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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.

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 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. 
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 16 May 2022
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. 
Every company has a mission statement and a running list of goals to work towards. Should employee retention be the next goal added to your list? 
In this article, we discuss the importance of employee retention and why it is crucial to enforce overall comprehension of Work Orientation within your company. 
 
What are the benefits of employee retention?
●     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.
 
●     Increase 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.
 
●     Improve 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.
 
            Although these are great benefits to retaining your employees, what is the key to achieving employee satisfaction and retention? 
            Work Orientation! 
 
Why is it important to know your employees’ Work Orientation? 
Injecting meaning into work is a new mission that companies are willingly taking on in order to attract, retain and motivate employees. Under these conditions, finding meaning in one’s work becomes an additional aim for the employee and the manager.
Everyone has their own way of deriving meaning from work. We call this your Work Orientation. According to research done by Ambition in Motion, it is evident that people generally fall into one of three major categories based on how they find meaning at work. The categories are as follows:
●     Career Oriented – which means motivated by professional growth like getting promoted or learning new skills that support career advancement. 
●     Calling Oriented – which means motivated by the fulfillment from doing the work and making a positive impact on the world with their work.
●     Job Oriented – which means motivated by gaining greater control over work/life balance and gaining material benefits to support their life outside of work.
 
When managing a Job Oriented employee, it is important to understand that they are more motivated by work/life balance and using their professional development to gain greater control and freedom over their life. Oftentimes, in a work setting, it is comforting to know that one’s company considers their workload and balance before pushing additional responsibilities onto them. 
When making long-lasting connections with your Job Oriented employees, make sure they know that you and the company value their life outside of work, and the benefits from their work will resemble that. 
 
When managing a Calling Oriented employee, know that they are motivated by changing the world through their work; making a difference in others’ lives. Essentially, their professional life and personal life missions are intertwined and it’s extremely beneficial for them to be understood and encouraged through their aspirations. Even when they’re at their peak of challenges and ongoing tasks, they find comfort in reinforcement. 
When making long-lasting connections with your Calling Oriented employees, make sure that you have regular conversations with them about why their work is meaningful, and work to find ways that reinforce and build more meaningful work practices. 
 
When managing a Career Oriented employee, remember that they are most motivated by learning new skills and gaining promotions within the company and their work. It helps them to know that they are working towards a clear path with promotions and opportunities. 
When making long-lasting connections with your career-oriented employees, it is critical that you clearly communicate your goals with them and listen to their goals within the company in order to reach fulfillment for both of you within the company. 
 
How can you determine your employees’ work orientation? 
            Click here to take this free, 5-minute assessment created by the Ambition in Motion team, to find out what your work orientation is, and how to better understand the different types of work orientations: Work Orientation Assessment | Ambition In Motion 
 
 
What are quick tips for retaining employees with your new Work Orientation strategies?
It's important to choose employee retention strategies that make sense for your workplace. The secret to retaining employees starts with understanding each employee’s work orientation. When implementing your strategies, use these tips:
  1. Ask for employee feedback
Send out anonymous surveys to learn what your team members’ Work Orientation is as well as what their goals are within the company and within their personal lives. Ask them what changes they would like to see in the workplace. Have them also list any incentives that would help them feel more satisfied and valued and stay longer. By directly sourcing team members, you can customize employee retention strategies more effectively.
            Looking for a more efficient way to evaluate performance reviews within your company? Ambition in Motion offers their software, AIM Insights, ensuring visibility over all ongoing activities: task performance, manager performance, organizational citizenship, team performance, goals for direct reports. Click here to learn more about how you can simplify your performance review process! 

2. Create a work culture that’s inclusive to everyone’s Work Orientation
Promote wellness and kindness to create a stronger work culture. When people feel you value their well-being, they may feel more comfortable coming to you when they feel overwhelmed at work. Give your team opportunities to relax and recharge after a challenging task. Let them know it's acceptable to take mental health days or to take a break when they need it.

3. Be a mentor to all
Offer your team support, advice, and guidance for their careers. Give them opportunities to take on more responsibilities when they are ready. Ask them what they would like to improve and then create ways for them to reach their goals. Share your own career journey with your team, including your successes, setbacks, and greatest career advice.
 
Tue 10 May 2022
As a manager, it is extremely important to understand what type of workers or direct reports you have.  Each person has a unique archetype that they tend to fit into. These don’t necessarily refer to how they are motivated, which is also another important aspect of your direct reports to keep track of. There are six archetypes that are commonly identified. 

What are the archetypes of workers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do these archetypes matter?

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

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

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

Mon 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!
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. 

Tue 3 May 2022
Learning your company is being acquired can be a very scary revelation- especially if you don’t have any equity in the company. As Mergers and Acquisitions become ever so more frequent in today’s world, it is important to recognize what you as an employee can do to better your prospects under new management and make the most for yourself in a situation that may not only feel unfamiliar but terrifying at the same time. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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