"management style"

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 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 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.

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

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

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

Why are Younger employees so useful?

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

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

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

What should a manager teach newer direct reports?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should you help foster these younger workers?

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

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

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

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

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

Mon 13 June 2022
Brian is the Vice President of engineering for a high-growth startup with 800 employees. His company pays way above the market average but they hold an “earn your seat” mentality when it comes to the work. 
The challenge that he is facing is that his team will follow instructions and do everything they are asked to do, but won’t move the ball forward. They are always waiting for him to tell them what to do, rather than aspiring to set goals to impact the company on their own.
He would like for his team to better understand the company’s vision, both because it develops them and because most of his direct reports are interested in the compensation that comes with transitioning from a senior engineer to a staff engineer (the highest level software engineer at this company with almost a $200,000 increase per year).
Some of his direct reports want parity promotions, meaning that because they have been at the company for longer than others (which for everyone is less than a year), they deserve to get promoted.
The promotion process at his company is also really convoluted. Essentially, to get promoted, a manager has to sponsor the direct report with a 10-page overview as to why the direct report deserves the promotion.
It has gotten to the point where Brian will actually recommend his direct reports leave the company for the role they want (at a different company) for 6 months and then come back and interview for the role they wanted in the first place because it’s very difficult and time-consuming to move up in the workplace. This contributes to the job-oriented mentality that incentivizes employees to only do the bare minimum to get their paycheck.
As Brian is sharing his company’s processes with the Ambition In Motion mastermind group, he is realizing that the company may not be setting its employees up for success.
The well-above-market pay paired with the “earn your seat” mantra incentivizes people to sabotage each other, do the minimum work that doesn’t get them fired, and leave the company if they want to get to the next level.
The group suggested that Brian chat with his leadership team to discuss his thoughts because if things don’t change, they could have a bunch of people that are only there for the money and aren’t focused on the vision of the organization.
 
How does company culture impact employee motivation?
Employee motivation is the fuel that propels the organization forward. When motivation levels are high, there is growth; when it’s down, the momentum stalls. 
So, what motivates your employees? 
There are various reasons and needs that motivate employees. And your company culture has to address these reasons and needs to foster employee motivation and engagement.
Before we get into this any further, let’s start with the basics. Why do people work?
 
●     Purpose – They want to contribute to the company’s success.
●     Potential – They want to benefit in the long run in terms of promotions, salary hikes, or greater responsibilities.
●     Play – They enjoy their daily work as it ignites passion and curiosity in them.
●     Economic Pressure – The financial factors motivate them, such as a desire to earn more or fear of losing their source of income.
●     Inertia – They work because they have to; they have no goals or reasons to work.
 
If you notice, the first 3 reasons are positive, and the rest are negative. Employees with positive reasons to work tend to be productive and engaged at work. 
Companies with growth-oriented cultures encourage these positive reasons and build a culture around it.
 
How you can incentivize your employees to care about more than just salary 
Although Brian is part of a fast-growing startup, 8x growth in employee headcount within their first year, his desire for employees to care more is actually a quite common question that we hear from leaders of all company sizes; how do you make people care? 
It’s a more common problem than we’d all like to believe. It happens in every industry and workplace. This problem affects all of us. 
Unfortunately, you can’t make people care. But, you can provide all of the right elements that inspire them to choose to care about your business, your team, and their job. Here are four strategies for successful leaders that can skyrocket the results of your employees.
 
1. Share your care with your employees. 
As simple as it sounds, many leaders, even when they do care about their people, aren’t always very good at sharing that appreciation. Your employees won’t care about your company or your goals unless you care about them and their goals first. 
Learn, practice, and get good at recognizing your employees because appreciation is the number one thing that managers can do to inspire their teams to produce great work.
 
2. Cheer for effort, because it deserves it. 
As we travel and speak to organizations, we often find that many managers are confused by the difference between appreciation and incentives. Incentives can be seen as a transaction; if you accomplish “a-b-c”, then you receive “x-y-z.” 
Oftentimes incentives are presented before a project or assignment. 
Appreciation, on the other hand, isn’t solely focused on the outcome. Instead, it’s an acknowledgment of a person’s intention, hard work, and their results. When efforts and results are recognized, employees report:
a) increased confidence in their skills,
b) an understanding that they are on track and in good standing with their manager, and 
c) it creates an improved relationship with their leader.
 
3. Be crystal clear about what you value. 
Telling your employees that you expect the best from them doesn’t actually mean much to them because they don’t understand what that means to you. Employees want to know exactly what they value and appreciate.
 
4. Show them how they can make a difference 
Most people don’t apply for jobs and assume they’ll be mediocre at best. They apply for jobs at companies where they believe their skills and experiences will make an impact; where their thinking and effort will make a profound difference. 
Still, we’ve spoken with many struggling managers who can’t understand why a certain employee isn’t satisfied by simply becoming the mirrored version of a job description.
When employees are not shown that they have the capability to utilize their skills to make a difference, they may get in the habit of doing the same thing every day, without the incentive to do more. 
Encourage your employees right off the bat and throughout their time at your company to do the most that they can do, to benefit themselves and the company. AIM Insights can help you with suggested encouragement and questions you can ask your team to help convey this message. 
 
While it may seem frustrating that you can’t force your employees to care about your company, your goals, your customers, your teams, or even their own jobs, you have the ability to give them reasons to care
And, in our experience, when your employees care about more than just their salary, they’ll achieve at a level that surpasses anything you could have ever imagined.
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 13 July 2022
More and more senior leaders are pushing for increased credentials from their managerial staff. In 2020, 43% of US firms had business managers holding an MBA or some form of advanced business degree.  This is almost twice that of the percentage in 1980, which was 26%. 

Recently, companies and schools have been creating certification programs in lieu of these postgraduate programs. These include Cornell’s business strategy certification, Harvard’s Executive Education Certification program, and Ambition in Motion’s AIM Insights People Leadership Certification. How do you choose what type of education you want? How do you choose between an MBA and a people leadership program?

The costs of an MBA vs the costs of a Certification

It goes without saying that college is expensive. An MBA holds true to this statement. According to Experian, the average tuition cost of an MBA is $66,300. However, this is an average and falls victim to outliers. The online MBA program from the University of Texas Rio Valley is relatively inexpensive $17,000. However, the MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania costs $161,810. 

MBA Today lists that among the top 30 MBA programs, the cheapest one would be $55,727 for a full-time two-year program. This means that working will be much more difficult due to academic commitments. In addition to tuition and administrative fees, students need to pay for textbooks, supplies, any equipment (such as laptops, computers, electronics), and transportation. If you are required to relocate to study in this MBA program, you may also need to pay for moving costs and rent. Out-of-state students may even need to pay additional tuition.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 50% of graduate students take out student loans for an MBA program and complete their programs with an average of $74,707 in debt. 

 In contrast, a leadership certification program rarely leaves the 4-figure mark at all. According to CIO,  the costs of these programs range from $1800 to $5700, while the leadership coaching for executive training ranges between $150 an hour to $500 an hour. There are generally no textbooks or supply costs, and most definitely no moving costs. Certification programs have the capability to be held completely online. 

In addition to this is the cost of lost wages. During a full-time MBA, it is difficult to hold a job, and you will often have to teach a course at the school you are matriculating in. At the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, full-time MBA students are required to teach managerial and financial accounting courses to undergraduate students. This holds true for many other schools. 

Under a certification program, you can actually hold your position and continue work as normal, since it will allow you to practice skills that are taught in these courses. Therefore, you don’t lose any wages.

Applications

Applying to an MBA program is completely different than applying for a certification program. An MBA program has a much more comprehensive application process and runs the risk of applicant rejection. 

Most MBA programs require either a Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT for short, or a Graduate Record Examinations, or GRE. Some schools actually require scores for both examinations. Applicants are also required to provide letters of recommendation from managers, colleagues, and mentors, and potentially provide references as well. In addition to this, undergraduate grade point averages are taken into consideration. Finally, to complete the first stage of the application, applicants are then required to write a statement of intent, which is similar to an undergraduate college application essay. 

After all of this is completed, applicants then need to wait a few months, and may have the opportunity to be granted an interview. Most MBA programs require an interview before officially accepting a student. The acceptance rate for the interview stage ranges from 34% to 75% in the top 20 MBA programs. The averages end up being a 62% rate of acceptance.  After a long and grueling interview, you have between a 10% and 40% chance of being accepted. 

A certification program is much easier. Simply verify your identity, provide billing information, and register for the course. If there is an executive coaching portion to the program, your company may have to meet some performance metrics as well. 

Time Commitment

The average MBA program takes about two years to fully complete, assuming that it is a full-time program. Online MBAs or Hybrid MBA programs can take a while longer. During this time, expect a majority of your day to be occupied by classes, homework, research, as well as any other responsibilities required by your programs, such as being a Teaching Assistant or an exam proctor. 

People leader certifications are more fluid. Since you can view most of the coursework asynchronously, or entirely online, you determine how long the program will take. If there are executive coaching or mentorship programs in your certification, you may have to give up an hour per month or a period of time similar to this.  

The Curriculum of an MBA vs the Curriculum of a Certification Program

Courses for an MBA are often very generalized, with a skill set focused on financial management and structural management.  Some of the courses include the following:

1)      Business Essentials
2)      Exploring Business Strategies
3)      Marketing for the 21st Century
4)      Business and Law
5)      Management Analytics
6)      Management Accounting
 
           These are all important topics and can definitely add value to a company if a manager executes them correctly. However, an MBA doesn’t necessarily help with soft skills and isn’t marketable in all scenarios. If you want practical and applied skills, an MBA isn’t for you.  For example, if you are working as a manager in a field outside of finance, such as in a scientific field, or engineering, it would be best to either get a leadership certification or a degree more relevant to that workplace.
            
            A people leadership certification utilizes soft skills and is much more specialized than an MBA. Examples of topics covered in a certification course include the following:
 
1)      Personal Leadership
2)      Intercultural Leadership
3)      Service Leadership
4)      Strategic Planning
5)      Conflict Negotiation and Resolution
6)      Organization
 
            These topics are frequently discussed and encountered in the workplace and are important points to address with your direct reports, peers, and superiors. 

Conclusion

            Without a doubt, an MBA can be a very powerful tool, and in the right hands, can dramatically improve a company. However, with all of the expenses and rigor in mind, along with the focus, it is also best to consider if a people leadership certification might be a better fit for you. Neither is worse than the other, but some may be better in certain scenarios. Evaluate yourself, and your ambitions. 

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

Engagement is the combination of:

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

Sun 21 August 2022
Gallup has extensively researched the relationship between employee engagement and company profitability, and they showed that engaged employees are 22% more profitable than disengaged employees. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thu 25 August 2022
Bridge the gap between hiring and onboarding
Welcoming new hires into your organization is an exciting process. An employee's onboarding can have a huge influence on their enthusiasm, motivation and performance. 
             As your new hires learn the fundamentals of their new jobs, you have the unique opportunity to make a meaningful first impression. 
 
Benefits of a good onboarding process
An employee's first impression of a new workplace can set the tone for their entire experience with a company. 
An engaging and exciting onboarding process can improve job performance in the long term by setting employees up for success from the moment they begin their training. In response, these employees see higher satisfaction in their jobs, increasing employee retention over time.
When a company makes the effort to create a captivating onboarding process, new employees are encouraged to engage immediately with their new surroundings, generating excitement about their role. 
An excited employee is likely to speak highly of the company they work for, improving a company's brand by word of mouth and contributing to the reputation that the organization is a great place to work.
 
Week one
During the new manager’s first week, they could be asked to think about and create a document outlining their 30-60-90 day plan. Here, they’d write down their main goals and their goals for their team, plus how they plan to achieve said objectives. 
Employees would include timelines for each set of goals and a description of what success would look like for them. 
As an employer, there are many benefits to asking your new hires to develop a 30-60-90-day plan, according to Indeed.com.
 
Benefits of a 30-60-90-day plan
-        Helps clarify their role. You can use the document to make sure new employees understand what they need to deliver.
-        Provides valuable insights. Discussions about the plan give you insight into your new employee, and you can also ask them to give you insight into your business.
-        Helps build relationships. Regular discussions with new hires can help you build a stronger team.
-        Aids in development plans. This document lets you see your new employee’s strengths and weaknesses so you can create their employee development plan.
-        Helps with time management. Starting a new role can be overwhelming, but a 30-60-90 plan gives a new employee focus and shows them where they should be spending their time.
 
With this, it’s important to keep in mind that it can be difficult for a new member of the leadership team to establish a set of goals when they aren’t 100 percent familiar with the company’s objectives or overall targets. 
It’s up to the HR team and the leader’s managers to provide any appropriate documentation and data that will help inform their goal-setting initiatives. 
This could include organizational charts, strategy and project documentation, and general company culture presentations.
 
30 days
After 30 days, the new manager may be ready to start diving deeper into their role. They may have set goals surrounding budgeting issues or cost-savings for their department or started seeking out ways to conserve other resources.
This is when they’re able to receive information and data that’s a bit more detailed, such as financial reports and forecasting analysis documents. 
As providing them with countless pages of context-less reports or stacks of old results can do more harm than good, it’s important to let them know what documents are most valuable to them and their role so they can prioritize their time most effectively.
 
60 days
Once they’ve been on the job for two months, the organization’s new manager will be expanding their company and product knowledge through multiple information streams. 
While their first month might have been more focused on high-level and general information and documentation, the second month gives them a chance to dig deeper into the areas of the business that are relevant to their own goals.
For example, if the new manager is a Director of Sales, they may want to meet with the Public Relations Team to discuss PR events that have positively (and negatively) impacted revenue.
With this in mind, it’s important that HR teams encourage members of different departments to create documents or info packets that can help new employees understand their team’s position and contributions to the business.
While it could be overwhelming for a new leader to try and get detailed information about each department across the organization right away, by having these dedicated resources created for onboarding, the new leaders are able to learn about other teams as they relate to their own goals and objectives.
 
90 days 
After three months, a new leader is usually ready to focus more heavily on their team’s development. While the new manager might have felt that they didn’t have the time or attention to properly foster their team’s growth during their first week or month, they’re usually more than ready by the third month.
They’ve completed the basic learnings required for their integration and are finally ready to turn their attention outward. This is when they can focus on their management-specific goals, such as aiming to lead a high-performing team.
Around the 90-day mark, the organization’s HR team could provide any documentation that relates to managing and supporting a team of employees. This might be formal leadership training documents, a company handbook on building and managing effective teams, or any other resource that concentrates on fostering talent within the organization.
 
Use the Right Tools
Adopting new technology and tools can streamline the onboarding process for all new leaders. These tools can help accelerate learning, maintain momentum, and make leader onboarding more effective than ever.
As mentioned above, it’s important to start the onboarding process before the new leader’s first day on the job. While setting them up with any necessary hardware and legal documents before day one is essential, understanding their team’s priorities before they’ve officially started gives them a massive head start. A tool like AIM Insights is made for exactly this purpose.
With AIM Insights, a team can participate in executive training prior to their new leader’s onboarding. This allows the newly hired leader to interact with the team in both group and 1:1 settings to understand each individual team member’s thoughts, pain points, and priorities. 
With AIM Insights training and executive coaching, the new leader is immediately privy to the issues most important to the team as a whole. These time-saving insights are incredibly valuable, allowing the new leader to get up to speed as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Once the leader has started, regular and ongoing AIM Insights coaching exchanges over their first few months help keep them on track and alert to any changes that might have occurred. 
They can gather honest, collective feedback and pulse-checks from their team, while benefiting from anti-bias software, which allows them to understand challenges and opportunities swiftly, plus build trust and connections.
Effective onboarding for leaders has long been a pain point for many organizations. With so much at stake, many businesses miss the mark when it comes to setting new managers up for success. 
With the tips and guidance above, organizations can help new leaders become valuable and impactful members of the business as quickly and effectively as possible.
And if you are a new manager interested in connecting with other people leaders to gain objectivity and improve your performance, you can check out the executive mastermind group.
Thu 8 September 2022
Handling personnel conflict is an essential part of a manager’s position. Regardless of how strong the company culture is, human challenges are inevitable. Since many team members have different work styles and personalities, there’s always the possibility they will clash. However, proper management of these problems can not only rectify conflict but also set up the workplace to be better equipped for future mitigation.

What is Workplace Conflict?

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

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

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

What Causes Workplace Conflict?

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

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

How do Managers Prevent Conflict?

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

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

Some signs of conflict within a team include the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Manage Conflict that is already present

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

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

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

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

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

Why Terminations aren’t necessarily the Best Option

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

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

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

Understanding the Root of the Problem

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

Signs of worker stress include the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Help Employees who are having trouble meeting expectations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a leader of people during times of uncertainty, you must give people certainty.
Tue 27 September 2022
When a company has a direct report that isn’t necessarily meeting expectations, its managers generally take action. This is not an unreasonable process, since a direct report that isn’t performing can cause complications for the rest of the team members. One of the most frequent actions taken by a manager, or potentially even Human Resources, is what is known as a Performance Improvement Plan, or a PIP. 

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

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

What else is wrong with a PIP?

               There are several problems with PIPs:

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

Can a PIP be beneficial?

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

How to determine if a PIP is appropriate to use

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

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

Setting up a Performance Improvement Plan

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

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

The Terms of a Performance Improvement Plan

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Thu 6 October 2022
In a workplace setting, a manager is often viewed as the figurehead of the team, and sometimes even the company. The energy a manager gives is often reciprocated by their staff. A manager serves in a position similar to a quarterback for a football team. Not only are they often calling the shots for the business but are also responsible for setting the tone of the workplace. Managers are also the first tier when delivering employee engagement. As the adage goes ‘People don’t quit jobs. They quit bosses.’

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

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

Motivating Your Employees- The Platinum Rule

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

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

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

Utilizing The Platinum Rule

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

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

Company Incentives

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

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

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

Wed 12 October 2022
Business Innovation is defined as an organization’s process for introducing new ideas, workflows, methodologies, services, or products. The primary objective for business innovation is to maximize revenue, while also working for brand perception. 

            Companies such as McKinsey and Accenture deeply value innovation, with both citing over 80% of their executives believing their future success to be dependent on innovation. However, a growing concern among executive leaders is that not enough people are defining innovation as a strategic priority.  So the key question for managers is “How can managers propose and then continue to implement new ideas?” 

Proposing your Ideas 

            When proposing an idea, it is important to sketch out what problem this idea will address. This is a concept drawn from Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen’s Jobs to be Done Theory, which talks about creating a product to fill a need. While your idea may not necessarily be filling a consumer’s need, it could be benefitting the business in some capacity. 

            An idea doesn’t necessarily have to be new either. The Yellow Taxi concept in New York City has been around since 1907. However, many consumers raised concerns about the scarcity of the taxi, as well as prices. Consequently, in 2012, Garrett Camp, Travis Kalanick, and Ryan Graves created UberX, which raised millions of dollars within the year, and has become a ubiquitous name in the transportation industry. 

            After finding a target problem to fix, managers can then think about how they want to fix this problem. The four most common aspects to consider when attempting to solve a problem in terms of business innovation include the delivery process, location, costs, and participant experience.

·       The delivery process includes how a product or service is delivered, which includes a timeline of when it is delivered. It also can refer to how convenient the process is for either the clients or the vendors.
·       The Location describes where a product or service is offered. 
·       Cost often makes a significant difference in company expenditures. Determining how to offer a product or service and differentiating it from other companies with a lower price can improve company efficiency.
·       Participant or Customer Experience is one process that may not necessarily drive up profits but is worth its weight in gold for a different reason. If direct reports are happier with a process due to its lack of stress or lack of difficulty, it puts the company in a much better light in terms of recruiting.  

Once managers have come up with the idea and planned it, they then have to consider the rigors of implementing this idea. However, the implementation of an idea within the business innovation process can often prove to be as challenging if not more so than the planning phase. 

Implementing the Idea 

            In 1991, consultant Geoffrey Moore published Crossing the Chasm, a book that gave many high-tech startups a marketing blueprint to give their product the initial traction needed to reach the majority of the market, and not dying in the “Chasm”, a term coined for the gap in time between the early adopters and the majority, 

            An idea in the workplace will work very similarly to the technology adoption life cycle. This cycle can get very confusing, but at its core, it is a bell curve distribution.

            Think about when the iPhone was first released. Did it instantly make it throughout the market? No, since everyone loved their Blackberries and Nokia Phones. It took a while for it to make its way into the population. An idea behaves in a very similar method as well. Some people within the workplace will instantly gravitate to the idea and acclimate to it quickly. However, there are other employees who may take longer to warm to the idea. These are often employees who have been in a position for longer periods of time or have more experience within the field. 

Encouraging the Adoption of an Idea

            Clear communication with direct reports after proposing an idea will give managers- and the idea- a lot more support.  There are a few key actions that managers should take during this process as well to help improve reception.

1)     Post throughout the workplace and online- disseminating information in clearly written correspondence will inform everyone about the change in policy. Explain what actions the business will be taking to implement the changes, and also set goals that have to do with this policy, such as trying to fully convert to the new policy within a certain timeline. As always, your goals should be SMART goals.
2)     Explain why these changes were made.  Being open with your employees about what prompted management to make these changes can help them empathize and potentially recognize how management is trying to help them. For example, explaining that a change in policy will make a task about twice as fast as before will definitely appeal to them. 
3)     Provide a way for employees to raise concerns about the implementation of an idea. It is completely okay for an idea to be changed following concerns from employees. It is also entirely possible that an idea may not necessarily be completely perfect for a workforce.
4)     Offer training sessions to help supplement postings of the new policy, especially if it’s a massive procedural change. Employees need to be fully informed in order to properly follow policy. 
5)     Review the changes periodically with employees in 1:1s and use quality rating systems to both evaluate and be evaluated on how well the change has worked for your employees. AIM Insights can assist a business in this by integrating with HRIS software and allowing employees to both be reviewed and to give feedback.

Change can be scary, but can make a big difference in how a company functions, as well as how well they do. Don’t be afraid to make this change.               

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

●       For managers: When you want to use extrinsic motivation as a manager, it's important to offer rewards strategically. While external rewards can effectively motivate your team to take on a new challenge, learn a new skill, or hit a quarterly goal, you should also make sure you're giving them the resources necessary to take on projects and skills they're passionate about.
●       For employees: Work for the rewards that please you, but be aware of your limits and take breaks when you need them. Reflect on what is motivating you and notify your manager about any lack of resources or misdirection that impedes the proper motivation, and therefore, reward.
Fri 4 November 2022
We often display a natural tendency to put our own needs before others.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. As Psychology Today's Lisa Firestone notes, "Maintaining a certain regard for ourselves and engaging in self-compassion and self-care are actually fundamental to creating a good life for ourselves and the people who matter most to us."
Focusing on our own needs can protect us from burnout and other negative consequences. However, from a leadership perspective, this focus often crosses into a decidedly more selfish territory. In today's complicated workplace, if you don't put the needs of others before your own, you will lose in the long-term. 
If losing in the long-term isn't big enough, when you put the needs of others before your own as a leader you do two big things.
 
1.     Create an inspiring place to work
A leader who puts others first creates an uplifting, motivating culture that inspires confidence among their employees. 
These leaders maintain a high view of their people, show them respect, and listen receptively to their needs in a nonjudgmental way. This is powerful for a team’s positive performance environment as it instills a trust in the employees’ strengths, abilities, potential, and commitment to the job. 
This doesn't mean that you're going to become best friends with your employees. 
What it does mean, however, is that you will be continuously engaged in making sure that each team member has the resources they need to perform their job effectively. It means you will create a safe environment where everyone feels valued.
When you show genuine care for your employees' needs, as opposed to an obsession with the bottom line, you will enjoy better retention rates and productivity as everyone buys into the company culture.
 
2.     Improve the potential for widespread impact
When a leader focuses on their own needs, they limit their influence. Focusing on the needs of others is just good business sense. 
Additionally, leaders who put others first want to see them succeed. They understand that an employee's success doesn't threaten or diminish their position.
Instead, it creates new opportunities for growth. Taking on the role of a coach or mentor may not directly benefit your career, but it can help a new employee improve their skills so they can become a stronger contributor to the team.
When you focus on fulfilling employees' needs, they will be better able to meet their responsibilities toward your customers, putting your brand in a better position to reach its goals.
 
Instilling Intrinsic Motivation 
Adapting to a "people-first" mindset may be a bit of a challenge, but it can be done.
Start by getting to know your employees. Understand their challenges and concerns, as well as the things they're excited about. The better you get to know your team, the easier it will be to identify ways you can improve their experience in the workplace.
The leaders of people-centric companies understand that it’s people who make their company successful. These companies realize that when people feel valued and cared for, they do their work with stronger intrinsic motivation, a deeper sense of meaning, and a greater level of engagement. They go the extra mile simply because they want to contribute to an organization that cares about them.
The more you do to foster a positive, supportive atmosphere, the easier it will be for employees to feel like they can bring up concerns or new ideas. Giving everyone a voice by prioritizing their needs will cultivate a productive environment that allows everyone to succeed.
 
Intrinsic Motivation vs. Extrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is behavior driven by internal or intrinsic desire. 
In other words, it’s the motivation to engage in behavior that arises from within the individual rather than from without. This means that the motivation comes solely from oneself and not from external forces such as incentives like compensation or praise.
This is connected to the social psychology and self-determination theory, which is a framework for the study of motivation and suggests people become self-determined when their needs for competence, connection, and autonomy are filled. 
Intrinsic needs, like job satisfaction and human connection, stem from the self-determination theory and often drive us to do our best work. Intrinsic motivation can also improve team engagement, because it involves seeking out activities that bring us internal joy and help create purpose. 
Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, refers to behavior that is driven by external rewards or punishment rather than internal desires. This means external motivation can be both rewards-based and fear-based, as long as there is an external force driving the motivation.
Let’s break down the differences between the two: 
 
●       Intrinsic motivation is the means of finding satisfaction within yourself. Intrinsic motivators might include curiosity or taking on a new challenge.  
●       Extrinsic motivation involves avoiding external punishment or seeking rewards. External factors that motivate team members can include extrinsic rewards—such as sales incentives or performance merits.
 
Human motivation is inherently different from person to person, which means the types of effective motivation will also vary from team to team. While one person may respond better to intrinsic factors, another might respond better to extrinsic factors. The key is to consider your team's needs and what’s best for their well-being.
 
Building a better tomorrow
Putting others' needs ahead of your own may feel counterintuitive. But to become a successful business leader, it is a crucial trait that you will need to develop. By focusing on the needs of your employees, you can inspire better performance. 
When you focus on people, rather than numbers, you will be far better positioned to achieve the desired results.
 
Fri 11 November 2022
The definition of what it means to be a great business leader has evolved and changed significantly over time. Today, the best leaders are less authoritative and more empathic, often displaying more vulnerability than leaders did in the past.
Servant leadership is a relatively new concept that many leaders are embracing due to its effectiveness in managing and guiding teams. Here are a few reasons why servant leadership is beneficial for a company’s success.  
 
1. It Encourages Strategic Thinking and Innovation
 
A servant leader is willing to follow and does not need to always be in charge. They are civic-minded and ethical, and others are motivated to follow them. Servant leadership does not mean being submissive. True servant leadership encourages strategic thinking and innovation and helps develop others, which is why servant leadership is crucial for any large enterprise to embrace for success.
 
In the book Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek demonstrates how the best leaders will wait to hear everyone’s opinion on a subject before sharing their own. First because it allows them to better understand the creative perspective of their team members and second because they are self-aware enough to know that once they share their opinion, it will taint whatever is said after that.
 
2. Teams Accomplish Great Things Together
 
Servant leadership is simply about a leader understanding that they are there to serve. This model can be beneficial when the leader understands that it is about working with others to accomplish great things as a team versus simply directing or managing others. Servant leaders understand that completing the task at hand is more important than their individual success.
 
3. Everyone Learns How To Be Supportive
 
Servant leadership is humbly putting others before oneself through service and doing so without regard to one’s title, status, ego or expectations about the work a leader is “supposed” to be doing. A true servant leader goes to their people and asks, “What can I do to support you in this moment?” with the sole agenda of meeting the person’s need in whatever form it presents itself.
 
4. People Are Inspired To Take Personal Responsibility
 
Servant leadership is a humble style where leaders care for employees holistically and serve them by providing them with autonomy. The style is beneficial for every company because it inspires people to become leaders and take personal responsibility for all of their decisions and actions. Businesses that embrace servant leadership tend to have a great company culture with employees who go above and beyond.
 
 
5. Servant Leaders Build Other Leaders
 
The job of a leader, at the most fundamental level, is to build other leaders. To do that, you must operate in service of others to multiply growth and impact. Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the goal of a leader is to serve. Isn’t that the heart of what leadership is all about?
 
In his essay, The Servant as Leader, Robert K. Greenleaf first coined the phrase "servant-leader," writing, "The servant-leader is servant first … That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions."
Even in the caring professions, money, power or day-to-day decision-making can cause leaders to lose sight of their altruistic goals. They may lead the organization without prioritizing service to the community. However, Greenleaf says, "The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them, there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature."
 
The differences are:
• A servant-leader's focus is primarily on other people's (and their communities') well-being and growth.
 
• The servant-leader isn't a sole leader with power, but rather, a power-sharer.
 
• They put other people's needs above their own and enable their team to grow, develop and perform to the best of their ability.
 
How To Develop Servant Leadership
 
In Leadership: Theory and Practice, Peter G. Northouse describes 10 characteristics of servant leadership: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people and building community. How do you practice these? Whether you are at work, or in your family or community, servant leadership has a vital role to play, now more than ever. These are three ways that you can begin to develop your servant leadership skills. 
 
  1. Communicate and engage with others. Engage employees in finding solutions and working on projects that benefit those they serve, both in and outside of the organization. Being able to deliver clear-cut messages in a concise way is an important aspect of effective communication. As a servant leader, you need to communicate in a way that makes it easy for people to understand what you want to achieve. That means your instructions need to be clear, with no room for misinterpretation. In this way, you will be in a great position to get your team to accomplish the goals set with maximum efficiency. This consistent engagement will build resilience by sharing positive stories of what your organization and/or employees have been doing well!
 
2. Create a plan. It is important to prepare for potential challenges. Think of the things that need to happen, including obstacles that might get in the way and plan how you will respond. Include your team, and consider this to be a real, working risk assessment with practicable actions. Address all the possible scenarios: extended periods of lockdown, illness, loss of income streams, continued new ways of working or adapted business practices. How will you react to each scenario? Planning ahead, considering all eventualities and knowing what you'll do in each case will help alleviate anxiety, stress and panic, and enable you to act in a calm, measured way. Furthermore, communicating this information with candor builds trust and demonstrates transparency, which is especially important during times of uncertainty.
 
3. Model servant leadership. In times of perceived danger, the primitive "fight, flight, freeze" responses prevail and extraordinary behavior can manifest, like people hoarding toilet paper or reporting their neighbors to the police for taking a walk. In times of crisis, people often look to leaders for how they should respond. So lead by example. Demonstrate servant leadership by modeling the kind of attitude and behavior you want others to have in the face of crisis; one of calmness, sharing, gratitude and compassion for others. Encourage "we" before "me" and walk your talk.

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