Tag Archives: People Management

Setting Expectations

 

Create a Habit of Setting Expectations

Arguably the most important trait of a leader is their ability to set clear expectations. It doesn’t matter if you are managing hundreds, thousands or just your self.  Setting expectations not only involves Vision to imagine a direction, but also includes a method and habit of clear communication. Our ability to set Expectations is responsible for what we accomplish, how we are viewed, and if others choose to follow us.  Expectation setting is critical when developing your “Personal Brand” or “Corporate Brand”.  It is important when you start out and imperative for you to grow.  It is literally where Vision and Communication intersect.  They are that important.

Like many of the things discussed in our blog, Expectation setting is not only a skill but it also needs to be a habit.  The deeper this is ingrained in someone, the more “natural” of a leader they appear.  Further more, instilling this skill/habit in your staff may be the single greatest thing you can do to build your organizations ability to generate revenue!

So many I have mentored have one of the two elements of this habit.  Many people have natural abilities to either envision how things need to happen to achieve “Success” or have a gift for communicating it, getting people to practice both elements simultaneously takes time and dedicated effort but is well worth it.

Establishing this habit will act as a catalyst for your team.  If you have been looking for something to kick start your group, you may have just found it! Supervisors or Managers that develop good leadership styles and habits have much higher productivity rates and lower attrition.  Managers don’t have to be leaders, they only need to hold people accountable and make sure the widgets get made (whatever your “widget” happens to be).  Leaders don’t have to be Managers.  Leaders are found in every position, at every age and skill level.  Leadership is a skill set that can be developed and enhanced, but they are also inherent and linked to ones personal value system.  Seldom do I find organizations value their internal leaders or even recognize them to a great extent.  Management is expected to be the leadership and the two are often confused.  Yet when an organization champions this leadership habit great things can happen.

Case study-

I have had a career of working with great leaders in their field and it was Lloyd Hill who told me personally that the key to Leadership in his organization was “the ability to set clear expectations”.  Mr Hill knew that employees WANT to contribute to their corporate environment and corporate health and that giving them the tools to do so would pay off in spades for any company that could assume this as a culture.

So what did he do?

He gathered a team to create the greatest recruitment, on-boarding and training tools (and teams)in his industry.  He created systems that allowed his Operational management teams the TIME needed to Train, Instill, and held accountable the employees to the expectations set through Training/On-boarding.  When I worked for him, I literally HIRED and FIRED by the Company Core Values(Expectations).  Performance is important, but is much easier to manage a group by broader expectations setting (clearly performance IS one of the expectations, but not the only one).  Managing this way creates the best outcomes for all involved.

When performance is the only expectation, culture suffers

When culture suffers you find increased turnover, higher costs and jeopardized loyalties (Customer and Employee). But put the right PEOPLE in the system and set the expectations and you are much less likely to have to Fire them!  This was NOT what most of that industry was doing at the time(early -mid 90’s).  I left that company 20 years ago and I can still name their Core Values!

Huge Results!

When I joined the company they were an “up and coming chain” they had about 500 Restaurants Nationwide, but when I left the company just 4 years later they had nearly 1400 Franchised Restaurants Internationally and were dominating their field.  Applebee’s International (A.I.I.) was forging new ground and everybody wanted to be a part of it.  I trained teams that went to Germany, Holland, Russia and Mexico to help establish this brand and it ALL came down to Setting Clear Expectations!

 

3 Keys to Setting Expectations

1.  Decide which is the most important thing to expect
  1. This starts with Business analysis– know your business, know your industry, determine difference and direction
  2. Utilize Strategic Planning to set direction
  3. Surround yourself with the right people to contribute and execute
  4. Knowing what went right (avoid over focusing on mistakes and repeat successes)

 

2.  Look for important “Opportunities” to Communicate these expectations
  1. Internal Communications – Not just in a drink the Kool-aid meeting, insure a consistently delivered message at all levels.  Repetition, written, branding(internal marketing) “Walk the Talk”
  2. Employee interactions – Interview, orientation, Training, reinforce daily (High fives) Employee group meetings, 1:1, terminations.
  3. External Communications – Corporate Marketing,  Social Media, & Advertising

 

3.  Understanding challenges in today’s work environment
  1. Location, location, location– Which is becoming more difficult with today’s changing workplace. Decentralizing posses a particular threat for modern leaders(more on that later)
    Employees thrive in situations of clear cut, well defined expectations of outcomes, behaviors, and processes.
  2. The right people – Unseasoned Management, unaligned management and selfish management will dissolve the expectation
  3. Reputation – media – bad corporations/companies are “greedy”, YELP reviews – culture shifts quickly now and your employees have a lot of outside influences
  4. TIME to do this!   Dedicated time to communication

 

I am sure you see the motif here, to set clear expectations there needs to be a plan, a communication plan, time and accountability for the actions that people choose once they have a clear understanding of what the expectation IS.  

Tip – Always question if an employee understood the Expectation before reacting to their actions.

 

If an individual is not meeting your expectations the root cause may be that;

  1. Your message didn’t make it to this person – check training/orientation
  2. The individual understands what is wanted and chooses not to follow
               (see our Progressive Discipline blog)

If multiple people are not meeting the expectations the root cause may be that;

  1. What you communicated wasn’t clear or achievable (Vision)
  2. Your team didn’t communicate well to their team (Grapevine)
  3. People don’t agree with the message (Culture)

Back to the drawing board!

              (see our Leadership Training Seminars)

In today’s business environment it is easy to assume because you said it, people are doing it. Right?  Your the boss, you say it and they do it!

It is important to understand the difference between ad-hoc and planned communicating. Planned communicating doesn’t need to be scripted but there should be at minimum a list of discussion points to insure all have been covered.  How many times have you said “I thought I told you that”!…??  Avoid miscommunication by writing key points ahead of time and sharing those lists with the listener, they will let you know if a point is skipped. While this may seem rudimentary it WILL insure everything gets said.  Doing this at an organizational level results in increased efficiency and effectiveness which all has a significant effect on your businesses ability to generate revenue.

Carpe diem!

 

Succession Planning – the How, When, & Why

All businesses will use at least one form of “Succession Planning” strategy during its lifetime.  This phrase can mean many things to a business owner.  Succession Planning  is subject to scale and scope of a business,  and like any strategy, the most effective ones are developed over time and employ specially designed resources.  Transitions are part of a businesses DNA, and unfortunately some are forced on a business before they are planned for.

One key tool to ensure business continuity and continued success for your business is a well designed Succession Plan.

Succession Planning quite simply is planning for the future and continued success of the business.  It insures the continuity of services of the business entity itself and likely includes planning with in each of the 4 Pillars we commonly talk about in our blogs                                                     (Products, People, Operations, & Marketing) . 

If a business losses ability to generate revenue due to change in ownership, loss of key people or suppliers or lack of consistency in their products, clearly it is not as successful as it could be.  Proactive management considers multiple scenarios that may effect revenue generation.  Common risks a Succession Plan identifies & addresses may be a sudden loss of a key leader, preparation for sale or retirement, or even rapid business growth.

  • In this article we provide some very brief points on questions around the most common transitions Business owners may face.  Like many of our “Conversations Series” articles this is designed only as an overview and in bullet point fashion.  Future blogs will address these points more thoroughly or please contact me if you would like me to expand on specific points.                 LearnMore-Blue-Primary-16

 

Why undertake Succession Planning-

A good “Stress Test” for small business

Business growth has determined need to document processes and business knowledge

Improper hiring practices have created a gap in culture or brand execution

 

Succession Planning is..

  1.  A Leadership Development Strategy
  2.  A Risk Management Best Practice
  3.  A Sustainability Best Practice
  4.  Crucial for Knowledge Transfer

Types of Succession Planning

  •  Strategic Leader Development (Next Generation)
  •  Emergency or Interim Management (Sudden loss)
  •  Departure Defined (Sale, Retirement)

 

When is right to plan?

  • Business/Company is financially sustainable
  • Strategic Plan/Priorities are in place
  • Leadership and Management is involved and engaged
  • Performance appraisal plan is in place (pending scale)

When is the Wrong time to plan?

  • During a sudden loss (death/medical emergency, etc)
  • Ad-hoc leadership patterns are apparent
  • When economically challenged
  • Unstable labor base (high attrition, low engagement)

As mentioned the reasons why an organization may address this depends on there specific situation and needs.  We will outline the more common areas people have asked us for help.  The most proactive thinkers look for Leadership succession with in an organization.  Others are more Risk Management savvy and want to protect against a Leadership “Emergency”.  Organizations that find themselves in an Emergency situation often look for an  interim management (Outsourced) solution so here we point out keys to consider.  Lastly many are looking for a departure plan, “how to insure the ship will run when I retire”.  Here we give tips on what to considered and plan for.  If you are uncertain what your business needs are or where to even start, please reach out and C.S.Simons Consulting will be happy to provide some free direction to get you started.

Steps for Leadership succession
  1.  Identify future goals and challenges (strategic plan)
  2. Create model of needs, competencies, skills, experience
  3.  Identify potential successors and assess individual and organizational gaps to              determine developmental needs
  4.  Create individual and organizational development plans
  5.  Measure frequently and revisit models and plans as environment and priorities       shift
Emergency Succession Planning
  1. Identify critical executive functions and responsibilities
  2. Name and train a backup for each function
  3. Ensure that key relationships and contacts are documented
  4. Create and update a binder or digital file that includes key documents such as strategic /operational plans, annual and monthly calendars of organizational activities, etc.
  5. Create a board approved policy and procedure for Emergency Succession
Interim Management option considerations
  1.   Proprietary IP concerns/Legal concerns
  2.   Affordability
  3.  Knowledge transfer/Time to proficiency- Transition production curves
  4.  Minimum contracted time?  (3 months common)
  5.  Support structure with in business/company
Defined Departure issues
  1.   What are our vulnerabilities with departure of our Executive/Owner/Partner ?
  2.   Unique skills of this person … Can they be replaced?
  3.  The “Do-ability” of their job?/ Compensation needed for replacement?
  4.   Management Team strength?  Is an internal successor ready now?
  5.   Should we Consider a Merger/ Acquisition or Restructuring?

 

How to create a Succession Plan

  1.   Identify critical positions
  2.   Identify competencies
  3.   Identify Succession Management Strategies
  4.   Document and implement plan
  5.   Evaluate effectiveness

Some of these steps may seem overly simplistic (which is why they may be overlooked).   A Succession plan may be an insurance plan that is never needed (unplanned departure) or for a certain event like retirement that everyone works to achieve.  Planning to insure there is little interruption in the continuity of business functions, reputation and revenue will positively impact your current customer base, your employee population, and quite possibly your ability to sleep at night!

 

Carpe diem!

How to be a Great Boss!

Many people are thrust into the position of managing others with out formal training in the business world.  People achieve a higher role because they have added value to an organization by either being extremely good at their particular discipline, or have shown exemplary dedication to the company.  The company (or individual) wants to reward that person so, poof!…… you’re a manager!.

The Problem:

Seldom are these people trained and disciplined at the art of management, which results in haphazard “On the Job Training”.  OJT can be costly for all parties involved.  Some of the time this happens to a person that is a “natural” and is good enough at balancing relationships with productivity.  More often than not, these newly appointed “Managers” have no formal training at developing their interpersonal skills, nor even understand the importance of getting people to like their job.  Too often have I heard “ just do it ‘cause I said so”, “I’m the boss and I said so…”, or “joke” about disciplining someone if they don’t do the simplest thing.  Far too often the people that decide to promote don’t see, or don’t have the ability to assess their new manager in these regards, because they are busy with their own job.  The other extreme is having someone in that role that is overly sensitive and doesn’t want to upset anyone, so they do too little.  Both of these are common occurrences  in our business environment and how this change is handled can have a great effect on your businesses ability to generate revenue.

I suspect we can all relate to both of those examples.

So what makes a Great Boss?  Who should be the judge of who a great boss is?  What is the secret to being a Great Boss?  What do employees want in a Great Boss? Lastly, how do you be a great boss in a poor environment?

It comes down to 3 + 1

Every manager needs to spend dedicated time on developing these 3 area’s….

Management basics

Interpersonal Skills

Personal Competency

…….and they need to follow one common trait….

Consistency

10 basic Management rules to follow 

  • All of these rules speak to humans basic needs, and if you meet them while managing, you will find that those stubborn work-born problems seem to solve themselves through your people.
  1. You must show you understand what their job entails, without ever being asked
  2. Show them how to succeed, give them the tools they need
  3. Always train and develop everyone at all levels
  4. Lead, brand first.  Your actions need to be traceable to your company, brand, and business culture.
  5. Be unselfish and patient.  Serve others, not yourself.  Give credit and even if its your accomplishment, give the credit to the team anyways.  Your employees are your most important customers!
  6. Deal with problems immediately, or educate why it’s not a big deal to employee’s that think otherwise.
  7. Find them doing something RIGHT, and make a big deal of it.
  8. Your always “on Stage” someone is always watching you.  Many look up to you.  Everyone judges you.  Don’t make them want to turn the channel!
  9. Set clear expectations, always have a plan, don’t assume they know what you mean
  10. Hold everyone accountable, there are many great teaching moments everyday.

I have no doubt you have seen many or all of these before.  These are taught at many management symposiums.  They alone do not make you a Great Boss.  These will make you respected at your position by most people and likely bring some good results by your staff.

Interpersonal skills 

  • Often this take a large time investment to pay off (thus easy to skimp on) but is a necessary part of being a Great Boss!  This is about relationships, and if a manger has no interest in building relationships, then they will never be a “great boss”.  Older methodologies cite that “building a relationship” with employees is unnecessary or even wrong.  This outdated thinking has been replaced by newer abundance mentality leadership that focuses on the power of synergy (1+1=3). That said, clearly it needs to be an appropriate relationship.  I like to look at careers that rely on relationships for inspiration,  Ambassadors, Project Managers, Sports Coaches/Managers, to name a few.  They know enough about a person to figure out their drives, goals, and shortcomings.  If you, as their manager, find a way during their job to incorporate their drives with their job duties, help achieve their goals (even if goals are outside of work), and improve on their shortcomings, you build on their esteem and you have made an impression on them professionally.  This builds loyalty, which is a key to being a great boss.  It is difficult to discover these motivators without developing a certain relationship.

Personal competence 

  • Specifically with in your discipline.  Many times “the manager” is simply another hat that someone gets to wear.  If you have a role that you perform(separate from managing), you need to insure you maintain your competency with that discipline.  So often people get too caught up in other manager functions and it takes focus away from their specific role.  Your team will notice if you are slipping, if it affects them directly or not.  Many will focus more on what you are NOT doing with your role then what you are asking them to do in their role.  If they don’t respect the job you perform, chances are they will not consider you a Great Boss.

 

 Consistency is King

Studies have proven the importance of a manager being consistent.  Consistency in personal style, interpersonal skills, consistent expectations and consistent accountability.  When an employee is not sure what to expect it adds significantly to their stress levels and will compound throughout your staff.  This increased stress will manifest multiple ways through attendance, turnover, production, and loyalties.  When employee’s know what to expect, even if it is less than a “best practice” behavior, they can better deal with it and will be more productive overall.

A vast majority of the “People” related problems I help businesses with can be linked to Management inconsistencies.  This WILL greatly effect your ability to generate revenue.

 

How do you know if you’re a great boss?
What is your turnover?       Do employee’s recommend their friends to work their?      Whats the mood of the workplace?       What’s the profit line say?  High Employee engagement?       Do you have a formal Feedback system? Are employee’s asking your advice?       Do you insure that you and your team of Managers provide a consistent work climate?
Challenges –

It can be difficult to champion these traits in an angry, competitive environment, which may be inherited when you take your new role.  This may result from either the person who previously held your position, or your boss not having the same values as what I have listed here. Either way it may be the existing culture. Once you determine the root cause, this needs to be addressed.  If it is the prior manager’s creation, stay the course, follow what I outline here and employees will come around.

If you suspect it is your supervisor, or the company culture in general, then you need to share how this plan of yours will make your supervisor(s), your staff, and you more successful.  Share it with supervisors and subordinates alike.  Be strategic, but not shy, don’t forget that this may be why you were put in this role in the first place.  Also, you don’t need to be the highest ranking manager to initiate a change in culture.  To achieve this it is an investment or your time and efforts, not their capital.  If it increases productivity, decreases attrition, and has a positive effect on financials, how can supervisors argue?  If it makes your employee’s know your a GREAT BOSS, why would they argue?

It is worth it!

Being a great boss means getting the work done through others, consistently and fairly.  Creating an appropriate culture where the individuals can contribute to the company while growing at their own pace, meanwhile meeting(or exceeding) company expectations, makes you a Great Boss!  This means delivering excellence to your staff and inspiring the same from them.  Remember that “Excellence is an attitude”, it’s a choice, and a destination.  Being a great Boss is about excellence and a conscious effort to deliver it.  Great Bosses continually work at being Great Bosses.  Great Bosses create a legacy, a reputation that is attached to them for years to come.

Carpe diem!

Can YOU beat earnings with lower revenue?

Ironically, today’s earnings report from Wal-Mart proves the point I made in my Blog      “Low earnings /Low Profits – What to do?”

I have a love/hate relationship with Wal-Mart.  I often shop their begrudgingly. I would prefer to support a local business, but when I am buying toothpaste my choices are generally a Wal-Mart, Chain Drug Store, or grocery store.  There really aren’t too many local businesses to buy toothpaste from.  Wal-Mart is cheaper, and there are always other items that I get while there.  They save me time and money and there for they are a value.  I support local when possible, but frankly I couldn’t afford to buy as many things if I shopped only local and I am a typical American who wants as much stuff as possible.

Yesterday Walmart announced that 2015 Q4 revenue was down, and they expect very little sales growth for all of 2016.  Same store sales were reported to increase less than 1% in 2015. To insure they can meet or beat earnings, they have decreased operation costs and reinvested in Human Capital, choosing to focus on culture over new market channels.

Announcing the closure of 269 stores worldwide and releasing close to 10,000 workers will surely get a lot of attention.  But Wal-Mart is focusing the narrative on developing its Culture.   Wal-Mart is investing by raising the wages of it workers. This is very strategic since they have a history of Legal and Public Relations issues around wages and practices.  Improving employee engagement will help drive business into their well established retail presence.  I support this strategy, but I think they have a lot of work to do besides raising wages.

Walmart recognizes that the growth of online shopping has impacted brick and mortar and they have already begun testing new strategies to target these areas.  Experiments in the Grocery offerings (Organic Product selection & home delivery), introducing their price matching app (which is awesome), the ever expanding electronics section, and the “No Questions return policy” to name a few will go along way to exceed customer expectations and build loyalty.

So…… sales are stagnant, they are giving nearly everyone a raise, and adding to their operational costs….how is this a good plan?

Well to start, the Thursday announcement also mentioned that they beat earnings and brought in a higher dividend than forecast.  Earnings came in at $1.49/ share on a projected $1.46 and quarterly dividend was .50 on a projected .49.  At the open of today their stock is down ~4% and they have fallen ~27% over the last 12 months.

But they still had a 2% increase in dividends and profit!

What would your business do in this situation?  Can you bring in a higher profit while loosing expected revenue?  Would you give a raise to help increase store sales?

Proper planning, strategy, and vision makes the difference.

Carpe diem!

Ask an Expert – Creating a “Hiring model”

Stephanie asked-

“I need to hire for a new retail venture in 2016.  When I heard you speak, you referred to a “Model” to use when recruiting.  Where can I find those?”

The “model” needs to be created by you specifically for a position or department.  It is a fairly easy process to develop and one that will pay off in the long run.  It helps build a sustainable workforce well suited to help generate revenue.    A hiring model captures the key strengths and attitudes (skills, personality, work experience and even core values) of an ideal candidate for a particular position.  Stephanie you need to literally make a list ahead of time of what will be needed by a candidate to succeed at this job in your environment.  You can then formulate questions for you or your team (open ended ofcourse) to ask during the interview or simply use the “model” as a litmus test when reviewing a candidate.

Let me break these areas down further and show you how I have used them on Hiring Models and or looked for them during Interviews.  Be sure to read my 3 tips at the end!

Skills

Hiring Model -really look at what is needed to get the job done proficiently.  Skills simply illustrate someones capabilities and knowledge base.  If you need a person to be extremely detailed, don’t just look for that skill listed in their work experiences, look for it IN the person.

Examples (customer service, computers, time management, organizational, communication, detailed, analytical, etc)

Interview – perhaps their work isn’t a great example of what they can provide. Lets say they also volunteer and run large events for a charity or church, that takes a lot of organization, attention to detail and coordinating,  so they may very well be capable of performing what you need.  That person may have not brought this experience up because it didn’t seem relevant to the job to them or they thought bringing up religion opened the wrong door.    So listen to what they offer in “icebreaker” questions, because you often get great information you can follow up on.  Asking someone to “tell me about yourself” can provide you very useful information that is technically unsolicited (which protects the interviewer).  People often have many skills that may not be used in past work experiences but may help your business.  You challenge in the interview is to find them!

-The better you know what it takes to complete a given job, and the better you can break it down to a set of skills, the higher the chances of finding someone who can excel at their job.

Personality & Attitude-

Hiring Model  – culture is important and culture isn’t found in your book of Policies and Procedures, it is found in the heart of the business on a daily basis.  Personalities help drive your culture and diverse personalities can either strengthen or break down the teams dynamic.  Personalities and attitudes are an important part of your businesses ability to generate revenue.   We have all been on those teams where either someone else on it became our best friend or we found a person that we couldn’t stand and made us want to leave the job .  So how does it fit in the Hiring Model?  Well if you are adding to an existing team,  you need to have an understanding of the interpersonal dynamics on your team.  What type of person do they want to work with?  While it has nothing to do with completing the job, it has a lot to do with how comfortable that person will be with the existing group of workers.  If the person is uncomfortable or makes others uncomfortable, quality and productivity may go down and turnover may go up.  I am not suggesting clones, but similar or complementing styles.  Building a new team for a new venture like Stephanie mentioned is a great time to build a synergistic team because you are hiring everyone at the same time.   Read a case study where this had a huge impact.

Interview – One great way to assess this is to have a “key” employee(s) interview the candidate also.  If all parties think they can work with this person,  you can feel much more comfortable with the “fit”.  Lastly, as a manager you do not manage peoples personalities you manage or correct their behaviors.   You only get one chance to make a decision based on someones personality and that is in the Hiring process.  Terminating based on personality can get a business owner into legal hot water.

Work Experience

Hiring Model  this one really depends on what job you need filled.  Regulatory or certified level employee’s need a certain level of experience to show they can perform and are competent.   But for most positions, if you focus on a candidates experience you are really focusing on the level of training the past job(s) provided this person and the management staff of each location.  I have seen people work their way through levels of management that weren’t really qualified to even be a supervisor on my team.  Titles are nice but don’t hire primarily on the titles someone has attained.  Many hiring managers falsely assume that experience implies competence.  Competency is what you really need to look for in this category.  In forming your Hiring Mode think about two things;

  1. What do you need this person to be competent at?  Which of the skills you listed will this person need to use most frequently?  Pick the top 2 or 3 and focus on those.
  2. think of the Top companies you may want to see candidates from, or key positions that are similar to what you have available.  You will find particular companies that share Hiring, Training & Development styles with your company, and those typically provide good candidates.

 

Interview – Form questions around how they got those jobs, what they felt they learned while doing them, and how those experiences help them be a better employee today.  Quiz them a little in areas they need to know to do this job to help gauge competency.  Usually in this area you can also get a good sense of what they are like to work with by asking questions around co workers or how they responded to a supervisors feedback.

When assessing professional experiences I always look for progression.  Do they aspire to move up the ladder?  or are they comfortable doing the same thing day in and day out?It is important to match this to your position yet ambition is important to a degree in all candidates because you need your new hire to have ambition in there new position.  Do they seek resources when faced with a challenge or take an easy way out like “just do as I am told” or my favorite “not my job”.  Clearly you need to insure their level of ambition is realistic also, someone who thinks they will be promoted next month may not be what you need!  History WILL repeat itself here I promise.

I strongly recommend questioning about jobs they have had that may not even be pertinent to what you want this person to do.  Ask “how they achieved, why they wanted that, what did they take away from it” and you may be very surprised in what you find.  But do not disqualify someone just because of certian job experiences, this can be a huge mistake for an interviewer.  Sometimes great people have to accept jobs at mediocre companies and often large companies hire and promote people for the wrong reasons, it is just to hard to tell which it is on an application you are looking at.

Lastly, consider how long it may take in the positions listed from a candidate to be competent and what the persons next roll was.  Ultimately think of what accomplishments you would like your candidate to have as it relates to there Work Experiences as a gauge.

Values 

Hiring Model probably the single most important part of a Hiring model in my opinion.  What are the core values of your company ?  Core values should be a guiding force behind all hiring and firing in your company.  You may have 3 or 15 of these, figuring our which ones may be most beneficial to the position you are hiring for can help build a great  Hiring model.

Some examples of commonly found “Core Values”.

  •  If hiring for a service based position, you may want a person to exhibit “Loyalty” or “Passion to serve others”.
  • Someone who will be working with the public and excepting cash needs to be “Customer Focused” yet firm enough  to “Protect company interests” in the event of a small confrontation.
  • Someone in sales needs to demonstrate “Patience” yet assertive and “Willingness to listen” is critical to close a sale.

If you don’t have these printed on your wall somewhere, jot down single words or small phrases ahead of time to help you keep focused during an interview and give others a better idea of what type of person you are looking for.  Another method that works is to have a tick sheet with you when you interview.  Have all the Core Values as column headers.  Every time you feel someone exhibited that value in your interview(s), mark it down to review later.   Get people talking and telling stories about work, school, or even volunteer work  and you will probably find common links.  The more you hear a particular value the more genuine it usually is.

3 tips on matching your model employee to candidates

  1. Sometimes the best employees are the ones with little “work experience” and huge similarities with the values, personality, and attitude you need in this position.  
  2. Skills can be taught, and I would rather teach someone how to do it then someone else doing it.
  3. Training on Values, Attitude, and Personality won’t happen.  People generally don’t learn these, they only conform to company policy.  Having a natural fit will benefit the workplace greatly.  Assuming you have the means (time, resources, systems, etc) to provide skills train, this can help you build a sustainable workforce the helps generate revenue for your business.

Questions?

 

 

Maximizing Millennial engagement

Statistically the Millennial/Gen Y’s are the most diverse and the most socially aware generation yet.  If you sell a product or employee more than a few people, you need to have a strategy on how to communicate and engage this growing population.  Doing this correctly will amplify your message, value and ability to generate revenue significantly.

In 2014, 36% of the workforce was comprised of Millennial’s (born 1976-2001) and by 2020 46% of the workforce will be.  A majority of these 80 million adults are in the workforce today.  Of them 64% are reported to ask about social policies of a company during interviews and 24% indicate it as a key factor when accepting a job.

Businesses who adapt messaging, management practices and policy the earliest may win the loyalty of this critical group.  Loyalty translates into engagement and retention, and is a great motivator.  In my personal experience, this is the most savvy and hardest working generation that I have managed.  In my 25 years of management I have managed boomers, Gen X, Y /Millenials and each clearly have different values and goals.  Building a program around a workforce’s values and goals so they feel as though they are contributing may be the best motivator.  Read a case study

Synergy seldom happens through “old school” management. 

The common denominator for attracting this group as followers is through the corporate leadership strategy.  One thing needed is that a Millenial generally needs to feel comfortable that a company is adding to society in some way.  This is vital for recruiting and this workforce may be the most productive group to date, so some companies need to rethink the benefits they offer.  The Benefits program is where the money comes from for many companies that offer the types of programs that attract this workforce.  The trend to decrease company match in 401K’s by a point or two, decreasing vacation or sick days, even eliminating cafeterias in the building frees up finances to point towards newer benefits that are more valuable to this generations.  Benefits exist to attract workforce, they(benefits)are an added value to working for a particular company.

How to attract or engage this group? – Learn from Disney

Walt Disney was not exactly known for taking care of his employee’s.  Early strikes from artists nearly shut down his studio.  Yet, he taught us the key to managing the millennial population…….

In the mid to late 1980’s the restaurant industry saw how important it was to not only serve food quickly to their guests but they realized the value of creating an “experience” for there patrons.  Theme restaurants boomed and dominated the industry.  This started with Ground Round and TGI Frdays but was perfected by Applebee’s.  Applebee’s International grew to over 1400 restaurants worldwide in record time and they did it by creating an “experience” the diner was comfortable with.  When the kids say “lets go to Applebee’s”, parents generally didn’t argue.  This was all inspired by the “experience” the guest received when going to a Disney theme park.  Roy Disney understood the importance of creating an escape and what a lasting impression it made.  If you focus efforts on executing the “experience”, loyalty will follow.

After Lloyd Hill popularized the “customer experience” motif with Applebee’s, the Healthcare industry was next.  To this day most hospitals place a great emphasis on the “Patient Experience”.  There have been departments created around tracking it with surveys, hour upon hour of staff training, and the bed side visit has been completely re-scripted, and it has all worked!  Studies show that hospitals that create the best overall “experience” for the patient have less open beds than those that don’t and they have a greater number of Outpatient procedures booked while also enjoying a much lower cancellation rate.  When the healthcare industry shifted it focus to the “experience” of their guests, it increased loyalty.

Many businesses need to start focusing on what I call the “Employee experience”  and go to lengths to include it as part of the culture.  Millenials grew up knowing this environment as the norm.  Everywhere they went someone was competing for them to have the best experience, so why should work be any different?  Focusing your company on the “employee experience” will increase engagement, productivity and satisfaction and isn’t that what you want?  One of the Core Values of Applebee’s was “Fun”.  That’s not only cool, I guarantee it works by building employee loyalty.

Whether you are looking to recruit or promote sales; here are                          5 tips to engage this group and start creating a successful         “Experience”
  1. Speak to a flexible workplace, environment and culture
  2. Demonstrate dedication to career growth through support, feedback and goal setting
  3. Boast a culture of collaboration
  4. Design opportunities to contribute to society both as individuals and as a corporate structure
  5. Competitive Compensation structure

 

Bonus – #3 is worth repeating, it is that important – Promote a climate of leadership and development, this group doesn’t respond well to being managed and micromanaged.

In my experience Millenial/Gen Y’s are attracted to a company for what I mentioned in the first part of this blog, and choose to leave because of one or more of the bottom 5 points.  Incorporate those points into your culture, manage this group by results and mentor them so they succeed and you will be as amazed as I at how this will help your company build loyalty and generate the revenue you were hoping for.

 

Carpe diem!

Progressive Discipline – A great coaching tool

The first role of a Leader is to effectively communicate.  A great leader will recognize the variety of ways they have to communicate.  Conversely, an employee wants to follow someone that knows where they are going.  Employees only want a few things out of a job, certainly pay and stability, but employees also want to contribute, they want to make sure they are doing a good job.  Training, Coaching and development tools are often used while Onboarding a new employee, but once that 90 day grace period is up how corrections are communicated are critical to developing each employee.

Many I have spoken with view the Progressive Discipline process as a means to an end.  “It’s how you fire someone, right?”  It is looked at a tool to document when employees have not performed, broken policy or exhibit unacceptable behavior.  While this is true, it does all that, the Progressive Discipline process is a much greater tool to both employees and management.

Progressive Discipline is a great coaching tool

The Progressive Discipline process dates back to the 1930’s and was instituted as a way for EMPLOYEES to know that a business would treat them fairly.  This is a policy that is designed to protect individuals from being treated differently than others with in that company and it holds all parties (both management & employees) accountable.  It is a process that forces a supervisor to be progressive with both coaching and accountability, thus improving leadership with in an organization.  A process that levels the playing field for employees because it assures them they are not being singled out and that everyone would be treated consistently.  Lastly, it is a process that should teach and hold all employees accountable for job performance, following company policy, and matters relating to company culture or work environment.

One problem is that employees generally first hear of this policy when they are in trouble.  It is referred to by the “boss” who says that “HR is making me do this, sign here”.  This is lazy management in my opinion.  I became notorious for conducting a very long employee orientation class wherever I have worked.  It is the best way to set expectations(but more on that another time).  I ALWAYS go into detail about the Progressive Discipline policy and that it is there for their protection, and I can tell you that people like hearing that.

What is Progressive Discipline?  – a quick overview

A Progressive Discipline policy exists in most companies and is usually found in the Human Resource Policy and Procedures.  It states that when employees exhibit certain actions or behaviors contrary to policy, regulations or municipal laws that the company will respond in a specific way.  Most occurrences fall under a “Progressive” category and most policy’s also list certain actions that could mean immediate discharge.  I like to refer to that section “the deadly sins” because most people understand that severe consequence are associated with it.

For the instances that fall under a progressive category, the policy outlines a course of action to take each one being more severe than the last, hence “progressive”.  This is for 2 reasons.  To guide the managers and to inform the employee of potential consequence.  The law is clear to state that the business needs to inform an employee of the consequence should they repeat that action.  Failing to do so will likely mean that you could lose in court if sued by the employee.  Losing in court can cost you a lot of money (and pride) and the court is generally on the side of the employee, so you better be prepared.  Here is a generally accepted hierarchy of the progressive steps taken.

First offense – Simple conversation, nothing for the employee to sign.  But a pointed conversation stating what was wrong and what will happen if it happens again.  Once you have done this, it is up to the employee to manage their own actions.

TIP – The manager should make notes to “record” this conversation.  You may have to prove down the road that you had this conversation and accurate notes are the accepted medium of proof.  Date and time should be included.

Second offense – Generally called a “Verbal Warning”.  This is the first official session.  You sit with the employee in a private location.  Make sure their privacy is secure and respected.  You reiterate that you spoke about this before (time & date), and that it happened again which is why you are speaking.  This time you will have something in writing speaking to the policy they broke if possible.  Again, you state what happened and what the next step will be if they repeat the action.

Third offense – Escalates to a “Written Warning”.  Same process, tell them what other times they were spoken to about this, that they did it again, and what will happen should it occur again.

In each of these instances do not scold the employee.  This is not emotional, it should be very matter of fact.  You did this, your not supposed to do that, if you do it again then this will happen.  Do you understand, thank you bye bye.  Raising your voice, using gestures or even looking angry can look bad in a court of law.  Be smart.

Each company’s policy may be different as to how many chances an employee will get prior to the last warning.  Smaller companies may terminate on second written warning, larger companies may wait until 3rd written warning and it may require a managers superior being involved.  This is for the employees protection.  It ensures that multiple people in the company are in agreement that it is a justified action.  It makes it more difficult for a manager to terminate an employee, thus creating more protection.

So why is this a good Coaching tool?
  1. This is designed to insure that an employee knows what is expected and gives ample time to correct the behavior in question.  During this time the supervisor should not be looking at this as discipline but as a corrective tool.  Perhaps it identifies where additional training is needed or makes them reassess job responsibilities and workloads.  The supervisor wants the employees to succeed in completing their tasks on time and is held accountable by their supervisor for doing so.  Clearly the supervisor should have a vested interest in making whatever happened not repeat.  This process helps clarify expectations to the employee and is a Leadership “best practice  “ It is really just an opportunity for training.
  2. Other employees are aware long before management that someone is not doing there job correctly.  They are upset by this because they work hard to meet the standards but this other person “gets away” with not doing the same.  Correcting that problem WILL be noticed by other employee’s, guaranteed.  Of course, you never tell the other employees that you wrote someone up, they notice because the problem went away.  This sends a message that all the rules/policies apply to all of the employees.
  3. Discussion of a particular policy (what ever you had to address) often leads to discussion of other policies.  The employee may come to you with questions on another policy or standard.  Welcome this, it is good discussion and will increase everyones awareness of policies.  Policies are the expectations of the company and discussing expectations is clear leadership.  Discussion leads to conformity, and conformity generally means employees are more productive.
  4. This process will create open communication in the workplace
  5. Open communication tends to decrease turnover
  6. If a team is properly Coached it tends to be more effiecient, which saves money
The Downside of the Progressive Discipline process
  1. Time demanding
  2. Must be consistently utilized throughout organization
  3. Easy for Managers to misuse
  4. Employees can “play” the system
  5. Needs an in-house examiner for escalations and approvals
  6. Can negatively affect Unemployment Insurance when not consistent
Advantages of the Progressive Discipline process
  1. Increases productivity
  2. Decreases turnover and avoids expensive replacement costs
  3. Lays the groundwork for defensible employee terminations by recording history
  4. Allows an accepted way for earlier intervention at first sign a problem is developing

Progressive Discipline is more of a mindset than a policy and it should be part of the culture in an organization.

CEO’s I work with are amazed at how many of their managers don’t know how to use this. It’s in the policy book and assumed to be used.  This is seldom even thought of until a problem erupts and then the policy is referred to like everyone uses it.  It needs to be developed into daily interactions rather than a way to rectify a problem employee in order to be effective.  Lastly, as with most of what I post, utilizing this tool effectively is directly related to your businesses ability to generate revenue.  It helps you get the most from your staff and is well worth the time investment needed.

Few other tools help you manage THE most important aspect of your business effectively as the Progressive Discipline policy.

 

When incorporated into a culture, it vastly improves accountability and believe me, everyone is watching.  Correction is part of training and development and is often a process.  If your organization can approach this as a tool that you can use to Coach your team better rather than a series of signatures needed prior to a termination you, your employees and the organization will be much better off.

 

This is a large topic yet I only touched on it here, you are welcome to contact me with any questions.

Carpe diem!