Category Archives for Employee Engagement

Strategic Planning Facilitator: A Wise Addition To The Process

You want your business to thrive, and to ensure it’s reaching new heights each quarter you must implement regular strategic planning into your routine.  

Strategic planning is “… an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes/results, and assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment. “ according to the Balanced Scorecard Institute.

For more resources on strategic planning, you can view my previous blog posts

Why Your Business Should Be Strategic Planning

The 5 Benefits of Strategic Planning For Your Business

While strategic planning can be completed solely by those within the company, some businesses are finding that bringing in a strategic planning facilitator helps them to yield better results from the overall process.

This blog post will outline the duties of a strategic planning facilitator and why it might be a good idea to add one to your company’s process.

What is a Strategic Planning Facilitator

A strategic planning facilitator is a consultant hired by a company to guide a business through their strategic planning meeting.

If you don’t hire an outside facilitator, you or whoever is leading the meeting takes on the role of facilitator.

There are many benefits associated with hiring an outside strategic planning facilitator which will be highlighted below.

The responsibilities associated with being a strategic planning facilitator might include

  • Assisting in explaining the planning process to the teams
  • Advising the CEO on the selection and organization of the planning teams
  • Briefing the strategic planning team on methods and tools
  • Leading the team through the planning process
  • Organizing and conducting the most important events
  • Encouraging the team to achieve tasks and meet agreed upon milestones.

Save Time In Advance

Preparing for a strategic planning meeting can be extremely time-consuming.  Hiring a facilitator can take most of the logistical preparation duties off your plate. This is always a welcome benefit for those typically tasked with that duty.

Provide Outside Perspective

When those within a company are having conversations about the business, they are very close to the situation.  Sometimes it’s difficult to fully see a case for what it is when you are in it. That’s why bringing in a strategic planning facilitator allows you to hear an outside perspective on the strategy and issues at hand.

While an outside perspective isn’t exactly necessary, it can be beneficial to hear what a neutral party thinks about a decision.

Stay on Track

It’s simple to get off track when having a meeting, especially if that’s the culture of your company.  Having a strategic planning facilitator allows you to stay on track throughout the process, so you are only addressing relevant topics that will help you achieve the goal of the planning session.

Facilitators are used to dealing with many people with various personality types so he or she can help to keep the meeting moving in a positive direction despite any disagreements or tough conversations that might take place.

Allows Everyone to Fully Participate

When one person from the company is facilitating the meeting, they’re unable to also fully participate.  Hiring a strategic planning facilitator ensures that every person who is a part of the planning committee can be present and participate as much as possible.

It’s common for more outgoing personalities to dominate the conversation.  Having experienced strategic planning facilitator helps to keep those present engaged, so everyone has a voice.

Provide a Proven Process

Strategic planning facilitators bring their skill set to the stage throughout the process.  Instead of trying to figure it out as you go, using a proven method allows you to ensure you are following a framework for strategic planning success.  

Having a proven process also reduces the risk that those in attendance will waste time.  Clearing the schedule to hold a strategic planning meeting means that every minute counts and the time spent planning should be used effectively.

How to Know Your Business Needs a Facilitator

Now, despite knowing what a strategic planning facilitator does and the benefits associated with bringing one to the table, you might be questioning whether your business is ready for that commitment.  Here are a few telltale signs that it’s time to hire a facilitator for your strategic planning meetings.

You must address tough issues

When you know in advance that tough topics or concerns must be addressed during the meeting, it might be best to bring in a facilitator.  This is especially true if there is a history of communication breakdowns when discussing tough issues as a company.

You Struggle to Stay on Task

If your meetings lead to conversations about everything under the sun beyond the purpose of the meeting, you will surely benefit from having a strategic planning facilitator.  Consider the opportunity cost associated with having this meeting. There’s no time to waste.

You Don’t Communicate Well

If your team has difficulty communicating with each other well, especially regarding tough issues, save yourself the headache of facilitating the conversation by hiring an outside specialist.  They’re from outside the company, so they can bring out the best conversation amongst those involved to help reach the ultimate goal.

Moving Forward

Deciding to hire a strategic planning facilitator is an important one.  You must ensure you hire the right person with the best experience and personality to work with your company.

The benefit of bringing in a facilitator will undoubtedly improve the process and developing a top-notch strategic plan will hopefully lead to increased business success and employee satisfaction.  Happy employees are engaged employees and engagement leads to success, so it’s always important to keep that correlation in mind.

To learn more about increasing employee engagement, download my free book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement.  

 

5 Recruitment Strategies to Build a Team That Supports Your Company Culture

The culture of your company sets the tone for how your business operates.  Therefore, when you are hiring new employees, you want to ensure that you incorporate recruitment strategies to build a team that supports your company culture.

What Is Company Culture?

Your company culture is defined as the “beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions” according to Investopedia.com.

Your goals, community, office setup, employee benefits, dress code, etc. are grounded in the culture that develops over time within your organization.  While many businesses have a company culture that grows organically and is never explicitly referred to, it’s sometimes essential to strategically create a company culture or to improve the culture of your business.

Whether your company culture is discussed in depth or not, at a minimum, a business should identify what the general culture is so recruitment strategies can be appropriately aimed at hiring those to support the current culture.

Company Culture and The Hiring Process

When you identify the company culture of your business and employ recruitment strategies to build a team that supports your culture, you are impacting the attraction, selection, and retention portions of your human resources process.

Attraction

Points 2 and 3 listed below (website and advertisement incorporation) will help you to attract the right employees for your business who are a good cultural fit. Drawing the right people is the first step.  If you’re going through the hiring process and none of the candidates fit your company’s needs culturally, it will be difficult to move to the next step which is selection.

Selection

Point 4 listed below (ask questions related to values) will help you to select the right employee.  A mixture of their ability to complete the duties required for the position and their responses to your culture based questions will aid you in picking the best person for the job.

Retention

Keeping employees with your company can be difficult if they don’t fit within the culture.  For example, if you are a very laid back, casual, teamwork-based business yet you hire someone who is rigid and professional to a fault who operates as an island, they likely won’t feel satisfied being with your company for an extended period.

#1 Develop Your Values

The first step in ensuring your recruitment strategies support your company culture is developing a set of values. This is done by first defining how you want your company culture to look. Next, review what your company culture looks like now and the changes that need to be made, if any.  Finally, consider the resources you need to have in place to support improving the culture if necessary.

#2 Incorporate Culture on Your Website

Components of your company culture that are most important should be incorporated into your website.

The overall tone of your site can display your company culture.  Your copy and images should be used to communicate your cultural message.

What does your “about us” page say about your business?

Consider incorporating employee profiles showcasing those within your business and speak specifically to the cultural competence they display that you’d want to see in others who join your team.

#3 Add Culture to Your Advertisement

When you advertise the position you’re hiring for, incorporate your cultural requirements or expectations into the copy.

Examples of ways to incorporate your culture are…

“Do you like working in a casual environment? Are you a team player? Are you looking for a job that feels more like fun than work?  If so, you just might be the right fit!”

“We are seeking a goal-oriented, self-starter to join our busy medical practice.  We pride ourselves on providing the best service to every patient regardless of ability to pay.  As a pillar of our community, we are here to serve those in need. If you have a heart of service, please give us a call.”

“2 weeks paid time off,  monthly team luncheons, 401K match, and casual dress code are just some of the benefits of working with Red Leaf Management.”

When you include information about the culture of your company within the advertisement, you are letting your potential interviewees know ahead of time the type of environment your business has.  This is likely to provide you with a better candidate selection than you’d receive when making typical statements such as, “I’m seeking a highly qualified family law attorney to join our busy firm.”

Discuss Culture During The Interview

During the interview, consider discussing the culture of the company.  Include things such as whether you are a proponent of teamwork, if you are a very technological savvy business, if the office offers a family-like atmosphere, or if there’s less open communication and collaboration.

Letting your potential candidate know this information upfront allows them to make a more educated decision regarding if they would even be interested in joining your company based on the culture.

It’s true that if an employee doesn’t fit within the culture of a company they might struggle to engage as well as those who do feel comfortable with the company culture.

(For more on improving employee engagement, download a free copy of my book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement)

Ask questions related to value

Instead of sticking solely to questions about the requirements of the position, ask questions that would allow you to gauge whether the potential candidate would fit within the company culture.

Examples include

What values are more important to you?

How does an organization with effective communication look?

What is your ideal work environment?

How do you bounce back from failure?

Questions like the ones listed above don’t speak directly to their ability to get the job done.  Instead, they speak to the candidate’s character. Their character is what will impact their ability to fit within the culture of the organization.

Choosing the best recruitment strategies to build a team that supports your company culture is vital if you want to attract, select, and retain top-notch employees. Incorporating the strategies outlined above should provide you with a solid plan of action to do just that.

 

The 5 Essential Qualities of a Successful Leader in Business

Whether you are leading an entire company, a department, or a small team, if you want to be a successful leader in business, there are certain traits you must acquire. While being a leader is not a one size fits all position, the most successful leaders share a set of personality traits.  This blog post will outline the 5 common business leadership skills you will want to improve over time.

As you read these qualities, be sure to consider where you stand on a scale of 1-5, 1 being it doesn’t describe you at all and 5 being it describes you perfectly. If you find that your rating is a 3 or below, you want to think about developing your leadership skill in that area. It has been said that employees don’t quit their job, they quit their boss, so if you can ensure you’re the best leader possible, you will likely increase retention rates, productivity, and engagement within your company.

For more on improving employee engagement, get a copy of my book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement, for free. Decisiveness

Leaders are required to consistently.  Those who you lead look to you to take action that will move the company forward.  If you are unable to make decisions that will benefit your team, department, or company, you will be unable to succeed in a leadership position.

Decisions will sometimes need to be made quickly, so you must practice your ability to make choices that require quick, on the spot decision-making skills.

Other decisions are based on a long-term plan and require collaboration, strategy and more thought to be successful.

Leaders sometimes believe that to be a good decision maker they must do it independently, but often, making decisions will involve communicating with other stakeholders in the company from various levels.

Being able to communicate through the decision-making process and come to a conclusion that suits everyone involved is one of the signs of a real business leader.

Integrity

Integrity is your ability to be honest and behave in an upright manner.  As a leader, others are always looking at you to see how you react in situations and will see you as an example of what to do and how to move throughout the company.

You must carry yourself with integrity to be a leader that guides others.  You don’t have to be perfect and maintain a 100% squeaky clean image with no room for error, that’s difficult to manage, instead, be honest.  Be relatable. Be real with your team.

If you make mistakes, explain what happened and what could be done differently in the future. Do not put yourself in a position to fake being perfect, then let down your team when they realize that you are only human.

Also, do not take the idea that you are only human too far. You must always keep in mind that you are the example of leadership within your company.

Knowledge

As the leader in business, you have to know what’s going on in your company and your field.  You’re not required to be an expert on every topic within your business, but you should have a general understanding of most issues related to your niche.

In certain situations you won’t be able to provide the necessary resources or information, so it’s important to know where to quickly access information that’s required to move your company forward.

If you lack a strong knowledge base, people will see your deficiencies and recognize that you don’t know much about the area in which you call yourself a leader.

Endurance

Endurance is the ability to keep going.  As a leader in business, you must keep going because all eyes are on you.  If you’re unable to maintain endurance as the leader, others will see that it’s okay for them to stop when things get hard.

It’s an excellent teachable moment for your team to let them sometimes know when you are feeling tired or stressed and what you do internally to keep yourself going so you don’t quit.  They will see you as more relatable and hopefully learn from you instead of believing you’re a corporate robot who never has a bad day.

Also, when you lead others, they will turn to you as a shoulder to lean on when times get tough for them.  Having to motivate them to keep going and keep yourself going can be taxing, that’s why having enough endurance to support yourself and those around you is crucial.

Building a supportive company culture is a great way to lift the burden off everyone’s shoulder and improve endurance all around.

Imagination

When you hear the word imagination, you might envision crayons, glitter, painting and imaginary friends, but imagination is a an authentic and crucial quality of a leader in business.

Having imagination is the ability to develop an idea based on something that isn’t currently true and believe you have what it takes to make it come to life.  Any leader without the ability to imagine a better future for the organization in which it leads will always be holding back the company.

When Amazon offered first went public in 1997, and a share was only $18, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and his team imagined the company growing.  As of October 2018, Amazon stock is over $1,600 per share.

When Oprah Winfrey started her career as a radio personality in Nashville, TN, she imagined that her career would grow beyond her then position. Now Oprah’s net worth is 2.9 billion, not million, dollars.

Many successful people have had to imagine their success before they experienced it or imagine their business improvements, upgrades, significant changes and partnerships before they became real.  You must do the same.

When you are a strong leader in business, those who you lead will recognize it and respect it.  While many leadership traits vary from the 5 detailed above, be sure you have these established as a bare minimum set of qualities you concentrate on building.

 

Managing Conflict Resolution in the Workplace

When a company employs others, it’s likely that conflict resolution in the workplace will need to occur.  Sometimes, the conflict can be handled by the employees who are at odds, other times another employee or manager will have to step in.  Either way, resolving conflict in a timely and efficient manner is essential to the continued success of the company and positivity of the overall company culture.

When conflict resolution in the workplace is required, there are a few action steps that need to be taken to eliminate the differences and return focus to the matter at hand, company success.

Acknowledge

Conflict is bound to happen, so getting used to that idea and being willing to face it head-on is an invaluable skill. When issues are swept under the rug, they never truly disappear.  The knowledge of the dirty floor still lingers despite it being hidden.

When conflict appears, take the time to acknowledge that an issue is present and that a resolution must occur.  This is not the time to choose sides prematurely or make assumptions about what may or may not have happened. Instead, be open to the idea that there is an issue and be understanding that your employees are likely upset about the matter at hand.

Self Resolve

Many disputes can be resolved without the involvement of management.  Once you acknowledge an issue, encourage employees to sit down and attempt to solve the problem themselves.  When you give them the opportunity to resolve their problem instead of immediately stepping in, you set the precedent that resolving issues independently should be the first step.

Provide them with a timeframe to attempt to solve their problem and check back in with them.  If it has been resolved, great. You can check back in overtime to make sure the issue hasn’t resurfaced.  If not, continue with the conflict resolution process.

It’s important to exercise good judgment when deciding whether your employees can resolve the conflict themselves.  If the issue is ongoing, involves extreme disrespect, discrimination, harassment, etc., you wouldn’t expect them to handle it independently, and you should forego this step.

Express

When a person is upset, they want to vent their frustrations and feel heard. Giving your employees the opportunity to do so allows them to release their feelings which will make the conflict resolution process more productive.

Facilitate this process properly.  If both employees are in the room, ensure they’re not interrupting each other or displaying disrespectful body language.  Sometimes it’s best to hear both sides separately, then bring them together. You must do what’s best for the specific situation based on personalities, the nature of the conflict, and your company culture.

Policy

Sometimes conflict resolution in the workplace will be simple because the issue will directly violate company policy or the policy will have a detailed process regarding what’s to happen in the specific situation.

If there are guidelines, you want to follow them, if not, you must move forward in deciding on a solution that works best for the employees and company.

Solution

Now it’s time to determine what specific steps need to take place to resolve this conflict. It’s important to remember at this time that a full agreement doesn’t need to occur because sometimes employees will have to agree to disagree.  Instead, discuss what each employee would like to see happen and determine how they can find a middle ground. Any commonalities that can be agreed upon during this time is a significant step.

The solution stage should be tailored to your company culture, the issues at hand, and your employees, but there are a few parts of the process that should be included.  These were provided by the Human Resources Department at the University of California Berkeley.

Find multiple alternatives

Brainstorm various ways in which this problem can be resolved. Allow each member involved to provide input, so their voice continues to be heard.

Determine actions to be taken

Once a list of possible solutions is developed, determine the best course of action moving forward.  Consider the pros and cons, both logistically and emotionally for each option.

Get a verbal agreement by all involved

This step is critical. You want everyone to agree to the solution verbally as his or her acknowledgment that he or she will do their part in ending the conflict. If an employee refuses to agree, the odds are likely that the issue will repeat itself, and get worse as time goes on.  If this is the case you might consider bringing in a conflict mediator, or if insubordination is at play, a consequence might be needed.

Follow-Up

Completing the conflict resolution process is not a guarantee that the issue at hand will be resolved.  It’s best to check back in with those involved from time to time to determine whether the problem is continuing or if it is no longer prevalent.  

If the issue is still not resolved, again, it might be time to bring in a mediator, or if there is a case of insubordination, consequences might need to be given to certain people involved.

Having conflict in the workplace is never a fun thing to deal with, but sometimes resolving conflict can lead to better communication and ultimately a stronger bond between employees.  Never sweep issues under the rug. Bring them to the forefront and understand that it is your responsibility to maintain a positive and healthy environment of engaged employees and that’s difficult to do when there is no conflict resolution in the workplace.

If you want to learn more about maintaining engaged employees, you can download my free e-book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement. In this book, I break down best practices to get your employees engaged in your company’s success.

Improving C Suite Communication With All Company Levels

Reaching the C Suite is considered the ultimate goal of many employees working in the business world. The C suite, also known as the upper management department houses top senior executives within a company.  Once you’ve reached the C Suite level, you are charged with maintaining a demanding workload and making high stakes decisions regularly.

As a member of the C Suite maintaining communication with those at lower levels of a company can become a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be.  Below you will find ways in which you can improve the communication of C Suite executives with all levels of your company.

Company Levels

Most large companies have multiple management levels tasked with various responsibilities within the organization.

Upper Management

The upper management team is also known as the C Suite.  It’s called the C Suite because most senior executive titles start with the letter C including…

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO)
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Middle Management

The middle management team is composed of the heads of a division or department.  They are responsible for managing other middle managers or the lower level management team.  They often have the titles of director or Vice President

Lower Management

The lower management team oversees the daily business operations of a company.  They have titles such as supervisor and office manager.

Communicating With Discretion

When talking with those at lower levels, you must understand what can and can’t be shared. Many conversations held at the C Suite level are sensitive in nature and are not to be revealed to those outside of the C Suite for various reasons.  While you want to communicate with those outside of the C Suite on a regular basis, you want to ensure that you are not leaking sensitive information.

Terminology

Those within the C Suite often utilize terminology that differs from those on lower levels.  You want to refrain from using complicated verbiage and acronyms especially if you feel those in lower level positions won’t fully understand what you are referring to.  Instead, use layman’s terms. You don’t want your employees to feel as though you are disconnected from them and who they truly are. One of the best ways to ostracize yourself is to communicate in a way that doesn’t connect with whom you’re having a conversation with.  

Understand The Culture

Every company has its own corporate culture, and quite often various departments and company levels have their own mini company culture as well.  The way things operate within the C Suite will often be different than how things are in the lower management realm.  It’s crucial that you develop a general understanding of the culture that’s present in all areas of the company.

This is similar to the role of a United States President.  He/she must be flexible, able to eat lunch with the ruler of a nation and a school teacher within the same week.  This wouldn’t be possible without an understanding of the culture of the various people in society.

Remain Visible

Visibility is crucial to maintaining communication with various levels of the company.  

Obviously, every employee should know who you are by name and face. However, they should also have the opportunity to speak and connect with you when possible.

As the size of your company grows, that can become increasingly difficult, but it isn’t impossible.

Send newsletters to employees addressing topics that are important to them. Record video messages regarding various issues which allows you to connect in a more personable manner than a print message.

Have roundtable discussions with members of the lower levels.  This is best done in a smaller group setting maybe via a brown bag lunch series or departmental meeting.  When you schedule these meetings ahead of time and make them a priority, you can ensure you’re getting face to face time with those in your company to maintain visibility.

Stay Connected

Above all else, you must develop an understanding of what’s going on on the ground floor of your company, both good and bad.  Acknowledge the positives that are taking place with praise. Also, acknowledge the struggles and concerns and put steps in place with the person responsible for those issues to make necessary improvements.

You can stay connected by remaining visible.  When your employees are used to seeing you and interacting with you, they are more likely to feel comfortable communicating with you about what’s going on within the company.

You can also stay connected through the use of surveys, polls, questionnaires, etc. to collect information regarding what’s working well and what’s not working well within the company.

This qualitative data is sometimes more impactful than focusing solely on quantitative metrics in business.  It helps to maintain a human connection with those in the company.

Above all else remember that you are a human working with humans.  Despite your title. Despite your salary. Despite the high impact career level you’ve risen to, everyone should be treated with the same respect and human connectedness across the board.

Moving Forward

As a C Suite Executive, you have a great deal of responsibility on your plate. Maintaining strong communication skills with those in your company should remain a priority throughout your tenure.  

To ensure it maintains a priority, make it a mission in your strategic planning process and revisit the progress you’re making overtime.

A strong and successful company is built from the top down, so establishing a culture with highly engaged employees who produce amazing results begins with you. A little communication can go a long way as a C Suite executive.

Top Reasons for Leaving a Job – Why Good Employees Quit

Finding a highly skilled, hardworking and consistent employee to join your team can be a difficult task.  Some companies find it just as challenging to decrease turnover rates of their best employees.

The reason an employee chooses to resign can vary widely.  Some get married and move to another state. Others decide to start their own business.  They might have a baby and decide to stay home or even win the lottery. Those are all based on circumstances that have more to do with their personal lives and less to do with the decisions made by their managers.  

The other reasons good employees quit their jobs are often directly related to their employer.  Poor management, lack of advancement opportunities, and the inability to maintain a work/life balance are some of the reasons given by good employees who choose to quit their jobs.

When you are dedicated to keeping the employees you manage satisfied and employed with your company, you must first develop a firm understanding of the top reasons why good employees leave their jobs.

Poor Management

Wendy Durante Duckrey, Vice President of recruiting at JPMorgan, is famously quoted as saying,  “most people don’t quit their jobs; they quit their boss.”

It is also one of the top reasons good employees give for leaving a job.

When an employee feels supported, encouraged, and motivated by their superior, they will work harder for them, and remain more dedicated to their position.

If they feel their needs are not being met and their concerns are not being addressed, they are less likely to remain with the company, not due to the job itself, but due to management issues.

Unfortunately, there appears to be a lack of proper training for many who enter into managerial positions.  It involves more than paperwork and tracking metrics. Managers must have strong people skills and the ability to develop relationships with those who work under them.

Otherwise, employers who struggle to manage their employees will continue to face the harsh reality that goes along with high turnover rates.

Feeling Undervalued

There’s nothing worse than going to work every day, doing your job to the best of your ability, being expected to go above and beyond your required tasks, and feeling underappreciated and undervalued by those at your job.

It is one of the fastest ways to decrease employee engagement and to lose a good employee.

You can make your employees feel valued in many ways including:

  • Acknowledging their hard work publicly
  • Providing them with a physical token of appreciation
  • Offering incentives such as a half day off after reaching a big goal
  • Buying them lunch
  • Giving them a card expressing your appreciation

The ways in which you can make your employees feel valued are endless and can fit any budget your company has.

While all employees should be made to feel appreciated, it’s especially important to do this for employees who are continually working hard and taking on additional responsibilities beyond what they’ve been hired to do.

Lack of Advancement Opportunities

Most employees want to feel challenged in their career.  Being in a job with no advancement opportunities, be it their position or a significant salary change, will often lead to the search for new employment, especially when they recognize their value as an employee.

It’s important to give employees an opportunity to stay with your company as they improve their skills and advance in their career.

You can do this by making new job opportunities known to employees within the company, so they have first dibs before bringing in outsiders.

Also, check in with your employees at minimum once per year to discuss their career goals.  This will allow you to gain an understanding of how your employees are feeling regarding their current position and hopes for the future.

Also, offering educational opportunities and tuition reimbursement opportunities can provide your employee with a reason to remain with your company while gaining skills that can lead to advancement in the future.

Feeling Overworked

Today more than ever, the desire to have a career that still allows for flexibility, time with family and friends, and a healthy personal life is at the top of many employees’ list.

When employees are overworked, it reduces their ability to maintain a healthy a work/life balance.

It’s often found that good employees who show their ability to handle their job and take on additional responsibilities find the weight of their department placed on their shoulders.  While it might be seen as a way to show your trust in the employee, it is actually a form of punishment. It shows that when an employee performs well, they are rewarded with additional work and no salary increase.

When you want to give an employee additional responsibilities, it should be a non-negotiable that a salary increase or position advancement comes along with those added responsibilities.

Keeping Good Employees

If your goal is to keep your good employees working with your company, it’s crucial that you stay abreast of their needs and wants career wise.  In most situations, a highly skilled employee will be able to find another position, so you must consider what you need to do to keep them with your company.

Understand that you are working with people. People who have families.  People who have personal lives. People with dreams, wishes, and goals. People with feelings.

When you keep that at the forefront of your mind, you will treat your employees like real people and your good employees will recognize your humanism and be more likely to stay around.

When you treat them like they’re disposable, they will dispose of their position and find another.

As you work to ensure your employees remain within your company, it’s also vital that you keep employee engagement high.  It is one of the key factors to maintaining low turnover rates within a company.

If you’re searching for a resource that will help you maintain a workforce that is highly engaged, download a free copy of my book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement which features best practices for getting your employees involved in your company’s success.

Managing Generational Differences in the Workplace

Many of today’s companies have employees that represent various generations, and this can lead to many generational differences in the workplace.

Having differences in business can be a benefit because homogeneity often leads to a lack of new ideas and fresh perspectives.  However, if those differences are not appropriately managed, it can lead to division and a lack of engagement within the company.

To ensure the latter does not occur, it’s essential that all companies with employees from multiple generations be diligent in ensuring each generational sector feel appreciated, welcomed, and vital to the success of the company.

Generational Subsets

There are currently 3 generations most likely to be employed at this time.

Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964.

Generation X was born between 1965 and 1980.

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996.

There are some Traditionalists still employed, though most have passed the working age.  They were born between 1927 and 1945.

Generation Z is entering the workforce in higher numbers being born between 1997 and today.

Each generation is likely to come to the company with different wants, needs, and viewpoints.  Taking everyone’s opinions into consideration and treating each employee as an essential member of the team are the high-level keys to managing generational differences in the workplace.

Below you will find more specific tips regarding managing these multigenerational differences amongst employees.

Review Your Company Culture

You can start managing generational differences in the workplace by reviewing how your company culture treats all generations within the company.  

Is the environment inclusive? Are there opportunities for collaboration amongst employees of various generations? Do members of different generations feel as though their needs are not being met or considered?

The review and adjustment of your company culture should not be a process only completed by those at the top of the company hierarchy. Every member of the team should have input regarding the creation and implementation of the company culture.

This can be done by having an in-person conversation or receiving input and feedback via digital formats such as surveys.

Also, offering opportunities for employees of multiple generations to be visible within various departments and levels of the company allows for a more heterogeneous culture overall.  

Consider Your Communication Style

An employee born in 1964 likely prefers to communicate in a different style than one born in 1994.

To offer an inclusive environment, provide communication methods that would make everyone within your company feel comfortable and considered.  

The IBM Center for The Business of Government posted a study highlighting the common communication preferences of members of the different generations.

  • Traditionalists often prefer personal notes and letters.
  • Baby Boomers prefer phone calls and face to face meetings.
  • Generation X is more comfortable with emails.
  • Millennials utilize text messages and blogs to communicate regularly.

This doesn’t mean you should stereotype your employees and assume Baby Boomers don’t text or Millennials don’t like phone calls.

It just means you should consider communicating in various ways to meet the possible preferences of your employees who represent different generations.  

You can gain a clearer understanding of communication preferences by getting feedback directly from your employees.  This can be done by sending out a digital survey to your team or bringing up the topic during your next department meeting.

Another communication topic to consider is whether there are open lines of communication amongst everyone on the team.  

If a millennial employee feels uncomfortable bringing ideas to the table, their skill set is not being utilized properly.

Also, if a Generation X employee believes his ideas are not taken seriously, he won’t be as motivated to stay fully engaged in the company.

Consider What Motivates Your Multigenerational Employees

You will likely find that each generation is motivated by something slightly different due to their background.

To determine what motivates your employees, gain feedback from them regarding what would make them feel more satisfied at work and what can be done to increase engagement with the team.

Motivating your employees should lead to increased employee engagement, but if you’re seeking additional methods to improve the engagement rate of your employees, download a free copy of my book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement.

In the same study referenced previously, the IBM Center for The Business of Government also highlighted the various rewards employees from multiple generations prefer.

  • Traditionalists tend to prefer loyalty symbols such as plaques and certificates.
  • Baby Boomers prefer promotions and other forms of recognition.
  • Generation X is motivated by professional development opportunities or certifications that will advance their careers.
  • Millennials prefer awards or monetary rewards in the form of bonuses or raises.

Again, you shouldn’t stereotype your employees based solely on their generational status, but instead, use this information as a guide. Ultimately, gaining feedback from your employees regarding precisely what would make them feel more satisfied allows you to get real insight into the factors that motivate them.

Promote Team Building

Engaged employees are happy employees, and happy employees feel comfortable amongst their co-workers.

Team building should be initiated regularly whether your company employs members from multiple generations or not because it’s good business practice. When your employees are from numerous generations, it can be even more essential to building a positive business culture than usual.

You want to incorporate team building as a way to connect employees of all generations and to connect members of the company who are at all hierarchy levels.

A team building activity can be as simple as going to happy hour after work for an informal opportunity to connect outside of the office, or as detailed as planning a team building program at an off-campus site.

Whichever route you take, remember that a team built on trust, consideration, and mutual respect is more likely to succeed.

Moving Forward

As you make the steps to manage generational differences in the workplace remember that your company is blessed with the opportunity to have employees representing various generations.  Their knowledge can serve and support your clients and customers in invaluable ways.

Building Corporate Culture By Design, Not Default

Designing the corporate culture of a business is a crucial component of long-term success.   It’s not enough to just let it develop over time without care, thought, or purpose. You must think about how the culture should look and feel within your company.  This should not be one more thing to add to your to-do list, but instead an integral component of your company, just like your products, services, and employee choices.

Understanding Corporate Culture

Before you decide to cultivate the corporate culture of your company, you must have a firm understanding of what corporate culture is.  According to Investopedia.com, corporate culture is the “beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.”

You can read more about the specific benefits of creating a corporate culture and how it impacts various businesses here.

Determine Foundational Values and Beliefs

Creating the corporate culture of your company should involve an open conversation between everyone in the organization from the top down, but it shouldn’t start that way.  

Begin the process by having a meeting with the leaders of  your business to develop a baseline understanding of what the foundational values and beliefs are related to

  • Goals
  • Strategies
  • Customer interactions
  • Investor relationships
  • Community
  • Dress code
  • Business hours
  • Office setup
  • Employee benefits
  • Hiring decisions

While there’s no guarantee that the ideas you develop during the beginning of this process will make it to the final stage of your corporate culture plan, this is a great place to start before you involve your full team.

Gain Employee Insight on Corporate Culture

After developing a foundational overview of the values and beliefs of your organization, it’s time to bring in your employees.

Depending on the size of your organization and the current culture, this can be done anonymously via a digital format, or in person by having a traditional roundtable conversation.

If your company is smaller and used to open communication, an in-person roundtable meeting might be best.  

If your company is larger, or you believe some employees might not feel comfortable giving their honest opinions in the open,  it might be best to send out an anonymous digital survey.

Whether this stage is completed in person or virtually, you must set the purpose for the conversation.  Explain why you are gathering this information. Ensure they understand the end goal and why their input is essential.  Explain to them your next steps in the process.

This helps them become fully engaged in the development of the corporate culture and allows them to respond to the questions with the background knowledge and foresight necessary to give their best responses.

Gain Buy-In

Once you have a conversation with your employees and flesh out the final corporate culture of your company, it’s time to gain buy-in.

Everyone might not be excited about the new culture you’ve set in place.  Maybe it’s because they feel the current culture is good enough. Perhaps it’s because they don’t want to see change.  

Whatever the reason, it’s crucial to gain buy-in, if only from a few employees to start.  This is because when you start a new mission or process, those who believe in it will start the domino effect of support.  These supporters will act as role models and express to their co-workers in a peer to peer conversation the benefits of this new initiative.

You might need a bit more of a boost in increasing employee engagement in the corporate culture process.  If you are seeking additional support, download a free copy of my book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement where I share best practices for getting your employees engaged in your company’s success.

Implement the Corporate Culture

Now that you have a corporate culture in place that you’ve designed, it’s time to implement it.  Setting a plan in place is the simple part. Incorporating it in your day to day business practices will test whether you can maintain this culture.

Make sure you stay focused on your ultimate corporate culture goals, and if necessary, you might need to teach and reteach your employees how to operate within this new culture.

Lead by Example

Here’s a bonus tip as you’re designing your corporate culture and expecting your employees to buy-in to the process and follow along.  You must with no doubt lead by example.

Remember that you are being watched at all times by your employees.  Everything in business comes from the top down, so your employees will follow your lead.  

If you start out strong in modeling the new culture then get lax around month 2, they will believe the initiative is not very important, and they will get lax as well.  However, if you’re serious about it and model the culture on a daily basis, they will see you and hopefully become more serious about it as well.

Make the culture a part of who you are as a leader.  Be the biggest cheerleader and supporter of the new corporate culture and hold yourself to a higher standard than your employees.  That means if you want your employees to shoot for the stars, you need to be on Neptune. It wouldn’t be the expectation that the majority of your employees land on Neptune with you, but some will rise to the occasion, others will fall short, but at least they won’t still be on planet Earth.

Above all else, remember, your energy is contagious. It’s your role to guide your employees in the design and implementation of your company’s corporate culture.

From Hire to Retire: Infusing Corporate Culture Through The Process

The corporate culture of your company should be taken into consideration in all stages of your relationship with your employees as it sets the foundation for the values, beliefs, and decisions your business will stand by.  

From the hiring process to company celebrations, to administering raises and promotions, infusing the corporate culture throughout the process helps to maintain consistencies and develop a solid belief system.

Hiring a Cultural Fit

Cultural fit is a term used frequently in the employee hiring process.  It is discussed when considering whether a potential employee would fit into the corporate culture of the company.

The official definition of cultural fit according to JobTestPrep.com is  “when a company evaluates how a potential employee may express the characteristics, language, and values that exist within the current organizational culture.”  

When a candidate’s values, beliefs, outlook, and behavior are compatible with those existing within the company, he or she is likely to be a good fit.

It’s important to have guidelines when looking for a cultural fit without creating a culture where you only hire clones of fellow employees.

If you focus too much on an employee being the perfect cultural fit, it is possible for the company to becomes homogeneous in views and ideas.  

That can create an environment that limits business growth as differing beliefs, ideas, and viewpoints, often spark conversations that lead to ideas that can change the trajectory of a business.

Incorporate Corporate Culture in the Hiring Process

When you consider the corporate culture of your company and seek a candidate who is a cultural fit, it’s best practice to advise them that it will be considered in the hiring process.

Having an open dialogue about this component of the hiring process allows the candidate to understand that they will not be judged based solely on their work experience, education, and employer recommendations.  

Incorporating corporate culture can be done through an interview, assessment, or personality test.

Examples of questions you can ask are

  • Do you prefer working alone or as part of the team?
  • What is your leadership style?
  • How would your co-workers describe your work style?
  • What do you think about regular employee gatherings?

Be sure to ask questions that speak directly to the values that are important to your company.

Cultural Fit Onboarding

When you’re onboarding a new employee into the company, having further conversations regarding the corporate culture helps to build cultural competency from day one.

You can do this by offering a company values training that occurs in person or via pre-recorded video. Cultural information should also be included in the employee handbook, though that alone is generally not enough training for a new employee.

When discussing values, be sure to offer real examples of how they can be showcased correctly and incorrectly within the company.

Offer an opportunity to have a conversation after the training has taken place to ensure all messages have been delivered clearly and to clarify any potential questions that might remain.

Continued Cultural Conversations

Beyond the hiring and onboarding processes, maintaining a positive corporate culture is vital to the success of a company.

Team Building

Planning team building activities can build a culture of connectedness amongst employees and showcase the importance placed on that component of the corporate culture.

Here are a few simple examples of team building activities, but there are hundreds if not thousands of options available.

  • Put employees in small groups and give each group tape, marshmallows, and spaghetti noodles. The team with the highest structure wins.
  • Put employees in small groups.  Participants begin at a starting line and run to a swivel chair.  They sit down in the chair and spin around 5 times then run back to the starting line to tag in their team member.  The team that finishes first wins.
  • Put employees in small groups. Set up trash cans 5, 10, and 15 feet from the starting line.  Each “basket” has a point value associated with it. Each participant will get 5 pieces of balled up paper and will earn points for their team based on the number of shots that land in the basket.

Continued Education

Continued education regarding the culture of the company is also an essential piece of the puzzle. Just discussing it during the hiring process is not enough.  Once your employee is in the trenches and facing various situations, those cultural trainings that occurred months years ago are no longer front of mind.

There are many ways to incorporate continuing education into the organization, here are a few tips to consider.

  • Make training mandatory for all of those involved in the organization. If it’s not required, many employees may not attend or might question its actual importance.
  • Ask for feedback from employees regarding the cultural training. If it doesn’t connect with them, it is a waste of time.
  • Use current employees to provide training when possible.  This helps to promote the skillsets of current employees.

Offer Rewards

You can also reward those who demonstrate company values consistently.

This can be done by using values as a part of the criteria when awarding raises and promotions.

You can nominate employees each month for demonstrating the core values of the company. You can present them with a certificate, or highlight their work in the company newsletter or staff meeting.

Making this information public helps to reiterate the importance of corporate culture and values in the company.

You can also acknowledge employees in simple ways by sending an email to an employee who demonstrated good values or leaving a sticky note on their desk expressing your appreciation.

One vital component of continuing cultural conversations is to discuss behaviors that are incorrect. When you see an employee demonstrating culturally inappropriate behavior, it’s essential to have a respectful, open, and honest discussion about why their behavior is inappropriate and what a better choice would be,

Fostering Engagement

Infusing corporate culture throughout your organization is vital to the corporate culture process.  Ensuring your employees are engaged in the corporate culture is a requirement if the process is going to have maximum effect. If you’re looking to improve your employee engagement, make sure you download a copy of my free book, 5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement. It features actionable steps you can take to ensure your employees are fully engaged in all processes including the corporate culture.

Why Your Business Should Be Strategic Planning

All businesses are unique, but one thing many successful business owners have in common is the practice of strategic planning.  This plan is used to ensure they have an understanding of their vision, their goals, and the steps needed to make these ideas a reality.

A strategic plan is “a systematic process of envisioning a desired future and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them” according to BusinessDictionary.com.

All business owners should develop and frequently revisit their strategic plan.  The definition includes the reasons why it’s vital to business success, but I will break them down further below.

You Envision Your Desired Future

Have you ever gotten in a car destined to have the best vacation ever without your GPS turned on or a destination in mind?  I doubt it. Moreover, if you did, it’s unlikely that your trip was successful.

Whenever you take action, you have an idea of what you want your result to be.

When you get a haircut, you envision a specific style.

When you paint your bedroom, you know the emotion you want the color to evoke.

When you get married, you envision living happily ever after with your spouse.

Strategic planning allows you to do the same thing.

Envisioning a future for your business takes you out of the present and catapults you into the future, so your actions are working towards reaching your target.

You Develop Broadly Defined Goals or Objectives

Having a vision for your future allows you to set goals or objectives that will enable you to work towards that vision.

Setting proper goals is crucial for any business because it takes your vision and makes it more concrete.  

Real Life Example

Your long-range travel goal is to visit every continent by your 60th birthday.

How will you turn that dream into a reality?  It starts by setting broad goals. You don’t need to define every detail from the beginning, just developing a general understanding is a great start.

For example

  • I will visit Europe by 35 years old.
  • I will visit Africa by 40 years old.
  • I will visit South America by 45 years old.
  • I will visit Australia by 50 years old.
  • I will visit Asia by 55 years old.
  • I will visit Antarctica by 60 years old.

These broad goals alone will not turn your overarching vision into a reality, however, identifying them start to make your concept more concrete.

You Develop a Sequence of Steps to Achieve Your Goals

Now that you have an overall vision along with broadly defined goals or objectives, strategic planning calls for you to break down each goal into actionable steps that make it achievable.

Having a vision is excellent and setting goals is even better, but without the actionable steps that follow, your goal will likely never be achieved.  The steps turn it into a plan which is what every business owner needs.

Your vision, goals, and plan are the trifecta that make up strategic planning.

Real Life Example

To continue with the example that was provided in the previous section, let’s take the first goal and break it down into actionable steps.

I will travel to Europe by my 35th birthday.

What steps will make that possible?

  1. Decide on a location
  2. Decide on a date
  3. Decide who will accompany you
  4. Book your hotel
  5. Book your flight
  6. Plan your itinerary
  7. Pack your bags
  8. Set a timer the night before the trip to arrive at the airport on time

Now you have a plan that will help you reach your goal!

If you find yourself still asking, “What is Strategic Planning” or want a more in-depth explanation of what a strategic business plan is and the benefits of strategic planning you can read another blog post I wrote on this topic entitled The 5 Benefits of Strategic Planning For Your Business.

Why You Need Strategic Planning

I included a strategic planning example related to travel because we can all relate to the concept. As simplistic as it seems, that’s ultimately how simple your business strategic plan can be.  

Just remove the travel elements and replace the vision, goals, and plan you have for your business.

If you think you can travel to every continent before you’re 60 years old without goals or a plan, then by all means, maybe you don’t need to implement strategic planning in your business.

However, if you’re like the rest of the world and realize that goals and a plan help you to reach your vision faster, it’s time to implement one now.  

If you already have a strategic plan that sits in a folder on your laptop that you never refer to, it’s time to pull it up.  

A strategic plan is a living document, as your business grows and changes so should your vision, your goals, and your plan.

Develop your strategic plan, regularly revisit it and update it. That’s the key to successful strategic planning.

If your company has employees, full time or part time, it’s essential that they be up to date on your strategic plan and follow it with fidelity. Gaining employee buy-in and engagement is crucial to business success.

If you’re looking for a tool to help you improve your employee engagement, you need to download a free copy of my book, “5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement.”  You can download your copy here.  Its features best practices for getting your employees engaged in your company’s success. Strategic planning is most beneficial when everyone is on board and committed.