How To Disagree With Your Boss Without Damaging Your Career: Part II

To Read Part I please Click Here.

In Part I of this article I began laying out 8 tips on how to challenge your boss in a smart and effective way. Here are the final few tips to help you with this complicated topic.

I am a strong believer that most plans have multiple options for success… but we don’t have time to debate every one of them. When you decide to bring an idea forward make sure it is about making noticeable business impact.

The best teams thrive on productive disagreement. If you can promote that with your team you will be part of a dynamic, strategic powerhouse that will achieve great things. You will be showing others what success looks like.

Prepare Your Message / How To Disagree With Your Boss!

You have to communicate your counter argument in a non-threatening way or risk the consequences. You don’t want to argue with your boss and earn the reputation as an arrogant / difficult employee. You do want a reputation as someone who is respectful and gets things done.

The fate of your reputation and your idea lies in your purpose and how you express your disagreement.Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 1.54.58 PM

An easy way to respect your boss when you have an idea is to ask if you can share. For example, “I’d like to share an idea I have for the project that I think will have a positive impact but I’m concerned it may sound like I doubt the project. I want to assure you that I don’t. May I share my ideas?” This approach helps set people’s expectations and make what you are about to say sound less threatening. The less you can surprise people the less risk you will have of triggering a defensive response.

You can be attentive… but in the end, you cannot control how someone feels. So, stay aware of how others respond and perhaps most importantly… how they are feeling. People often shut-down when they feel disrespected… whether you mean it or not.

Plan your message in advance. Research your idea (as suggested above), but in most cases you don’t want to spend days and days preparing to introduce your idea for a few reasons. First, it may look like you are aggressively pushing your agenda. Second, you don’t want your boss to think you have wasted valuable time preparing an elaborate presentation for an ‘idea / suggestion’ you have. Only you can make that decision based on the project, your work environment, attitudes and workloads.

As you prepare your plan, choose the word you will use carefully – be non-aggressive. For example:

  • Don’t use the words “I disagree”, instead try offering “recommendations” or “suggestions”.
  • Be careful of the word “should”, perhaps use the words, “consider” or “could”.
  • Ask, “Can I offer a suggestion.” Do not say “I have a better idea.
  • Ask for “background”, not the “rationale” when inquiring about other existing approaches.
  • Try using “I” statements to describe what you are feeling. For example, “I feel there may be another approach that may help.
  • Under no circumstances should you make people feel stupid, embarrassed and absolutely no name-calling.

I recommend practicing your first sentence beforehand – at least your first sentence. Keep your message simple and to the point.

When you speak:

  1. State the topic on which you disagree and explain your position. Talk about what you are feeling – but don’t be emotional. Don’t use inflammatory or accusatory language. Don’t complain or disagree but do have a solution. Offer suggestions including S.M.A.R.T. reasons why you think your idea is helpful.
  2. Reintroduce the plan goals and values remembering to promote the parts of the existing plan that you do agree with. Don’t make it appear the decision is a Win-Lose event; every decision should be a Win-Win. You want to be a team player who is focused on supporting the team, the company and the project goals.
  3. Present your idea with pride, confidence and enthusiasm but do not appear like a know-it-all who’s challenging their authority. Be polite and professional.
  4. Be careful about including your co-workers unless you have their absolute permission… and in this case, I hope they are sitting with you when you present the idea. You want to speak for yourself and let others speak for themselves.
  5. Let your boss know you are looking forward to their input / thoughts / questions about your idea. Two-way feedback allows you both to work through details and perhaps clarify project important goals that may impact your idea / the project.

You want to support your career goals – not hurt them. Don’t present a list of problems to your boss without any thought of a solution.

Eventually, when you have done this a few times (and have a great boss who trusts you), you’ll be able to speak your mind without damaging your career.

Be Careful With Emotion

As I always say in my Managing Difficult Conversation workshops, share emotion but don’t be emotional. Sharing emotion lets people know you care… that you are human. Believe it or not, that approach increases the chances of your idea being heard… and accepted (if it is a good idea). Bosses get nervous when employees appear emotionally attached. For Example: Calmly saying, ‘I feel very connected to this project and I want it to succeed’ shows you care. But, pounding on the boardroom table and screaming those same words suggests you have lost perspective and are not thinking rationally.

Always remain calm and confident. Never lose your temper.

Let It Go / Know When To Back Down / Respect the Final Decision

Your boss doesn’t agree with your suggestion / idea? Thank your boss for the opportunity and then let it go! As a leader, your boss may have 100 reasons for their decision. For example, the company strategy could be shifting in response to competitors’ moves (but not yet been shared company-wide). Stay calm, carry on.

Be sure your boss understands you will fully support whatever decision is agreed upon. The more you make them feel it isn’t a competition for you the more they won’t feel it’s a competition next time you have a suggestion. Protect your reputation and your influence for your career.

There will be many times during your career that you will not always agree with the decisions others make – and others wont agree with you…and that’s OK. By letting this be OK you will get the experience of working on many important projects. Trust me – that collection of experience and being part of many collaborative teams where you will meet and work with great people is far more important.

Conclusion

My corporate training and coaching career has proven to me that every workplace has a variety of personalities, work styles, cultures, education and experience; so, challenges are inevitable. So, making them work for us – not against us is important.

Great Leaders primary responsibility it to build long-term company success. How they do this is by listening to dedicated, talented, hard-working employees and earning employee trust. When great leaders have employees who feel listened to and trusted, these employees will often also be the leaders most loyal and motivated employees; a great leaders most important asset – a leaders best opportunity to achieve their responsibilities.

Disagreement is helpful as long as it’s strategic, measurable, actionable, relevant and timely.

SUMMARY:

  • Don’t have a conversation when either of your attention is elsewhere – like on a tight deadline or running to pick up the kids after work.
  • Tell your boss you have a suggestion for an alternative approach… then ask them if they would like to schedule a one-on-one meeting. Challenging your boss in front of others is risky – for you and your idea.
  • Prepare for any conversation, but especially when you are challenging your boss. Your first sentence is important – it will set the mood for the whole meeting. Take every precaution to not sound confrontational.
  • Be sensitive to their mood… especially if they often get stressed easily.
  • Never embarrass anyone – especially someone you report to.
  • Never seem aggressive, condescending, or accusatory.
  • Never make demands.
  • Always respect them and respect their final decision.

Happy communicating, mentoring and working with people from all generations.

To Read Part I please Click Here.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Managing Difficult Conversations, Business Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

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How To Disagree With Your Boss Without Damaging Your Career: Part I

To Read Part II please Click Here.

If you are a talented employee, what do you do if you want to disagree with your boss without damaging your career? Do you sit back and wait until you have a great boss, or do you learn how to disagree with the boss you have without damaging your career? I believe the answer is clear; to be in control of your professional success you have to learn how to disagree with your boss in a respectful, productive way.Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 1.45.34 PM

When it comes to disagreeing with your boss the challenge is to never appear like you undermining their authority. Respect is key! Your ideas also cannot appear to be a threat to your boss’ goals or the project goals. Your ideas should be inspirational and clearly demonstrate your commitment to company success. For example, you might say, “I have an idea that will help us improve client retention” versus negative, “This project is doomed and only my idea will save it.” When you introduce your idea in a positive way you can prove yourself as an important team member and a forward-thinking employee who adds value.

I offer you these tips on how to challenge your boss in a smart and effective way… and apologize now for the length of this article… but it is not an easy challenge to solve.

Here are 8 key steps:

  1. Have a good point / Pick your battles wisely
  2. Stop being a ‘Yes’ person
  3. Know your boss (and your team)
  4. Find time when you both have time
  5. Do research / Know your stuff
  6. Build trust
  7. Prepare your message / How to deliver your message well
  8. Let it go if they don’t agree / Respect the final decision

1.  Have A Good Point / Pick Your Battles Wisely

Make sure your suggestion is worth the trouble; it should add measurable, strategic value to the final project. A ‘tweak’ isn’t worth the risk to your reputation.

Before you speak ask yourself, “Am I adding value and is the idea S.M.A.R.T. (Strategic, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Timely)?” You also want to ask yourself , “Is this my responsibility and how might the other person ‘feel’?” You want to be focused on important work not busy work. You also want to make sure it’s your responsibility… or at least will impact one of your responsibilities. If you proceed, make sure your approach and tone of voice is positive, respectful and collaborative.

Do not be the negative person who points out the things the team can’t realistically change or will make no difference.

2. Stop Being A ‘Yes’ Person

If you go along with every decision your boss makes you are known as a ‘yes’ person and not likely using your talents to the best of your abilities.

You may be hurting your ability to be promoted if you always follow the pack. If done well, challenging your boss will help you stand out for a future promotion / recognition because it demonstrates leadership, courage and your ability to negotiate and collaborate. It also demonstrates creativity and strategic thinking.

The best companies thrive because they embrace employees who respectfully disagree with their boss. Great leaders want (and all leaders need) their employees to contribute to original ideas… to speak up about important right things at the right time.

3. Know Your Boss

Arguing with your boss is a losing proposition.

Is your boss going to react badly to any idea that’s not their own? I once had a boss like that. If the answer is yes it may be better to warm up your resume… you need to find a work environment where you can show your leadership qualities and learn to manage all of the difficult conversations / difficult situations leaders have to manage every day.

Poor leaders don’t want to be challenged by their employees but great leaders encouraged and promoted people to challenge one another. Great bosses want their employees to add their experience and expertise into the mix. Innovation, diversification and long-term company success demands this.

When you know your boss you can motivate them by using the language they use. Plan your proposal from their perspective. If they think in numbers be sure to show solid numbers. If they think about marketing and brand, frame your idea in that language.

Find Time When You Both Have Time

Know your boss’ personality and triggers. Find a time when you both are thinking clearly and your emotions are not triggered. Don’t approach your boss if either of you are stressed or in a bad mood or running to pick up your kids from the sitter.

If you are in a meeting, be very sensitive to both who is in the room and what your idea entails. If your boss’ boss is around be very careful not to embarrass anyone – including yourself. You want whatever you do to build the trust and respect of your boss and coworkers.

When and where you choose to share your idea can make a world of difference in how your boss reacts vs. responds to your opinion.

Do Research / Know Your Stuff

When you decide to speak you have to be accurate and to-the-point… especially if you have senior people in the room. So, before you lay your reputation and perhaps your job on the line, be sure you:

  • Know why any current decisions have been made
  • Research your idea – including important criteria like budget, employee impact, customer impact and timing

Once you feel confident (and this may take only seconds if you are experienced with the project), sketch out a high-level plan. Anticipate any possible counter-arguments your boss and/or team may have. Perhaps use the S.M.A.R.T. model to test the existing plan and then the value of your idea. Preparing a well thought out S.M.A.R.T. plan means your boss is more likely to be open to listening to what you want to say / share.

You may also want to check out a supplier/stakeholder or two – but don’t do so much it looks like you are hijacking the project or putting supplier/stakeholder relationships at risk.

No matter how well you prepare there’s always a chance your input will not be acted upon. You have to be OK with that outcome.

Build Trust

Trust is at the center of all good employee-employer relations. Without it there’s virtually no hope you can persuade your boss your idea has value.

Trust is a two-way street, and you have to do your part to earn it. Your first day on the job might not be the best day to disagree with your boss (unless you’ve been promoted from within). If your boss specifically asks for your opinion then carefully offer a suggestion for ‘discussion / evaluation purposes based on the project goals’.

How can you build trust over time?

  • Be positive – glass half-full not half-empty
  • Take humble credit for your successes and take quick credit for your errors (be solutions oriented)
  • Demonstrate empathy and compassion for your work and coworkers
  • Learn the company goals and values… and all project goals and values
  • Meet your project deadlines – practice good time management
  • Make sure your performance is consistently high-quality and in line with project goals and values
  • Be a team player – manage everyone’s expectations… including your own
  • Be flexible and communicate clearly

Demonstrate you are a reliable team player and you understand the work. Do it right and your boss may come looking for you next time they want a fresh opinion. Do it wrong and you might find it career limiting.

Conclusion

There will be many times during your career that you will not always agree with the decisions others make – and others will not agree with you…and that’s OK. By letting this be OK you will get the experience of working on many important projects.

Happy communicating, mentoring and working with people from all generations.

To Read Part II please Click Here.

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If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Managing Difficult Conversations, Business Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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An Introduction To Gen Z

Now is the time to prepare for a future with Gen Z employees, and as a bonus you’ll likely increase your retention of Millennials as well.

What Are Gen Zs Like?

Gen Zs (also called Homelanders, iGen, Gen Edge), are born between 1995 and 2012; the oldest are 22 years old. While there are only a small percentage in the employment market now, there are many that are in college and university… getting ready for and wanting to be your newest and brightest stars. Gen Zs are a population about the same size as Millennials and within a few years Gen Zs and Millennials will be the dominate energy in the workforce.Millennials At Work Enjoy Learning

In many ways, Gen Z’s are like uber-Millennials.

Millennial children have been told by their Boomer parents they are special, to be confident and they should not settle. Gen Zs have been told much the same thing from their Gen X parents. Ironically, when at work Boomer and Gen X bosses label this confidence narcissistic and entitled.

Gen Z Are Conservative

Gen Zs are conservative like their great-grandparents – the Silent Generation. How can that be? Consider, Gen Zs have grown up in a post 9/11 environment. They have always known global conflict, global terrorism and have lived through 3 recessions. Gen Zs have also seen their Gen X parents being laid off, right-sized and down-sized.

On the home front, Gen Zs also grew up with bike helmets, parents who say, “Call when you get there”, personal GPS, smart-phones, bottled water, side-impact baby carriages, rubber baby spoons vs. metal, non-spillable sippy cups, seat belts, etc.

Translation; their world has always been full of potential risk that they have had to watch out for. These and many other social and economic environments, have molded Gen Zs to be more conservative and take fewer risks than their Millennial brothers and sisters.

Gen Z Don’t See Technology As A Perk

If your organization is using hardware or software that is 2, 3 or more years out of date, Gen Zs will see that as a red flag.

Technology is not a bonus for them – it is an expected investment into their own personal future as well as that of the organization. Consider, Gen Zs’ parents did their best to give their children the latest hardware and software. Their Universities and Colleges also had the latest technology.

If Gen Zs feel they are falling behind their friends / peers in experience or knowledge, their employer will have a retention problem as these highly mobile employees job-hop. So, is it better to invest in the latest hardware and software, or spend money hiring and training new employees over and over again… and keep your out of date technology?

Working Hours / Working Spaces

Gen Zs have always been plugged in – doing homework and connecting with friends around the world. They are tech savvy and see flexibility as efficient. They want to work when they have an idea vs. when they are in the office at their assigned desk. Some autonomy and workplace flexibility will be important to them.

The flexibility that Gen Zs prefer is a BONUS for organizations embracing open-concept and flexible work spaces. It is being proven that flexible, open-concept work spaces spawn creativity and sometimes unexpected, organic cross-functional teams.

MultiTasking

Gen Zs believe they are good multi-taskers, and yet researchers like Daniel Kahneman who referenced in his book ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ have proven very few people are good multitaskers when it comes to doing strategic, complicated and/or unfamiliar tasks.

But, are Gen Zs good at uncomplicated and/or familiar activities? Sure – in fact they may be better at this than any other generation. They have spent their lives being stimulated and entertained. They have listened to music, played video games, watched TV (online), texted friends, attempted homework and chatted on SnapChat all at once.

Gen Zs seem to be very good at blocking out familiar, low-priority distractions (or white noise / grey noise). They may even miss the noise if it’s not there. As a leader this is important to know because we may have to help them learn how to manage distractions. For example, we might agree that headphones are accepted while they do research – but insist that when writing the final report that they put aside their distractions… including the ding-ding-ding of incoming email messages.

How To Motivate Gen Zs

Motivation is a challenge I often hear from Leaders.

There is potential for great motivation. One of the best approaches I can recommend is to trust Gen Zs. When you trust Gen Zs (and Millennials), to work with you to find their ‘best working environment’ they will not want to break your trust. It’s about understanding what commitments you / they want to focus on and then how to organize those commitments.

The other way to motivate Gen Zs is to make sure they see their work as creative, important, exciting and / or an opportunity to develop new skills. Workspace flexibility and/or positive reinforcement will also go a long – long way in building trust and motivating Gen Zs.

It’s important to note that plugged-in Gen Z and Millennials are easily bored and most begin to feel uncomfortable when they are bored. The challenge for most Leaders is to help their Gen Zs learn that it’s OK and be bored and to embrace this time to explore their ideas… feelings… their creativity… or to simply take a mental-rest. Boredom can be a great thing.

Keep Gen Z Accountable

Accountability may mean having a difficult conversation with them to let them know when they let you and the team down. When you do this you will help them build respect for you, the organization and themselves. They will see that their work is important and that they matter… which is a huge motivator for them.

  1. Be clear with your professional project expectations & timelines.
  2. Be clear with your quality expectations.
  3. Be clear about workplace policies – flexibility for example.
  4. Hold employees accountable for their work and quality.
  5. Provide specific, timely feedback… both positive and constructive. Note: Don’t skimp on your positive reinforcement.
  6. Do not linger on past challenges where they may have let you / the team down… but, be sure you follow point 4.

Conclusion

The future is coming – quickly and employers must rethink how work gets done… and how people get motivated, rewarded, engaged, committed and trusting.

Any leader and/or organization that is concerned with their team members’ will be able to find ways to inspire loyally and build resiliance. In contrast, the leader and/or organization that shows concerns for only their success will lose the creativity, commitment and loyalty of their most valuable assets – their employees.

Happy communicating… mentoring… and collaborating.

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If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

A Checklist For Your Performance Management System

Performance management is a much more than correcting negative behavior throughout the year and recapping performance once-per-year with an annual performance review. It is much more.

Performance management includes activities such as joint goal setting, continuous progress review and frequent communication. The idea is to align an individuals core-competencies and goals to an organization’s core-competencies and goals. The idea is to ensure resources like talent are valued and maximized (monitored and respected), as much as resources like technology, equipment and finances are monitored and respected.

Performance management refocuses the lens on the individual, ensuring they have all of the knowledge, resources and motivation to exceed their capabilities and expectations… and because the individual does, so does the team and organization.

Checklist For Your Performance Management System

An effective performance management system will:

  1. Support each employee by being job specific, based on well written job descriptions, key performance indicators and job-related activities.
  2. Hire the right people by using a measurable interview / selection process (a BEI).
  3. Align with your organization’s strategic direction, culture and values.
  4. Be practical and easy to understand and use.
  5. Have the manager and employee work together to set personal and professional goals and behaviors… including measurement criteria. This includes why each goal and behavior is (or is not), important. This includes hard and soft skills.
  6. Create opportunities for clear and regular communication between managers and employees.
  7. Provide training and development opportunities for improving performance and helping employees achieve their work and career goals.
  8. Work with each employee to ensure their 3 top priorities (daily), are reflective of the agreed upon goals and Important Work (with exception of interdepartmental Urgent Work).
  9. Agree in advance how challenges will be managed.
  10. Provide ongoing constructive feedback when improvement is needed as well as positive feedback (praise), for work that exceeds agreed upon expectations.
  11. Train managers on how to manage, mentor, coach employees and how to have difficult conversations.
  12. Ensure there is commitment from management to quickly act on situations that are both positive and negative to support the process, the individual and the team.
  13. Periodically review the performance management process to ensure it is being applied consistently.
  14. Ensure each employee keeps a copy of the performance plan (work plan) so that they can refer to it.
  15. Establish an appeals process.
  16. Designing effective compensation and reward systems looking at the benefit of Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivators.
  17. Perform exit interviews to understand the cause of employee discontentment.

Each should refer to their goals regularly and meet to evaluate progress and make many smaller adjustments throughout the year.

Conclusion

If you are looking to create lasting change  look to how you can motivate your employees. When employees – and leaders are motivated they will do more… do it better… and finish earlier.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and More…

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

Employee Survey? Yes, Just Do It!

Employee surveys used to be complicated and expensive to implement. Not anymore.

Because it was expensive, if a company implemented a survey they would often ask many questions – hoping to gather as much info as they could for their financial investment. With such an investment, writing the questions was often a long, drawn-out and political chore… and responding to them was equally unpleasant.

Times have changed – thankfully.

I just received a 2-question survey from my grocery chain. Did I answer it? Absolutely – without much thought. I didn’t even hesitate at the 10 second commitment.

 PC Plus Survey Final

While my graphic isn’t an employee survey, it is a great example of how surveys can be simplified and encourage participation.

Implementing employee surveys today is much more affordable. And, there are a number of reliable software service providers which provide flexible  branding and result collection options. Thankfully this has made surveys more accessible and organizations are being more targeted with their research.

Today the difficult part remains writing strategic, relevant survey questions. This is where the time and financial investment still needs to be applied which for organizations means getting the assistance of third parties (e.g., BMC). Like with most things, knowing what you want to achieve is your best first step.

What Do You Want To Achieve?

Employee surveys are wonderfully flexible and can be used to measure a variety of things in a workplace. As an example do you want to:

  • Get feedback on a new procedure.
  • Explore creative ideas your sales or front-line employees have.
  • Conduct a management-level 360 review.
  • Help employees be reflective of their behaviour – good and not so good.
  • Get employees ‘in the mood’ for the training you are going to do.
  • Remind employees of the training they’ve had.

While surveys are versatile, be careful to keep your objective simple – and if you can, keep your surveys to one topic.

I recently wrote and launched an pre-training employee survey for a workshop I was hired to design and facilitate. Because the survey results were only seen by me, the employees were very confident to answer honestly.

The results from the pre-training employee survey gave me valuable insight on how to position the professional development training; I was able to customize the training to meet specific needs. During the training workshops I was able to knowingly ‘lean into’ certain areas where I knew they would benefit the most. The results also helped me congratulate them (positive reinforcement works), on behaviour they were doing. It also meant I didn’t bore them by hammering home best practices that they were already doing.

Position Employee Surveys As Save Valuable Opportunities

Employee surveys can have huge benefit.

Be up-front with staff about how important the survey is. When you conduct a survey in the workplace, you are sending a message to employees that you value their suggestions, ideas and creativity. Don’t assume employees know this – be sure you say it. Explain you are genuinely interested in getting their input to improve them and/or the organization. Ask them to be open and honest – and if they might feel at risk in answering (which is normal), make sure the survey is anonymous.

Anonymous surveys often help gain honest feedback.

Employee surveys have the advantage of building employee morale. Employees will see first-hand they have a say in the training they receive, how the business operates, and even some of the policies moving forward; this often leads to increased loyalty and decreased turnover.

For Best Results

Be up-front with staff about how important the survey is to you. If they have one – work with the HR department. Explain to your audience that you are genuinely interested in getting their input. Ask them to be candid in their feedback and assure them that responses are anonymous (suggestion).

Finally, commit to putting the survey results to work. Employees will embrace change that they feel they have contributed to.

Conclusion

Surveys are great. If you are going to use one consider the need for the following three things:

  1. Know what your response deadline is. Whether it is the date you cut-off additional responses or the date you push / encourage your audience to respond by. Manage everyone’s expectations including your own and share your response deadline.
  2. Know who’s responding. If you are doing an employee survey it is often helpful to get a sense of the experience level with the company and/or position of the person responding. Often that can be achieved by adding one question for each.
  3. One advantage of an anonymous survey is that you can get honest and insightful feedback about topics employees might not be comfortable bringing to you in person.

Uncovering challenges employees are experiencing may keep valuable employees from looking work elsewhere – like your competitors – an expensive loss from many different angles.

Happy communicating and survey design.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Good Business Managers Are Also Good HR Managers

In todays fast paced life it’s easy to dismiss anything that is older that a few months or years… especially from 1988. But, I’ve enjoyed reading and thinking about a summary of a 4-year long study that was published in 1988 called “A Descriptive Model of Managerial Effectiveness” by Fred Luthans, Dianne H. B. Welsh, and Lewis A. Taylor III.

I’m not surprised that in 1988, studies showed that HR activities and soft-skills were given low importance. However, I’m happy to say that Luthans, Welsh, and Taylor III decided to measure how much ‘time’ the managers spent on these low-priority human resource activities. By doing this Luthans, Welsh, and Taylor III identify soft-skill tasks such as socializing/politicking, training and development, staffing (hiring), managing conflict, and motivating/reinforcing employees surprisingly represented over 30% of a managers’ efforts back in the 80’s.

Leadership QualitiesStepping forward to present time, we now know that soft-skills are critical to performance and employee engagement. Current, unrelated studies identify the top 5 leadership qualities can easily be considered soft-skills (assuming technical skill pre-exists). In fact, this slide from one of my leadership training programs demonstrates that of the top 10 qualities, almost all of the most important qualities of great leaders are soft-skills.

I bet that back in the late 80’s the finding of 30% of a managers’ efforts were HR related surprised many people. Unfortunately, I bet that is still a surprised to many leaders / managers… even though I believe that today this number is actually higher than 30%.

My theory is supported by the many leadership scholars including the late Peter Drucker (who continues to be one of the most influential leaders in management philosophy and effectiveness), who clearly identified soft-skills as critical characteristics of top leaders. Also, I think it’s higher because today all of the 4 generations in our workforce expect a more from our professional and personal lives.

Conclusion

Back in the mid-80’s the study authors Luthans, Welsh, and Taylor III were pioneers. As with all great ideas the challenge lies in the adoption… or lack of. In the case of embracing soft-skills, adoption has been slow.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s while the Baby Boomers were the largest population in the workforce, soft-skills were not seen to be important – largely because it was easy to anticipate how each other would react and/or wanted. Why? Because in part, even though consumerism was growing rapidly, options were limited. Today that has changed. Organizations have to consider a global economy and a global workforce who are both highly educated and have skills are easily transferable by industry AND geography.

So, great leaders of today use their learned technical skill as well as their learned soft-skills to engage, motivate and retain talent from all four generations in the workspace. Not only do they need to be good technical experts, they also need to be good HR managers.

Happy communicating.

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Leadership: A Leaders Responsibilities Have Changed: Part 1

Being a leader isn’t glamorous or easy. Changing your leadership style is even more difficult… but the rewards of both are immense.

If you are an individual or a company, your leadership qualities and leadership style are essential if you are going to survive and thrive. Stats show that half the companies in the S&P500 are different from 1999 (Source Sam Ro). Said another way, the world is changing around us and longevity demands our leaders promote responsible change and keep their teams adapting.

Leader TrainingLets think back a few years when Blackberry (Research In Motion), was leading the smartphone market. Many Leadership Coaches agree that Blackberry’s leaders had become comfortable that their main core competency (their security protocols), would continue to lead market demand. Then Apple innovated the market and gave mobile users new features like cameras, an ipod, touch screen, useful apps and high-definition for movie watchers and gamers. Almost overnight Blackberry became one of the smallest players in the mobile market.

Apple, a company known for a non-traditional approach to almost everything focused on customer delight, not how to keep doing the same thing and maximize existing revenue. Apple won because their leaders and by extension their employees looked at tomorrow and built a solution for tomorrows customer. Apple leaders gave their employees the freedom to look at what individuals were doing within their lives and explore solutions. By doing this Apple leaders and employees did far more than maximize existing revenue – they created a whole new revenue stream. HOOYAH!

This is a good segue into one of the key things leaders need to do.

Put Your Customer And Employee Needs First

Before you think about maximize existing revenue or cost cutting to increase ROI, are you preparing for what customers will want tomorrow? How can you make life better for them? When you make life better people see value, and when they see value they will buy your stuff.

The world is going to be different tomorrow!

Not only are customer needs changing, employees’ wants and needs are changing… really quickly. So, your leadership qualities and leadership style also has to change if you want to survive.

Great companies run on great employees. Products don’t think or make themselves – and they don’t innovate themselves.

Innovation happens in months not years, and to keep up leaders need their employees to grow, contribute, innovate and collaborate. Todays leaders need to create a vision and instead of telling their team what to do and how to get it done, todays leaders / mangers are successful when they empower their team and remove roadblocks.

Great leaders have learned how to hire and motivate great employees… and stay out of their way.

Conclusion

Customers want great products. Employees want to be proud, contribute and get better/learn.

Doing the same thing and/or just putting in more hours isn’t going to… work; it’s not 1958. So, how do companies attract, motivate and retain promising employees who build great customer solutions? How do companies prepare employees to be tomorrows leaders? The simple answer is to invest in leadership training and leadership development for todays leaders – and tomorrows leaders.

Happy leadership and communication.

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How To Give Constructive Feedback: A Training Summary

Giving constructive feedback is an inspiring and productive way to establish and manage expectations. Not giving constructive feedback also manages expectations but not in a supportive way.

By managing expectations you can decrease stress and improve relationships (professional and personal). And, if you’d like me to manage your expectations with a longer list of concrete benefits, they are:Manage Expectations

  • A calmer work environment
  • Higher productivity
  • Greater job satisfaction / employee engagement
  • Lower turnover
  • Happier customers / clients
  • Fewer escalations / urgent situations

Even during a difficult conversation, constructive feedback (and managing expectations), will help you create a more collaborative atmosphere.

Constructive Feedback TIPS

Here are a few of the constructive feedback tips I share during my Difficult Conversations Training courses:

  1. Be respectful and compassionate.
  2. Express what didn’t go as expected, however don’t dwell on the negative
  3. See difficult conversations as learning opportunities for you and them
  4. Listen
  5. Give feedback sooner rather than later. If you let unacceptable behaviour slide… it sets an expectation that their behaviour is acceptable. If a co-worker misses a deadline and you don’t have a discussion about it, don’t be surprised when they miss another deadline, because they will.

When you show you are confident and supportive, you are able to avoid most defensive behaviour with your audience… you also build trust. Constructive feedback and managing difficult conversations is key to creating and maintaining a collaborative work (and family) environment.

Conclusion

Happy, motivated people are dedicated and their pride in their work is far greater than a pay check. Their pride is connected to things like:

  • The support they receive
  • What they accomplish
  • What they’ve learned
  • Relationships they build / experience

Studies show that as many as 80% of business professionals avoid giving constructive feedback because they were afraid of how the other person would react; they anticipate defensive behaviour. The reality is that when you manage expectations and provide constructive feedback, difficult conversations almost always improve productivity, relationships and so much more… long term.

Once you and your employees know how to give and receive constructive feedback you’ll never look back.

Happy communicating.

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Your Emotions And Actions Affect Employee Engagement

How do you feel? Do you believe your emotions and actions affect employee engagement?

Traditionally, showing your emotions at work was considered unprofessional. Thankfully things are changing and because of this so is the potential for increased employee engagement and productivity. Everyday more research comes out that demonstrates emotions like emotional empathy and compassion are powerful assets… not liabilities.Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 5.59.57 PM

Organizations Benefit From Employee Engagement

Emotions drive greater employee engagement and a long list of benefits. For example, Gallup research recently published finding that highly engaged employees far outperform employees with low engagement by:

  • 10% on customer ratings
  • 22% in profitability
  • 21% in productivity

Gallup researchers also saw:

  • Significantly lower employee turnover (25% in high-turnover organizations, 65% in low-turnover organizations)
  • 28% less shrinkage
  • 37% less absenteeism
  • 48% fewer safety incidents
  • 41% fewer quality defects

Gallup Study Reference: http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/163130/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx

What Is Employee Engagement?

I believe “Employee engagement is the emotional and professional commitment an employee has to add value to his or her organization, team members, clients/customers, environment and self. Engaged employees intentionally ‘lean into’ this symbiotic relationship.” Bruce Mayhew

How Does Employee Engagement Happen?

Employees may start off as keen or driven… but they remain engaged because the organization and their leaders/mentors create a safe, encouraging space that helps them use and develop their core competencies. One of the primary responsibilities of a leader/mentor is to manage the emotional well-being, energy and motivation of their employees.

Leaders/mentors also remind employees of the company mission, vision and values which helps them stay focused and make productive, smart decisions (which is especially important for Gen Z and Millennials).

Clearly, emotional intelligence (EI), plays a huge part creating the leadership and infrastructure that will support employee engagement. This also means that all levels of an organization are required to teach, support and reward employee engagement (Top down & Bottom up).

Conclusion

Leaders are valuable when they increased productivity, revenue and brand while decreasing or maintaining costs. The best way to do this is to hire and keep the best employees and help them deliver their best work.

Demonstrating emotional intelligence (EI) means recognizing, understanding and managing your emotions, and therefore [positively] impacting, encouraging and empowering the people around you.

How much would you spend on a marketing campaign that would increase your customer ratings by 10%, increase profitability by 22% and lower turnover by 25%-65%? Or, perhaps the question is, “Is this a good time to invest in your leaders/mentors?” 

Happy communicating and employee engagement.

Empathy Reference: Three Kinds of Empathy: Cognitive, Emotional, Compassionate by Daniel Goleman

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A Guide For Business Executives: How To Hire AND Retain Millennials.

How to hire and retain Millennials is a great combination of topics that few business executives are yet exploring – but it’s an approach that makes a big difference to your competitive structure and profitability. Traditionally, employee retention is the only focus.

IF you have the right people in place, then focusing on employee retention is great… otherwise, focusing only on employee retention is like trying to use all-season tires on a racecar. No matter how much you care for them, you’re not going to get the performance you need… and they aren’t going to last.

But when business executives learn to change the way they hire people and combine that with Multigenerational communication and retention, great things happen. In my training workshops I’ve seen first-hand the energy that builds as a team of business executives learn BEI (Behaviour Event Interview), best practices and work together to re-evaluate their hiring and retention strategy. This process begins with changing the way all interviews are conducted and moves onto learning what’s important to Millennials.

Combining hiring best practices & employee retention is very effective.

What Can Business Executives Do To Hire AND Retain Millennials?

Step 1. Change the way all interviews are conducted.

Even if your organization is using personality assessment tools – your success is improving only a small amount. Your interview needs to consistently look for AND measure the core competencies you need within every candidate. Learning to conduct a BEI does that for you.

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A BEI system provides a consistent, fair and effective interview system. BEI ALSO uses a reliable assessment tool so that each candidates’ strengths and weaknesses can be scored and measured without bias – for example: Subject Matter Expert, Team Player, Creativity – you can measure them all.

In addition, being able to defend your final decision is becoming increasingly important for all employers. Because of the interview assessment scorecard, BEI (Behaviour Event Interview), provides consistent, quantifiable proof why the successful candidate was chosen. There is even more value that BEI provides and if you’re interested lets connect, because I’m happy to discuss these… and I could go on and on and on.

Step 2. Learn what’s important to Millennials and use BEI to add further insight.

Most Millennials are roughly 20 to 40 years younger than their bosses. The rate of technological and social evolution is staggering. Products and services that were leading edge five years ago are commonplace today; tablets for example.

So it’s no surprise that Millennials (and the newly emerging Gen Z workforce), don’t want to be rewarded the same way their parents… or even older siblings do. Even more challenging – their needs may change year over year.

The solution is to treat each person (no matter what generation they’re from), as an individual and ask him or her what’s important. Lets say you’re doing quarterly or semi-annual reviews (which is another best practice when working with Millennials). This is a perfect time to have a discussion about their personal and professional needs – as well as your corporate needs. Ask them if they feel:

  • Respected
  • Mentored
  • Inspired
  • Stimulated
  • Happy

Do they want to be rewarded with:

  • Vacation
  • Salary
  • Workplace Flexibility
  • Bonus Potential
  • Additional Work Responsibilities (As an opportunity to develop / grow)

Conclusion:

A BEI system that I’ve taught to many business executives and teams empowers everyone within the organization to conduct successful interviews. Learning how to hire and retain Millennials provides an organization with a consistent – reliable approach to hiring the right people for the work – turning your job opportunity into a career move for the right candidate.

It is expensive for employers to hire and train new employees. Hiring and retaining the right person makes good business sense.

Happy communicating, harmony and email reading. 

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If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

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