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Wed 22 June 2022
You can’t ignore employee resignations, although I would prefer to call them employee realignments. In the beginning, it looked like employees were leaving the workforce to retire early or join the gig economy (think Uber drivers, virtual assistants, etc.) and be their own boss. 
Today we know that unemployment is down, and employees aren’t leaving their jobs to altogether quit working. They are just leaving their current jobs for better jobs. 
This is employee realignment of the workforce, not true resignation from the workforce, and there are many reasons some companies can’t seem to hold onto their best people.
Oftentimes, there is a lack of self-awareness amongst managers and leaders that creates unhealthy patterns in the workplace and leads top employees to quit. 
To provide your employees with just and equal opportunities in your business, you must understand the potential for unethical workplace behaviors and the importance of avoiding them as a leader. 
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #1: Not recognizing that the employee is actually the primary customer. 
What’s happening on the inside of an organization is felt on the outside by customers. That means you start your customer service and CX efforts internally. 
Employees should be treated, cared for, managed, and responded to in a way that is consistent with what the company wants to see mirrored in their customers.
In other words, treat employees as if they are customers. Anything less is inconsistent and will erode your efforts to provide a good customer experience. 
And just as customers want to trust the companies they do business with, employees want to trust the companies (and people) they work for. When employees trust their leadership, are treated fairly, and are recognized for their good work, they will be working for the company, not just the paycheck.
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #2: The failure to recognize the difference between leadership and management. 
Management and leadership are not the same. Managers have to make people follow, but leaders make people want to follow.
Ultimately, leadership creates the culture of the company. 
Managers ensure compliance with company policies, processes, and other operational aspects to ensure continued business as usual. 
Once leaders understand the difference between management and leadership, they stand a better chance of getting employees to put forth their best effort, especially when it comes to taking care of customers.
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #3: The failure to recognize and end nepotism in the workplace.
Instances of nepotism create an unhealthy work environment wherein employees feel undervalued.
If nepotism occurs in the workplace, this could affect your employees’ job satisfaction and opinions about the company. If one person begins exhibiting low morale, other employees can also take on this approach. 
The result is a lack of loyalty and dedication to the job at hand.
If a company allows nepotism to occur, talented employees might look for employment opportunities elsewhere. Specifically, with companies that value skill and dedication over family relationships. 
This can be problematic for your company as it limits the ability to retain good, hardworking employees to help your business succeed. 
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #4: The failure to give credit to your direct reports.
Everyone has experienced or witnessed instances in which credit was assigned in an unfair manner: managers unabashedly took credit for the work of their invisible hard-working staff; quiet performers were inadequately recognized for their contributions; credit was assigned to the wrong individuals and for the wrong things.
Just as much as constructive feedback should be given in many forms, so should employee appreciation. Some employees may live for public praise at the end of a meeting or a company all-hands, while others may prefer the intimacy of a quick chat in the hallway or an individual email thanking them for a job well done. 
As a leader, giving out credit is essential in showing your employees that you see them, and motivating your employees to continue creating their best work. 
Employee recognition may take the form of an employee of the month award, a sales all-star of the quarter, or even a full employee appreciation day.
While every company may not have the size or resources to devote an entire day to employee appreciation, recognizing employees in big and small ways can make a huge difference to morale and culture.
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #5: The failure to recognize the importance of proper coaching over negative criticism in the workplace.  
Feedback is crucial. It improves performance, develops talent, aligns expectations, solves problems, guides promotion and pay, and boosts the bottom line.
Workplace coaching, employee coaching, or business coaching is the continuous two-way feedback between the employee and the coach with the intention to work on areas for improvement and reinforce strengths to sustain the progress of the employee’s performance
In other words, coaching in the workplace means empowering employees to be the best performers that they can be.
Workplace coaching (NOT criticism) is important to set employees up for success in the workplace by providing the tools that workers can use to increase their knowledge and improve their skills.
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #6: Failing to recognize that finances are not the only form of valued compensation. 
Multiple studies have proven that employees want more than money. Employees value flexibility over money, meaning that paying people more money to tolerate a toxic environment may have worked for previous generations, but it no longer appeases employees, especially the Millennial generation. 
They want to be valued for what they do. That means they want recognition for their work, opportunities to learn and grow, and fulfillment in their day-to-day responsibilities.
            Leaders need to be more empathetic and understanding of their employees. Doing so will bring out the best in their people, hence multiplying their capabilities.
 
Crucial Leadership Failure #7: Failing to recognize when to give your employees a break, and how much work is appropriate to assign in a given time. 
Nothing burns good employees out quite like overworking them. It’s so tempting to work your best people hard that managers frequently fall into this trap. 
Overworking good employees is perplexing; it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive. 
If you must increase how much work your talented employees are doing, you’d better increase their status as well. Talented employees will take on a bigger workload, but they won’t stay if their job suffocates them in the process. 
Raises, promotions, and title changes are all acceptable ways to increase workload. If you simply increase workload because people are talented, without changing a thing, they will seek another job that gives them what they deserve.
 
Mon 13 June 2022
A good office is diverse in many ways, and a good manager has picked his staff with a sense of diversity in mind (or if the team was inherited, ideally diversity was considered when picking the team members). Race, Sex, Creed, Religion, and Work Orientation are all important aspects to keep in mind. However, one aspect of employees that is often understated is age.

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

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

Why are Younger employees so useful?

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

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

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

What should a manager teach newer direct reports?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why should you help foster these younger workers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did we get here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can we do about it?

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Understanding Your Biases as a Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allyship as a manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 
 
  • Increased employee retention and satisfaction
  • Enhanced productivity and goal achievement
  • Improved work-life balance 
  • Streamlined communication
  • Seamless accountability
  • Greater transparency between you and your direct reports 
  • Zero prep time performance reviews
  • Alignment between employee goals and organizational goals
  • Monthly personalized tips on your team from an executive coach
Mon 30 May 2022
Previously, we’ve talked about Performance Reviews in great detail.  One of the key aspects of a good Performance Review Process is to have periodic one on ones with your direct reports. As a new manager, this is especially important since it will help you make an impression on not only your direct reports but also on your peers and upper management. An effective one-on-one is the best way for a manager to not only share feedback but also engage with their employees.

What is a 1:1?

A 1:1, or One on One, is a meeting between two individuals, most frequently between a manager and an employee. This can be about a range of topics but is generally about work-related topics such as goals or tasks. However, it is also a personal space where you as a manager can help develop your employee’s professional skills and help them with issues that may be plaguing them in their personal or professional lives. It is beyond what a work meeting will go into, by delving into personal matters and allowing for venting if necessary.  

When should a new manager host a 1:1?

Knowing when to host one-on-ones as a new manager could definitely seem intimidating. One of the most important tasks of being a new manager is getting to know your team members in respect to your new relationship. In addition to that, you should be having at least two or three of these meetings with your team members each month. Some companies like to have 1:1s every week! These meetings need to be regularly scheduled and held to allow for increased communication between yourself and your direct reports. Each of these meetings should be scheduled for between 30 minutes to an hour. Finding that perfect amount of time can be tricky. If it’s too long, neither if you will be efficient and will get bored quickly. Too short, and you may rush through a meeting and not sufficiently discuss all of your planned topics on the itinerary. I recommend starting with a 45-minute meeting and adjusting from there depending on how the two attendees felt the meeting went.

What should a New Manager say in a 1:1?

Generally, a good 1:1 will have a few different topics discussed. Some of these goals can include goal setting, previous tasks, current tasks, future tasks, as well as personal issues. Keep in mind that communication of any type is important. However, the first 1:1 should definitely be for you to set goals, introduce yourselves, and get to know each other. The tone of this meeting can set the tone of your entire working relationship for the future. This especially applies to new employees, since this is how you create a first impression and introduce them to company culture.

This first 1:1 should allow you to really create a personal connection with your employees. One of my mentors used to say that “They don’t care what you know until they know you care.”  This applies to your management relationships as well. According to Forbes, Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.  Some of the questions that you could ask are, “What can I help you with?”, “What makes you feel valued at work?”, “How do you work best?”, or “What do you want to know about me?” Personal Connections can really help you understand what makes your employee unique, such as their talents, interests, or skills. However, it is important to still maintain professional boundaries. Keep your wits about you to not only protect yourself and your company but also to avoid making your direct reports uncomfortable. Remember, the goal is to make your employee feel welcome and brought into the company culture, not to scare them away. According to Forbes, disengaged employees can cost U.S companies up to 550 Billion dollars per year. Try to engage them, but don’t scare them off. This doesn’t mean don’t be vulnerable with your team. It just means that you shouldn’t gossip or share personal information that isn’t pertinent to your role as a leader or the role itself. 

With these tips on the ideal starting 1:1, you should be able to begin these meetings with your staff, even as a new manager. Start slow and be friendly. You were made a manager for a reason; you have the skills. You just need to apply them to these meetings and without a doubt, you will be able to start a very fruitful working relationship.

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. 

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