LEADERSHIP RESOURCES BLOG

Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

Finding Employees Who Fit Your Culture

By Leadership Resources 06/11/2021
"Culture fit" circled in a job application

Wherever people consistently gather in groups (big or small), a culture is bound to arise. So, while the word “culture” has become a buzzword in the professional sphere, it’s merely a natural consequence of company life. Of course, company cultures can become stagnant, exclusionary, and downright toxic if not properly directed and cultivated at every level — leaders must set positive examples of what the culture should look like, employees should do their best to uphold these values, and new hires should be screened to ensure proper cultural fit. Indeed, finding candidates who fit your existing culture makes team and employee management easier and more productive. The question is: how should your business go about locating these candidates?

Let’s outline some key steps to finding employees that will not only fit your current culture but potentially enhance it as well.

How to Hire a Good Culture Fit

Establish Core Values

Finding the right employees for your company’s culture is an uphill battle (if not an impossibility) if said culture isn’t clearly defined from the outset. You must be able to identify your organization’s values and embed them in your operations. Some businesses might cultivate a  performance culture wherein productivity reigns supreme on the list of priorities; others might prioritize collaboration; some companies gather around a singular purpose (i.e., sustainability); the list goes on. A good test of your culture’s clarity and strength is to try and define it in a simple sentence — essentially a concise mission statement.

Put Your Culture Front and Center

Once your company culture is clearly defined, it’s imperative to get the message out there. In doing so, potential candidates with the right cultural fit will gravitate toward your organization. Your marketing materials (especially those for recruitment) should strongly focus on your business’ values. Make sure your website is outfitted with an “About” page and “Careers” section that both speak to your company’s values. Consider receiving employee testimonials and posting positive images on social media pages as well. Those seeking employment will appreciate getting a glimpse into what it might be like to work for your company directly from current employees.

Keep Tabs on Your Workplace Culture

Company cultures should be strong but not so rigid that they snap under pressure. Simply put, cultures evolve over time, and it’s crucial to remain open to changes that will ultimately benefit your organization and everyone in it. If something about your current culture is causing problems for some (or most) of your people, you must get to the bottom of it quickly. Distributing a monthly, quarterly, or annual company culture survey will give you key insights into what is and isn’t working, and which values require more attention or specific adjustment. Taking the time to constantly check and improve your company culture will allow you to keep up with the competition and deliver the most accurate representation of your organization to potential candidates.

Incorporate Your Values in the Interview Process

If you’re zeroing in on a candidate but still aren’t sure about their cultural fit, the best thing to do is simply ask them the right questions during their interview. It’s often best to start with some more casual questions regarding what they do outside of work, such as:

  • What are your hobbies?
  • What’s your average weekend like?
  • What do you value in yourself and others?
  • What’s your most negative personality trait?

From there, ask questions more directly related to company/employee culture, like:

  • Do you enjoy working with others?
  • In what type of setting do you accomplish your best work?
  • Do you see yourself working here for a long time?
  • Can you give an example of a moment in which you demonstrated one of the company’s values?
  • What are your thoughts about the company’s stated values and why?

Questions such as these benefit both you and the candidate as you inch closer to the hiring decision — they will gain an even deeper understanding of what it means to work for your company, and you will better understand how well they might fit into your culture.

Capturing the Right Candidates for Your Culture

Your company’s values and culture serve as the foundation for everything you do and your overall success. When seeking the most qualified candidates for your company, remember to keep culture in the equation — skills and knowledge matter greatly, but cultural fit is the glue that keeps your organization together.

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.

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How to Maintain Strong Relationships and Culture Despite Remote Working Conditions

By Leadership Resources 04/13/2021
Office having a Zoom happy hour

The “virtual office” isn’t a new notion by any means, but the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to ravage the world has made remote work the norm rather than the exception for countless businesses. While some companies saw a smooth transition to these workplace changes, others had a more challenging time adapting to them and continue to struggle with the ramifications of working from home. There’s no denying the obvious differences between in-person and remote work (e.g., no more commutes, less interaction, adjustments in hours, etc.), but these surface-level distinctions have broader implications on productivity, mental health, relationships at every level, company culture, and more. Those companies that can hold onto and even improve these aspects of their enterprise in the midst of such a global shift will have a major advantage moving forward, and every employee will benefit to boot.

Let’s go over how to manage employee relations effectively and maintain a strong culture despite remote working conditions.

How to Keep Relationships While Working Remote

Don’t Avoid Company Culture Conversations

When everyone is suddenly working from home, there’s often an elephant in the virtual room that needs addressing. That metaphorical elephant represents the clear change in communication and culture that occurs when people stop seeing each other face to face. Rather than ignore the obvious, though, leaders should point it out and spark conversations about workplace culture, how it’s changed, and how it can be improved. These conversations will keep everyone thinking about and discussing tangible short- and long-term goals that can be achieved virtually and, when the time comes, in person.

Take Advantage of Modern Technology

We’re fortunate to live in a time that offers so many methods of long-distance communication — phone calls, video chats, text-based chat rooms, and message boards, etc. While there’s no replacement for in-person interactions, there are also countless opportunities to keep in touch with team members throughout the workday when working remotely. If you’re concerned about keeping up with employee relationship management, then use this technology to your advantage in practical and creative ways — have regular video meetings to go over projects and discuss new ideas, host virtual happy hours weekly or monthly to unwind and discuss non-work-related matters, replace the time normally reserved for commuting with remote coffee or breakfast check-ins with employees, have lunch over video call with team members, the list goes on. The bottom line is this: communication is key for maintaining strong management-employee relations, boosting team morale, and fortifying culture. Of course, you’ll want to make sure each of your employees has access to the necessary technology to partake in these various virtual activities.

Encourage a Proper Work-Life Balance

Finding a healthy balance between work and non-work can be a challenge for many people, regardless of extenuating circumstances. Of course, striking this balance is even more difficult during remote working conditions. Working from home creates a dynamic in which it’s difficult to separate one aspect of your life from another. Even if you have a dedicated home office, you’re never far from your living room, TV, child/children, pet(s), etc., during the workday. And when you’ve finished your work for the day, it can be hard to switch your brain from “work” to “play” when you’ve never left your home to begin with. This lack of boundaries between work and life can quickly lead to burnout and negatively affect one’s mental health. It’s up to leaders to encourage and exemplify a healthy work-life balance, so employees don’t feel trapped in their work or too distracted to get anything done. You can do this by:

  • Providing resources for employees regarding these matters to help them achieve a positive balance in their own lives
  • Establishing boundaries that limit or restrict work-related communications to a certain range of hours (e.g., 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.) so employees aren’t tied to work at all times
  • Prioritizing productivity over hours worked, so employees feel free to set their own hours and work at their own pace

Different companies will have different ways of promoting a good work-life balance; making this a priority and leading by example is one of the best leadership qualities you can have.

Recognize Your People and Accomplishments

Lastly, don’t let virtual work take away from the important ritual of workplace recognition. Whether in-person or remotely, everyone likes to feel seen for their contributions and accomplishments, and recognizing your people for their hard work is key in maintaining strong relationships and strengthening your culture. In many ways, employee/team recognition is more important than ever now that so many of us are working from home, as it’s normal for people to feel underappreciated and unseen when siloed from their coworkers and managers. Letting your people know that their work and fortitude haven’t gone unnoticed is an important role for all leaders during this time and in general.

Remotely Challenging Times

Navigating leadership in times of stress and change like the ones we’re currently living in is no walk in the park. That said, current remote working conditions provide the perfect opportunity for companies and leaders everywhere to test their strengths, bolster their weaknesses, and create an even more cohesive company culture that can withstand the most difficult circumstances.


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.

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Hiring new team members? 5 Important Decisions to Make Before Giving Raises

By Leadership Resources 12/11/2020
Roll of $100 bills and the word "hire"

Among all the challenges you face as a business owner, few things are more difficult to approach than employee compensation. Between establishing base wages and salaries, distributing bonuses, and giving out raises, you’re bound to get a headache or two managing it all. That said, these issues cannot be ignored. Your people might like working for you and your business, but they won’t stick around if they don’t feel fairly compensated, especially if they can find a better paying job elsewhere.

Employees expect their pay to be fair from the beginning and increase over time (beyond just keeping up with inflation). Indeed, without delivering this expectation to new hires, businesses would have a hard time getting anyone on board, and developing leadership talent would be impossible. The hard part for you is figuring out how to broach this subject, how to decide who gets a raise (and when and why), and how to keep your people from turning on each other in favor of the almighty dollar.

So, if you’re hiring new team members, here are five important decisions to make before giving raises.

What to Do Before Giving a Raise

1. Create a Compensation Structure

As your business grows and you hire more people, you need to establish a system of compensation that works best for you. Some companies keep things simple with a one-size-fits-all solution that delivers the same percentage pay increase to every employee on a regular basis (usually annually). While this approach is equitable and easy to manage, it can negatively impact productivity and employee morale, as there is no clear correlation between performance and pay.

Other businesses might decide that performance and compensation management go hand in hand. These companies conduct regular performance reviews for each employee and give out raises based on how well they’ve done. All employees might receive raises, but the best performers will get a higher pay bump. This method can help motivate individuals to work harder and remain engaged, but it can also create tension between employees, splintering unity.

Both approaches have their merits, and you may decide to create a system that falls somewhere in between. Just make sure that your compensation structure benefits your employees and business as a whole.

2. Match the Market

No business exists in a vacuum. You must pay attention to what your competitors are doing if you plan on thriving in your industry and retaining your top talent. Companies that offer the best compensation packages tend to have a competitive edge. You may need to work with a business coach to give you a broad perspective of your industry’s outlook on compensation so you can match or exceed those expectations. This will allow you to attract and retain the best people.

3. It’s All About Value

When budgets are tight, giving out raises might seem like a burden. Indeed, doing so might result in short-term losses. However, you have to think long term and focus on building your business’ value over time. Your people bring value to your company, after all, and without them, you wouldn’t be able to grow or thrive. By reciprocating and delivering value to your employees, you’re creating a feedback loop that will propel your enterprise forward. In this way, compensating your people accordingly is a major component in talent management and succession planning. If you want your organization to be its very best and last for years to come, you need to invest in your people.

Download A Whitepaper On Succession Planning

4. Exercise Care With Pay Compression

As you calculate wages for new hires and percentages for raises, be mindful of pay compression. This phenomenon occurs when newcomers make the same amount as those who have been with the company for a long time. Not only might this offend long-standing employees, it may actually devalue their position, as the newcomer’s wage accounts for inflation while theirs does not. In other words, a dollar is worth less today than it was a year ago, and even less so than 10 years ago, and so on. 

Pay compression can toxify your workplace culture in more ways than one. Therefore, it’s important to adjust all salaries for inflation and always factor in longevity so senior employees are rewarded for their commitment and experience.

5. Be Upfront About Pay When Hiring

When seeking employment, people appreciate transparency. Companies that clearly outline their compensation packages and potential for growth often entice the best people. So, if you’re looking for top talent, don’t shy away from discussions around pay. This includes mentioning how, why, and when raises are dished out. The more open you are about these matters, the better, as it establishes expectations and minimizes confusion.

There’s nothing easy about raises. But if you take your time and think in the long term, you can develop a compensation system that attracts top talent, keeps your best people from leaving, improves your culture, and ultimately adds value to your business.

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.

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5 Phrases to Use for Effective Workplace Criticism

By Leadership Resources 10/19/2020
Woman giving criticism

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.

Schedule A Call To Learn More
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Hiring in Omaha, NE? 5 Important Decisions to Make Before Giving Raises

By Leadership Resources 01/20/2020
Roll of $100 bills and the word "hire"

Among all the challenges you face as a business owner, few things are more difficult to approach than employee compensation. Between establishing base wages and salaries, distributing bonuses, and giving out raises, you’re bound to get a headache or two managing it all. That said, these issues cannot be ignored. Your people might like working for you and your business, but they won’t stick around if they don’t feel fairly compensated, especially if they can find a better paying job elsewhere.

Employees expect their pay to be fair from the beginning and increase over time (beyond just keeping up with inflation). Indeed, without delivering this expectation to new hires, businesses would have a hard time getting anyone on board, and developing leadership talent would be impossible. The hard part for you is figuring out how to broach this subject, how to decide who gets a raise (and when and why), and how to keep your people from turning on each other in favor of the almighty dollar.

So, if you’re hiring in Omaha, Nebraska, here are five important decisions to make before giving raises.

What to Do Before Giving a Raise

1. Create a Compensation Structure

As your business grows and you hire more people, you need to establish a system of compensation that works best for you. Some companies keep things simple with a one-size-fits-all solution that delivers the same percentage pay increase to every employee on a regular basis (usually annually). While this approach is equitable and easy to manage, it can negatively impact productivity and employee morale, as there is no clear correlation between performance and pay.

Other businesses might decide that performance and compensation management go hand in hand. These companies conduct regular performance reviews for each employee and give out raises based on how well they’ve done. All employees might receive raises, but the best performers will get a higher pay bump. This method can help motivate individuals to work harder and remain engaged, but it can also create tension between employees, splintering unity.

Both approaches have their merits, and you may decide to create a system that falls somewhere in between. Just make sure that your compensation structure benefits your employees and business as a whole.

2. Match the Market

No business exists in a vacuum. You must pay attention to what your competitors are doing if you plan on thriving in your industry and retaining your top talent. Companies that offer the best compensation packages tend to have a competitive edge. You may need to work with a business coach to give you a broad perspective of your industry’s outlook on compensation so you can match or exceed those expectations. This will allow you to attract and retain the best people.

3. It’s All About Value

When budgets are tight, giving out raises might seem like a burden. Indeed, doing so might result in short-term losses. However, you have to think long term and focus on building your business’ value over time. Your people bring value to your company, after all, and without them, you wouldn’t be able to grow or thrive. By reciprocating and delivering value to your employees, you’re creating a feedback loop that will propel your enterprise forward. In this way, compensating your people accordingly is a major component in talent management and succession planning. If you want your organization to be its very best and last for years to come, you need to invest in your people.

Download A Whitepaper On Succession Planning

4. Exercise Care With Pay Compression

As you calculate wages for new hires and percentages for raises, be mindful of pay compression. This phenomenon occurs when newcomers make the same amount as those who have been with the company for a long time. Not only might this offend long-standing employees, it may actually devalue their position, as the newcomer’s wage accounts for inflation while theirs does not. In other words, a dollar is worth less today than it was a year ago, and even less so than 10 years ago, and so on. 

Pay compression can toxify your workplace culture in more ways than one. Therefore, it’s important to adjust all salaries for inflation and always factor in longevity so senior employees are rewarded for their commitment and experience.

5. Be Upfront About Pay When Hiring

When seeking employment, people appreciate transparency. Companies that clearly outline their compensation packages and potential for growth often entice the best people. So, if you’re looking for top talent, don’t shy away from discussions around pay. This includes mentioning how, why, and when raises are dished out. The more open you are about these matters, the better, as it establishes expectations and minimizes confusion.

There’s nothing easy about raises. But if you take your time and think in the long term, you can develop a compensation system that attracts top talent, keeps your best people from leaving, improves your culture, and ultimately adds value to your business.

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.

Schedule A Call To Learn More Read More

How Much Paid Time Off (PTO) is Good for Productivity?

By Leadership Resources 12/01/2019
woman relaxing on the beach

In the highly competitive business landscape, there seems to be little room for respite. As it turns out, though, working nonstop often stifles rather than stimulates a company’s output. Enough research has now been conducted to confidently conclude that paid time off (PTO) promotes productivity and long-term organizational success. 

Developed countries outside the U.S. seem to understand this, mandating a minimum number of days off for workers, usually somewhere between 20 and 30 days. No such regulation exists in the states, however, with the average American receiving about 10 paid days off per year (according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research). 

Some companies, embroiled in a culture of no compromises, might think that 10 days off is plenty, even generous. But, perhaps a better question is this: Are those 10 days of PTO enough to keep a business healthy, dynamic, and reputable? Even knowing that PTO is good for productivity, though, employers might have a hard time determining just how much vacation time to offer its employees, and how to best structure this policy. While no two businesses will devise the same PTO plan, a number of key considerations can inform their decision.

What to Know About Paid Time Off Policy

The Importance of Paid Time Off

Paid time off is crucial for promoting workers’ mental health, cultivating new ideas and leaders, and establishing a workplace culture that attracts and retains quality people.

Plenty of people love their work, but lacking a balance between work and the rest of one’s life tends to undermine both. Ironically enough, when individuals can’t seem to escape their working role, their work suffers as a result. Burnout and stress are major causes of performance management issues in organizations and can take a toll on one’s mental health. Taking time off allows employees and leaders to recharge and shift their thought processes, so when they finally return, they come back with an energetic, fresh perspective that can propel the organization forward.

Businesses who boast a superior PTO policy also benefit from acquiring a more impressive pool of candidates. Many of those entering the workforce actively seek opportunities that offer competitive benefits such as fair PTO. If a company wants to hire the best people out there, modernizing its PTO plan makes a powerful statement.

11 Ways To Create Accountability And Increase Productivity At Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.

How Much PTO Is Good for Productivity?

While it may be abundantly clear that offering reasonable PTO is beneficial for business, calculating the optimal amount of PTO is a bit blurry. This number will vary from one company to the next, based on its particular structure, number of employees, the regularity of workload, etc. 

For instance, a company that does most of its business in the summer might mostly hire temporary part-time workers, with only a few full-time staffers on hand. These full-time workers might still have work to do on the off-season, but it might not be as burdensome as the on-season, so their PTO might be extensive but limited to a certain time of year.

Businesses that operate year-round and hire predominantly full-time workers will likely have a different PTO system in place than the one outlined above. Many companies base their PTO offerings on the length of time an individual has served the organization. For example, a new employee might have 10-15 paid days off while someone who has been there for over a decade might have closer to 20-25 days off. This service-based policy both incentivizes employee retention while delivering more time off for those who may require it to cope with leadership stress.

Some newer companies, especially those in Silicon Valley, have actually begun experimenting with an “open PTO” plan. These policies essentially allow employees to take time off as much as they’d like, so long as they meet their deadlines. This system might seem ripe for abuse. However, the opposite may be true. As discovered by a 2017 study conducted by Namely, many employees under this open policy actually end up taking fewer days off than those under stricter PTO plans precisely because they don’t want to take advantage of it. That said, unlimited vacation policies show potential for cultivating high performance culture companies, as long as expectations are made clear and workers feel welcome to take a break when they need one.

Cultivating a Culture That Encourages Taking Time Off

There may be no one-size-fits-all PTO policy, but all businesses can benefit from making sure PTO is properly utilized by workers. According to a 2016 study by the U.S. Travel Association’s Project: Time Off, 54 percent of Americans neglect taking some of their earned vacation time, possibly for fear of losing their job, falling behind on project deadlines, or failing to meet expectations. To ensure that employees get the breaks they need and deserve, companies should clarify their PTO policy and actively encourage everyone to use it fully. 

Leaders within the business can set an example by committing to their vacation time and advocating its value. Additionally, workers should be reminded of how much PTO they’re entitled to, and if they must use it within a given timeframe. Businesses should also have a plan in place to prevent emails and messages from being sent to those using their PTO, so they never feel pressured to check in on work-related matters.

Everyone needs a vacation. No organization can succeed when its people are exhausted, stressed, and unhealthy. In this way, PTO is a major component of proper employee productivity management. As for how much PTO boosts productivity, it all depends on how your business operates. Regardless of the hard numbers, make sure your people use the time off they’re given.

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.

Schedule A Call To Learn More Read More

Open Floorplan or Cubes: Is One Better Than the Other?

By Leadership Resources 06/07/2019
leadership development omaha

A workplace is more than just a collection of walls, chairs, desks, and employees. It’s an environment where several individuals must cooperate and focus on a number of tasks each day. The way your workplace is organized in large part determines how your staff members feel, how hard they work, and how they get along with one another. In other words, your office should be designed to improve and optimize your company’s unique workplace culture.

We’re all familiar with the proverbial office with sequestered cubicles and low ceilings. And while many work environments have inherited and maintained this design, plenty of modern offices have done away with the barriers and opened right up. Are these open floorplans better than cubes, though? Let’s run down the pros and cons of both set-ups and see if we can determine a winner.

Should You Get an Open Floor Plan or Cubicles?

Cubicles

Our modern sensibilities might shudder at the thought of cubicles. But that drab image in our heads is usually not representative of the real thing. Cubicles can range in size, shape, and design.

Pros:

  • Personal(ized) Space: Employees who work in an office spend a lot of their time there. Many of them enjoy having some space where they can put up photographs, artwork, and knick-knacks to make it their own. On top of that, most people benefit from some personal space where they can get away from others every now and then.
  • Limits Distractions: Cubicles are often a great way to reduce performance management issues caused by visual or auditory distractions. Their walls keep such unwanted stimuli out of sight and mind. This is especially important for jobs and roles that require serious focus or privacy.

Cons:

  • Detrimental to Teamwork: Cubicles might not be the best option for a team-driven business. These partitions keep everyone in their own little bubble for much of the day. Leaders may struggle with team management as a result.
  • Less Accountability: These enclosures may also tempt some employees to shirk some of their responsibilities. In this regard, cubicles might not make for the most effective performance management, even if they also encourage focus at times. It’s a double-edged sword.

Open Floorplans

This type of office configuration is becoming more and more popular. On paper, open floorplans sound great. However, they’re not without their flaws as well.

Pros:

  • Encourages Communication: The fewer barriers your office has, the more open it is to collaboration and communication. Staff members will get to know the faces and names of everyone else in the office. These open floorplans make it difficult to hide from your team.
  • Increases Accountability: An open floorplan makes it so every employee has an idea of what their team members are up to. In this way, your team will stay productive and accountable for their work.

Cons:

  • Less Privacy: All of that open space comes at the cost of privacy, of course. Without the comfort of a cubicle, employees have a harder time making their workplace their own. They also lack options when they want to take a break from socializing.
  • Increases Distractions: The more you can see and hear, the harder it may be to focus on the task at hand. Some employees can manage their attention better than others, but an open floorplan opens the door for all kinds of distractions. So, this configuration might not always be suited for proper employee productivity management.

Open Floor vs. Cubes? Which is the Better Option?

In a way, the pros and cons are flipped for each set-up. That means the “winner” depends on your specific needs, roles, and company culture. If your company relies heavily on teamwork, collaboration, and free expression, open floorplans are often ideal. If your business, on the other hand, requires more individual focus and privacy, cubicles might be the way to go. Some offices might even incorporate elements of both configurations. Do what’s best for your purposes.

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.

Schedule A Call To Learn More
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Is Remote Work Right for Your Team?

By Leadership Resources 06/05/2019
leadership development omaha

The notion of a workplace is undergoing a major transformation. The internet allows people to share ideas, files, and projects across the world with lightning speed. For industries that primarily deal with information and communication (as opposed to manufacturing), the need for dedicated commercial space is becoming antiquated. This is especially true for businesses that wish to hire the best candidates across the globe and don’t want to be limited by their region’s pool of potential hires.

Forbes projects that half of the U.S. working population will soon work from home or at least away from a central office on a regular basis. Many workers and companies have already made this leap. Of course, many of these businesses still maintain some office space for a number of reasons, such as maintaining a workplace culture. But is remote work right for your team and company? If you’re on the fence about this future, here are some factors to consider.

How to Tell Remote Work Is Right for Your Team

What is the Nature of Your Work?

Not every job is an ideal fit for remote work. If your company’s day-to-day operations include plenty of meetings and hands-on demonstrations, you probably want your team to be physically present most days. The same goes for industries that require some level of physical labor. Working remotely means your body is essentially unavailable.

If, however, your business mainly deals with data, information, and simple communication tasks, remote work might make a lot of sense. In these cases, your employees’ brains (and fingertips) are the most valuable assets. It doesn’t matter where they’re working, so long as they have a functional internet connection.

Establishing Trust With Your Team

Even if remote work makes sense on a practical level, you must also consider the potential pitfalls of fragmenting your team across physical space. One of the primary advantages of maintaining office space is its usefulness in the realm of team management. Having your team in one place at the same time makes it easier for everyone to communicate, establish trust, and hold each other accountable.

This isn’t to say that communication or trust-building is impossible without a shared space. Video conferences, text-based chat groups, and occasional in-house meetings can be enough to keep your team on track. Still, if you’re going to offer remote work, you need to establish some kind of performance management system so that all employees are accountable for their contributions. Working away from an office is a big responsibility and everyone on your team must be on the same page.

Cost Considerations

Keeping the lights on isn’t cheap. Depending on the size and scope of your operation, owning or renting commercial property might hurt your bottom line. First, take account of how many employees you have. Then, consider how long, on average, it takes for your workers to get to the office each day. You might start to realize that your employees are burning a lot of gas just to show up, and that you have more space than you need.

On the other hand, your office space might be integral to your company culture, both internally and externally. For instance, if you’re in a prime location, regularly conduct meetings with clients and customers, and utilize every part of your space, your property might be a fixture of your business model. Whatever the case you must consider these costs and benefits, even if it means offering remote work to a portion of your staff, or moving to a smaller location.

Stress, Productivity, and Culture

For many people, working remotely can significantly reduce stress and actually increase productivity. Commuting to an office, socializing with others, and feeling confined in a cubicle each day can take a toll on many workers’ mental and physical health. There are plenty of examples of how managers can reduce stress in the workplace, but offering remote work, if possible, might be one of the best.

When team members can work from their favorite location, skip the morning rush hour, and feel in control of their work environment, they’re often more inclined to get work done. There’s always a risk here in terms of employee work management, of course. But as long as team leaders establish clear guidelines for how team members should approach remote work and what’s expected of them, this opportunity can make for a more positive, productive company culture in the long run.

Remote work might not be right for every company just yet, but it seems to be the way of the future. Keeping the above considerations in mind, you might realize that remote work can lead your team in a positive direction.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.

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Can You Terminate Employees Without Crushing Morale?

By Leadership Resources 05/03/2019
Leadership Resources termination document

In a constantly evolving business climate, it is more important than ever to make sure work teams are cohesive, high performing, and agile. A strong culture of strategic leadership and values based hiring processes can serve to create high functioning teams. However, sometimes even the most promising hires turn out to be the wrong fit. After efforts to coach, develop, and train an employee fail, it sometimes becomes apparent that they are negatively impacting your business’ growth, reputation, and/or team morale.

It is almost inevitable that a leader will eventually face the difficult decision to terminate an employee. Firing a staff member can lead to serious leadership stress, which can trickle down to the rest of the organization, causing disengagement, confusion, and discontent. Is it possible, then, to terminate employees without crushing morale? In short, yes, but it takes some effort.  

How to Terminate an Employee and Maintain Morale

Transparency after Termination

A team member who is either underperforming or a bad fit has significant impact on the morale and energy of their coworkers. If you’re responsible for managing team dynamics, you have to bear in mind that even when a termination is necessary to improve working conditions, some employees may still panic at this revelation, thinking they could be next. It’s your job to articulate a clear leadership message before concern spreads. Your communication should reinforce critical company values, and how the team will move forward, without divulging so much information that you put the organization or yourself at risk.

Be thoughtful prior to sending any message to the rest of the team. Be as transparent as you legally and reasonably can. While you shouldn’t share health or sensitive personnel information, the more your team knows, the better they’ll understand what they’re doing right and where they can improve. Clearly lay out the reasons for the change through the lens of mission, vision, and values, and provide opportunities to discuss matters further with individual team members privately, if necessary.  Don’t dwell on specific performance issues beyond this point. This is the time to clear things up, tie any loose ends, and forge a positive path forward with the current team.

Framing is Key

It isn’t just about what you tell your team, but how you tell them. Framing the situation the right way can turn a sour scenario into something beneficial for the workplace culture. The key here is to focus less on the negatives and more on the positives. Don’t ignore the truth of the termination, of course. Instead, leverage this disruption as an opportunity to bring your team back together.

For instance, if an employee was terminated due to a bad attitude or inappropriate behavior, conduct a meeting with your team to reinforce the company’s culture and values. Remind everyone what types of behavior are acceptable and encouraged, and which are discouraged, and point out recent instances where employees did an outstanding job. Bring the focus back to the collective vision, and clearly state what actions are being taken to reinforce this vision and move the company forward.

Terminating a Negative Force Can Actually Boost Morale

In addition to the above, it’s also important to remember that terminating an employee is in the organization’s and the team’s best interest. After all, the decision to remove an employee from the company comes from a careful performance management review process where it becomes clear that the employee is not a cultural match for the organization and may be harming the business in some significant way.  If you have been clear in communicating your core company values, the termination should not come as a surprise to the employee, and it’s likely that the employee’s negative performance or attitude manifested in many forms, such as lowered productivity, violation of company policies, or negatively impacting morale. Purposeful action to preserve and uphold your stated values can serve to increase individual accountability and foster greater teamwork.

While this change in numbers might be abrupt for some, it should ultimately make for a better work environment. In this way, firing an employee should actually serve to boost morale rather than crush it. It might take a while for this shift to occur, of course. But with proper framing and clarity in communication, your team can see a positive change come out of this decision.

Of all the responsibilities a leader must take on, having to terminate an employee might cause the most stress. Many seasoned managers still admit to agonizing over even the most justified cases of termination. Still, it’s necessary for maintaining a positive company culture and promoting growth of the organization. Be open and honest with your team and continue focusing on the good.

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.

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Having Tough Conversations with Dignity

By Leadership Resources 04/11/2019
Leadership Resources two men having a hard conversation

Your people are your greatest assets, but they’re also human beings with various ambitions, views, and flaws. If you’re in charge of a team, you have to focus much of your energy on communication and performance management. Proper communication with each individual and the team as a whole will help keep everyone on track and mitigate any growing issues or concerns.

This is easier said than done, of course. When something goes wrong, a tough conversation may be in order. And if you’re the team leader, the impetus is on you to conduct these tough conversations with dignity while still addressing the issues at hand. Let’s explore some of the ways you can navigate these interactions while also preventing them from devolving into finger-pointing or talking around the problem.

How to Have Challenging Conversations Well

Keep it Private

When a problem arises in your company, it may affect your whole team. Or, your team might have triggered the problem in the first place. Whatever the case, resist the urge to address your team as a whole right away. It’s often better to speak with individuals one-on-one to better understand the issue before bringing it up at large. If the problem seems to stem from a single person, you’ll want to begin by speaking with that person first, of course.

Private discussions are free from distractions and eliminate the potential to lean on or blame anyone else. This gives you the opportunity to better understand where the other party is coming from. Holding conversations in private can also help the other party feel more comfortable, as they won’t feel singled out in front of the rest of the team.

Be as Clear and Honest as Possible

Good leadership communication is all about clarity. The more transparent you are, the better the conversation will go. What does this transparency look like in action? It means addressing the issue head-on, clearly explaining why it matters, and genuinely expressing your desire to make things better as a team. The more sincerity you show, the more sincerity you’ll receive. A workplace culture built on this trust is bound to be more successful.

Don’t Make it Personal

Just because you’re speaking with a staff member one-on-one doesn’t mean the conversation has to get personal. Instead, the talk should focus on the problem itself. Even if the individual contributed to the problem in question, merely placing blame is not an effective way to course-correct. You should try to uncover the full context of the issue and discuss ways to make future improvements. We all make mistakes, and sometimes underlying circumstances play a part. If you’re not willing to dig deeper into all relevant factors, the same mistakes will rear their heads again.

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Let the Other Party Speak

Tough conversations cannot be one-sided. Yes, you’re the one initiating the discussion, but you must also let the other party speak and ask questions if anything is to get fixed. Be sure to ask them questions as well. If you don’t open a dialogue you won’t know how to manage your team effectively in the future. Of course, the individual might start placing blame on others, avoiding the problem, or responding emotionally. If this occurs, continue listening, but try to bring the conversation back to the issue, not the person.

Forge a Path Forward Together

The goal of any tough conversation is to amend a problem, making things better moving forward. This can only be done through team effort. Make sure that you end every difficult discussion with a purpose. Work with the individual to create strategies and solutions that will benefit them, the team, and the company. Dignity requires autonomy and self-respect, so you should empower your employees to do better in the future, helping them along the way with mindful team management.

Tough conversations are by definition never easy. They can, however, be productive and cathartic, as long as they’re conducted with dignity. With proper leadership communication training, you can get better at having these conversations. The better you get at this, the stronger your team and your business will be. Leadership Resources offers courses and resources for improving your communication and team management skills.

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.

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