Want to know a secret?
There’s a gift and a curse behind all of your success in life and leadership. What got you to this point in your life and your career should be celebrated but it should also be challenged. Learn to challenge the good and bad parts about your development as a person and as a leader so that you aren’t hindered from growing to the next step.
Self Reflection. I have come to find in my HR career that there were certain traits that I had to acquire in order for me to be successful at the next stage even though I may not have had them or been good at them when I first reached the next step. For example, before serving a four-month term as an interim HR director for a 1,200 employee, multi-state organization, I was terrified of delivering bad news. I hated to be the bearer of bad news because I wanted to always be liked. However, wanting to be liked in the workplace sometimes has to come secondary to keeping the integrity of the workplace in tact and heck, even keeping your job! When counseling managers and employees (who were all older than me by the way) I had to get over my anxiety of leading individuals older than me. Had I not overcome these fears I wouldn’t have been able to serve in the capacity that I did and our business would’ve suffered as a a result.
Fixing What Was Needed to be Fixed. If I had not been able to deliver bad news, personnel problems could have gone from minor infractions to monstrous catastrophes. Yes, I may have been elevated to that position due do a combination of education, having proven myself in the workplace and circumstance, but there were still things I needed to become better at in order to step into the role and not fail miserably. Never underestimate the need to grow to respond to new challenges.
If you are stuck in a rut or have hit a plateau then perhaps you should change things up a bit and do everything you’ve never done.
Here are a few suggestions:
If you’ve been a talker, start listening. If you are a leader, there’s a strong chance that your followers who have something to say about your leadership. There’s probably good and probably bad. Ask your team members about your progress as a leader and see what they say as your positives and negatives.
If you’ve been slow to action, speed up. Organizations and departments on the move can only move as fast as their leadership. If you’re the type to cautiously and meticulously analyze decisions, try pulling the trigger a little bit sooner. The problem with mulling over a decision too much is that you can actually talk yourself out of a really good plan or opportunity. Paralysis by analysis is real. Take some chances and see what happens!
If you’re a micromanager or task hoarder, loosen up. If this is your mode of operation and you have been successful, I have great news – life gets so much better when you loosen up! It’s a better use of your time to teach people how to do things than trying to do them yourself. Trust your team members to do a good job, coach them, and set up quality assurance measures so that you can go on to do more leadership activity for your team.
If you want to be liked, ask yourself why. This one obviously personal but maybe you can relate. You will need to realize that whether or not someone likes you, you still have to do your job effectively. Of course not everyone is going to like “bad news” or like “change” but if it is better for them and for the organization then you must do what it takes to ensure that everyone’s best interest is taken care of.
These are just a few things to help get you started. Work with your team and a consultant to discover your leadership blind spots. It will save you time and money in the long run and even allow your team to flourish in all the ways that you might have been holding them back.
Here are a few takeaways:
Leadership Takeaway: Never be afraid to challenge every aspect of your leadership toolkit. Your team members can help you figure out blind spots that may be holding you back and sweet spots that need to be sharpened. Learn the difference between the two and adjust accordingly.
HR Takeaway: Employee engagement is tied to their response to leadership. Ensure feedback channels are open and effective to help increase productivity, motivation and retention.
Professional Development Takeaway: Learn to lead by understanding that the key to leadership is understand how to motivate people and get them to produce results. As you grow in your career, be conscious of the different factors that motivate different types of colleagues.
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:
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.
While many companies hire based on candidates’ experience, others find raw talent to be a stronger harbinger of success. But, how do you identify and measure “raw talent” during the hiring process?
Austin Merritt, the COO at Software Advice–a website that presents reviews and ratings of human resource information systems (HRIS)–recently shared how he objectively measures raw talent during his team’s hiring process. In a post on Software Advice’s New Talent Times blog, Merritt shares his “coffee scenario,” a role-playing scenario used when hiring for his inside sales team. It closely imitates the process his team goes through when placing sales calls. Except, instead of advising the caller on what software to purchase, the job candidate advises the caller on what coffee shop to visit. Here are a few key tips Merritt has shared about his process:
Develop a set of competencies to look for
What are the top uncoachable competencies required for a person to thrive in a role? For example, when hiring for their sales team, Software Advice grades along the following criteria:
Articulation – Do they clearly communicate their thoughts?
Energy – Does the candidate appear alert and genuine on calls?
Ability to take control – Can the candidate steer the conversation?
Ability to think on their feet – Can the candidate respond calmly, but quickly?
Coachability – Does the candidate understand the scenario enough to apply?
Your competencies may (and probably should) be different. Identify what empowers current star performers to be successful, and make your list of competencies around these qualities.
Create a project that tests each of them
The “coffee scenario” is effective because coffee is a familiar subject matter. Candidates are familiar with coffee, and it allows interviewers to focus on talent over domain expertise. The topic should be common enough for candidates to complete successfully without much preparation. In Software Advice’s instance, they set up a 10-minute mock sales call, but it doesn’t have be a phone call. Create something you can present to an applicant before meeting them in person.
Use a universal grade scale for performance
To ensure that every candidate gets a fair shot, develop a scoring method that can be kept consistent. If someone scores low in one area, but nails the others, it may be worthwhile to give the candidate another shot at the role-playing scenario. It doesn’t take too long, and by giving people a second chance, you’re leaving no stone unturned.
Before you bring someone to your office, try out a short role-playing scenario for them to showcase their raw talent. It’s a quick and easy way to critically assess strengths and weaknesses during the early stages of an interview process.
Once of the most confusing payroll and time keeping concerns revolve around Daylight Savings Time and how to pay employees when they either lose or gain an hour during their shift.
In 2013, Daylight Savings Time begins (springs forward) on Sunday, March 10, 2013 and ends (falls back) on November 3, 2013.
So, how do you pay an employee while we’re stuck in the time warp? Here are the quick and easy answers:
Spring Forward (in the spring):
- If an employee works at 2am and then the clock moves forward to 4am when it would normally move to 3am, you are required to pay for both the 2am hour and the phantom 3am hour as two separate hours, not just one.
Fall Backward (in the fall):
- If an employee works at 2am and then the clock resets to 2am again when it would normally move to 3am, you are required to pay these two hours as two separate hours, not just one.
- Companies are required to pay employees for all hours worked, even if this includes additional overtime.
- Communicating the change to your staff well ahead of time can result in less confusion when the time change occurs and during payroll and time sheet reconciliation after the switch occurs.
- It’s better to be safe than sorry: Consult the US DOL (http://www.dol.gov/whd/overtime_pay.htm) or Jumpstart:HR for any of your overtime wage determination questions.
Micro-managing managers, policies that limit employee autonomy and critical thinking and zero attempts to expand employee knowledge through company approved training and development programs.
Do these ring a bell or resonate with your current workplace? If so, then “Houston, we have a problem.”
Demoralization, defined. By definition, to demoralize is to “undermine the confidence or morale of; dishearten.” Whenever someone is demoralized, there are negative implications like anger, resentment, lack of motivation and lack of trust. One recent – non-HR yet still scientific published in The Journal for Psychosomatics – survey even ties demoralization with psychological distress (83%) and depression (44%) in their sample population.
Demoralization in the workplace. Demoralization can happen as a result of policies that result in angry, resentful employees. While no one sets out to debase their employees on purpose, it’s very important to be mindful of the psychological effects that can result when new policies are established. For example, if there is a new policy that limits a certain benefit or restricts professional growth and autonomy in any way, it would be in your organization’s best interest to track the psychological response from these policies – through survey or brief employee interviews. Why? Because the impact of demoralizing policies can always be tied employee disengagement which results in measurable decreased levels of productivity.
Burnout or Demoralization? Which one is it? The terms burnout and demoralization may seem similar at first but they are actually very different. Burnout occurs gradually when you have simply exhausted your physical capacity to complete a job. For example, years of repetitive tasks and stagnancy can lead to burnout. Everyone needs to get away at some point and the best prescription is a sabbatical or extended vacation. If that’s not possible, perhaps cross-training in another business function to stay engaged and learning something new. However, demoralization is instantaneous and is not fixed by just “getting away.” Whenever an employee is demoralized, it can negatively impact their view of the workplace, coworkers, their job, customers, etc. The only fix for removing demoralization is to remove the source of demoralization which is oftentimes a policy that has resulted in negative emotional sentiment amongst employees.
How do you measure demoralization in the workplace? Demoralization can be measured through surveys that gauge emotional sentiment of employees in the workplace. The key, however, is to actually do something about what you find in your feedback or that can actually make the demoralization much, much worse. Employees who work in organizations that are apathetic to their emotional needs are the most demoralized. If you are not sure how to conduct a survey on employee demoralization or feel that it would be best to have a neutral third-party conduct such testing, Jumpstart:HR can provide such a test and make recommendations on how best to turn emotional sentiment around while still navigating the confines of key business objectives that cannot be disrupted.