Friday, April 26, 2013
In my book, GENerate Performance! Unleashing the Power of a Multigenerational Workforce, I discuss six simple strategies for leading a multigenerational team.
The four generations co-existing in your workplace today are a powerhouse of experience, knowledge, talent, energy, drive and innovation. These strategies are simple and straightforward to implement. With a bit of time, practice and commitment, you can have a significant impact on your team and make a difference in their lives.
Friday, March 15, 2013
In today's workplace we rely heavily on technology for communication. Technology plays an important role but it's not always the most efficient or effective way to communicate. Email correspondence is appropriate with employees for fast and easy conversation but it is not going build trust. A poorly worded or wrongly interpreted email can cause a lot of wasted time and energy. The way to build real trust is through face-to-face and verbal conversations. Let me explain a bit further.
Email gives abridged information. We simply don't write the way we speak. In emails we shorten the information and highlight the important points, often leaving out supporting data, explanations, examples and clarifications. The person receiving the information does not receive all the information he or she would have had from a phone call or in person conversation.
Additionally, verbal dialogue is stimulating because it is intense, two-sided and provides detail, feeding on the interactions between the parties involved. With email you cannot see the other person's facial expression or body language to know how they are responding to your communication. To lead effectively, you need to not only pay attention to what your employee is saying but also to what they are not saying.
Have an employee who works remotely? Try to have regular dialogue by phone and schedule time to meet face-to-face when possible. Use video conferencing or Skype as a method of communicating with remote employees. If you have important information to convey, go see the person, video conference or at the very least, pick up the phone.
The bottom line is not to use technology as an escape, but rather as a tool. Your employees will appreciate when you make the time and effort necessary for more face-to-face and live communications. It really can have a big impact.
Monday, February 04, 2013
If you are a manager, use this tips to help make this year's discussions as valuable as possible:
Be well prepared - review notes from previous performance reviews and discussions, stakeholder feedback and employee self-assessments. Be prepared to provide specific examples regarding the employee's work activities.
Keep it private and positive - host the discussion in a quiet, private and comfortable environment. Keep a positive tone throughout the conversation using good eye contact and body language.
Make it a two-way conversation - focus on making the conversation interactive and ask for the employee's thoughts and input. Manager's should not do all of the talking.
Focus on strengths - research has shown that employees are more likely to improve in their areas of strengths. Focus 80% of the discussion on strengths and 20% on growth areas. Pick one or two areas that the employee can develop. Then, seek agreement from the employee.
Offer support and encouragement - the employee needs your support and guidance. Ask how you can help them be successful. Plan a follow up meeting for 2-3 weeks later to discuss implementation and execution of the feedback in the upcoming year.
Performance reviews don’t have to be dreaded or difficult. You can make it a positive experience for both you and the employee by planning ahead and being prepared.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Too often in the business world we minimize the importance of trust. We assume that if a team is performing well and delivering results they must trust each other. But that isn't necessarily true. There are teams that have no trust that are able to deliver in spite of themselves. However, teams with trust will perform at even higher levels and usually they deliver more quickly and with lower costs.
The word trust means different things to different people. Patrick Lencioni, author of The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, uses a term called vulnerability trust. He says that teams must be vulnerable with each other in order to truly establish and maintain trust. Being vulnerable can be difficult and even risky. But research shows that this level of trust positively impacts team dynamics, productivity and business results.
Here are 10 questions to ask yourself about the level of trust on your team.
If you answered no to three or more of these questions then chances are your team needs to focus on building trust.
Don't sit back and wait for things to work themselves out. Most likely, they never will. You have to take the initiative to engage in dialogue and figure this out together. Building and maintaining trust takes time and intention but the outcomes are well worth it.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
So, I decided to share a few tips that help me and others with minimizing Back-to-School stress. Some you may already know but perhaps, like me, you need a gentle reminder to use them.
Print out the school calendar: Our school district has the school calendar available on the website all year long. I like to print it out before school starts. I hang a copy on the fridge and then add all of the important dates on our family calendar as well as my work calendar. Don't forget to check back periodically to see if the calendar changes. Depending on how your school handles snow days, for example, this may impact the calendar. You may also want to consider having a white board in your house where you keep track of important dates and can share messages with each other.
Plan meals and lunches: I have to admit that I am not as good at this as I would like to be but I know many people that are. You can save yourself a lot of time and stress by planning meals out for the week. My friend, Neen James, who is a productivity expert, says that you can be really productive in just 15 minutes. I think meal planning is a great example. Spend 15 minutes on the weekend to plan a few meals for the week. This doesn't mean you have to cook a gourmet meal 7 days a week. Maybe you start with planning 3 or 4. I love the crock pot. You can throw a bunch of things in there, turn it on and go. As far as lunches, pack as much as you can the night before, and then just toss in the main entree in the morning.
Don't be afraid to delegate: OK, I admit that I can be a bit of a control freak. I've made a commitment to myself and my family that I am going to start delegating more (of course, they were all thrilled). Guess what, we don't have to do it all. Our kids and spouses are quite capable. They can help with laundry, feed the dog and even do the dishes. It's amazing what an impact it can have when everyone pitches in.
Avoid over-committing: I bet there are many of us who share this habit. In today's world there are so many opportunities for us and our children to get involved. While these activities can provide lots of fun, they can also cause lots of stress. Take some time at the beginning of the school year to talk about what activities you and your children will commit to. Then, do the best you can to stick to it. Think before you volunteer. You only have so much time, don't fill it up with activities that you end up regretting later.
Make time for yourself: This one is my personal favorite. We've all heard it a million times, right? It really is true. To be the best you can be for your family, you have to make time for yourself. Squeeze in some exercise and a spa treatment. Take a course or lessons on a topic that you are passionate about. Schedule time on your calendar. Everyone will benefit, especially you.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Please feel free to share more in the comments. Enjoy the new school year and good luck!!
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Leaders should begin by accepting the differences among their employees. Understanding those differences is equally important. Once you understand and accept differences, you can begin to celebrate them. By understanding, you will see how the generations support and reinforce one another. You will also discover how to utilize your generational resources to optimize your business.
Consider, for a moment, the people who you interact with on a daily basis, whether they are: your superiors, your peers, your direct reports or your customers. What generations are they from? Have you fallen into the trap of stereotyping them by their generation or other attributes? What problems in your company, department or team might be the direct result of generational differences or stereotypes? What could you do instead to celebrate the differences among those who you interact with on a daily basis?
The role of a leader is to help employees grow, develop and succeed. Every person, regardless of his or her generation, wants to do a good job and contribute to the organization. Deep down, each person wants to know that their opinions are valued. They want proof that a leader is looking out for their best interests and they want to be rewarded for their efforts. With a good understanding and appreciation of the generations in the workplace, their differences can be a huge benefit for business. Figure out how to leverage their strengths and celebrate the diversity that they bring.
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
When you empathize with someone, you can put yourself in their shoes, so to speak. Perhaps you have been there yourself or can relate on some level. Empathy is the ability to experience the feelings, emotions and thoughts that another person may be going through based on their current circumstances. As a strong leader, the ability to empathize allows you to sense the emotions of your employees and co-workers. Empathy is an innate sense of understanding that gives strong leaders a keen sense of how to best leverage their team.
When you feel sympathy for someone else, you recognize their sadness and suffering though you cannot necessarily empathize with what they are feeling. When you sympathize, you have an appropriate sense of caring, concern and a show of solidarity for the other person.
Individuals typically want empathy rather than sympathy. They want you to understand them. The ability to look at an issue from another's perspective is authentic and real. Your employees will recognize authentic empathy versus sympathy and be appreciative for your response.
So if you do not have a natural sense of empathy, how can you seek to understand the feelings of members of your team? Active listening is the best way to work those compassion muscles. Are you really listening to your employees and trying to truly understand their point of view?
Empathy is essentially the commitment to listen and seek to understand. While sympathy is certainly appropriate in certain circumstances, the ability to empathize with authenticity is a key ingredient for effective leadership.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Here are a few suggestions on finding the strengths in others:
Observe: Take time to watch those around you. Find out which types of projects they seem to enjoy the most. Think about where they apply extra time and effort. Listen for cues such as the issues or topics they prefer to discuss.
Ask: Talk to the people working around you, with you or for you. Ask them what projects make them feel the most energized and what they want to learn more about. Find out how they think their strengths are currently being utilized.
Focus: Having discovered others' strengths, begin to focus on how to best leverage those strengths. Too often we focus on what we think others should be doing rather then what brings them passion and fulfillment. Focusing on strengths will allow you to revamp responsibilities so that people working with their power and passion.
Arrange: Identify projects, opportunities and assignments that will utilize each person's key strengths. Delegate work to your team based on the tasks which will leverage their strengths rather than those they will find draining. If you are not in a position to delegate assignments, work together with your coworkers to divide activities according to each other's strengths.
Once you really start to leverage strengths you will notice a more unified, efficient and motivated team emerging. Innovation will flourish, teamwork will improve and productivity will soar. Who wouldn't want to work in that type of environment?
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
So, let's talk about respect, because giving respect to others properly and authentically can take us far in the workplace, whether we work in a huge corporation or are self-employed.
We cannot work in a bubble and be successful, no matter what it is that we do (or hope to do) for a living. Therefore, we should be aware of the impact our attitude, outlook and actions have on those around us. Each of us has the power, regardless of our position, to energize others by showing them the respect they want and deserve.
How can you show respect? Begin by getting to know the people that work for you and with you on a personal level. Understand what they want and need from you as a leader. Create a culture of participation by encouraging new ideas, suggestions and opinions. Encourage open communication and participation with those who are above you, below you and next to you.
Give your employees the support and resources they need to meet clearly defined expectations. Appreciate them and continue to give them opportunities to advance in their career and personal development. Value their strengths and their need for autonomy.
One of the simplest ways to show someone respect is to provide him or her with recognition for a job well done. Tell them that day, stop by their office, send them an email or leave them a voicemail. Give details about why they are being praised and let them know the impact of their actions or ideas.
Lastly don't think of showing respect as a one-time deal. Seek out opportunities to communicate and provide recognition on a regular basis. No matter how busy your schedule is, you can make room for the few minutes it takes to show your respect and appreciation for a job well done. After all, wouldn't you want someone to do the same for you?
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Set Clear Expectations
It's important to meet with your Gen Y employees and set expectations early on in the employment relationship. Many managers just assume that Gen Y is familiar with the corporate rules. This is not necessarily true and Gen Y has different interpretations of those rules. Some important areas to clarify up front include:
In a recent survey conducted by my company, over 58% of Gen Y rated flexibility as extremely important or very important to them. While I realize, it is not always possible to offer flexibility, you should attempt to where you can. Gen Y is involved in many activities outside of the workplace and values the concept of flexible working arrangements. Be willing to discuss options with your interns and agree upon what you can accommodate.
Leverage Their Strengths
Like all generations, Gen Y's have many positive attributes that they bring to the workplace. To get the most from this generation, find ways to leverage their strengths. Provide them with projects and assignments where they can add value. Gen Y's enter the workplace excited, passionate and with lots of great ideas. If you can find ways to utilize their skills and channel their energy, you will experience positive and productive results.
Show Them Respect
This sounds so basic but it is not. Frequently, Gen Y's complain about being treated as their managers child rather than their employee. They also feel they are chastised because they are viewed as having limited experience as compared to other employees. Gen Y tends to ask a lot of questions and challenge the status quo. This was encouraged while they were growing up both at home and in school. Resist the urge to brush them off because of their age and show them the respect that everyone deserves.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Never underestimate the power of communication. As mentioned earlier, Gen Y relies heavily on technology to communicate. They keep in touch with literally hundreds of contacts on a daily basis. Because of the way they use technology, they often assume that this is the preferred method for everyone. Share your expectations of when you want to discuss issues face-to-face and when it is appropriate to use technology. It doesn't hurt to be proactive and establish communication guidelines early in the relationship. This will help to avoid miscommunications down the road.
Managing Gen Y doesn't have to be as difficult as some make it out to be. The key is to set clear expectations and establish open lines of communication. Follow these tips for a positive experience with your Gen Y employees. They will be the future leaders of the business world someday. Let's take the time now to foster their success.
- Simple Strategies for Multigenerational Leaders
- Let's Talk, Really Talk
- Are You Ready for Performance Reviews?
- The Importance of Trust on Teams
- Reduce Back-to-School Stress: 5 Quick Tips
- Celebrate Differences in the Workplace
- Leading with Empathy
- Finding Strengths in Others
- What Every Person Wants: RESPECT
- Managing Gen Y Interns: Five Helpful Tips
- Baby Boomers (3)
- Business Issues (12)
- Communication (19)
- Employment (11)
- flexible work arrangements (2)
- Generation X (3)
- Generation Y (3)
- Generations (12)
- Job Hunting (1)
- Leadership (12)
- Manager Tips (16)
- Performance (5)
- Performance Reviews (3)
- Reduce Stress (2)
- Teamwork (3)
- Traditionalists (3)
- Women (1)
K HR Solutions President Kim Huggins helps transform individuals and corporate work groups into effective leaders and results-oriented teams. Kim’s thought-provoking services and programs are custom-designed to meet your needs. Kim is also a nationally recognized trainer and speaker on the topic of Understanding Generations.