"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.

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