Tag Archives: management

The Only Constant is Change

Peter DeHaan: Author, Blogger, Publisher, EditorBy Peter DeHaan

As I look back, I see how things have changed. I have changed, my family has changed, technologies have changed, my business has changed, and the industries I work in have changed.

In today’s business environment, a culture of change is essential for every organization. In my younger days, I would recommend change for the sheer fun of it. Now, older and wiser, I only advocate change when there is a real reason to do so.

To establish a change-oriented culture in our organizations, the first step is to minimize employee fears towards change. Click To Tweet

For most people, change is difficult. Change takes something familiar and replaces it with something unknown. Each organization has people who are change resistant. And each leader, manager, and supervisor knows exactly who these people are. With such folks, their aversion to change varies from unspoken trepidation to being overtly confrontational. Regardless of the manifestation, we need to be compassionate, realizing that these reactions are merely their way of responding to fear—fear of the unknown.

To establish a change-oriented culture in our organizations, the first step is to minimize employee fears towards change. Generally employees can accept change if 1) the change is incremental and small, 2) they have a degree of input or control over the change, and 3) the change is clearly understood.

The key is communication. Address change head on. For every change, employees wonder how it will affect them:

  • Could they lose their job?
  • Might their hours be cut?
  • Will they be asked to work harder than they already are?
  • Will they be made to do something unpleasant or distasteful?
  • What happens if they can’t learn the new skills?

These are all worries, worries about the unknown. As with most worries, the majority will never happen. But with a lack of reliable information and top-down assurances, these irrational worries take on a life all their own.

Successfully orchestrating change requires effective communication. Not once, but ongoing; not to key staff, but to all employees; not by one method, but by several: group meetings, written correspondence, and one-on-one discussions. A true and effective open door policy helps, too. Also, it is critical that a positive attitude is set, at the beginning, from the top of the organization, which never waivers. Celebrate milestones, generously thank staff along the way, and provide reasonable rewards at the end.

Successfully taking these steps will send a strong signal to staff. Even though the change may still concern them, they will be comforted knowing they have accurate information and the assurance that they are safe and will be protected. And for each successful change, the next one becomes easier to bring about.

We will know we have successfully created a change-friendly organization when our employees—all of them—get bored with the status quo and begin seeking change on their own. They will ask for more challenging work, seek to expand their job, and want to add new technology. At this point, the potential of our organizations becomes unlimited; the personal growth of our staff, unshackled; and the future, inviting. We don’t know what that future will entail, only that things will change for the better.

So, sit back and enjoy the ride, fully confident that the only constant is change.

Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit www.peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect on social media.

One-on-One Meetings Matter More Than You Know

By Kate Zabriskie

Kate Zabriskie-One-on-One Meetings

There are only two of us in my department. Why should I bother with a formal meeting? We sit right across from each other.

I tried meeting individually with my direct reports, but they had nothing to talk about. Besides, we’re all adults. We know what we’re supposed to be doing at work.

I work in a matrix environment. I see my direct report about once a month, and that’s usually at a larger meeting or when we’re passing each other in the hallway. I have no idea what he does. At review time, I rely on other people to tell me.

Without trying too hard, it’s easy for many managers to compile a long list of reasons not to meet with the people they supervise. 

And guess what? The volume of reasons does not outweigh the value and importance of a regularly scheduled tête-à-tête with a direct report.

If you’ve fallen out of the habit of holding regular one-on-one meetings or if you’re not getting all you could from them, now is the time to take another look Click To Tweet

Benefits of Regular One-on-One Meetings

If used correctly, over time managers and employees can enjoy many benefits by meeting one on one.

  • Visible appreciation: Time is currency. If managers carve out time for their people and are prepared when they meet, they show they value their direct reports.
  • Better thinking: Regular one-on-one meetings give managers and employees space to step away from the urgent and immediate and to think more holistically and strategically about work, goals, and development opportunities.
  • Stronger results: Accountability tends to improve when people have an opportunity or a requirement to report on their progress.

The Perfect One-on-One

Once a manager has bought into the value of one-on-one meetings, the next step is to execute them in a way that works for the manager and the employee. Good one-on-one meetings are not one-size-fits-all activities. That said, there are a few guidelines that can make a one-on-one meeting successful.

  1. Pick a schedule and stick to it. One-on-ones shouldn’t regularly disappear from the calendar simply because something else suddenly comes up.
  2. Choose a frequency that makes sense. For some people meeting once a month may be enough. For others, meeting weekly may be more appropriate. Every relationship is different. Furthermore, circumstances evolve. Depending on what’s happening inside and outside of the organization, an employee’s needs could change drastically. Meeting frequency should be looked at from time to time. If the rate of meetings is correct, managers and employees should not routinely find themselves with no reason to meet.
  3. Follow a written agenda. Well-run one-on-one meetings are not free-for-all conversations. They follow an agenda just as any other good meeting does. A one-on-one meeting agenda might include such topics as current projects, progress on yearly development goals, current challenges, and so forth.
  4. Put employees in the driver’s seat by having them manage and document the agenda. As a manager, you may create the initial agenda format. But once you do, your employees should take ownership of the documents associated with their one-on-one meetings.

Troubleshooting

One-on-one meetings rarely go from nonexistent or dysfunctional to perfect overnight. For that reason, managers should prepare to overcome a variety of obstacles.

Obstacle 1: Employees question the new meeting.

Solution: Reduce the surprise factor. If a manager has never held one-on-one meetings, they might come as a surprise to employees. To avoid feelings of uncertainty, confusion, or worse, socialize the idea before loading the calendar with unexpected surprises. “This year, I would like to focus more on individual development. Within the next week or two, please expect to see a meeting request from me on your calendar. I believe we will all benefit if I spend time with each of you individually at regularly scheduled intervals. How often we will meet will depend on each of your needs and what we decide together.”

Obstacle 2: An employee doesn’t take charge of the meeting.

Solution: Show them how. A good agenda can go a long way toward making the conversation flow. Although employees should have ultimate responsibility for keeping the agenda, this may take time. In the beginning, managers may have to model what they want to see. “For our first few meetings, I’ll prepare the agenda. Once we’ve found our groove, my plan is to turn it over to you to own. This means you’ll add to it between meetings and bring a copy for you and me when we meet.”

Obstacle 3: An employee gives short or general answers to questions.

Solution: Get specific. The more focused a manager’s questions are, the better the conversation tends to be. For example, instead of asking “what are you working on,” a manager might say, “tell me about the project that is going best right now and why that is.”

Obstacle 4: An employee seems unresponsive.

Solution: Leverage silence. When managers don’t get immediate feedback, they sometimes mistake silence for non-responsiveness. It’s important for managers to remember they already know the questions. The employee is hearing them for the first time and may need some time to digest and think about what’s being asked. Instead of rephrasing questions that don’t produce an immediate answer, managers need to get comfortable with letting silence sit in the room.  

Reevaluate From Time-to-Time

Like anything, one-on-one meetings can get stale. It’s important to look at the format and frequency from time to time and to solicit feedback regarding what’s working and what isn’t.

If you’ve fallen out of the habit of holding regular one-on-one meetings or if you’re not getting all you could from them, now is the time to take another look. After all, can you really afford not to?

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.

Four Ways to Effectively Attract a Diverse Workforce

Having a Variety of Diversity at Your Company Can Have a Big Impact on Your Success

By Jeremy Eskenazi

Jeremy EskenaziIs your team diverse?

Do you invest to ensure your team reflects the needs and attitudes of your customers and clients? They need to reflect the communities your employees live, work in, and provide services to.

When a lot of people think about diversity, they focus on gender, ethnicity, and age. These are important to keep focus on, for sure, but there is another kind of diversity that is often overlooked. This is diversity of thoughts, background, and experiences. If elements of the latter are missing in your organization, it’s likely that everyone thinks the same way; and new ideas, new ways to problem solve, and innovation may be stunted. When you have employees who only follow the boss, the only ideas you have are from that one boss. Your organization should invest in diversity because it’s not only the right thing to do, but you will get much better business results! Click To Tweet

While there is no “one size fits all” playbook for attracting diversity, you will want to make your organization attractive for diverse talent. In order to effectively attract diverse candidates, here are four success practices that have been effective:

1. Referral programs

If you have great talent on your team who are highly engaged and doing a great job, they likely have similar friends. Consider offering incentives with shorter payout times and getting immediate impact to ensure your team is helping to attract people who are a good fit. You can also have them act as ambassadors in alumni groups, associations or clubs they are a part of.

2. Early Careers/University strategy

Attracting talent right out of school is often a strategy for helping shape the career of generally younger people, but is also a great place to find diversity. A strong university recruiting strategy is a terrific way to help create a diverse team because you can more easily target diversity on a university campus through student clubs and organizations. Setting up early career development programs and considering those in majors that are not what you’d traditionally look for are also good for your employer brand, and ensures your talent can develop with your business.

3. Cultural awareness training for Hiring Managers

We know that this group often needs help to build relationships. While it’s unwise to force training on managers (and often backfires), integrating training that helps them identify unconscious bias is an area of learning and development that has taken off in recent years and has been effective in many organizations.

4. Workplace preparedness

It is one thing to say you want diversity—setting up your physical space and your benefits program to accommodate it is another. Does your office have things like nursing stations? Do you offer extended Maternity/Paternity Leave, and are your Human Resources policies inclusive for Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, etc. individuals? Do you have prayer rooms facing the correct direction; do your gyms have areas that are exclusive for women? How is your pay equity based on gender? These are things that can help attract top talent and show you will welcome them as equal employees without singling them out, or making them feel that they won’t find a sense of belonging at your company.

In addition to finding the right candidates, diversity brings several important things to your organization. Imagine if the people who applied for your job postings came in for an interview and didn’t see anyone who looked like them, or if all the people who interviewed them asked the same questions in the same way. They would likely not be very interested in continuing the discussion. Your employer brand is only as good as what employees and candidates will say about you when you’re not in the room. Taking the opportunity to show you are a progressive company that is investing visibly in many areas of diversity will be obvious from their first encounter with you.

While it is generally true that almost everyone values diversity, you may have noticed that many in younger generations are very vocal about their values. Moreover, many of them expect diversity and can be very outspoken about how much it matters to them in a workplace. By bringing in a diverse group of people to your organization, you will have access to broader networks which will spur further diversity opportunities and all the benefits it brings. Think of how much more likely it is that diverse people who enjoy working at your company will introduce you and advocate for you in their circles.

While the business reasons for diversity are compelling on their own, many jurisdictions also have regulatory requirements that you have to consider as well. It’s not just laws for the jurisdiction you operate in; it could be laws necessary to sell to your customers. For example, if you sell to the United States government, it requires you to submit an affirmative action plan to improve diversity at the organization and provide updates during the term of the contract. There is also an audit process that ensures that organizations are keeping to their plans.

Most importantly, your organization should invest in diversity because it’s not only the right thing to do, but you will get much better business results! Don’t let regulations drive your diversity efforts. The best way to improve diversity is to be truthful. No matter how many smiling, ethnically diverse models you may hire to represent your brand, or false testimonials you may really want to post—it is so easy to spot a workplace that does not value diversity. The truth always comes out. Give your organization the best competitive advantage you can by welcoming diversity into your team, and celebrating it in real ways. All types of diversity bring something new to the table, and who doesn’t need fresh ideas?

Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Management and Optimization Consulting Firm. Jeremy is not a headhunter, but a specialized training and consulting professional, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent at some of the world’s most recognized companies. For more information on Jeremy Eskenazi, please visit: www.RivieraAdvisors.com.

It’s All About the People

7 Steps to Turn Employee Potential into Performance

By Brad Wolff

Brad WolffImagine on Monday, you discover that your meticulous, rule-following accountant and creative, eccentric marketing person have switched positions. How’s this likely to work out? In truth, some variation of this misalignment is common in most organizations.

The Waybeloe Potential Corporation was operating at the breakeven point for the past five years. The CEO, Harvey Waybeloe was frustrated. Another CEO told him about an employee-alignment process that was delivering amazing results for other companies. Out of desperation he decided to try it. Within two years, profits increased from breakeven to 3.2 millior dollars! The fix? Putting the right people in the right seats!

Most business leaders say that 80 percent of the work is done by only 20 percent of the workforce. This 20 percent are the top performers. They usually produce three to four times more than the others. The main reason is due to job alignment rather than attitude or drive. Here’s evidence: It’s common for top performers to be moved or promoted and then become poor performers. Likewise, many poor performers become top performers when moved to appropriate roles. Bottom line: everyone can be a top or poor performer depending on how well the work aligns with their innate characteristics.

How do you deliberately create an organization where people’s work is aligned with their innate characteristics (abilities)? Here’s an overview of a proven process that was used above.Everyone can be a top or poor performer depending on how well the work aligns with their innate characteristics. Click To Tweet

1. Shift Your Mindset From Focusing On Skills, Experience, And Education To Innate Characteristics First

It’s common for people who are “great on paper” to get hired and become poor performers. In that same vein, many top performers started off lacking in the “required” skills experience and education. When people’s work aligns with their innate characteristics, they can utilize their natural abilities and unleash their passion for their work. Also, the best training and management will not turn poorly aligned employees into top performers.

2. Select The Right Assessment Tool

Many organizations use personality assessments in the hope of gaining more objective information about people to set them up for success. However, the results are usually disappointing due to four inherent pitfalls:

a. What you think of as personality is mostly surface-level, observable behaviors; not what’s underneath, driving these behaviors. The drivers of behavior are more accurate, predictive, and stable.

b. Assessment-takers usually provide different answers based on which of the following they consider: how they actually see themselves, how they believe others see them, and how they want to see themselves.

c. Assessment-takers use a specific context or situation to answer the questions. For example, answers to questions related to “extroversion” (sociability and talkativeness) may vary depending on context differences: small vs. large groups, familiar vs. unfamiliar people, level of interest in the topic of conversation, etc.

d. If an assessment is used for a job application, the applicant often has an opinion on what traits the employer is looking for and skews the answers accordingly.

What’s a better option? Select an assessment that delves beneath the personality into what is more core or innate with people. This eliminates the biases of personality assessments and provides more valid and reliable data.

3. Establish Trust With The Employees

Inform the employees about the company’s commitment to align their work with their natural gifts. Don’t hide things or surprise people. People want to do work they’re good at and enjoy.

4. Develop An Understanding Of The Innate Characteristics Being Measured

Before you can align people’s innate characteristics with their work, it’s essential to understand what these characteristics mean. In other words, how each one impacts the way people think and behave. Now you have the basis to identify which characteristics are needed for different types of positions within your organization.

5. Develop Clarity On The Job Duty Break-Down

It’s important to know what people will do on a day to day basis in each job. The hiring team (direct manager and others with a major stake in position success) meets to gain clarity on the percentage of time spent performing each job responsibility. Group together duties that are very similar in nature (family of duties). Estimate the percentage of time spent working on each job duty family.

6. Determine Which Innate Characteristics Are Critical And Where They Need To Measure

The hiring team determines which innate characteristic is critical for each job duty family. They also agree on the desired range for each characteristic. For example, on a one to ten scale the range for creative thinking should be between seven to nine. Now you can develop an optimal range for each critical characteristic.

7. Administer Assessment & Align Employees With Job Functions

Assess both current employees and potential new hires and compare to the desired ranges. Take the appropriate action based on how strong the level of alignment is. Top performers almost always fit into desired ranges for each critical innate characteristic. If this is not the case, you need to adjust your desired ranges based on the data. Here’s more information on aligning employees:

  • When current employees don’t align with their jobs evaluate other positions within the company that do align well.
  • Openly discuss available options with employees who are misaligned. Develop a plan to shift roles or tweak job descriptions when this is feasible. Frequently, there are other employees who’d be thrilled to trade positions or some duties that better match with their own innate characteristics.
  • For applicants applying to open positions, only interview the people who align well with the desired innate characteristics. When you interview people who don’t align, you may be tempted to discount the assessment results. This rarely ends well.

In the end, the most important job of management is to maximize the ROI of its workforce. Peter Drucker said “The task of a manager is to make people’s strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant. The most important thing you can ever do as a leader is to put people in a position to excel rather than get by or fail. How are you doing in your most important task?

 

Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of, People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage. As the managing partner for Atlanta-based PeopleMax, Brad specializes in helping companies maximize the potential and results of their people to make more money with less stress. His passion is empowering people to create the business success they desire, in a deep and lasting way. For more information on Brad Wolff, please visit: www.PeopleMaximizers.com.

How Human Are You?

Prioritizing People over Profits

By John Waid

John WaidHow human are you? At work do you care more about profits or people? In sales, are you and the company more interested in making quota than taking care of the customer?

If you’re being honest, business today is about profits over people and quotas over customers. So what is missing in people that keeps them from striking a balance to make companies and sales more human? Have we lost our humanity? If so, how do we regain it?

The intense pressure in companies for short term gains leads to a focus on profits over people. That focus on profits leads to selecting people that will generate them. Managers generate profits in the short term so they’re placed in leadership positions. These results-oriented managers squeeze the people to generate profits which can lead to the dehumanization of organizations. Be more conscious that you are human for a reason and remember that this very humanity is at the core of what makes your company and salesforce great. Click To Tweet

It’s estimated that 95 percent of businesses would experience huge advantages by injecting some humanity in their operations. Take for example a company that was doing really well with its employees and profits and decided it needed to undergo a higher rate of growth. The top decision makers installed a tyrannical micro manager to lead the business with a finance person as second in charge. The decisions the company made started to change. They started to cut benefits like Christmas parties, incentive trips and began to see people as numbers in a spreadsheet instead of creators of value. This led to the best people leaving, and instead of viewing this as a warning sign they saw it as a great gift as they could replace these people with others that were younger and cheaper. People became expendable. What has this change for the sake of growth caused? The company is now half the size it was in profits, earnings and people, with previously valued employees departing in droves. This company went from great to mediocre by bleeding out the humanity. The lesson learned should be that if you remove the humanity out of a company the humanity will leave, literally; and by the way, so will the profits.

Here are a few practical ways to bring the humanity and profits into balance.

  1. Live the people-first mentality. Understand that no matter what business you are in you are really in the people business. Focus on employees first, customers second and profits third for more profits.
  2. Focus on the values and behaviors (culture) of your people and hire and fire for it. Select people for attitude and train for aptitude. Become a Culture-Driven Company.
  3. Remember that business success is all about people and how they behave. Provide a transcendent purpose (other than money) and let this and your culture drive you. Your employees will serve your customers and your customers will buy more.

How human are salespeople? There is a classic joke that goes like this, “How can you tell when a salesperson is lying? His/her lips are moving.” Salespeople have gained one of the most inhuman reputations out there. The barrage of unsolicited phone calls these days continues to erode the reputation of the sales profession. One of the Noble Prize Winners of 2018 in Economics did not answer the phone call from the Nobel Committee that called to congratulate him because he thought it was a sales call and did not want to answer it.

To some, salespeople are viewed as not just inhuman, but subhuman. To make this worse, most of the sales training that salespeople receive is based on processes that make the whole thing feel “robotic.” So where has the trust and humanity gone? By squeezing salespeople with sky high quotas that force them to do everything under the sun (including even unethical things) that further erodes their reputation. Wouldn’t it be nice for the entire sales industry to undergo a transformation based on humanity, and for customers to once more see sales associates as friends not foes?

In order for this to occur, salespeople should be trained based on values and behaviors (a sales culture) that makes them pay attention to being human beings first and of helping people to buy (not sell) second. Stop the sales process trainings that further erase the humanity out of an already highly dehumanized profession. On top of that, you should train the sales managers to also coach and lead their Culture-Driven salesforce. The leaders of a salesforce at a large company decided it would be a good idea to yell and scream at their salespeople to meet objectives that were set way too high. The lack of humanity in the managers led to the best people leaving the company. The politics also started to get out of control as less qualified people were promoted to fill the spaces of the excellent salespeople which had left. Today, this company is suffering from a profit and morale problem that will not be solved until they retrain or fire the inhuman managers, bring back the humanity, and focus on people first and profits second.

Here are some tips for salesforces to become more human and also produce more growth and profits.

  1. Sales managers (who are already good at holding people accountable) should also focus on leading and coaching. Focus on creating a sales culture vs. just sales processes and strategies which do not necessarily create best practice habits. Become a Culture-Driven Salesforce to instill best practice habits in your salesforce.
  2. Focus on coaching your salespeople and encouraging them with specific praise and dramatically minimize the urge to just talk quotas. Focus on efforts to get better results. The more you praise effort and result, the less you will have to reprimand.
  3. Salespeople are humans. Treat them that way and emphasize that they treat their customers that way. Customers want to buy from salespeople they like and care about them. Respect, trust, support, fun and other values should be emphasized and practiced.

So how human are you? Be honest and see if you too have lost humanity and need to bring life back in to balance your business and salesforce. Become more conscious that you are human for a reason and remember that this very humanity is at the core of what makes your company and salesforce great. Start focusing on culture as much as you do on strategy, structure and processes for better results with people and profits.

John Waid is the founder of C-3 Corporate Culture Consulting, a keynote speaker and author of the book, Reinventing Ralph. With a specialty and passion for corporate culture, sales and global business, John believes culture is the engine that drives companies to better results, higher morale, and increased profitability. An active speaker, trainer and subject matter expert, John Waid holds an enduring belief that corporate culture is the key to success for companies. For more information on John Waid, please visit: www.CorporateCultureConsulting.com.