Anamcgary's Blog

Leadership thoughts from PeopleFirst HR

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Four Steps of Coaching

When employees slowdown in their work, your business operations will also slow down. We can blame that to a lot of factors, like slow sales cycles or non-delivery of important equipment, but one of the most commonly overlooked (as well as the most damaging) could be as simple as a change in marketing strategies or processes.

As a business owner or senior manager, we all want to employ the latest tools or innovations in the sales process in order to make a profit. But with our desire to change quickly, we often forget to prepare our own people for it. For this reason they end up in the dark and have a hard time meeting your demands through your new parameters.

You should have coached them in the first place. But since you have most likely implemented the change already, you might as well prepare your marketing team throughout the process. And that means coaching them at times when their performance goes down.

To do that, you need to remember the four steps of effective coaching:

  1. Explanation – when implementing a change in your marketing process, you need to first      explain why you are doing it in the first place. You need to give meaning to what you are doing. You need to share with them your strategies, your plans in reaching your goals, the contribution of each member, as well as the rewards for a successful completion of the task.
  2. Clarification – after the explanations, you need to ask your employees if they got what you are saying. Never move to the next step unless you and your team are clear already on what you want to achieve in your marketing campaign. In case of problems with performance, it is best that you choose the right time for a quick discussion, like employee breaks or something similar. Do      not judge them until they have explained their reason for weak performance.
  3. Participation – for performance issues, get the on board in problem-solving and strategies. Tell them clearly what you need done and help them come up with solutions that they can work on. Try to figure out the root cause of the problem (is it the new business process you implemented, personal issues, employee interactions, etc.). Usually, they can provide you details that can help you nail down the cause and resolve it to the satisfaction of both sides.
  4. Appreciation – as a manager, you should be able to recognize success in whatever endeavor that your prospects can do. Monitor their performance. If you see anything that is worth your praise, then do so. Show them your appreciation, considering their actions based on who they are, not just on what they are doing.

As a business owner or senior manager, you should know how to guide or coach your employees well. With the way business and marketing evolves rapidly, you should also be up to the task of preparing them for the changes. This is for the sake of your continued success in business.

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Employee Engagement Blunders

According to Gallup an alarming 70% of American employees aren’t working to their full potential, and they’re slowing economic growth.

The term Employee Engagement is attracting a lot of attention but employee engagement is something well beyond motivation. Everyone is motivated in one way or another but engagement implies a strong link between the organization’s objectives and an employee’s behavior. An engaged employee understands his or her role in the organization and how it’s integrated into the successful accomplishment of the organization’s vision and mission. Engaged employees are true ambassadors of the business for customers and coworkers because they have a grasp of the entire picture of the organization’s mission and are able to focus on their function as it relates to others in the organization.

Even when employers have a great leadership team and develop comprehensive communication strategies that provide employees with regular information, they still make careless mistakes that lower employee engagement.

One of the more common oversights I see is creating an employee announcement and not distributing it effectively.  So as the employer you take great pains to draft an announcement of some change. The announcement is legally-approved, factual, clear, and detailed. It’s then sent to all employees. Good right?

Wrong! Unfortunately, you neglect to first provide the announcement to the first-line leadership for their understanding and acceptance. When employees receive the announcement, their first point of contact will be the supervisor for explanation and reaction. If the supervisor is not aware and is ill-prepared to facilitate those conversations, the employer will face a high risk that employees will resist the change and their level of engagement will decrease.

Another common mistake is when leaders believe they are visible and accessible because they conduct “walks” through the organization. Visibility and relationship-building demand more than an occasional walk-around, peering over an employee’s shoulder, calling out a greeting, etc. They require creating meaningful opportunities for exchange such as roundtable lunches with random groups of employees, planned attendance to departmental meetings, or a dedicated schedule of departmental visits.

Employee engagement does not consist of a single event; in fact one-time events can be worse than having no event at all, because they raise employee expectations and don’t follow through, which damages morale. To be effective, events or programs must be on-going.

And finally too many organizations look at employee engagement as a reactive process.  Find the problem and fix it so we can move on.  But it’s usually not that simple. Trying to fix a problem often creates a new one or may even reinforce the original one. Try to analyze the problem, understand where it started, and why it grew over time. You may find out that you have something entirely different to work on.

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People want to be guided by those they respect and who have a clear sense of direction.

So you have created your company. You have the talent, you have the vision, you have the infrastructure, you know where you want to take the business in the coming years, but how do you take everything and allow it to become a self-sustaining machine that will allow your company to grow?

Developing core values can become the philosophical pillars upon which your company is built, but that won’t happen unless owners and senior leaders set the example for everyone else in the company. It’s extremely important for a company’s leaders to “live it” when it comes to the guiding principles of your business.

I’ve seen many company’s become stagnant because leadership places demands on the staff that they are not willing to do or demonstrate themselves.  Some of these business owners or senior leaders believe they have done their part by developing the business and giving people jobs, now it’s their turn.  The expectation that the employees are going to want to work long and hard just because they have a job is foolish.  It just doesn’t work this way.

People want to follow true leadership.  People want to be guided by those they respect and who have a clear sense of direction.  If your business is to flourish, your job as a leader is to work tirelessly to communicate with your employees in many different forms.

Every successful leader I speak with understands the power of communication and respect in an organization.  They understand that when employees identify with the core values and why business decisions are made, they feel part of the team and want to take the organization to the next level.

So take a look at where your company is today and where it was when you started. If your business hasn’t truly moved to the next level and instead of adding employees to support your growth, you’re simply replacing staff that has left.  You may want to take a deep look at what you may be doing wrong.  “Keep in mind,” if you’re measuring revenue, remember the high cost of employee turnover.  When you lose a good employee, you also lose their knowledge, skills and experience.  Training someone new takes you away from those things necessary to move your business to that next level. 


Are you responsible for employees resigning?

Could you be pushing your best employees out the door without realizing it? If staff retention is an issue for your company, then you’ll need to think about what could be causing your top talent to look for other opportunities.

There are numerous ways that managers can drive great employees away without even realizing it. I’ve told leaders this many time “people don’t walk out on companies; they walk out on managers”.  Here are three actions that always impact employee retention :

1. Focusing on the bad rather than the good

Employees might make mistakes, but blaming them for mistakes instead of providing constructive feedback and advice is an even bigger mistake on a manager’s part. Star employees are those who aren’t afraid to take risks. Recognize that taking successful risks can create massive beneficial change for your company. There will be times when plans and projects fall through; accept those mistakes as learning opportunities and move on. Your top talent will walk away if you focus more on their weaknesses than on their accomplishments.

2. Thinking money is the only motivator

A big mistake employers make is thinking their employees are there just for the paycheck they receive at the end of the month. In the short run, money is a definite factor for retaining employees, but it can only remain a motivating factor for so long. If your staff does not find their work fulfilling and get the job satisfaction they desire each day, they’ll soon get bored.

This is especially true for your best, most talented employees. If your star employees can acquire a new position somewhere else that will give them greater responsibility, strong mentorship, increased recognition and new opportunities to learn and innovate, they may jump at the opportunity — even if the pay is not as high.

3. Do as I say, not as I do

You’ve secured the title of manager, but if you think sitting back in your chair and delegating work is going to get the work done, you’re not in touch with reality. When the going gets tough and a key project is due, rolling up your sleeves and working alongside your team shows your commitment and gains you respect. Star employees are looking for strong leaders and role models and are less likely to leave bosses and managers who are accessible, approachable and respectful.

If you don’t think as a manager you need to be respectful of your employees, you’ll find it very challenging to keep great employees and will always end up with mediocre performers.

Throughout my career, I have seen this time and time again.  Managers that set a good example, listen to their employees and genuinely make employee’s feel they care about them, will benefit from great employees staying with them through thick and thin.

If you distrust your employees, discourage innovation and creativity, ignore their advice and communicate poorly, they’ll start hunting for other positions.  As the economy slowly improves finding and keeping great talent will become even more challenging.

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Trust in Leadership declines

The shaky economic and employment climate in the U.S. continues to make headlines.  In a recent poll of 1,857 U.S.-based employees identified another issue for employers to worry about: a lack of employee trust in management.

Among the findings:

Only 14 percent of respondents said they believe that their company’s leaders are ethical and honest.

Just 12 percent believe their employer genuinely listens to and cares about its employees.

A small 10 percent of employees said they trust management to make the right decision in times of uncertainty.

And just 7 percent said that senior management’s actions are consistent with their words.

Poor communication, lack of perceived caring, inconsistent behavior and perceptions of favoritism were cited by respondents as the largest contributors to their lack of trust in senior leaders.

It seems that a strong indicator of management mistrust is lack of shared values.  If a company truly wants to engage its workforce, drive trust and gain loyalty, it must implement a culture that recognizes individual behaviors that contribute to the company’s values and goals, and sadly, this isn’t common practice. … Only 8 percent of employees say they are frequently recognized for demonstrating behavior consistent with their company’s stated values.  And I hate to add that simple Thank You’s and other types of simple acknowledgement of employee efforts is sorely lacking in todays workforce.  Are we all so busy we forgot the fundamentals?