Employee recognition matters, both in terms of retention and productivity. According to a recent Glassdoor survey, approximately 53% of respondents claimed they’d be more likely to stick with a company for the long haul if they genuinely felt appreciated by their managers — 81% stated they were more motivated when their hard work was regularly recognized. If you want to establish a durable, driven company culture, then you need to let your people know that they’re doing a good job. Of course, delivering positive sentiment for its own sake won’t yield the result you’re looking for either. The recognition you deliver must be earned or else the weight of said recognition will diminish. Moreover, you risk losing the respect and trust of your team and colleagues if your praise rings hollow.
Here’s how to maintain respect and authority while still showing plenty of appreciation to your team.
How to Appreciate Your Team Respectfully
Uphold Strong Communication Always
Some people still associate authority with a sort of reservedness, wherein the person in power is behind the scenes, rarely speaking to others outside of a close circle. However, making an effort to speak directly with team members is vital in building mutual respect and showing appreciation. Indeed, your team is bound to respect your authority much more if you’re regularly in the room with them, listening to their thoughts and concerns and playing a role in day-to-day decisions. By honing your leadership communication skills, you can remain well aware of what each team member is doing so you can highlight outstanding performance when you see it — and since your face will be well-known, your employees will believe your kind words when you convey them.
Set Clear Expectations
Good team management relies on coherent ground rules. Some of your employees will simply want to get their work done while others will actively try to go above and beyond. In either case, you need to set clear expectations so every team member knows what they should be doing, how they should behave, and whether or not their actions are worthy of distinct appreciation. When everyone is on the same page in this way, they can better direct their efforts and earn your recognition on a regular basis.
Manage Individual and Team Performance
In order for your praise to be consistently well-founded, you must keep close tabs on your team’s performance. As part of your expectation-setting, you should lay out key performance indicators (KPIs) that help you and your employees maintain a clear grasp on which metrics matter and why. Some common KPIs include sales targets and changes over time, customer retention rate, amount of time it takes to accomplish certain repeated tasks, etc. It’s crucial that these employee KPIs are measurable, realistic, specific, and understood. Performance management using KPIs and other methods will allow you to point to tangible data that reveals exceptional effort, distinct accomplishments, and other benchmarks worthy of applause.
Find Fresh Ways to Deliver Praise
If you’re still not sure of how to best manage your team and express your appreciation in a genuine way, do your best not to fall into stagnation — recognition is always more potent when it’s delivered in unexpected, novel ways. Employees who regularly go above and beyond deserve more than just another shout-out — it might be time to give them a meaningful reward (which in turn may encourage others to follow said employee’s example). Also, avoid concise, rote appreciation, instead taking the time to cater your praise in such a way that emphasizes an individual’s efforts. Timing and context can make a difference, too — will you recognize someone in the presence of their team or recognize their work one-on-one? There’s no single way to show your team appreciation, so mix up your delivery and wording to make the biggest impact each time.
Recognition with Respect
As a leader, you must strike a balance between expressing appreciation to your team and maintaining your authority so your people continue to feel motivated to do their best work. Pursuing ongoing leadership communication training is one of the best ways to achieve this balance. The better you are at communicating with your team, the stronger your culture will become — making sure your people feel sincerely appreciated is a major part of this equation.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease obstacles and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.
Every great leap begins with an idea. Indeed, brainstorming sessions, after-hours conversations, and spirited debates are highly valuable to any enterprise. These discussions help shape and clarify a company’s vision as leaders seek opportunities for improvement and growth. However, there comes a point when words must translate into actions. Too much talk can actually get in the way of proper execution. Real progress can only be made by testing out your various ideas and going over what’s working and what’s not.
How to Humbly Display Your Progress
Set Smaller Goals
While it’s important to always keep an eye on the bigger picture, the only way to get there is through incremental steps. Setting smaller goals is one of the key features of any effective performance management system. Unlike long-term, sweeping goals, smaller goals are easier to set (or reset), accomplish, and track along the way. For instance, you might have the larger goal of increasing your annual profits this year. In order to achieve this goal, however, it’s important to zoom in on actionable goals that your team can tackle each day, week, month, and so on. One of these short-term goals might be challenging your sales team to increase their client base by a specific number between now and the end of the quarter. While it might not be easy to accomplish this goal, setting a clear benchmark like this makes it easy to track your business’ progress with hard numbers.
Build More Buy-In
No matter the size of your business, progress is only possible if your people are working toward the same goals. In order to keep everyone on the same page and perpetuate a high-performance culture, you must do your best to create buy-in. Maintaining broad buy-in requires constant communication and calibration — there may be times when an individual (or more) strongly opposes the direction you or your leadership team wishes to go. When this occurs, you must determine whether an executive (“command”) decision must be made, whether additional input is needed (“consult”), or if consensus is imperative for progress (“consensus”).
Accountability is paramount for proper performance management — without it, you’ll struggle to identify the trail of mistakes and miscommunication that led to a serious problem or roadblock. Moreover, prioritizing accountability in all leaders, managers, and employees will help keep everyone working towards their specialized and collective goals. For instance, leaders should regularly check in with their team(s) for concrete updates on their progress. If little to no progress is being made, the reasons for this lack of progress must be brought to light so necessary adjustments can be made, whether this means altering goals, shifting roles, or letting go of someone. A high-accountability culture can be difficult to establish and maintain, but doing so will allow you to make real progress beyond mere words.
Invest in Business Coaching
Speaking of accountability, there is perhaps no better way to keep leaders and teams accountable than by hiring a coach to provide you with an experienced, objective point of view. The best coaches can easily identify potential areas of growth for leaders, set and track new goals, keep everyone focused on unified, and point out hurdles that are preventing you from progressing. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
Your leadership team is largely responsible for allowing your business to continually meet quotas, increase profits, and grow sustainably. As such, motivating your leaders to do their best work and maintain that momentum must be one of your top priorities. Of course, all leaders are human beings, and human beings have their limitations. Pushing your people too hard can create massive leadership stress and get in the way of progress. Conversely, loosening your grip too much can result in chaos and stifle productivity. In order to ensure ongoing success, then, you must strike a balance between putting on the pressure when the time is right and letting go when things get too tense.
How to Get the Most Out of the Leaders in Your Office
Support Their Personal and Professional Goals
Even if your leaders inherently love what they do, their job is ultimately just a portion of their lives. Most people are more motivated by the notion of building a better life for themselves and their families than growing the company for which they work. Fortunately, these goals go hand in hand. As your business flourishes, so do the personal lives of your leaders, as long as you maintain an awareness of what your people want out of life and their careers. If you want to get the most out of your leaders, then, take the time to understand what gets them out of bed in the morning and connect those aspirations to the business’ growth. You can further support your leaders by offering ongoing leadership training, providing career resources, and more.
Prioritize Performance Management
No matter how self-aware someone is, no one recognizes all of their shortcomings without some external input. Your leaders won’t be able to progress as quickly or efficiently if they’re not receiving honest feedback on a regular basis. Make it a priority to track your leaders’ performance and go over their strengths and weaknesses at key intervals or on an as-needed basis. Your constructive criticism should also include recognition of all of a leader’s accomplishments — this way, your leaders can continue doing what they do best and work on what they might have missed for the betterment of themselves and your business as a whole.
Make sure you allow time for your leaders to ask questions and deliver their own feedback as well. Sending out employee surveys is another powerful way to see how your people feel about the workplace and culture.
Leave Room for New Opportunities
One of the primary reasons people part with a company is because they feel stuck, as if they’ve reached a peak and there’s nowhere to go from there. In order to draw out the very best from your leaders (and keep them around), you have to offer ongoing opportunities for growth. You might develop a transparent system for lateral movement, promotions, and raises for leaders to work towards, and/or create new roles for managers with specific leadership skills. It’s important to maintain strong communication with your leaders to see how happy or unhappy they are in their current position so you can come up with ways to best utilize their unique talents, skills, and experiences.
Provide Practical Paid Time Off (PTO)
Everyone needs a break, especially your hardest-working talent. Working around the clock for months on end will inevitably lead to burnout, which can take weeks to recover from and do plenty of damage in the meantime. While paid vacations and extended break periods might seem like a major liability, they’re necessary investments for managing leadership stress and getting the most out of your leaders in the long run. For a deep dive into this subject, read our article, “How Much Paid Time Off (PTO) is Good for Productivity?” At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
Delivering criticism to a team can be a significant cause of leadership stress for many leaders. It’s not always easy to find the proper balance between sugar-coated comment and pointless put-down. But when someone makes a mistake, requires correction, or falls short of their duties, ignoring or obfuscating the issue is more harmful to your workplace culture than addressing it head-on.
So, how can you deal criticism in a way that lets your team member know where they went wrong, and, just as importantly, how they can improve? Let’s examine 5 phrases that can serve as templates or starting points for more effective workplace criticism.
How to Properly Criticize a Workplace
1. “I like where this is headed. Let’s see what we can improve…”
This is a powerful phrase to employ when your team or team member suggests an idea that has merit but plenty of flaws. Rather than starting with the problems, begin with a sincere recognition of the idea’s potential. This will energize the team while also focusing everyone’s efforts on trimming the fat and making necessary changes.
2. “The team could really benefit from more of your input.”
If you’re a team manager, you may experience an occasional imbalance in effort and input from your employees. Sometimes a minority of the team makes most of the calls. Or, perhaps a single team member rarely, or never, contributes to the creative process. When this happens, don’t just tell them to talk more during meetings. Instead, let them know that the team is lacking an important piece of the puzzle. This often motivates a less assertive team member to make their opinion known.
3. “This area seems to be a challenge for you.”
We all have our weaknesses. The key is identifying them so we know which areas we must work to improve. But it’s not always easy to make out our own faults. One of the most important leadership traits is being able to not only identify these problem areas in your team members, but also point them out without hesitation or ambiguity. Using the above phrase provides a solid entry point into this conversation, as it doesn’t personally attack the individual in question but still addresses the concern.
4. “You haven’t been meeting your performance goals/expectations.”
By letting a staff member know in simple terms that they haven’t been meeting their expectations, you accomplish a few important things. First, you reiterate what’s objectively expected of them, as laid out in previous conversations. Second, you open the door for a conversation on why these goals aren’t being met. And third, you can begin crafting a tangible performance management strategy for getting back on track. This is more effective than telling them they’re not doing a good job, or demanding results without a reminder of the company’s expectations.
5. “What do you think could have happened differently?”
Finally, effective leadership depends on reciprocity and communication. If you’re going to lead well, the conversation must go both ways. So, when someone messes up, make sure you ask what they thought of the situation, and how they might have handled it differently. To avoid coming off as patronizing, sincerely listen to what they have to say and give your thoughts as well.
No matter the circumstance, coming up with constructive criticism is a challenge for all leaders, but vital to maintaining an open and productive workplace. The above phrases are just a handful of examples that can help you address important issues without making it personal or sowing seeds of resentment.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.Read More
A motivated individual can accomplish many things. But we all have our limitations. This is in part why specialization and division of labor are so crucial to a thriving enterprise. If someone falls short on a given day, someone else can pick up the slack and keep things on course. That said, a business’ success cannot simply rely on different people performing different roles. Continuous improvement and leadership development are also key.
People get better at their jobs and hobbies in a number of ways. One of the best ways to improve is to understand areas that need improvement and implement the attitudes and behaviors to make those changes happen. However, if you’re unaware of the areas in which you are lacking, or you don’t know what attitudes and behaviors are holding you back, improvement becomes difficult if not impossible. This is where coaching comes into play. And, as it turns out, coaches are not just for managers and executives, but everyone looking to enhance their skills and knowledge.
What to Know About Business Coaching
Who Needs a Coach?
In short: everyone, from the newest intern to the CEO. More importantly, everyone needs a good coach suited to their individual or team’s needs and goals. An employee just out of college who is entering the field needs a coach who understands their situation, and who is willing to figure out what they want out of their job, career, or life as a whole. The same applies to the high-ranking manager or CEO. Their coach should be able to help them work through issues of business operations at the highest levels.
Why Have a Business Coach?
So, why have a business coach? Good coaches can objectively point out the flaws in a given process, individual, or team, and find ways to make lasting improvements. This applies to coaches in any field. More specifically, a business coach will look at everything from marketing strategies, internal culture, reputation management, sales numbers, and much more. The coach will help their client analyze this information, determine the root causes, and outline potential solutions. Because it is not possible to be an expert in all areas, good coaches help guide their clients to solutions themselves by questioning their actions and providing feedback.
But the best coaches and business consulting services do more than just identify issues and propose solutions. All industries and companies are dynamic, meaning something that works today might not work tomorrow. Coaches must stay on their toes in this way, and, more importantly, impart this wisdom to their clients. In other words, coaching is about helping people learn how to think and adapt to emergent situations. You can’t predict everything that will happen, but you can at least be prepared with the help of your coach.
The Power of an Outsider
Coaches come in many forms and places, but the best coaches often come from outside your organization. The term “outsider” should not be taken as derogatory. On the contrary, a coach from the outside often sees things more clearly and objectively than you or anyone else on your team can. Plus, this coach will have a much different background, using his/her unique experiences to improve your operations.
In a TED Talk from April 2017, surgeon Atul Gawande recounts a powerful story of birth attendants in North India who lacked the equipment and knowledge to consistently deliver healthy babies or protect their mothers. Eventually, Gawande decided to team up with part of the Indian government to deliver rigorous coaching to nurses, physicians, and managers in these birth centers. Over time, the results spoke for themselves with a massive increase in the quality of outcome for both babies and mothers.
While not directly related to business coaching, Gawande’s story speaks to the power of coaching more broadly. These birth centers sorely lacked methods of performance management. Nurses and doctors struggled to communicate, and the results were sometimes devastating. But with proper leadership development coaching, things turned around quickly for the better.
Good coaches are invaluable to any organization. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.Read More
No one enjoys giving or receiving negative feedback. Those on the receiving end might feel small and incompetent, while those dishing it out might feel they’re being too harsh … or not harsh enough. No matter what, both parties feel uncomfortable. However, giving feedback is a crucial part of employee performance management. The problem is knowing how to go about it.
People often fall into the trap of serving the “$#it sandwich.” This useful slang term refers to negative feedback squished between two soft, bland buns of positive sentiment in the form of irrelevant praise. The intention here is to soften the blow and minimize the bad taste left from hard criticism. However, delivering a $#it sandwich often results in a worse outcome than offering direct feedback. Why is this? And how can leaders give feedback to employees without disguising or diluting it?
Why the $#it Sandwich Goes Bad
Effective leadership depends on transparency. The $#it sandwich approach to feedback is antithetical to this. When leaders insert their true feedback between compliments and niceties, the message quickly gets lost, and the receiver often feels patronized and confused. This isn’t to say that those giving the feedback should be intentionally mean, of course. Rather, all feedback, good and bad, should be to the point. This will allow the person receiving it to understand exactly what he/she did right or wrong, making course correction easier to handle.
Better Ways to Deliver Feedback
For leaders to improve their business performance management, they need to go beyond the $#it sandwich. There are several better ways to give feedback, but they all follow the same principles.
- Avoid the Ego
The human ego makes feedback delivery and reception very difficult. We often feel personally attacked when hearing about our mistakes. Delivering feedback can feel personal too, as the giver might feel self-conscious about how this interaction will affect the relationship. It’s not easy to detach oneself from the ego, but leaders can find ways to give feedback that focuses more on the problem and less on the people. This is a difficult balance to strike because the people involved have to be the ones making the change.
Still, leaders can help erase the ego from the equation by focusing on the future rather than past. In other words, negative feedback shouldn’t simply dwell on a person’s past mistakes. Rather, it should address the problem before quickly moving toward a future scenario in which things have improved. This still keeps the employee accountable but provides a more objective pathway for correcting errors.
- Establish an Atmosphere of Openness
When the workplace is closed off in terms of communication, any feedback feels abrupt and even offensive. Conversely, work environments that encourage questions, criticisms, changes, and friendly dialogue allow feedback to flow naturally. Employees and leaders are constantly giving each other feedback in this type of open space so that even the harshest criticisms are understood to be constructive and normal. Staff members will naturally become closer and more connected so that the flimsy bread of the $#it sandwich becomes an unnecessary platitude, thrown away altogether.
- Keep Reviews Consistent
Another way to avoid the abruptness of negative feedback is to create a regular performance management review system for all employees. These can be monthly, bi-annual, or annual check-ins with employees to go over areas of improvement, make suggestions, and discuss the concerns of both parties. There is always a risk of making these reviews too formal and rigid, however. While these surveys should include specific items, the review itself should flow like a conversation where both parties truly feel engaged.
Conducting these reviews well will take the $#it sandwich and expand it into an organic meal. This is a space for both positive and negative feedback, but none of it will feel crammed in, hidden, or artificially procured. Additionally, the focus of these reviews should be more on the future than the past. In other words, leaders and employees should examine how the previous period of time went, but use it as a springboard for making course corrections in the future. The regularity of these examinations will keep employees and leaders aware of the present moment at all times.
Learning how to give and receive feedback is one of the most challenging and important leadership qualities to develop. Leaders should aim to establish a workplace open to communication, detached from egos, and structured enough so that everyone receives feedback on a regular basis. Leadership Resources can help leaders develop ways of giving feedback that go beyond the failings of a $#it sandwich. Contact us here to learn more.Read More
The key to personal growth is honest, constructive evaluation. The past few decades have seen the rise of a mindset that casts every individual as equals, not just in opportunity, but in outcome. While few deny that people should be treated fairly, we’re starting to see the negative consequences of rewarding everyone evenly, regardless of differences in effort, ability, or intelligence.
By giving everyone a trophy, we fail to equip young people with an understanding of how the world works. In truth, some people do better than others in life. But without knowing the underlying reasons for this variation of outcome, people become embittered and their own personal development is stunted as a result.
So, when someone underperforms in the workplace, leaders need to find effective ways to approach the subject, knowing that this person might not have received this type of criticism before. How can leaders tackle employee performance management in the modern age?
Making Expectations Clear
One of the most important tasks of a leader is laying out expectations early and often. The more staff members hear these expectations, the more likely they are to follow them. Then, if anyone fails to meet them, there should be no confusion as to where they went wrong. In this way, clear expectations lead to increased accountability.
These guidelines can be iterated in many ways. Some businesses create acronyms or mantras that keep their mission statement front and center at all times. Hosting daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings that go over these expectations can also help improve employee and business performance management. These meetings should dive into real world applications to reinforce the importance of maintaining these standards.
Talk with Transparency
When it comes time to confront an individual who is underperforming, be as open and transparent as possible. There is no benefit to talking around the issue. So many people have been let down by coaches, parents, teachers, and other leaders avoiding the real problems and resorting to platitudes. Leaders must speak directly to the person and address their shortcomings – but they can’t stop there.
To truly foster personal and leadership growth, a good leader must explain why they’re giving this feedback, and how it can be used as a teachable moment where this person can learn and grow. Negative feedback simply isn’t enough and it might even shock the person if they’re not used to receiving it. By offering full transparency and constructive criticism, leaders can help lift up their team members and strengthen the entire business. If expectations have been clearly established, this person should be able to see where they took a wrong turn and how they can right it moving forward.
Limits of the Blame Game
Yes, sometimes something is entirely one person’s fault. In these cases, the person should take responsibility for the mistake and seek to fix it. This is a crucial part of leadership development. However, when people begin playing the blame game, either casting all the blame on themselves or others, things can go awry.
Some companies have built into their performance management operations “autopsies without blame” (a term coined by Jim Collins). These are meetings involving all relevant team members where a problem is dissected but not targeted to one individual. The goal here is not to rid anyone of accountability, but to address a real problem and move forward as a team, with full knowledge that everyone makes mistakes. For large scope business performance management concerns, this approach is often warranted. People will feel less alienated and more willing to solve the problem collaboratively.
Conversations involving performance management are not easy and some people aren’t used to receiving harsh criticism. Still, there are ways for leaders to make these conversations easier and more productive in the end. By setting clear standards, speaking openly and honestly, and not casting targeted blame for larger issues, team members will perform better and grow as individuals.
Leadership Resources helps leaders hone these interpersonal skills. Through education, personalized business coaching, and a large library of resources, we make the impossible possible by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. For more information, contact us today.Read More
Everyone wants to earn more. No surprise there. Money can certainly incentivize employees to work harder, seek promotions, and clinch more commission-based sales. However, compensation has its limitations when it comes to how managers motivate employees. Why is this? And what else can managers do to encourage hard work and participation?
Why More Money Loses its Appeal
One might feel extremely motivated when first getting a promotion or a new higher-paying job. Over time, however, things change. It doesn’t take long for most people to begin getting used to their new wage or salary. Once a huge perk, this pay raise becomes normal and perhaps feels as restrictive as a previously lower pay rate. In this scenario, the worker might attempt to earn another raise by working harder – but even then the cycle tends to repeat. Eventually, money becomes secondary to a worker’s overall happiness and sense of meaning in the workplace.
If you’re a manager in charge of employee productivity management, this should raise alarm bells. But if more money doesn’t equate to more productivity, what does?
Reward Systems in the Brain
The human brain is wired with reward systems. These systems help humans learn, interact with others, and behave in certain ways. Money certainly ties in to these reward systems. The human brain lights up when receiving rewards with perceived value (such as cash, gift cards, rare items, etc.). But money alone doesn’t trigger this response. Something as simple as receiving a compliment or affirmation can yield similar results. Hearing a “Good job,” or “I appreciate you” can go a long way in motivating employees. In this way, creating a positive work environment might be one of the best employee management tools available.
Finding Meaning in Work
Cash and kind gestures feed the brain’s reward system to a certain extent, but humans also want meaning in their lives. Since so many people spend the majority of their time at work, they often seek meaning there. If they can’t find it there, they’ll look to their family, friends, hobbies, or other interests. Meaning can be found in any and all of these places. Still, work can begin to feel like a drag if an employee lacks a sense of purpose in the office or at the job site.
A good employee management system should incorporate information on every employee’s interests, goals, preferences, and unique abilities. This way managers can get to know their people more personally and better find ways to make their work more meaningful, even if it’s just a small way. This might mean creating events for employees with shared interests, asking employees for feedback on how certain tasks get accomplished, or simply utilizing each person’s unique capabilities in the workplace if applicable.
People want to do a good job, but more than that, they want to be recognized for their hard work and feel their work is purposeful. Financial compensation can and should reflect an employee’s value to a company, but without the sense of meaning and gratitude behind it, the money will feel cold and worthless. Managers tasked with overseeing performance management should know that employees will feel more motivated when they feel valued as people.
Leadership Resources focuses on people and how a single person can make a massive difference in the workplace and the world. We offer videos, worksheets, and more to help develop powerful leadership skills and patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. For more information and resources, contact us here!Read More