Tag Archives: leadership

Does Your CEO Connect with Frontline Workers?

Most companies dedicate substantial time and energy to researching, planning, and implementing communication strategies that build stronger relationships with their customers, but the most successful also dedicate an equally significant amount of energy to communicating with their employees.

Legendary former General Electric CEO Jack Welch once said, “There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow. It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”

Why Employee Communication Matters

Employee communication is vitally important to building a successful company. In addition to building an informed workforce that clearly understands the why and how of the work they do each day, effective and genuine communication between a company’s senior leadership and its frontline workers can make or break employee engagement. For instance, if your CEO sees you in the hall every day and never remembers your name, you’re probably not going to feel valued as an employee. But if he or she both knows your name and asks for your opinion on big company changes? You’ll know you’re valued, and have a tangible company goal to work toward.

According to a Gallup study, only 22% of employees “strongly agree that their company’s leaders have a clear direction for their organization. And only 13% strongly agree that their organization’s leadership communicates effectively.” Similarly, a study by IBM and Globoforce found that “44% of employees do not feel their senior leaders provide clear direction about where the organization is headed.”

In many cases, a company’s senior leadership may very well have a detailed plan for the organization’s future, however, if it’s not being effectively communicated down the line to workers like you, it’s more difficult for employees to rally around a common goal. Opening the lines of communication with frontline workers makes it easier for everyone to work together toward a common goal.

Where Companies Fall Short in Their Communication Strategies

A poll from the Harvard Business Review highlighted some of the top communication issues that prevent effective leadership, including “not recognizing employee achievements” (63%), “not giving clear directions” (57%), “not having time to meet with employees” (52%), “not knowing employees’ names” (36%), and “not asking about employees’ lives outside of work” (23%).

The Solution

Whether it’s implementing a formal internal communication tool or organizing a weekly “coffee with the CEO” roundtable in the breakroom, it’s in a company’s best interest to make a deliberate and genuine effort to bridge the gap between the “C-suite” and frontline workers.

In fact, according to a study from Towers Watson on how businesses capitalize on effective communication, “Companies that are highly effective communicators had 47% higher total returns to shareholders over the last five years compared with firms that are the least effective communicators.”

Bottom line, employees care more when leadership takes the time to get to know them. They want to know where the company is headed. The less mystery, the better.

Does your CEO care about frontline workers? Let us know in the comments below!

4 Secrets to Getting a Promotion

Get Your Dream Position with These Quick Tips

Getting a promotion isn’t easy. There are only so many upper level positions, and competition is fierce. It’s important to be ready when those openings arise.

How? By being prepared. Earning the right to ask for a promotion isn’t a question of tenure or age—it’s a byproduct of knowing not only the inner workings of your own job, but also those of the company you work for and the position you want.

Here are four secrets to getting a promotion.

Know What You Want

Management isn’t for everyone. Before you ask for a promotion, ask yourself if being a leader is what you want. Do you desire the position for the title and accolades or because you truly want to manage and inspire others? If it’s just for financial reasons, consider asking for a raise instead. You may also want to consider applying for a position in another department, depending on your interests.

Management isn’t easy. Leadership can seem fun, but there are numerous responsibilities that come with such status, including handling billing and budgets, managing deadlines, and dealing with unhappy or sick employees. And that’s only a partial list!

Speak with Leadership

Once you’ve been at the company for some time and have earned your stripes with proven performance and knowledge of the company, talk to your manager. Let them know you’re out to achieve a promotion if the opportunity arises. Come with proven examples of your ability to rally, push, and inspire others, as well as metrics regarding your own performance.

Find a mentor at your company who can push you to succeed and speak candidly about areas in which you need improvement. Not every leadership experience is going to be a great one. A mentor can help you realize what went wrong and what you can do in the future to minimize those problems. Leaders don’t want novices in management roles; they promote those with demonstrated performance.

Be Prepared

A management position could open at any time. Therefore, preparation is key. A promotion isn’t something you get because you’ve been working at the company a certain amount of time. You only get the job if you’re the right fit at the right time.

Watch those who hold positions that may be attainable in the not so distant future. Unless your department expands, these are most likely your only options. Although you don’t want to be a direct copy of the individual currently in the position, make sure you exemplify the qualities of the role. Do your research! If they started working 15 years ago, you’ll need to know everything they learned in those 15 years.

Seek out team leader roles in projects and take initiative to show you can lead a team. This also gives you time to discover your own leadership style, and how to handle appropriate conversations with others in your team.

Apply

At the end of the day, you have to make your case. That means waiting for an opening or proving there is currently a need for a new management position. If you aren’t up to creating your own role (with detailed metrics regarding why that role needs to exist), you must wait.

If the leadership role is open to everyone, you’ll be able to apply. If it’s only open to a select few, you’ll have to hope your prior discussion with leadership will cause them to notice you as a great candidate.

Have you ever gotten a promotion? How did you achieve it? Let us know in the comments below!

Mentoring 101: Finding the Right Fit is Key to Successful Relationships

Mentorships are a time-honored tradition in the workforce. From entry-level recent graduates to mid-career professionals making a move toward the C-suite, there’s an opportunity to take an employee’s training and development to the next level through mentorship relationships.

And the statistics show mentors can have a major impact on not just the mentee’s success, but also on the productivity of a business overall.

According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, younger employees intending to stay with their organization more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor. And, 71 percent of those likely to leave in the next two years are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed.

So, there’s little doubt that a strong culture of mentorship is important for building a productive and engaged workforce.

But before you jump headfirst into a mentor relationship with a bright, up-and-coming employee, there are a few considerations you should make to ensure the relationship is productive for everyone involved.

What can you offer vs. what does your mentee need?
First and foremost, is the relationship even a good fit? There’s much more to it than simply pairing a senior leader with a younger employee. Before any official relationship is established, there should be discussions about what the mentee’s goals are and what the mentor is willing and able to provide.

Forcing a poor fit will likely be a waste of time for both parties in the long run. Mentorships are first and foremost a relationship. And if either the mentor or the mentee are not getting what they need out of the arrangement, it’s best to be open and honest about the situation and to help each other find a better fit.

Is the mentee ready to learn?
There’s a saying that success is where preparation and opportunity meet. Even if you sense potential in a young employee, if they are not prepared to take the next step and make a commitment to a mentorship relationship, you shouldn’t try to rush it.

Again, this is where communication about what the mentor and mentee expect to gain out of the relationship plays a major role. If a mentor feels their potential mentee is not ready to fully engage in the process, it may be more beneficial to put the plan on hold until they are.

What can you learn from the mentee?
Mentorships aren’t a one-way street. No matter how experienced a mentor may be, there’s always something new to learn—and those lessons may very well come from their mentee. The best relationships are an exchange of knowledge where both parties benefit from the experience.

A millennial mentee, for example, may be able to teach a baby boomer mentor about the most current trends in social media or other communications technologies. Being blind to rank and open to learning new skills or taking advantage of each other’s unique expertise is key to a mutually beneficial relationship.

Mentorships take many forms and in the end, it’s up to the individuals involved to find the right fit for their development needs. Communication, setting expectations, and a willingness to learn are some of the most important characteristics of any great work relationship, and essential to successfully mentoring the next generation of leaders.

 

Life Lessons from John Wooden

Basketball in HoopOne of the most revered coaches in the history of sports is John Wooden, nicknamed “The Wizard of Westwood,” who won 10 NCAA national championships in his 12-year career as head coach at the University of California Los Angeles.

Wooden, who passed away in June 2010, left behind a legacy as one of the most successful basketball coaches in the history of the sport, but he also left behind a blueprint on how to become the best and most successful person one can be.

Today, athletes, business leaders, employees and countless others follow these life lessons from Coach Wooden in their own lives. Below are five quotes from this great basketball icon that ring as true in today’s world as they did when he first spoke them.

“Perform at your best when your best is required. Your best is required each day.”

As one of the top blocks on Coach Wooden’s “Pyramid of Success,” competitive greatness does not mean beating everyone else, but doing your absolute best every day. No matter how small the job, excellence is earned by doing the most thorough work each day, every day. The best work is done by those who practice their skills, release excuses and do important things, even when the odds seem daunting.

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

Even the most menial tasks at a job serve a purpose, and those little things add up to create big results. Nothing a person does should be considered boring or insignificant. Strategic planning and execution of major projects also includes the little details that can make or break a triumph. Leaders can learn to appreciate their employees from the ground up by keeping this quote from Wooden in mind. The man who cleans the offices at night is as big a part of a company’s success as the top salesperson.

“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”

People inevitably try to downplay someone else’s success or belittle another person. Friends, families, competitors and enemies are all guilty of this at one point or another.  Wooden’s advice is to stop focusing on criticisms and focus on helpful critique. If a complaint is valid, that complaint can become a learning opportunity and a chance to improve. On the flip side, chasing flattery can be almost as debilitating as giving into criticism. Many people become dependent on praise, chasing the ego rub instead of true greatness.

“Don’t let making a living deprive you of making a life.”

Too many people trade daily enjoyment for achievement, but the key to true success is having both. Also called “work/life balance,” most people find happiness when they achieve something important and enjoy other aspects of life. Working is a way to earn a wage, but successful people also find delight while accomplishing goals and victories through their job.

“If I am through learning, I am through.”

In life, education is never finished. Most successful business owners, entrepreneurs, teachers or employees are constantly on the search for knowledge and ways to improve. Life always offers up opportunities to learn something new, whether it’s a new skill set, another language, a new hobby or a new perspective on life. Not expanding a base of knowledge or experience leads to stagnation and boredom. Continuous learning is powerful, so take life’s lessons from Coach Wooden to begin building your legacy.

 

It’s Time to Break the Millennial Mold

MillenialsJobSearch_Sept2013_webEach generation has a stereotype. There’s the Traditionalists, the Baby Boomers, and the Generation Xers. Now, as more of the generation known as Millennials enters the workforce, stereotypes are increasingly prevalent.

You’ve probably heard the stereotypes about Millennials, or those born between approximately the years of 1980 and 2000. They’re seen as entitled, needy, self-absorbed, and privileged. They’re known as job-hoppers and “the trophy generation.” They’re famous for technology addiction.

If you’re a Millennial who doesn’t feel like part of that stereotype, you’re not alone. Research conducted by Beyond.com shows that it takes more than a feeling to shut down those stereotypes. In order to get bosses or potential employers on your side, you have to prove that you can break the Millennial mold.

Be a team player

In a national survey of Millennials and veteran HR professionals, Beyond.com uncovered striking differences in the perceptions of this generation. For example, the survey revealed that 60% of Millennials identify as team players, but only 22% of HR professionals think the generation works well on a team. In other words, recruiters think only one out of every five applicants possesses the ability to work well with others.

You can prove that you’re one of those team players by showcasing your experience working in teams and highlighting those skills in interviews or through networking. If you volunteer with local organizations, share how those experiences helped you grow. Explore your role as a team member in any school projects or previous jobs and explain how you worked well with others. If you can, collect references and letters of recommendation from people who can speak to your specific teamwork skills.

Communicate well

65% of surveyed Millennials believe they possess great interpersonal communication skills. However, only 14% of HR professionals agree. With such a large gap in perception, you have a significant opportunity to stand out from the crowd and break the mold.

Start by brushing up on your communications skills. Consider taking an online class in important communication practices. Join a group like Toastmasters to advance your public speaking experience. Or, read articles and books that share tips about communicating with older generations, as well as communicating through email, phone, and writing. By taking the extra step to learn these important skills, you not only become a more well-rounded employee, but also show recruiters and potential employers that you possess the initiative to grow.

Work harder

If you consider yourself a hard worker, you’re not alone. 85% of surveyed Millennials identify with the trait, in contrast to only 11% of HR professionals who believe the generation works hard. To further break that number down, only one in 10 Millennial jobseekers is perceived as a hard worker by potential employers. While this may sound disheartening, it means there is room for you to stand out.

One of the easiest ways to break the Millennial mold is to simply give your best every day. Luckily, you don’t have to be an existing employee to prove your work ethic to an employer. Start before you are hired by building a network of professionals who will speak to your skills. By showing up to work on time, staying late when a job needs to be finished, or taking on extra assignments, people will notice that you’re a hard worker. And chances are, they’ll be willing to serve as a reference or write a recommendation for you in the future.

Be a leader

Even if a leadership role isn’t on your current career path, it’s important to sharpen your leadership skills if you want to stand out. Less than half of Millennials identify as leaders (40%), but even fewer (9%) of HR professionals recognize leadership potential in younger employees.

As older generations begin to retire and exit the workforce, it will be up to Millennials to fill the void. Employers recognize this and make hiring decisions accordingly. They look for new employees who show leadership potential, have skills that make them great mentors, and aren’t afraid of challenges. If you’re hoping to land a job, you need to show potential employers that you possess the leadership skills to keep their business thriving in the coming years.

Consider joining industry organizations and volunteering for leadership roles within them, like secretary or treasurer. Volunteer your time as a mentor or tutor for local schools, organize a neighborhood committee, or assemble a team of colleagues to tackle a company initiative. When you show the initiative to lead, you position yourself as an ideal candidate in a changing workforce.

Focus on loyalty

In perhaps the most striking of findings, the survey revealed that 82% of Millennials define themselves as loyal. But only 1% of HR professionals agree. Are you part of that perceived 1% of your generation who embrace workplace loyalty? If you want to stand out from the competition, you should.

Millennials are often referred to as “job hoppers,” or workers who don’t stay with an employer for long before moving to the next one. While this lack of tenure is common in early years of employment, it’s important to not make a habit of it. Be mindful of the applications you send out and jobs you accept. If you don’t think you’ll be happy at a company, or think you’ll look for another job as soon as you start, it may not be the best fit.

While you can’t always turn down a job that isn’t a great fit due to financial reasons, you can help enact positive changes in the workplace. Offer suggestions, join committees, and try to get involved. And remember to focus on the benefits of the job, like health insurance, wellness initiatives, or paid time off.

When you focus on showcasing traits that contrast popular stereotypes, you can break the Millennial mold and prove your workplace value. Remember, you can’t just tell bosses and potential supervisors that your talents are a perfect match for the job. You have to show them, too.

How do you break the generational molds? Share your tips in the comments section below!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

How to Climb When There’s No Ladder

With thousands of career options available, you’ve probably put a bit of thought into where you’d like to be in ten, fifteen, or twenty years from now. If management or leadership is part of your desired career path, you’re not alone. According to business consultant and author Lynette Lewis, “Growth is a natural sign of being alive, so it is healthy to want to expand, develop, and advance both personally and professionally.”

For many, earning a leadership position requires a climb up the corporate ladder. But what do you do when there’s no clear ladder in sight?

Make a plan

When it comes to accomplishing a long-term goal, you must have a plan. Start by figuring out your ultimate goal. Do you want to own your own company? Become a manager? A partner in a firm? Whatever it may be, write your goal down, then make a list of everything you need to do to achieve it.

Divide your list into manageable segments, like education, experience, and skills. By breaking one long-term goal into smaller, easily obtainable goals, your career dreams may become more realistic. Even if your current workplace doesn’t provide room to move up, having—and following—a plan will help you make targeted movements along your career path.

According to The Muse, “No career goal is out of reach if you go into the game with a strategy.”

Educate yourself and never stop learning

To find work in specialized fields, you likely need to be educated in those industries and possess the skills companies look for in employees. But, education doesn’t stop when you graduate high school, earn your college diploma, or finish your certification. In fact, employers often look highly upon employees who take the initiative to further educate themselves.

This doesn’t mean you have to enroll in a traditional 4-year college program. Instead, check out your local resources for educational opportunities. Your city may have a community college that offers individual classes on computer programs, communication, or other specialized skills for your job. Likewise, your industry may have an employee association you can join. Those associations usually have resources available to members, including networking opportunities, webinars, and newsletters.

Network, network, network

Have you heard the famous phrase: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? It’s a reminder of the importance of networking and meeting people who may be able to help you on your career path. When it comes to advancing your career or moving into a leadership role where there may not be a clear path for you, it’s especially important to focus on networking.

Consider, for example, that you attend an association event filled with industry colleagues and executives. Through networking, you meet someone with whom you share a story about your experience. The skills you have are a perfect fit for a leadership role at this person’s company, but you may not have known that had you not attended the event.

Likewise, if you earn a new certification and add it to your LinkedIn profile, it may get you noticed by someone in your company who didn’t know you possessed the skills or motivations that you have.

Work harder

It goes without saying that you must work hard to advance your career, right? But when there isn’t room for advancement in your workplace, it’s especially important to excel in your role. When you have the opportunity to go the extra mile, take it. If your supervisor needs someone to volunteer as the lead on a project, and your schedule allows for it, raise your hand. If you would like to try something new, ask about it. Supervisors notice the employees who work hard, and if you want to advance your career, you must first be noticed.

Take initiative

While working hard is essential to getting noticed by leaders in the company, so is being an initiator. Supervisors are busy, so if you notice something that could be done more efficiently in your everyday work, or you recognize a place where the company could save money, find time to present your findings to them. Chances are, your unique position allows you to recognize problems or deliver solutions better than anyone else. Not only can your suggestions benefit the company, they can also show that you have strong initiative.

Keep a positive folder

When someone sends you an email thanking you for superior service or congratulates you on an accomplishment, hang onto those emails. Consider creating a folder in your inbox or on your computer where you can keep notes of positivity from others. Not only will this folder serve as a quick way to boost your spirits, it can also show your supervisor how you’ve helped others. When you have a performance review or want to discuss the opportunity to advance in your role, use the documents in your folder to support you.

Say thanks

We all like to feel appreciated. And while it may be nice to receive the promotion, pay raise, or advancement you’ve set your sights on, it’s important to say thanks to those who help you on every step of your career path. After all, thankfulness and positivity are traits of strong leaders.

How do you move forward with your career, even when there isn’t a clear path for advancement? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Leadership Should Be Difficult

ThinkstockPhotos-87453587Leadership isn’t easy. People and employees who think being a leader means sitting in the corner office, taking three-hour lunches and spending afternoons on the golf course are sadly mistaken.

Leadership is difficult—and leadership should be difficult. Why? Because at its heart, being a leader is about bringing people together with a shared vision in order to achieve a goal or solve a problem. It’s about how leaders influence the daily lives of the people who work for them and how their decisions affect careers and outcomes.

A leader not only brings different personalities and employees together but also instills confidence in those differing personalities in order to bring about success. This is not an easy task. The most difficult part of commanding is knowing what is really going on with the company, with individual employees and what the best solution is. That’s a daunting task for anyone.

The Difficult Truth

Human nature dictates that employees and workers look up to leaders because they believe these leaders know the truth and have solutions. On the flip side, human nature also dictates that even leaders are sometimes clueless as to what is actual truth and what is a personal interpretation.

Humans often draw conclusions quickly and without awareness, which results in a skewed view of what is really going on.

What leaders think and say is usually perceived as truth, when it may not actually be. Managers have the difficult task of putting their personal interpretations aside, researching all options and deciding—even against their personal preferences—what the best course of action is.

The Mediator

Handling conflicts in a workplace is also a difficult, but necessary, task for leaders. Ideally, employees can work out problems between each other, but if they cannot, leaders must step in to resolve the conflict. Conflicts in the office can easily spiral out of control, leading to a toxic and unproductive work environment.

Handling conflicts or disciplining employees is not an easy task, nor should it be. Leaders are expected to use a firm, yet gentle, hand to help resolve problems and ease fears.

The Professional Student

In addition to managing expectations, results and people, leaders are expected to be on top of the latest training and information. Professionals in an authoritative role can’t wait for the next training session, but instead, must constantly learn, research and grow in order to effectively lead a team.

While others go home at the end of the day and relax or watch their favorite show, leaders should invest in their development by reading, watching and studying as often as possible.

Putting Others First

Today’s leadership model has shifted toward servant leadership where leaders are expected to focus on the development of their employees. True leaders create more leaders.

This role is a tough one to balance. On one hand, a leader must deliver results and make an impact on the success of the company; on the other hand, managers are expected to cater to different personality types and generations in the workforce in order to boost employee development. The overall result should benefit the company’s bottom line.

Modern leadership is more difficult now than in the past. Being a leader isn’t a simple task, but instead is a journey of work, self-discipline, and continuing education. If done right, however, the results can be rewarding, for you, your employees, and your company.