"manager performance"

Sun 26 September 2021
Attracting and retaining talent in the summer of 2021 has been incredibly difficult – so much so that LinkedIn and other news outlets have dubbed this time period as the “Great Resignation”. I have personally interviewed dozens of executives and consistently heard sentiments like this: 

“Business is booming, but we can’t find people to staff the demand we are receiving or keep the people we have!”

Some executives I have interviewed have blamed working from home and the general burnout from the increased uncertainty as reasons for this. Other executives blame generous unemployment benefits as the reason for these hiring struggles.

This article won’t serve as a deep-dive into why the Great Resignation is happening. Instead, I’m going to focus on solutions and highlight one major way we can handle this challenge to our businesses’ viability.

According to a Gallup survey, 75% of employees who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses, not because of the position itself. 

In other words, the adage ‘people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses’ seems to ring true for people who are quitting – and with workers quitting at an incredibly high level at the moment, it is paramount that we, as leaders, do more to equip our managers with the tools and resources to be better managers.

There has been significant research into measuring work engagement and its impact on retention and productivity from teams – and if your team isn’t measuring engagement, I would highly recommend starting now. But new research is showing that there are 5 additional criteria that should be measured to understand the level of satisfaction employees have at work and their productivity.

1.       Team Cohesion – Employees’ self-assessment of how well the team has been working together in terms of their camaraderie
2.       Team Productivity – Employees’ self-assessment of how productive the team has been 
3.       Task Performance – Employees’ self-assessment of how productive, they personally, have been
4.       Manager Performance – Employees’ assessment of how effective their manager has been at leading them
5.       Organizational Citizenship – Employees’ self-assessment of their ability to be helpful to the team outside of their explicit work duties 

Caveats about measuring this data: 

1.       It should be measured monthly, at a minimum. Feelings about work and productivity change rapidly and asking annually, bi-annually, or quarterly is not enough to garner an accurate picture.
2.       It should be measured on a team-by-team basis, not a general overview of the entire company. The dynamics that occur within teams are more relevant and critical to an employee’s sense of belonging and willingness to stay at a company. Company-wide metrics are far too broad to be useful.  
3.       Managers should be provided with tools for enacting change based on these metrics. For example, conversation prompts and suggested questions for 1-on-1 meetings with direct reports can help managers address these issues early. Collecting data without immediate action diminishes the employee experience instead of enhancing it.

If you can measure this data on a month by month basis for each and every manager and their respective teams and equip your managers with suggested questions and conversation prompts to discuss with their direct reports based on the data, you are significantly better equipped to elevate the employee experience and feelings of belonging at work.

Why?

Because employees’ feelings of burnout and dissatisfaction with managers don’t happen because the manager is purposefully trying to sabotage the team or individual employees. These negative feelings typically happen because of poor communication between the manager and their employees. Most bad managers think they are good managers.

When an employee receives poor communication from their manager, there are consequences. It may cause them to do work that is not what the manager actually wanted, or to feel they are being treated unfairly, or to feel they aren’t receiving ample feedback (or too much unnecessary feedback), or just feel uncomfortable or dissatisfied with the manager in any way. When this happens, it is VITAL that the manager understands this frustration right away and have a conversation to rectify it (Kim Scott, the author of Radical Candor calls this “challenge directly while caring personally”).

If a manager doesn’t rectify the situation and this feeling of dissatisfaction from the employee festers, they are going to become actively disengaged, bring down other employees because of their dissatisfaction, and eventually leave. 

If you are a CEO and you believe that having an “open door policy” or “clear lines of communication” is enough to gather this information, you are making the MASSIVE assumption that your managers’ direct reports have the same level of psychological safety as your direct reports have with you. You are also assuming that your employees have personality traits in which they are comfortable being optimally objective with everyone they interact with across all levels of an organization. 

Overall, now is the time to equip our managers with the data and the tools necessary to build strong teams. Providing a robust system through conversation prompts helps managers understand how their direct reports are feeling about work in terms of their team cohesion, team productivity, task performance, manager performance, and organizational citizenship. If we can do that, we are much more likely to increase retention and the productivity of our teams.

A quick final note, my team and I at Ambition In Motion are working on tools and ways to research these 5 core areas that increase work satisfaction and productivity across all employees. If you are a manager that is interested in collaborating or learning more about our research, please feel free to send me an email at [email protected]

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

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

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

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

What is 1:1?

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

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

What does an effective 1:1 look like?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thu 6 January 2022

Work Orientation is how you derive meaning from work

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

Thu 6 January 2022

Work Orientation is how you derive meaning from work

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

Thu 6 January 2022

Work Orientation is how you derive meaning from work

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But are they actually right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does this mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Mon 18 April 2022
What is a performance review?

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

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

Why is a performance review important?

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

When should a performance report be written?

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

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

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

How should a performance review be conducted?

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

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

Mon 25 April 2022
Your team knows better than anyone what it’s like to work for you. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to tell you. When it comes to giving feedback, many direct reports figure, “Why risk it?” or “What’s the point?”
They’re cautious because they’ve heard about, or experienced managers lashing out, hurting people’s careers, or just plain ignoring them when they share what they really think. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
You can be a different kind of leader; one who understands that just about everything you do and say impacts your direct reports’ lives and performance; a leader who truly wants to hear their unpolished feedback; who proactively seeks out that feedback so that everyone can reach their highest potential, including you. 
 
Why is it important that managers receive feedback from their direct reports?
No one wants to offend the boss, right? But without input, your development will suffer, you may become isolated, and you’re likely to miss out on hearing some great ideas. 
The feedback you get from your direct reports can help to shape your management style, decision-making process, and the ways in which you interact with your team members. This kind of feedback can not only make you a better manager, but ultimately, it can also help to inspire a higher level of performance in your team.
So, how can you get your direct reports to give you HONEST feedback?
 
How can managers get honest feedback from their direct reports?
            Acknowledge the fear, and embrace your desire to be the best leader for your direct reports! 
            As the boss, you have to set the stage so people feel comfortable with you. You need to break through their fear. You know that everyone makes mistakes, even you! Tell them this. Explain, honestly and openly, that you need their feedback.
But at the same time, it’s important that you recognize how hard it might be to hear this tough feedback. It’s human nature to feel upset when you’re criticized. However, in order for you to be the best leader that you can be, and to help your team thrive, you need this feedback! Here are three ways to help you get there:
 
●     Establish a groundwork for high-trust feedback exchanges 
●     Conduct regular 1:1 meetings with your direct reports 
●     Use the right evaluation software: AIM Insights 
 
  1. How to establish a groundwork for high-trust feedback exchanges
 
Do you want your direct reports to give you honest feedback?
You can’t expect your direct reports to provide honest, open, and helpful feedback if you don’t provide it to them. It’s a two-way street. So take care to model best feedback practices that signal trust, respect, and fairness. 
Unless you already have a strong, trusting relationship with your direct reports, you likely won’t get far bulldozing your way straight into a sensitive task (e.g., “So, how am I doing as a manager?”). But most people, even new hires, will be comfortable and possibly even flattered if you initiate feedback exchanges over lower-stakes topics related to the team’s work. This will send a strong message that you care about, and rely on, your team’s opinions. 
Showing that you care about your direct reports through mutual feedback is essential! You won’t get honest feedback from your direct reports if they don’t feel safe. And they won’t feel safe if you react to the inevitable challenges of work-life with cringes, frustration, or anger. 
 
 
  1. Importance of regularly conducting 1:1 meetings with direct reports
With a loaded schedule like yours, you have limited time, your task list is endless and the goals are aggressive. And your calendar is already full of other meetings: Management meetings, Quarterly review meetings, Sync meetings, and much more…
But as a manager and leader, there’s one meeting you should have and follow: one-on-one meetings with your team.
A one-on-one meeting is a dedicated space on the calendar and in your mental map for open-ended and anticipated conversations between a manager and an employee. Unlike status reports or tactical meetings, the 1:1 meeting is a place for coaching, mentorship, giving context, or even venting.
The 1:1 goes beyond an open door policy and dedicates time on a regular cadence for teammates and leaders to connect and communicate.
 
 
 
  1. Am I using the most efficient evaluation software? 
What method do you use to conduct self/team evaluations? 
When conducting performance evaluations, things can often get messy. How often should you conduct them? What forms should be involved in the process? How long should it take everyone? 
Stress, no more! At Ambition in Motion, we’ve created AIM Insights, a software to help YOU conduct your evaluations with simplicity
AIM Insights is a tool utilized by fortune 500 companies to help teams set goals, measure performance, and engagement improvement, and create greater communication between direct reports and managers.
This software allows leaders to stay up to date on their direct reports’ engagement levels, productivity levels, and individual goals on a month-by-month rolling basis. 
 
How should managers respond to the feedback from their direct reports?
As a manager, it’s crucial that you respond to employee feedback. 
One of the biggest frustrations for employees who take the time to give thoughtful feedback is when this feedback is ignored by their peers, manager, or organization. Responding to feedback from your team members shows them that you take their ideas and opinions to heart.
Remember, it’s important to read, ponder and acknowledge all of the feedback given to you, but you’re not required to take all of it! 
Regardless of whether you decide to take the feedback or not, you owe it to the direct report who gave you the feedback to communicate your intentions. 
Sometimes it’s important that we have these conversations about our intentions in order to show our direct reports that we’re changing and growing every day. 
 
Example of what you might say if you choose to take the feedback: “Thanks so much for your feedback, John. You make a great point. I’m going to work on talking less during meetings and making sure others get the opportunity to weigh in. If it’s OK with you, I’d also like to check in with you in our 1-on-1s to see if you notice any progress.”
 
Example of what you might say if you choose NOT to take the feedback: “Thanks so much for your feedback, John. I’ve given it a lot of thought. While hearing your feedback about my meeting facilitation was helpful, I’ve decided to prioritize another behavior change right now: committing more time to coach the team. But it means a lot to me that you were honest, and I’m going to continue asking for your input.”
 
            Utilizing your 1:1 meetings to convey your thoughts and appreciation of your direct reports’ feedback is a great place to start! 
            Good luck! 
Tue 26 April 2022
As a manager, it is imperative to maintain a constant stream of communication with direct reports. However, the phrase “information is a two-way street” comes to mind very quickly upon hearing that. A manager not only needs to communicate with employees but also needs to be equally open to communication. However, they can’t be everywhere or know everything. That’s where the term “managing up” comes into play.

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

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

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

Properly managing up can lead to increased accountability 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wed 4 May 2022
Hybrid? Fully remote? Never left? Regardless of how your team operates now or in the future, the pandemic changed how companies will need to manage their people. This article is titled how to measure performance for remote teams, but these lessons apply across all teams if we want to effectively lead into the next 5-10 years.

There is this common notion: what is focal is causal. Or put simply, what people see, they perceive as important. This focus on management through visibility has been the traditional style until the pandemic. But as more teams continue to work remotely, we must find new leadership methods that can ensure productivity without relying on visibility without context.

Why?

The pandemic exposed the major flaws of traditional methods. Focusing on visibility discourages actual productivity and encourages performative productivity (e.g. people looking busy while being observed).

For example, I recently interviewed the CEO of a tech-focused logistics company. I wanted to learn how other leaders are responding to the tail-end of the pandemic. He shared his intentions to bring the entire team back into the office. He believes that his team is more productive from the office than from at home. I suspected that he had fallen into the trap of relying on that same old notion: What is focal is causal.  

So, I pressed him on some key statistics to see why he decided to end remote work. We discussed sales, fulfillment, and the other factors that indicate the health of his business, but he didn’t have the new data for comparison because they just got back into the office. We scheduled a follow-up interview two months later to see how the company changed and to compare metrics.  

When we met again with the data to compare, the results spoke for themselves: people were more productive working from home. But this CEO couldn’t shake his intuition; he still preferred to work from the office with everyone else on his team because he liked seeing everyone working.

He was always skeptical of “work from home” and had the same worries that many CEOs and managers have had to deal with: “What if people skip work early? Or they take a day they said they were working completely off? How can I manage people that I can’t see?” He was stuck in the traditional mindset that what is focal is causal. Intuition is a dual-edged sword. When it leads you astray, your key to getting back on track is taking your intuition out of it. 

The answer to this is to measure and take the guesswork out of it.    

When ‘what is focal, is causal’ pervades a workplace culture, people are incentivized to look busy when in front of their managers; the key word here is “look busy”. This is Performative Productivity. 

In the book Deep Work by Cal Newport, Cal talks about this concept of the mental residue that occurs when we switch tasks or are distracted from one task to the next. Different people prefer different times and techniques to get into a flow-like state to focus as deeply as we can.

Productivity occurs when we eliminate distractions

When we work in an office, anyone can interrupt our work, distract us, or force us to work in ways that are not conducive for our flavor of deep focus. We can put ourselves in a position where our real productivity is sacrificed to support performative productivity. 

Therefore, if we can 1.5x, 2x, or 3x increase our productivity when we control when we work and when we allow distractions, it seems only logical to allow our people to do that if we can.

The challenge lies in how we measure productivity and what actions we take for granted that we realize need to get done.

Sure, in sales, it is pretty easy to quantify productivity – number of calls made, meetings scheduled, meetings had, follow ups made, and deals closed. But for less quantifiable tasks, it is critical that we identify useful metrics for measuring progress. 

For example, an executive in my mastermind group runs a consumer-packaged goods company. He started putting QR codes on packages that link consumers to surveys. These surveys let customers share their feedback on product quality, packaging, and labeling. He also started implementing end-of-call surveys to gather feedback from his clients (or prospective clients) on his customer support team. 

As he started creating opportunities for gathering more feedback, he learned that some metrics were more important than others. He also learned that he can only improve what he is measuring. He focused his team on specific outcomes, but more importantly, he was upfront that some of these metrics may change over time as he learns more feedback. 

This iterative process helped him develop a strong system. Now he measures change and improvement pretty accurately and can share that insight with his team. His team knows when they are working in a positive direction or when things need improvement.  

Performance reviews shouldn't be a surprise

Another benefit was that performance reviews become super easy for him and his team. They have minimized surprises and his direct reports are now reporting to him where they know they can improve.

His team has now started implementing a hybrid approach where his team members have total autonomy of when they come into the office. If somebody decides to work half the day in the office and the other half from home, they can do that. Or they can rent an RV with the family and work on the road or pull all-nighters so then they can work on their start-up during the day. No matter how they decide to work, he doesn’t care because he knows what they are measured against and leaves the decision making to the employee.

Measuring works for collaborative teams just as much as individuals

And this works just as much for collaborative work as it does for individual work. When teams are working collaboratively, they are measured against the team goal. Individuals break their segments down and are held accountable to their individual tasks. Their success is tied to the team’s overall ability to achieve their goals.

When the team doesn’t achieve a goal, they work together in an experimental way to identify what they can change to achieve the outcome they desire for the future. Sometimes part of that solution is working together in the same space, sometimes they identify other methods. Either way, a manager with a strong system for accurately monitoring productivity can trust their employees to take the initiative and find productivity instead of micromanaging. 

The notion that “focal is causal” forces bad incentives. When goals are clear, employees know what needs done. Everyone can be measured based on what they know they need to accomplish, and you can continue to make incremental improvements to the goals and metrics. Together, this new method builds resilient productivity and helps you manage your team better whether your team is remote, hybrid, or in-person. 

Mon 9 May 2022
Do you have a perfectionist on your team? The good news is that your direct report has high standards and a fine attention for detail. The bad news is that he fixates on every facet of a project and can’t set priorities.
Can you harness these positive qualities without indulging the bad? Can you help them become less of a stickler? Yes and yes. 
In fact, many people claim to be perfectionists because they think it makes them look good. But true perfectionism is a flaw more than an asset. In many cases, this compulsive behavior can be a thorn in the side of a great performer. 
Managing a perfectionist can be challenging but it’s not impossible. And when done well, you both will benefit. 
 
Discovering perfectionism in the workplace 
 
Recently, an executive from a Fortune 500 company was experiencing issues within his team; he felt that they were performing well but they were failing to give him feedback
As he dug deeper to find the reasoning behind this issue, he found that his team struggled with a competition issue. 
His team’s drive to be perfect and not show mistakes gave the executive a false sense that everything was going well. And in turn, his direct reports were hesitant to give honest feedback because they didn’t want to look bad or come off as imperfect. 
Fortunately, he had the group to work through his challenges. Just like his direct reports were fearful of going to him with issues, he was fearful of going to his boss with the issue that he built a culture that wasn’t psychologically safe and competitive which resulted in issues being hidden, and developing into larger issues. 
 
A perfectionist is defined as a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection. It’s not necessarily a bad trait! Striving for perfection means you care a lot about your task and your desired goal. 
There are actually a lot of pros and cons to perfectionism in the workplace: 
 
Pros and Cons of perfectionism from direct reports
 
Pro – Your direct reports go the extra mile with their tasks.
Con – Your direct reports often put in a lot more work than they may communicate with you or your team, creating an exclusive atmosphere in the office where people feel as though they are in competition with each other.
 
Pro – Your direct reports look as though they really have everything together. 
Con – Your direct report lacks honesty with you and the rest of your team because they are constantly trying to attain an image of perfection in order to hide the fact that they are actually imperfect, just like everyone else.
 
Pro – Your direct reports have motivation, determination, persistence, and drive; all qualities that most people find redeeming and can make a great candidate for a job.
Con – Your direct reports often stretch themselves thin trying to constantly exude these qualities in every aspect of their work, to the point where they create an environment of competition rather than togetherness. 
 
One of the most important pros and cons of them all happens to be a huge challenge of perfectionism that acts as both a pro and a con: 
 
Pro – You never accept failure from yourself.
Con – You never accept failure from yourself.
 
There are pros and cons to everything, but the challenges to perfectionism can breed a culture of competition where no one wants to admit their mistakes. Sometimes, people end up sabotaging each other rather than working together. And worst of all, when an issue arises, people hide it and try to solve it on their own, which in turn creates a much larger problem for the team to deal with. 
 
What is the biggest challenge of perfectionism? 
 
Some signs of perfectionism in the workplace include:
●     Very high standards (and the belief they must be achieved)
●     Highly self-critical
●     Fear of failure and making mistakes
●     Over-focused on minor details
●     Obsession with rechecking/redoing work
●     Difficulty completing a task or project
●     Overachiever
●     Stressed or anxious about performance or results
●     Too much competition
 
However, the biggest challenge when dealing with perfectionism is not wanting to make mistakes. If your direct reports are struggling with perfectionism, they likely are afraid of making mistakes, and even more afraid of others (including you) finding out that they’re capable of making mistakes. 
Just the word “mistake” is capable of striking fear in a lot of people’s minds when it really shouldn’t. It makes them anxious, indecisive, and at times, overwhelmed too.
It’s not a nice feeling to be regretful about something that you worked hard for and put a lot of time into. This is where direct reports may get caught up in either trying to be absolutely perfect or simply not reaching their potential by “playing it safe” and not trying new things out of the fear of making mistakes. 
As a manager of this team, it’s your job to encourage your direct reports to find a happy medium! 
It can be very easy for your direct reports to get stuck in the area between the paralyzing side of the fear of making mistakes and gathering the courage to give it a shot, or in the area of perfectionism where they’re too scared to admit to their mistakes.  
 
How to effectively manage the challenges within perfectionism 
 
Create an environment where it is mutually understood that you (the manager) take the blame when things go wrong. 
Mistakes happen! 
A leader who assumes the blame, and passes the credit, sends a message that mistakes are OK and that when they happen, it will be an opportunity to learn and grow. By inspiring those beneath you, your employees will emulate your best traits, which will include assuming the blame for themselves.
            The best leaders inspire others and give credit. 
Giving credit and taking accountability sets yourself apart from the team, as a guide toward your team’s overall success. The more emphasis that you put on guiding your team, rather than showcasing your leadership (by taking credit or blaming others for mistakes), the more respect you will gain from your direct reports.
Here are a few important tips for creating an environment with your perfectionist direct reports where it is assumed that mistakes are inevitable, and welcomed: 
 
  1. Appreciate the positives while recognizing the negatives
Working with perfectionists can be frustrating. They tend to be impatient with or hypercritical of others and they’re not good at delegating. 
However, it’s your job to recognize that while irritating, their behavior is not all bad. It stems from a place of care for their work
In fact, because of their insistence on excellence, they often raise the standards of those around them. Be sure to tell them that you appreciate the level of enthusiasm and drive that they bring to the team, and encourage them to work more with the team, rather than against the team, on their own. 
A perfectionist wants to do what is best for them and their goals; be sure to reassure them that they will reach the highest of their potential by sharing, communicating and working inclusively.
Every employee needs feedback. But perfectionists may have a harder time than others hearing criticism of their work. 
Since critique is difficult for them, perfectionists are likely to hear only the negatives. Instead, share your apprehensions first
An important aspect in giving feedback to a perfectionist is to ensure that they know they are appreciated and valued. Don’t be afraid to ask your direct report: “Is there a most efficient way that you prefer we exchange feedback with each other?” and “What aspects of your work could use greater clarity from myself or other team members?”
With this in mind, you can deliver the input in a way that won’t make them defensive or demotivate them. 
 
Looking for a more efficient way to evaluate performance reviews within your company? Ambition in Motion offers their software, AIM Insights reports, ensuring visibility over all ongoing activities: task performance, manager performance, organizational citizenship, team performance, and goals for direct reports. Click here to learn more about how you can simplify your performance review process! 
 
            Managing a perfectionist can be challenging but it’s not impossible. And when done well, you both will benefit!
Tue 10 May 2022
As a manager, it is extremely important to understand what type of workers or direct reports you have.  Each person has a unique archetype that they tend to fit into. These don’t necessarily refer to how they are motivated, which is also another important aspect of your direct reports to keep track of. There are six archetypes that are commonly identified. 

What are the archetypes of workers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do these archetypes matter?

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

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

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

Tue 17 May 2022
Ever since the onset of COVID-19 and all of its variants, in order to abide by health department constraints and in the interest of public safety, more and more companies required their employees to work remotely. However, despite the distance between employees, efficiency rates skyrocketed, and more and more employees are now advocating for the ability to continue working remotely in the future. According to the Pew Research Center, 54% of employed adults want to continue to work from hope after the coronavirus outbreak ends, while only 20% of them worked from home pre-pandemic. Many workers claimed that the removal of a commute allowed them to have more flexibility with task completion. On the contrary, other workers noted that despite the many benefits of remote work, they had trouble with a few different aspects of their job. Several Americans noted some of the following problems:

·         Lack of necessary equipment or technology
·         Meeting Deadlines on time
·         Missing Adequate Workspace
·         Lack of Motivation

Some of these reasons can boil down to the type of orientation the employee has. This does not refer to any political or personal orientation, but rather how an employee derives meaning from work. Research has shown that the three following major categories generally encompass most workers. An individual can either be career-oriented, job-oriented, or calling-oriented. This article will not go into excessive detail about these orientations but will give a slight introduction to them. 

Career Oriented individuals are driven by professional growth, such as promotions, raises, or learning skills that may help them advance in the future. 

Calling Oriented individuals are motivated by the fulfillment of doing the work and making a difference or impact with their work. 

Job Oriented individuals are driven by using material benefits to support their life outside of work.  

Understanding how each of these orientations prioritizes their work/life balance can be instrumental in making the decision to allow remote work or not, as well as measuring performance success. 

How can working remotely benefit a Career Oriented individual?

                                Career Oriented workers are always striving for advancement. A remote working opportunity allows them to devote more time to work by eliminating any possible commute. It also allows them to learn different skill sets such as how to properly communicate and collaborate online. However, there is a drastic difference between the workplace environment and a remote environment. Due to the lack of proximity to others, career-oriented workers may not be able to network with their peers and superiors and may feel frustrated as a result. In addition to that, it can be hard for them to see the fruits of their labor, and consequently, to see how their superiors perceive their work. This can be countered by properly communicating with them about their goals and your goals as a manager for them. Keeping Career Oriented workers appreciated and feeling like they fit in with the team will allow them to weather any storm that may come their way, and stay in the position that they are in.

How can working remotely benefit a Job Oriented individual?

                                Job Oriented individuals know how to prioritize work/life balance, and often have goals outside of work. Arguably, they benefit the most from working remotely, due to the elimination of their commute, as well as the flexibility of working when they want to. They will also benefit mentally due to the ease of setting up professional boundaries and being able to work on personal projects. However, they may become easily distracted due to the temptations of side projects at home, as well as their other interests, such as playing video games. As a manager, it is important to be clear on what you would like them to do, and not suddenly add more onto their plate, which can disrupt their expectations and leave them frustrated. It is best to give them autonomy since they will achieve whatever goals you have of them as long as they have been communicated ahead of time.

How can working remotely benefit a Calling Oriented individual?

                                      Calling Oriented workers have a personal and work life that is extremely intertwined. They want to see how their work benefits the world, and similar to Career Oriented Workers, can easily burn out if they do not see the results of what they are doing, especially if it doesn’t appear to benefit the world. It is important to properly delegate tasks to them such as ones that directly impact the team or clients. This way, it is much easier for them to see that their work is benefitting them. While online or remote, this becomes a little more difficult, and you as a manager will need to be in communication.

                                      Without a doubt, all three of these orientations and individuals who fall in them require proper communication and management to make the most out of them, especially while remote. However, after acknowledging how remote work can affect them, as a manager, you need to figure out if remote work is worth it. The key is being able to compare success rates both before and during remote work. This comparison can be made extremely simple with performance measurement software such as AIM insights. With proper insight, you can easily determine the utility of remote work. 
Mon 23 May 2022
How important is it to help your managers succeed? 
Managers and how they manage their reporting staff members set the tone for your entire business operation. Managers are the front-line representation of your business.
It's easy to understand why managers make significant mistakes in their daily management of the people they employ. 
Many managers lack fundamental training in managing people, which is usually manifested in their inability to practice the significant soft skills necessary to lead.
But more importantly, many managers lack the values, sensitivity, and awareness needed to interact effectively all day long with people. 
The best managers fundamentally value and appreciate people. They also excel at letting people know how much they are valued and appreciated. 
 
Why is it important to prioritize the best training for your managers?
You want to make sure all of your managers are successful, right? After all, managers have a huge impact on their entire team.
They are the cogs that hold your organization together because all of your employees report to them, for better or for worse. 
The majority of communication about the business is funneled through your managers. For your business and employees to succeed, your mid-level managers must succeed and become adept at managing in a style that empowers and enables employees.
Skills and techniques are easier to teach, but values, beliefs, and attitudes are much harder to teach, and harder for managers to learn. 
These are the underlying issues that most managers struggle with being successful. 
This is why educating your managers to the best of your abilities and coaching them for success matters to you and your employees.
 
The current way that we equip new managers is flawed 
Many people aspire to get promoted and move into leadership positions. But with this exciting transition comes a natural challenge: one of the biggest tests new managers face is knowing how to go from being a peer to managing their peers.           
It’s important to be able to recognize the right employee to transition into a first-time manager, but it’s crucial to help them become the skilled leader that the organization needs. But more than likely, these new managers won’t have all of the skills they need right away.
Even if someone is excellent at their job, being a new manager comes with an entirely new skill set. They are not just responsible for themselves anymore; they have an entire team to manage.
Joining the leadership team is a great accomplishment, but it could also lead to the demise of a person’s career if not managed properly. 
The biggest flaw when equipping new managers is the outdated protocol for transitioning positions within the company. 
When anyone is given a new position, they must go through the transition process of paperwork and assessments to assure that they are fully aware of what the job entails and what their new duties are within the company. 
However, the duties of a manager include much more than just understanding how to direct their employees in a certain direction of goals that the company aims to accomplish. 
In order for a manager to fully have an impact on their new employees and the overall change of the company, they need training in more than just the protocol transition work. Understanding how to effectively make an impact as a manager, make close connections with their new direct reports and emulate a positive workplace are all things that must be implemented into the new manager transition period
Going into the job, managers will be more confident in their abilities to perform successfully if their training includes more than just the most basic protocol. 
New managers need to be confident in their promotions and know that it's possible to assimilate everyone successfully. For example, having the mindset of “I’m ready and willing to learn” will position new managers on a path toward a thriving managerial journey.
These are the kinds of things that need to be enclosed during the new manager training/transitioning period.
 
What do new managers need to have to succeed within their roles? 
It's always exciting to promote a member of your team to a management position. However, some of your other workers might not take kindly to their peer becoming their supervisor, especially if that means they’re missing out on the same opportunity.
As challenging as this may be, there are ways to get through these hoops! 
It starts with proper training. 
Beyond the basic transition guides and paperwork that a new manager must endure at the beginning of their term, it’s important for new managers to do some intentional observation of the work environment. 
Advising and teaching your new managers to observe the operations of the team through the lens of a manager rather than a peer will inspire your new managers to take notes and learn the inner workings of their new direct reports, and how they can best serve their needs. 
 
Here are a few insider tips for your new managers: 
 
●     Get to Know Their Employees
Developing a relationship with reporting employees is a key factor in managing. You don't want to be your employees' divorce counselor or therapist, but you do want to know what's happening in their lives. When you know where the employee is going on vacation or that his kids play soccer, you are taking a healthy interest in your employees' lives.
Knowing that the dog died, expressing sympathy, or that her daughter won a coveted award at school makes you an interested, involved manager. Understanding and connecting with your employees will make you a better manager who is more responsive to employee needs, moods, and life cycle events.
 
●     Provide Clear Direction 
Creating standards and giving people clear expectations as a manager is crucial so that people know what they’re supposed to do, and how they can manage their time. More importantly, they will always feel as if they have accomplished a complete task or goal if the timeline of everything is laid out in an easily understood way. 
Within your clear expectations, if you are either too rigid or too flexible, your direct reports will feel rudderless. You need to achieve an appropriate balance that allows you to lead employees and provide direction without dictating and destroying employee empowerment and employee engagement.
 
●     Trust From the Start
All managers should start out with all employees from a position of trust, which shouldn't change unless an employee proves themselves unworthy of that trust. When managers don't trust people to do their jobs, this lack of trust plays out in a number of injurious ways within the workplace.
Micromanaging and constantly checking up on others are examples of how to create an untrustworthy work environment. However, if you work to trust your employees from the start, you can create an environment that fuels creativity and trust within your direct reports’ work, allowing for an inspired and communicative work environment. 
Thu 26 May 2022
I’ve had the privilege to work a few different jobs in both managerial positions and entry-level positions. I’m sure that you can relate to me in feeling that some managers were great at what they do, while others weren’t as great. The old adage of “People don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad managers” continues to hold true. According to research by The Ken Blanchard Companies, the average organization is 50% as effective thanks to less than optimal leadership.  

How does a bad Manager get appointed?

                To understand the cause of these terrible managers, you need to understand what the key problem here is. The way that managers are trained and appointed simply is not enough and sets them up for failure. 

Take a standard software firm for example, and a specific account executive named Jake. Jake is particularly good at closing deals, with very little haggling required, and on top of that, is responsible for a majority of the company sales. So, upper-level management chooses to give him a reward somehow. If Jake is capable of doing all of this, imagine what he could teach his coworkers to do right? So the administration chooses to promote Jake to a sales manager, responsible for managing other account executives and training new associates. 

                Unfortunately, Jake has no experience in developing people and the patience it requires. He just knows how to sell software. However, since he knows his methodology works wonders, he decides to teach everyone how to use his method, and boost sales. But his jokes just don’t sound the same out of other people’s mouths, and the charm he uses just feels off. And since he has no time to sell software himself, the company is making fewer sales. Ultimately, many of the sales associates choose to leave because they don’t like the command and control style of leadership Jake has deployed and those that stay aren’t meeting quotas because nobody is as good at selling using the “Jake method” as good as Jake is.

                The key takeaway here is that high performance individually does not necessarily translate into high performance as a manager. Unfortunately, promotion is often used as a reward for high performance, with increased pay used as an additional incentive. Therefore, the individuals who may actually have manager potential (based on their ability to develop people) get overlooked because they aren’t rockstar individual contributors. 

                Finding a good candidate for management can be tricky. However, training new managers can be successful. Performance evaluation software such as AIM insights can help your new managers get coached and develop the skills they need to effectively lead their team based on the data their direct reports are sharing in the tool. Using tools such as this can help you identify who is particularly good at working with a team, or who works well with many different types of orientations of workers. 

How can a good manager still be failed by upper administration?

Regardless of how skilled a manager may be, if they aren’t properly set up for success, they may still not be well prepared for their new role, at the company’s expense. A manager is not born into the world with perfect skills. They may naturally be able to work with other people, but they still need to be trained. The best way to think about a manager is as a person, but also as an investment. Would you choose to buy a house that has a lot of space, but no bathrooms? It’s a very similar concept. A manager candidate has a lot of potential, but not necessarily the exact skills needed for the role. Fortunately, these can be easily trained. 
Training a manager involves a few different subjects. These subjects include some of the following:
·         How to have effective 1:1’s and soft skills
·         Training new employees
·         How to give a performance review

All of these subjects are critical to ensure the best possible manager. Can you imagine how bad an incompetent manager could be? Fortunately, you don’t have to imagine as such. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 84% of U.S workers say that poorly trained managers create much more unnecessary work and stress for them. Interact even researched poor managers and found that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees and would prefer to not give any direct feedback unless absolutely necessary. These managers have been failed. With adequate training, they could have been truly amazing. However, because they failed to go through a proper vetting process, and then a training process, they quite simply are not capable enough to assume such an important role. 

The way we train our managers is nowhere near where it should be at this point in time. It is just too important of a role to not give due diligence to. Understanding how to choose a good manager, and then how to train them will be the best course of action for the future. Only through this can we hope to create a better work culture for the future. 

Mon 30 May 2022
             If you recently received a new position at your company and were handed a portfolio of various reports and charts regarding overall past performance analysis, and told to analyze them and start your position, what would you do? 
            Of course, you can analyze the charts, and look at the trends of performance over time within the company. But what does that tell you about your position, or how you should perform to receive the best results from your new direct reports? 
            There’s simply no training for a new position in analyzing charts. 
            What do the charts mean? Sometimes trends are low, and sometimes they are high. But that doesn’t tell you what the employees were thinking or experiencing when they filed these performance reviews. 
            Charts and reports are not training. 
            In my last article, How to get your new managers to be more effective faster, I discussed the flaws within the current way that we equip new managers. 
 
The current way that we equip new managers to lead with data is flawed
Joining the leadership team is a great accomplishment, but it could also lead to the demise of a person’s career if not managed properly. 
It’s important to be able to recognize the right employee to transition into a first-time manager, but it’s crucial to help them become the skilled leader that the organization needs. But more than likely, these new managers won’t have all of the skills they need right away.
Even if someone is excellent at their job, being a new manager comes with an entirely new skill set. They are not just responsible for themselves anymore; they have an entire team to manage.
The biggest flaw when equipping new managers is the outdated protocol for transitioning positions within the company. 
When anyone is given a new position, they must go through the transition process of paperwork and assessments to assure that they are fully aware of what the job entails and what their new duties are within the company. 
Are charts and reports the proper training protocol? Or does this only confuse and lengthen the process of transitioning into a great new manager? 
 
            In order for performance reviews to be effective and accurately represent a product that is meaningful to the viewer, there needs to be more training for employees and new managers regarding the importance of performance reviews. 
            If new managers are properly trained on the importance of performance reviews, they will be able to conduct more effective evaluations and produce responses that they can work with, and build off of. 
            If employees are properly trained on the importance of performance reviews, they will continue to stay engaged and give honest feedback, knowing that it will be used for the betterment of their time at the company. 
            With proper training for both new managers and employees, new managers will be able to look at the performance reviews and analyze what needs to be changed and continue to benefit their direct reports and the company, overall. 
            
Challenges include… 
  • Managers aren't trained in why the tool is being used, diminishing response rates from employees
  • When data is collected and shared with the managers, managers aren't trained in what the data means or what to do with the data, so response rates from employees diminish. 
  • Managers are busy so asking them to sift through a "knowledge base" of helpful tips based on the data that comes in does not actually lead to them doing anything with the direct reports with the data, even if the knowledge-based was curated for them using artificial intelligence. 
  • When managers don't do anything with the data that has been requested of them from the direct reports, the direct reports become frustrated and disengaged
  • When employees don't complete the regular surveys, the performance management tools are rendered useless because there is no data to review
 
All in all, the key to new managers effectively leading their teams starts with proper training. The duties of a manager include much more than just understanding how to direct their employees in a certain direction of goals that the company aims to accomplish. 
In order for a manager to fully have an impact on their new employees and the overall change of the company, they need training in more than just the protocol transition charts.
Understanding how to effectively make an impact as a manager, make close connections with their new direct reports and emulate a positive workplace are all things that must be implemented into the new manager transition period. 
After the proper training to understand what the position entails and how the new manager can get creative with their new implementation to the job and the company, it’s important for the new manager to understand the performance review process. 
The performance review process should accurately portray evidence from employees of likes/dislikes/struggles/strengths within the company so that the manager can identify strengths, weaknesses, and goals for their team. 
So how can a company get the most out of its performance management? 
 
Performance reviews must deliver meaningful results 
            After you’ve properly trained your new managers, it’s your company’s job to provide your new managers with meaningful performance reviews to analyze. Meaningful reviews include honest feedback from employees; a product that your new manager can use to effectively lead their new team. 
            Traditional performance reviews lack meaning. Charts measure trends, but trends don’t tell a new manager how to make a difference, and how to best lead their new team. 
            Minimize the learning curve of new managers becoming effective leaders and use AIM Insights to conduct performance reviews. 
 
AIM Insights Performance Review SOLUTIONS include… 
  • All managers are trained and onboarded in a live training coordinated with the host company
  • All managers receive custom walk-throughs with an executive coach of their team's data every month with the executive coach providing guidance for each direct report a manager is in charge of
  • Managers receive unlimited email coaching to help guide them as they encounter challenges and roadblocks with their direct reports
  • When managers have effective 1:1's with their direct reports based on the data their direct reports are submitting, response rates increase and stay high, creating immense value and tracking for the company
 


 
 
  • Increased employee retention and satisfaction
  • Enhanced productivity and goal achievement
  • Improved work-life balance 
  • Streamlined communication
  • Seamless accountability
  • Greater transparency between you and your direct reports 
  • Zero prep time performance reviews
  • Alignment between employee goals and organizational goals
  • Monthly personalized tips on your team from an executive coach
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.

Tue 7 June 2022
Todd is an executive for a high-growth tech startup that has 400 employees. His biggest challenge in optimizing his team’s performance is the ever-changing nature of the business.
Todd’s CEO and board regularly come to him with changes to the company’s operations. Sure, he is involved in many of these decisions, but often by the time the conversation gets to him, the CEO and board have already made up their mind and changes are already in the works and he has to catch up. 
The challenge is that his team has been spending the past 3 months working on a completely different plan and now, much of that work has to be scrapped for this new plan.
As a mastermind group, the Ambition in Motion team asked Todd questions to clarify his situation and then we provided some suggestions.
One of the big suggestions was getting ahead of the trends so that he and his team could be a part of the change management process as opposed to having the change happen to them. 
This requires better data collection and access to user feedback information as well as the freedom to begin experimenting with new ideas as the new information comes in.
The other big factor in all of this is properly setting expectations both for his team and for his board and CEO as the ideas he and his team come up with may not work, but at least it gives them a lens into what they are trying and gives them an opportunity to experiment.
Ultimately, the ability to set expectations both for your team and for your leadership is critical to having work where the expectations meet reality and people are excited to come to work. When people feel unclear about their role or the changes happening at work and they feel powerless over them, stress ensues and people leave or worse, become actively disengaged.
Oftentimes, this confusion of beginning a new role with a lack of understanding, training, or data, occurs most frequently amongst new managers beginning the role as a leader of a new team. 

Why is data important in an ever-changing workplace?
 Data in a workplace is absolutely essential. Data includes performance reviews, employee values, wants, and needs, as well as information about what previous employees implemented and how it impacted their teams. 
 The amount of data connected to an organization today is on an unprecedented scale and impossible to process manually; this is why it is important to invest in an effective data management system.
This is why data is seen as one of the most important assets of an organization; it is the foundation of information and the basis on which people make decisions. Hence it would follow that if the data is accurate, complete, organized, and consistent, it will contribute to the growth of the organization. 
Most importantly, the right data alongside proper training is what will lead a new manager thoroughly into the position of effectively leading a new team. 
These are some of the additional and undeniable benefits of effective data and how it can effectively improve a rapidly changing workplace.

1. Increases productivity
If data can be accessed easily, especially in large organizations, your company will be more organized and productive. It reduces the time that people spend looking for information and instead ensures that they can do their job efficiently. 
Employees will also be able to understand and communicate information to others. Furthermore, it makes it easy to access past correspondence and prevent miscommunication due to messages lost in transit.
For new managers, being able to access and identify information about past performance can boost effective leadership faster than having no data at all.

2. Smooth operations
A seamless operating system is every business’ dream and data management can make that a reality. It is one of the determining factors in ensuring the success of an organization; if one takes too long to respond to their customers or to the changing trends around them, they run the risk of falling behind. Heightening the data within performance reviews will allow for quick transitions of productivity for teams. 
A good data management system will ensure that you respond to the world accordingly and stay ahead of the competition.

3. Cost-effective
If you have a good system in place, you will spend less money trying to fix problems that shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. 
 Most importantly, improperly training new managers will lead to a decrease in productivity and ineffective leadership, which will ultimately lose time and money for the company. 

4. Better decision making
When everything's in its place, and everyone knows where to look for it, the quality of your decisions improves drastically. By nature, people have different ways of processing information, but a centralized system ensures a framework to plan, organize and delegate.
Additionally, a good system will ensure good feedback, which in turn will lead to necessary updates to the process that will only benefit your company in the long run.

Get ahead of the struggles that come with change; engage in the best management practices 
Performance review data must deliver meaningful results.
After you’ve properly trained your new managers, it’s your company’s job to provide your new managers with meaningful performance reviews to analyze. Meaningful reviews include honest feedback from employees; a product that your new manager can use to effectively lead their new team. 
 Traditional performance reviews lack meaning. Charts measure trends, but trends don’t tell a new manager how to make a difference, and how to best lead their new team and minimize the learning curve of new managers becoming effective leaders.
 So why do managers need more than just data to effectively lead their team? 
 There’s simply no training for a new position in analyzing charts. 
 What do the charts mean? Sometimes trends are low, and sometimes they are high. But that doesn’t tell you what the employees were thinking or experiencing when they filed these performance reviews. 
 Charts and reports are not training. 
 However, putting effort into detailed and trustworthy performance management with coaching will enhance training for new employees in new positions as well as guide your company in tackling the changes that occur within a workplace, and quickly making effective leadership decisions. 


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

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

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

Understanding Your Biases as a Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allyship as a manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fri 10 June 2022
LinkedIn News recently published an article about Walmart’s $200k store manager problem. The article shines a light on the fact that simply paying higher salaries doesn’t necessarily create great leaders. 

Leaders at Walmart realized that they needed a multi-pronged approach to developing reliable, effective managers, so they started investing in manager training and coaching to help develop their managers.

Walmart is learning the same lesson as many businesses: great leadership requires investment and effort. I’m going to cover how we got into this position and what we, leaders in organizations, need to do to minimize the learning curve of a new manager becoming an effective leader.

How did we get here?

The rapid increase in job transitions over the past few years (sometimes called The Great Resignation) has caused people to rethink their priorities for work. 

Some people qualified for leadership roles have learned that they just don’t like the responsibilities of being a leader.

Some new managers from outside the company fail to understand or adapt to the culture, and therefore struggle to get buy-in from the new teams they are inheriting.

Some new managers have never managed before. Their promotion to a management role is an opportunity for growth, but instead, they aren’t provided the guidance on how to effectively lead. 

These are just three examples of how manager development can go wrong. Without a strong system for training managers, replacement and resignation can rapidly spiral out of control and have long-term consequences on company culture and productivity. 

I recently wrote about how to maintain you’re a-game as a leader, where I described how many universities have downgraded degrees in management into co-majors or tag-along credits instead of being its own degree path. This happens because most recent graduates aren’t being hired to manage people so for universities to boost their placement rates and starting salary rates, it is more advantageous to train students in degrees that companies need from recent graduates right now. This shortsighted approach to management training is one of many contributing factors to the very issues facing companies today. 

The dearth of up-and-coming managers has led to greater turnover for both managers (e.g., they struggle with the transition) and the direct reports in their charge (they aren’t going to put up with a bad boss). This self-sustaining cycle of turnover can wash away company culture in months and take years to rebuild. 

What can we do about it?

1.       Equip managers with the tools and data to better understand their direct reports

There is no such thing as an effective one-size-fits-all management philosophy. That mode of thinking contributes to turnover.

Why?

Because people are driven by different motivations at different stages in their life.

One metric that we measure at Ambition In Motion (AIM) is Work Orientation. Our custom assessment measures what drives you at work and helps you understand how your work should fit into your life.

Some people are motivated by professional growth (Career Oriented), some people are motivated by work/life balance (Job Oriented), and some people are motivated by the value of their work for changing the world (Calling Oriented). Everyone has a mix of these motivations, but one type usually stands above the rest for an individual.

If you understand the Work Orientation of each of your direct reports *at that moment in time*, you can craft your leadership style for that person based on what drives them.

And that “at that moment in time” is important because Work Orientation is fluid. Unlike personality, which is generally consistent throughout life, Work Orientation is constantly in flux. Life events (starting a family?), professional events (getting a promotion?), epiphanies (deciding to start your own business?), influence from friends and colleagues (friend’s company has gone completely remote while yours hasn’t?), and more will mold your Work Orientation over time. Our job as managers is to be on top of these changes and adjust our leadership style and actions to manage your direct reports at that moment in time.

A good start for preparing to manage direct reports is reading about it. I’ve written about How to Manage Career Oriented Direct Reports, How to Manage Calling Oriented Direct Reports, and How to Manage Job Oriented Direct Reports in the hyperlinked articles.

The other big tool to equip managers with is a system for observing whether their perception of the workplace, productivity, and culture is shared by their direct reports. When leading a team, it’s difficult to get out of your head. This tool gives them the ability to observe and understand whether the team members agree (or disagree) with the manager’s assessment of individual productivity, team cohesion, and other metrics.    

This information is critical because perception gaps cause people to become disgruntled. People tend to judge themselves on their intentions and others on their perceptions. I was five minutes late because traffic was absurd today and nobody could predict it; you were late because you don’t care about being on time. Finding and understanding your perception gaps help you find real solutions.  

Managers need to understand where their people are coming from and empathize with their direct reports (and provide clarity) when there are gaps.

My team and I developed AIM Insights to identify the most important metrics for managers to understand their direct reports and cut through the noise. AIM Insights collects and measures everyone’s perception of their: task performance, team cohesion, team productivity, organizational citizenship, and manager performance.

If a direct report feels like they aren’t performing well, but a manager thinks they are performing great, this indicates that the direct report lacks clarity as to what success looks like in his role. Once the manager has this information, they can clarify expectations for that team member and help support long-term productivity and engagement.

And vice versa, if a direct report feels like they are performing great, but the manager disagrees, that indicates that the direct report lacks clarity as to what success looks like and that the manager must clarify expectations and help the team member improve their work.

2.                   Train managers how to act on that data and make their direct reports feel heard

The number 1 issue with any performance management tool in any HRIS platform is equipping managers with the training to interpret and act on the data to make tangible improvements. 

If a company surveys its employees but then doesn’t equip managers to do anything with that data, that company is wasting its employees’ time, creating frustration, and depleting engagement. 

Why? 

Because that data isn’t just for the executive team to review quarterly or annually. That data needs to be acted on!

If managers don’t identify productive actions from the data, there is no incentive for the direct reports to give an honest response, if they bother to respond at all. 

Therefore, it is critical that companies, if they ask for survey data from their employees, train their managers on how to interpret the data and have effective 1:1’s with their direct reports based on that data.

3.                   Actively coach managers throughout their tenure and support the need to adapt to the ever-changing nature of leadership

Leadership is an ever-evolving field. Economies are changing. Consumer demands are changing. Employee demands are changing.

Reviewing the employee salaries and benefits packages of companies even as recently as 5 years ago has drastically changed between now and then. What might have been thought of as outlandish and unnecessary is turning out to be required of job postings (my local Uhaul has a billboard that says “start today. Get paid today.” which was unheard of 5 years ago). 

Managers should be coached throughout their time as a leader with an organization, not just when they attend random offsite training. Leaders can’t just wait for the company to hire a speaker or host an event when they need to handle difficult circumstances. Life doesn’t consider the optimal timeline for you to get the training just in time. Sometimes stuff happens you need to be ready to handle it. 

Building rapport and offering consistent guidance helps managers handle the seemingly insignificant issues and builds the foundation for ensuring they won’t turn into massive issues.

Getting new managers to become effective leaders takes time. It isn’t easy and it isn’t obvious. Hopefully, these tips help your company excel and thrive in the future.
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.
Mon 27 June 2022
Offices are often set up to be diverse, with employees differing in age, gender, race, mindset, work orientation, and many other aspects. 

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

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

What can Older Employees offer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When recruiting, as mentioned before, try and eliminate race, gender, and age from your recruiters’ strategies. Longevity and age can be buzzwords for your strategies. It's important to recognize that not everyone has the same financial checkpoints at the same time. What one might accomplish by 65, might not be accomplished by someone else until the age of 70. According to the Harvard Business Review, it costs about a million dollars to retire at the age of 65.  Understand that everyone will have some form of motivation to work.  
Fri 1 July 2022
Retention has become an increasingly critical metric for driving profitability, especially the retention of highly engaged employees. Turnover has become a big problem for a lot of companies. 
But, what if you’re looking at the problem wrong? What if it’s not about doing what you can to hold on to those employees, but perhaps it’s about focusing more on creating an environment where good employees thrive and stay?
Retaining employees is an important part of building a successful team. When managers and supervisors work to make their teams feel valued and motivated, employees are more likely to stay with a company that can contribute to the company’s overall growth and prosperity. 
 
Why is it important to retain your employees? 
●     It can build a strong workforce
Steady employee retention allows managers and supervisors to invest in their team members and helps them develop into more productive employees. When employees stay with a company long-term, they often accept more responsibilities, seek professional development, and help the company grow.
●     It increases productivity
Instead of spending time looking for and training new employees, managers and supervisors can focus on helping employees be more productive. A stable staff knows what needs to be done and how they can achieve it. They have a strong foundation for advancement based on institutional knowledge and developed skills.
●     It improves employee morale
Employee retention strategies are designed to increase employee happiness and job satisfaction. When managers regularly implement these strategies, they help increase employee morale overall. Employees who feel happy at work are often more willing to work toward the company's mission and contribute to a positive work environment.
●     It is more cost-effective
Hiring and training new employees are often more expensive than offering development opportunities to current employees. Consider offering current employees an educational stipend to advance their skills, on-site training, conference options or promotions, and/or extra benefits or perks.
 
How to retain your employees
If you want to keep more high-performing employees in-house, it’s important to start by creating an effective employee retention strategy.
In this article, we discuss the importance of employee retention and offer 8 effective employee retention strategies for leaders. 
 
1. Create an engaging onboarding process
During the onboarding process, take the opportunity to make a positive first impression on a new employee. Create a process where new employees get comfortably acclimated to the workplace. Do this by creating straightforward training materials, offering support and guidance, and explaining how the company operates.
Introducing new employees to others in the office can help them feel like they are a part of the team right away. Taking them out for a team lunch is another way to make new hires feel welcome and help them get to know their coworkers quickly.
 
2. Pair with a mentor
A strategy to pair an employee with a mentor can start with the onboarding process. It’s a good way to help new employees feel welcomed and know they have someone to turn to. However, mentorship shouldn’t be offered to just new employees. Everyone can benefit from a horizontal mentor relationship whether by helping others or knowing that they are supported by more experienced teammates.
 
3. Schedule employee performance reviews
Employee performance reviews are a great way for employees to grow in their roles. Meet periodically to discuss their strengths, weaknesses, and career goals. By learning their goals, you can help them continue to advance in the company. 
Offering positive feedback during this meeting can help employees feel valued and more satisfied at work. If the budget allows, use the performance review as a time to offer the employee a raise or a bonus.
 
4. Show your appreciation
When an employee is doing a good job or has recently earned a big achievement, recognize their hard work. You can show your appreciation by saying it directly to them or making a company-wide announcement. When employees feel their efforts are noticed, they are more likely to continue to work hard and stay with the company.
 
5. Encourage a work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance is when employees can effectively manage their work and home lives and feel like they have enough time and energy for both. This element has become increasingly important to many employees.
You can help employees achieve a more balanced work-life experience by giving staff more flexibility with their schedules. Consider allowing employees to come in late and make up their work if they need to leave for an appointment. If possible, give employees the option to work remotely. Employees who are feeling sick but can still work or those with a long commute may appreciate the opportunity to work from home occasionally.
Helping employees maintain a work-life balance shows that you value their well-being. They are more likely to stay with the company when they feel like they have a manager who cares about them.
 
6. Offer professional development opportunities
Helping employees meet their professional goals may influence them to stay with the company because they see it as a place with many opportunities. You can help them by spending time coaching and mentoring team members. Offer your team additional training or education opportunities, such as funding certifications, sending them to conferences, or providing education stipends. Update equipment so coworkers can learn and produce using the latest technology.
And when possible, promote from within. By investing in your team, they can develop their skills and take on more responsibilities, both of which can lead to improved employee retention.
 
7. Provide competitive compensation and benefits
In a competitive job market, it’s essential that you reward your employees with adequate compensation and benefits when you can. If you can’t afford salary adjustments, consider giving some type of bonus, adding a retirement plan, or improving health care benefits. 
You might offer reimbursement for fitness classes or schedule talks on stress management or retirement planning services. All will help raise employees’ job satisfaction and encourage them to stay with your company.
 
8. Keep communication lines open
Maintaining an open-door policy lets employees know they can come to managers with ideas, questions, and concerns at any time. As a manager, it’s your job to ensure your team, whether on-site or remote, feels a connection to the company and each other. The feeling of belonging and being heard can go a long way toward retaining employees.

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