise from team members gaining more flexibility in the decision making process. Delegating some authority will increase innovative thinking and foster a culture of trust. Additionally, this can set team members up for success by allowing them to gain additional skills. These leadership skills can be applicable in the event that the scope of team members work shifts after the company further embraces the new direction. Increased responsibility for team members will produce further team buy in as they are truly more involved in the team. 


Sustaining Engagement 

While shifting towards the future, it’s important to recognize the significance of the legacy teams and their expertise. Managers should emphasize the impact the legacy teams have had on the organizations success. The company would not have reached its current level of success without the hard-work and dedication of each team member. Acknowledge the teams contributions to generate a sense of pride and reaffirm their role in the organization’s achievements. Continuing to recognize the importance of the legacy team will sustain engagement as it will support the notion that the team is truly making a lasting impact on the organization. 


Providing additional learning opportunities also sustains engagement. With this transitional period, team members may be concerned about the future of their role in the company. Adding methods for team members to improve upon current skills or develop new skills, can ensure preparedness for the evolving needs of the company. Although the current team function may remain after the pivot to this new direction, it is imperative to set team members up for success for potential new opportunities. Training workshops, online course, or mentorship programs can assist team members in developing new skills and adapt to the changing environment environment. Exploring cross-functional opportunities with the new business function may be a positive collaboration. This introduction to the team involved with the new business idea may allow for innovation and increased learning opportunities that will benefit both groups. 


Navigating the transition from legacy systems to future business ideas presents various challenges and opportunities for middle management. Through utilizing transparent communication practices, sustaining team morale, and fostering high engagement, managers can successfully lead their team through this transition. Although there are still many uncertainties for her to face, Jane has all the skills and leadership capabilities to ensure her team is productive and supported as her company takes on a new journey. 



Wed 17 April 2024
Layoffs are an unfortunate aspect of a business’s lifecycle.

Whether a company over-hired during a period of steep growth in anticipation of potentially continuing that growth.

Or a company had a client that represented a large percentage of their total revenue leave and is trying to figure out where to come up with the revenue to pay for everyone’s salaries.

Or a company has gradually fallen on harder times and has decided that restructuring how the organization looks and operates is critical to being successful in the future.

Or a company could have had an informal layoff where they decide to not backfill positions after someone leaves and just ask those who are left to take on additional work.

They are part of a business’s natural ebbs and flows. One could argue that if a company isn’t putting themselves at risk of having a layoff (e.g. hiring to pursue new opportunities), they aren’t effectively preparing themselves for opportunities for high growth when they present themselves.

But what happens to those who are left?

Those who are left oftentimes feel a sense of survivors guilt – as if they are the lucky ones for not getting fired.

This is oftentimes quickly followed by burnout because they are now being asked to do the work of multiple people after growing accustomed to doing the work they had been doing.

Once burnout occurs, people start to formulate their own assumptions about what is next for them and the business. This narrative people create about their future fate is oftentimes way worse than the reality of the situation because the news of the layoff in the first place was likely a huge surprise and has tarnished their belief in the business long-term.

As a leader of a company, here are 3 things you can do to help build back morale after a layoff:

1.      Control the narrative

If leaders don’t control the narrative after a layoff, their people will come up with their own narrative. One leader I interviewed 3 months after a layoff her team decided to pursue shared that she heard from one of her team members that the company was about to go through a merger or get acquired. She had no idea where that news came from. As the second largest shareholder in the company, she reassured her team member that a merger or acquisition was not going to happen, but she couldn’t help but wonder where this rumor came from and how many other rumors might be flying around that she has no idea about.

To minimize surprises around a layoff, some leaders will practice open book management or sharing the financials of a business with all of the employees.

The challenge with the assumption that employees who know the financials will be less surprised if a layoff happens is that the employees don’t know how an executive team will react to multiple down revenue months in a row. Multiple down revenue months could mean no bonuses this year or it could mean layoffs. Knowing how an executive team will react to multiple down months in a row is not the job of the employees.

Companies also often face the challenge of leadership happy talk. This is the act of a charismatic leader (oftentimes the founder or CEO) who say things like “we have been around for 25 years and aren’t going anywhere!”

This talk, when times are good, boosts morale and makes people feel secure. But when a layoff happens, it completely tarnishes morale and the trust employees have in the company moving forward is severely tarnished.

Therefore, if leaders are to control the narrative for those employees that are left, they need to explicitly share why their performance justified keeping them and how that helps the business grow into the future. Leaders essentially need to reassure employees why their job is safe or else employees will assume their job isn’t safe and starting looking for jobs elsewhere.

2.      Make people feel heard

There was a prison study in which inmates were to submit feedback on the state of the cafeteria food. This suggestion box had always existed in the cafeteria but the results of the dining experience never seemed to change. Leadership in the prison wanted to get Likert scale feedback on the quality of the dining experience in the prison and to little surprise, their scores were very low.

Eventually, a leader within the prison decided to do something different. He decided to read all of the suggestions out loud in front of all of the inmates. Regardless of how feasible the suggestion was, he read them all out loud in front of everyone.

Then, something interesting happened. The scores for the quality of the dining experience at the prison improved on the Likert scale. The prison didn’t in fact do anything to improve the dining experience for the inmates, but they let them know that they were heard. 

The same holds true for employees.

I am not advocating for gaslighting the employee experience (e.g. listening to what they have to say and doing absolutely nothing about it), but what I am writing is that helping employees feel heard, even if the leader can’t do anything about their concerns, is much better than ignoring employee concerns altogether to avoid the hard conversation. 

3.      Elaborate on the why to the nth degree and repeat, repeat, repeat

Too many leaders assume that all employees are privy to all the information that the leader is and should therefore understand why certain decisions were made.

Too many leaders assume that explaining why a decision was made once is sufficient for employees to fully digest and understand moving forward.

These are toxic assumptions because employees are not aware of the information a leader has at their disposal, and although the leader may have explained the situation once to the employee, the leader needs to go further to explain the why behind the decision.

For example, a leader could share “We have decided to layoff 5% of our workforce. We made this decision because we over-hired the year prior. We were on a major upward trajectory and wanted to be prepared if the market continued to climb. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and we let go of these employees for the sole fact that we don’t have enough business to justify having them on the team moving forward. Moving forward, we believe we have right-sized our business to be commensurate with where the market is now. As long as we are able to achieve xyz profitability, we should be able to grow a steady growth rate moving forward. When our company is able to achieve xyz profitability, it allows us the freedom and ability to grow our business in a stable way. When we are below that profitability, it puts the business at risk of going under. If the business goes under, nobody has jobs and we won’t be able to work together anymore.”

This may seem like overkill, but by being abundantly clear about how the business operates and the numbers the business needs to achieve to thrive, it empowers employees to know where they stand with the business. 

Then repeat, repeat, and repeat some more. And when you feel like you have shared this message a million times, share it one more time just to be safe. 

Oftentimes, employees will need to hear a message multiple times for them to become conscientiously aware as to what the message means and the ramifications it has on them.

Overall, building back team morale after a layoff is hard. It is the companies that can control the narrative, make people feel heard, and explain the why with enough repetition that are able to achieve success after a layoff.

Mon 29 April 2024
Cross-cultural teams provide immense benefits to organizations such as enhanced problem-solving skills and diversity of perspectives from the culmination of various backgrounds. Although these benefits can contribute to an organization's success, difficulties can arise for managers tasked with leading these cross-cultural teams. Scheduling conflicts and communication barriers can create points of conflict for managers. Additionally, less apparent issues such as cultural norms and creating a unified team environment can be detrimental to the success of a cross-cultural team. Increased awareness about cultures can work to prevent potential tensions from arising within the workplace. 

Cross-cultural teams may be comprised of individuals working remotely from different countries or expatriates. Regardless of the composition of the physical locations of group members, cultural differences can present tensions in the team environment and communication methods because individuals from different cultures may have drastically different approaches to tasks in the workplace. Various strategies can be implemented by managers to develop cultural understanding, enhance communication, and develop team norms ultimately improving the team's performance. 

Understanding Cultural Differences 
Learning about differences between cultures present on the team can develop increased awareness about why team members may do or interpret things differently. A helpful resource to understand more about different cultures is Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension Theory. Hofstede’s theory explores six key aspects of cultures: power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism-collectivism, masculinity-femininity, and short vs. long-term orientation. Comparison between cultures using these cultural dimensions can work to explain variances in workplace behavior. For example, team members from cultures with higher power distance increasingly value hierarchy and are more likely to rely heavily on those with positions of power for explicit direction. This may present an issue for teams that depend on quick decision-making processes and independent work. Being conscious of these potentially ingrained cultural differences can guide managers to communicate more about proper procedures and create a more inclusive workplace environment. 

For team members recently relocated to a new country, there may be some distinct cultural differences they are not accustomed to within their new home. Developing proper mechanisms for expatriate training is incredibly important for easing this transition for newly relocated team members. While many companies have established systems for assisting relocated employees to adapt to the new location, as a manager, it is important to develop an inclusive and comprehensive introduction to the new space they are working in. Aiding a seamless transition to the new working environment can include more one-on-one conversations to learn more about the recently relocated team member and discuss any potential concerns they have adjusting to the new environment.

Effective communication 
Communication barriers are another important consideration when working with a cross-cultural team. For team members who aren’t working in their native language, aspects such as tone and sentence structure may vary considerably. These differences in communication and understanding present many points of misunderstanding between workers. Strategies to prevent misinterpretation consist of utilizing clear and concise messages. This way there are fewer opportunities for potential misunderstandings. Another strategy to emphasize amongst team members is to encourage clarification. If a team member does not entirely understand something, asking further questions can prevent issues later. Working to develop an environment that promotes questions and clear communication will benefit the entire team. 

Another important facet of communication that can vary across cultures is “taught behaviors”. Within different cultures, there are different cultural norms of communication. For instance, American team members may be abrupt over chat function and directly start conversations with a question or request, while Indian team members tend to practice more indirect communication and may include a greeting and more pleasantries before requesting something. Although a seemingly insignificant difference in communication, this can cause frustration for American team members who prefer more immediate communication and conversely cause frustration for Indian team members who interpret the abrupt communication as rude. Working to discuss appropriate communication practices can help to relieve unnecessary issues arising from these “taught behaviors”. 

Establish Team Norms 
With team members coming from various places, establishing team norms increases progress timeliness. Technology developments help to mitigate time-zone-related issues as there is increased communication and immediacy. 24/7 accessible applications such as SharePoint and live documentation features help to allow for consistent communication among all team members. While some team members are off the clock, team members from different time zones can update the live documents and have a record for team members who aren’t currently working. This allows for greater communication and consistency between team members working during different times.  

Another potential issue solved through team norms is establishing a sense of team unity. When managing a team from various cultures, team members may develop an “us vs. them” mentality between different regions when mistakes are made. For teams that have little periods of overlap due to time differences, it can be difficult to foster collaboration and create a sense of division. When an error occurs, for instance during the Australian Central Standard shift, British team members may get frustrated with Australian team members causing increased tensions. Although there is a considerable time difference between these two teams' standard working hours, utilizing some of the overlapping time for weekly or monthly team meetings can unify the team and create a greater sense of appreciation for team members working during the other shifts. Overall, managers need to work to break cultural divides and help build a strong team environment.  

Implementing strategies directly focused on creating seamless interactions between team members of various cultures can be achieved through conscious efforts from all team members. As a manager, introducing measures to develop cultural understanding, effective communication methods, and team norms are important steps for preventing tensions arising from cultural differences is incredibly important. 


Mon 29 April 2024
When Emily was promoted to be the manager of her software development team at a technology company, she faced a mix of excitement and uncertainty. Having worked alongside her teammates for over five years, Emily's promotion was not just a personal success; it was a dramatic shift in dynamics. Among those affected was Mark, a close colleague and friend who had also vied for the same managerial position. The challenge for Emily was not just about adopting a new role but navigating the complex emotions and relationships within her team, particularly with Mark. 

As coworkers, Emily and Mark had shared countless hours troubleshooting code and celebrating project milestones. The sudden shift from colleagues on equal footing to a new leader dynamic posed an emotional challenge, especially after being in competition for the new position. While Emily dealt with the excitement of her new role and the guilt of surpassing a friend, Mark faced the disappointment of missing out on a position he felt equally qualified for. 

This delicate situation required more than just professionalism; it demanded emotional intelligence and sensitivity. Emily knew that her first task as a leader was to cultivate an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, reaffirming her commitment to team cohesion and collective success, despite the undercurrents of competition that had brought her to this pivotal point in her career.

7 Ways to Maintain Positive Team Relationships

The foundation of a smooth transition is empathy. Recognize the disappointment among those who competed for the position and acknowledge their feelings. For Emily, having a private conversation with Mark was crucial. She decided to express her desire to maintain their strong relationship and sought his support and insights in her new role. This approach not only helped preserve their friendship but also reinforced Mark's value to the team.

Additionally, adopting an inclusive leadership style can make the transition easier for everyone involved. As a new leader, Emily made it a point to involve her team in decision-making processes, giving them a sense of ownership and a voice in the new structure. This inclusivity helps in mitigating feelings of resentment and promotes a culture of collaboration.

  1. Maintain Open and Honest Communication:
    1. Regular check-ins: Schedule individual meetings with team members to understand their career aspirations, challenges, and feedback on team dynamics.
    2. Transparency: Keep the team informed about changes and decisions that affect them directly or indirectly to avoid rumors and misunderstandings.

2. Recognize and Validate Feelings:
  1. Acknowledgment: Recognize the feelings of team members who might have also applied for the leadership position, validating their disappointment without diminishing the significance of the new role.
  2. Supportive Conversations: Offer a safe space for open dialogue where team members can express their concerns and feelings about the new changes.

3. Leverage Team Strengths and Insights:
  1. Inclusive decision-making: Involve the team in decisions, especially those that impact their work or the team’s direction, to foster a sense of belonging and importance.
  2. Utilize diverse perspectives: Encourage team members to bring their unique insights to the table, reinforcing the value of each team member’s contribution.

4. Foster Professional Development:
  1. Growth opportunities: Promote continuous learning and development opportunities tailored to the career goals of team members.
  2. Mentorship roles: Encourage experienced team members, like Mark, to take on mentorship roles, enhancing their engagement and providing recognition.

5. Celebrate Team and Individual Achievements:
  1. Recognize contributions: Regularly acknowledge and celebrate successes, both big and small, to motivate and build morale.
  2. Team events: Organize team-building activities and outings that are not just work-related to strengthen interpersonal relationships and team cohesion.

6. Build Trust Through Consistency:
  1. Fair treatment: Ensure all team members are treated fairly, with consistency in how rules and policies are applied.
  2. Dependable leadership: Be reliable and follow through on commitments and promises, setting a standard of trust and reliability.

7. Promote a Positive Work Environment:
  1. Respectful interactions: Cultivate an environment where respect is foundational in all interactions, regardless of role or seniority.
  2. Constructive feedback: Provide feedback in a way that is constructive and supportive, aimed at improving performance and personal growth.

Additionally, clarity in roles and responsibilities helps reduce confusion and aligns team efforts with organizational goals. For Emily, clearly defining everyone’s roles, including her own, helped set expectations and streamlined team operations, which is essential in maintaining productivity and morale.

Utilizing Performance Management Tools

Regular feedback sessions are essential for maintaining open lines of communication and for personal and professional growth of team members. Emily implemented bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with her team members, including Mark, to discuss their progress, address concerns, and provide support. This not only helped in maintaining strong relationships but also in fostering a culture of trust and respect.

Effective use of performance management tools can aid new leaders in setting clear, measurable goals for their team, especially during the meetings that Emily was conducting. Emily utilized software tools like AIM Insights to track the progress of individual team members and the team as a whole, aligning them with the broader company objectives. This transparency in goal setting and progress tracking ensures that everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.

To further support her team's growth, Emily introduced regular training sessions and development opportunities that were aligned with the team’s goals and individual career aspirations. This not only helped in skill enhancement but also showed her commitment to her team's success.

Transitioning from a team member to a team leader is a significant change, one that requires careful handling of relationships and effective management strategies. By fostering a supportive and inclusive environment, maintaining clear communication, and utilizing performance management tools, new leaders like Emily can ensure a smooth transition and sustained team success.


Fri 17 May 2024
The state of California has proposed new legislation that will discourage managers and supervisors from contacting their employees outside of contract work hours. If enacted, this legislation could significantly impact modern work expectations in California and potentially across the country. 

Setting work boundaries is crucial for individuals to avoid burn-out and keep a healthy work-life balance. However, it is challenging for professionals to set these boundaries with their supervisors and bosses when each party has a different understanding of the expectations. A legal obligation to honor contract hours as the only available hours for an individual will set a clear boundary, beneficial to promoting balance for both direct reports and executives. 

When managers stay past normal work hours and email, chat, or contact others on their team they send implicit communication that those receiving the communication should be working as well. Even if a superior says they do not expect overtime, their sending of emails or messages implies to others that they should be working as well. Getting a late-night email from a boss can be stressful and lead to overworking and burnout of professionals across all levels. Limiting these communications will enable individuals to truly log off at the end of the day and step away from work. 

The California law is based on a concept called “right to disconnect.” Right to disconnect means that once an employee is outside of explicitly stated contract hours, they have no obligation to respond to any communication unless related to an emergency or schedule change within the next 24 hours. Several countries around the world have adopted this mentality working to promote work-life balance and mental health, France, Canada, Portugal and others work to support their citizens (CNBC).

Nevertheless, monitoring employee contact outside of contract hours is a challenging task and will likely take weeks or months for the turnaround in the government to report a complaint to eventually charge a fine to the individual in violation. To better promote work-life balance in this sphere, managers and leaders should consider new ways to limit work to work hours. For example, managers should set clear, explicit team expectations for work and communication habits. Additionally, managers and leaders should be considerate in utilizing their team's preferences and experiences to create a team norm. 

To further promote work-life balance, managers should consider “transition time” to and from work that will optimize efficiency and energy within a team. Transition time is a short amount of time in between different parts of a person's day that allows a small break to reflect and prepare to move forward while leaving the stress from the previous focus behind. Transition time helps mitigate stress and burnout and aids in creating feelings of control and preparedness. Many individuals may have transition time on a train or in a car during a commute. Through the COVID-19 pandemic transition to online work, many individuals lost their transition time between work and home life changing professionals' ability to recharge and prepare for the next phase of their day. 

Although it is sometimes challenging for managers to limit work contact, managers should be deliberate in promoting transition time. When a team member has adequate time to mentally prepare for their day, they will have higher energy and show increased efficiency while at work. On the other hand, without transition time, individuals may come into work feeling disorganized or unprepared, leading to a disheveled and inefficient work day. Once managers have set clear expectations with their team, they may focus on promoting autonomy for their team's growth and learning. 

Moving forward, promoting transition time for remote or hybrid employees is a great tool for improving focus and preparedness in the workplace along with prioritizing mental health and work-life balance. Transition time is a critical component of a person's day that encourages well-being and productivity. Here are 3 tips for individuals trying to find transition time to cultivate healthy habits and optimize performance. 

  1. Make Lists
Transition time can appear in all different mediums. For example, some individuals may like to sit and listen to music or meditate. To be effective in using transition time, individuals should consider making lists to prioritize what items need to be handled in a day in which order. For example, an individual may get to work and create their work to-do list for the day and after work, they could do the same thing for their home life. Or, an individual could use transition time every day after work to create their to-do list for the next day. Either way, lists are a great tool for transition time to focus on activities and priorities. Knowing the order of tasks, time constraints and priorities allows for increased productivity and efficiencies throughout the day. 

2. Recap Activities
Transition time could be a moment of reflection or a recap of big events. For example, if an individual is nervous about a meeting, they may take time before to prepare their resources and a moment after to reflect and recap the meeting. Using transition time in between different focuses enables individuals to leave the stress from the first task behind and move into the next task energized and prepared. 

3. Set Boundaries
As discussed above, after-hours communication and messages from bosses can be a significant stressor in an individual's personal life. Using communication boundaries and set expectations can add to the impact of transition time. If an individual logs off for the work day at the end of contract hours and takes a moment to reflect and prepare for the next day but is later contacted by their boss, the value of their transition time is lost. Transition time works best when individuals are shifting from one focus to another, but if after-hours communication is occurring, this deteriorates the benefit of transition time for the direct report who is now asked to shift back to work mode. 

In working to prioritize mental health, work-life balance, and boundaries in the workplace, it is crucial for direct reports and their superiors to fully understand the mental impact of burnout and its causes. Managers who promote balance and well-being for their employees will see increased productivity and focus within their teams. 


Fri 28 June 2024
Welcoming new hires into company culture is an integral part of sustaining a productive workplace environment. Through integrating new hires into organizational norms, values, and expectations, the workplace culture built by today's leaders is carried into future generations of professionals. The process of cultural integration promotes continuity and bolsters growth within an organization. 

However, new hires face challenges when the company culture is not accurately communicated to them. A misrepresentation of a firm's work culture can create an alarming environment for new team members. Effectively communicating and integrating new hires into firm culture is paramount for long-term success and organizational commitment. Ensuring that each member of a team embodies the groups culture will testify to the importance of upholding a positive work environment. Furthermore, when leaders emphasize the value of firm culture, their direct reports will follow suit in working to continuously build and integrate company culture. 

Additionally, it is crucial for company professionals to authentically demonstrate workplace culture. Although challenging for many, it is necessary to display culture in an authentic manner rather than creating a company profile that is not necessarily an accurate representation. Integrating new hires into a developing culture can be a challenging task, here are 7 tips leaders should consider to streamline new hires into company culture: 

  1. Structured Onboarding Processes
Through structured onboarding processes, new hires can better grasp company culture, group norms, and expectations. In structured onboarding, companies will have planned timelines and content to share with incoming professionals. On their first day, a new hire may receive a training timeline, a list of their expected role competencies, and human resources information. Pieces of training in onboarding could include a basic skill overview, speeches from human resources, or even professionalism training. After receiving this information, individuals in a structured onboarding process will have a firm lead training to slowly walk through different procedures and office norms to help new members better grasp the company culture. Discussing company expectations and benefits is a great way to exhibit a company-wide culture or initiative. 

2. Buddy or Mentor Pairings
In addition to helping train individuals, buddy or mentor pairings serve as a fantastic tool to communicate a company's norms. Suppose a new hire mentor is outgoing and willing to answer any questions. In that case, this experience will provide a different understanding of culture for new hires compared to a mentor who is closed off and not very easy to communicate with. Additionally, mentors aid in demonstrating company culture by telling stories and building genuine connections that make someone new feel welcomed in a new and intimidating environment. 

3. Social Events
Company-wide orchestrated social events can be a great way to help demonstrate workplace culture and facilitate connections. Through out-of-office social events, individuals tend to come out of their shells, talk to new colleagues, and build friendships. Social events can display company culture through professionals enjoying discussing with their colleagues and spending time as a group whereas, without these opportunities to openly converse, new hires tend to feel isolated. 

Social events enable employees to connect with each other beyond their responsibilities within an office. Through social events, new employees are able to openly discuss and learn from professionals within the firm who will help them transition into their new roles. By providing opportunities for new hires to connect with their colleagues, organizational culture will strengthen, a benefit to both employees and the company. 

4. Live the Culture
Many companies' culture and their advertised culture do not align. Every employer markets themselves to have great working environments and cultures yet, only some actually fulfill these claims. Ensuring that all employees embody the company culture throughout the workday is paramount to effectively integrating new employees into the firm culture. New employees observing the attitudes and behaviors of professionals embodying the values of firm culture is an outstanding method to foster informal learning of both technical and interpersonal expectations. 

5. Cross Team Collaboration
Cross-team collaboration is a great way for firms to showcase a company-wide culture. Individuals willing to discuss, collaborate, and learn from each other create a welcoming culture that supports new hires through stages of onboarding and learning. Lack of cross-team collaboration can leave new hires both lacking education in certain subject matters and isolated from other groups within the company. To best encourage new hires to integrate, managers should consider assigning projects that will move them slightly out of their comfort zone, encouraging meeting new individuals in building connections. 

6. Open Communication
Open communication is crucial to creating a harmonious alignment of new hires' values and norms within a group. Through open communication, company leaders are enabled to share their expectations and experiences that shape the work environment. Additionally, in a positive work environment, open communication encourages learning, growth, and embracing mistakes. 

Through open communication, leaders are able to effectively set clear expectations and establish cultural norms from the start of a new hire's career at a firm. Furthermore, open communication promotes psychological safety within the workplace, creating an environment that promotes discussion, asking questions and learning from feedback. 

7. Aligned Opportunities
When company opportunities promote firm initiatives, new employees can clearly understand the culture within the workplace. Aligned opportunities for learning and growth convey the value of a long-term, sustainable, company culture. Additionally, cultural immersion through training opportunities generally involves exposure to executives within a firm along with further explanations of how each individual may contribute to firm culture.  

Changing workplace behavior requires a sustained effort and is a daunting task. Leaders must prioritize their values and find creative methods to create an environment where employees embrace change in the workplace. 

Many leaders face challenges in shifting from negative or counterproductive workplace habits to favorable workplace practices. Once a group or team has routined unfavorable work habits, it is significantly more challenging to pivot behavior.  As always, it is essential to be patient in orchestrating workplace activities and changes, specifically in changing culture. Leaders should be prepared to readjust and pivot their efforts based on employee receptiveness. Nevertheless, if leaders remain diligent and dedicated to promoting positive change, they will inspire confidence through cultural changes. 


Fri 12 July 2024
Through serving as a leader of an executive mastermind group, advisors broaden their industry knowledge and gain paramount perspectives that enable them to provide experienced guidance to members of their coaching groups. By learning from surrounding perspectives, executive coaches can provide first-rate, credible advice built on a wide range of experiences.  
 
To grow a business as an executive coach, it is imperative that professionals effectively establish trust and credibility. Demonstrating credibility as a potential coach can be daunting because credibility is dependent on individuals varying judgments and interpretations. 
 
To develop business based on experience, professionals should work to understand the components that construct others' perceptions of an individual's credibility. Credibility is proposed to be composed of three components- competence, character, and compassion.  
 
Competence 
Professionals generally establish competence through explicit knowledge and understanding of technical topics. In the workplace, competence is generally measured through accuracy and the ability to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the subject matter relevant to an individual's role. In forming relationships with prospective participants, appropriately demonstrating competence can be challenging. Individuals are quick to judge and can be easily offended by overbearing or “know-it-all-all” behaviors. Executive coaches must rely on their own past experiences or past coaching experiences to establish their expertise in a specific subject matter when connecting with a potential client.  
 
Character 
Individuals present character by exhibiting their moral compass.  In the workplace, individuals are given opportunities to demonstrate their character in situations of ethical dilemmas. When engaging with a prospective client, coaches should be intentional in building a relationship and effectively pivoting coaching styles to best fit each individual. In speaking to potential clients, executive coaches can show character through honesty, respectfulness, and accountability. However, coaches must be deliberate in their decision-making because a poor impression of character is extremely difficult to reverse. 
 
Compassion 
Compassion is commonly demonstrated through empathy, understanding, and general concern for others. For executive coaches working to grow their businesses, compassion is a vital element to success. In the inherently interpersonal relationship of coaching, it is crucial for coaches to demonstrate compassion in order to grow their business. Individuals seeking guidance and advice value authenticity and genuine interest from their advisors. In the workplace, compassion can be shown through flexibility and understanding or overall care for colleagues. Executive coaches have the responsibility of expressing compassion and support as participants navigate unfamiliar circumstances and problems.  
 
To better explain the benefits of executive coaching experience and the impact of credibility, consider Lori. Lori recently transitioned out of her industry position to follow her passion for coaching. Lori has started an executive mastermind group and leads the group with guidance and structure from Ambition in Motion’s executive coaching licensing opportunities. Through leading her own executive mastermind group and serving as a coach for professionals across industries, Lori has significantly broadened her understanding and experience, enabling her to become a better coach.  
 
To best elaborate on the importance of experience in building business, here are 3 potential streams from which Lori could grow her business and how varying relationships will impact her credibility as an executive coach: 
 
1- Existing Connections 
Lori’s business as an executive coach may grow from existing relationships such as members of her old firm, college classmates, or industry peers she has connected with over her career. Through these existing relationships, Lori’s authority and experience are likely recognized so Lori does not need to establish herself but must work to maintain the credible reputation she has developed. Additionally, in an existing connection, trust has likely been built between Lori and the client, which is a crucial part of establishing a productive coaching relationship and can be a challenging relationship to develop. 
 
2- Referrals  
A common source of new clients for businesses are referrals from peers or colleagues. When engaging with a referred potential client, Lori likely has the advantage of good praise from their mutual connection that referred the prospective client. However, Lori is still responsible for establishing her authority relevant to the industry and circumstances of the potential client. In the circumstance of a referral, Lori has the benefit of a connection that speaks to her character and compassion so, Lori should focus on establishing her competence in the individuals industry to best build her credibility. In addition to building credibility, Lori should focus on establishing a trusting relationship to best advise new participants. 
 
3- Cold Clients  
Cold clients are clients that do not have any mutual connection or referral to a business. Although daunting to most professionals, finding new clients without a previous connection is a crucial component of growing a business. In interacting with a new potential client, the onus is on Lori to establish all three aspects of her credibility and build trust. In the instance of connecting with a new potential client, Lori should focus on communicating the interpersonal-focused aspects (compassion and character) to build trust. Building business through this type of prospect may be challenging because it takes time to develop the trust that is paramount to a successful coaching relationship. Once Lori has established a connection with a prospective client, she can shift to demonstrating her competence in coaching the individual within a specific role or industry.  

In guiding members through new circumstances and experiences, executive coaches build better businesses based on expertise and diverse perspectives. Through providing advice and guidance to their clients, coaches continuously develop their skills and competence, enabling them to grow their businesses. The development of executive coaches and their businesses is exponential; through serving one client, executive coaches are able to learn new ideas and techniques that will improve the guidance given to other members.  
 
Executive coaching requires patience and business development can be a challenging process. However, serving as an executive coach builds experience that continuously improves credibility. From gaining new perspectives, executive coaches can apply diverse approaches to problem-solving in turn, expanding their expertise and business. 


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