3 Ways to Help Your Team Start Strong and Focused in the New Year

A new year. The opportunity to see things as new, fresh and exciting. Is this the atmosphere you encourage in your work environment? Or will your employees come down off their holiday high and feel like they are back at the grind?

The more engaged employees are in their work and the workplace, the greater their productivity, performance and loyalty. Re-engaging employees in the new year is a great opportunity for management to make some important changes.

So, as a new year welcomes you and your team back to the workplace, here are three ways to start your year off strong, focused and engaged.

  1. Reconnect personally with your team. Make a point to get to know your employees in 2019. To effectively manage and coach your employees, it is important to know their strengths, interests and values. It is important to know what engages and disengages them about their jobs and the organization. It is critical to know how they best communicate and learn, and what their most and least favorite aspects of their jobs are. Gather important information about each of your employees to understand them better and to know how to best connect with them and coach them. Employees want time with their managers – use this increased time to get to know them and to develop a plan to connect with them more effectively going forward. People quit people before they quit companies. What is one thing you can do to more personally connect with each member of your team?
  2. Include your team in creating shared 2019 goals. Goals are important – they provide direction, clarity and focus. By including employees in the creation of goals, or more specifically team goals, they feel more included, valued and part of the organization. A culture that constantly asks employees for input not only benefits from greater employee loyalty, but also from expanded ideas that come from empowering and expecting employees to actively think throughout their days. How will you involve your team in the creation of shared goals?
  3. Commit to sharing more performance information. You want your employees to be more focused and engaged, but few feel that way when they work in the dark. They can’t connect their work to its impact or value. Work with employees to identify the key performance metrics that will help them asses their department’s performance and their individual progress and impact. Develop a performance dashboard by role or department to help employees see their personal or team impact/progress on shared goals, and to encourage discussion, dialog and conversation. What information will you share in 2019?

Every employee wants to add value and make a difference. Many times, we may unintentionally dissuade them from doing this by doing things that discount their value or disconnect them from their team or organization.

Take Action
As a new year approaches, commit to reconnect with them, get their input for shared goals and commit to sharing performance results. Not only will including employees generate new and great ideas for you, but they will feel more valued and appreciated for being included in the conversation. Start the new year off strong.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading Move Learning Off the Back Burner

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Don’t Drag Your Feet When Hiring New Talent

By Jay Forte

When it comes to hiring, you can’t drag your feet. Good talent is in great demand, which means if you have a slow or complicated hiring process, you will likely lose the best talent.

According to a 2017 Glassdoor survey, the average length of the interview process is 23.8 days. Some organizations may think that pace is just fine since it gives them room to leisurely interview each candidate or to build the hiring process around busy schedules. Other organizations pride themselves on the slow and methodical approach to hiring. Both do not take into account the current demand for talent and the speed that today’s employees need to make decisions.

At its core, the real issue is creating an effective and successful hiring process that is also efficient. So, how do you do it? Follow these five steps:

  1. Clearly define the tasks of each role and the performance attributes (strengths, skills, experience and education) required to do these tasks well.
  2. Build a sourcing strategy for each role, including conventional and non-conventional sources to find the best talent. A sourcing strategy defines the conventional and unconventional ways you will find candidates who have the attributes you need in the role.
  3. Define your interview components. As more and more organizations are using the “prove it to me interview,” define the segments and activities that will be part of each role’s interview. For example, you may have four segments in a role’s interview with two segments for questions, and two segments for activities that allow the candidate to share and prove what they know about the role.
  4. Define your interview team and train them. Your interview team must be masters at either behavioral-based interviewing or assessing skill levels through the activity portion of an interview.
  5. Develop a clear, sound and efficient interview process from date of contact to date of decision.

Take a minute to notice two the most frequently used words in the previous list: define and develop. Being intentional about each part of this process is the key to making it effective and efficient.

With a clear process in place, consider creating a timeline and stick to it. Not only will implementing a timeline help keep the process moving forward, it also ensures candidates are kept updated on their status in your process. As you build out your timeline, consider the following:

  1. Introduce the interview process to the candidate in the opening communication. Help them know the timing, what your interview is like, how to prepare and how to be successful in your interviews.
  2. Develop and follow a schedule of regular and clear communications throughout the interview process. Let candidates know where they stand. Define key dates in the interview process, including actual interviews, follow up dates and the date a decision will be made.
  3. Once a decision is made, send out start dates, how to be successful in your first week, key things to know about the job or the organization and connect the new employee to another employee (i.e. a buddy) to help them feel connected from the start.
  4. Gather personal information about the new hire to be able to create a personalized onboarding experience. Share the date of onboarding and be sure everything is ready for the new employee on his/her first day.

Take Action
The opportunity to attract a candidate to your company, to share what the employee experience is all about, starts with the interview process. Make your hiring process clear and efficient, and be sure to share all of the critical information and dates up front. Nothing disengages a future potential employee more than an organization that is disorganized, unclear or too slow in its decision-making. Have an intentional plan so you never drag your feet when hiring new talent.

 

Consider reading People Are Like M&Ms

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Move Learning Off the Back Burner

By Jay Forte

What employees really want and need in the workplace is the ability to learn and grow. However, this doesn’t always have to look like formal education. In fact, some of the best learning is done in the moment, on the job and within the conversations between manager and employee.

There was a time when the role of the manager was to control and direct. Issue orders. Tell people what to do. Be responsible for results. That type of strong central manager made sense in a workplace of repetitive tasks, where the manager’s primary role was to drive efficiency and effectiveness.

But over time, manufacturing moved offshore and left us with a service economy, one that requires employees to be more interactive with customers. Managers today are still held accountable for efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to their employees’ output, but the process by which to generate those results is much different. Employees shouldn’t be micromanaged to such a degree that they feel stifled when directed. Instead, to connect wisely with customers, employees need to be guided, developed and coached.

This is why there is such great value in making learning and development a daily event.

Because your employees are the visible brand of your organization (to both customers and fellow employees), they need your constant conversation and development to be effective and adaptable in a constantly changing world. The demands of their jobs are always changing. The needs and wants of customers are always changing. The role of technology is constantly changing the experience. In all of these places, you – the manager – are the key to interacting with your employees to assess their abilities to determine what needs development or realignment. It is your role to assess through dialog, discussion and interaction what’s working and not working with your employees’ performance so you can help them develop a plan to improve.

This is a trend that won’t be going anywhere soon. Millennials (now 50% of today’s workforce) share that what they want and need in their jobs are the following:

  • alignment (connect them to jobs that need what they do and like best)
  • relationships (increase meaningful time with their managers in a supportive and value-based relationship) and
  • development (help them constantly learn, grow and expand their abilities).

Making learning a daily event helps to deliver all three of what employees say they want and need to be engaged and perform.

Think about the learning opportunities you offer to your employees and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What has to change in the way you engage with your employees to increase the frequency and focus on learning and development?
  2. What skills do you need to develop and what self-awareness do you need to have to be able to be a successful manager for your people?
  3. How will working with a coach help you become more successful with your employees – to help them become more engaged, more productive and more successful?

Take Action
Work with a coach to develop your greatest abilities, then transfer the lessons learned in your coaching to act more coach-like with your employees. This will help you make your daily conversations with your employees more focused on learning, growing and developing.

Move learning off the back burner and into your daily conversations.

 

Consider reading Leaders – Seek out, Accept and Act on Feedback

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