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Sun 20 November 2022
In the United States, 45% of businesses don’t make it past five years. 65% don’t make it past ten years. Yet everyone who ever starts a business backs themselves to beat the odds. Is it possible to predict if a business will be a success or a failure in its future? 
Recently, there have been many layoffs in the US, specifically within technology companies. There are 159 million people currently employed in the US, and in the past month there were 1.3 million layoffs.
“There have been several thousand high-profile layoffs in the tech sector in the past couple of weeks. While this is unfortunate, it is useful to keep in mind that the labor market is significantly larger and has been overall healthy,” Bledi Taska, chief economist at labor market consulting and research firm Lightcast, said.
Today’s economic uncertainties have fueled an unstable job market and created an unsettling environment in the workplace – where the lack of transparency, internal politics, the growing number of siloed departments and hidden agendas have made it more difficult to trust yourself, let alone others. What appears to be an endless path of disorganized chaos is now “the new normal.” As such, we must become mentally tough and learn to anticipate the unexpected. 
Employees must approach the workplace through a lens that can detect potholes of distrust while staying focused on seeing and seizing the next opportunity.
 
How Does A Company Decide Who Will Be Laid Off?
There is no one formula that companies use when they need to let go of staff to cut costs. Some organizations may subscribe to the “last one in, first one out” model. Management prefers to keep the long-time staff and pink slip the new employees who just started at the company.
Leadership wants to field the best team. They’ll protect the “A-players” and let go of those who are not top performers. People with highly specialized skills that are hard to replace may be overlooked for dismissal, whereas workers that possess talents that are easily replaced are not safe.
 
Will You be Affected by a Layoff?
            If you are in a revenue-generating division, the odds are high that you’ll be safer than the people working in a cost center. It’s a cold reality that employees and groups that bring in the money generally have more leverage than others who can’t point to adding dollars to the bottom line. In tough times, businesses need people who can ring the register. Those who may be terrific workers, but are not revenue-centric, may have a more challenging time holding onto their job.
            Human resources may weigh in on decisions of who stays and who will be shown the door. They’ll search through personnel records to review performance reviews, look for any recommendations and see if a person committed infractions, violated rules or has a history of causing problems.
            The chief financial officer and accounting team may crunch the numbers and determine that senior employees will be culled. Older workers, on average, tend to earn more than younger staff members because of years of experience. It's not fair, but their higher compensation places a target on their backs. 
It's convenient for the company to say they are just dissolving a unit that has many senior people with sizable pay packages. The business can downsize to fewer highly compensated professionals instead of many mid to junior staff members.
There needs to be a better way for employees to make more strategic evaluations of their employers. From an operational and business perspective, you should be able to predict that your employer will be able to pay your salary, commit to the number of hours per week that you sign on for, and be able to maintain your employment given the success of the company. 
 
How To Identify an Employer You Can Trust
 
1. Reach out to current employees
Even though initiating conversations with current employees might feel a bit awkward at first, the payoff is well worth it. Talking with them is the absolute best way to discover if a company’s branding/messages are accurate and trustworthy. Plus, you’ll get a chance to learn if their interview promises align with their everyday actions.
For example, you might expect your potential employer to provide updated training to any employees affected by automation or innovation.
Don’t just network with your soon-to-be boss or hiring manager. Reach out to potential co-workers. Those who are in the trenches will be able to share if leaders follow through with employee feedback, honor their mission, fulfill promises, etc.
 
2. Research the company’s societal impact
Every prospective employer is vying for top talent, which means they’ll try to make the business look as appealing as possible. Many are doing this by expanding their employer brand and focusing on something all candidates agree on, making the world a better place. 
If you browse the company’s social feed or website, you might see stories sharing how they’ve served the local community, or posts featuring employees’ opportunities for volunteering. But it’s important to understand that they’re creating the narrative they want you to see. What’s their true societal impact?
Social media is good at distorting reality. So, turn to Google and do your own digging: Research the company’s title, leaders’ names, etc. to learn if your prospective employer presents accomplishments in an honest, trustworthy manner.
 
3. Compare reviews to the career site 
Piggybacking off the idea that businesses want to appear as appealing as possible, be wary of company career sites. Each one is designed to draw you in and make you feel connected. A prospective employer will share its best features, such as:
 
●       Competitive pay
●       Amazing benefits
●       Flexibility
●       Work-life balance
●       Paid time off
 
But before you get too excited at the thought of having found your dream job, check out a few review sites. Glassdoor, for example, is a great place to find company reviews from current and former employees. Compare those reviews to the career site promises to measure the truth behind employers’ claims.
 
4. Ask the right questions during an interview 
The interview isn’t just about proving how well you fit with the company, they also need to prove that they’re a good fit for you. Use the time you have together to let them know that employee-employer trust is a critical factor in your decision-making process.
Be direct in your questions and focus on what’s most important to you. For example, if you want to know you can trust the employer’s promise to deliver career development and opportunities to advance, ask for specific examples of how they’ve done this in the past. Then, take things one step further and ask how they plan to provide the same to you (should you receive an offer).
Trust is a two-way street; be transparent in what you have to offer, and your prospective employer will likely do the same.
Sun 20 November 2022
All successful managers have some form of personality trait or talent that predisposes them for leadership. Some of them may have attained this skillset through years of education and training, while others may have been naturally gifted with this, but at the end of the day, one factor holds true. These talents can be categorized into a Goleman Style

            Daniel Goleman is an American author, psychologist, and journalist, best known for writing a book in 1995 called Emotional Intelligence.  Some of the topics in this book aren’t necessarily ones that pertain to managers, but they can still get value out of reading it. However, the main point of interest from this work is that of the descriptions of Leadership styles, more commonly known as the Goleman Styles. 

            Each Goleman Style has both good values and bad values associated with them, and Dr. Goleman has recommended that the most effective leaders make use of all six of these styles. The styles are as follows:

1.     Commanding Leadership
2.     Visionary Leadership
3.     Democratic Leadership
4.     Coaching Leadership
5.     Affiliative Leadership
6.     Pacesetting Leadership

Overviews of the Goleman Styles

Each of the Goleman Styles has been studied by psychologists and business leaders to determine their flaws and benefits. For more information about the stories, I recommend reading the book Emotional Intelligence. While some of the concepts in this book may not hold true today as a result of further research, the leadership styles are still known to be true. 

1)     Commanding Leadership can also be known as Authoritarianism or Directive Leadership and is most often viewed as a negative method of leadership. In this style, the leader is responsible for making all the business process decisions. Leaders must exert tight control over their workplace and workforce and have a very clear goal in mind with what to work with. This is especially effective within workforces where employees are low-skilled or inexperienced, as well as in situations in which a leader might be called upon to make quick decisions. Commanding Leadership can also ruin direct-report engagement, since no one other than a leader will generally have any input on decision-making. Therefore, it is often passed up on in favor of different styles. 
2)     Visionary Leadership is largely dependent on a leader having a final goal in mind. This leader can then go on to inspire their direct reports and harness their participation and goal setting to accomplish this goal. Examples of these leaders include Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. While this form of leadership can completely allow for a corporate overhaul, it has a major flaw in terms of short-term problems. An example of this can be seen in Gandhi’s journey to free India from British Imperialism. While he was able to accomplish his goal in 1947, his marches were often divisive, prioritizing men over women, and Hindus over Muslims, along with upholding the Caste System, which are all problems that plague India to this day.
3)     Democratic Leadership completely enables all members of a team to participate in the decision-making progress. Any member can come in with an idea and can determine whether or not the idea is worth going forth with by using a consensus amongst other members, along with a final ruling by a leader. Democratic Leadership is particularly useful at getting team member involvement and retaining staff, but has a flaw in its speed, often taking time to come up with decisions. This can be dangerous when quick decisions are required to be made. 
4)     Coaching Leadership is all about Service Leadership. In this rarer form of leadership, a leader’s primary responsibility and first priority is to coach team members to develop and improve over time. This can dramatically assist in retention and engagement and creates a more skilled workforce. However, coaching can often prove to be very difficult, and does not provide an immediate result. This form of leadership is highly synergistic with AIM Insights and the AIM Insights People Leader Certification.
5)     Affiliative Leadership solely targets the feelings of direct reports. The main goal of this is to make everyone “feel good.” This is especially useful in situations where a pool of individuals are in disagreement. HR professionals are often highly adept at Affiliative Leadership and patching relationships between people. This relies on having a strong moral compass and a strong desire to avoid tension. One fatal flaw with this form of leadership is that these leaders are often avoidant of conflict and have trouble making difficult decisions that may cause someone to suffer. In business, there are sometimes difficult conversations that are well-needed, such as talking to underperforming employees. Affiliative Leaders may not necessarily be the best at addressing this.
6)     Pacesetting Leaders are similar to Commanding Leaders in which they are both the primary driver of the workforce. The concept of the Pacesetting Leader is similar to that of a Pacesetter in a marathon. These individuals serve as an example and the epitome of the statement “do as I do.” Pacesetting leaders are often highly motivated, are good at clearly communicating tasks, and are talented at setting trends. These leaders have expectations of their subordinates and know exactly how much work they can do without failure. This style of leadership can also stress direct reports and does not allow for much feedback or engagement. Therefore, it has another similarity with Commanding Leadership in that it is poorly regarded by direct reports.

Understanding what situation to exercise each type of leadership is a benchmark of a talented leader. While Commanding and Pacesetting Leaderships aren’t to be used at all times, they have certain benefits in certain scenarios. The individual fallings and strengths in each style can allow for a balanced leadership style, and overall make a better leadership experience as well. Goleman Styles aren’t a panacea by any means, but they can come together to truly make a leader. 

Fri 11 November 2022
The definition of what it means to be a great business leader has evolved and changed significantly over time. Today, the best leaders are less authoritative and more empathic, often displaying more vulnerability than leaders did in the past.
Servant leadership is a relatively new concept that many leaders are embracing due to its effectiveness in managing and guiding teams. Here are a few reasons why servant leadership is beneficial for a company’s success.  
 
1. It Encourages Strategic Thinking and Innovation
 
A servant leader is willing to follow and does not need to always be in charge. They are civic-minded and ethical, and others are motivated to follow them. Servant leadership does not mean being submissive. True servant leadership encourages strategic thinking and innovation and helps develop others, which is why servant leadership is crucial for any large enterprise to embrace for success.
 
In the book Leaders Eat Last, Simon Sinek demonstrates how the best leaders will wait to hear everyone’s opinion on a subject before sharing their own. First because it allows them to better understand the creative perspective of their team members and second because they are self-aware enough to know that once they share their opinion, it will taint whatever is said after that.
 
2. Teams Accomplish Great Things Together
 
Servant leadership is simply about a leader understanding that they are there to serve. This model can be beneficial when the leader understands that it is about working with others to accomplish great things as a team versus simply directing or managing others. Servant leaders understand that completing the task at hand is more important than their individual success.
 
3. Everyone Learns How To Be Supportive
 
Servant leadership is humbly putting others before oneself through service and doing so without regard to one’s title, status, ego or expectations about the work a leader is “supposed” to be doing. A true servant leader goes to their people and asks, “What can I do to support you in this moment?” with the sole agenda of meeting the person’s need in whatever form it presents itself.
 
4. People Are Inspired To Take Personal Responsibility
 
Servant leadership is a humble style where leaders care for employees holistically and serve them by providing them with autonomy. The style is beneficial for every company because it inspires people to become leaders and take personal responsibility for all of their decisions and actions. Businesses that embrace servant leadership tend to have a great company culture with employees who go above and beyond.
 
 
5. Servant Leaders Build Other Leaders
 
The job of a leader, at the most fundamental level, is to build other leaders. To do that, you must operate in service of others to multiply growth and impact. Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy in which the goal of a leader is to serve. Isn’t that the heart of what leadership is all about?
 
In his essay, The Servant as Leader, Robert K. Greenleaf first coined the phrase "servant-leader," writing, "The servant-leader is servant first … That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions."
Even in the caring professions, money, power or day-to-day decision-making can cause leaders to lose sight of their altruistic goals. They may lead the organization without prioritizing service to the community. However, Greenleaf says, "The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them, there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature."
 
The differences are:
• A servant-leader's focus is primarily on other people's (and their communities') well-being and growth.
 
• The servant-leader isn't a sole leader with power, but rather, a power-sharer.
 
• They put other people's needs above their own and enable their team to grow, develop and perform to the best of their ability.
 
How To Develop Servant Leadership
 
In Leadership: Theory and Practice, Peter G. Northouse describes 10 characteristics of servant leadership: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, commitment to the growth of people and building community. How do you practice these? Whether you are at work, or in your family or community, servant leadership has a vital role to play, now more than ever. These are three ways that you can begin to develop your servant leadership skills. 
 
  1. Communicate and engage with others. Engage employees in finding solutions and working on projects that benefit those they serve, both in and outside of the organization. Being able to deliver clear-cut messages in a concise way is an important aspect of effective communication. As a servant leader, you need to communicate in a way that makes it easy for people to understand what you want to achieve. That means your instructions need to be clear, with no room for misinterpretation. In this way, you will be in a great position to get your team to accomplish the goals set with maximum efficiency. This consistent engagement will build resilience by sharing positive stories of what your organization and/or employees have been doing well!
 
2. Create a plan. It is important to prepare for potential challenges. Think of the things that need to happen, including obstacles that might get in the way and plan how you will respond. Include your team, and consider this to be a real, working risk assessment with practicable actions. Address all the possible scenarios: extended periods of lockdown, illness, loss of income streams, continued new ways of working or adapted business practices. How will you react to each scenario? Planning ahead, considering all eventualities and knowing what you'll do in each case will help alleviate anxiety, stress and panic, and enable you to act in a calm, measured way. Furthermore, communicating this information with candor builds trust and demonstrates transparency, which is especially important during times of uncertainty.
 
3. Model servant leadership. In times of perceived danger, the primitive "fight, flight, freeze" responses prevail and extraordinary behavior can manifest, like people hoarding toilet paper or reporting their neighbors to the police for taking a walk. In times of crisis, people often look to leaders for how they should respond. So lead by example. Demonstrate servant leadership by modeling the kind of attitude and behavior you want others to have in the face of crisis; one of calmness, sharing, gratitude and compassion for others. Encourage "we" before "me" and walk your talk.
Fri 4 November 2022
Physical health has been at the forefront of management programs and labor laws for quite some time.  Recently, many individuals in the workforce have been prioritizing their mental health and also choosing to resign from their jobs, especially during the time of the COVID-19 Pandemic. This occurred so frequently that University College London’s Professor Anthony Klotz termed this  phenomenon as “The Great Resignation.” 

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

How a manager can assist with Mental Health

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

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

 

What should a manager do after discovering mental health problems?

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

 How can a manager prevent Mental health issues?

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

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

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

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

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

Fri 4 November 2022
We often display a natural tendency to put our own needs before others.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. As Psychology Today's Lisa Firestone notes, "Maintaining a certain regard for ourselves and engaging in self-compassion and self-care are actually fundamental to creating a good life for ourselves and the people who matter most to us."
Focusing on our own needs can protect us from burnout and other negative consequences. However, from a leadership perspective, this focus often crosses into a decidedly more selfish territory. In today's complicated workplace, if you don't put the needs of others before your own, you will lose in the long-term. 
If losing in the long-term isn't big enough, when you put the needs of others before your own as a leader you do two big things.
 
1.     Create an inspiring place to work
A leader who puts others first creates an uplifting, motivating culture that inspires confidence among their employees. 
These leaders maintain a high view of their people, show them respect, and listen receptively to their needs in a nonjudgmental way. This is powerful for a team’s positive performance environment as it instills a trust in the employees’ strengths, abilities, potential, and commitment to the job. 
This doesn't mean that you're going to become best friends with your employees. 
What it does mean, however, is that you will be continuously engaged in making sure that each team member has the resources they need to perform their job effectively. It means you will create a safe environment where everyone feels valued.
When you show genuine care for your employees' needs, as opposed to an obsession with the bottom line, you will enjoy better retention rates and productivity as everyone buys into the company culture.
 
2.     Improve the potential for widespread impact
When a leader focuses on their own needs, they limit their influence. Focusing on the needs of others is just good business sense. 
Additionally, leaders who put others first want to see them succeed. They understand that an employee's success doesn't threaten or diminish their position.
Instead, it creates new opportunities for growth. Taking on the role of a coach or mentor may not directly benefit your career, but it can help a new employee improve their skills so they can become a stronger contributor to the team.
When you focus on fulfilling employees' needs, they will be better able to meet their responsibilities toward your customers, putting your brand in a better position to reach its goals.
 
Instilling Intrinsic Motivation 
Adapting to a "people-first" mindset may be a bit of a challenge, but it can be done.
Start by getting to know your employees. Understand their challenges and concerns, as well as the things they're excited about. The better you get to know your team, the easier it will be to identify ways you can improve their experience in the workplace.
The leaders of people-centric companies understand that it’s people who make their company successful. These companies realize that when people feel valued and cared for, they do their work with stronger intrinsic motivation, a deeper sense of meaning, and a greater level of engagement. They go the extra mile simply because they want to contribute to an organization that cares about them.
The more you do to foster a positive, supportive atmosphere, the easier it will be for employees to feel like they can bring up concerns or new ideas. Giving everyone a voice by prioritizing their needs will cultivate a productive environment that allows everyone to succeed.
 
Intrinsic Motivation vs. Extrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation is behavior driven by internal or intrinsic desire. 
In other words, it’s the motivation to engage in behavior that arises from within the individual rather than from without. This means that the motivation comes solely from oneself and not from external forces such as incentives like compensation or praise.
This is connected to the social psychology and self-determination theory, which is a framework for the study of motivation and suggests people become self-determined when their needs for competence, connection, and autonomy are filled. 
Intrinsic needs, like job satisfaction and human connection, stem from the self-determination theory and often drive us to do our best work. Intrinsic motivation can also improve team engagement, because it involves seeking out activities that bring us internal joy and help create purpose. 
Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, refers to behavior that is driven by external rewards or punishment rather than internal desires. This means external motivation can be both rewards-based and fear-based, as long as there is an external force driving the motivation.
Let’s break down the differences between the two: 
 
●       Intrinsic motivation is the means of finding satisfaction within yourself. Intrinsic motivators might include curiosity or taking on a new challenge.  
●       Extrinsic motivation involves avoiding external punishment or seeking rewards. External factors that motivate team members can include extrinsic rewards—such as sales incentives or performance merits.
 
Human motivation is inherently different from person to person, which means the types of effective motivation will also vary from team to team. While one person may respond better to intrinsic factors, another might respond better to extrinsic factors. The key is to consider your team's needs and what’s best for their well-being.
 
Building a better tomorrow
Putting others' needs ahead of your own may feel counterintuitive. But to become a successful business leader, it is a crucial trait that you will need to develop. By focusing on the needs of your employees, you can inspire better performance. 
When you focus on people, rather than numbers, you will be far better positioned to achieve the desired results.
 
Thu 13 October 2022
It is not easy for most of us to ask for help or money. Often, the leading blocker holding leaders back is some sort of fear. Unknown fears can keep us from even taking a step into the uncomfortable to objectively seek to understand the problem our team is facing, which means our teams will continue to operate at sub-optimal levels.

Face your Fears First

It is good to first take a step back and become self-aware of what might be holding us back from understanding some concerning trends on the team. It’s hard to think clearly about a problem if blinded by subconscious fear. Get curious about what is coming up for you by asking yourself some of the following questions:

  • Are you trying to be perfect?
  • Is there someone you are trying to please? 
  • What is a time in the past that you had a similar situation and you successfully navigated through it? What did you do then that might help you now? 
  • Imagine the worst-case scenario, and what ideas could help you avoid that from happening? 
  • Or, visualize a happy outcome, and talk through with someone what steps led you there. 

In doing this, you are becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. You can start to outline some next steps to understand how to face your fears and ask the right questions that lead to discovery, solution identification and action.

Problem and Solution Identified, Now What?

Leaders often get stuck here. In our previous blog, we discussed how to build a business case. During this process, it is important to identify who has the authority to approve the budget for the business case, and who the project will impact. When mapping this out, you will often find leaders who are both impacted and need to approve. Once you have identified who these are, reach out to them and include them into the process of building your business case. Before your discussion meetings, be sure to plan in advance, so you can tailor your conversation to the audience.

Get to Know your Audience

For each key individual you plan to speak with, create an outline of who they are in preparation of your meeting.  You can do this by answering the following questions: 

  • Is this individual an early adopter and open to change, or typically avoids change?
  • What is the key business objective this person is currently focused on? 
  • What motivates this person? What do they value? What do they care about?
  • How does your proposed solution positively help this individual more effectively, or efficiently obtain their key business objective?
  • If we don’t focus on this solution, what will block us from successfully meeting business critical quarterly targets?
  • How does this person best communicate and take in information? Do they need to see data in advance, and have time to reflect before the conversation? Or, do they like to brainstorm and want to feel like a key collaborator?
  • What is the authority approval this person has in the final purchase decision?
  • What questions or objections do you anticipate they will have about your proposed solution? How do you plan to respond to these?

In answering these questions in advance, you now may see common themes that build into your open questions and speaking points for the agenda of the meeting. You may see some commonalities amongst the key individuals and decide a group meeting might be better. However, if someone is typically negative to change and is the main budget approver. You may want to have a pre-meeting with them, in which you just ask open questions to obtain better answers to the above questions. You may want to ask questions that guide them to self awareness around the problem, and get their insight and feedback into the solutioning in order to obtain buy in. 

Understand the Budget Appetite

As you step through these conversations, you want to be respectful, and transparent. You don’t want individuals to feel like you are going around them. The goal is to create a shared common objective and collaboratively build a business case that already has your approvers buy in. 

As you move to build the business case, you should naturally get a sense for the budget appetite of the individuals. In your conversations with them, you should have a sense for the following: 

  • Is there a budget range we can work within for this?
  • What have we typically spent in the past for similar sized projects?
  • Is there budget left unused that we could reallocate for this project?
  • Is there anyone else who needs to approve, that maybe you missed?

Be sure to ease into the budget conversations, at this point they should have a sense of the shared common pain and gap, and that without this solution no one will be successful in meeting their targets. 

Crossing the Finish Line

If you have made it to this point, you have been working with your key approvers to obtain feedback and buy in into the creation of your business case. You know the budget range, and the approval chain. If you sense hesitancy, remain curious and ask open ended questions to understand what remaining questions may be keeping you from a Yes. It may be as simple as the group is risk adverse, and wants to try out the solution with a pilot group first. Adjust your business case, accordingly, and then work to finalize. This iterative approach will help your case be stronger, ensure you didn’t miss any blindspots, show your ability to influence cross-functionally and bring people together to create a win/win outcome.


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

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

Proposing your Ideas 

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

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

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

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

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

Implementing the Idea 

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

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

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

Encouraging the Adoption of an Idea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Motivating Your Employees- The Platinum Rule

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

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

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

Utilizing The Platinum Rule

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

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

Company Incentives

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

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

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

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