Good Leaders are Given Feedback but Great Leaders are Booed

Is open criticism the sign of a great leader? Should you be able to tell your boss “how you really feel” about a recent proposal, staff change or strategic business decision?

Yes. Yes. and…. yes!

In an era of low employee engagement and morale, fears of lack of management transparency and an overall feeling of “I hate my boss,” you would think that this is a rather strange proposition. Why would anyone even think of roasting their leader in public, let alone to their face? Usually CXO types and business leaders are revered for their impact on an organization or feared simply because of the titles that have been bestowed upon them. Everyone knows that there are two people in business that are always right: 1) your customer and 2) your boss…right? Not quite (on both accounts!).

But as much as we talk about the importance of top-down leadership, what does it look like when a CEO or business leader actually listens to the employee rumbles – and does something about it? It looks a bit like this:

Apple-CEO-Steve-Jobs-Keynote-Fashion-Evolution

 

Steve Jobs was a man of many innovations but judging by the fact that he wore the same outfit for over 12 years, fashion was not one of them. In fact, it has often been said that Jobs wore the same jeans and turtleneck for years because it saved brain space for more important thoughts like why we only need one button on our smartphones. But the story behind the how and why of the turtleneck actually goes deeper than just conserving brainpower. It was a matter of being booed.

“[Steve Jobs] called Issey Miyake and asked him to design a vest for Apple, Jobs recalled, ‘I came back with some samples and told everyone it would great if we would all wear these vests. Oh man, did I get booed off the stage. Everybody hated the idea.'”
Excerpt from “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson.

The story goes that after visiting a Sony site overseas in Japan and learning more about the uniforming process and how uniforms helped promote unity towards the brand, Steve Jobs decided that the Apple team needed uniforms. However, the reception was so bad that he decided to keep in touch with the uniform designer and asked him to create his own “uniform,” the infamous turtleneck which he paired with jeans and sneakers for the majority of the rest of his days on this Earth.

The takeaway message from this story is that listening is the key to sustainable leadership through growth and change. Every so often, leadership should be in the position where they are requesting honest feedback about something, getting the feedback and then doing something about the results. Steve Jobs may have single-handled saved morale or employee relations just by listening and responding to masses. What if a talented developer or marketing strategist ultimately decided against applying to Apple because of their weird uniforms? Either Jobs asked himself a similar question, or he simply cared what others thought. Or both.

How refreshing would it be to be able to speak your mind freely in the workplace and know that it didn’t fall on silent, deaf or powerless ears?

While your mind takes you away to dream about that answer, here are some leadership traits that stand out in the kind of leaders you can boo:

  • Leaders who don’t take themselves to seriously all the time
  • Leaders who solicit feedback on a consistent basis and ask for it directly
  • Leaders who put people first
  • Leaders who can infuse passion and profit
  • Leaders who consider alternatives

If you trust a person enough to tell them that you disagree with them and why then that is a great relationship. If it happens to be your boss then you have an awesome leader.

Are you afraid of a good boo?

What Should Every Manager Know (or Get to Know) About Employee Social Media Use?

According to recent research, it is safe to predict that by the time you’ve finished reading this article, three out of every four employees in your office will have accessed social media while on the clock.

Is social media becoming the Wild, Wild West of employee non-productivity? Should companies care whether or not employees are on social networks? Should social media be discouraged or embraced? What’s a manager to do?!

Before you hit the Google search bar to search for social media tips for managers,  you should grab a cup of coffee and read my interview below. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Aliah Wright, the author of a recently released book published by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) entitled “A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites.” She shared a few key points that will help you understand the in’s and out’s of what is happening in social media and  what your company should be doing to stay on top of this new form of communication.

Here’s what she had to say to help us all catch up:

Q1. Please tell us a bit about your book and who the audience is.

A Necessary Evil” is for anyone who manages people who connect to the Internet from the palms of their hands. The book encourages employers to embrace social networking and its usage at work. Statistics show that 90 percent of adults use social media. According to a recent Facebook IDC study, 84 percent respondents’ time is spent on the phone communicating via text, e-mail, and social media versus only 16 percent on phone calls.” That’s right. More people are typing than talking. What’s more the enterprise social networking market is growing exponentially with IDC projecting that revenue from such software to grow from $0.8 billion in 2011 to $4.5 billion in 2016. This is the way we communicate, collaborate, share knowledge, gain insight, as well as further our personal brands and careers. It’s imperative that companies allow their employees to use this valuable resource.

 

Q2. What advice would you give to a manager who is new to understanding social media but wants to put guidelines in place for his or her team on how to use it in the workplace?

Familiarize yourself with the social media networks your employees are using. Is it Facebook? Instagram? Viddy? Vine? Pinterest? Twitter? GetGlue? LinkedIn? Google+? Yammer? If you don’t know ask them. Lurk first. Join, sit back, read, watch, and learn. Follow the people you admire, mimic their good behaviors, and then join the conversation. You have to engage first so you know what the culture is like. In terms of policy, employers need to be mindful of regulations. Employees are legally allowed to discuss their jobs on social media. Help them build their brands (while enhancing your firm) through their very own blogs and contributions to Twitter chats, LinkedIn, and other online forums. A good place to start with social media policy is to look at Wal-Mart’s policy. It’s been blessed by the National Labor Relations Board. SHRM members can find it on our website, but you can also Google it.

 

Q3. Do you have any interesting case study stories to tell about how a small business has used social media for their benefit?

Yes. Industrial Mold & Machine in Twinsburg, Ohio, has just 34 employees. Each employee was given an iPad so they could collaborate with one another from their workstations instead of using computer kiosks stationed around the plant. By deploying the social networking tool Socialtext from their iPads, workers are able to save time by reporting directly from their machines instead of the kiosks. Also, companies that cannot afford job boards are increasingly turning to social networking sites to find talent.

 

Q4. What are employees allowed to say about their employer on social media and what should companies do to monitor this activity?

The National Labor Relations Act allows all workers to communicate with each other about issues relating to their employment as long as that communication falls within the realm of protected concerted activity. And that is extended to conversations on social media. Protected concerted activity is when two or more employees discuss the conditions and terms of their employment in a way that’s designed to bring about change. Companies should, however, have policies outlining that employees are not to disclose proprietary information or trade secrets. There are dozens and dozens of social media monitoring tools that allow employers to monitor or eavesdrop on social media conversations. (Radian6 and Sprout Social come to mind—but I’m not endorsing those just listing them as examples). Not only do these tools allow employers to monitor employees, they’re excellent for engaging customers, future talent, and to monitor their brands. Monitoring these conversations helps companies turn those discussions into demonstrable action items (or nip bad publicity in the bud).

 

 

Q5. What impact do you see social media having on small businesses in the next year? What about the next five years?

 

Can you imagine us having a conversation about letting people use the Internet at work? But that very conversation occurred when the Net was new. People police themselves on these tools—just as they do with the phones on their desks. Those who abuse the tools should be reprimanded—another reason why you need rules. I believe within the next five years, we won’t be having conversations about the need to let people access social media at work. It will be something employers allow automatically because the value will finally be discernible.

 

Consider these interesting statics from my book:

•           53% of businesses that don’t embrace social media will ultimately fail

•           76% of firms that embrace social media will grow faster than those that don’t

•           86% of people who use social media once a week say they were recently promoted; and

•           71% of senior managers say firms that embrace social media at work will find it easier to attract and keep the best talent.

 

Social crowdsourcing—tapping the collective knowledge of peers and others on social networking sites—make us work smarter and faster because we’re turning to our peers and other experts to help us in our jobs. That alone will put companies that embrace it head and shoulders above those that don’t.

 

 

About Aliah D. Wright:

AliahsAuthorPic

For more than 15 years, Aliah has worked as an award-winning reporter, writer, editor, artist, manager, web designer, and web content manager. She is also the author of the best-selling book, “A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites.” It was recently published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

She works in SHRM’s award-winning editorial division. SHRM is the world’s largest association dedicated to the HR profession. In that role, She has become a subject matter expert on the evolution of HR technology, Social Media Strategies, and Global HR.

Connect with her on LinkedIn | Buy “A Necessary Evil” at the SHRM Store | Follow @1SHRMScribe on Twitter

Click to see more information about Aliah's new book

Click to see more information about Aliah’s new book

Should HR Ignore The Zimmerman Verdict on Monday Morning?

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
Mother Teresa

Dear HR Community At-Large,

 

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that on Saturday, July 13, 2013, Neighborhood Watchman George Zimmerman was acquitted on all charges in relation to the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

 

And so have your employees.

 

Few things divide our nation like matters that reinforce our opinions regarding questionable outcomes of the legal system and matters of race, and the Zimmerman trial has been a hotbed of ideas and opinions on both. While you may think that the trial has no ramifications on your organization, you should at least consider the following emotions that your employees (or customers) might be feeling as a result of the outcome:

 

Grief.

Disappointment.

Frustration.

Confusion.

Hopelessness.

 

And so the question remains: Should HR even be thinking about the Zimmerman verdict on Monday morning? Does it have any relevance or importance in the workplace?

 

Unfortunately, this post does not have a definitive answer on how best to serve as a resource to your staff nor will it serve as commentary on social or legal matters relating to the case. In times of national unrest, it is hard to prescribe a singular approach to such a diverse group of individuals and the purpose of the blog is not to serve as an additional sensationalized news/opinion outlet. My only advice would be to encourage safe spaces for dialogue and seek to express empathy for those in need.

What Should Every Manager Know (or Get to Know) About Employee Social Media Use?

According to recent research, it is safe to predict that by the time you’ve finished reading this article, three out of every four employees in your office will have accessed social media while on the clock.

Is social media becoming the Wild, Wild West of employee non-productivity? Should companies care whether or not employees are on social networks? Should social media be discouraged or embraced? What’s a manager to do?!

Before you hit the Google search bar to search for social media tips for managers,  you should grab a cup of coffee and read my interview below. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Aliah Wright, the author of a recently released book published by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) entitled “A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites.” She shared a few key points that will help you understand the in’s and out’s of what is happening in social media and  what your company should be doing to stay on top of this new form of communication.

Here’s what she had to say to help us all catch up:

Q1. Please tell us a bit about your book and who the audience is.

A Necessary Evil” is for anyone who manages people who connect to the Internet from the palms of their hands. The book encourages employers to embrace social networking and its usage at work. Statistics show that 90 percent of adults use social media. According to a recent Facebook IDC study, 84 percent respondents’ time is spent on the phone communicating via text, e-mail, and social media versus only 16 percent on phone calls.” That’s right. More people are typing than talking. What’s more the enterprise social networking market is growing exponentially with IDC projecting that revenue from such software to grow from $0.8 billion in 2011 to $4.5 billion in 2016. This is the way we communicate, collaborate, share knowledge, gain insight, as well as further our personal brands and careers. It’s imperative that companies allow their employees to use this valuable resource.

 

Q2. What advice would you give to a manager who is new to understanding social media but wants to put guidelines in place for his or her team on how to use it in the workplace?

Familiarize yourself with the social media networks your employees are using. Is it Facebook? Instagram? Viddy? Vine? Pinterest? Twitter? GetGlue? LinkedIn? Google+? Yammer? If you don’t know ask them. Lurk first. Join, sit back, read, watch, and learn. Follow the people you admire, mimic their good behaviors, and then join the conversation. You have to engage first so you know what the culture is like. In terms of policy, employers need to be mindful of regulations. Employees are legally allowed to discuss their jobs on social media. Help them build their brands (while enhancing your firm) through their very own blogs and contributions to Twitter chats, LinkedIn, and other online forums. A good place to start with social media policy is to look at Wal-Mart’s policy. It’s been blessed by the National Labor Relations Board. SHRM members can find it on our website, but you can also Google it.

 

Q3. Do you have any interesting case study stories to tell about how a small business has used social media for their benefit?

Yes. Industrial Mold & Machine in Twinsburg, Ohio, has just 34 employees. Each employee was given an iPad so they could collaborate with one another from their workstations instead of using computer kiosks stationed around the plant. By deploying the social networking tool Socialtext from their iPads, workers are able to save time by reporting directly from their machines instead of the kiosks. Also, companies that cannot afford job boards are increasingly turning to social networking sites to find talent.

 

Q4. What are employees allowed to say about their employer on social media and what should companies do to monitor this activity?

The National Labor Relations Act allows all workers to communicate with each other about issues relating to their employment as long as that communication falls within the realm of protected concerted activity. And that is extended to conversations on social media. Protected concerted activity is when two or more employees discuss the conditions and terms of their employment in a way that’s designed to bring about change. Companies should, however, have policies outlining that employees are not to disclose proprietary information or trade secrets. There are dozens and dozens of social media monitoring tools that allow employers to monitor or eavesdrop on social media conversations. (Radian6 and Sprout Social come to mind—but I’m not endorsing those just listing them as examples). Not only do these tools allow employers to monitor employees, they’re excellent for engaging customers, future talent, and to monitor their brands. Monitoring these conversations helps companies turn those discussions into demonstrable action items (or nip bad publicity in the bud).

 

Q5. What impact do you see social media having on small businesses in the next year? What about the next five years?

 

Can you imagine us having a conversation about letting people use the Internet at work? But that very conversation occurred when the Net was new. People police themselves on these tools—just as they do with the phones on their desks. Those who abuse the tools should be reprimanded—another reason why you need rules. I believe within the next five years, we won’t be having conversations about the need to let people access social media at work. It will be something employers allow automatically because the value will finally be discernible.

 

Consider these interesting statics from my book:

•           53% of businesses that don’t embrace social media will ultimately fail

•           76% of firms that embrace social media will grow faster than those that don’t

•           86% of people who use social media once a week say they were recently promoted; and

•           71% of senior managers say firms that embrace social media at work will find it easier to attract and keep the best talent.

 

Social crowdsourcing—tapping the collective knowledge of peers and others on social networking sites—make us work smarter and faster because we’re turning to our peers and other experts to help us in our jobs. That alone will put companies that embrace it head and shoulders above those that don’t.

About Aliah D. Wright:

AliahsAuthorPic

For more than 15 years, Aliah has worked as an award-winning reporter, writer, editor, artist, manager, web designer, and web content manager. She is also the author of the best-selling book, “A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn … and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites.” It was recently published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

She works in SHRM’s award-winning editorial division. SHRM is the world’s largest association dedicated to the HR profession. In that role, She has become a subject matter expert on the evolution of HR technology, Social Media Strategies, and Global HR.

Connect with her on LinkedIn | Buy “A Necessary Evil” at the SHRM Store | Follow @1SHRMScribe on Twitter

Click to see more information about Aliah's new book

Click to see more information about Aliah’s new book

Employer Retirement Planning Best Practices for Small Business Owners

Interview with Thomas W. Spray-Fry, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, CRPC

Elizabeth Anderson

By Elizabeth A. Anderson, Jumpstart:HR

Chances are, at one point or another, the idea of retirement has crossed your mind. Perhaps you are an employee of a company who has attended numerous retirement seminars, spoken with high-level retirement advisors, and has been briefed on the extensive, comprehensive plans offered to you by your company. Now, suppose you are that company, and instead of ushering hundreds, perhaps thousands, of your employees into blissful financial retirement, you instead lead only a choice 10 employees. The retirement process can be very daunting for any individual person, let alone the company supplying it, especially for small business owners. To ensure that all best practices are met it is important for employers [of small businesses] to be able to identify them and understand all that goes into the retirement process.  I got input from Thomas W. Spray-Fry, of Lincoln Financial Advisors, on the employer retirement planning process.

 

Elizabeth A. Anderson: Ensuring that companies have comprehensive and competitive plans is an important step in the employee retirement planning process. One area of consideration is with the plan fiduciaries. Do you find that with small businesses they can easily define who the plan fiduciaries are, understand their responsibilities, and are aware of their potential risks?

 

Thomas W. Spray-Fry: We find in most small businesses that they are stretched so thin with so many different roles that they are not fully aware of the seriousness of their responsibilities to their qualified plan. Quite honestly, in most initial conversations with small business owners, most are not even aware that they are fiduciaries that have personal liability to the plan. In their defense, they are trying to do the best they can, but unfortunately best efforts may not be enough to cover them. Most are shocked to know that their liability is outside of their business and don’t have any liability protection from their “corporate shield”.

 

Elizabeth: Planning for retirement plays a crucial role for employees. In your opinion, what is the one thing that most small employers should be doing to prepare their employees for retirement?

 

Thomas: I personally think that offering one-on-one retirement income planning using detailed models that are easy to understand (use of color graphs to depict various income sources and expenses) is the most significant resource the plan can offer. Having the employee peer into the future based on their current saving and spending patterns can really “awaken” them to realize that they must do one or all of the following: 1. save more money; 2. work longer; 3. delay social security; and/or, 4. spend less money.

 

Elizabeth: The management of an employee’s retirement plan is a key aspect to this process. What specific roles should the advisor play in the plan management and to what degree of accountability should they be held?

 

Thomas: In my opinion, the advisor has several roles to play. The first is making sure management understands their plan and it is designed to achieve the goals of the organization. Second, the advisor should look out to the marketplace and make sure the platform the employer is presently at provides value for the cost associated with the plan. And most importantly, the advisor should be an educator and a motivator to employees to take the necessary steps to save the right amount to secure a stable financial future. All too often I hear that the investments are not good. This is typically after the market has suffered a downturn. While most perceive the market performance and fees to be the issue, I see that we are going through a savings crisis. We are simply not saving enough money.

 

Elizabeth: Retirement plans, just like business plans, need to be evaluated and monitored on an ongoing basis. What are the most effective ways for employers to accomplish this task?

 

Thomas: Employers should benchmark their plan expenses based on assets and number of participants approximately every three years to make sure the cost of the plan is in line with the marketplace and the value they receive from their vendor. Additionally, they should be setting savings goals for their employees and creating a plan to achieve those goals. I rarely see this occur.

 

Elizabeth: In order for employers to retain responsibility and liability within their chosen plans, what are some significant questions that companies should be asking their brokers?

 

Thomas: What services should I expect from you? Are you independent? Is retirement planning your main line of business?

 

Elizabeth: Lastly, this process of retirement planning can leave the employee feeling frustrated. How can employers better facilitate their employee’s retirement education and communication therein?

 

Thomas: Understand that this is a marathon and not a sprint. Just encourage your employees to start making small incremental steps first. These small steps will compound over time. Most employees get discouraged and as a result of that, don’t do anything at all. I think this is their biggest mistake. If you are not saving anything and you start saving 1%, it’s a start. They will soon realize they can increase to 2%, 3%, and on…

 

About Thomas W. Spray-Fry, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, CRPC:

Thomas Spray-Fry

Thomas W. Spray-Fry, of Lincoln Financial Advisors, is a Certified Financial Planner Practitioner. His primary focus is comprehensive financial and retirement planning for individuals and business owners. A graduate of York College of Pennsylvania, Thomas has earned the Certified Financial Planner certification. He also holds the Chartered Financial Consultant and Chartered Life Underwriter designations from the American College and the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor designation from the College for Financial Planning. In addition to his state and national licenses, Thomas is a member of the Society for Financial Service Professionals.

For more information on Thomas W. Spray-Fry and the services that he provides, visit: http://spray-fry.com/page/