There are two simple words that have the power to completely change one’s approach to work and life forever. These words have the potential to evoke fulfillment, enhance productivity, and create daily peace of mind.
You may have found yourself saying some of these already today:
We act as if we don’t have a choice, as if we are imprisoned by people or a system forcing us to do things we don’t want to do. In reality, we do have a choice. We have the freedom to choose our actions, our profession, our financial needs, and the path of our life. Each day is not about what we have to do. It’s about what we get to do.
So, besides having a renewed sense of gratitude for being alive in a free world, why does this matter?
If you start to realize that your employees don’t have to come to work each day but instead choose to, there must be a reason for that decision. That reason is their “why”. As a leader, understanding each employee’s “why” will enable you to create a meaningful career path for them, empower them during times of burnout, and help them stay engaged. As your own leader, knowing your own “why” is essential for each of those situations as well.
Start with a simple exercise. Take out your pen, and write down your answer to this question: “What is your why?” It sounds like a big esoteric question, but why is it that you choose to go to work each day? Why do you choose this profession, instead of something else? Why do you choose the role you are in, as opposed to others?
Encourage yourself and others to press beyond the obvious answer of “I need to make money”. There are countless ways to earn a living; why have you chosen this one?
Once you begin to list all of your why’s, you will notice they fall in two categories. The first category is similar to Maslow’s lowest hierarcy of needs – food, water, shelter. “I’d like to be able to pay my mortgage.” “I want to send my children to college.” “My elderly parents will rely on me to provide for them.” “I have always dreamed of buying a vacation home.”
The second category recognizes that there is a bigger purpose, a desire to make a difference, and a need to higher meaning behind the choices we make. It’s these things that are connected to your overall purpose, your sense of contribution, and the most important aspect of your “why”. Both categories are important and not mutually exclusive. An individual who only cares about money will likely live with a void in their life, while an individual who is all about the big picture has their head in the clouds but lacks feet on the ground.
Having a deep understanding of your career’s purpose is equally as possible as meeting and exceeding financial goals. This exercise is around understanding both. If you, or your team, has a hard time articulating this purpose, give some additional guidance:
When is it important to go back to the “why”? Most of us get entrenched in the day to day routine of work, family, and life. We go through most days on auto-pilot, knowing what is expected and performing to that expectation. Connect the routine of your daily performance to the fulfillment of the “why” of your life purpose.
As a leader, when you know the “why” for members of your team, you can connect that “why” to their daily responsibilities and broader performance milestones. Every job has mundane or less desired tasks, but when the “why” is strong enough, there is meaning connected to even the most tedious of activities. Then the paradigm shifts:
There is an opportunity to connect purpose and meaning to each daily activity, and a choice to connect it. When the “why” is strong enough, there is no limit to what you, and those on your team, can achieve.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
Executive Search Review has recognized the totality of the Sanford Rose Associates network as being one of the Top 11 Search Firms in North America. Sanford Rose Associates has 60+ offices worldwide and is a member of the International Executive Search Federation (IESF). To learn more about bringing out the best in your team, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
According to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.8 million individuals who voluntarily quit their jobs in January 2015. This is a 17% increase from January 2014, proving that opportunities for employees are abundant and we have shifted back to a candidate-driven marketplace. Why is this important?
Employee retention should always be of utmost importance, but requires awareness as to why employees leave to begin with. A Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the #1 reason people quit their jobs is a disconnect or poor relationship with their boss or immediate supervisor. “People leave managers not companies…in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue,” Gallup wrote in its survey findings.
In other words, the responsibility rests primarily on leadership’s shoulders to engage, mentor and retain employees.
Establishing mutual commitments is the key to a meaningful relationship. This is true for personal relationships, relationships with clients, and relationships with employees. The bedrock of a meaningful relationship is trust, and trust is solidified or broken based on reliability in the form of honoring our commitments. We have all heard expressions like, “his actions spoke so loud, I could not hear his words” or, “she says what she will do, and does what she says.” Spouses, friends, co-workers, and our employees do not have a rule book for correct behavior by either themselves or by us unless we get one from them, give them one, or co-create one.
The easiest way to create this blueprint? Solicit feedback from the team! They are your audience of judges, and they will give you the answers to the test. Ask questions and be open to receiving feedback:
From that feedback, come up with a list of five or ten expectations to which you know you can be held accountable. Make the expectations quantifiable, so that issues will not arise with relativity. Do not commit to something in which you will likely fall short; this should be set in stone on both sides and waver only for special exceptions or with permission from the other party. The key is that you cover what your team can count on from you in your professional relationship, and that what they can count on are things that matter to them.
It can be easy to create a list of the behaviors that we want others to exhibit, but tougher when we have to declare the same for ourselves. The following are some examples of commitments that could be modified for your own professional environment, and made quantifiable as much as possible:
Create the same list of commitments for employees, and consider asking current staff to help create the list of things they want in teammates. The expectations could include things like desired behaviors, time in office, work ethic, required results, or any other guidelines that allow an employee to know they are meeting expectations. Resist the urge to simply say “I’ll know a job well done when I see it” – if you can’t articulate expectations clearly, employees will never know if they’ve achieved them. This is when a disconnect happens, and the foundation of the relationship begins to crack.
What happens when an expectation is not met? Give both sides permission, early on, to approach the other when this happens. When it does, there is the opportunity to engage in additional dialogue and share relevant information that may shift the perspective of the situation. There is also the opportunity to course correct immediately, as sometimes we don’t realize an issue exists until an outside party points it out! Choose to foster, and demonstrate to employees, an environment of high accountability and expectations of one another. The strongest organizations and teams are built by those who honor their commitments.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
Executive Search Review has recognized the totality of the Sanford Rose Associates network as being one of the Top 11 Search Firms in North America. Sanford Rose Associates has 60+ offices worldwide and is a member of the International Executive Search Federation (IESF). To learn more about best practices related to retention strategies, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
Being an entrepreneur, or having entrepreneurial abilities, is an admired trait in our society. If you asked a candidate in an interview if they view themselves as entrepreneurs, the socially acceptable answer is a resounding “absolutely.” If you asked individuals on your current team or in your department if they felt they had an entrepreneurial spirit, the answer would likely be affirmative. However, these types of questions often garner answers associated not with the true self, but with the idealized self. The idealized self is an image of what we should be, must be or ought to be, in order to be acceptable.
Why is this important in a professional setting? Not every role requires an entrepreneur. In many cases, the engine of an organization is fueled by those who perform a role consistently and efficiently, day in and day out. However, in a leadership capacity, having a true entrepreneurial mindset and spirit is essential.
In life, self-actualization occurs when a person’s “ideal self” (who they would like to be) is congruent with their actual behavior. In business, we may not have the time to wait for the two to align. We need to make sure we have entrepreneurs in the right roles, no matter how senior or junior the opportunity, instead of wantrepreneurs.
So what traits should you look for in your current or future team?
Again, “passionate” is one of those qualities that few would admit they do not have. So how does passion manifest itself? Passionate individuals wake up every day craving success. They are obsessed with the idea of achieving their goals and wasting as little time as possible doing it.
The key, of course, is that passion is channeled into action. We have all met individuals who are passionate about so much yet accomplish so little, because they lack the ability to focus their thoughts into action. They live in their dreams instead of in reality, often because the fear of failure holds them back and becomes easier to talk than to do. Entrepreneurs channel that passion into action. Identify individuals who generate results; anything that’s not a result is an excuse.
Isn’t that what business is all about? Figure out a new way to sell a product, or create something that doesn’t exist, or streamline a process, or identify a solution that your competition has not identified. Creativity is sometimes more easily found in our children than it is in ourselves! Why is this? In that question lies the answer; children are always asking “WHY?”
Creative thinkers are intensely curious, so identify those within your organization who crave answers and alternative ways of approaching problems. Identify those who provide new avenues for thinking,instead of simply following directions.
Foster this in people as well; give them permission to find their own new answers. It is acceptable to say “I don’t know;” it is impossible for anyone to know anything about everything, but creative thinkers go about finding the answer. No matter what issue is faced, there is someone else who has had the same issue and has likely already solved the problem. Give permission for creative thinkers to seek out those who have come before them, and pull spokes from the wheels of others instead of reinventing the wheel from scratch.
When researching the traits of true entrepreneurs, before the question of “how did they do it” comes the “why.” Many experts believe that most entrepreneurs who have made significant footprints throughout history have been driven by a need for approval. Many people have a burning desire to prove other people wrong. That’s a great motivator. Instead of creating a lack of confidence, this conviction is the force that causes someone to fight harder.
This concept of “true grit” was discussed at length in a previous SRA Update. In his book, Self-Made in America, John McCormack references a trait studied by Kathy Kolbe: conation. Conation is “the will to succeed, the quest for success, the attitude that ‘to stop me you’ll have to kill me,’ that elusive ‘fire in the belly’ that manifests itself in drive, enthusiasm, excitement, and single-mindedness in pursuit of a goal – any goal. All consistently successful people have it. Many well- educated, intelligent, enduring, and presentable people don’t have it.”
So how can we start to understand an applicant’s or an employee’s grit? Try some or all of these questions to identify the trait:
Not every player on the team needs to embody an entrepreneurial spirit
– but identifying and mentoring those who do can start to shape the next generation of future leaders within your organization. These are but a few of the traits to look for as you evaluate those capable of taking your department or company from where it is today to the achievement possible in the future.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
Executive Search Review has recognized the totality of the Sanford Rose Associates network as being one of the Top 11 Search Firms in North America. Sanford Rose Associates has 60+ offices worldwide and is a member of the International Executive Search Federation (IESF). To learn more about how to identify Entrepreneurs instead of Wantrepreneurs, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates consultant today.
The beginning of the year represents a timely opportunity for employee reviews and providing feedback regarding performance and development. This is a cherished time for most leaders; it is the chance to reflect on the milestones achieved in the past year and the creation of new objectives for the new year. Annual reviews allow managers to praise positive behaviors, award well-earned promotions, and continue to bring out the best in each team member. In organizations around the world, the New Year brings revived optimism.
As a manager, creating a well-rounded and high-performing team is one of the most fulfilling aspects of leadership. Seeing and helping superstars develop, watching individuals become more confident with their unique abilities, and grooming the next generation of leader within the organization is incomparable.
“B” and “C” Players
A less enjoyable component of management is the act of working with and coaching the perpetual underperformers. Every department has them, every leader has struggled with them, and some may even have a few who come to mind immediately. They are the few who we try to encourage, who we try to train, and for whom we hold out hope that change will come, but it can seem like an endless cycle of performance management and frustration.
We all recognize “A” Players. These are the star performers, with the highest potential, and who can step up to and handle any challenge or new scenario. In his book, Leading Apple with Steve Jobs, former Apple senior vice president Jay Elliot details his former boss’ strategies for hiring “A” Players. “I noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1. Given that, you’re well advised to go after the cream of the cream … A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”
So where does that leave the “B” and “C” Players? “B” Players are competent, steady performers who balance their work and personal lives while still performing a significant amount of tasks that need to be done. They stay in their lane, don’t require a great deal of attention, and they get the job done.
On the other end of the spectrum, “C” Players sometimes make up the smallest segment of the team yet require the most time and attention. They are the employees with a constant litany of excuses – a vehicle is broken, someone is sick, excessive days are missed, and the workload either gets passed to someone else or delayed altogether. They walk the fine line between “good enough to get by” and “fireable offense worthy of termination.” They are granted continual employment primarily because the act of hiring, training and managing someone you don’t know is sometimes more intimidating than continuing to deal with the perpetual issues of the presently employed “C” performer.
Most would agree that the ability to recruit and retain the top talent that exists in the industry is paramount to the success of an organization. In Topgrading, industrial psychologist and global consultant Bradford Smart expands on the three levels of contributors within an organization. “Simply put, topgrading is the practice of packing the team with A players and clearing out the C players,” Smart writes. “’A players’ is defined as the top 10 percent of talent available at all salary levels–best of class. With this radical definition, you are not a topgrader until your team consists of all A players. Period.”
Thus, again the question is raised: where does that leave the “B” and “C” Players? Smart writes: “Topgrading does not necessarily mean that you must fire every B player in your company; however, if you currently have less than 90% A-player employees, then you will likely engage in a painful, uphill battle.” Smart advocates that all companies should strive to hire 90% A-players, promote 90% A-Players, and eventually achieve 90% A-players in management.
Proactive vs. Reactive Topgrading
Achieving a team comprised of 90% “A” Players might be a significant leap for most teams. Instead, keep one foot firmly planted in present day reality while making immediate and proactive efforts to improve the future bench. Evaluate those on the team who would score less than a “B+” grade for competency, reliability, and consistency. With those individuals, provide concrete feedback and opportunity for measurable improvement. Negative performance issues should be validated by at least two or three specific examples, and collaborate on a plan to move forward with a resolution.
Consider focusing on proactive hiring that improves the strength of your bench – not just hiring that fills empty seats. Spend less time addressing reoccurring performance issues and instead craft a hiring plan that proactively attracts the “A” or “B+” contributors to the team. Will 100% of an organization be comprised of “A” Players? Not likely. But be proactive in hiring replacements that will create a topgraded bench for 2015 and beyond.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
The Sanford Rose Associates® Executive Search Network is comprised of independently-owned firms who are committed to “finding people who make a difference®”. Executive Search Review has recognized the totality of the Sanford Rose Associates network as being one of the Top 11 Search Firms in North America. Sanford Rose Associates has 60+ offices worldwide and is a member of the International Executive Search Federation (IESF). To learn more about how to create a bench of “A” Players, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
Recruiters often say that the purpose of a first interview is to get invited back for a second interview. This is because the decision for next steps then rests solely on the shoulders of the candidate, and options are limitless. But does every candidate who interviews with your organization want to be invited back for a second interview? If not, consider the possibility that although the interviewing process is designed to both screen as well as sell, there are ways to maximize the odds of candidates craving an invitation to return.
Every encounter with your brand influences a candidate’s perception of your organization, which impacts your firm’s ability to stay in the driver’s seat when deciding which candidate to hire. Employer brand and candidate experience are inextricably linked, and they matter greatly for recruiting and retaining talent. How can you communicate your brand while simultaneously improving the candidate experience throughout each step of the selection process?
Get on the Same Page
How employees represent the company’s mission and brand is as important as anything said by human resources or leaders during the hiring process. Within the first interview, a candidate needs to grasp an understanding of what is unique about the organization, environment, and opportunity. If a candidate was to ask “why your firm” as opposed to others, do you know how your employees respond? The “why your firm” moment is an excellent opportunity for an employee to communicate the elevator pitch of the organization. Consider providing employees with an example of a strong and succinct elevator pitch script to be used in both social settings as well as the interviewing process. Make sure all individuals involved in the interview have a concrete understanding of the mission of the firm, the vision for the future, and alignment of organizational goals.
Contrary to popular opinion, prospective candidates do not wait to get home from work to look for new career opportunities or research alternative employers. The most popular day to search for jobs is Monday, and it tapers off throughout the week before plummeting over the weekend. This means that candidates are looking for jobs while at work. Since most users realize their computer use is monitored, those searches are conducted on their mobile phones.
Mobile does not only apply to searching for new opportunities. A recent survey conducted by Glassdoor.com found that 43% of candidates research their prospective employer just 15 minutes prior to their interviews. However, according to a study by CareerBuilder, only 20 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a mobile-optimized career site. Employers must implement a mobile-friendly experience to create a recruitment strategy that aligns with consumer behavior.
Personalize the Experience
Once upon a time, business was rooted in personal relationships and one-on-one interactions. Then came decades of technology, with automated recruiting, email, job boards, training videos, all of which remove the human element of relationships.
Electronic and telephonic communication works well, but video communication personalizes the candidate experience significantly. As a way to incorporate videos into the hiring process, Sanford Rose Associates partners with a leading video interviewing technology platform so clients can share their stories in their own voices and communicate their brand with depth and personality.
Additional videos can enhance the experience even more. Employees talking about why they love the organization or key customers sharing why they value the firm serve to provide multiple perspectives to potential candidates. Videos with clips from around the office and spotlighting superstars can be an effective way to share “why your firm” to prospects considering applying to your organization.
Create a Compelling Story
Prior to a first interview, provide candidates with an “About Us” packet highlighting the history of the company, growth plans, success stories of employees, and other items that will engage them on a human level. Sharing testimonials from recent hires who can attest to how much they enjoy their new roles and the firm, or snapshots of recent promotions and advancements within the ranks are also great ways to get candidates feeling good about your organization.
Consider having a binder in the lobby for candidates to flip through while waiting for an interview. The binder could be stocked with pictures from company events, parties, charity events, or volunteer initiatives. Including company newsletters, quarterly updates with announcements and achievements, and photos from events and cultural initiatives add a sense of the company’s personality and may appeal to candidates.
Take time to evaluate the lines of communication between prospective candidates and your internal hiring team. When a candidate applies to your organization, is an automatic response sent to notify that the information has been received? If the candidate interviewed and is no longer in consideration for the role, how is that communicated to the candidate? Set expectations and do not leave candidates in the dark; be clear about what your process is, when they can expect feedback, and how quickly a decision will be made.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
The Sanford Rose Associates® Executive Search Network is comprised of independently-owned firms who are committed to “finding people who make a difference®”. Executive Search Review has recognized the totality of the Sanford Rose Associates network as being one of the Top 11 Search Firms in North America. Sanford Rose Associates has 60+ offices worldwide and is a member of the International Executive Search Federation (IESF). To learn more about how to communicate your brand and culture throughout the selection process, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
The concept of having a best friend may seem more appropriate for schoolyard conversations than workplace ones. Although there is no need for friendship bracelets to be exchanged across cubicle walls, there is most certainly a need for significant connections within the workplace in service of employee contribution and retention.
The best employers recognize that loyalty doesn’t solely exist to the company; it exists at a much deeper level – among employees toward one another. All employees have moments when they examine their professional situation; as recruiters, on a daily basis we speak to individuals who consider leaving an organization. The best managers recognize that the quality and depth of relationships (both peer-to-peer and employee-manager) is a critical component of employee loyalty.
One reason deep friendships are so essential in the workplace is because a necessary element of friendship is trust. Development of trusting relationships is a significant emotional component for employees in today’s workplace. Thus, it is easy to understand why it is such a key trait of retention, and is one of the 12 key discoveries from a multi-year research study by The Gallup Organization. When strong engagement is felt in a workgroup, employees believe their colleagues will help them during times of stress and challenge. In this day of rapid-fire change, reorganization, technological advancements, and innovation, having best friends at work may be the true key to effective change integration and adaptation. When compared to those who don’t, employees who have best friends at work identify significantly higher levels of healthy stress management, even though they experience the same levels of stress.
The Inner Circle
Consider your own inner circle at work. In Tom Rath’s Vital Friends, his extensive research outlines the types of individuals you must have in your life in order to elevate your professional game. Who of your vital friends can you count on for the following?
Building the Inner Circle of Others
Gallup’s research found that managers are the ones primarily responsible for the engagement level of their employees. Think through what you can do to take active role in fostering vital friendships within the workplace and the team. Friendships are about more than simply having fun; camaraderie can be built around a common sense of purpose, meaningful goals, and powerful day-to-day experiences. Studies have proven that soldiers form resilient bonds during missions in part because they believe in the purpose of the mission, rely on each other, and share the good and the bad as a team. Consider ways to increase engagement at weekly meetings, in action-planning sessions, and in one-on-one meetings with employees to make it part of your workplace’s DNA.
Camaraderie at work can create “esprit de corps,” which includes mutual respect, sense of identity, and admiration to push towards goals and outcomes. Certainly, the coordination of group events such as charitable initiatives, wellness competitions, community service events, and other activities can help build a sense of teamwork and togetherness. However, vital friendships serve many different dimensions. It is important for business leaders and managers to be acutely aware of the need employees have for strong bonds in each of the areas described by Rath, and use that knowledge within their own inner circles and the circles of others to enhance and engender employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
The Sanford Rose Associates® Executive Search Network is comprised of independently-owned firms who are committed to “finding people who make a difference®”. Executive Search Review has recognized the totality of the Sanford Rose Associates network as being one of the Top 11 Search Firms in North America. Sanford Rose Associates has 60+ offices worldwide and is a member of the International Executive Search Federation (IESF). To learn more about how the right people can elevate your game, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
Since childhood, we have all been raised by the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Many would cite this ethical code as one of their aspirations by which to live, both personally and professionally. The problem with the Golden Rule? It implies the basic assumption that other people would like to be treated the way that you would like to be treated.
As a leader, consider instead operating by the Platinum Rule: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” The Platinum Rule accommodates the desires of others, and shifts the focus from “this is what I would want, so I will treat everyone the same way” to “let me first understand what my employees want, and I’ll figure out a way to give it to them.” Operating from the Platinum Rule doesn’t require leaders to change who they are, it doesn’t require submitting to the demands of others, but it does require an understanding of what drives people and recognizes the options for interacting with them.
In The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, author Gary Chapman helps managers effectively communicate appreciation and encouragement to their employees, resulting in higher levels of job satisfaction, healthier relationships between managers and employees, and decreased cases of burnout.
Perception versus Reality
A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management discovered that although 51 percent of supervisors say they recognize employees who do a good job, only 17 percent of the employees at the same organizations report that their supervisors do well at recognizing them. The truth is that it is essential to learn to appreciate employees in the language that speaks to them the most. We need to recognize what motivates the people we work with, so we can show them appreciation in a way that means something to them – not to us.
Regardless of the appreciation language, there are fundamental needs every employee needs in order to stay with an organization. An opportunity for challenge and growth as well as strong lines of communication and are two of these fundamental needs.
Be cognizant of offering growth opportunities to each individual. Every role comes with less-than-glamorous responsibilities, but it’s important to balance out mundane tasks with challenging assignments. When you only dole out repetitive responsibilities (or tasks beneath someone’s skill level), you’re conveying that you don’t really need or appreciate his or her individual talents.
Alternatively, when you assign an employee a challenging task and actually put your trust in him or her to see it through, you’re conveying, “I know you’re capable of this, and I trust you to do a great job.” Find new ways to engage employees, including developing new projects specifically for their talents or being more aware of what each person does best and assigning tasks accordingly.
The second universal truth of valuing employees is to create open lines of communication. Examine the world’s greatest leaders and you’ll find them all to be exceptional communicators. This does not mean they are great talkers; rather, they talk about their ideas but they do so in a way which speaks to your emotions and your aspirations. They realize if the message doesn’t take root with the audience then it likely won’t be understood, much less championed.
Instead of including employees only in “need-to-know” conversations and decisions, create opportunities for open discussion around initiatives and policies. In the absence of communication, employees fill the void with often-incorrect tidbits of information. Build trust by communicating as often and as openly as you can and allow people to have insight into the decision-making process.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
For more than 50 years, Sanford Rose Associates® has been committed to “Finding people who make a difference®” for its clients. To learn more about how to create a culture of appreciation and retention within your office, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
As a leader, you are responsible for making sure your team has the necessary skills to perform well in their roles. Training likely revolves around concrete and definable abilities that link directly back to the expectations of acceptable performance in the role. Concrete training is valuable, but training should not stop there. What can be done to impact not only an employee’s skill set, but their mindset as well?
Organizations and teams that inspire an ownership mindset, where ideas are encouraged and initiative is commended, are more successful than those that don’t. However, you shouldn’t expect behavior that you haven’t asked for. How do you train a mindset of entrepreneurial thinking and individual responsibility?
Learning to Think
One of the best ways to help your employees assume an ownership mindset is to help them understand your own mindset – what you think about, how you prioritize, how you make business decisions and how you solve problems. You are their best teacher, but you must be transparent about how you operate.
Remember to provide access to pertinent information. Share historical data and context, past cases of failures and successes, and even confidential information if it will create a more insightful thought process and outcome. It is impossible to withhold relevant information and still expect profound thinking and deep insight.
It is certainly desireable for employees to be able to look around, see what needs doing, and proactively step into those tasks. If they do not, it might not be because they can’t or don’t want to. It may be because you have not made clear to them that this is what you want and expect on a regular basis.
Ask more questions and give fewer answers; the best leaders ask more questions than they answer. Thinking is a developmental activity, and tough questions stimulate thought. Instead of immediately responding to a problem or issue voiced by an employee, start with:
Foster the Right Environment
If you ask for feedback or opinions, create an environment in which employees are comfortable sharing their feedback and opinions. Defensiveness by a leader is the genesis of apprehension and insecurity from employees. Even if you do not agree with their thought process, ask questions to lead them to a more appropriate conclusion – one that they arrive at by themselves.
Similarly, employees can’t be expected to take risks if failure isn’t tolerated. Good employees make mistakes, and great leaders allow them to. Give people the opportunity to learn from mistakes, own them, fix them, and then put safeguards in place to ensure the same mistake will never be repeated. Give employees room to fail – within reason – and they will step up more readily.
Be comfortable delegating. Fear of losing control is what stops most people from delegating; as a leader, you will ultimately be held accountable for failure. It can be intimidating to hand over the keys to the car if you don’t fully trust the person driving.
Hire Employees with Proactive Track Records
Hiring proactively-minded associates can be difficult. Instead of relying on job titles or skill sets, look for signs of proactive behaviors and accomplishments. In the interview, be aware of language choice. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey claims that “our language is a very clear indicator of the degree to which we see ourselves as proactive people. The language of reactive people absolves them of responsibility…whereas the language of proactive people embraces responsibility.”
Proactive language demonstrates an ability to choose and take action, while reactive language tends to be more focused on removing responsibility. Keeping this perspective in mind when hiring is key to developing a team inspired by an ownership mindset.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
For more than 50 years, Sanford Rose Associates® has been committed to “Finding people who make a difference®” for its clients. To learn more about how we can coach you to inspire an ownership mindset with your current team while hiring like-minded individuals in the future, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
For many, pending deadlines and packed schedules are not overwhelming, but instead can be a driving force that pushes them toward greater productivity. We have processes to streamline, goals to achieve, promotions to earn, debt to eliminate, exercise regimes to master, dreams to chase, and people to help and inspire. The “I work best under pressure” mantra environment creates a Catch-22; we get frustrated with ongoing stress, but perform at the highest level of effectiveness and efficiency when under the exact stress we try to escape.
For some, busyness can be reassuring; a feeling of constant forward-motion and accomplishment is much preferred over being stagnant or empty. That reassurance can come with an eventual price – stress, while beneficial in moderate amounts, is harmful in excessive amounts, as are most things.
Can We Become Addicted?
The present hysteria is not an obligatory or inevitable condition of life; it’s something we’ve chosen, if only by our acquiescence to it. Heidi Hanna, author of Stressaholic: 5 Steps to Transform Your Relationship with Stress argues that multiple demands on our time and energy have created a neurochemical dependence on stress. By activating the dopamine reward center in the brain that feeds us feel-good endorphins, stress can temporarily boost performance, explaining why some appear to get so much done when under extreme pressure.
Just like a drug, the feelings of stress and preoccupation are extremely addictive. The transition between being hyper-busy to more reasonable levels of activity may be a foreign feeling and withdrawal symptoms may come along with it. When one becomes addicted to non-stop thinking, worrying, striving, efforting, achieving, straining and stressing, to allow oneself to be truly relaxed and simply breathe can be an adjustment. It may even feel boring!
Simplifying and Balancing
If you are a self-diagnosed “stress junkie”, start by asking yourself a few simple questions to be sure your efforts support your true intentions:
Break the Addiction
One suggestion is to evaluate, and then trim away, all of the non-essentials in your day. What are you involved with out of obligation that could be less frequent or eliminated entirely? How many social networking sites do you really need to update or check, and how often per day? What professional responsibilities could be delegated to others, but stay on your plate because “they’ve always been there”? Eliminating a few non-essential tasks or activities gives you the time and energy to invest in those things that are essential for your balance and wellbeing.
Make a list of all your current important projects that are not urgent, and then assign at least two one-hour slots a week to work on them. If you don’t begin to do some of the strategic work now, when will you? Sometimes we get so busy with the minutiae that we neglect the forward-motion activity required for true progress or change. Usually, the most important things in your life are not necessarily the most urgent. They don’t call you on the phone, put deadlines on your calendar, or knock incessantly at your door. They are often quiet – in the background – easy to forget and neglect. Schedule time for those important projects, and then schedule the nonessentials around them.
Consider dejunking your office or living environment. Get rid of physical items you don’t need from old magazines and newspapers, to clothes that don’t fit, to toys and movies that the kids have outgrown. When what you don’t need is out of the way, it takes much less time and energy to find the things you do need.
Add activities into your schedule that you enjoy, and be fully present as you’re doing them. You may feel you don’t have the time, but consider how much extra energy and motivation you receive from pursuing hobbies and gratifications, and how that energy might help you with your regular responsibilities.
Finally, stop trying to be all things to all people! It is okay to say “no”, or to set expectations as to when it is realistic for you to accomplish the task at hand. In today’s busy, demanding world, we will likely always have more to do than we can ever get done in a single day. Find joy and fulfillment in small achievements, day by day, and one at a time.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
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