employee feedback

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.

Mon 22 July 2019
What is the line between constructive criticism and getting berated? I think that all depends on the listener.


Throughout life, you are going to be offered advice…warranted and unwarranted. How do you handle that advice, especially when it comes in the form of criticism? When you are young and in your teenage years, you are more inclined to rebel and learn for yourself and not want to be told what to do or how you are doing it wrong. When you are old, you feel as if you have had enough life experience to know that what somebody is telling you is not anything new and that you are pretty sure you are right about what you are doing. But there is a sweet spot in the middle, when people are most open to change and taking advice. These are your wisest years because these years allow you to learn from others, try new things, make mistakes, and grow from those mistakes. The longer you can prolong this mentality, the wiser you will be.


I left off my last blog detailing how AIM began connecting students with mentors. Once we started charging students $90 to connect with mentors, we received wild success. Every student received internships, follow up meetings with their mentor, recommendations to meet other professionals in their field or a combination of those outcomes.


It was awesome to feel that AIM was truly making a positive impact on these college students. My only issue was that AIM was not making nearly enough money to sustain a business and I needed to discover a way to make AIM sustainable.


Having the realization and acceptance that your current business plan is unsustainable is not easy to accept. I met with an Indiana University alumnus who was a former investment banker and recruiter for JP Morgan Chase. He ripped my business model apart…to shreds…no mercy. I could have gotten angry and hung up the phone, but I realized there was a silver lining.


First, I learned that most people are not inherently mean and their goal is not to berate you. Second, in every conversation, there is always a nugget of beneficial information that can be learned.


What this alumnus mentioned was that despite mentorship being beneficial, AIM would not be sustainable and that most college graduates entering the business world lacked soft skills and emotional intelligence (which he argued were as important as mentorship). He said that if a company could figure out a way to teach these skills and include a mentoring aspect that JP Morgan Chase and most other companies would be very intrigued in paying money to connect with the students AIM helped.


In essence, I learned a way to monetize AIM outside of the students and not purely that my current business plan sucked. I learned that despite Indiana University’s best efforts to teach soft skills and emotional intelligence, those are just skills that are very personal and difficult to measure with grades. It also requires a certain motivation level and desire of the student to want to learn and develop these skills too.


When these courses that teach soft skills and emotional intelligence are required, the motivation of the student diminishes significantly because they never had a choice of whether or not to take the class.


AIM pivoted to provide students who voluntarily purchased access to enroll in workshops that taught soft skills and emotional intelligence, connected students with mentors, and then with employment opportunities after they understood themselves well enough to gauge a better idea of what they wanted out of their career.


Most people don’t voluntarily try to bring others down. Most people inherently want to help others out because they derive the pleasure of feeling valued and special when they can share their wisdom. Realize that when others are criticizing you, they may have a point, so don’t take it as a personal attack, but rather embrace it, learn from it, and maybe build a positive relationship.

Mon 13 July 2020
As a leader, your goal is to empower your people to operate optimally and enjoy the work they are doing. One key skill for achieving that goal is the ability to promote active listening and communication among your team

In the past, managers tried to get their teams to listen by micromanaging, providing constant reminders, and having frequent check-ins. All of these nit-picky activities cost time and energy for everyone involved.

As it turns out, it really doesn’t pay off. Instead, they ended up with a culture of mindless rule-following and stymied innovation. Those cultures are predicated on “what has always been done in the past.”

In these scenarios, leaders stress out because they perceive their teams’ lack of performance as a lack of listening, both to leadership and to each other. However, what happens, in reality, is that the culture of “do what I say” creates employees that are trained to not speak openly about problems and solutions with the team when the boss doesn’t allow it. It’s not that they can’t think on their own; they choose not to for fear of rejection or repercussions. 

How can you tell if you are building this type of repressive team culture?

Ask yourself, how often do your people challenge your ideas? Do they ever question you face-to-face?

If the answer is minimally or never, you are building a culture that stymies listening and communication, and subsequently, leads to loss of innovative thinking on your team. 

If this sounds like your team, fear not! You are not stuck in this position forever! You can start making progress today on improving your team’s cohesion, listening skills, and innovation. 

Humans are social animals by nature. That makes us perceptive, and we react to what we are sensing from the people we are around, even if we don’t consciously acknowledge it. 

We can learn from other highly social animals as well. For example, a few weeks ago my dog Sunni was recently attacked by another dog. 

After getting attacked, my fiancé, understandably, was nervous taking Sunni to the dog park. While my fiancé wanted Sunni to play and exercise at the park, Sunni seemed too anxious and refused to get more than a few feet away from her. Sunni could sense her nerves and blatantly disobeyed her requests for Sunni to go and play. Even though Sunni could probably tell my fiancé was saying to go play, she picked up on her owner’s anxiety and chose to ignore the commands and stay close.

The point is that just like Sunni picks up on her owner’s feelings and responds accordingly, your people will pick up on your feelings and respond to those, even if what you are saying is different.

Unfortunately, you can’t just order your people to “come up with innovative ideas” or ask them to start questioning your decisions. Feelings and body language are much more powerful than words. If your people don’t sense you are being authentic when you ask to have a more open, inclusive, innovative, and attentive culture, the message will fall on deaf ears.

Your people can tell when you are stressed out, and your stress doesn’t make them work any faster or better. In fact, it is likely to make them worse because, as a leader, your stress is shared with the team. Your people may not respond or act the way you want them to because their fear of stressing you out even more, all of which creates a feedback loop chock full of stressed-out bosses, unproductive employees, communication barriers…which unsurprisingly makes you more stressed.

The best remedy for this is vulnerability

Share with them what is on your mind and what concerns you may have. Nine times out of ten, fear of the unknown outweighs the fear of the known. When you keep it to yourself, and your people sense you are stressed, they will come up with their own thoughts on what might be stressing you out, which is its own novel source of stress.  

When you make your concerns and stressors known, you invite others to empathize with you and help you rally around the problem at hand. 

If you are vulnerable with your people, they are much more likely to reciprocate and be open with you. Your understanding of their challenges will help you build empathy for their work. 

Eventually, your people will build a greater understanding of why you are saying what you are saying and more willing to ask you questions if they are confused. Empathetic, effective communication is the key to building a strong team, and vulnerability will help you build trust and listening skills all across your team.

Sun 3 January 2021
Exactly how much confidence should you have in your own leadership abilities? This may seem like an odd question, but try entertaining it for the moment.

Now think of a leader whom you respect. How do you think they would rate their own leadership abilities? 

On a scale of 1-100, where do you think a leader you respect would put her/his leadership abilities?

I find this question fascinating because there is no perfect answer.

If you rate yourself too high, you may seem naïve; how could any great leader believe they have achieved the pinnacle of leadership?

A popular example of this could be the interview with LeBron James from ESPN. As he is retelling the story of him winning the NBA championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he pauses in the middle and proclaims himself the greatest basketball player ever. 

But, merely the act of proclaiming yourself as the best at anything beg the question: you certainly are great, but are you really the greatest of all time?  

On the other hand, if somebody rates themselves too low it can cause one to question their competence.

Examples of this are common. It could be any person who doesn’t take the shot because they are afraid to miss and have “wasted” their time.

So with those edge-cases in mind, what do you think is the optimal score?

Fortunately, we at Ambition In Motion have started to study this area in our Executive Horizontal Mentorship program. Here’s what we’ve learned so far.

One measure is a 360-Degree Assessment where we compare self-ratings to how your colleague’s rate your performance across several categories. We asked executives and their colleagues to rate each executive’s leadership abilities and their ability to set proper expectations:

70% of executives rated themselves LOWER at these skills than the ratings from their colleagues. 

On a scale of 1-100, the average executive self-ratings for their own leadership abilities were 59.7/100.

Compared to other components of the 360-Degree Assessment (people management, innovation, communication skills, and financial management), leadership ability had the lowest self-reported score by far, and the most instances of executives rating themselves worse than their colleagues’ perceptions of their leadership abilities.

While I have written another article on my perspective on why these numbers are so low for the executives in our program, for this article, I want to focus on the before and after snapshot of what changed after having an Executive Horizontal Mentor.

After 6 months, the average executive in our program gave themselves a score of 75/100 for their leadership abilities. That’s a 15.3% increase per person over the span of 6 months!

How could this outcome happen? Below are 3 observations from the executives in our program after interviewing them.

The type of executive interested in Horizontal Mentorship

I have spoken with hundreds of executives about participating in our Executive Horizontal Mentorship program. The majority of those conversations don’t end up with them signing up for the program. Whether it be that they don’t have the time, or don’t believe in investing money into a relationship like this, or they already have colleagues they go to for guidance, etc. 

But, the type of executive interested in Horizontal Mentorship realizes they have a gap between where they are and where they want to be. If they didn’t have this gap, the reasons listed above would be more than enough to say no. But instead, they choose to say yes because they are at a position in life where they can be vulnerable. They are vulnerable enough to recognize they want help and humble enough to know that their personal status quo simply isn’t cutting it anymore.

Having this executive mentor, if anything else, gives them the confidence to make decisions that they might not have made previously. The executive mentor helps fill that gap and gives them the confidence to know that they are heading in the right direction.

Which leads to the next point…

The power of learning what you don’t know

One of the biggest insights an executive seeks from a Horizontal Mentor is a new, outside perspective. As leaders, we often get used to the routine of being surrounded by a silo of people that we have grown comfortable with.

Leaders in our Executive Horizontal Mentorship program recognized that the only way for them to grow as a leader is by learning to be okay with being uncomfortable. They recognize that their current network gives them consistent feedback and the only way for them to grow is to get out of their comfort zone and build new, deep, intentional mentor relationships.

Before joining the program, their consciousness of this fact played a role in their low self-score. The knowledge they gained, learning how to know what you don’t know, gave them the confidence and insight to know they are moving in a positive direction.

But part of that learning comes with being challenged, which leads to the next point…

The value of objectivity

Objectivity is the single most important contributor to an executive making big strides in their leadership ability. Having a fellow executive who can share insights and a perspective built from experience will save you immeasurable time and frustration, because they may have gone through similar experiences and can share their wisdom.

Being challenged is part of receiving that objectivity. It isn’t comfortable at first, and it is easy to get defensive immediately. But, after reflection and contemplation, these insights and passed-on knowledge can be the most powerful tools for leaders to improve their abilities. 

Mentors make leaders better by mining the vulnerability and humility they share and turning that into knowledge, confidence, and grit. The process isn’t easy – the more uncomfortable you are the more painful it is – but with pain comes growth. 

Fri 5 March 2021
As a Chief People Officer, I found the loss in having a leader to bounce ideas off, guide me in my continuous learning journey, and provide unique perspectives. 

Others now look to me to play this role, and I found myself seeking other channels to ensure I am not losing sight of my learning journey to continue to be a source of fresh perspective and insight for those that report to me and whom I mentor.  

I fear becoming a rigid HR professional who becomes obsolete and irrelevant. HR professionals can positively impact their organizations, resulting in a ripple effect that flows into an employee’s home life, communities, and personal interactions.  

When you look at the sphere of influence in total, it becomes quite large.  During a recent Friday conversation with a direct report in which he realized the power of an aligned purpose-driven organization, he exclaimed this was now a “Fired Up Friday.”  

What if every employee felt that way?  Can you imagine the incredible outcomes?  

As an HR professional, I want to continue to make “Fired Up Fridays” possible for everyone.  That is why the peer mentoring program intrigued me.  

After one conversation with my pair mentor, I could see the possibilities. I can see how our conversations will challenge and sharpen each other and keep our perspectives fresh. It is indeed a “Fired Up Friday”!

Mon 11 April 2022
Last week I hosted an executive symposium with local leaders on How to develop leaders in your organization. Shortly after the panel discussion started, a new topic emerged: who is in charge of building culture within an organization? This revealed some interesting disagreements between panelists, and so we explored this topic further. 

One of our panelists was Herb, an executive coach and former COO of a major healthcare system. Herb posited that culture-building originates with the CEO and trickles throughout the organization.

Mindy, another panelist and Chief People Officer at a venture capital-backed software company, partially agreed, but expanded the role to include the rest of the executive team. She believes that it starts with the executive team and then needs to be effectively communicated throughout the organization.

And Bernie, the CEO of a small construction company, went further. He argued that everyone helps build the culture of the organization.

CEO, executive team, or everyone at the company? Which of these arguments is actually right? I decided to seek input from the broader community to find out more. 

I conducted a modest-sized poll on LinkedIn and asked them who was responsible for building culture at their work. I heard from over 150 professionals, and the consensus pick was that everyone is in charge of building the culture – i.e., they agreed with Bernie.

But are they actually right?

Bernie is the CEO of a 25-person company. He uses quarterly meetings to bring the entire team together to reevaluate their core values, core focus, and goals, and he finds this to be an irreplaceable part of his company culture.  

His fellow panelists, Herb and Mindy, pointed out that a 25-person company can handle an activity like this, but scaling that concept up to hundreds or thousands of people is not feasible. Either nobody gets heard, or the process rapidly grows cumbersome because the time to review each person’s perspective takes forever. 

Furthermore, Mindy argued that an executive team should already be having these conversations regularly and connecting with each other as core values or core focus change.

Herb pointed out that having a CEO who prioritizes and values these regular meetings isn’t always going to be in the cards. Instead, many companies rely on standard operating procedures to be profitable. By plugging people into roles and following the company guidelines, the company should still be profitable for those roles, regardless of any specific employee’s unique contribution.

But, for a culture to adapt, scale, and thrive, there needs to be a CEO who is cognizant of the need to actively adapt and reevaluate culture if the company aims to constantly drive forward.

Herb subscribes to more of a command-and-control leadership style from the CEO position, but Bernie and Mindy disagreed with that prescription.  They argued that the responsibility to identify the proper pivots and seek new ideas is a shared task, not exclusive to the CEO. 

One thing that everyone could agree on was that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for building an effective culture, but whatever culture you have built, it must be readily understood, inspiring, and not general and exclusively aimed to benefit the organization.

What does this mean?

By “general and not exclusively aimed to benefit the organization”, means that the culture can’t simply be: 

‘Our mission is to grow and be the best',

or ‘We aim to deliver returns for our shareholders and increase the return on investment from our business development efforts'

or ‘We strive to be an ever-evolving company that constantly does better work for our clients’.

These types of generic or self-serving visions for a company’s culture lack substance, and the employees can tell.

By “readily understood” and “inspiring”, this means that the culture needs to be about something greater than the individuals in the organization or the organization itself. It needs to be about something greater; a culture that, with the support of others, with consistent reminders about what everyone is doing this for, and with flexibility for adjusting as new information comes to light, can potentially come true inside that company. 

For example, Bernie’s vision is that we exist to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with like-minded clients, design firms, and trade partners on the construction of unique spaces. We operate with humility, curiosity, diligence, and confidence. We believe our success will continue as we put others first, remain perpetually relevant, and execute best practices. We believe in a better construction process, one where you will LOVE YOUR HOME AND ENJOY THE JOURNEY.

Personally, I liked Bernie’s vision, but some aspects felt a little generic. Contrast this with Mindy’s vision, which spoke more strongly to me, particularly because it was shorter and more clear while still being aspirational.

Mindy’s vision is a world where the vast majority of people are excited about going to work. When they are there, their expectations meet reality, and when they come home, they feel fulfilled. 

Her team’s cultural norms and rituals are based on this higher goal of helping people enjoy work more. Because of these efforts, their team is amenable to the times when they need to put in the hard, extra hours because their work fills their cup instead of emptying it. 

When Mindy’s team loses their North Star (e.g., feelings of burnout, confusion, frustration), they can refer back to their vision for inspiration or use that vision for reason to gather clarity. Her team’s vision is for the vast majority of people to enjoy their work; when a team member feels the burnout, they feel empowered to speak up about it and try to address the issue rather than quietly applying for jobs outside of the company in search of greener pastures.

If you feel like your company’s culture falls into this overly general category, or isn’t particularly inspiring, or isn’t reminded to you consistently, that’s an okay thing to feel and perfectly normal. But, it doesn’t mean that you are powerless to do anything about it.

One of my biggest takeaways from the panel was that although the CEO and executive team may be the core people coming up with the vision, everyone is required to set and reinforce the tone of the culture and the vision set forth. CEOs and executive teams are burying their heads in the sand if they think that culture only goes top-down; culture-building is a team exercise, and nobody is on the bench.

This means that if you are confused, concerned, or unclear as to your company’s culture or vision, you should broach your leadership team for guidance or ask to set a plan. If your leadership team does not have a vision, the first step starts with you.

I hope you enjoyed learning about one small insight from Ambition In Motion’s first Executive Symposium. If you are interested in attending any of our future Executive Symposiums or learning about our Executive Mastermind groups, please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. 

 

Mon 18 April 2022
What is a performance review?

Performance reviews are periodic processes in which you as an employer, or a manager, document and evaluate your direct reports’ work in a set of given time. These can feature either qualitative data, quantitative data, or a combination of both. An effective performance review recognizes both strong and weak areas of performance, provides solutions to some of these areas deemed to need improvement, and sets goals to achieve by the time of the next performance review. 

The term “Performance Review” primarily refers to the documentation or analysis involved in evaluating an employee’s performance. However, as mentioned before, the ideal review is also a process. Therefore, the term also includes any meetings or discussions in relation to this evaluation. 

Why is a performance review important?

Performance reviews are extremely useful for a company due to the potential impact that they can have. Through an effective review, a manager can successfully have an intentional conversation with an employee and help improve performance, and more importantly, keep a stream of feedback between the two tiers of hierarchy.  Compounded with regular discussions about employee progress, an individual can feel much more satisfied in knowing how their supervisor views their work, and how they can progress.

When should a performance report be written?

Many managers often struggle in recognizing when to write a performance review. To properly identify when to write such a device, it is important to realize the concept of Recency Bias. Recency bias is defined as a cognitive bias that favors recent events over historic ones. An example of this would be how a lawyer’s final closing argument in court is said to be one of the most important moments in law due to it being the last, and therefore favored, event that the jury hears prior to being dismissed to deliberate.

 To put this into the context of business, imagine that a worker has completed a very important project in January, with constant work through the rest of the year, and a below-average performance in December. Should a manager write this employee’s performance review in December, what would be the first thing to go through their mind? In most cases, it would be the latest event, which in this case would be the aforementioned poor performance in December. The report would probably focus on this, and therefore, would not be a good metric to evaluate an employee with.  Therefore, it is extremely important to remain cognizant of this bias and recall the other tasks, in this case, the project completion, and add them to the review. A performance review that is clear of recency bias is much more reliable, and also more accurate.

Once you have identified the concept of recency bias, and have taken steps to ensure avoidance of such, you can write this review at your convenience. Performance reviews are best written at the conclusion of a financial or business year but can also be written more frequently as well to create a constant stream of feedback – for leaders using AIM Insights, the data is optimized for monthly reviews. Regardless of when this report is written, it should not be the sole way that an employee is evaluated. The key thing to remember here is that an employee has no way to improve without receiving feedback or constructive criticism. If someone doesn’t know that there is a problem, how would they be able to fix it? The same applies to the employee review. Provide feedback, whether it be through a Slack message, or a text, or even a chat over coffee. This way, an employee would not get blindsided by a bad review. 

How should a performance review be conducted?

Ideally, a review is started from the very beginning of the period to be evaluated and defined by management. This boils down to recognizing what an employee has been assigned, and then what they are completing. Workforce performance management software such as AIM Insights can be used to help automate this process. The primary responsibility of the reviewer is to take notes throughout the entire period to ensure the best possible review. This helps with avoiding the aforementioned recency bias conundrum. As mentioned before, this review should be compounded with regular conversation or meetings, to allow for improvement. Once it is time for the actual written report, use benchmarks and performance indicators. In some businesses, it may be the number of sales, or the number of customers recruited. Regardless, quantitative data is objective, and can often assist in writing the rest of the report. Use thresholds and compare them to the employee’s progress to determine acceptability.  

After this review is written, a meeting should be set up to discuss this with an employee, with prior delivery of the review. While this discussion may be difficult, it is important to recognize that this is to help improve performance, as well as employee mood. Remember, keep it constructive, juxtaposing both praise and improvement recommendations. With these tips, you should be well on your way to writing the perfect performance review. Best of luck!

Tue 19 April 2022
Congratulations, you’re in charge of your team now! The dynamic at work is changing, but don’t worry, you got this! 
If you want your direct reports to respect you, it’s important that you first show them the respect that they deserve. 
Actively treating all of your workers fairly, demonstrating your value for them through your words and actions, listening to their concerns and addressing them as best you can will set you apart as a leader that they can trust and respect. 
Garrett Mintz, founder of Ambition in Motion, discusses the way that the best leaders are the ones who dole out credit and take accountability for things that don’t go the way that they’re supposed to. 
“It’s a beautiful thing when the leader doesn’t care who gets the credit,” said in a TikTok duet about leadership with Garrett Mintz and Josh Lewis, Management Consultant.
 
=> Want more videos like this? Join our Mailing List to be part of our Executive Mastermind Group. Click the link to sign up for our newsletter: https://buff.ly/3FZfhcq 
 
            At Ambition in Motion, we don’t control the content of one’s work but we can have an impact on how people interact with each other at work. 
            At your company, you are in charge of your direct reports! The respect that you receive from them must be earned, and it begins with your ability to be confident in your actions and malleable to your new work environment. 
 
How can I get my direct reports to respect me as a leader? 
-       Give out Credit 
-       Take Accountability
 
What does it mean to take accountability? 
            Being “accountable” is more than just taking responsibility, or being reliable. 
Several veins run through a truly accountable leader. 
Accountability is a skill that requires leaders to own up to a team’s actions, decisions, and mistakes. It’s also the ability to follow up on the commitments you have made within an organization and its people. 
As a leader of others, you are actively representing your organization, and promoting the quality of work that you aim to produce and to be produced by others. When things do not go according to plan, take the initiative to be the first to shine a light on the opportunity to grow, as a team.
 
What does it mean to give out credit?
            The best leaders give credit to others, they don’t take credit for themselves. 
            When you represent a team of people, one of your biggest goals is to encourage them to be the best that they can be. Just as your team is learning and growing, you are also learning how you can help them best grow and reach their highest potential by remaining malleable to their work processes. Every member of your term plays an important role in the execution of your overall goal; the more respect and power that you give to them, the more success you will find. 
            However, mistakes happen. A leader who assumes the blame, and passes the credit, send a message that mistakes are OK and that when they happen, it will be an opportunity to learn and grow. By inspiring those in your charge, your employees will emulate your best traits, which will include assuming the blame for themselves.
            The best leaders inspire others and give credit. 
 
Why is it important that I give credit and take accountability?
            Giving credit and taking accountability sets yourself apart from the team, as a guide toward your team’s overall success. The more emphasis that you put on guiding your team, rather than showcasing your leadership (by taking credit or blaming others for mistakes), the more respect you will gain from your direct reports. Check out these leadership tips: 
 
  1. Encourage your team 
            Earning your team’s respect starts with building a trusting and positive community within the team. 
Encouraging and promoting others to do their best and work together also boosts productivity because it makes employees feel less isolated and helps them to feel more engaged with their tasks.
By creating a positive and supportive work environment, your direct reports will not only trust and respect you, but they will also work harder to produce good results as they aim to live up to the high standards that you hold for them. 
 
2. Recognize and praise good work
Although it’s important to give credit to your team, public praise is great for both recognition and learning. When you publicly share specifically what was great and why it was great, not only does it have more meaning for the person being praised, but it helps the whole team learn something new.
Remember to provide details about what the person did, the impact, and the context so that the whole team learns.
When you recognize good work, you remind your team what you’re working towards, and what they’re doing right, which in turn, inspires them to keep doing better. This plethora of inspiration and praise allows for a more open-minded environment for idealization between you and your direct reports. 
Looking for a more efficient way to evaluate performance reviews within your company? Ambition in Motion offers the software, AIM Insights reports, ensuring visibility over all ongoing activities: task performance, manager performance, organizational citizenship, team performance, and goals for direct reports. Click here to learn more about how you can simplify your performance review process! 
 
3. Correct in private
Although praise is an extremely important part of your relationships with your direct reports, it is normal for things to go wrong sometimes! However, it’s important to correct people’s mistakes in private, and then later emphasize to the team what they should avoid, without calling anyone out personally. 
Private criticism is important in order to be kind and clear. Radical Candor is not the same thing as “front-stabbing”, and it’s much kinder to criticize someone in private. 
Public criticism can feel unnecessarily harsh. Private criticism will also be clearer because it’s much less likely to trigger a person’s defense mechanisms.
 
4. Acknowledge workplace adaptation
Yes, you have new direct reports! 
Yes, the workplace dynamic is different now. Own it! 
As a new manager, it’s important to remember that just as your team is learning to adjust to you, you are also learning to adjust to them and your new position.
Do not be afraid to emphasize this learning curve to your team. In order to create a culture of respect that encourages growth and high levels of success, it’s your job to make learning a part of your daily routine in the workplace. 
Learning helps people keep a broad perspective. 
An important part of your job is to know that your direct reports are counting on you to guide them. When mistakes are made, it is no one’s fault (including you), but as a manager, you make a promise to your team to lead them in the right direction as best you can, meaning you must learn to take accountability for team mistakes. However, this is a positive part of your job! Not only will you take accountability for mistakes, but you will do it with pride, and emphasize a learning curve in everything that you do, and everything that your team does; mistakes are OK! 
 
5. Be transparent about your motives  
            Transparent communication is the act of both good and bad information being shared upward, downward, and laterally in a way that allows all to see the why behind the words. 
A workplace with transparent communication is a more collaborative and trustworthy workplace, with information being openly shared between employees and across levels of the organization. 
Transparent communication also allows employees to be more innovative since they are more informed. Additionally, transparent communication encourages others to communicate openly and increases the sharing of ideas. 
When transparent communication is present between you and your direct reports, you allow the workplace to be collectively informed about the true happenings within the organization in order for them to align their actions accordingly, ultimately making your job easier and removing any confusion about the team’s overall goals.
 
 
            These leader tips will help you set the grounds for a positive, encouraging work environment. 
Real accountability requires leaders to take responsibility and pride in the art of encouraging and guiding their employees. Being an accountable leader is not as easy as it may sound, but it is necessary to bring genuine value to your team of employees and your organization as a whole. However, taking responsibility and giving out credit whenever possible will set you apart from other leaders, and enable your direct reports to respond positively to your leadership.
Mon 25 April 2022
Your team knows better than anyone what it’s like to work for you. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to tell you. When it comes to giving feedback, many direct reports figure, “Why risk it?” or “What’s the point?”
They’re cautious because they’ve heard about, or experienced managers lashing out, hurting people’s careers, or just plain ignoring them when they share what they really think. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
You can be a different kind of leader; one who understands that just about everything you do and say impacts your direct reports’ lives and performance; a leader who truly wants to hear their unpolished feedback; who proactively seeks out that feedback so that everyone can reach their highest potential, including you. 
 
Why is it important that managers receive feedback from their direct reports?
No one wants to offend the boss, right? But without input, your development will suffer, you may become isolated, and you’re likely to miss out on hearing some great ideas. 
The feedback you get from your direct reports can help to shape your management style, decision-making process, and the ways in which you interact with your team members. This kind of feedback can not only make you a better manager, but ultimately, it can also help to inspire a higher level of performance in your team.
So, how can you get your direct reports to give you HONEST feedback?
 
How can managers get honest feedback from their direct reports?
            Acknowledge the fear, and embrace your desire to be the best leader for your direct reports! 
            As the boss, you have to set the stage so people feel comfortable with you. You need to break through their fear. You know that everyone makes mistakes, even you! Tell them this. Explain, honestly and openly, that you need their feedback.
But at the same time, it’s important that you recognize how hard it might be to hear this tough feedback. It’s human nature to feel upset when you’re criticized. However, in order for you to be the best leader that you can be, and to help your team thrive, you need this feedback! Here are three ways to help you get there:
 
●     Establish a groundwork for high-trust feedback exchanges 
●     Conduct regular 1:1 meetings with your direct reports 
●     Use the right evaluation software: AIM Insights 
 
  1. How to establish a groundwork for high-trust feedback exchanges
 
Do you want your direct reports to give you honest feedback?
You can’t expect your direct reports to provide honest, open, and helpful feedback if you don’t provide it to them. It’s a two-way street. So take care to model best feedback practices that signal trust, respect, and fairness. 
Unless you already have a strong, trusting relationship with your direct reports, you likely won’t get far bulldozing your way straight into a sensitive task (e.g., “So, how am I doing as a manager?”). But most people, even new hires, will be comfortable and possibly even flattered if you initiate feedback exchanges over lower-stakes topics related to the team’s work. This will send a strong message that you care about, and rely on, your team’s opinions. 
Showing that you care about your direct reports through mutual feedback is essential! You won’t get honest feedback from your direct reports if they don’t feel safe. And they won’t feel safe if you react to the inevitable challenges of work-life with cringes, frustration, or anger. 
 
 
  1. Importance of regularly conducting 1:1 meetings with direct reports
With a loaded schedule like yours, you have limited time, your task list is endless and the goals are aggressive. And your calendar is already full of other meetings: Management meetings, Quarterly review meetings, Sync meetings, and much more…
But as a manager and leader, there’s one meeting you should have and follow: one-on-one meetings with your team.
A one-on-one meeting is a dedicated space on the calendar and in your mental map for open-ended and anticipated conversations between a manager and an employee. Unlike status reports or tactical meetings, the 1:1 meeting is a place for coaching, mentorship, giving context, or even venting.
The 1:1 goes beyond an open door policy and dedicates time on a regular cadence for teammates and leaders to connect and communicate.
 
 
 
  1. Am I using the most efficient evaluation software? 
What method do you use to conduct self/team evaluations? 
When conducting performance evaluations, things can often get messy. How often should you conduct them? What forms should be involved in the process? How long should it take everyone? 
Stress, no more! At Ambition in Motion, we’ve created AIM Insights, a software to help YOU conduct your evaluations with simplicity
AIM Insights is a tool utilized by fortune 500 companies to help teams set goals, measure performance, and engagement improvement, and create greater communication between direct reports and managers.
This software allows leaders to stay up to date on their direct reports’ engagement levels, productivity levels, and individual goals on a month-by-month rolling basis. 
 
How should managers respond to the feedback from their direct reports?
As a manager, it’s crucial that you respond to employee feedback. 
One of the biggest frustrations for employees who take the time to give thoughtful feedback is when this feedback is ignored by their peers, manager, or organization. Responding to feedback from your team members shows them that you take their ideas and opinions to heart.
Remember, it’s important to read, ponder and acknowledge all of the feedback given to you, but you’re not required to take all of it! 
Regardless of whether you decide to take the feedback or not, you owe it to the direct report who gave you the feedback to communicate your intentions. 
Sometimes it’s important that we have these conversations about our intentions in order to show our direct reports that we’re changing and growing every day. 
 
Example of what you might say if you choose to take the feedback: “Thanks so much for your feedback, John. You make a great point. I’m going to work on talking less during meetings and making sure others get the opportunity to weigh in. If it’s OK with you, I’d also like to check in with you in our 1-on-1s to see if you notice any progress.”
 
Example of what you might say if you choose NOT to take the feedback: “Thanks so much for your feedback, John. I’ve given it a lot of thought. While hearing your feedback about my meeting facilitation was helpful, I’ve decided to prioritize another behavior change right now: committing more time to coach the team. But it means a lot to me that you were honest, and I’m going to continue asking for your input.”
 
            Utilizing your 1:1 meetings to convey your thoughts and appreciation of your direct reports’ feedback is a great place to start! 
            Good luck! 
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!

Mon 2 May 2022
Congratulations on your firm acquiring a new company! You’ve been working towards this achievement, you have plans for change ready to implement, but what’s going to happen with your newly acquired employees?
Recently, an executive in our mastermind group acquired another firm in Toronto. The former owners of the newly acquired company were older in age and ready for retirement. 
The newly acquired company was historically making sales with ridiculously great prices (sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?). In the due diligence process, our executive learned that the technology used at the newly acquired firm could reduce his manufacturing costs by 50%. So, one of the first points of business was raising prices to normal prices in order to raise their profit. In addition to this, they hold plans to implement their technology into their current company in order to minimize their overall operating costs. 
Of course, for the firm that acquired this company, this plan looked GREAT. But, like anything else, there’s a catch. The biggest problem that managers face in an acquisition is how to effectively integrate the new team members into the new work culture.
 
Why is it important to put time and effort into integrating your newly acquired team into the new company you wish to build? 
 
Mergers and acquisitions represent an enormous operational and cultural change for employees. Culture is too often neglected. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap!
One basic problem is management’s tendency to focus mostly on changes that would help to capture a deal’s value targets (business and technology), meanwhile largely ignoring those required to maintain and enhance the company’s health… AKA, the people involved. 
And why is it so important to ensure that the people involved in these changes are being taken care of?
Easy: If you give them the support that they need, they will give you the support that you need. 
After all of the work that you’ve done, who needs a new team of employees making things harder? If you work to integrate them into your plans, they will work to integrate you into theirs as well. Remember, you’re in charge, but you need them on your side, and it will be in your best interest to begin forming these relationships as soon as possible! 
 
How can a manager effectively communicate with their newly acquired employees during an acquisition? 
A company acquisition can be a difficult and stressful time for your employees. Learn from these tips how you can help calm their concerns and guide them through the process with success.
  1. Make a plan to shape your introduction. 
 
Following an acquisition, it’s vital that a welcome message of some kind is delivered to the acquired business from the parent company. The employees of the acquired business will appreciate this gesture, and it will allow you to set an expectation for the type of relationship you will have moving forward. Consider whether or not your company is well known to the acquired employees. 
If you need to provide background information about your business and its history, now’s the time to do that. You can also let them know when additional communications can be expected.
The goal here is to acknowledge that the acquisition happened and that you care about them!
 
2. Help your employees understand what it means for them, right now. 
 
Give the employees the information they are most interested in—how it impacts them. To do that, figure out what’s new, what’s changing and what’s staying the same in the immediate future, and determine the best way to communicate this information.
To complement the larger organizational meetings and email summaries, leaders should hold face-to-face meetings with their individual teams. Here is where leaders can go into deeper dives about what the change means for their specific teams. Employees who may not have felt comfortable asking questions in a larger meeting may feel more at ease doing so in a smaller team setting.
With all change, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open after the initial announcement. As progress is made on initiatives, consider putting together quick one- or two-minute videos in which you speak to the successes made thus far and key areas of focus in the short term. Email the videos to teams, and/or host them on the company’s intranet page. These tips will allow you to create a mutual relationship with your team members. 
Leader videos and follow-up emails can contain calls to action for employees to complete surveys. Surveys can be hugely helpful in keeping a pulse on employees’ attitudes toward the change and any challenges or concerns that have come up. Employees have a different perspective than leaders, so including their feedback to continue certain initiatives and course-correct others can lead to greater success. In future communications, leaders can speak to how they’ve addressed survey feedback, which can go a long way toward maintaining employee support and engagement. At Ambition In Motion, we have created a tool called AIM Insights to help with that process.
 
3. Share your vision for the future. 
 
What is your vision for the future? 
After learning how the acquisition will directly impact them right now, employees will want to know what the future holds. You may not know exactly what the business will look like post-acquisition as many businesses need to go through an assessment period to understand if and when future changes will be made. However, be as transparent as you can. Let your stakeholders know that future changes may come down the pike and that you will provide them with regular updates. 
Figuring out the key information to communicate during an acquisition is just one step to building your acquisition communications plan. 
I’m sure you have lots of ideas. But what are the most important pieces of information you should share with your team? 
In order to effectively communicate with your team, they’re probably going to be wondering what the timeline is, what’s going to happen to them and their work routine, due diligence, and 1:1 meetings will be extremely helpful in this situation. 
After ensuring that you’ve developed your timeline, plans for the team, and the due diligence that they must complete, a 1:1 meeting with each of your new team members will help acclimate them to you and the workplace. 
A one-on-one meeting is a dedicated space on the calendar and in your mental map for open-ended and anticipated conversations between a manager and an employee. Unlike status reports or tactical meetings, the 1:1 meeting is a place for coaching, mentorship, giving context, or even venting.
The 1:1 goes beyond an open door policy and dedicates time on a regular cadence for teammates and leaders to connect and communicate.
Tue 3 May 2022
Learning your company is being acquired can be a very scary revelation- especially if you don’t have any equity in the company. As Mergers and Acquisitions become ever so more frequent in today’s world, it is important to recognize what you as an employee can do to better your prospects under new management and make the most for yourself in a situation that may not only feel unfamiliar but terrifying at the same time. 

Rumors of acquisition may spread around the workplace, and at that time, it is important to appear to have no change in your work. While it is okay to start preparing for the worst, such as by polishing your resume or reaching out to friends in similar industries, 9 times out of 10, new management will not want to abandon ship with the current staff. There remains the slim possibility of layoffs though, and it is important to not appear to be slacking off with an upcoming acquisition. Ask HR or management as many questions as you need to about this. Some items that are important to ask about are stock options and benefits. These are the most likely to change during an acquisition.  It is also important to attend any required meetings. These could pertain to unfinished work, news about the acquisition, company news, or even future goals. Attending these meetings also show your dedication and passion for the role.

As the merger begins to commence, you may notice your managers or even new management holding meetings with staff in 1-on-1s, as well as host meetings. During these meetings, you have a golden opportunity to market yourself and advocate for a higher wage, more benefits, or even a promotion. Seizing growth opportunities is an integral part of the M&A process. Most companies will set up a transition structure or team, which is a temporary organization to help with merger technicalities. Being a part of this team can demonstrate your talents and abilities to any manager, past, present, or future. 

In addition to this, quantifiable data demonstrating your impact to a team as well as showcasing your individual skills can be very helpful. You may wonder how you might be able to get this data. Performance evaluation tools such as Ambition in Motion’s AIM insights can be worth their weight in gold. Tools such as this can track team performance, goal completion, manager performance, and task performance, as well as provide visibility from both direct reports and management. Due to these accountability trackers and task performance, you as an employee now have concrete proof as to just how useful you are. Also, start to understand what your manager does, or what other positions do. For example, I have a friend who works in a communications position. When he received the news that his company was to be acquired by a much larger company, he knew that this was his best chance to be able to get a promotion at the time. He started doing research into what his manager did on a day-to-day basis, learning how to file expense reports, purchase reports, and how to work with each individual vendor.  When it came time for his interview with the new management, he wowed them with his technical knowledge of the position and was offered a promotion with a $20,000 raise and a 15% sign-on bonus.

You may not always get an explicit chance to negotiate for anything during the merger. This is why managing up is so important. Explaining your goals of career advancement and success can demonstrate your dedication to your work. However, if you do get to negotiate in a meeting that is explicitly defined as such, using quantitative data, along with a polished resume will set you apart from other candidates. In studies regarding managers of companies that plan to acquire others, 75% of the time, they will attempt to hire and promote in-house, due to the higher knowledge and experience with company culture. Having good relations with your peers will also be helpful here, due to the potential references.  With all of these, you should be able to present a solid case for your promotion or whatever it is that you desire.

It is important to understand that you may not necessarily get exactly what you want. Compromise may be necessary. You may not get a $20,000 promotion. But the door isn’t closed to a $10,000 promotion. The key is to avoid burning any bridges and maintain an air of professionalism with your coworkers and managers. You will have more chances for advancement in the future, but only so long as you are regarded well, and your performance is high. If you so choose, you can always seek employment or a better-paid position elsewhere. As an employee in a company being acquired, you have more options than most people do in this time of transition.

Being acquired is scary, and even scarier when you don’t know what your next steps are, or when you don’t know what may happen to your job. Use some of these tips, and it should turn out for the best.

Mon 9 May 2022
Do you have a perfectionist on your team? The good news is that your direct report has high standards and a fine attention for detail. The bad news is that he fixates on every facet of a project and can’t set priorities.
Can you harness these positive qualities without indulging the bad? Can you help them become less of a stickler? Yes and yes. 
In fact, many people claim to be perfectionists because they think it makes them look good. But true perfectionism is a flaw more than an asset. In many cases, this compulsive behavior can be a thorn in the side of a great performer. 
Managing a perfectionist can be challenging but it’s not impossible. And when done well, you both will benefit. 
 
Discovering perfectionism in the workplace 
 
Recently, an executive from a Fortune 500 company was experiencing issues within his team; he felt that they were performing well but they were failing to give him feedback
As he dug deeper to find the reasoning behind this issue, he found that his team struggled with a competition issue. 
His team’s drive to be perfect and not show mistakes gave the executive a false sense that everything was going well. And in turn, his direct reports were hesitant to give honest feedback because they didn’t want to look bad or come off as imperfect. 
Fortunately, he had the group to work through his challenges. Just like his direct reports were fearful of going to him with issues, he was fearful of going to his boss with the issue that he built a culture that wasn’t psychologically safe and competitive which resulted in issues being hidden, and developing into larger issues. 
 
A perfectionist is defined as a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection. It’s not necessarily a bad trait! Striving for perfection means you care a lot about your task and your desired goal. 
There are actually a lot of pros and cons to perfectionism in the workplace: 
 
Pros and Cons of perfectionism from direct reports
 
Pro – Your direct reports go the extra mile with their tasks.
Con – Your direct reports often put in a lot more work than they may communicate with you or your team, creating an exclusive atmosphere in the office where people feel as though they are in competition with each other.
 
Pro – Your direct reports look as though they really have everything together. 
Con – Your direct report lacks honesty with you and the rest of your team because they are constantly trying to attain an image of perfection in order to hide the fact that they are actually imperfect, just like everyone else.
 
Pro – Your direct reports have motivation, determination, persistence, and drive; all qualities that most people find redeeming and can make a great candidate for a job.
Con – Your direct reports often stretch themselves thin trying to constantly exude these qualities in every aspect of their work, to the point where they create an environment of competition rather than togetherness. 
 
One of the most important pros and cons of them all happens to be a huge challenge of perfectionism that acts as both a pro and a con: 
 
Pro – You never accept failure from yourself.
Con – You never accept failure from yourself.
 
There are pros and cons to everything, but the challenges to perfectionism can breed a culture of competition where no one wants to admit their mistakes. Sometimes, people end up sabotaging each other rather than working together. And worst of all, when an issue arises, people hide it and try to solve it on their own, which in turn creates a much larger problem for the team to deal with. 
 
What is the biggest challenge of perfectionism? 
 
Some signs of perfectionism in the workplace include:
●     Very high standards (and the belief they must be achieved)
●     Highly self-critical
●     Fear of failure and making mistakes
●     Over-focused on minor details
●     Obsession with rechecking/redoing work
●     Difficulty completing a task or project
●     Overachiever
●     Stressed or anxious about performance or results
●     Too much competition
 
However, the biggest challenge when dealing with perfectionism is not wanting to make mistakes. If your direct reports are struggling with perfectionism, they likely are afraid of making mistakes, and even more afraid of others (including you) finding out that they’re capable of making mistakes. 
Just the word “mistake” is capable of striking fear in a lot of people’s minds when it really shouldn’t. It makes them anxious, indecisive, and at times, overwhelmed too.
It’s not a nice feeling to be regretful about something that you worked hard for and put a lot of time into. This is where direct reports may get caught up in either trying to be absolutely perfect or simply not reaching their potential by “playing it safe” and not trying new things out of the fear of making mistakes. 
As a manager of this team, it’s your job to encourage your direct reports to find a happy medium! 
It can be very easy for your direct reports to get stuck in the area between the paralyzing side of the fear of making mistakes and gathering the courage to give it a shot, or in the area of perfectionism where they’re too scared to admit to their mistakes.  
 
How to effectively manage the challenges within perfectionism 
 
Create an environment where it is mutually understood that you (the manager) take the blame when things go wrong. 
Mistakes happen! 
A leader who assumes the blame, and passes the credit, sends a message that mistakes are OK and that when they happen, it will be an opportunity to learn and grow. By inspiring those beneath you, your employees will emulate your best traits, which will include assuming the blame for themselves.
            The best leaders inspire others and give credit. 
Giving credit and taking accountability sets yourself apart from the team, as a guide toward your team’s overall success. The more emphasis that you put on guiding your team, rather than showcasing your leadership (by taking credit or blaming others for mistakes), the more respect you will gain from your direct reports.
Here are a few important tips for creating an environment with your perfectionist direct reports where it is assumed that mistakes are inevitable, and welcomed: 
 
  1. Appreciate the positives while recognizing the negatives
Working with perfectionists can be frustrating. They tend to be impatient with or hypercritical of others and they’re not good at delegating. 
However, it’s your job to recognize that while irritating, their behavior is not all bad. It stems from a place of care for their work
In fact, because of their insistence on excellence, they often raise the standards of those around them. Be sure to tell them that you appreciate the level of enthusiasm and drive that they bring to the team, and encourage them to work more with the team, rather than against the team, on their own. 
A perfectionist wants to do what is best for them and their goals; be sure to reassure them that they will reach the highest of their potential by sharing, communicating and working inclusively.
Every employee needs feedback. But perfectionists may have a harder time than others hearing criticism of their work. 
Since critique is difficult for them, perfectionists are likely to hear only the negatives. Instead, share your apprehensions first
An important aspect in giving feedback to a perfectionist is to ensure that they know they are appreciated and valued. Don’t be afraid to ask your direct report: “Is there a most efficient way that you prefer we exchange feedback with each other?” and “What aspects of your work could use greater clarity from myself or other team members?”
With this in mind, you can deliver the input in a way that won’t make them defensive or demotivate them. 
 
Looking for a more efficient way to evaluate performance reviews within your company? Ambition in Motion offers their software, AIM Insights reports, ensuring visibility over all ongoing activities: task performance, manager performance, organizational citizenship, team performance, and goals for direct reports. Click here to learn more about how you can simplify your performance review process! 
 
            Managing a perfectionist can be challenging but it’s not impossible. And when done well, you both will benefit!
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. 

Mon 30 May 2022
Previously, we’ve talked about Performance Reviews in great detail.  One of the key aspects of a good Performance Review Process is to have periodic one on ones with your direct reports. As a new manager, this is especially important since it will help you make an impression on not only your direct reports but also on your peers and upper management. An effective one-on-one is the best way for a manager to not only share feedback but also engage with their employees.

What is a 1:1?

A 1:1, or One on One, is a meeting between two individuals, most frequently between a manager and an employee. This can be about a range of topics but is generally about work-related topics such as goals or tasks. However, it is also a personal space where you as a manager can help develop your employee’s professional skills and help them with issues that may be plaguing them in their personal or professional lives. It is beyond what a work meeting will go into, by delving into personal matters and allowing for venting if necessary.  

When should a new manager host a 1:1?

Knowing when to host one-on-ones as a new manager could definitely seem intimidating. One of the most important tasks of being a new manager is getting to know your team members in respect to your new relationship. In addition to that, you should be having at least two or three of these meetings with your team members each month. Some companies like to have 1:1s every week! These meetings need to be regularly scheduled and held to allow for increased communication between yourself and your direct reports. Each of these meetings should be scheduled for between 30 minutes to an hour. Finding that perfect amount of time can be tricky. If it’s too long, neither if you will be efficient and will get bored quickly. Too short, and you may rush through a meeting and not sufficiently discuss all of your planned topics on the itinerary. I recommend starting with a 45-minute meeting and adjusting from there depending on how the two attendees felt the meeting went.

What should a New Manager say in a 1:1?

Generally, a good 1:1 will have a few different topics discussed. Some of these goals can include goal setting, previous tasks, current tasks, future tasks, as well as personal issues. Keep in mind that communication of any type is important. However, the first 1:1 should definitely be for you to set goals, introduce yourselves, and get to know each other. The tone of this meeting can set the tone of your entire working relationship for the future. This especially applies to new employees, since this is how you create a first impression and introduce them to company culture.

This first 1:1 should allow you to really create a personal connection with your employees. One of my mentors used to say that “They don’t care what you know until they know you care.”  This applies to your management relationships as well. According to Forbes, Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.  Some of the questions that you could ask are, “What can I help you with?”, “What makes you feel valued at work?”, “How do you work best?”, or “What do you want to know about me?” Personal Connections can really help you understand what makes your employee unique, such as their talents, interests, or skills. However, it is important to still maintain professional boundaries. Keep your wits about you to not only protect yourself and your company but also to avoid making your direct reports uncomfortable. Remember, the goal is to make your employee feel welcome and brought into the company culture, not to scare them away. According to Forbes, disengaged employees can cost U.S companies up to 550 Billion dollars per year. Try to engage them, but don’t scare them off. This doesn’t mean don’t be vulnerable with your team. It just means that you shouldn’t gossip or share personal information that isn’t pertinent to your role as a leader or the role itself. 

With these tips on the ideal starting 1:1, you should be able to begin these meetings with your staff, even as a new manager. Start slow and be friendly. You were made a manager for a reason; you have the skills. You just need to apply them to these meetings and without a doubt, you will be able to start a very fruitful working relationship.

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.  
Wed 29 June 2022
Employee Turnover is one of the most irritating and damaging problems that a business may face. There are a few reasons that this can occur, but luckily, most of these reasons can be easily rectified or ameliorated. 

What exactly is Employee Turnover?

                Employee turnover is the phenomenon in which an individual leaves their position for another position, or to be free of the workforce. There are traditionally two types of this. The first type of turnover is voluntary turnover, which is when someone chooses to leave their position. Examples of this can be retirement, seeking a higher position, or taking time off to take care of a family.

                The second form of turnover is involuntary turnover, which is when someone is forcefully relieved of their duties. This is often initiated by an employer or human resources. This can include being let go, fired, demoted, or a few other actions. 

                According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most industries have a turnover rate of 19%.  A turnover rate is calculated by taking the number of employees that leave within a specific period of time by the average number of employees working in that time frame. The lower this rate is, the better it is for the employer. 

Why is turnover so bad?

                The hiring process is not an easy one for a manager, nor is it inexpensive. The process of hiring the best possible candidate includes a few tasks. Not only does this job have to be posted and then advertised, but then needs to be screened for and interviewed. All of these cost large sums of money, estimated to be on average about a third of the employee’s yearly salary, which equates to around $16,500 in many cases. In addition to that, it costs time and money to train new employees and then set them up with corporate devices, insurance, and any other plans they elect to sign up to.  Turnover also has the unfortunate aspect of reducing productivity due to fewer hands on deck. 

                Turnover is often easily avoidable as well.  According to the Work Institute’s 2017 Retention report, 75% of the reasons for employee turnover can be prevented, many of which can be blamed on poor management. Employees often choose to leave because of a lack of challenges, feeling underappreciated, or bored. However, they also leave due to poor communication, lack of advancement, mistreatment, or being overworked. 

                Fixing some of these problems can help increase your retention rate, and consequently decrease your turnover rate. However, understanding that the fault can fall mainly on management is key to helping improve retention. Executive coaching programs such as Ambition in Motion’s AIM insights can help your managers learn about commonly made mistakes, along with how to avoid them. AIM Insights also offers executive mastermind groups, which function similarly to Masterclasses. 

Increasing Retention Rate

                The following problems are three of the reasons that most frequently cause employees to leave, along with some suggested solutions.

1.       Unclear Job Descriptions that do not portray a position accurately
This can be rectified at the source of the problem. Have your current direct reports have a hand in designing these job position descriptions. They understand these positions the best since they work in them every day.
2.       Poor compensation
This is often difficult to fix since your company may not always be able to simply add more money to the payroll budget. However, it is important to understand how to give fair and adequate compensation. This should be given based on experience, skill, and how much you expect out of them. Do not expect someone for who you are paying the bare minimum to go above and beyond in every task you give them
3.       A Lack of career advancement opportunities
There is a certain type of employee known as a career-oriented worker. These individuals strive to gain advancement and continue working. Without any promotions or opportunities for advancement, they tend to lose interest and will look elsewhere for jobs. Do not be afraid to give more opportunities to your employees. Have faith in them.

 Better communication will also almost always help with issues related to trouble retaining employees. According to a report made by TinyPulse on employee retention in 2018, there is a 16% retention rate decrease for employees who aren’t receiving or giving feedback. 

A good 1:1 can not only give your employees feedback and a feeling of appreciation and recognition but also show you as a manager what you need to improve in order to retain your employees. Regular and honest communication will show your employees that their help is valued and that you care about their growth as a direct report as well as a person.

A good onboarding program can work wonders as well. In a survey by CareerBuilder, 9% of employees who have left their company blame it on a poor onboarding experience, and 37% of those employees say that their managers weren’t even present during the onboarding.  More details will follow about how to create an effective onboarding process, but at the very least, make it as thorough as possible for your newer direct reports, and be present and attentive at these meetings.

Through communication and improvement, you can keep your turnover rate as low as possible, and succeed in the workplace. 

Tue 2 August 2022
It is exceedingly important to build an environment conducive to allowing team members to communicate with each other as well as with you, their manager. This is particularly important as it pertains to feedback.

                In fact, according to Gallup, managers who receive feedback on their strengths and weaknesses show an 8.9% increase in profitability, while teams with managers that gave feedback report a 12.5% increase in profitability. 

                Feedback can truly add to the workplace. But while it is often a stated responsibility for a manager to give critical feedback, it is often difficult to encourage your direct reports to give feedback as well. This is a concept known as 360-degree feedback or two-way feedback. And you can alleviate this problem in a few ways. 

Creating an environment in which Feedback is appreciated

                Whenever you inherit or create a team, you should have a good 1:1 with any member of staff. This should help you not only inspire your team and show them your mindset but also allow you to set an environment in advance. While in this meeting, you should not hesitate to explain how you value both giving and receiving feedback, but also explain why you value this so much. The key is creating a culture where people feel enough psychological safety to give feedback – not a passive-aggressive culture that says the right words but doesn’t deliver psychological safety.

                In addition to this, you should also model certain behaviors through your own work to help demonstrate your passion for this. Try doing some of the following:

1)      Show interest in what your direct reports are doing- keeping a common image of you caring for their interests will help foster this environment where they don’t feel uncomfortable with conversations with you.
2)      Accept your mistakes and acknowledge them- most people will feel more comfortable with telling someone if they’ve made a mistake if this person frequently acknowledges their errors. Own up to your mistakes!
3)      Recognize the power dynamic- To your direct reports, you rank higher than them. There is an inherent power difference here, and it is natural for them to be nervous about calling you out. 
4)      Read Implicit Language- Before asking for feedback, it is important to figure out the ideal time and appropriateness of asking for feedback. Sometimes, when an employee is particularly stressed, they may not be able to give the most effective feedback. 
5)      Take Immediate Action- If you are getting feedback from your direct reports and proceeding to not act on it, do you really think that they will be giving you any more feedback in the future? Taking action on feedback signifies your dedication to your direct reports, as well as how much respect you have for them. Not acting on it would show that you either don’t care or don’t respect their feedback. Don’t be that person. 

How to Receive Feedback as a Manager

                Ironically, the same way that your employees should receive feedback is the exact same way that you should receive feedback. This is a process of grace and dignity. Here are some concepts to keep in mind while accepting feedback.

1)      Be an Active Listener- Being an active listener means asking for details, presenting interested body language, and being polite. Leaning in, using facial language, and using hand gestures are all good examples of body language. It is important to let the other person speak, and not try to stifle them though. 
2)      Cross-Check Feedback- The more people that are saying a specific topic, the higher chance that this topic holds true. For example, if most of your direct reports are noting that you have trouble issuing deadlines, then this is probably a very discerning feature of yours. If a topic is mentioned by one direct report, it still is worth looking into, but the more frequent a topic is, the higher priority it should be.
3)      Be Polite- This should go without saying, but at any point, if you feel that you are getting emotional, adjourn the meeting or discussion in favor of a later date. It is not a good idea to have emotions while in this discussion. 
4)      Ask for Examples- Anecdotes and specific examples can be very handy for the effectiveness of feedback. If an employee says that you have trouble delegating duties, it may be hard to understand how. But imagine if you received this feedback: “During the period of time that we were working with company A, you had a lot of tasks on your plate while we were unused, and you were frequently irritable.” That says a thousand times more than the former feedback. 
5)      Be Aware of What you Say or Do- The actions that you take while and after receiving feedback can dictate your entire reputation in the office.  If you overreact in front of one of your direct reports, imagine how the rest of them will feel about giving you feedback. 

Using Services to Garner Feedback

HRIS systems can often be your best friend in terms of getting feedback from your direct reports. Many of them can automatically prompt direct reports to submit their own feedback. 

Ambition In Motion also offers a service known as AIM Insights, which can assist you with communication between you and your direct reports. Each month, a survey is sent out to your direct reports to fill out. The most important questions on this survey pertain to performance, task completion, and rigor over a period of time. These allow you to get candid feedback and then see how your direct reports feel about their tasks.  

In addition to that, AIM Insights’ Executive Coaches will give further evaluation and feedback to you and your fellow managers. Feedback between you and your direct reports can also be anonymous, allowing your employees to feel safer expressing their opinions.  

Sometimes, it’s not only scary to receive feedback or criticism but equally scary to give it. Understand the position that your employees are in, because at the end of the day, it is their company just as much as it is yours. You might organize them, but their day-to-day work will define the company. Let them make it a better place for themselves, as well as you and your fellow managers. Be empathetic, welcoming, and an active listener, and you will turn out just fine. 

Wed 10 August 2022
"The customer is always right; The customer comes first." 
We've all heard these mantras, either as part of our jobs or as customers ourselves in the marketing materials of countless businesses. 
However, extensive research shows that customer satisfaction is more effectively built by first focusing on employee happiness.
 
At the July Executive Symposium last Thursday, July 28, 2022, Todd Coerver, CEO of P. Terry’s Burger stand stated his belief that “the customer is not always right.” 
He demonstrated the way that he invests in his employees because investing in them is just as critical as investing in the company. 
Coerver’s stance on the always-known “customer is always right” rule poses the question: “Is employee loyalty more important than customer loyalty?”
 
The idea of putting employees before customers seems counterintuitive, but it's not entirely new. 
Over 20 years ago, a group of business professors from Harvard University had been working on a model that validated this concept. James Heskett, Thomas Jones, Gary Loveman, W. Earl Sasser, and Leonard Schlesinger were comparing results from their own studies and synthesizing other research to construct a model to explain the outstanding success of the most profitable service-based companies.
 
It began with Sasser’s research, conducted with his former student Fred Reichheld. The duo took aim at a long-standing assumption of business: market share is the primary driver of profitability. If a company can increase market share, it will increase sales while taking advantage of economies of scale to lower costs and thus increase profits. 
When the pair examined a variety of companies and the existing research, however, they found that while market share is one factor in profitability, another factor better explains the most profitable companies: customer loyalty
Based on their research, Sasser and Reichheld estimated that a mere 5% increase in customer loyalty can yield a 25 to 85% increase in profitability. 
This finding laid the foundation for the five Harvard professors’ search for the causes of customer loyalty. After studying dozens of companies and troves of research, they created a model that tracked the origins of customer loyalty. 
They called it the "service-profit chain."
 
The service-profit chain links together several elements of the business model in a linear relationship: Profit and growth are driven by customer loyalty
 
But first let’s take a step back… How is customer loyalty achieved? 
Loyalty is influenced by customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction is stimulated by a high perception of the value of the service.
Value is the result of productive employees. 
Productivity stems from employee satisfaction.
 
Put another way, profits are driven by customer loyalty, customer loyalty is driven by employee satisfaction, and employee satisfaction is driven by putting employees first.
 
According to Forbes, a recent study demonstrated that managers play a significant role in employees’ satisfaction and the service-profit chain. 
A trio of researchers led by Richard Netemeyer of the University of Virginia collected data from a single retail chain that included 306 store managers, 1,615 customer-employee interactions, and 57,656 customers. 
The researchers were testing the effect of managers’ performance and satisfaction on employees, and hence its effect on customers’ satisfaction and the overall performance of the managers’ stores.
 
They found that managers’ actions, customer satisfaction, and store financial performance were indeed linked. These results support the argument that management’s support of employees significantly contributes to Heskett and his colleagues at Harvard internal service quality, the first link in the service-profit chain. 
The findings from the research of Netemeyer and his team also suggest that flipping the organizational chart really works. 
It’s essential that managers understand that their role is to support employee satisfaction and hence customer satisfaction, in no small part because their success in this role clearly has a major impact on the financial performance of their company.
 
The belief shared by many corporate leaders that hierarchies ought to be flipped and customers put second is simple in theory, but difficult to put into practice. 
Turning the organization around requires turning loyalties around. 
Leaders must demonstrate that their loyalty is to employees first, trusting that their employees will then be more loyal and caring to their customers. 
It’s a big gamble, but the results speak for themselves.
 
How can you demonstrate an employee loyalty policy in your workplace? 
 
All companies want to attract the best possible talent to their workplace. But who would want to work with a company that treats its members as disposable assets?
Investing in your employees is a great business opportunity, and it builds a solid reputation for your company. 
People want to work for organizations that promote their growth and value their opinions. 
When you recognize the importance and value of your employees, you remind your team what you’re working towards, and what they’re doing right, which in turn, inspires them to keep doing better. 
This plethora of inspiration and praise allows for a more open-minded environment for idealization between you and your direct reports. Engaging in your team will allow for an engaged work environment at your organization. 
If you’re looking for an efficient way to track your progress with your team as you engage in them, AIM Insights ensures visibility over all ongoing activities: task performance, manager performance, organizational citizenship, team performance, and goals for direct reports. 
Implementing employee loyalty at your organization is great. But tracking overall performance throughout this process will be crucial to understanding its impacts long-term. 
 
Just like the research that Harvard professors, James Heskett, Thomas Jones, Gary Loveman, W. Earl Sasser, and Leonard Schlesinger conducted, happy employees equal happy customers. 
When you inform your employees that the customer is always right, it pits the employees against the customers, with the customers always coming out on top. This creates problems on multiple levels.
 
●     It undermines the authority and control of the employees.
●     It often causes employee resentment against managers.
●     It signals that management supports customers more than employees.
●     It shows a lack of trust that employees can appropriately resolve difficult situations.
 
The reality is, supporting your employees will lead to happier customers.
It’s important to remember to take your employees’ side in a positive way so that the customer understands that you and your employees are the experts of your business, and you aim to help the customer. 
However, some customers may not be happy if they are not treated as though they are correct, and that is okay. 
Believe it or not, there are some customers you do NOT want. If a customer constantly complains, abuses employees, or creates stress for your company, they’re not worth it. It doesn’t matter how much money they pay.
 
A bad customer:
 
●     Erodes employee morale
●     Requires an unusually high amount of resources
●     Increases employee stress levels
 
 
There may be times when you have to “fire” a customer in order to protect your company and employees. If you’re planning on staying in business for the long haul, you need to avoid terrible customers.
Dropping bad customers may cost you a little revenue in the short term, but it’s better in the long term for your business.
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
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.
Thu 6 October 2022
In a workplace setting, a manager is often viewed as the figurehead of the team, and sometimes even the company. The energy a manager gives is often reciprocated by their staff. A manager serves in a position similar to a quarterback for a football team. Not only are they often calling the shots for the business but are also responsible for setting the tone of the workplace. Managers are also the first tier when delivering employee engagement. As the adage goes ‘People don’t quit jobs. They quit bosses.’

               Employee motivation is defined as the way that a company fosters the daily amount of enthusiasm, energy level, commitment, and amount of creativity an employee brings to the table each day.  This can make a very large difference in employee retention and productivity rates. According to TeamStage and Gallop, motivated employees are 87% less likely to leave their company. At the same time, 81% of employees are thinking about quitting their jobs for better offers. Retaining employees can be hard enough while also striving to motivate them. These issues are often compounded when a company isn’t doing very well.

                Many employees feel engaged in their work based on their company’s success. The better a company does, the more motivation they have for their company mindset. Conversely, if a company is doing poorly, some employees may not be as interested in the company. As a result, they are not only more likely to leave, but also to not have the same standards for their work. So the key question is, “how does a manager engage employees without the company success to assist in engagement?”

Motivating Your Employees- The Platinum Rule

               Regardless of company success, managers have many ways to still continue to engage their employees. In 1996, Troy Alessandra and Michael O’Connor published a book known as “The Platinum Rule.” This rule differs from the Golden Rule of “Treat others as you want to be treated” and instead flips it to “Treat others how THEY want to be treated.” The reasoning for this is that not everyone will want to be treated the same way. Imagine this scenario:

               Manager A has two direct reports, B and C. Manager A is a former direct report that received a promotion and much public recognition for a hard-working attitude and success. She enjoyed the recognition and was looking for a promotion, so her rewards were very fitting. B and C have both been working very hard, and A would like to reward them in the same way that she had been. While C welcomed the attention, B started to pull away from everyone, and loathed the additional responsibilities of management.

               The Platinum Rule states that individuals should treat others the way that they want to be treated and ignores the fatal flaw of the Golden Rule. Not every individual wants to be treated the same way as you do. In the same way that direct reports have Work Orientation, they also have different preferences. A good manager should be able to see how an employee likes to be acknowledged and rewarded, and then act accordingly. This also gives direct reports a feeling of being recognized and valued. According to ApolloTechnical, a site specializing in HR Studies, “91% of HR Professionals believe that recognition and reward make employees more likely to stay.”
        

Utilizing The Platinum Rule

Getting to know employees as a manager and being open to communication can completely change how they feel about their occupation. While the Platinum Rule makes sense in theory, here are some ways that it can be utilized within the workplace.

1)      Talk about communication preferences – Everyone has a different method of preferred communication, while some may view it differently than others. Some people personally prefer to minimize communication to professional discussions, while some of professionals prefer to send memes and personal items in work group chats. Regardless, by opening that communication channel, we are able to use our Slack professionally, and they have added their own channel just to joke around, which others can mute. 
2)      Learn about your Employees - Using a good 1:1 can completely change a coworker dynamic for the better. Understanding what motivates them, what their goals are, what type of support they need, and what they enjoy working with can allow you as a manager to then tailor work for them that they will get the most enjoyment out of. It also opens the door for you to create better incentive programs for them.

Company Incentives

               A company not necessarily doing so well doesn’t always mean that managers can’t afford to help provide incentives for their employees. Not every incentive needs to be financial. While it is important to financially benefit employees, there are other ways to incentivize them without breaking the bank.

·        Casual Friday- In a Five Day work week, with about 50 to 60 hours a week, most people are tired and want nothing more than to relax by the time a weekend comes around. Removing or easing a corporate dress code can allow them to be as comfortable as possible while still being productive. In addition to this, managers should try to make tasks distributed over the course of the week, with more tasks toward the front of the week, allowing direct reports to ease into the weekend.
·        Time off and longer breaks- Time off can be worth its money in gold- especially around holidays. Employees coming back from time off are often much more motivated to work, and are more likely to stay on with a team.
·        Sponsoring education- This may be more expensive, and not necessarily available for every company. However, allowing opportunities for employees to receive higher education can completely change their life, and allow them to be a better worker.

Just because a company isn’t doing well at one point in time doesn’t mean that it won’t get better for them. However, losing a motivated employee base can mean a death sentence for a company. Appeal to the staff, and get to know how they are motivated, and follow up with them. It will make a massive difference. 

Fri 4 November 2022
Physical health has been at the forefront of management programs and labor laws for quite some time.  Recently, many individuals in the workforce have been prioritizing their mental health and also choosing to resign from their jobs, especially during the time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This occurred so frequently that University College London’s Professor Anthony Klotz termed this  phenomenon as “The Great Resignation.” 

            The Great Resignation is generally agreed to have started in early 2021, and as of November 2022 is still ongoing. The prioritization of mental health and consequent behaviors have also left managers in unique quandaries. Employees are more likely to resign, take more time off, schedule for more flexibility, or look for a new job. This primarily affects the age groups between 20 to 45, according to the Harvard Business Review. Consequently, this has the potential to affect managers severely, given that their workforce is primarily comprised of individuals within this age group, as stated by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. So how does a manager assist with their staff’s mental health, while also being a successful leader?

How a manager can assist with Mental Health

            A question that many managers ask themselves every day is “What is my purpose?” At the end of the day, the goal of a manager is to support and unify their staff towards a common role. While most managers are successful in attaining the latter, they often struggle with supporting their staff in terms of mental health. Here are some general suggestions for what a manager can do to help with this.

·       Be Approachable: Many managers have their own offices or workspaces, and as such, despite their attempts to remain close, they end up being further than anyone else. Institute an office hours policy and make yourself available to your employees during certain time periods.
·       Be Relatable: One of the great things for managers about the Great Resignation and pandemic is that it has made discussing mental health problems much more commonplace. Being honest about your own challenges can help employees recognize your priorities. Creating a company culture that is open to having dialogue about this can differentiate a business, and have several other benefits, such as  staff unification, better policy changes, and enhance the mental connection employees have with the business. This can improve retention and create a phenomenon known as affective commitment
·       Overcommunicate: According to Qualtrics,  “employees who felt their managers were not good at communicating have been 23% more likely than others to experience mental health declines.” Do not be afraid to provide clarifying details, and keep teams informed about organizational changes or updates. Be open during Employee 1:1s as well, and create a culture of checking in on fellow employees. It’s always been hard to read individuals, and with more remote workers than ever before, this problem is exacerbated.  
·       Recognize when someone isn’t doing well:  Different people react differently to pressure and added responsibilities. This is known as worker stress; while it manifests uniquely amongst individuals, there are some common signs and behaviors indicative of stress. 
a.      Reclusive Behavior- This does not include introverted behavior, but rather the contrast between this and previous behavior
b.     Change in  Body Language- This once again, does not necessarily mean introverted behavior,  but rather withdrawn activity, slumps, and similar posture.
c.      Personality Clashes- When someone is in distress or dealing with trauma, they may lash out at other people, or attempt to withhold their grief. 
d.     Change in Productivity- Trauma survivors tend to have harsh changes within how much work they can accomplish.

 

What should a manager do after discovering mental health problems?

            Once a manager has been made aware of someone struggling, it is up to them to deal with it in a compassionate and efficient way. No two individuals are the same, and as such, it is generally difficult to come up with a panacea for every single person.  Have 1:1s to attempt to determine the source of the problem, and if necessary, utilize performance improvement plans to help reduce stress on the employee. At the end of the day, while the work is important, a mindset that all managers must retain is that the employee’s well-being comes first. Moving responsibilities elsewhere, offering time off, and similar actions may appear to hurt the company in the short-term, but will create a sense of corporate loyalty, and also win over the employee. Even more importantly, it helps make the employee feel better, and keeps them healthy. 

 How can a manager prevent Mental health issues?

            Mental health issues will manifest themselves regardless of whatever a manager does. However, in a 2019 report done by SAP, the most desired mental health resources were a more open and accepting culture, clearer information about where to go or whom to ask for support, and training. 

            Many psychologists would say that common stressors are what eventually lead into mental health crises. Modifying these stressors ahead of time can really help with these problems. For example, looking into rules regarding leave and communication and modifying them to be clearer or more generous for direct reports can make a difference. Being direct with them can also help, especially when talking about how certain actions benefit them. 

In March of 2020, Katherine Maher, who serves as the CEO of Wikimedia sent an email company-wide to talk about how to mitigate stress. The key phrase here was “if you need to dial back, that’s okay.” There is a reason that Wikimedia is so well regarded by its employees. A company culture such as this is worth its weight in gold. While this email was written at the forefront of COVID-19, much of what was stated in it can still be applied today.

Mental health is a tricky field to operate around, especially when managers need to be as successful as they can be to ensure the continuance and prosperity of their business. However, if a manager properly prioritizes this, it can allow the company to benefit even more than if mental health hadn’t been prioritized.

For those struggling with mental health, dialing 211 can help with any crisis or questions related to this. It’s entirely okay to not be doing well, and getting help is the first step to solving this crisis.

Wed 21 December 2022
Generation Z, also known as Gen Z, is a term used to describe individuals born any time between 1995 and 2010.  With over 61 million of these individuals slated to enter the workforce in the next five to ten years, it is natural that many of the older workers already present in the workforce are a little apprehensive on how to work with these newer –and younger- workers. However, almost a third of the workforce by 2025 will be Generation Z. Therefore, understanding how to work with them will prove essential for any manager. The first factor with managing this younger generation is to recognize their wants and needs.

The Wants and Needs of Generation Z

            James Colino, the CEO of Sheetz, states that “(Generation Z) has been subjected to political, privacy, technological and gender issues that have shaped how they think. Rather than giving them a pass on performance, it is required that leaders take the extra time to acknowledge differences, be inclusive, and find solutions that work for both customers and employees.”

            Sheetz has been noted to be within the top 50 workplaces for Generation Z at both the entry level as well as within the corporate side of management. Colino has correctly stated how Gen Z prioritizes topics and how they’re treated. 

            Gen Z is the least inclined to plan to stay in their job. In a study made by greatplacetowork in conjunction with Pell, only 77% of workers agreed with the statement that they would plan to stay at their job. In contrast, the next youngest generation, the millennials, are of a much more resolute mind, boasting a strong 88% stating that they plan to stay in their jobs. Generation Z workers tend to prefer jobs that have some form of additional meaning, rather than just a salaried position. In addition to this, they are less likely than older generations to accept profits and pay under the opinion that they receive a fair share of profits and pay. It is important to recognize why Generation Z works, and what they choose a job for. 

            Deloitte has researched several of the top reasons that Generation Z workers have chosen their current job. 32% of workers strongly prioritized a high level of work-level balance. 29% chose to prioritize learning and development opportunities. 24% chose to fight for higher salaries. Finally, 23% of these individuals chose a positive workplace culture. Many of these workers also have hefty expectations about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, also abbreviated as DEIB. 

            For Generation Z, work doesn’t just have to do with a way to kill time, but rather a way to support both them and their hobbies, and often satisfy some form of larger desire they have, such as philanthropy or charity. Understanding how to enable these needs can be a way to connect to these younger workers and have more loyal workers. DEI in the workplace shares great insight on how to properly foster loyalty in teams. 

What does Generation Z want within their Workplace?

            Generation Z has multiple aspects of a proper workplace that they feel is indispensable to their working career. According to Pew Research, Generation Z is more diverse than any other before it, especially in the professional working industry. One in five Generation Z workers identify as LGTBQIA and is less composed of Caucasians as previous generations. As mentioned before, this generation strongly prefers diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within the workplace. Generation Z also has a few other things that they like to be modeled within their workplace as well.

·        A fair workplace- Gen Z has grown up with media and experiences explaining nepotism in great depth, such as in history classes, their part-time jobs, and elsewhere. Showing that promotions are awarded fairly, and that no employee is held in higher regard than everyone else for no reason can have a drastic impact on these workers’ perceptions of you as a manager.
·        A fast-paced workplace- Generation Z has been through multiple major world events as they have grown and matured. This list of events includes multiple pandemics, such as Ebola and COVID-19, 9/11, the rise and fall of ISIS, multiple natural disasters, and so much more. Generation Z has been conditioned to be extremely flexible and adaptive to trauma and occurrences. Similarly, they expect a workplace that is quick and easy to adapt to challenges. This makes them much better with problem-solving, if everyone around them is equally willing to rise to a challenge and adapt.
·        Involvement in major decision making- While not all decisions being made are ones that entry level workers should be involved in, there are certain decisions that anyone should be able to have a say in. This falls back to the Goreman Leadership styles, under the democratic leadership method. The democratic leadership styles state that any member can come in with an idea and can determine whether or not the idea is worth going forth with by using a consensus amongst other members, along with a final ruling by a leader. Democratic Leadership is particularly useful at getting team member involvement and retaining staff, but has a flaw in its speed, often taking time to come up with decisions.  However, since Generation Z is such a fast-working collective, they can overcome this hurdle easily.
·        Mentorship and Nurturing- Generation Z is by no means a “soft” generation, or unable to conduct networking. However, due to their fast paced and rapidly changing surroundings, they often need a hand in approaching certain cultures, or could be in use of a mentor. Fostering growth in these individuals can be rewarding and will make a dramatic difference to them.  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. 

All in all, Generation Z has a burning desire to work, but not just for themselves. With this in mind, and the resources stated above, use this information to make a workplace better suited to this younger demographic. By no means should this workplace exclude older people, but it should be a bridge between the two demographics. Understand that Generation Z will soon make up an even more significant part of the workplace, and that your actions could change the way that workplace looks. 

Thu 5 January 2023
A manager is a key part of the workplace in almost every company. These individuals help delegate tasks, deal with interpersonal issues, and often determine the goals of the team. However, a manager can often serve as more than just a taskmaster. Managers often boast a wealth of experience which can be passed on to their direct reports. 

               The Oxford Review referred to mentorship as “knowledge management.” Such a description couldn’t be more apt. Sharing information between both manager and direct reports can be a challenge, which can be rectified with a few different actions. 

How to be a Mentoring Manager

1)               Learn to ask good questions- good teachers and mentors don’t necessarily always give the answers to their students. Asking effective questions can lead a mentee to a solution without being spoon-fed the answer. It will allow them to become more solution oriented rather than dependent on you.
2)               Limit how much time you have available to your direct reports- This might seem counterintuitive, but an open-door policy will never be beneficial in an operations aspect for your company. This will not only leave you overwhelmed, but not allow your direct reports to be self-sufficient. However, scheduling time to meet with your direct reports can be very beneficial as well, since it can give them a feeling of loyalty and being noticed.
3)               Be smart with delegation- a good manager should recognize what tasks to give their direct reports, and what tasks they should take responsibility for by themselves. In addition to this, great managers understand to never give a direct report a task that they would avoid themselves. 
4)               Understand growth- at the end of the day, while a manager will no doubt want to retain as many members of their team as they can, they need to realize that not every direct report will want to remain a direct report for perpetuity. Foster their growth whenever possible, and they will reward you with better quality work, as well as more loyalty. And if they so choose to leave, that’s okay. More individuals will come later down the line. 
5)               Assume responsibility for your direct reports- If they do something well, acknowledge them. If they don’t necessarily do something well, help them see how they did something incorrectly, and then don’t leave them out to dry. Take responsibility as well.
6)               Grow personally as a worker as well- Every bit of knowledge you have as a manager can and should be passed down to your direct reports. 

How does a manager appeal to all age groups?

Great managers will often prove to be the best facilitators and mentors within their organization. Different age groups can all have vastly different interests and methods, but with the right helmsman, they can come together and work with high degrees of success. Here are some ideas on how to properly manage this workplace

1)     Hold regular 1:1s and foster the prioritization of communication within your workplace. For the first time ever, four generations are in the workforce at the same time. Each of these generations have different expectations and methods to use. This can easily lead to conflict when colleagues are unaware of these differences and try to work by themselves or cooperatively. Employees need to be able to communicate these differences in a healthy manner and choose how to approach a task. 
2)     Recognizing different peoples work orientations is a vital skill to be an effective manager. Just because someone has more experience doesn’t mean that they want to be a project lead, nor does it mean that they have the necessary skills and personality. Put individuals in positions that they want to be in and will succeed in, rather than positions that they have potential to be in. While learning is a part of a direct report’s job, it should be at their own pace, rather than being thrown into the metaphorical deep end of a pool and being told to swim.  
3)     Identify that different generations perceive respect differently. Regardless of who they are, no member of a team deserves to feel obsolete or disrespected within the workplace. Fostering a workforce with a wide sense of understanding and mutual respect is critical. The Platinum Rule can be enforced throughout the workplace as well. The more common Golden Rule explains to treat others as (you) would want to be treated, but this is deficient. A generation Z worker may not like to be treated in the same way that a Boomer would. The Platinum Rule says to treat others as they would like to be treated. This creates a better team dynamic and a respectful environment. 

While the workforce may be expanding to a scale unimagined before, this can be a good thing for your team. Proper communication and management can allow a team, regardless of age barriers, or any other times of barriers, to be a much more successful team.  

Fri 27 January 2023
The word “layoff” is a word that sparks unease in any workplace. After all, it’s associated with a loss of income for the worker, as well as a sign that doesn’t bode well for a company. While a layoff is primarily a defensive management move, it is important for a manager to understand how to properly lay a set of workers or an individual worker off. 

Layoffs Vs. Other Forms of Termination

 A layoff is not the same as termination of an employee. It is an involuntary separation from work initiated by an employer or manager. It is through no fault of the employee, and keeps them eligible for unemployment insurance, but losing other benefits. Most of the time, laid-off workers also still get to keep their investments in a company retirement plan such as their 401k. 

  A layoff differs from a furlough as well, in the sense that it is generally permanent. A furlough is when workers are idled for a time as a result of repairs, or another event requiring a temporary work halt, while also continuing to receive their benefits with the expectation that they will eventually return to work. Layoffs are genuinely utilized to remove groups of people at a time, ranging from several individuals, or even thousands. They are generally prompted by bankruptcy, financial hardships, or even being bought out by a larger company. 

 Layoffs often correspond with significant economic events. In the U.S, employers laid off employees en masse due to the drastic downturn in demand during the COVID-19 Pandemic, as many areas closed down travel, dining, and service. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 20 million jobs were cut in April 2020 alone.

 Understanding what makes a layoff is critical to being able to conduct one. But there are a few steps to take before signing the final papers to let go of a series of workers, including a meeting, as well as several other steps.

What to do before the Meeting

Before the meeting, a gameplan needs to be established. To start this gameplan, what positions are slated to be cut? Is there any alternative besides completely laying off these positions? In addition to this, finances of a layoff need to be considered. 

Removing workers with a layoff requires a severance payment, and sometimes also advance notice. It is extremely important to consult human resources or any form of legal department to determine if legal advance notice is required. Violating this can result in serious fines.

Determining if some employees will be needed for a transitional period can be critical for the business. Not every layoff conversation will be identical, since some employees may have information that would be valuable towards the rest of the company. For example, if you are removing about a quarter of an operations team, the remaining three-quarters might not necessarily have had the removed’s responsibilities.  Therefore, keeping that quarter temporarily  to train the remainder of the team, with compensation of course, would be very valuable.   

As stated before, meetings need to be scheduled with any staff members potentially being laid off. The amount of members in a business could qualify it for the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which legally mandates that employees laid off receive at least two months’ notice. Therefore, the date of this meeting may be flexible depending on when the business is obligated to give notice.  

When scheduling the meeting, consider days before a weekend or a holiday to give the employee time to cope afterward. Being laid off is a painful experience, and understanding how to alleviate some of the pain associated with this can be valuable. Remember the following- for the manager, this is just less people to pay, but for the individuals being cut, this means the end of a regular income, no 401k, and no other perks, such as health insurance. All in all, this is a very stressful time. 

During the Actual Meeting

When actually meeting with the employee, there are a few things to consider. Pick a time and place that is both private and neutral, such as a conference room. This time should also allow for an employee to leave the building privately. Layoff meetings might also need to include other people, such as an HR representative, or potentially security as well. 

 Have any paperwork or materials needed for this meeting before the employee gets to the meeting. This allows it to be as concise as possible. This often includes termination letters, COBRA papers, a final paycheck, severance paperwork, and other items related to the severance packet. 

 Remember what the objectives to this meeting are. For the manager, as well as the company, the goals are the following:

  • Have a concise, but compassionate meeting to inform the employee that their position is to be eliminated
  • Protect the employer brand, especially regarding their reputation for future recruitment
  • To be as courteous to the employee as possible
  • Deliver the message to the employee for them to hear clearly while retaining dignity

While keeping these goals in mind, deliver the message as quickly as possible, while still being kind. Have a box of tissues on hand as well. Praising previous accomplishments can help the employee’s ego. If the company has the ability to do so, provide outplacement services and job counseling. Outplacement services can help with job-searching and resume writing, as well as consulting. This shows that the company can truly care about the employee.  

At no point should there be anger or disappointment displayed towards the employee. This is a painful time already for the employee, and it doesn’t need to be further compounded by adding more negative sentiment into the meeting. Be ready to address questions and objections to your statement. Always provide some form of support for the employee. After all, you may be able to hire them in the future, so avoid burning a bridge with them. Finally, don’t hesitate to offer to write a letter of recommendation for their next job, or act as a reference. Being laid off can put someone into a stupor. Understanding how to care for them can really make a difference. 



Thu 9 February 2023
In January 2023, Ambition in Motion CEO Garrett Mintz faced an interesting  quandary that a participant brought to the table in an Executive Mastermind group meeting. This executive talked about the lavish praises that  her CEO had given her, but also made note of the fact that her CEO had effectively quadrupled her responsibilities. In addition to this,  despite the dramatic increase in responsibilities, this executive had received no proportionate increase in pay or benefits. 

This is a phenomenon known as contradictory feedback. While this normally happens from different managers having different expectations, goals, or communication styles, it can also happen implicitly as well. In this case, giving the praise seemed to be a reward, but additional responsibilities with no pay? That feels like a punishment. While in this case an executive fell victim to this, it could easily happen to a direct report because of poor management. Let’s talk about how to properly recognize your employees.  Recognition falls into two distinct categories: constructive criticism and properly rewarding employees. Both categories help make up effective managerial recognition. 

Giving good constructive criticism is an important aspect of being a manager, as it helps to build trust, improve performance, and promote personal and professional growth.  It is important to remember that constructive criticism should be an ongoing process, not just a one-time event. Managers should strive to create a culture of open and honest feedback, where individuals feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback, and where feedback is used as a tool for growth and improvement. By doing so, they can help to create a workplace where individuals feel valued and motivated, and where they can reach their full potential. Here are some tips for giving effective feedback to your direct reports:

·        Specific and actionable: Constructive criticism should be specific and actionable, focusing on specific behaviors or actions that need improvement, rather than generalizations or blanket statements. For example, instead of saying "you're not doing a good job," you could say "I noticed that you missed this deadline, can we discuss ways to prevent that from happening in the future?"
·        Timing: Constructive criticism should be given in a timely manner, as close to the event as possible. Delaying feedback can make it less effective and more difficult to address the issue.
·        Focus on improvement: The goal of constructive criticism is to help the individual improve, not to punish or discredit them. Feedback should be focused on helping the individual understand what they need to do differently in the future.
·        Follow-up: Constructive criticism should be followed up with regular coaching, mentoring, or feedback sessions to monitor progress and provide additional support as needed.

While criticism and praise are important aspects of recognizing and rewarding good employees, it should not be the only form of reward. They are not enough to motivate and engage employees and can quickly become meaningless if overused. Additionally, praise may not always align with the individual's personal and professional goals and may not provide tangible benefits that are important to the employee.

To be effective, rewards for good employees should be diverse and tailored to the individual's needs and preferences. The following rewards provide tangible and nontangible benefits that employees can see and feel and help to show that their efforts are valued and appreciated.

1)     Flexibility and autonomy: Allowing employees to have more control over their work, such as flexible hours or the ability to work remotely, can be a powerful reward. By giving employees the freedom to manage their own time, you are showing them that you trust and value their abilities.
2)     Professional development opportunities: Investing in your employees' professional growth and development is a great way to reward and retain top talent. Offer training and development opportunities, such as workshops, conferences, mastermind groups or mentorship programs, to help employees improve their skills and advance in their careers. For help promoting these benefits, use this resource.
3)     Monetary rewards: Financial incentives, such as bonuses, can be an effective way to reward employees for their hard work. However, it is important to be mindful of the reasons for the reward, and to ensure that it is tied to specific performance metrics and achievements. Using a tool such as AIM Insights can make tracking specific metrics from employees much easier.
4)     Time off: Providing employees with additional time off, such as paid time off, can be a valuable reward. This can include a flexible schedule, additional paid vacation days, or a paid day off for a special occasion.
5)     Employee events and activities: Organizing employee events and activities, such as team building exercises, company outings, or social events, can be a fun and effective way to reward employees. These types of events provide opportunities for employees to bond and have fun and can help to foster a positive and motivated work environment.
6)     Autonomy and trust: This can include giving employees more control over their work and allowing them to take ownership of their projects.
7)     Support and resources: This can include providing employees with the resources and support they need to succeed, such as access to technology, tools, or training, like AIM Insights.
8)     Job enrichment: Providing employees with new and challenging responsibilities or allowing them to take on additional projects or tasks, can be a rewarding and motivating experience. By giving employees the opportunity to grow and develop their skills, you are showing them that you value their contributions and trust in their abilities.

Managers can help to build trust and improve performance among their direct reports by giving good criticism. The key is to be clear, specific, and solution-focused, and to encourage open and honest dialogue. In addition to that, by taking a creative and holistic approach to rewarding employees, managers can help to foster a positive and motivated work environment. 

Thu 9 February 2023
Conflict is an inevitable part of human interaction, and it can arise in any setting, including the workplace. When conflicts occur, it is important for leaders to have the skills and strategies necessary to effectively resolve them. 
 
Inclusive leaders play a crucial role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, and must be equipped to handle conflicts that may arise because of differences in perspectives, experiences, and identities.
 
Conflict resolution strategies for inclusive leaders:
 
  1. Active Listening: Encourage all parties involved to express their thoughts and feelings without interruptions. Listen attentively to understand the underlying issues and concerns.
 
One of the key strategies for inclusive leaders to resolve conflicts is active listening. Encouraging all parties involved to express their thoughts and feelings without interruptions is crucial in resolving conflicts. By listening attentively to understand the underlying issues and concerns, inclusive leaders can ensure that all perspectives are heard and considered. 
 
2. Empathy: Try to understand the perspective of each party and show empathy towards their feelings and experiences.
 
Empathy is also a valuable tool in conflict resolution. Inclusive leaders should strive to understand the perspective of each party and show empathy toward their feelings and experiences. This can help to build trust and foster a sense of understanding, which can be essential in finding a resolution.
 
3. Encourage open communication: Encourage team members to express their thoughts and feelings openly and provide a safe space for constructive dialogue.
 
Communication is also a critical aspect of conflict resolution. Inclusive leaders should ensure clear and open communication between all parties, encouraging everyone to express their opinions and providing regular updates on the progress of the conflict resolution process.
 
4. Lead by example: Set an example for the team by demonstrating effective conflict resolution skills, such as active listening and empathy.
 
Leading by example is another important leadership tip for resolving team conflicts. Inclusive leaders should set an example for the team by demonstrating effective conflict-resolution skills, such as active listening and empathy. This can help to promote these skills within the team and foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture.
 
5. Mediate conflicts: Take an active role in mediating conflicts between team members, helping to find mutually beneficial solutions.
 
Mediating conflicts between team members is another important role that leaders can play. By taking an active role in resolving conflicts, inclusive leaders can help to find mutually beneficial solutions and prevent conflicts from escalating. It is important for leaders to be impartial and neutral in their approach, and to consider the perspectives and needs of all parties involved.
 
6. Establish clear guidelines: Establish clear guidelines for resolving conflicts and communicate these to the team. This can help to prevent conflicts from escalating and ensure that they are resolved in a timely manner.
 
Establishing clear guidelines for resolving conflicts can also be an effective way to prevent conflicts from escalating. Leaders should communicate these guidelines to the team and ensure that they are understood and followed. This can help to prevent conflicts from becoming entrenched and ensure that they are resolved in a timely manner.
 
7. Encourage team building: Encourage team building activities and opportunities for team members to get to know one another on a personal level. This can help to build trust and reduce the likelihood of conflicts arising.
 
Encouraging team building and opportunities for team members to get to know one another on a personal level can also help to reduce the likelihood of conflicts arising. This can build trust and foster a sense of understanding and cooperation, which can be critical in resolving conflicts in a positive and inclusive manner. One great way to encourage team building is through the Ambition In Motion Horizontal Mentorship Program.
 
8. Provide training: Provide training and development opportunities for team members on conflict resolution skills and effective communication.
 
            Providing training and development opportunities for team members on conflict resolution skills and effective communication is an important aspect of leadership for inclusive leaders. By investing in the development of their team members, leaders can help to promote a positive and inclusive workplace culture and ensure that conflicts are resolved effectively. One way of receiving guidance on how to be an inclusive leader is with training and metrics via AIM Insights.
 
9. Flexibility: Be open to new ideas and solutions and be willing to adjust your approach as needed.
 
Inclusive leaders must be flexible and open to new ideas and solutions. They should be willing to adjust their approach as needed and embrace change to find the best resolution for all parties involved.

10. Follow-Up with Team: Reach out to the team members involved in the conflict after the resolution has been put in place.
 
Following up with your team members after going through the conflict-resolution process shows them that you see the value in them as individuals and employees. Reaching out to check in on how your team is feeling will aid in a stronger continuation of your team's work after the resolution stage.
 
By showing that you care about their well-being after the conflict, you allow your team to rebuild trust in the team's efforts.
 
Inclusive leaders prioritize conflict resolution skills because they understand that conflicts are a normal and inevitable part of human interaction, particularly in diverse teams and organizations. Conflicts can arise due to differences in opinions, values, and interests, and if not managed properly, they can harm productivity, morale, and teamwork.
 
Therefore, conflict resolution skills are essential for inclusive leaders to ensure that their teams and organizations remain cohesive and effective, even in the face of disagreements. By having strong conflict-resolution skills, inclusive leaders can promote open and respectful communication, maintain positive relationships, encourage diverse thinking, and improve decision-making. 
 
Overall, inclusive leaders who prioritize conflict resolution skills can create a positive and productive work environment where diverse perspectives and ideas are valued, conflicts are resolved in a constructive manner, and all team members feel heard and respected.
Mon 17 April 2023
With the ChatGPT revolution upon us, many business leaders have been wondering if there can be a productive application of AI (artificial intelligence) within their business.

Sure, AI can help students plagiarize an essay into a good grade,
but can it help companies increase their teams’ productivity?

One option that my team at Ambition In Motion has been testing is
integrating AI into our goal setting system via our AIM Insights program.

Here’s how it works. Every month we ask the direct reports of a
leader to input their goals. We ask direct reports to determine their own goals
(as opposed to the manager) because research shows that people who set their
own goals are much more likely to achieve them. 

This has been a great system so far, but one challenge is that not
every employee is adept at consistently setting SMART (Specific, Measurable,
Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals. The issue is that while most
people can understand the idea of a SMART goal, it takes practice to get
comfortable setting and achieving SMART goals each month. 

Some managers believe that their employees are incapable of
setting SMART goals. In those cases, those managers are likely micromanaging
and haven’t figured out how to find a balance between their perfectionist
ideals and the practical reality. People are more than just automatons, and
that kind of treatment builds resentment and enables reactive behavior instead
of proactive behavior. 

Employees that can independently set their own SMART goals have a
massive ripple effect on the entire company. When employees set their own SMART
goals, their leader trusts them and doesn’t need to be constantly looking over
their shoulder to make sure they are on track. 

When leaders aren’t constantly looking over their direct reports’ shoulders,
they can effectively lead more people and focus on tasks that can have a
multiplying effect on the business. 

Lastly, both leaders and employees can achieve greater balance
with their work. As opposed to checking, re-checking, and re-checking again a
direct report’s work, the time both leaders and employees are working can be
effectively utilized and allow them to stop working at reasonable hours.

How do we get to a point where employees are autonomously setting
their own SMART goals?

AI!

When a manager sets goals with their direct reports, the manager
thinks that their direct reports are fully participating in the goal-setting
process but in reality, that manager is setting the goals for their direct
reports. Essentially, those managers are enabling their direct reports to not
think for themselves and come up with their own goals and instead tell them
what they want them to do.

This is micromanagement.

The best leaders share an objective that their team needs to
achieve and the key results that they believe it takes to achieve that outcome.
They then empower their direct reports to achieve those key results in whatever
fashion they deem fit. Remember, you are paying these people for their skills
and expertise: learn to trust their instincts.

This leadership style works when direct reports know how to
effectively set SMART goals. It falls flat when employees don’t know how to set
SMART goals.

The reason why AI can be so powerful in this process is the
immediacy of the feedback.

Behavior change and positive habit formation occur when one’s
pattern is disrupted and the feedback they receive is immediate.

Leaders could make themselves available immediately after a direct
report has set their goals to share their feedback on whether the goal is SMART
or not, but that is incredibly time-intensive and not conducive to the leader
achieving their own tasks that they need to focus on. There is interesting
research from Cal Newport on the mental residue people build when they switch
tasks throughout the day. If a leader were to take this route and make
themselves available every time an employee sets a new goal, they would be
constantly switching tasks, building mental residue, and diminishing their own
productivity.

Essentially, leaders are busy and there needs to be a better way
for employees to get immediate feedback on their goals.

AI changes all of that with the immediacy of feedback. In our AIM
Insights program, when employees set goals every month, our AI integration
gives those employees immediate feedback as to whether or not their goal is
SMART. If it is SMART, AIM Insights gives immediate positive reinforcement to
employees that their goal is SMART. If it is not SMART, AIM Insights gives
employees suggestions on how they can re-write that goal as a SMART goal. 

This AI integration into AIM Insights has increased the number of
SMART goals set by employees, their ability to autonomously set SMART goals on
their own, and subsequently, those employees’ and leaders’ productivity.

The ripple effect ramifications from this type of innovation can
be huge for the productivity of teams. Sure, employees will be more productive
in less time worked, but they will also be more resilient. 

Employees (and really everyone) tend to be resistant to change, so
when a company pivots their business model or the way they work, there is
always some amount of resistance that is met with the proposed change. 

When the process in which employees set goals doesn’t change, only
the objective, they are more likely to embrace the change in direction because
the way in which they set goals and achieve key results doesn’t change. The way
in which they work doesn’t materially change, only the objective and key results.
This makes for a more resilient team and that’s able to adapt to change. 

This can positively affect the way in which companies integrate
people and strategies during mergers and acquisitions, enter new business
opportunities and markets, succession plan and promote people, and any other
action that might disrupt the way in which employees currently work.

Companies and leaders that can quickly adopt AI into productive
applications will give themselves a major boost into the future.

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

Good thing he was the CEO of his own company!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Employees:

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

Disclaimer: Applying these ideas may get you fired.

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

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

Examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advice for Leaders at Companies:

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

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

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

This also communicates that failure is okay. 

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

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

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

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

Fri 16 June 2023
As an employee, you're not expected to work at the same company forever. Whether you're looking to advance within your current organization or explore new opportunities elsewhere, having a strong resume that highlights your accomplishments and skills is essential. 

Building your resume continuously throughout your jobs allows you to capture and showcase your accomplishments, demonstrate career progression, reflect continuous learning, seize unexpected opportunities, tailor your resume for specific positions, build confidence and self-awareness, prepare for performance reviews, and demonstrate career commitment. Here are some reasons why direct reports should prioritize resume-building throughout their careers:

  • Documenting Your Accomplishments: Continuously updating your resume allows you to document your accomplishments and contributions while they are fresh in your mind. By capturing your achievements in real-time, you ensure that no valuable experiences or skills are overlooked or forgotten. This documentation serves as evidence of your capabilities and helps you present a comprehensive picture of your professional growth.
  • Showcasing Career Progression: A continuously updated resume demonstrates your career progression over time. It allows potential employers to see how you have advanced, taken on increasing responsibilities, and acquired new skills and experiences. This progression showcases your ability to adapt, learn, and succeed in different roles, making you a more attractive candidate for future opportunities.
  • Reflecting Continuous Learning: Updating your resume regularly reflects your commitment to continuous learning and professional development. It shows that you actively seek new challenges, acquire new skills, and stay updated with industry trends. Employers value candidates who demonstrate a growth mindset and a willingness to expand their knowledge and expertise.
  • Seizing Unexpected Opportunities: Opportunities can arise unexpectedly, such as a new job opening or a chance to work on an exciting project. Having an updated resume readily available allows you to seize these opportunities promptly. It enables you to respond to job postings or network with potential employers without delay, increasing your chances of being considered for desirable positions.
  • Tailoring for Specific Opportunities: Each job opportunity is unique, with its own requirements and desired qualifications. By continuously building your resume, you can easily tailor it to match the specific needs of different positions. This customization allows you to highlight the most relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments that align with the job requirements, increasing your chances of being selected for interviews and ultimately landing the job.
  • Building Confidence and Self-Awareness: Updating your resume provides an opportunity for self-reflection and self-awareness. As you review your accomplishments and experiences, you gain a deeper understanding of your strengths, skills, and professional journey. This increased self-awareness boosts your confidence and helps you articulate your value proposition during interviews and networking interactions.

However, it can be challenging to recall and effectively communicate all the tangible contributions and achievements you've made throughout your career. This is where AIM Insights, a powerful performance management tool, comes into play. By keeping track of your accomplishments at work, AIM Insights helps you build an impressive resume that showcases your value and potential to prospective employers.

One of the key features of AIM Insights is its ability to provide you with tangible portfolio tasks that demonstrate your impact on the organization. These tasks are curated based on your performance evaluations and feedback from your manager, allowing you to focus on the areas where you excelled. By completing these tasks and documenting the results, you create a tangible record of your achievements and contributions. This not only helps you recall specific examples when updating your resume but also provides concrete evidence of your abilities and the value you bring to the table.

A notable aspect of AIM Insights is its emphasis on SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). When you view the "goals" section on AIM Insights, you can see the percentage of SMART goals you've set and accomplished. 

This feature not only encourages goal-oriented behavior but also provides a clear indicator of your performance and progress. It showcases your ability to set high-impact objectives that contribute to team success and drive overall performance. This information is invaluable when it comes to presenting yourself as an effective and goal-driven professional on your resume.

Another valuable aspect of AIM Insights is its ability to generate an impact score average based on your evaluations. This score reflects the overall impact of your work and highlights your contributions to the team's success. Being able to quantify your impact in this way is immensely beneficial when updating your resume. Prospective employers are always looking for candidates who can demonstrate measurable results and tangible achievements, and AIM Insights provides the data to back up your claims.

Furthermore, AIM Insights allows you to compare your impact scores with those of your peers. This feature provides context and perspective on your performance, showing how you stack up against others in your team or department. It offers valuable insights into your relative strengths and areas for improvement, allowing you to tailor your resume to highlight your unique abilities and stand out from the competition.

By utilizing AIM Insights, you gain several advantages when it comes to building your resume: 
  1. Firstly, you have access to tangible metrics and portfolio tasks that demonstrate your accomplishments and contributions. This gives you a structured framework to showcase your skills and abilities effectively. 
  2. Secondly, you can leverage the feedback and evaluations provided by your manager through AIM Insights. This feedback not only gives you a clear understanding of your performance but also serves as valuable evidence of your capabilities when constructing your resume.
  3. Lastly, AIM Insights tracks your progress and growth within your position and the organization. It provides a comprehensive record of your achievements, milestones, and professional development. This information is invaluable when it comes to updating your resume over time, as you can accurately reflect your career trajectory and demonstrate continuous improvement and growth.

AIM Insights is a powerful performance management tool that simplifies the process of keeping track of your accomplishments and helps you build a compelling resume. By providing tangible portfolio tasks, tracking SMART goals, generating impact scores, and facilitating manager feedback, AIM Insights empowers you to effectively showcase your skills and achievements. Whether you're aiming for career advancement within your current organization or exploring new opportunities, AIM Insights equips you with the tools and data you need to present yourself as a high-performing, results-driven professional.


Fri 14 July 2023
Bad news can come in many forms and at unexpected times. Getting passed up for a promotion, receiving undesired project results, or even recognizing disparities in workplace treatment are just some experiences that can decrease motivation and divert progress. These experiences may feel detrimental with little hope for recovery. 

A large contributor to how adversity is handled relies on ones mindset before, during, and after receiving the news. Even during unsuccessful moments, prioritizing your frame of thinking will allow for the best future steps. 

When encountering difficulties, it is natural to default to a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is a frame of thinking that inhibits the ability to look past the issue at hand. Individuals who possess a fixed mindset believe that their skill set is relatively inflexible so there isn’t much opportunity for improvement. Setbacks are perceived as limitations of their skillsets which leads those with fixed mindsets to avoid challenges. 

To overcome hardship implementing a growth mindset may lead to honing adaptability, embracing creativity, continued optimism, and the motivation to acquire a new skill. A growth mindset stems from the belief that everyone has the ability to continue to develop skills and make improvements based on continuous efforts. One isn’t stuck in their current position with a growth mindset because they can take steps to improve and continue to learn in any given situation. This perspective is particularly important when dealing with setbacks, and can be implemented daily to concentrate on your objectives.  

The growth mindset recognizes that challenges will arise and these setbacks serve as opportunities for growth. Possessing a growth mindset may even lead to the pursuit of new challenges as they will serve as further areas to expand knowledge and experience. Utilizing this framework can encourage passion and purpose in both personal and professional settings due to the ability to maintain an optimistic perspective. Overall, this perspective aims to work towards a more fulfilling life because one isn’t self imposing mental limitations. 

Maintaining a growth mindset in the face of bad news is a challenge, but it is achievable with diligent effort and continued practice. These are some initiatives geared towards developing a growth mindset during challenging moments to increase your ability to take productive first steps. 

  1. Process your emotions: 
Acknowledge your emotions and why you are frustrated with the situation. When receiving bad news it is natural to feel disheartened or frustrated with the outcome. Allow yourself the opportunity to embrace these emotions and process them. Recognize the root of your feelings and why it made you feel that way. Initial negative reactions are common when dealing with difficulties and are part of life. 
2. Reframe the situation as a learning opportunity: 
Seek potential lessons you can learn from the situation and ways you can approach this problem differently going forward. Reflecting on what went poorly may direct you to a new skill you can learn that will be beneficial in the future. Spend time analyzing tangible things that can be enhanced rather than dwelling on things out of your control. 
3. Acquire feedback: 
Gathering feedback and receiving constructive criticism work to determine areas that need improvement and are good ways to prevent the repetition of similar setbacks. Reaching out to others who have more knowledge of what occurred can provide clarity and prevent you from wondering what went wrong.  
4. Identify alternative solutions:
Depending on the situation at hand, there may be additional pathways to pursue to achieve your desired outcome. Pursuing alternatives may mean having a conversation with a coworker about different processes that can be implemented, or a conversation with management to learn what opportunities are available/ feasible. Identifying alternative solutions may ultimately lead to pursuing a position at a company that aligns better with your interests and will value your skill set appropriately. Allow time to use your creativity to find different solutions. 
5. Seek support from peers or outside resources:
When managing a setback, speaking with peers can allow you to gain perspective and recognize that others have experienced similar hardships. Vocalizing your outlook on the obstacle will allow for collaborative problem-solving and lead to informed decisions. Surrounding yourself with individuals who positively support and encourage you is key to maintaining a growth mindset. An alternative approach is to seek a mentor removed from the situation and learn how they may approach the current difficulty. A mentor's guidance will allow you to be accountable in your pursuit of growth. 
6. Establish Goals: 
Goal setting is a powerful tool when working towards a growth mindset. After enduring a difficult situation, creating attainable ways to move forward will allow you to have productive results despite obstacles. Determine what your current goals are and then break them down into smaller more achievable goals. By breaking down your goals, you can maintain motivation and gain a sense of accomplishment. Goal setting creates a strong foundation for accountability and motivation for improvement. 

Successfully navigating a setback isn’t an easy endeavor, but maintaining a growth mindset will work toward more rewarding results. Bad news isn’t a determinant of continued misfortune if it is used as motivation to pursue new goals. 

Remember that upholding a growth mindset is a continuous process and one that takes time. Commit to embracing challenges as opportunities for development and recognize that a growth mindset can help achieve success in difficult times. 


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

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

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

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

The Role of Mentorship Programs within ERGs:

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

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

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

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

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

Horizontal Mentorship Programs at Ambition in Motion:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Remember that these changes won’t happen overnight. It is important to be patient and understanding as everyone begins to enact new habits and values throughout their professional life, it can be a long process to unwind decades of repetitive habits and values. A good leader is able to understand and empathize, be patient in understanding that it is hard to change something as broad as culture and that in practice, your company’s culture will develop and with passion, people will follow. 
Thu 17 August 2023
It is challenging to demonstrate your company's culture in an interview yet, the hiring process is fundamental to organizational success, growth and innovation. The makeup of your team determines productivity, efficiency and the culture practiced in the workplace. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Embrace the Journey of Growth

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

Unleash the Power of Prioritization

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

Lead from Within

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

Embrace Feedback 

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

Nurture Meaningful Connections

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

Champion Your Own Journey

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

Balance and Thrive

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

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

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

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


Fri 25 August 2023
Can money buy happiness?

The overall happiness ranking for people making $40,000 a year was 3.5 out of 5, for those making over $300,000, the happiness ranking was 3.89 out of 5 (Forbes). 

If a 7.5x increase in salary from $40,000 to $300,000 only increases happiness by 11%, what will increase happiness? How can executives increase employee retention by focusing on job satisfaction?

Many companies face high turnover rates that are both counterproductive and costly. High turnover rates are commonly attributed to compensation compared to other roles but, more goes into job satisfaction than salary and benefits. Happiness is determined by more than a paycheck, after a certain sense of financial security, happiness can no longer be derived from income. Employees will search for engaging jobs with future opportunities and a sense of belonging in the workplace in their new roles if they feel unfulfilled. To reduce turnover, leaders should hone in on employee engagement and organizational support to increase both job satisfaction and job performance.

Job satisfaction is how fulfilled someone feels within the scope of their professional and personal roles. The challenge of this metric is that each person may be seeking different goals toward feeling gratified at work. Some may seek high compensation or benefits, work-life balance, recognition, future opportunities, workplace culture, or job-specific content. With increased job satisfaction, job involvement, and motivation are improved, leading to better job performance, once the performance is high, most feel a better sense of achievement and happiness. 

Job satisfaction and job performance are codependent and directly related.  When an employee feels that they are doing well or have high performance, they feel more satisfied and fulfilled by their role. On the other hand, if an employee has poor performance, they will feel burdened and disconnected from their job and company which can lead to counterproductive work behavior. To better increase direct reports’ feeling of contentment, focus on employee engagement and organizational support. 

Employee Engagement 
 It is a good leader's responsibility to be involved and engaged not only in their work but with their team members. To help employees find workplace purpose, begin by focusing on employee engagement. Although seemingly simple, there are a plethora of factors that contribute to employee engagement. Being able to pinpoint direct reports’ points of engagement will allow for increased job satisfaction and motivation. Engaged employees should show enthusiasm, initiative, collaboration, adaptability, innovation, and continuous learning. 

Executive leaders should focus on the role of diversity, equity, and inclusion in employee engagement. Many employees who feel underrepresented or unvalued are apt to leave a company. Be conscious and genuine in the inclusion of employees and throughout the hiring process to embrace all backgrounds where employees feel respected. Overall focus on employee engagement will allow leaders to spot those engaged and focus on including those who aren’t to avoid turnover. Being able to improve employee engagement will unlock a new ability to increase job satisfaction and therefore job performance, thus reducing turnover.

Finally, prioritize company culture to reflect the values of employees. Work towards building an environment where professionals can embrace their mistakes, learn as they go and collaborate with others in their team. Between an encouraged growth mindset and a supportive environment, turnover will decrease and employees' happiness and comfort in the workplace will increase and lead to increased productivity. 


Organizational Support
Organizational support is what an organization does to demonstrate its support for employees’ well-being, development, and success holistically. Executives should find innovative ways to help communicate this to employees, through actions and initiatives. For example, a company may consider a mentorship initiative where employees and executives or leaders can connect and discuss topics outside of job performance, such as career progression or work-life balance to exhibit the genuine care an organization has for its people. 

Other forms of organizational support for a company to consider would be creating focus or interest groups for certain topics, such as a working parents group, a veterans support group, or even trivial topics like fantasy football or a book club. These initiatives serve several important purposes in communicating organizational support and working to reduce turnover.  First, they bring members of a company together to build a community and increase employee engagement. Additionally, groups based on a commonality allow people to develop friendships and relationships that will improve loyalty to the organization. Finally, these initiatives allow a company to show their employees that they are more than just an employee and that they are valued for more than just the work they produce. 

Additionally, firms may consider health and wellness programs and rewards or recognition programs. These programs would allow employees to feel seen and valued beyond their contributions in work tasks and potentially exhibit those who are leaders within the organization, and those who exhibit outstanding citizenship behavior, going outside of their job role and taking initiative to improve a process or colleague’s job. Organizational support does not need to come from a direct supervisor or boss, but from the organization as a whole, in different channels.

As in all business processes, feedback is crucial for growth. Executives and leaders should utilize quantitative feedback through retention and employee turnover rates. Consider the use of retention data or employee surveys to understand how team leaders may find more impactful methods to focus on employee engagement and organizational support for increased job satisfaction and contentment for employees. Additionally, consider the use of two-way feedback so leaders and direct reports can have open communication about opportunities for growth and strengths that enable a more personal and genuine connection with a company and its leaders. 

As mentioned above, a mentorship program will strongly increase an employee's perception of organizational support; however, each employee's goals and expectations for fulfillment in their job differ. Have patience throughout this process of bettering the workplace environment both for the sake of the employees and the company. These initiatives will allow leaders to gain insight into their employees to find better methods of increasing comprehensive engagement specific to the members of their teams. 


Sat 9 September 2023
In the pursuit of personal and professional development, executives and managers often set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound objectives that serve as a roadmap to success. While the SMART framework is undeniably effective, there is one critical element that can make or break one's journey towards achieving these goals: the immediacy of feedback.

Immediate Feedback: The Catalyst for Growth

Immediate feedback serves as a powerful catalyst for growth. When individuals receive prompt and relevant feedback on their actions and progress, they gain valuable insights into what is working and what needs improvement. This real-time information enables them to make necessary adjustments, increasing their chances of staying on track and achieving their SMART goals.

Imagine an individual with a SMART goal to increase search engine optimization within a sector of their organization. If they receive immediate feedback on their daily user interaction data and routine, they can make immediate adjustments based on their performance. This ensures that their efforts are aligned with their goal, preventing deviations that could hinder their progress.

Enhancing Motivation through Timely Feedback

Motivation plays a pivotal role in goal achievement. Immediate feedback can serve as a powerful motivator by acknowledging progress and highlighting areas where improvement is needed. When individuals see that their efforts are making a difference, they are more likely to stay committed to their goals.

For example, in a professional context, an employee striving to meet quarterly sales targets benefits immensely from immediate feedback on their performance. Knowing they are on track can boost their motivation to maintain or even surpass their efforts.

Fine-Tuning Strategies for Optimal Results

SMART goals often require careful planning and strategic execution. Immediate feedback allows individuals to fine-tune their strategies in real-time. By understanding what works and what doesn't, they can adjust their approach to optimize their chances of success.

Imagine a new sales team member. If they set goals that aren’t SMART and aligned with their team’s overall sales quota, they will be a big reason for why the team doesn’t achieve this outcome. If they receive immediate feedback on their sales goals, they can identify the specific areas where they need to focus their efforts. This enables them to adapt their outreach efforts and time management skills accordingly, increasing their chances of achieving their sales goals.

Feedback as the Engine of SMART Goal Achievement

For a SMART goal to be truly "smart," it should serve as a driver for ongoing learning and improvement. Feedback is the engine that propels this process forward. In the absence of immediate feedback, goals may lose their capacity to inspire personal growth and development.

Consider a professional aiming to increase their productivity, a classic SMART goal. If they don't receive regular feedback on their performance and efficiency, they may struggle to identify areas for improvement. Immediate feedback empowers them to make real-time adjustments, thus enhancing their productivity and ensuring that the SMART goal remains both achievable and time-bound.

Another perspective to consider is that feedback is instrumental in crafting SMART goals in the first place. When individuals have access to timely information about their progress and performance, they can set more specific and realistic objectives.

For instance, someone aspiring to run a company may initially lack the precise knowledge of their current leadership level. Immediate feedback through regular responsibilities helps them set a measurable goal for their growth at their organization. Feedback transforms a vague desire into a SMART goal by providing the necessary data and insights.

Real-Time Guidance and Clarity

Ambition In Motion's AIM Insights program offers teams a significant advantage by leveraging AI-generated goal setting and immediate feedback. With AIM Insights, teams experience an accelerated and more efficient goal-setting process. Traditional methods often rely on managers to set goals for their direct reports, potentially stifling employee autonomy and creativity. However, AIM Insights encourages employees to formulate their own objectives, harnessing research-backed benefits that self-set goals are more likely to be achieved.

One of the program's standout features is the integration of artificial intelligence to provide instantaneous feedback during the goal-setting process. AI evaluates whether the established goals align with the SMART criteria. This immediacy in feedback empowers employees to fine-tune their goals promptly, resulting in a higher rate of SMART goal achievement.

Immediate feedback ensures goals are not just "SMART" on paper but also in practice. It transforms them from static aspirations into dynamic pursuits of continuous learning and improvement. Without feedback, SMART goals can become stagnant, limiting personal and professional growth.

Feedback breathes life into SMART goals by enabling individuals to adapt, improve, and set new, more ambitious targets. If we don't have immediate feedback, we may question whether a goal is truly "smart."


Sat 9 September 2023
Most companies struggle with middle management because they are quick to promote but slow to train. Serving as the intermediary between executives and their direct reports, middle management bears the weight of demands from both sides. In this unique position, many managers struggle with role alignment, work-life balance, and effectively connecting with their teams. Upper-level leadership goals are communicated to managers with little direction on how to attain that particular result. Managers seem to be given an end destination without a map of how to get there, leaving most feeling misplaced. Learning how to face this unique set of challenges is a daunting task yet, critical for both personal and organizational growth.  

How can someone new to middle management learn how to efficiently please both executives and their direct reports? How can executives provide managers with a better roadmap to reach their desired destination?

Once promoted, every individual is faced with a particular set of challenges. Commonly, these challenges include communication changes, leadership difficulties, role ambiguity, and trouble managing a practical work-life balance. Receiving feedback from both upper management and direct reports can help new managers get acquainted with their roles. However, receiving this feedback on an annual or semi-annual basis is not frequent enough to show growth. To help managers become better acquainted in their role, consider utilizing AIM insights. AIM Insights is a tool that works to provide accessible, quantitative feedback metrics to managers and provide better organization-wide alignment resulting in an improvement of overall productivity. 

Managers commonly face problems with a lack of control and alignment. Executives create organizational goals and managers are left to carry them out with insufficient guidance on the direction of the company goal. Managers are left to execute the goals set by executive management even if they find them impractical, unattainable, or struggle to understand the purpose. AIM insights displays a variety of tools to help leadership within an organization communicate and achieve or even exceed goals with improved transparency and alignment that improves satisfaction and productivity while reducing turnover.

Beginning with communication, AIM insights works to help middle managers streamline communication with direct reports and improve communication with executives to better understand organization goals. Creating personalized communication plans that lead to a better connection between managers and their direct reports. AIM insights works with managers and executives to promote constructive feedback and drive continuous improvement, allowing teams to reach their full potential. 

Additionally, AIM insights works to create plans that improve transparency and accountability with managers and direct reports. This software will enable managers to be more transparent about big picture and long-term goals with direct reports that will in turn be more accountable and more loyal to their organization. Being able to employ year-round performance metrics will enable managers to address problems as they arise and quickly analyze their team to work in a more efficient and productive manner. The accessibility of this important quantitative information allows managers and even executives to be more adaptable and agile in strategy, smoothly addressing issues and pivoting to avoid problems along the way. 

Data-driven goal setting allows employees to set SMART goals that are certainly attainable and timely, with the help of their managers. These goals allow managers to better identify problems and leaders within their team, frequently eliminating bias that may occur in evaluations. Being able to align each employee's goals with the organization will quickly exhibit strengths and differentiate firms from their competitors. Having clearer purpose and transparency improves productivity, leading to higher goal achievement and increased employee satisfaction, leading to higher retention rates organization-wide.  

Another important point of AIM insights is the development of feedback. Generally, once promoted, managers may go a few months without receiving direct feedback on their job performance. AIM insights enables managers to view goals and feedback constantly, having access to goals and utilizing specific metrics that clearly demonstrate different aspects of the organization and directly align performance areas with leaders’ goals. Being able to use these concrete metrics provides clarity and encourages managers to hold themselves and their direct reports accountable for reaching their own goals. 

Job satisfaction and job performance are directly linked. So to improve job satisfaction, managers should feel fully equipped with the tools to have high performance. This will reduce turnover and boost the efficient use of company resources. In addition to these benefits that would specifically aid managers, improved job performance and job satisfaction is crucial for direct reports as well. Having managers who are strong leaders, know how to communicate well, and genuinely enjoy their jobs will lead to the same traits in their direct reports. Having AIM Insights to provide clarity on these individuals will allow for streamlined objectives and goal-setting, making it easier for both managers and their direct reports to enjoy their workdays and be as productive as possible while maintaining their team. 

AIM Insights is just one aspect from a catalog of different tools to improve the experience of middle management. In addition to AIM insights, consider implementing mentorship programs that help managers better understand what personal steps they may take to better their careers and goals. Furthermore, managers should focus on not only being mentees but also becoming a mentor for their direct reports. Mentorship within an organization should focus on giving back so each person can have a mentor and a mentee to learn from and give advice to. This will help develop camaraderie within the organization and focus on open communication that will benefit all employees. 

To help mitigate burnout and exhaustion in managers, consider the use of software like AIM Insights to create transparent and instant tools to aid in the achievement of organization-wide goals. AIM Insights works to provide long-term solutions to organization-wide problems, once beginning your use of AIM Insights, managers are trained and on-boarded with continual resources and tools on employing this interactive feedback tool. It is impossible to grow without feedback and, challenging to show growth from feedback with infrequent reviews or evaluations. Focus on effective feedback that helps professionals at every level grow into stronger leaders, teammates, and employees. 


Fri 29 September 2023
Throughout ones career, every person faces a variety of conflicts and will address these inevitable road blocks differently. From youth, individuals experience conflict and as they grow older, they begin to build skills to address conflict and ensure better psychological safety from these perceived threats. These skills do not diminish when entering the workforce. However, conflicts appear with a new level of complexity most have not previously faced. Addressing conflict with a superior or supervisor creates new challenges to face which many struggle with. 

Executive management is generally responsible for setting rules and regulations that play a heavy hand in establishing workplace culture and experience for all employees. However, management does not always follow these rules. As individuals climb an organizational hierarchy, their objectivity diminishes. Executives commonly are treated as if they are “untouchable” and therefore may act in a manner “above the law” or the organization, which is counterproductive to the work environment. Executives' failure to follow established rules creates a rift in the organizational structure. A defiance of rules, a poor demonstration of leadership and a disruptive attitude from executive management will reflect throughout the organization.

As employees, how can we point out hypocrisy - or even just uneducated asks from leadership -  while still maintaining relationships with those structurally above them in an organization?

Managing conflict is uncomfortable for everyone but unfortunately, it is a crucial part of everyday life and necessary for advancement in a professional environment. Being able to effectively deal with distressing situations is a rare strength that many may leverage throughout their lives. 

  1. Come Prepared with Facts, Not Opinions
In addressing a conflict with a superior, it is important to be organized and prepared when entering a meeting. Preparing written topics, questions or pieces of “evidence” in preparation for a meeting can aid in organizing thoughts and feelings to create an effective explanation of the perception of the conflict at hand. 

When an individual's cognition perceives a threat, the instinct to “fight” or “flight” ignites and can dominate words and actions. While in a professional environment, this is most likely not a physical fight or flight. Nevertheless, these instincts can lead to conflict avoidance or a hasty confrontation. Fight or flight can cause individuals to act without thinking which would not lead to a productive and mutually beneficial meeting. To remain in control of this instinct, focus on adopting the mental headspace to be patient and understanding while actively listening to the opposing party. Additionally, being prepared and organized for a conflict-focused conversation will help to keep a clear course of thought if someone perceives a threat or feels uncomfortable in the situation. 

2. Be Respectful, Calm, and avoid defensiveness
In addressing conflict across any leadership boundaries, colleagues, or friendships, it is important to stay respectful and focused on the situation at hand. Rather than attacking or criticizing a person, focus on their actions and how they affect individual and organizational goals. To have an effective meeting, both parties must feel respected and valued despite the situation at hand. Be cognizant of the professional relationship with a superior and how they may perceive the situation. Very frequently emotions or feelings can “fog” the perception of an event and create a disparity in individuals' understanding of an event. Remaining calm will allow those involved in a conflict to better understand the situation from the other person's point of view which may change their actions following a conflict. It is important to remain calm and keep emotions contained to effectively communicate with others and hold reason. 

3. Stay Solution Oriented
In a conflict-centered meeting, it is important to be focused on finding a solution. Do not bicker or argue over minuscule points or experiences, it is much more productive to express feelings from either party and seek a resolution that satisfies all members. A solution-oriented mindset allows for positivity and growth. Rather than feeling defeated, adopt a growth mindset that embraces mistakes as learning opportunities. Even those who are not leaders by title can lead within a team and contribute to building an advantageous culture for those around them. Focusing on building a community around accepting errors and encouraging resilience will reduce those feeling attacked or threatened by a workplace conflict. Rather than a threat, they will view it as feedback that is consistently shared for personal, professional, and organizational improvement. 

Entering a meeting with a solution-oriented mindset is useful in multiple ways; however, the most beneficial points of this attitude are creating comfort for the “opposing” party and staying focused on a specific problem. Creating psychological comfort is crucial for a productive meeting in providing feedback. When people are in a zone of psychological comfort, they are more willing to listen and take feedback as a chance for improvement than as a personal attack. 


4. Ask for Feedback
Demonstrate willingness to listen by requesting feedback. Everyone requires feedback for improvement and self-betterment however, impromptu negative feedback can lead to a lot of emotion if the individual is unprepared. In a constructive meeting of addressing conflict, acknowledge that there are two sides to each story and a manager or superior may have constructive feedback that would aid in mitigating the conflict in the workplace and contribute to a more harmonious work environment. 

5. Follow Up
In cases of conflict, it is important to monitor problems after addressing them. If the problem persists, consider informing human resources or a similar resource, collect appropriate documentation of the conflict and the steps taken to mitigate the problem. Realize that changes of conflict may take time to be reflected in the actions of leadership and executives. In the meantime of addressing a conflict and seeing change, professionals should draw strict boundaries between work and personal life to make sure that conflicts do not negatively affect their personal lives. 

Although daunting, effectively facing these conflicts in the workplace leads to better advocacy and behavior from all parties and allows for improved growth in personal and professional settings. Remember that each conflicting situation may be different but it is important to maintain balance between work and personal lives to encourage the best version of an individual in each setting. 


Mon 9 October 2023
When it comes to business cultures, whether it is service-based or product-based, one question that comes up a lot is whether to make the company customer-centric or employee-centric. While Customer-Centric is important, employees are the root of any company. They are the ones who interact with customers; they are the face of the company. Thus employee centricity is critical in a business too. While balancing both employee and customer-centricity is difficult, it’s not impossible. On the other hand, employee-centric businesses prioritize their employees’ experience and development.

Amazon - A Beacon of Customer-Centric Culture:

Amazon, founded by Jeff Bezos, has been a trailblazer in the realm of customer-centricity. Its transformation from a humble online bookstore into the e-commerce behemoth we know today has been marked by a relentless focus on the customer. The most emblematic manifestation of this philosophy is the introduction of Amazon Prime's two-day free shipping; an innovation that redefined online shopping.

Pros of Customer-Centric Culture:

  1. Enhanced Customer Satisfaction: The hallmark of a customer-centric culture is the unwavering commitment to meeting customer needs. Amazon's free two-day shipping, for instance, has not only delighted customers but also raised the bar for competitors.

2. Innovation and Market Dominance: Prioritizing customers drives innovation. Amazon's customer obsession has led to innovations like Kindle, Alexa, and Amazon Web Services (AWS), catapulting the company to market dominance.

3. Brand Loyalty and Repeat Business: Satisfied customers become loyal customers. They return for more, and they recommend the brand to others. Amazon's customer-centric approach has fostered a legion of devoted followers.

Cons of Customer-Centric Culture:

  1. High Employee Expectations: To deliver on the promise of exceptional customer service, employees often face tremendous pressure to perform at breakneck speeds. The demand for efficiency can lead to burnout and attrition.

2. Worker Conditions and Compensation: Amazon has faced criticism over worker conditions and wages. The push for fast delivery times has sometimes come at the expense of worker well-being.

3. Profit Margins: Offering free shipping and investing heavily in customer service can impact profit margins, challenging the sustainability of the business model.

Striking a Balance: Employee-Centric Culture

In contrast to the Amazon way, some companies prioritize an employee-centric culture. These organizations firmly believe that by putting their employees' needs and well-being first, they can create a happier, more productive workforce. Google, for example, is known for its employee-centric culture, and its focus on fostering a vibrant work environment.

Pros of Employee-Centric Culture:

  1. High Employee Morale and Productivity: A contented workforce tends to be more engaged and productive. When employees feel valued, they are more likely to go the extra mile.

2. Reduced Turnover: Employee-centric companies often experience lower turnover rates. Employees are less likely to seek employment elsewhere when they are satisfied with their workplace.

3. Innovation and Creativity: When employees are encouraged to express themselves and contribute to decision-making, it can foster innovation and creative problem-solving.

Cons of Employee-Centric Culture:

  1. Risk of Complacency: Overemphasis on employee well-being might lead to complacency, where employees resist change or fail to meet necessary performance benchmarks.

2. Competitive Disadvantage: In fiercely competitive industries, a myopic focus on employee satisfaction may hamper an organization's ability to respond swiftly to market shifts and customer demands.

3. Profitability Challenges: Prioritizing employees' financial compensation and benefits can strain profit margins, making it challenging for the company to remain competitive.

Cultural Balance

Examples such as Amazon's relentless customer focus and Google's employee-centric philosophy represent two ends of a complex spectrum. Corporate leaders often grapple with the formidable challenge of finding the elusive balance between customer-centric and employee-centric cultures. The ultimate goal is to ensure that both customers and employees feel valued and prioritized.

Hybrid Cultures
Some companies have successfully blended elements of both cultures. They recognize the symbiotic relationship between customer satisfaction and employee well-being. In this approach, businesses strive to maintain high standards of customer service while ensuring their workforce is supported, motivated, and engaged.

The divide between customer-centric and employee-centric cultures persists as an enduring paradox. While each approach carries its own set of merits and pitfalls, the key lies in acknowledging the intricate interplay between these two fundamental pillars. Companies that aspire to long-term success must invest in their employees, value their customers, and continuously evolve their culture to adapt to dynamic market conditions. Striking this equilibrium is the true path to sustainability in a corporate world where customer satisfaction and employee well-being can coexist harmoniously, propelling the organization to unparalleled heights.


Fri 3 November 2023
Let's talk about bosses. You know, the ones who command, "Do this now!" without even asking how you're doing. Or the ones who pretend to care but secretly just want you to work harder without considering your feelings. Yeah, those bosses. They might get stuff done, but they're not making the office a fun place to be.

Then there's the idea of Radical Candor. It's about being honest with your team while still being kind. It's like telling your coworker, "Hey, your idea is great, but it might need a little more work." It's not sugar-coating things, but it's also not being mean about it. This approach makes the office a much nicer place to be.

What is Radical Candor?
 
Kim Scott, a former executive for Google and Apple, developed a strategic plan for presenting the radical candor framework with leaders, executives and CEOs in mind. Scott describes the meaning of radical candor as having the ability to care personally while challenging directly at the same time.

The Radical Candor Matrix

  • The matrix categorizes different managerial approaches based on their level of care and directness.
  • Radical candor operates on two axes. One axis stretches from caring personally to not caring at all, while the other axis extends from challenging directly to silence. They each work on a sliding scale.
  • It consists of four quadrants: 
    • Radical Candor: the ideal balance between care and directness (caring personally).
    • Ruinous Empathy: excessive focus on empathy at the expense of honest feedback.
    • Manipulative Insincerity:manipulative approach lacking in both care and directness.
    • Obnoxious Aggression: direct but uncaring and often abrasive communication style. 

Scott’s radical candor model is designed to guide your professional interactions and conversations. The goal is becoming a better communicator while also transforming yourself into a powerful instrument for growth in the teams you lead and the organizations you manage. When explaining the idea behind radical candor, Scott asks you to consider the adage, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Consider that radical candor goes against this long-standing social teaching and emphasizes open and honest feedback for the benefit of everyone involved. Ultimately, radical candor is best defined as the ability to challenge directly while showing that you care personally at the same time.

In general, radical candor impacts your daily conversations and interactions by changing the way you think about the people around you. The result is a shift in your mindset and behaviors.

The Difference Between Candor and Honesty
How do you show candor within your team? The definition of candor is “the quality of being open in expression, or frankness.” Most executive leaders understand the value of candor in communicating and interacting with their team.

The difference between candor and honesty becomes easily clouded at times. While honesty refers to truthfulness, candor is a quality in people that refers specifically to how openly they express themselves. While candor is often a good thing, it isn’t inherently truthful.

Caring Personally
Using radical candor helps you embrace your leadership traits and empowers you to use them to their highest potential. Often, leaders aren’t afforded the luxury of separating their professional and personal lives.

Having empathy is a valuable trait for any leader, and your ability to identify with your team members is vital to your organization’s success. The success of both the company and the individual is something you care about deeply as a leader, and radical candor offers you a way to showcase that.

Caring personally means you’d feel like you failed someone around you by silencing your true thoughts or withholding your criticisms. Because you care deeply enough about them, you’re doing them a disservice by staying quiet and reserved.

Challenging Directly & Holding Accountability

Offering your most constructive feedback as a way to help others grow is a challenging aspect of great leadership. After all, your ability to teach others, guide their decisions and communicate your expectations of them all go into making you a successful leader. These are the ideas behind challenging directly.

How is radical candor a type of informal accountability? 

Though challenging directly sounds like a negative behavior, it only creates positive outcomes. Challenging directly is taking an active role in the growth and development of your team members and offering your guidance for ways they can improve.

By encouraging open discussions and welcoming diverse viewpoints, leaders create an environment where innovation thrives and new ideas flourish. Team members feel valued and respected, leading to increased morale, heightened engagement, and a stronger sense of belonging within the organization.

However, implementing radical candor necessitates a deep understanding of the nuances of effective communication. Leaders must strike a delicate balance between being honest and providing feedback in a manner that is respectful and considerate. They must be mindful of the emotional impact of their words and actions, ensuring that feedback is delivered in a way that encourages growth and development rather than discouragement or resentment.

Ultimately, the successful integration of radical candor into a leadership style requires commitment and dedication. It calls for a genuine investment in understanding the needs and aspirations of each team member, as well as a willingness to foster a culture of open communication and mutual respect.

And you know those bosses who just yell all the time? Yeah, not great. That's the opposite of Radical Candor. It's like they think they know everything and everyone else is just there to do what they say. No fun, right?

Being honest and kind at work, giving people some say in what they do, and creating a positive vibe in the office can make a huge difference. It's not about being the boss everyone's scared of; it's about being the boss everyone wants to work with. Radical Candor is like the secret sauce that makes it all happen.


Thu 16 November 2023
Since 2021, our team at Ambition In Motion has been implementing our AIM Insights program within many companies to help their managers better understand the perception between themselves and their direct reports and provide coaching to help those managers have more effective 1:1 meetings between themselves and their teams.
One area of measurement we focus on is Work Orientation. Simply put, Work Orientation is how a person views work as part of their life. This quick 15-question assessment helps people understand their why for work. Some people view their work as a Job (motivated by work/life balance), while others as a Career (motivated by professional growth), and others as a Calling (motivated by professional and personal mission alignment). We repeatedly measure the work orientation of our participants, and this has revealed a few fascinating insights. 
One finding is that Work Orientation is fluid, meaning it can change overtime. When originally completing the Work Orientation Assessment, 64% of direct reports’ results showed that they were mostly Career Oriented, 20% of direct reports’ results showed that they were Calling Oriented, and 22% of direct reports’ results showed that they were Job Oriented. 
After assessing a sample set of 164 direct reports that completed monthly surveys for at least a year, we have discovered some interesting results. After one year working under a manager using AIM Insights, the results showed that Calling Orientation increased by about +5%, Career Orientation increased by +6%, and results that showed Job Orientation decreased by -12.5%. As people work with AIM Insights managers, we see that their motivation for work changes. 
We have also analyzed over 4,000 individuals’ Work Orientations - observing changes to peoples Work Orientation over the span of year that are not in our AIM Insights program. The results are that Work Orientation is changing for those individuals, but not nearly all in the same direction as direct reports in our AIM Insights program (i.e., increased focus on Career and Calling Orientations).
What does this mean?
The employees who are using AIM Insights and receiving feedback from their managers using AIM Insights are more likely to find their motivation as work to be from a career or calling orientation. This means that employees are more interested in promotions, more interested in the mission/vision/core values of the company, and are more likely to recommend the company to their friends and family for employment or for referring business. This helps them view their work as a career or calling instead of a job. They want to step up and do more than the bare minimum to get by. They are more eager to take on responsibilities and roles for the opportunity to learn. And they are more likely to put more into their work because they see the work contributing to something greater than themselves. 
What could be the cause of these results?
We believe these changes are caused by the training and support that managers receive when using AIM Insights. We know it takes more than luck to build a great team, and these managers are clearly building great teams. Here’s how it works:
AIM Insights has a few important components:
• Direct reports of a manager complete brief monthly surveys assessing how they feel about their performance and their manager’s performance, and then they set monthly SMART goals.
• Managers use the AIM Insights dashboard to review their monthly report and analyze their own perspective on the team’s performance and the individual performance. 
• An executive coach, assigned to each manager for monthly 1-hour 1:1 coaching sessions, helps each manager:
• Understand the perception gaps between themselves and their teams.
• Create an action plan with the manager on how they can approach each direct report to better understand their perspective and communicate their own.
• Oftentimes role play or practice how that 1:1 could go from a best, moderate, and worst-case scenario with the manager.
• Discuss other challenges that manager may be facing from an executive coaching perspective.
Across all the teams we assessed, the only meaningful change to the way the direct reports of a manager experienced their work was how their manager treated them after starting AIM Insights. Here are a few findings that we’ve identified by working with our executive coaches. 
• As opposed to avoiding conflict because managers are uncomfortable with difficult conversations, managers are now embracing those conversations leading to better resolutions.
• As opposed to fumbling through an attempt at having a hard conversation because the manager didn’t practice nor received feedback from anyone, managers are now coming prepared for their 1:1 meetings with their direct reports.
• As opposed to waiting to see if a subtle behavior that irritated the manager turns into a larger problem because the manager doesn’t know how to approach a direct report with constructive criticism, managers are now targeting these conversations head-on and coming into those meetings prepared.
• As opposed to having performance reviews rife with subjectivity and recency bias (e.g. the “what have you done for me lately” effect) managers are now coming into performance reviews prepared with full understanding as to what each employee has been working on over entire period being reviewed.
• As opposed to the dreaded “surprise performance review” where direct reports feel blindsided by their manager, managers are now being proactive and helping each direct report emphasize their strengths and work on their weaknesses. Immediately discussing feedback ensures that managers and direct reports are completely on the same page and nobody is surprised by any feedback given in the performance review because that feedback has been given consistently throughout the year.
• As opposed to managers setting goals for their employees and being a “tactical firefighter” (e.g., “I don’t need to explain why this is important, just do it!”), managers now have their direct reports set goals and give their direct reports feedback on why those goals are impactful or not impactful and why. This empowers employees to have a clearer vision as to how their work contributes to the greater picture of the company.
• As opposed to managers attempting to “read the tea leaves” and going to their local soothsayer to attempt to understand how their employees are feeling about them as a leader, they can directly look at the data and observe how their team feels about them and where there might be perception gaps.
Essentially, managers who use AIM Insights with their teams drive greater feelings of Career and Calling Orientation over the span of year compared to managers who don’t use AIM Insights. 

Fri 17 November 2023
As leaders, every individual has had to work with a difficult colleague. Someone who is counter productive to the team or challenging to get along with. Specifically, many struggle with identifying these difficult personality types in their groups and finding creative ways to pivot these traits to an asset. Within teams, specific behaviors can contribute to counterproductive work behavior, and disturb the natural growth and formation of teams. Across social and professional environments, distinct traits negatively affect development, leaders identifying these traits and shifting them to productive work environment behaviors heavily impacts the efficacy of leaders. 

Tools towards identifying these behaviors begin with intentional observation of your team, feedback from employees and analysis of the psychological safety of your employees. Constantly in work settings, feedback from direct reports and colleagues allow for growth and learning across all positions. 

Also important to keep in mind is that all of the following traits may be represented in team members. Each of these qualities falls on a spectrum, low demonstration may not endanger team success while frequent demonstration of these traits will heavily impact job satisfaction and success of teams. Each of the following traits may even be beneficial in specific workplace circumstances. 

To identify counterproductive work traits, start by identifying these personality types by the following behaviors:

  1. Narcissism
Most detectable through inflated self-esteem, narcissism can be spotted in individuals of all levels. An enhanced ego may lead to lack of empathy for others and a demand for recognition, threatening psychological safety in team environments. Individuals exhibiting these traits may have trouble accepting criticism or feedback. Being a necessity in workplace development, utilizing feedback is crucial for teams and especially, leaders. Managers who identify these traits in their team members should focus on turning these traits into a tool for their team. Consider using this individual as a point person for delegation, or as an “editor” to focus on attention to detail. 

2. Machiavellianism
The second leg of counterproductive work behavior is Machiavellianism. Noticeable through strategic manipulation, machiavellianists  may become identifiable through lack of empathy and focusing on personal gain, beyond a normal level. However, these individuals are often flexible and willing to adapt to achieve their desired outcomes. As a leader, this opens an opportunity for value alignment to impact goal commitment that would strengthen efforts towards a final project. However, without correct value alignment, this individual may endanger psychological safety of others through lack of understanding and care for others. If a manager suspects a member of their team may be a machiavellianist, they should focus on the analysis of psychological safety within the team environment. Individuals who exhibit traits of machiavellianism will negatively impact the efficacy of their teams. 

3. Psychopathy 
The final piece of counterproductive work behavior is Psychopathy. Individuals who are seen as anti-social and demonstrate a lack of remorse can be identified as psychopathic, creating an unstable work environment. In team environments, these individuals will frequently demonstrate a lack of empathy and low control over impulses. Leaders may also notice manipulative habits by these individuals and a disregard for team norms or practiced behaviors or, leaders may not notice these habits at all because these individuals are frequently well-versed in impression management and acting how they think a superior would want them to. Leaders should be cognizant to mitigate any discomfort caused by these individuals as it could further affect team behavior. To spot these behaviors, leaders must depend on feedback from team members to further understand In team settings, these characteristics may be helpful in being unaffected by stressful situations and maintaining a steady level of stress tolerance. 

Recall that the above traits are counter productive in extreme cases but natural in small doses. Managers should also consider the causes of these counterproductive work behaviors which could stem from different points of uncertainty within the workplace such as unclear roles and organizational change. 

As always in professional settings, it is crucial for leaders to evaluate teams on objective measures on a frequent basis to better understand team dynamics. In addition to measuring the success of teams, it is important to receive honest employee feedback on team members to ensure that the psychological safety of a team is not threatened by one individual. 

Finally, managers should be cognizant of these personality behaviors within themselves. Frequently as individuals climb the organizational hierarchy, their objectivity diminishes. Once an individual is near the top of an organization, it is common for narcissistic behavior to foster from lack of constructive criticism. Executives may feel “untouchable” yet, this feeling is counter productive to the work environment. To be a self aware manager in terms of these counterproductive behaviors, ensure that your employees feel safe and comfortable in sharing helpful feedback with you and, consider use of analytic softwares such as AIM Insights that allows for continuous feedback from both superiors and subordinates. 

Overall, managers must utilize their relationship management skills to thoroughly analyze and monitor teams in all work environments. Being a strong leader also means advocating for individuals within a team and fostering a safe environment that allows professionals to prioritize work-life balance. Managers set the tone for the team as a whole through all levels of development. Setting an example of self-awareness, an environment of embracing mistakes and learning from feedback will ultimately lead to the greatest success within a team. In addition to utilizing past leadership experiences, managers should create an environment that promotes adaptability. Every situation may not fall within ideal circumstances and great leaders are able to learn and grow in dynamic environments that fosters creative problem solving and creates strong work relationships and teamwork which in turn, will lead to the greatest successes. 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

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

Emotional Intelligence and Trust Building

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

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

Positive Work Environment and Employee Satisfaction

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

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

Guide: Enhancing Leadership through Emotional Intelligence with AIM Insights

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

Work Challenges: The Power of Vulnerability

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

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

Ambitions: Fostering Growth and Development

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

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

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

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

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

Empathy in Leadership

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

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

Tailoring Leadership to Individual Needs

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

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

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


Fri 15 December 2023
We all have life events that distract us from work from time to time: an ailing family member, a divorce, the death of a friend. You can’t expect someone to be at their best at such times. But as a manager what can you expect? How can you support the person to take care of themselves emotionally while also making sure they are doing their work (or as much of it as they are able to)?

Emily, a dedicated team leader, found herself facing a challenging situation. One of her team members, Charlie, was grappling with personal turmoil, juggling the complexities of an external affair leading to a divorce that was tearing apart his family. Balancing the demands of the workplace while carrying such a heavy emotional burden, Charlie was struggling to meet performance expectations, leaving Emily in a delicate position as a leader torn between empathy and professionalism.

Understanding the delicate nature of Charlie's situation, Emily knew that leading with empathy was crucial. However, maintaining a professional work environment was equally important. Striking the right balance required a thoughtful and nuanced approach.

First, Emily decided to initiate a private conversation with Charlie. She wanted to create a safe space for him to share his struggles without judgment. Instead of immediately addressing performance concerns, she began by expressing concern for his well-being and acknowledging the challenges he might be facing outside of work.

During their conversation, Emily demonstrated active listening skills, allowing Charlie to open up about his personal life at his own pace. This approach helped build trust and allowed Emily to gain a deeper understanding of the emotional toll Charlie was experiencing. In doing so, she learned about his fears, uncertainties, and the difficulty he faced in separating personal issues from his professional responsibilities.

Understanding that Charlie might find it challenging to communicate openly in a face-to-face setting, Emily subtly introduced the idea of using AIM Insights, a platform designed for non-face-to-face communication among team members. This platform served as an online forum where employees could share their personal struggles, ambitions, and non-work-related goals in a comfortable and confidential manner.

Emily emphasized the benefits of AIM Insights, explaining how it could provide a supportive space for team members to express themselves freely. The platform allowed individuals like Charlie to share their experiences, offering insights into their lives outside of the office, making it easier for leaders like Emily to comprehend the challenges faced by their team members.

Without explicitly revealing Charlie's personal situation, Emily encouraged the team to use AIM Insights as a channel for open communication about their non-work-related struggles and aspirations.

These 3 tips are also used to ensure that the workplace is a confidential, empathetic and supportive environment. 

  1. Listen First, Suggest Second

When you speak to an employee about their current struggles, listen first instead of immediately advocating for some particular course of action. They may just want a sounding board about the difficulties of caring for a sick relative or an opportunity to explain why a divorce has affected their attention span. If you immediately suggest they take a leave of absence or adjust their schedule, they may be put off if that’s not what they were thinking. Instead, ask what both of you can do together to address the issue of performance during the difficult period. 

2. Know What You Can Offer

You may be more than willing to give a grieving employee several weeks of leave, or to offer a woman with a high-risk pregnancy the ability to work from home. But the decision isn’t always yours to make. If you have the leeway to get creative with a flexible schedule, an adjusted workload, or a temporary work-from-home arrangement, do what you think is best. But also be sure you understand your company’s restrictions on short- and long-term leave, and what, if any, bureaucratic hurdles exist before promising anything to your employee. Explain that you need to check what’s possible before you both commit to an arrangement.

If the employee needs counseling or drug or alcohol services, there may be resources provided by your company’s medical insurance that you can recommend. But investigate the quality of those resources first. The last thing you want to do is send a suffering employee to avail themselves of a program or supposedly helpful people who then fall short.

3. Consider Workload

You also have to consider whether prolonged absences will adversely affect clients or team members. If so, mitigate those risks by easing the person’s workload. If there are people who are willing and able to take on some of the individual’s projects, you can do that temporarily. Just be sure to reward the people who are stepping in. And then set timelines for any adjustments you make. If the person knows that their situation will last for 6-8 weeks, set a deadline for you to meet and discuss what will happen next. Of course, many situations will be open-ended and in those cases, you can set interim deadlines when you get together to check in on how things are going and make adjustments as necessary. Whatever arrangements you make, be crystal clear about your expectations during this time period. Be realistic about what they can accomplish and set goals they can meet.


Thu 28 December 2023
In 2021, employees held unprecedented power, their every move capable of instigating a wave of resignations. This era was characterized by a constant game of one-upmanship, with companies trying to outdo each other in offering the best benefits and perks to attract and retain talent. Job loyalty seemed like a never-ending battle, as the workforce conveyed the luxury of choice, leading to a culture of job-hopping that became the norm.

However, the dynamics have shifted in favor of the employers. Companies, no longer dominated by the constant threat of mass resignations, began to reassess their organizational structures. Layoffs became the order of the day, leaving many employees with a sense of overwork. The burning question that arises amidst this transition is whether organizations were, in fact, overstaffed for an extended period, and the current sensation of overwork is merely a consequence of employees not being accustomed to being utilized to their full potential.

The Burning Question: Was the Market in 2021 Overstaffed and Underutilized?

A critical question emerges: were organizations overstaffed all along, and is the current sensation of overwork merely a consequence of employees not being accustomed to being utilized to their full potential? The answer lies at the intersection of organizational strategy, workforce optimization, and the ever-evolving nature of the job market.

This transition prompts a detailed examination of the pros and cons inherent in both the employee-driven market and the employer-dominated market. In the former, where employees held substantial power, the workforce was motivated, and competition for talent spurred innovation. However, a culture of job-hopping and a lack of loyalty posed considerable challenges for long-term planning.

On the other side of the coin, the employer-dominated market introduces the potential for an optimized workforce, strategic resource allocation, and increased efficiency. Yet, the process of restructuring may lead to layoffs, causing uncertainty and impacting employee morale. Employees may also feel overworked initially as they adapt to the demands of a more optimized structure.

As organizations move with this new reality, the imperative is to strike a balance that transcends the constraints of an employee-driven or employer-dominated market. The pros and cons of each scenario underscore the intricate dance between employee satisfaction, organizational efficiency, and strategic resource allocation. The challenge, then, becomes a battle between creating a work environment where employees feel valued, engaged, and utilized optimally, and organizations can meet their goals without succumbing to the pitfalls of either extreme. It is a narrative of balance, where the flow of workforce dynamics converge to create a sustainable and thriving workplace ecosystem.

Employee-Driven Market
Pros:
  • Motivated Workforce: Employees felt empowered and motivated, knowing their skills were in high demand.
  • Innovation through Competition: Fierce competition for talent led to innovation as companies sought to distinguish themselves.
  • Emphasis on Well-being: Companies prioritized employee satisfaction and well-being to attract and retain talent.
Cons:
  • Lack of Loyalty: The culture of job-hopping eroded loyalty, making long-term planning challenging.
  • Constant Turnover: High turnover rates made it difficult for organizations to maintain stability and continuity.
  • Short-Term Focus: Companies often focus on immediate benefits to retain employees rather than long-term strategies.

Employer-Dominated Market
Pros:
  • Optimized Workforce: Companies can strategically allocate resources, ensuring each employee is fully utilized.
  • Increased Efficiency: A more efficient organizational structure has the potential to enhance overall productivity.
  • Strategic Resource Allocation: Employers have the autonomy to allocate resources based on strategic goals.
Cons:
  • Layoffs and Uncertainty: Restructuring may lead to layoffs, causing uncertainty and impacting employee morale.
  • Adjustment Period: Employees may feel overworked initially as they adapt to the demands of a more optimized structure.
  • Risk of Burnout: The push for efficiency may inadvertently lead to burnout if not managed effectively.

Contrary to the perception that an employer-dominated market signals a lack of staff, a closer examination reveals that it may be a pursuit of workforce balance. This shift challenges long-held assumptions, urging organizations and employees to reconsider their perspectives on efficiency, engagement, and optimal resource utilization. The shift from the employee to the employer-dominated workforce showcases the balance of fewer employees being used at their potential rather than many employees being used at partial potential. 

Not a Lack of Staff, but Workforce Balance

One of the primary challenges in understanding the nuances of an employer-dominated market lies in dispelling the notion that it is synonymous with a dearth of staff. Instead, it should be viewed as a strategic endeavor to achieve a harmonious equilibrium in the workforce. Companies are recalibrating their structures not due to an inadequate workforce but to align resources more precisely with the organization's goals. This shift emphasizes the need for a lean, agile, and finely tuned workforce, rather than an outright scarcity of personnel.

Mindset Shift Required

As organizations pivot towards a more optimized workforce, a shift in mindset becomes imperative. Employees, who may have grown accustomed to a culture of potential underutilization during the employee-driven era, now find themselves in a landscape where being fully utilized is the new norm. This adjustment period demands a recalibration of expectations and work habits. A proactive approach to embracing challenges, acquiring new skills, and contributing to the organization's overarching objectives becomes paramount for individual and collective success.

Opportunities Amidst Challenges

While the transition to an employer-dominated market brings its share of challenges, it also brings a load of opportunities for personal and professional growth. Employees, once accustomed to the comforts of a less-demanding workload, can now seize the chance to showcase their skills, take on more significant responsibilities, and contribute meaningfully to the organization's success. This shift offers a platform for continuous learning, skill development, and career advancement as individuals adapt to the evolving demands of the workplace.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fri 26 January 2024
Change is inevitable and often necessary, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy—especially for your team of employees. When processes are updated or reworked, you may face pushback, confusion, and frustration from your team. 

Even when a lot of work is done into analyzing and improving your processes, all that work is for nothing if people don't adopt and follow the new standards. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place to implement new processes and get employees on board from the start. 

How can you guide your employees through accomplishing tasks for their current responsibilities while adding in a new tool that the company has acquired for use?

Understanding the Dynamics of the New Tool

To effectively lead a team through the integration of a new tool, a manager must first gain a comprehensive understanding of its dynamics. Beyond merely grasping its functionalities, the manager should discern how the tool aligns with the current workflow. Workshops, training sessions, and identification of key features that enhance efficiency are essential steps in this understanding process.

Anticipating and Tackling Resistance

Resistance to change is a common hurdle when introducing new tools. A proactive manager anticipates this resistance and addresses it head-on by fostering an open communication culture. By highlighting the benefits of the tool, showcasing its ability to simplify tasks or improve outcomes, and encouraging feedback, a manager can mitigate resistance and build team buy-in.

In-depth training is paramount for a seamless transition. Managers should prioritize providing numerous opportunities for team members to acquire the necessary skills. This can involve arranging training sessions led by experts, offering online courses or certifications relevant to the tool, and creating a supportive environment for peer-to-peer learning within the team.

Tailoring Integration Plans to Team Roles

Recognizing the diversity of roles within the team, a manager should tailor integration plans accordingly. Collaboration with team leads to create role-specific implementation strategies and providing targeted training based on individual responsibilities are crucial steps. This approach ensures a more personalized and effective integration for each team member.

Integration of a new tool can potentially disrupt existing workflows if not managed carefully. Managers must anticipate these disruptions and develop strategies to mitigate them. Gradual implementation, starting with less critical tasks, and having contingency plans in place for unexpected issues can help minimize disruptions and maintain productivity.

Achieving a balance between ongoing responsibilities and the adoption of new tools is crucial for a smooth transition. Here's how you can manage this delicate equilibrium:

1. Prioritize and Delegate:
  • Identify critical tasks that require immediate attention and focus.
  • Delegate responsibilities effectively, ensuring the workload is distributed efficiently.

2. Monitor Progress:
  • Regularly check in with team members to gauge their progress with the new tool.
  • Address any challenges or roadblocks promptly to prevent disruptions.

3. Foster Collaboration:
  • Encourage collaboration among team members to share insights and tips on using the new tool.
  • Create a supportive environment where team members help each other navigate the transition.

Celebrating Milestones and Recognizing Efforts:

Acknowledging achievements and efforts throughout the transition is vital for maintaining team morale. Managers should take the time to celebrate milestones and recognize the hard work put in by the team. Establishing a system for acknowledging individual and collective achievements, organizing team-building activities, and reinforcing a positive mindset by emphasizing the long-term benefits of mastering the new tool contribute to a motivated and engaged team.

Successfully leading a team through the integration of a new tool demands a multifaceted approach. Managers must not only understand the tool's dynamics but also proactively address resistance, provide comprehensive training, tailor integration plans to team roles, manage potential disruptions, establish a support system, and celebrate achievements. By adopting these strategies, leaders can guide their teams through the challenges of change, ensuring a smooth and efficient transition in the dynamic landscape of Fortune 500 companies.


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