Football is a team sport that calls for perseverance, goal setting, discipline, and teamwork. It’s a competitive sport, and during the season, teams seek to impress their fans on the field with all the hard work they put in during practice. You can use the same principles at work. (more…)
Although work from home arrangements have been a steadily growing trend among businesses for several years, the majority still maintain fairly traditional office work environments. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has flipped the script and forced many companies to quickly adapt to address shelter-in-place and quarantine guidelines and regulations. And for many, it has been a bit of an adjustment.
In particular, company managers have had to adapt to leading their teams remotely. In today’s ever-connected world, that process is made easier though various communication technologies, but for those who are used to daily, in-person interactions with their employees, it can be a daunting task.
Here are four quick tips to help leaders adjust to the new normal of leading remotely.
Culture is the most important aspect of a company and is the very foundation of the organization itself. The common values and beliefs that make up this foundation help dictate not only how a company operates, but also how its employees interact with one another. There are several factors that can create cracks in the foundation, but one factor in particular can cause lasting damage: unresolved conflict.
According to a comprehensive workplace conflict study by publisher CPP, Inc., 85% of employees experience conflict in some form at work. While conflict may not be avoidable, embracing conflict and working toward resolving it within your company saves the culture in three ways.
Why do interviewers care so much about teamwork?
Project Aristotle researchers studied a broad range of characteristics of successful groups and teams within the company, including personality, hobbies, relationships with each other outside of work, and various demographic variables. Surprisingly, the results showed there was no real evidence that such characteristics made a difference in a team’s success.
The major breakthrough came when the researchers began to focus on “group norms,” or the unspoken and often unwritten set of informal rules that govern individual behaviors in a group. They found that the most successful teams shared a similar understanding and commitment to how they interact with each other.
According to a New York Times article about the Project Aristotle initiative: “One team may come to a consensus that avoiding disagreement is more valuable than debate; another team might develop a culture that encourages vigorous arguments and spurns groupthink. Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound. Team members may behave in certain ways as individuals—they may chafe against authority or prefer working independently—but when they gather, the group’s norms typically override individual proclivities and encourage deference to the team.”
It’s an interesting case study that highlights an important trend in organizational development that focuses on group dynamics and building stronger, more productive teams. In fact, in Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends Study, 32% of respondents said they are redesigning their organizations to be more team-centric, which is also driving trends in performance management to “shift from focusing just on an employee’s individual achievements to evaluating their contribution to a team and the team’s impact on driving overall business goals.”
Just as important as focusing on the strategies that make a team work, is avoiding the things that bring team progress to a screeching halt, including these common workplace teamwork killers.
- Undefined goals: A clearly defined, common goal not only serves as a target to work toward, it also helps unite team members with an understanding of how their hard work will affect the company overall. According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workforce study, “employees who strongly agree they can link their goals to the organization’s goals are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged.”
- Poor leadership: Great team leadership is an essential, but difficult skill to master. In the Center for Creative Leadership’s The State of Teams study, some of the top skills participants identified as essential to effective team leadership include management skills, interpersonal skills, setting direction and building commitment.
- Lack of trust: In his best-selling book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” leadership and organizational development expert Patrick Lencioni writes, “… it is only when team members are truly comfortable being exposed to one another that they begin to act without concern for protecting themselves. As a result, they can focus their energy and attention completely on the job at hand, rather than on being strategically disingenuous or political with one another.”
- Lack of accountability: According to Gallup, only “three in 10 employees strongly agree that their associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.” Holding each other accountable to completing assigned tasks is an important group dynamic that must be established from day one.
Most companies dedicate a significant amount of research, planning, and money to communicating with their customers. If a message isn’t crafted just right or the proper channels aren’t used to reach a target audience, there’s a good chance a lot of hard work and effort will go to waste.
The same holds true when communicating to your internal audience. When it comes to conveying important messages to your employees, the extra effort spent ensuring you hit the mark the first time, every time, is the key to keeping your workforce informed and on the same page.
Here are four quick tips for more efficient internal communication with your employees.
Know your audience
In the modern workplace, it’s possible there are as many as five different generations working side by side, each with their preferred ways of communicating. So, it’s important to consider the various communication tactics will ensure your message is retained.
For example, traditionalists, or those born before 1942, tend to have great respect for hierarchy, and would likely be more receptive of communication that comes through an established channel that goes from the top down. Whereas, younger generations, like millennials (born between 1980 – 1996) and Generation Z (born after 1996) often eschew more formal structures and would prefer a less structured and more open path of information.
Even types of jobs can dictate how an employee would best receive communication. The IT department may prefer one type of communication and the marketing department another. The key point is that it’s important to know your audience first, then tailor fit a communication plan that gives the best chance of your message being correctly received by employees.
Set a standard
From email to phone calls to text messages to in-person meetings, your employees are bombarded by a wide range of information throughout the day. That’s why consistency is key when it comes to effective communication. Setting standards for how certain types of messages will be disseminated through the workforce not only helps establish a recognized portal for communication, it also helps eliminate misinformation that comes through “the grapevine.”
Setting up an internal company blog or message board is one method to centralize official internal communication. If you set the standard that important messages will be posted in one, easy to access location, your employees won’t have to worry about whether or not information they received from other sources is accurate.
If you do have a central hub for internal communication, it’s important to stay active. Without the expectation of consistency and access to current content, your employees won’t see it as a useful source and will fall back to less effective means for seeking out company news and information.
Be timely and concise
Gossip and rumors spread like wildfire through a company. Without timely and concise communication, employees are left to build their own narrative, so it’s imperative to be the first source of information. The more time your employees have to make uninformed assumptions based on “the word on the street,” the harder it will be to sort fact from fiction later.
In addition to being timely, it’s also important to leave little room for interpretation—that is, make all communications as concise as possible. In most cases, less is more. If it’s a written message, optimize for readability by using bullets and subheads. If you’re delivering a verbal message, be sure to stop occasionally to check for understanding from your audience and be sure to call out key points.
Give employees a voice
Communication works best when it’s reciprocal. Fostering an open forum where employees are not only able, but feel comfortable asking questions and providing feedback is the best way to build understanding. It’s important to gauge whether or not your communication techniques are successful and your workforce is extracting the right information. Providing an opportunity to voice their interpretation of a message will make you feel confident they understand the information, as well as help pinpoint the most effective techniques for getting your point across.
He watched The Office you watched Cheers—how do you communicate?
It’s happening across the nation. As baby boomers start to retire (the ones who can, anyway), the millennials are closing in. They like to job hop, and it’s hard for companies to get them to stay. This generation spans fifteen years, and many have built a career and are already getting promoted. Now one is your boss. He can’t stop talking about virtual reality and you miss the simplicity of an age before social media. It doesn’t seem like you’re ever on the same page.
But does it really matter if you get along with your younger boss as long as the work gets done? As noted by The Washington Post, the answer is a resounding yes. A study was recently published in the Journal of Organizational Psychology that surveyed 8,000 employees from 61 German companies. The results showed that a higher percentage of younger people managing older employees resulted in a 12% increase in negative emotions. And those negative emotions, in turn, led to less than stellar manager reports in regard to financial and organizational performance.
How are you supposed to take orders from someone who reminds you of your child?
1. Steer Clear of Judgment
No two career paths are identical. This holds true regardless of age. All workers have different experiences and skills that lead them to where they are in life. Even if your boss is younger, try to trust that she gained the position for a good reason. Regardless of whether or not that reason was because of “who she knew” or not, it’s out of your hands. So try to assume the best.
After all, assuming the worst isn’t going to help anyone, even if it turns out to be true. Being younger doesn’t mean your boss is going to be a bad manager. Despite her age and fewer years on the job, she may have a variety of unique skills that make her a great boss.
Of course, it’s also quite possible that you’ll eventually come to find out that she’s wholly unprepared for the position. Even then, avoid complaining. It’s still in your best interest to get along—you may even want to help guide her in the right direction.
2. Become an Advisor
Regardless of whether your new millennial pal is well-suited for his new position, he’s probably not going to know as much about the industry as you do. You’ve been working longer, so you know who the players are and how they operate. You can draw on these past experiences and apply them to current events, imparting knowledge to your manager.
All of these things are incredibly valuable to a young manager. Although his tools may be sharp, he might not know how to use them yet. You can help him avoid first time mistakes by giving him advice and sharing the wisdom of your past experiences. Just be sure to come across as a helpful advisor rather than patronizing. Think of your manager as a co-worker and peer rather than an inexperienced child.
3. Be Open to Communication
The key to any relationship is communication. So make sure to talk! If you play it right, you can create a real connection with your younger boss. Embrace team-building activities and really get to know her. Maybe take her out to lunch once in a while. If she really is out of her element with this position, she’ll want a co-worker she can trust and rely on. And, once you become familiar with her on a personal level, it can really change the dynamic—you start to see her as an actual person rather than “The Millennial.”
Do you have a younger boss? How do you handle it? Let us know about it in the comments below!
Each 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.
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.
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!
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