"effective management"

Wed 29 January 2020
If intimate relationships have Love Languages, should we also have Love Languages in our management style?

To rephrase that question, are there certain management incentives that motivate some employees that don’t motivate other employees?

If so, then we shouldn’t have the same management incentives for every employee, right?

For example, if I know a direct report is really motivated by professional advancement, extending her vacation days wouldn’t be optimally motivating to her because her goal is professional advancement. A better incentive might be to provide her with the opportunity to gain a new credential or learn a new skill.

Here are 3 keys you can leverage to encourage your team properly.

Understand your Direct Reports’ work motivations

Understanding your direct reports’ work motivations is critical. If you take time to identify what their goals are, you can work on brainstorming and identifying incentives that would motivate them. If you are struggling to identify your direct reports’ work motivations, you can try using Ambition In Motion’s Work Orientation Assessment – https://ambition-in-motion.com/companies.

Be willing to alter and change your management style based on the individual

Having a one-size-fits-all management philosophy does not work. What it will do is surround you with other people that are just like you. This lack of diversity will create blind spots and turn away potentially great collaborators to your team. If you are willing to alter your management style, you can allow your direct reports to thrive and grow in the way that motivates them.

Encourage an open and honest dialogue to gain feedback on the style you have implemented

Radical candor is critical to knowing if what you are doing is working. If your direct reports fear you or your response to their honesty…they won’t be honest with you. If you can’t have honest feedback, you will have no idea if what you are doing is working and you will likely revert to old, bad habits.

Growing the engagement and the productivity of your team is not easy, but it is possible. If you are willing to understand what motivates your team, act on it, and accept feedback, you will be well on your way to achieving great outcomes.

If you are interested in learning more about research on mentor relationships for companies, check out https://ambition-in-motion.com/companies.

Thu 20 August 2020
As a business leader, you are expected to be many things, but being a mind reader is not in your job description. You are not expected to know what is going on with your people at all times of the day and what’s going on in their heads from day-to-day.

But you are expected to have at least some sense of what your people are going through and how they are generally feeling about it. When you are out of touch and out of sync with your team, you risk losing your best people and not having any clue as to why or how you could have fixed things.

You may think to yourself “I know what is going on with my team and don’t need any help with this.”

The data suggests that this is most likely not true.

My team and I at Ambition In Motion facilitate mentor programs for companies and organizations to help improve their team’s communication. One of the key findings we have discovered is that 68% of engaged employees believe that there are communication barriers between themselves and other employees or departments at work – this issue affects everyone, including senior leaders and managers, and there are even greater reports of communication barriers from disengaged employees.

The point is this: if you are a senior leader at a company or a business owner, look around at the people you work with. Which of them do you think are engaged versus disengaged? The answer may surprise you.

If you think everyone is engaged, the chances are that you are mistaken (unless it is a one-person business). If you know people are disengaged and do nothing about increasing engagement, why risk letting those disengaged feelings grow stronger?

The data from Gallup clearly shows that disengaged employees are half as productive compared to engaged employees. That’s doubling your losses on lost time. Shoot, even if you increase engagement by a small amount, that could lead to a 20% increase in productivity from those that are disengaged.

This article is not meant to point out how blind you are in terms of your people. But it is meant to open your eyes a little bit and showcase one low-cost high-reward action you can begin doing today that will help you avoid your best people leaving.

And by the way, I am not immune to these mistakes either. I had to learn these lessons the hard way.

To showcase this, I will share the story of the first full-time hire I made. The first full-time hire I made was a brilliant developer who was getting his PhD in complex systems. He was the president of the technology entrepreneurship club at his university, and he and I had a prior relationship before I hired him. He also came highly recommended by multiple professors and previous employers. In short, he was a fantastic addition to the team. 

He also told me that he was leaving his PhD program because he didn’t like his advisor and wanted to join a startup (like Ambition In Motion).

The hire seemed like a perfect fit and when we first started, we made some incredible progress on our technology.  

Things were going smoothly until about 6 months in. I was noticing that he was getting less work done, so I asked him about it. He acknowledged my request and said that he would improve and so I took his word at face value instead of digging deeper. 

What he didn’t tell me was that he didn’t actually end up leaving his PhD program. He had a change of heart and didn’t want to let me down by telling me. So he held it back thinking that he could manage both at the same time.  

Eventually, we had a discussion and he told me. Fortunately, he recommended a friend that was helping with the code and we brought him on to pick up my original developer’s lost production.

My issue was that I had no idea what was going on with my lead developer. I initially felt betrayed; it just hurt a bit knowing that he didn’t feel comfortable sharing this big decision with me. If you are a seasoned executive, you might think that it was naive of me to not require a formal letter indicating he had left his PhD program. That might have alleviated that issue, but it also would have completely warped the trust we were developing at the beginning of the relationship. And more likely than not, another issue would have come up down the line and a similar result would have occurred.

I eventually realized it was my fault. Not that I didn’t ask my original developer for a formal letter declaring he was fully on-board, but that I never asked about him and what was going on with his world. And because I didn’t ask about him, we had fewer opportunities for him to dig deeper with me. We can point fingers and try to allocate responsibility all we want, but we can only control our own actions here and I should have done more.

After facilitating thousands of mentoring relationships, I have learned that the key to building trust is vulnerability and I believe that this holds true in work relationships as well.

When I was onboarding this new developer, I decided to do something different. At the end of all of our weekly one-on-one meetings, I schedule 10 minutes for vulnerability where both of us share something that is making us feel vulnerable that week. 

The result: we have been working together for over 2.5 years and have an incredible relationship. As a startup, we have made huge pivots, performed massive rewrites on our code, adapted our business model, and overall have really gone through some stressful situations. But, in the end, I still feel extremely in-tune with what is going on with his world and I think he feels extremely in-tune with what is going on with mine. Oh, and on a quick final note, we’ve never met in-person. 

I schedule these vulnerability exercises with everyone on my team during our one on one meetings, and so far, I haven’t had anyone quit since I started doing them (knock on wood!). However, I have had many hard conversations with people on my team and helped brainstorm solutions for tough problems so my team can live the life they want to live while also getting the work they need to get done accomplished. 

Prior to scheduling these vulnerability exercises, I rarely had these kinds of hard conversations. And that led to everyone on my team pretty much just telling me what they thought I wanted to hear. That works right up until they quit and I was left questioning what went wrong.

I am not saying I know everything about managing people, but I can definitely say that scheduling time for vulnerability in one on one meetings has had a massive impact on retention and productivity of my team. 

You may think to yourself that this can’t scale. And for you, it can’t. But if you integrate this technique across your whole team during their own meetings, it absolutely can. You can facilitate horizontal mentoring relationships between your employees and they can practice this technique in their one on one meetings. However, for this to happen, you must set the tone at the top and be willing to be vulnerable yourself.

Overall, if you want to avoid your best people leaving, be vulnerable with them and encourage them to be vulnerable with you. If you don’t know what’s going on with your team, you are missing opportunities to build deep, meaningful, and productive relationships.

Tue 26 April 2022
As a manager, it is imperative to maintain a constant stream of communication with direct reports. However, the phrase “information is a two-way street” comes to mind very quickly upon hearing that. A manager not only needs to communicate with employees but also needs to be equally open to communication. However, they can’t be everywhere or know everything. That’s where the term “managing up” comes into play.

Managing up is the act of communicating your work goals to your manager and clarifying your expectations from them of you so you can deliver (and potentially exceed) their expectations. However, it can be much more than that as well. Managing up, similar to a performance review, is a system of actions, or a process. It begins with anticipation, followed by clear communication, into execution. 

1.       Building rapport with your manager
The first step in managing up is to build a successful rapport with not only your coworkers but also your supervisor. Having a good rapport doesn’t necessarily mean emotional closeness or friendship. It can definitely mean that, but at large, should refer to the faith that you and your colleagues and supervisors have in each other. Understanding what everyone’s capabilities are is vital to a proper working relationship.
2.       Setting expectations for your manager
The second step in managing up is planning task completion. This can refer to a project deadline or task coordination. Once this is dealt with properly, anticipating potential problems is key. For example, let’s look at John, who has been assigned a project to create a customer database by his manager. John was able to structure and design the database properly with no hiccups whatsoever. However, when it came time to populate the database or fill the database with data, he realized that he had not been given the customer data by his manager. While yes, part of this responsibility does fall on the manager for not giving John any of the data, John could’ve also checked to see if he had the data prior to the implementation date. This is where managing up can come into play. If John had anticipated that he would need to upload all of this data into his database and that his manager had not given him this, he could’ve scheduled a 1-on-1 with his manager to discuss the problem, and gain access to the data, bypassing the problem entirely.

The key concept to understand is that managers aren’t perfect. They do not know everything, and often have several people and tasks to manage. Similar to how a probationary period is utilized by employers to evaluate potential employees and vice versa, managers oversee employees and employees evaluate managers. It is just as important for employees to give feedback as it is for them to receive feedback. Through this critical feedback, a manager can learn what problems to avoid in the future, how to better connect with an employee, as well as improve employee performance. Understanding what a manager’s priorities and goals are not only helps them in completing these tasks but also helps you gain recognition and meet with more success.  

Properly managing up can lead to increased accountability 

A manager who is extremely mentally taxed on high amounts of work tend to not be able to be as attentive as responsive to their direct reports compared to when they have the time to focus. However, if you as an employee are extremely attentive, which is indicated through your work as well as the results of your one-on-ones, it can free up some time and mental energy for your manager, which leads to a healthier and more fluid atmosphere in the workplace. 

We’ve gone on to mention one-on-ones several times but have not really gone into explicit detail on what all this entails. This meeting can go both ways, with you as an employee constructively criticizing what your manager does, and vice versa.  Important questions to ask in these meetings include some of the following: 

·         What does success mean to you? 
·         Or, what does success mean in terms of the team? 
·         Talk about how you best work, as well as what methods work well for your team or boss.  

Observe how your manager listens to what you have to say, and adapt a little. For example, I have had a boss in the past who upon hearing a problem, raced to try to think up a solution without listening to what I had to say regarding the problem. Therefore, I switched the order by stating the solution before defining the problem. Similar tactics can prove to be very helpful in these meetings. 

Managing up can also have several employee prospect benefits. Upper management will recognize and appreciate when an employee is able to give constructive feedback and fix problems before they even happen. These traits are shared by not only the best employees but also effective managers. This can lead to promotions, as well as raises, and other benefits, such as increased trust in the workplace, as well as a better reputation. 

In a poll conducted at Stride, which is an engineering firm- “When leaders up on the chain of command are given the gift of choice via communication, they tend to be more trusting.” 

This basic communication of talking to your manager can have truly powerful repercussions and benefits.                 

Managing up can be extremely difficult at first, so start by simply building a rapport and properly communicating with your peers and superiors. As long as you start with that, you are well on a path to success!

Tue 10 May 2022
As a manager, it is extremely important to understand what type of workers or direct reports you have.  Each person has a unique archetype that they tend to fit into. These don’t necessarily refer to how they are motivated, which is also another important aspect of your direct reports to keep track of. There are six archetypes that are commonly identified. 

What are the archetypes of workers?

In 2022, Forbes and Bain & Company worked together to determine how to organize workers and what characteristics each of these groups would have in common. Similar to the ubiquitous Enneagram tests or Myer Briggs tests, an aptitude test will suffice to test which group an individual fits into. The six most commonly identified archetypes are operators, givers, artisans, explorers, strivers, and pioneers. Each one of these groups has a uniquely defining trait, along with a few advantages and disadvantages.

Operators are individuals who are not really work-oriented. In the culinary world, there is a saying that there are two types of people. Those who eat to live, and those who live to eat. Operators are much closer to the former. They understand that there is more than work, and primarily work to be able to achieve other goals. Operators are excellent team players due to them not seeking recognition with every move they make and are extremely dependable. Conversely, they can lack proactivity, or will not take initiative frequently. According to Forbes, 23% of the working class in the United States are operators. This type of individual tends to align with having Job Work Orientation.

Givers are the exact opposite of the operators. They are highly results-oriented.  These individuals are often selfless and feel rewarded by making an impact in their organization or by helping others. They are a little rarer than operators, making up about 20% of the American workforce. You will often find these workers in service positions, such as in hospitality, customer relations, or even human resources. Their selflessness makes them great team players, but the amount of work they may take on could be impractical and can lead to burnout. This type of individual tends to align with having a Calling Work Orientation.

Artisans are even rarer than both operators and givers. They make up 15% of the workforce in the United States. These individuals are extremely common in fields requiring meticulousness and precision, such as in many STEM-related fields. The key identifier of an artisan is someone who is always pursuing some form of mastery in their field or a way to improve something at all times. They can be relied on to solve some of the hardest challenges out there but can get lost in the minute details and may have trouble keeping final goals in focus. They can also be aloof. Similar to givers, artisans fall into the dangers of burnout due to their need to perfect any work that they put out.  Artisans are especially common within the computer science industry, in positions such as developers or consultants. 

Explorers make up a tenth of the workforce and are frequently overlooked in favor of Operators or Artisans. Explorers typically seek out excitement and variety from work and are excellent multitaskers. However, they are not the best at finishing individual tasks. They are versatile, either being excellent team players, as well as good individual workers. Resourcefulness is a quality any explorer will have, along with a strong sense of individuality. The fashion industry is filled with explorers, with some of note being Levi Jeans and the North Face. At the same time, there are brands that allow creativity such as Starbucks which also welcomes explorers. 

Strivers can make some of the best managers in the world. Making up about a fifth of the workforce, these powerful workers are highly competitive and set high standards for themselves and their coworkers. In any successful team, you will find a striver at the forefront.  They are less risk-tolerant and are much more comfortable taking actions that are much more likely to yield success. However, having multiple strivers can lead to disaster due to their urge to be at the front of whatever project is ongoing. While they are disciplined, their competitiveness can be unproductive or worse, disruptive, in a team environment. Culinary environments such as Michelin star-rated restaurants are frequently run by strivers, such as Gordon Ramsay. This type of individual tends to align with having a Career Work Orientation.

Finally, are the rarest of the archetypes- the Pioneer, making up 8% of the workforce. These individuals frequently have a vision in mind and will stop at no end to achieve these goals. Pioneers are strong-minded and will do their best to create lasting change. However, they are uncompromising and may have trouble seeing anything other than their own view.  Many entrepreneurs are pioneers, along with activists. In today’s world, Greta Thunberg is known as a pioneer, with her strict views on climate change and global activism. She is seen as a leader throughout the world of sustainability but is often thought of as harsh due to her strict views.

Why do these archetypes matter?

                These archetypes are important to track due to the appeal of creating a cohesive team, as well as understanding what tasks are best assigned to which worker. For example, giving something that is extremely meticulous to a giver will end in success, but won’t necessarily be the best for their mental health, since they may try to do too much and burn out. Similarly, giving a task that is a gamble to a striver is a contradiction of what they will naturally want to do, and will not be the best possible task for them. 

In baseball, coaches frequently tell players to “play their natural game”, meaning that they should do what feels comfortable for them. In this case, you’re the coach. How will you choose to give tasks to your workers? By enabling them to do what they do best. 

Software such as AIM insights will be invaluable in this case by allowing you to understand your employees on a much better level. By using task completion rates and success rates, you can deduce what archetype of worker your employee fits in, and then assign better fitting tasks going forth. Archetypes will help you understand your workers, give better tasks, and get better results. 

Tue 7 June 2022
As a manager, it is particularly important to understand the value of DEI, also known as Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion.  This is especially highlighted in June, which is known as LGBTQIA+ Pride month. 

During this time, it is extremely common and almost expected that companies do something to acknowledge gay diversity, often combined with public statements, image management, as well as events. However, during the other 11 months out of the year, it is often that these very same companies fail to be as inclusive as they claim to be. Some even refer to this as “Performative Activism.” While LGBTQIA+ pride often falls victim to this act, performative activism can also include racial diversity, as well as gender diversity. 

The key question to ask is, how can managers foster diversity, while at the same time avoiding committing performative activism?

Understanding Your Biases as a Manager

                Bias doesn’t always manifest itself in terms of outright action. According to the Open Society Foundation, “Implicit bias occurs when someone consciously rejects stereotypes and supports anti-discrimination efforts but also holds negative associations in his/her mind unconsciously.” In other words, this bias is not described by outright action, but rather by microaggressions. More than 85% of all Americans consider themselves to be unprejudiced, but in actuality, the majority of United States Citizens hold some degree of implicit bias (Open Society Foundation). 

                Implicit bias is hard to spot easily, but it is often shown through microaggressions or actions that are driven by subtle or unintentional discrimination. 

Some examples of this are how judges have been found to grant longer sentences for darker-skinned defendants than fairer-skinned defendants. 

Lesser managers have been shown to not invite certain demographics in for job interviews or to not give the best performance reviews. 

Implicit Bias can often even be seen in the medical field. A growing issue within recent culture is that women have had to advocate for themselves when in severe pain. Doctors have been more likely to brush off female pain and chalk it up to menstrual pains. 

                With all of this in mind, avoiding implicit bias is trickier than you think. A great way to start is to take the Project Implicit Quiz. This is a test designed by Harvard, Yale, Washington, and Virginia researchers. This survey can help show implicit attitudes that you may not have been aware of at first either. 

An example of this would be how you may believe that men and women should both be prominent in the scientific world, but at the same time, commonly associate men with science over women. 

After taking this assessment, it is a great idea to review your actions and figure out the source of them. Did your second-in-command receive his promotion because of his merit, or because he looked like you? When making a decision on who to terminate out of two direct reports, what was the deciding factor? 

Allyship as a manager

                Understanding how to make the office the safest place for all of your workers can make a difference in their lives, as well as help them feel safe and understood. Once again, in the effort to avoid performative activism, it is important to truly believe in what you are doing and make an effort to stand by what you preach. While this could start by posting signage expressing support for certain groups, there are other ways to show support.  

Speaking of bias once again, try to figure out what biases may be in your company. The most common areas that biases tend to be within a company are hiring, promotions, giving raises, and delegating tasks. Self-analyzing this bias can help you see where you can improve as a company.  

                Additional structure improvements can also add a lot to your company’s success. A standardized interview process, with the same questions, asked to applicants regardless of gender, status, race, or any other colors, can help find you the best candidates for the job. Blind application processes can also be successful. If you’ve ever seen the Voice, a hit TV music reality show, you’ll notice that the judges start a performance with their back to the auditionees. This allows them to disregard gender, race, and anything else about the applicants. 

In the same way, if you can remove information about the applicant that is extraneous to their qualifications, you can minimize unconscious bias in the hiring process.

Business management software such as AIM Insights can be very handy in your decision-making as a manager. By removing any sentiment from this process, and solely relying on data, you can make the best decisions on who to promote. If you notice your management is staffed by a certain type of person, unconscious biases may be in play. Using the data, and that alone can help you determine who is the best person for a job. 

                Holding your employees accountable is one other way that you can show your allyship. Actions speak much louder than words. If you notice that the best performance reviews are all going towards a certain demographic, it may be time to review the process, as well as to have a one-on-one with each of the reviewers. Being attentive to what is being said in the workplace is important too! While it is important to let Human Resources do what they do best, you as a manager can set the tone for how your employees interact with each other. Lead by example! Avoid using targeted language, and do your best to make others welcome. 

In an elevated position, you are at the forefront of what your employees deem appropriate and inappropriate.  

                Eliminating bias and opening your company up to diversity can be challenging at first. But keeping an open mind, being self-reflective, and leading can set you up for success. The harder you look at yourself, the better the results will eventually be. The best things are never easily acquired, so be prepared for difficulty. Best of luck!

Mon 13 June 2022
A good office is diverse in many ways, and a good manager has picked his staff with a sense of diversity in mind (or if the team was inherited, ideally diversity was considered when picking the team members). Race, Sex, Creed, Religion, and Work Orientation are all important aspects to keep in mind. However, one aspect of employees that is often understated is age.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics department, 34.9% of the working population is below the age of 30. With this age comes equally diverse amounts of experience. An effective workplace will have employees of vastly differing ages, from high-school-age interns, all the way to individuals contemplating retirement.   

Therefore, the key question that you may ask is, “how can I as a manager foster growth for entry-level employees and help them contribute regardless of their lack of experience?” The answers to this question are far simpler than you think.

Why are Younger employees so useful?

Younger and entry-level employees bring a lot to any company they work for. Firstly, entry-level positions pay less than more senior positions. Please recognize that less pay typically equates to fewer responsibilities. It is perfectly acceptable to expect a certain amount of work from your younger employees, but you should expect more work from your senior employees. 

Entry-level workers are also a clean slate for the most part. A very frequent issue while hiring is encountering certain philosophies or ingrained ideas. For example, if I had to hire for a data management job between John, who has 1 year of experience, but uses cloud-based storage, and Dave, who has over 20 years of experience and uses physical hard drives, I’d probably pick John. Industries are always adapting and evolving, and stagnancy can be harmful.

Finally, what entry-level workers lack in experience, they can make it up in enthusiasm and engagement. They are often willing to put in extra time to ensure the quality of their work and will be in constant communication with you and their coworkers to be the best they can be.

What should a manager teach newer direct reports?

Skills that a manager can best impart to a new direct report are primarily soft skills. Direct reports are often very knowledgeable about the topic or tasks that they have been assigned but may lack office etiquette or may also have trouble understanding workplace dynamics.

                 When you were an entry-level worker, what did you struggle with? According to Glassdoor, many entry-level positions are client-facing, and often also require intra-office communication. What tools of the trade do you use to pacify angry clients? How do you coordinate a meeting with your entire team? How did you learn to delegate all of the tasks your bosses gave you?

                Teach them about how to properly communicate with your coworkers. Should they email someone directly, or would it be better for them to call a secretary? How do they need to request time off? Does it have to go through Human Resources? Through a direct manager? Does their team need to know? All of these answers just went through your head in the blink of an eye. Entry-level workers don’t have those answers yet. 

                In addition to this, there are often tricks that you use in your daily work that not everyone has the knowledge to be able to utilize. Imagine the following scenario. Microsoft Excel has a feature where users can fill a cell and its contents down a column or in a row. This is especially useful in relation to formulas and expressions utilizing other cells since it can allow you to finish an entire table in minutes. 

                However, if a user were to manually enter data into every cell, it could take drastically longer. Simply teaching a worker this small trick could make their work more efficient and could allow them to work on other tasks. 

                Remember that your experience is a privilege that not everyone has been afforded yet. Use it to help the person who may one day help others down the line as well. 

Why should you help foster these younger workers?

1.       It’s the right thing to do. When you entered the workplace, I’m sure you had troubles at some point and had some form of mentorship. Without that initial leg up, how else do you think you succeeded in the workplace?
2.       Younger workers may often have a few ideas that in spite of their experience can be extremely valuable. Have you ever heard the saying “The way to solve an impossible task is to give it to someone that doesn’t know its impossible?” 

                The same concept can apply to these entry-level workers.  Due to the fact that they haven’t been with your company for a long time, they may approach problems in a different way than your coworkers that you may have been with longer. As a result, you then have a different perspective that can be very helpful.

3.       You need to realize that you and your coworkers will not be around forever. New opportunities arise, retirement beckons, and situations occur. Entry-level employees can be developed into senior positions, and the improvement in their skills can only help the company. 

                All in all, younger workers can be a tremendous boon to your company, but only if you can properly nurture them. Set them up almost like a sapling. Continue to help them, and eventually, they will grow into an asset that will change the way your company thrives. 

Even if they don’t stick around, be a reference for them. Let them use the experience that you have given them to help more and more people, and keep the training chain going. It will only help.

Wed 22 June 2022
You can’t ignore employee resignations, although I would prefer to call them employee realignments. In the beginning, it looked like employees were leaving the workforce to retire early or join the gig economy (think Uber drivers, virtual assistants, etc.) and be their own boss. 
Today we know that unemployment is down, and employees aren’t leaving their jobs to altogether quit working. They are just leaving their current jobs for better jobs. 
This is employee realignment of the workforce, not true resignation from the workforce, and there are many reasons some companies can’t seem to hold onto their best people.
Oftentimes, there is a lack of self-awareness amongst managers and leaders that creates unhealthy patterns in the workplace and leads top employees to quit. 
To provide your employees with just and equal opportunities in your business, you must understand the potential for unethical workplace behaviors and the importance of avoiding them as a leader. 
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #1: Not recognizing that the employee is actually the primary customer. 
What’s happening on the inside of an organization is felt on the outside by customers. That means you start your customer service and CX efforts internally. 
Employees should be treated, cared for, managed, and responded to in a way that is consistent with what the company wants to see mirrored in their customers.
In other words, treat employees as if they are customers. Anything less is inconsistent and will erode your efforts to provide a good customer experience. 
And just as customers want to trust the companies they do business with, employees want to trust the companies (and people) they work for. When employees trust their leadership, are treated fairly, and are recognized for their good work, they will be working for the company, not just the paycheck.
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #2: The failure to recognize the difference between leadership and management. 
Management and leadership are not the same. Managers have to make people follow, but leaders make people want to follow.
Ultimately, leadership creates the culture of the company. 
Managers ensure compliance with company policies, processes, and other operational aspects to ensure continued business as usual. 
Once leaders understand the difference between management and leadership, they stand a better chance of getting employees to put forth their best effort, especially when it comes to taking care of customers.
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #3: The failure to recognize and end nepotism in the workplace.
Instances of nepotism create an unhealthy work environment wherein employees feel undervalued.
If nepotism occurs in the workplace, this could affect your employees’ job satisfaction and opinions about the company. If one person begins exhibiting low morale, other employees can also take on this approach. 
The result is a lack of loyalty and dedication to the job at hand.
If a company allows nepotism to occur, talented employees might look for employment opportunities elsewhere. Specifically, with companies that value skill and dedication over family relationships. 
This can be problematic for your company as it limits the ability to retain good, hardworking employees to help your business succeed. 
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #4: The failure to give credit to your direct reports.
Everyone has experienced or witnessed instances in which credit was assigned in an unfair manner: managers unabashedly took credit for the work of their invisible hard-working staff; quiet performers were inadequately recognized for their contributions; credit was assigned to the wrong individuals and for the wrong things.
Just as much as constructive feedback should be given in many forms, so should employee appreciation. Some employees may live for public praise at the end of a meeting or a company all-hands, while others may prefer the intimacy of a quick chat in the hallway or an individual email thanking them for a job well done. 
As a leader, giving out credit is essential in showing your employees that you see them, and motivating your employees to continue creating their best work. 
Employee recognition may take the form of an employee of the month award, a sales all-star of the quarter, or even a full employee appreciation day.
While every company may not have the size or resources to devote an entire day to employee appreciation, recognizing employees in big and small ways can make a huge difference to morale and culture.
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #5: The failure to recognize the importance of proper coaching over negative criticism in the workplace.  
Feedback is crucial. It improves performance, develops talent, aligns expectations, solves problems, guides promotion and pay, and boosts the bottom line.
Workplace coaching, employee coaching, or business coaching is the continuous two-way feedback between the employee and the coach with the intention to work on areas for improvement and reinforce strengths to sustain the progress of the employee’s performance
In other words, coaching in the workplace means empowering employees to be the best performers that they can be.
Workplace coaching (NOT criticism) is important to set employees up for success in the workplace by providing the tools that workers can use to increase their knowledge and improve their skills.
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #6: Failing to recognize that finances are not the only form of valued compensation. 
Multiple studies have proven that employees want more than money. Employees value flexibility over money, meaning that paying people more money to tolerate a toxic environment may have worked for previous generations, but it no longer appeases employees, especially the Millennial generation. 
They want to be valued for what they do. That means they want recognition for their work, opportunities to learn and grow, and fulfillment in their day-to-day responsibilities.
            Leaders need to be more empathetic and understanding of their employees. Doing so will bring out the best in their people, hence multiplying their capabilities.
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #7: Failing to recognize when to give your employees a break, and how much work is appropriate to assign in a given time. 
Nothing burns good employees out quite like overworking them. It’s so tempting to work your best people hard that managers frequently fall into this trap. 
Overworking good employees is perplexing; it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive. 
If you must increase how much work your talented employees are doing, you’d better increase their status as well. Talented employees will take on a bigger workload, but they won’t stay if their job suffocates them in the process. 
Raises, promotions, and title changes are all acceptable ways to increase workload. If you simply increase workload because people are talented, without changing a thing, they will seek another job that gives them what they deserve.
 
Mon 27 June 2022
Offices are often set up to be diverse, with employees differing in age, gender, race, mindset, work orientation, and many other aspects. 

While we have previously discussed how to best foster entry-level direct reports, another demographic that is often ignored are the most experienced workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics department, 22% of the current professional workforce is above the age of 55. However, there is an ongoing movement where older workers and their knowledge are treated as obsolete and are let go. 

                Therefore, if you are in a managerial role in which you are overseeing older individuals, there are certain considerations you can make to ensure that you are best leading older Direct Reports.

What can Older Employees offer?

                Older direct reports tend to have great experience and perspective that many younger employees lack. They tend to understand the structure of your office better than anyone else there. Many managers often pair them with entry-level workers as a mentor to help them understand the soft skills of being in an office. 

                When I entered my first office job, I was incredibly lost since it was an entry-level and client-facing position. Consequently, I made a few mistakes, as one does on their first job. Unfortunately, I got a very angry phone call from a customer, and regardless of what I was able to offer them, they gradually became more aggressive.

                As I was crying in the break room, an older gentleman named Jim noticed and came over. After exchanging a few pleasantries, I learned that he had worked for the company for 37 years and was about to retire. He asked what had put me in such a bad mood and was shocked to hear what had happened. 

                As soon as I got a call from the next customer who was known to get irate easily, Jim sat next to me and started typing notes as he listened to what they had to say. He gestured at me to use some of the phrases he had typed up, and to my pleasant surprise, worked without a hitch. I received a high customer satisfaction score and learned a lot from Jim about how to communicate with customers.

                Jim continued to coach me and taught me skills such as customer-facing techniques, along with how to communicate and correspond with my managers and coworkers. I can confidently say that without Jim, I would’ve quit that job.

                People like Jim exist all over the working population. Understanding how these older direct reports can teach and mentor younger direct reports can dramatically improve your employee’s efficiency.  

Why the diverse perspective an older employee brings is beneficial to the business?

In addition to the potential mentorship opportunities that older employees provide, they also have a few aspects unique to them that lend them a perspective that younger employees may lack.

First, they are often very cost-effective.  Due to the fact that they are more settled in their industry, you do not need to worry as much about turnover costs. According to the Wharton School,  there is a common misbelief that older employees may need more time off due to health restrictions and incur higher health insurance. This is untrue. On average, health costs are less for older workers due to them no longer having dependents on their healthcare plans. In addition to that, Medicare can further reduce healthcare bills after an employee passes the age of 65.

Second, older employees also have a bigger focus on customer-facing skills. Due to their years of experience, these workers tend to have much better communication skills, with not only customers and vendors, but also with their coworkers. 

They also have extremely high problem-solving skills. Since they have encountered so many problems of their own, older employees can draw upon some of the solutions that they have used in the past to help solve current problems. A key part of problem-solving skills is to learn from past mistakes. These employees have made mistakes in the past, and typically do not harbor fears of making more mistakes, unlike younger workers.  Their angles and techniques can be drawn upon without any problems.

Should employers be worried that older Employees are outdated?
 
 
A current argument for hiring younger workers is that older workers simply don’t have the knowledge needed to survive in the current industry. An example of this could be in the technology industry, which is changing every day, and even newer employees struggle to keep up with it. 

This argument isn’t the best in my opinion, on the grounds that there are multiple areas in which an employee can be used. Not only can older employees be used in mentorship roles, but also in positions other than just the skills portion. 

It is important to remember that these employees grew up during a time when the internet and even smartphones weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now. Therefore, these employees grew up in a time where personal interaction and memos were mandatory for success. 

Due to the many changing environments that they’ve already been through, older employees are often extremely flexible and work hard. In addition to this, the power of a good network will never diminish. They can often set up future ventures for you that results in a large profit. Certain industries also have structures that have been in place for years, regardless of how trends develop. New workers may have trouble adjusting to these, but older workers thrive in them.

How can you best utilize these older and more experienced workers?

For starters, it's important to understand that these employees might even have more experience than you, regardless of your position. As such, you should acknowledge this, and be willing to learn just as much from them as they do from you.  Give them fair treatment as well. It is completely okay for an older person to make as much or more money as a younger person if they have more experience. 

Instruct your younger workers about the concepts of horizontal mentorship. Just like your younger workers may have biases, older workers can have the same biases. You can instruct and help your older workers in the same way that you would the newer workers. Give them opportunities to learn and develop, just like you would a younger direct report.

When recruiting, as mentioned before, try and eliminate race, gender, and age from your recruiters’ strategies. Longevity and age can be buzzwords for your strategies. It's important to recognize that not everyone has the same financial checkpoints at the same time. What one might accomplish by 65, might not be accomplished by someone else until the age of 70. According to the Harvard Business Review, it costs about a million dollars to retire at the age of 65.  Understand that everyone will have some form of motivation to work.  
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 21 August 2022
Gallup has extensively researched the relationship between employee engagement and company profitability, and they showed that engaged employees are 22% more profitable than disengaged employees. 

The tides of the economy seem to be shifting, making this a time when it is even more critical to focus on culture and employee engagement. Many companies, especially private equity-backed firms, have responded by laying off employees rather than investing in them. I was curious to know, “Why are private equity-backed firms more prone to layoffs in a down economy compared to private or public companies?”

I reached out to my network to learn more. I interviewed multiple employees, leaders, and professionals working for private equity, and their consistent answer was that “They are seeking an exit – at any and all costs and that part of achieving an exit is showing numbers that your costs are down and revenues are up.”

Ryan, a former VP of Operations, was recently laid off from a private equity-backed firm. He proposed some ways for the company to consolidate its overlapping expenses. They loved the idea so much that after consolidating those expenses they consolidated him…and replaced him with a junior middle manager to take his role at a fraction of his salary. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for eradicating inefficiencies and driving profitability. 

But can the short-term focus of achieving an exit coexist with a thriving company’s long-term goals, especially when these goals require an engaged employee base with a great culture?

I would imagine that most private equity professionals land somewhere on this scale from unapologetic to compassionate. The unapologetic professionals don’t care about the people because revenue growth reigns supreme. On the opposite side, compassionate professionals care about building a sustainable business and invest accordingly. In between these two sides, many professionals will say all the right things but their actions will reveal whether their true focus is sales and reducing costs to show short-term metrics.

Another focus of my interviews was on the reputational cost. I was curious to know if there was any reputational risk for offloading a company that looks great on paper but is a dumpster fire internally. I'm envisioning a prospective investor checking something like a Carfax to find out if they are working with somebody that has a history of leaving others to hold the bag.

Unfortunately, I haven’t received any great responses so far. 

And until we have a way for companies to assess the reputational risk of how private equity firms treat their acquired companies' employees, there is nothing to stop these private equity firms from propagating bad cultures to dump onto somebody else’s plate.

The issue with all these scenarios is harm done to the people at these companies. Hundreds of thousands of professionals work for private equity-backed firms, not realizing how little security they have in their role or the value they have in the minds of the owners. 

Or worse, many professionals end up working for a company and feeling trapped because of economic worries or personal constraints. These workers end up miserable, and the whiplash effects from ownership changes only exacerbate these effects. Imagine starting with an executive team that cares about you (e.g. the founders), and suddenly you find out that the new private equity owners want 120% more revenue but for 30% less pay. These paradigm changes wipe away years of work building company culture and leave a hollowed-out company in their wake.

Research has shown how powerful investing in culture and engagement can be for profitability. But until we have a way to hold private equity firms accountable based on their reputation for either building great companies, inside and on paper, or mirage companies, great on paper but awful inside, it will be difficult for private equity and company culture goals to align.

Wed 31 August 2022
Effective leaders set clear expectations for their teams and align them with company objectives. This article is for new managers focused on becoming excellent leaders.
Stepping into a leadership position for the first time can be daunting, even if you feel prepared to handle your new responsibilities. Going from focusing primarily on your own work quality to overseeing an entire team’s output can feel overwhelming. 
However, effectively leading your team and experiencing success can be extremely rewarding. 
At a recent conference, a speaker mentioned that the average professional became a manager by age 25, but doesn’t receive their first leadership training until age 35. That creates 10 years of potentially bad habits to form before receiving guidance on what new managers can do to be effective in their roles.
Managers plan and coordinate tasks in a work team so that everyone does their job properly. Leaders focus on providing direction. They inspire their team to reach further and strive to maintain that level of motivation.
Each function is crucial for a company’s overall productivity although some view them as separate jobs, one can’t work without the other. The best managers are generally the best leaders. 
Few people can master both jobs, but when they do, they are able to generate great results out of engaged work teams. As a result of this train of thought, great companies see both functions as one job.
 
  1. Join an executive mastermind group 
Have you ever been faced with a new project and searched Google or YouTube to learn how to do it? Don’t you wish you had a direct resource for solving business problems? 
Many organizations recognize this need and have implemented mentorship programs to support new or rising employees. 
A mentorship program can help identify and groom high-potentials for management positions. 
Ambition in Motion is an Executive Mastermind group for servant leaders or leaders that believe the best way to lead is in service of the employees that report to them.   
This allows the use of both group and individual mentoring and group coaching and guidance as being in a leadership role can be a lonely place so having other leaders that can relate to and guide you as you work through your challenges is critical. You can be assigned to an executive mentor, personalized to your needs, interests, and field of work to guide you through any situation that may arise at your workplace. 
The executive mastermind groups also provide managers with a sounding board for problem-solving in the workplace and have been shown to increase job performance.
 
2. Participate in management training
As workforce demands keep getting more complex, management-level personnel need to adapt to the talent available. In the modern workplace, managers need to be active leaders in order to bring the best out of their teams. 
The relationship between a manager and their team can be complex to navigate. There’s more to it than telling everyone what to do; in fact, that management approach is highly discouraged. 
One great tool for management training is AIM Insights where a team of highly trained professionals will guide you through personalized training and professional development for your field of management. 
Guiding managers with 1:1's with their direct reports is a core component of AIM Insights and one of the biggest benefits the tool provides are guides to managers on how to have an effective 1:1 and what questions to ask each direct report based on each direct report's circumstances. 
It is crucial that managers and their direct reports are on the same page, and AIM Insights closes the perception gap between what a manager thinks of their direct reports and what they think of themselves.
 
3. Conflict resolution skills 
Conflict is a natural part of any relationship, working or personal. Resolving conflict is a learned skill and one that can be taught, developed, and refined. 
A study by Purdue University found that students who have hands-on learning experiences gain a deeper understanding of the concepts that are being taught. Attending a conflict resolution workshop can provide you with experience in a controlled environment so that you can better handle difficult and uncomfortable situations, and work towards a positive resolution.
 
4. Team building activities 
According to cmoe.com, Seventy-five percent of employees rate teamwork and collaboration as very important. 
Yet, 86 percent of employees and executives blamed a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication as the reason for workplace failings. 
A good leader recognizes that they are only as good as the people that surround them. Instituting team-building activities allows teams time to bond together as well as provides an opportunity for them to decompress from their jobs for a few minutes.
 
5. Value feedback culture 
In order to grow as a leader and the organization as a whole, you need to address the value of good and honest feedback. You give timely feedback to your team members and you should ask for that same feedback about your performance. 
That continuous exchange of feedback helps your entire team grow as a unit as well.
You can improve through others’ insights into your work. Honest feedback is fundamental for employee engagement and that should be one of your main priorities as a leader. 
AIM Insights focuses on providing leaders with the right tools and methods to gather feedback and build more engaged teams.
 
Bad leadership habits every manager should avoid 
Oftentimes, people believe that greatness happens when you are waiting for inspiration to hit you so that you can proceed to take action. 
In reality, a sturdy toolset consists of many processes involving brainstorming, collaboration, and trial and error. Much like conflict resolution, you can refine your methods and learn from yourself, your team, and other professionals. 
Constantly growing your leadership skills is essential, but paying close attention to your leadership failures is crucial to your growth as a leader. 
These are important habits to avoid: 
 
  1. Providing only negative feedback: Managers can fall into the trap of providing feedback only during performance reviews or when problems arise. Feedback is essential to an employee’s professional development. However, the feedback includes praise for specific tasks, not just criticism. When employees experience a carousel of negative – and only negative – feedback, they can become discouraged and thus disengage from their work.
  2. Micromanaging staff: While you must oversee your team’s workflow and help staff handle roadblocks, you shouldn’t try to control them completely. It’s essential to trust your team to complete tasks as a whole and respect each individual’s work style. Forcing your workers to perform tasks counter to their typical methods can cause a significant drop in productivity as they adjust. As long as the end result is the same, give your staff room for creativity.
  3. Not requesting feedback: Poor managers rarely solicit or address questions, feedback, and concerns. Good managers offer the floor to team members so they can freely express their questions and concerns. This will often clear up misunderstandings and create a more collaborative space. Keep in mind if one team member has a question, others may need the same guidance.
  4. Shutting themselves off from new ideas: Closed-minded managers won’t accept criticism or new ideas. They become a roadblock keeping the team from performing at its best. Each team member has their own perspective on the creative process and is uniquely suited to recognize inefficiencies within their workflow. Listen to your team’s input, and use their perspectives to enact positive change.
  5. Avoiding tricky conversations: Good managers must tackle challenging situations that affect the team’s productivity head-on. Avoiding these situations lets the problem fester and can cause employee engagement to drop significantly. 
Thu 8 September 2022
Handling personnel conflict is an essential part of a manager’s position. Regardless of how strong the company culture is, human challenges are inevitable. Since many team members have different work styles and personalities, there’s always the possibility they will clash. However, proper management of these problems can not only rectify conflict but also set up the workplace to be better equipped for future mitigation.

What is Workplace Conflict?

Workplace Conflict is often defined by CPP Global, or the creators of the Myers-Briggs Test, as “any workplace disagreement that disrupts the flow of work.” CPP also noted that “85% of both individual contributors and leaders agreed they experienced some amount of inevitable conflict at work.” Conflict can manifest itself within the office in quite a few different ways, including some of the following:

·        Disagreements or Arguments
·        Verbal Abuse
·        Personality Clashes
·        Bullying
·        Difficult Relationships
·        Discriminatory Behavior
·        Physical Abuse or Harassment

Conflict is damaging in the workplace and can be a cause of a significant drop in productivity. According to Pollack Peacebuilding, each year an average of 485,000 individuals resign from their job as a result of conflicts with other coworkers. Replacing a direct report can be extremely expensive, since the hiring process often includes creating and distributing job postings, holding interviews, and going through training and onboarding processes. The easiest way to prevent this is to recognize the sources of conflict in the workplace as a manager.

What Causes Workplace Conflict?

            According to Gallup, one of the most frequent causes of all workplace conflict is inadequate communication. These communication breakdowns often pertain to the following causes:

·        Procedural Disagreements- These are typically when individuals cannot get on the same page regarding what work is required for completing a project. This can also include delegation of tasks.
·        Timeline/Deadline Disagreements- These occur when individuals have discrepancies on when a project or its pertaining components are to be completed.
·        Unrealistic Workloads- This will occur when certain direct reports have too much on their plate and either release their frustration on other coworkers, or gradually pull away to the point of what is known as “ghosting”, or disappear from the project either partially or completely.
·        Criticism- Many executive leaders often recommend following a constructive criticism structure to prevent unintentional verbal barrages onto recipients. However, some direct reports may not be able to take criticism well, and may consequently shut down, become overly defensive, and as a result, get into conflicts with other team members. 

How do Managers Prevent Conflict?

Managers can have many tools at their disposal to help mitigate or prevent conflict entirely. Many experts regard conflict with the same opinion as a fire- stopping it at the source will help prevent it from spreading. Looking for signs of conflict can be an important step for a manager in this venture.

Signs of Conflict are indicators that something may be amiss in the workplace. Many of these are often discovered in a 1:1 meeting, which should emphasize the importance of these meetings. Managers should not be afraid to ask about how a direct report is feeling about their coworkers and teammates during these meetings. 

Some signs of conflict within a team include the following:

·        Work is consistently late, or not of high quality
·        Requests to change groups, assignments, or transfers
·        Communication within teams is strictly for business, as opposed to being a mix of casual and professional
·        Issues directly brought up in manager/direct report 1:1 meetings
·        Tardiness
·        Frequent requests for Time off

Managers can also use Ambition in Motion’s AIM Insights to assist in tracking productivity and employee sentiment. AIM Insights allows managers to view how effectively and efficiently their direct reports completed the work that was assigned to them. It also has surveys explicitly for direct reports in regard to their feelings about their tasks. This metadata can help track a problem on its way to becoming a conflict. 

For example, let's say that Jake is a manager supervising Alicia, Bruno, and Hayley. Jake has been using AIM Insights for two months and is noticing that Alicia’s work has- by her own definition- not been up to par. He can also see that Alicia has been increasingly tardy with her work, often delivering her tasks well after deadlines, causing Bruno and Hayley to have to work overtime to ensure complete projects by company deadlines. Jake also can see how Bruno and Hayley feel about their work, and upon noticing that they are frequently having to do extra tasks without any overtime, can see the problem brewing. 

After using this data, Jake has the ability to approach Alicia and have a 1:1 with her and heading off any potential conflict between the teammates. 

Managers should also always be providing conflict recognition training to their direct reports. Creating a culture in the workplace that minimizes conflict, but can also recognize it will be invaluable to the company. 

This isn’t to say that all conflict is bad conflict. There is such a thing as healthy conflict. But for this article, we are focusing on eradicating negative conflict. 

Perhaps in this situation, Alicia could be going through something personal that is impacting her work output. As opposed to ignoring it and letting the frustration brew, or disciplining her without cause, it is critical that the manager better understand where she is coming from before determining the next step.

How to Manage Conflict that is already present

While heading off conflict before it erupts is ideal, it is unreasonable and naïve to believe that a manager will be able to always stop all conflict from even occurring. Therefore, professionalism will be of the utmost importance as they work with their direct reports. Here are some tips for managing conflict.

1.      Be objective- There is often no “good guy” vs “bad guy” situation set up. Conflict often goes both ways. 
2.      Acknowledge the conflict, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about it- Addressing an elephant in the room can often mitigate tensions, and then help to solve it.
3.      Facilitate a healthy discussion with the conflicting parties- Poor communication tends to cause many problems within a workplace. Sometimes addressing grievances can solve problems. 
4.      Use data- Stick to pure facts, and avoid bringing up sentiment. Telling a direct report that their coworker hates them will never help. However, explaining to them that they had a deadline that wasn’t met at the expense of their coworker’s time will have a much better impact. 
5.      Think about solving the problem, not the person- Having differing opinions helps the workplace so much more since workers can approach problems from different angles, often allowing managers to pick the most efficient solution for a problem. Fixing a problem between people is much more likely to be sustainable than changing the individual worker styles. 
6.      Create a plan for the future- It isn’t unlikely that the reason for this conflict could happen again in the future. Try to anticipate how it might manifest itself and create an action plan to avoid repeating history. 

Oftentimes, managers are quick to terminate before seeking to problem-solve with a direct report that is struggling or clashing with another team member(s). In most cases, this person isn’t intentionally trying to sabotage the team or create frustration for others. More often than not, they have pure intentions that aren’t being received in the way they were intended. The best managers seek to understand before diagnosing and rectifying a situation. Oftentimes, those solutions can be created by creating a lens as to how others are experiencing their actions and proposing new ways of doing things.

Conflict can be intimidating for any manager- especially newer ones. With the right skills, a manager need not worry about conflict and instead focus on being the most efficient they can be with their direct reports. 

Thu 8 September 2022
It can be lonely at the top. Managers must make decisions, and there aren’t too many people they can turn to for advice. Some managers want to be the “cool boss” that is comfortable with anything (think Michael Scott hosting a meeting in the conference room). Other managers believe that there can’t be any cordiality between them and their direct reports.
 This article will explain how managers can determine what is appropriate and what is not regarding relationships with direct reports. It explains why boundaries are necessary, and how to maintain social distance from your direct reports while creating a positive work environment with open communication and feedback, which many teams struggle with.
How can you find the perfect balance in the friend-manager relationship? Should you even try?
 
The Need for Friendships at Work
Research shows that friendships at work lead to enhanced emotional well-being. It’s important to have relationships with people who you can trust. 
Sharing life events decreases anxiety, improves productivity, and satisfies our need for human connection.
Of course, this is the case for peer-to-peer friendships, not employee-manager relationships. The latter requires a much more delicate balancing act by both parties.
 
The Need for Boundaries
A peer-to-peer relationship is an equal one; at least it should be. In an ideal world, there are no power plays to be had, and the two parties can be relatively open with one another at a personal level. 
A manager, however, must maintain boundaries with direct reports because they have significant influence over the direct report's professional and financial status. And that's a game-changer.
It is really difficult to be in the same fantasy football league with a direct report that then has to be disciplined or potentially fired…talk about awkward if you are matched up against each other in the playoffs!
The manager’s role in the relationship is to promote teamwork and guide individuals in their careers. A manager-direct relationship that is too friendly can compromise this role and make effective management impossible. There would be an imbalance in the way that one employee is treated over another. 
Kim Scott, the author of Radical Candor and leadership expert, delves into the “problem” of joining a workplace and being told to be “professional,” as if every other aspect of you and your character stays at home, and you’re supposed to be strictly professional at work. 
            But that feels more robotic than realistic to the way people interact with each other. Professionalism training has been pounded into everyone’s heads since their first job. 
How can managers deal with the situation of being friendly with their employees, and also maintaining structured policies and professionalism in the workplace?
Scott relays the idea of “radical candor” as a guide to moving specific conversations between employees and managers to a better place. 
 
What is Radical Candor?
Radical Candor is a philosophy of management based on the concept of “caring personally” while “challenging directly.”
●       Practices to get, give and encourage guidance and feedback at work (praise and criticism) 
●       Strategies for building a cohesive team 
●       Tools to help you and your team get stuff done with less drama 
●       It’s not a license to act like a jerk 
●       It’s not an invitation to get creepily personal
●       It’s not just for managers, we all want to succeed 
 
Radical Candor is practiced at companies all around the world, including Amazon, The New York Times, Forbes, Qualtrics, The Wall Street Journal, and many more. 
 
Use the Radical Candor Framework to Guide Your Conversations 
Understanding what is not Radical Candor can help you better understand what is. These are the behaviors that everyone falls into at one time or another: 
 
●       Obnoxious Aggression: Obnoxious Aggression, also called brutal honesty or front stabbing, is what happens when you challenge someone directly, but don’t show you care about them personally. It’s praise that doesn’t feel sincere or criticism and feedback that isn’t delivered kindly.
●       Ruinous Empathy: Ruinous Empathy is what happens when you want to spare someone’s short-term feelings, so you don’t tell them something they need to know. You Care Personally, but fail to Challenge Directly. It’s praise that isn’t specific enough to help the person understand what was good or criticism that is sugar-coated and unclear. Or simply silence. Ruinous Empathy may feel nice or safe, but is ultimately unhelpful and even damaging. This is a feedback fail.
●       Manipulative Insincerity: Manipulative Insincerity (backstabbing, political or passive-aggressive behavior) is what happens when you neither Care Personally nor Challenge Directly. It’s praise that is insincere, flattery to a person’s face, and harsh criticism behind their back. Often it’s a self-protective reaction to Obnoxious Aggression. This is the worst kind of feedback failure.
 
            These are the behaviors that people can accidentally fall into in the workplace. These categories make up “radical candor.” The goal of this is to share your humble opinions directly, rather than talking badly about people behind their backs. 
            In a nutshell, radical candor is the ability to challenge others directly and show that you care about them personally at the same time. If done correctly, it will help you and all the people you surround yourself with do the best work of your/their lives and build trusted relationships throughout your career.
            However, as a manager, it can be difficult to manage these workplace relationships; constantly tweaking your approach to find the sweet spot between friendship and professionalism with your team. 
            As you’re working through this, remember that it’s important to have an outlet for yourself.
 
Managers Need Their Own Support Network
It can be lonely at the top where there must be boundaries set for working relationships. So, it's wise for managers to find their own support networks within the company culture and outside. 
A mentor can be someone within or outside your organization who has the experience and can provide you with advice. A professional career coach can also give you impartial advice and an objective opinion.
One highly-rated professional mentorship program is the Ambition In Motion Executive Mastermind Group. The key part of this program is that your mentor acts as a source of guidance and coaching, customized to your individual needs.
 
What is executive coaching? 
Executive coaches work with business leaders to enable their rapid development in the workplace. They also assist with specific problems that a board member, or senior manager, wants to work through outside of the normal business framework. 
This coaching focuses very specifically on the issues that an executive wants to work through. Thus it becomes a speedy way to improve skills and achieve personal and professional objectives.
The executive coach gives the executive feedback and a new perspective that enables them to set goals and work towards them. The coaching sessions use objective feedback to drive the executive's thought processes forward through their issues.
 
            As a manager or executive, having a support system such as an executive mentor is crucial. Following the radical candor framework will guide your conversations within the workplace. But be aware of your own need for support and friendship in the work environment and make a conscious effort to seek them out in the appropriate places. 
Fri 16 September 2022
When CEOs describe their company as being “like family,” they mean well with the idea. They’re searching for a model that represents the kind of relationships they want to have with their employees, a lifetime relationship with a sense of belonging. But using the term family makes it easy for misunderstandings to arise.
In a real family, parents can’t fire their children. Try to imagine disowning your child for poor performance: “We’re sorry daughter, but your mom and I have decided you’re just not a good fit. Your table-setting effort has been deteriorating for the past 6 months, and your obsession with ponies just isn’t adding any value. We’re going to have to let you go. But don’t take it the wrong way; it’s just family.”
Unthinkable, right? But that’s essentially what happens when a CEO describes the company as a family, then institutes strict policies and/or layoffs. Regardless of the situation, a “family-like” work culture will leave employees feeling hurt and betrayed. 
 
Why your company shouldn’t be a family
●       Families are dysfunctional. How many truly high-functioning families are you aware of? There are always a few weird uncles dragging the average down. Family situations are much different than professional ones. 
●       Families are impossible to get out of. There is a lot of safety in families because they’re something you’re born into and can never be born out of. However, this is the wrong kind of safety to cultivate. “Unconditional love” means you will put up with quite a bit of nonsense, bad work, and even poor effort. Yes, the goal is for your employees to feel safe in that they always know where they stand and they always know they can tell you the truth. However, you don’t want them feeling safe enough to be content with subpar performance.
●       Families instill too much loyalty. Some amount of loyalty is commendable, but families can often take this to the extreme. You don’t want employees so loyal to you that they’re unwilling to push back if you start making questionable decisions. You also don’t want employees so loyal to you that they have no drive to improve, thereby stagnating in their roles. As a leader, you want people that are willing to contribute, not just follow you blindly. 
 
Why your company should be a team
●       Teams are built around a common goal. First off, teams are built, not born. Presumably, you have a strong company mission in place, something you’re all working towards. Teams have goals – namely, to win. Families are typically more lenient.
●       You need people that can jump in and do just about anything, even if they can’t do it all well. As you grow, you need more specialists. You are constantly hiring people who are better than you at particular skills. There will be times when you grow to a size where some of your more tenured employees are no longer needed to take the company to the next level. This is a hard truth, but it’s also a natural part of building a team. Unless you’re a horrible person, it can be incredibly difficult to recognize and respond to employees that helped to build you into what you are today, but don’t have a clear future at the company.
●       Players choose you just as much as you choose them. You can join a team. You can’t join a family. A good team starts at the top, with ownership. That’s you. Hire good coaches, treat them well, and always work to improve, and the rest will trickle down.
 
 
Mission Drives and Improves Engagement
Employees who fall in love with their work experience have higher productivity levels and engagement, and they express loyalty to the company as they remain longer, costing the organization less over time. 
According to Marie-Claire Ross, Trust Leadership Speaker, mission-driven workers are 54 percent more likely to stay for five years at a company and 30 percent more likely to grow into high performers than those who arrive at work with only their paycheck as the motivator.
High-performance organizations are linked to being mission-driven companies. Mission statements must reflect a commitment to higher social good for the community they serve, both local and global. Authenticity and transparency build trust.
According to Deloitte, organizations high in trust are 2.5 times more likely to function as high-performance organizations with revenue growth than lower-performance organizations. Eighty-one percent of those working for companies with a strong mission stated their stakeholders hold trust in their leadership team, whereas that number was 54 percent for organizations without a strong mission.
Companies that cultivate a strong work culture driven by deep engagement and meaningful work find success, beat the competition, and retain and attract high-performing talent.
 
Are You a Leader Who Drives a Mission?
Many employees go to work to do their job and earn their take-home pay. How do employees feel beyond this point? What is the work experience like? Do they feel their job adds value to life? All of these factors are highly important to determining success.
Mission-driven leaders ingrain the “why” and “how” of an organization’s existence beyond the mere “what” of providing a product. They assist with aligning the team and individual employee to-dos with the mission, and the mission may have several interpretations among employees. 
Connection to the mission is commonly linked to why any given employee wanted to work for the company in the first place. Nurture those reasons and unite them with the company mission.
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.

Thu 22 September 2022
As interest rates rise and consumer spending habits change, rumors of a recession have started to emerge as a strong possibility for the coming months.

Regardless of whether a recession happens, the mere rumors of a recession can have a massive impact on our employees and their feelings about work, and managers should be considering how to adapt their leadership style to handle any economic worries by their direct reports.

On a high level, below are a list of things that typically happen when there are concerns of a recession:

·        Companies go on hiring freezes or begin laying people off – Companies tend to hire based on what they believe they will need so when a recession strikes and their projections are incorrect, they are forced to change course and lay people off as they adjust their projections.
·        Employee confidence diminishes – Strong economies with low unemployment help employees feel confident asking for higher wages and greater perks.
·        Teams are consolidated – Companies create departments and teams based on projected growth, but when economies start to slow, teams tend to be merged, people are laid off and those remaining must pick up the additional workload. 

Some companies and industries and going to be more impacted than others. If you lead a team and feel that your direct reports show some concern about the economy, this article covers how to be a better leader in times of uncertainty.

As a professional, I am a firm believer that you are an entrepreneur of your own life. I am not writing that everyone should be an entrepreneur, but as a person, you have full agency to make the decisions that you believe are best for you. When it comes to work, especially if you lead a team, it is critical that you do your own research to identify if the company you work for will thrive for the foreseeable future.

For example, one of the executives in our mastermind group works for a company that does COVID tests. This business model boomed over the past few years, but as fewer people get COVID tests, our leader has recognized that something needs to change for his team to continue working for their company. 

As opposed to doing the same thing over and over again as business dwindles, he is being completely candid with his team. He has been identifying business opportunities that he and his company can pursue based on the infrastructure they have created over the past few years. Essentially, he is becoming an intrapreneur – or a person who is pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities within a company.

This openness, honesty, and candor has caused his team to feel excited about the work they are doing. They still complete the tasks that keep the lights on, but they are taking the additional time they have from diminished business and putting that towards identifying new opportunities they can leverage and deploy. 

Many of the ideas proposed won’t work out, but it is much better than doing nothing and hoping it works out. His team has greater clarity and understanding regarding the business’s health and prospects, and most employees are staying and trying to help find a new path for this business.

This team is still searching for the next business model that will reinvigorate their business, but this isn’t solely a task for the leadership team anymore. Now, the entire company can be a part of the solution.

Therefore, to recap, when your team feels uncertainty because of a potential recession:

1.      Lean into the concerns and share openly and candidly why the company’s current way of operating won’t be affected by a recession (e.g. if you work in healthcare or grocery, you can share multiple data points that show that those industries tend to be minimally affected by a recession) or what you are doing to pivot and stay agile even if a recession does come.
2.      Incorporate your team in the innovation process when it comes to identifying ways to cut costs and increase revenue (laying people off has a very negative impact on employee morale and confidence).
3.      Understand the risks and benefits because if your team is unsuccessful at effectively pivoting, your employees will understand why they are being laid off. The benefit of incorporating your team in the innovation process is that they will feel that they had a chance (an opportunity!) to help be a part of the solution that turned the company around as opposed to being left in the dark and then one day getting laid off.

The key when identifying the opportunities to innovate and pivot is to explicitly lay out the risk tolerance you have for ideas. You may not have a million dollars to test out every idea, but you might have $1,000 and that could be enough to garner some early data points of success or failure. Risk tolerance also applies to legal risk. Our executive in our mastermind group is in the healthcare space which has rules and regulations companies must follow. It is critical that your team understands those rules and regulations before trying different ideas.

·        Set up both team and 1:1 meetings to meet with your direct reports to ask them if they have concerns and if so, what concerns do they have. Don’t avoid the conversation because a solution is unknown.  
·        Once you have gathered all of the concerns shared, craft a response for each concern. A response could be why the current way the company operates won’t be affected by the concern proposed, a potential solution that is being implemented that should alleviate the concern, or incorporate them in the solution process to help alleviate the concern as a group.
·        Clearly lay out a plan for your team for what the next 3, 6, 9, and 12 months will look if a recession has little to no effect on the company, a moderate effect on the company, and a major effect on the company. The worst thing you can give your team is uncertainty so crafting this projection allows them to fully understand and prepare for the worst possible outcome (which is never as scary as the unknown negative possibilities they could come up with in their minds).

Regardless of whether or not you are right, people will follow those that are certain. Certainty can come in the form of processes, inclusion in the solution, metrics that show why things will be fine, or projections for the best, moderate, and worst-case scenarios. 

As a leader of people during times of uncertainty, you must give people certainty.
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.

Wed 12 October 2022
Do you ever find yourself or your team in a rut? Maybe this is an often occurrence, or maybe it happens sporadically. How can you maintain team motivation?
Workplace motivation can be broken down into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic motivation is the desire to accomplish goals and develop professionally. Extrinsic motivation involves work factors such as pay and promotions. 
Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are important ways of driving behavior. When you understand the differences between the two types of motivation, you also gain a better understanding of how to encourage people.
Knowing how to motivate yourself and others is imperative to getting things done and reaching goals. Identifying your internal and external motivators can help you be more efficient, feel more satisfied and achieve growth in your career. 
 
What is intrinsic motivation?
Intrinsic motivation is when you feel inspired or energized to complete a task because it’s personally rewarding. In other words, you're performing the activity because of some internal drive as opposed to an external force or reward. 
With intrinsic motivation, the behavior itself becomes the reward. 
 
What is extrinsic motivation?
Extrinsic motivation is when you’re inspired to perform a task either to earn a reward or to avoid punishment. In the case of extrinsic motivation, you're not completing the task because you like it or find it satisfying. 
Instead, you're completing it because you think you'll avoid something unpleasant or you'll get something in return.
 
What are the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation?
The main difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is that intrinsic motivation comes from within and extrinsic motivation comes from outside. 
However, the two types of motivation can also differ in their level of effectiveness.
Extrinsic motivation is beneficial in some cases. For example, working toward a reward of some kind can be helpful when you need to complete a task you might normally find unpleasant.
While extrinsic motivation is helpful in certain situations, it may eventually lead to burnout or lose its effectiveness over time. Intrinsic motivation is typically more effective long term for completing tasks and achieving goals in a way that makes you feel fulfilled. 
Here are some comparisons between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation:
 
Intrinsic motivation:
-        Cleaning your house because you like it tidy
-        Reading a book about a subject that interests you
-        Playing trivia because you like the challenge
-        From a work perspective, this could be choosing a pay cut to work for a nonprofit you are passionate about
 
Extrinsic motivation:
-        Cleaning your house so your house guests don’t label you as “messy”
-        Reading a book because you have to for work
-        Playing trivia because you want to win a prize 
-        From a work perspective, this could be choosing a job because of the pay
 
 
How can intrinsic and extrinsic motivation be used effectively in the workplace?
            Daniel Pink is a modern writer on business & management, with a strong focus on the changing nature of work and the workplace. 
His book published in 2009, “Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” focuses on the importance and effectiveness of three intrinsic elements to motivation at work: autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Pink argues that the evidence of scientific studies on motivation and rewards suggests that, for any work task that involves more than the most basic cognitive challenge, basic financial reward systems do not work. In fact, they can lead to worse performance.
He accepts that money is a motivator at work, but once people perceive that they are paid fairly, then they become much more motivated by intrinsic elements. Once people are paid fairly, they look for more from their work.
This is why Pink concludes that autonomy, mastery and purpose are the most influential aspects of motivation.
 
Autonomy 
According to Pink, autonomy is the desire to direct our own lives. Pink argues that allowing employees autonomy runs counter to the traditional view of management which wants employees to "comply" with what is required of them.
However, if managers want employees to be more engaged in what they are doing (and they should - as tasks become more complicated) then allowing employees autonomy (self-direction) is better.
For example, some firms allow employees to have time at the workplace to do whatever they want. This freedom to spend time doing their own thing leads to many more innovative ideas and solutions.
The growth of flexible working practices is another good example of allowing staff more autonomy.
 
Mastery
Pink argues that humans love to "get better at stuff" - they enjoy the satisfaction from personal achievement and progress. Allowing employees to enjoy a sense of progress at work contributes to their inner drive.
By contrast, a lack of opportunity at work for self-improvement or personal and professional development is liable to make employees more bored and unmotivated.
A key implication for managers is to set tasks for employees that are neither too easy or excessively challenging. Pink calls such tasks "Goldilocks tasks,” otherwise known as tasks that are not "too hot or too cold.”
 
Purpose
Pink describes purpose as the desire to do things in service of something larger than ourselves. He also argues that people intrinsically want to do things that matter.
For example, entrepreneurs are often intrinsically motivated to "make a difference" rather than simply aiming for profit maximization.
Most of us spend more than half our waking hours at work. We want that time to matter.
In addition, employees need to know and understand the mission and goals of the organization and appreciate how their work and role fits into what the organization is about.
 
 
Intrinsic motivation
You can apply intrinsic motivation in several ways at work. Providing and receiving positive feedback is often an effective way to increase motivation. 
If you're interested in fostering intrinsic motivation among your team, consider the following:
 
●       For managers: To support intrinsic motivation among your team, be intentional with your feedback. Constructive criticism can help your team understand your standards and expectations while working together to achieve a goal or complete objectives effectively. Be sure you're not giving an abundance of praise for work that's not meaningful to your team. AIM Insights is a tool managers can use to help them give intentional feedback and ask intentional questions.
●       For employees: As an employee, you should consistently tell managers when and how their feedback helps you to be motivated. Consider positive feedback when their guidance was particularly helpful, which can help intrinsically motivate them to continue managing you successfully because they feel satisfied about the positive effect of their efforts. 
 
Extrinsic motivation 
In some settings, extrinsic motivation is necessary for day-to-day work. Extrinsic rewards like bonuses, commissions, or prizes may be the preferred way to promote interest in certain difficult or unfulfilling tasks. 
To successfully use extrinsic motivation, consider the following:

●       For managers: When you want to use extrinsic motivation as a manager, it's important to offer rewards strategically. While external rewards can effectively motivate your team to take on a new challenge, learn a new skill, or hit a quarterly goal, you should also make sure you're giving them the resources necessary to take on projects and skills they're passionate about.
●       For employees: Work for the rewards that please you, but be aware of your limits and take breaks when you need them. Reflect on what is motivating you and notify your manager about any lack of resources or misdirection that impedes the proper motivation, and therefore, reward.
Fri 11 November 2022
The definition of what it means to be a great business leader has evolved and changed significantly over time. Today, the best leaders are less authoritative and more empathic, often displaying more vulnerability than leaders did in the past.
Servant leadership is a relatively new concept that many leaders are embracing due to its effectiveness in managing and guiding teams. Here are a few reasons why servant leadership is beneficial for a company’s success.  
 
1. It Encourages Strategic Thinking and Innovation
 
A servant leader is willing to follow and does not need to always be in charge. They are civic-minded and ethical, and others are motivated to follow them. Servant leadership does not mean being submissive. True servant leadership encourages strategic thinking and innovation and helps develop others, which is why servant leadership is crucial for any large enterprise to embrace for success.
 
In the book Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek demonstrates how the best leaders will wait to hear everyone’s opinion on a subject before sharing their own. First because it allows them to better understand the creative perspective of their team members and second because they are self-aware enough to know that once they share their opinion, it will taint whatever is said after that.
 
2. Teams Accomplish Great Things Together
 
Servant leadership is simply about a leader understanding that they are there to serve. This model can be beneficial when the leader understands that it is about working with others to accomplish great things as a team versus simply directing or managing others. Servant leaders understand that completing the task at hand is more important than their individual success.
 
3. Everyone Learns How To Be Supportive
 
Servant leadership is humbly putting others before oneself through service and doing so without regard to one’s title, status, ego or expectations about the work a leader is “supposed” to be doing. A true servant leader goes to their people and asks, “What can I do to support you in this moment?” with the sole agenda of meeting the person’s need in whatever form it presents itself.
 
4. People Are Inspired To Take Personal Responsibility
 
Servant leadership is a humble style where leaders care for employees holistically and serve them by providing them with autonomy. The style is beneficial for every company because it inspires people to become leaders and take personal responsibility for all of their decisions and actions. Businesses that embrace servant leadership tend to have a great company culture with employees who go above and beyond.
 
 
5. Servant Leaders Build Other Leaders
 
The job of a leader, at the most fundamental level, is to build other leaders. To do that, you must operate in service of others to multiply growth and impact. Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the goal of a leader is to serve. Isn’t that the heart of what leadership is all about?
 
In his essay, The Servant as Leader, Robert K. Greenleaf first coined the phrase "servant-leader," writing, "The servant-leader is servant first … That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions."
Even in the caring professions, money, power or day-to-day decision-making can cause leaders to lose sight of their altruistic goals. They may lead the organization without prioritizing service to the community. However, Greenleaf says, "The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them, there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature."
 
The differences are:
• A servant-leader's focus is primarily on other people's (and their communities') well-being and growth.
 
• The servant-leader isn't a sole leader with power, but rather, a power-sharer.
 
• They put other people's needs above their own and enable their team to grow, develop and perform to the best of their ability.
 
How To Develop Servant Leadership
 
In Leadership: Theory and Practice, Peter G. Northouse describes 10 characteristics of servant leadership: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people and building community. How do you practice these? Whether you are at work, or in your family or community, servant leadership has a vital role to play, now more than ever. These are three ways that you can begin to develop your servant leadership skills. 
 
  1. Communicate and engage with others. Engage employees in finding solutions and working on projects that benefit those they serve, both in and outside of the organization. Being able to deliver clear-cut messages in a concise way is an important aspect of effective communication. As a servant leader, you need to communicate in a way that makes it easy for people to understand what you want to achieve. That means your instructions need to be clear, with no room for misinterpretation. In this way, you will be in a great position to get your team to accomplish the goals set with maximum efficiency. This consistent engagement will build resilience by sharing positive stories of what your organization and/or employees have been doing well!
 
2. Create a plan. It is important to prepare for potential challenges. Think of the things that need to happen, including obstacles that might get in the way and plan how you will respond. Include your team, and consider this to be a real, working risk assessment with practicable actions. Address all the possible scenarios: extended periods of lockdown, illness, loss of income streams, continued new ways of working or adapted business practices. How will you react to each scenario? Planning ahead, considering all eventualities and knowing what you'll do in each case will help alleviate anxiety, stress and panic, and enable you to act in a calm, measured way. Furthermore, communicating this information with candor builds trust and demonstrates transparency, which is especially important during times of uncertainty.
 
3. Model servant leadership. In times of perceived danger, the primitive "fight, flight, freeze" responses prevail and extraordinary behavior can manifest, like people hoarding toilet paper or reporting their neighbors to the police for taking a walk. In times of crisis, people often look to leaders for how they should respond. So lead by example. Demonstrate servant leadership by modeling the kind of attitude and behavior you want others to have in the face of crisis; one of calmness, sharing, gratitude and compassion for others. Encourage "we" before "me" and walk your talk.

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