Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

4 ‘Must-have’ Leadership Behaviors

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

There are four behaviors that every effective leader must possess:

1. Effective problem solving

The process that precedes decision making is problem-solving when information is gathered, analyzed, and considered. This is deceptively difficult to get right, yet it is a key input into decision making for major issues as well as daily ones. 

Effective problem solving is a rare commodity. This is because most individuals do a poor job at root cause analysis. Their natural inclination is to bypass the analysis and jump right into the ‘solve.’ The end result is often a quick fix, Band-Aid approach that addresses the symptom and not the actual problem.

 

HR leaders can help by coaching business partners to avoid the immediate ‘jump to solve.’

2. Operating with a strong results orientation

Leadership is about not only developing and communicating a vision and setting objectives but also following through to achieve results. Leaders with a strong results orientation tend to emphasize the importance of efficiency and productivity and to prioritize the highest-value work.

Results orientation begins with clearly articulated expectations relative to key performance indicators. HR leaders should work with their operations partners to ensure that managers are having weekly discussions with their staffs regarding, actual vs. expected results.

3. Seeking different perspectives

This trait is exhibited by managers who monitor trends affecting the organization, grasp changes in the environment, encourage employees to contribute ideas that could improve performance, accurately differentiate between important and unimportant issues, and give the appropriate weight to stakeholder concerns. Leaders who do this well typically base their decisions on sound analysis and avoid the many biases to which decisions are prone.

On the other hand, leaders who suffer from the ‘smartest person in the room syndrome’ consistently think they have all the right answers. They tend to alienate others and consequently miss out on other, better alternatives.This is typically a self-awareness issue that can be mitigated through effective coaching.

4. Supporting others

Leaders who are supportive understand and sense how other people feel. By showing authenticity and a sincere interest in those around them, they build trust and inspire and help colleagues to overcome challenges. They intervene in group work to promote organizational efficiency and help to prevent non-productive internal conflict.

As a result, these supportive leaders tend to have a much greater enterprise value.  By that, we mean that they are actually synergistic in their value. They help to ‘lubricate’ the organization and reduce unnecessary problems and issues.

CAI has multiple ways to build leaders within your organization. We offer a wide variety of instructor-led courses in our Management Advantage program to train your leaders, managers, and supervisors. And, CAI members have access to leadership tools and templates along with the opportunity to receive guidance and coaching from our local, experienced HR experts. Learn more about how CAI can help with leadership training and workforce planning.

Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad-based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations. 

 

Avoid Workplace Drama and Spend More Time on Ideas

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

The following post is by Bruce Clarke, CAI’s CEO and President. The article originally appeared in Bruce’s News & Observer column, The View from HR.

“Management by walking around” is a time-tested method to stay connected with the real work of an organization. When you listen, learn and create unstructured conversations, everyone is better informed.  Sometimes problems are solved or confusion clarified on the spot.Workplace Communication and Gossip

There is another free-form type of conversation between managers and employees which is not productive: management by gossiping around.

Workplace gossip is generally rumor or exaggeration about others, especially about their behaviors. It can relieve stress, and deflect or assign blame.  It might just be a way to make the gossipers feel better about themselves.

I wish it was uncommon, but we see evidence that managers gossip with employees too often. Whether a misguided attempt to create a relationship, or just blowing off steam, gossip is harmful.

When managers gossip with employees, about employees, or about other managers, several bad things happen.

Loss of Respect

The gossiping manager loses every time. Employees hold managers to a higher standard of behavior than their own peers.  A manager who gossips cannot be trusted with personal details and private information.  A manager who gossips will gossip about you!  What does the manager know about you that could be embarrassing or misunderstood?

Loss of Influence

Managers get things done through a combination of formal authority and informal influence. Sometimes unilateral decisions must be made, but real advances and engagement happen in the influence zone.  Gossiping managers lose the high ground that provides a foundation for influence.  Managers who gossip trade a momentary rush for long-term loss of effectiveness.

Loss of Focus

Gossip is idle conversation, not problem solving or relationship-building. Gossiping managers would rather talk about an employee who may be part of a problem than resolve that problem.  Gossip is easier than real work and it prevents true progress.

Loss of Opportunity

Employees with real work problems will not come to gossiping managers for help. Why reach out to a manager who gossips about members of the team?  Managers trying to be “one of the peeps” by joining these high calorie/low nutrition conversations hurt their own chances to learn about real issues.

Future Limits

Finally, gossiping managers put a lid on their own careers. The only thing worse than a loose-lipped manager is a senior leader who talks trash.  A fish rots from the head down and senior leadership sets the tone.  Good leadership will not ask bad leadership to join its team.

Employees living with a gossiping manager have choices to make. Start by avoiding gossip.  Silence is a good response to inappropriate comments.  Even better is a question:  “If that is true, what can you and I do to make the situation better?”

Employees suffering with gossiping teammates might be even more proactive: “Gossip will not make anything better.  What positive steps can we take?”

An old proverb applies: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people”. Spend more time on ideas and events.

CAI can help your organization grow and succeed by developing your most important asset…your people.  We offer an abundance of learning options and specialize in management development, HR and professional development.

Bruce Clarke c
Bruce Clarke serves as CAI’S President and CEO, and has been with CAI since 2001. Bruce practiced labor and employment law with the national labor law firm of Ogletree Deakins for 18 years. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as one of North Carolina’s Legal Elite by Business North Carolina Magazine. Bruce is 100% committed to helping companies maximize employee engagement and minimize workplace liabilities.

The Important Messages of Body Language and Leadership Style

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

When leading a team, body language as simple as eye contact or the crossing of the arms can convey a significant positive — or negative — message to employees.  There are two sets of signals a business leader can communicate using just their body language.  The first type of signal translates the leader’s status and authority.  The second type of signal can convey warmth and empathy to the team members. body_language_gesture

Status and authority can be seen in how a leader carries themselves.  For example, a person’s posture when entering a room or sitting at a meeting can give off a signal of power and authority. Open hand signals, nodding one’s head, and making eye contact can promote feelings of warmth within a leader to the rest of the team.  Stand or sitting up straight, making expansive gestures, and hold your shoulders back exudes a confidence in your leadership skills and what you are saying. When feeling less confident or uncertain people tend to shrink, minimize the space they take up.  Legs and arms crossed, pulled in tight or slouching is a way to send a message of lack of confidence or even discomfort in the situation or discussion.

For the most part these gestures are unconscious.  Recognizing and being aware, paying attention to what your body is saying is important if you want to be seen as a leader. Awareness of your body language, projecting a positive and even powerful body language can actually transform how you see yourself.

There is no good or bad body signal per se, but these signals can be used to either unknowingly or deliberately support or sabotage a message when relating to the team as a leader.  As an experiment, a very gifted speaker delivered an incredible speech and concluded by asking if there were any questions and then crossing his arms. Not a single question was asked. The audience, without realizing it, saw this gesture as a complete contradiction to his request for questions.

Similarly, if a leader or speaker is less than 100% confident and certain of the message they are delivering to their audience, it will show in their speech, their body language, and even in their choice of words.  In order to appear confident, leaders have to believe in what they are saying and assure their non-verbal is congruent.

Signals of warmth and empathy are equally important qualities of a good leader. Communication during one-on-one time with an employee, or when delivering a difficult message to a group of employees is crucial to gaining support and trust.  Showing emotion through eye contact and facial expressions will tend to level the field of authority with your employees, and give them the confidence and feeling of trust they need to be honest and open with their leaders. You want to be a trusted leader with your employees and by projecting true empathy and approachability, your team responds accordingly.

If you have any questions regarding communications as a leader, please contact CAI’s Advice and Resolution team. We know that providing excellent direction in effective leadership is the very core of effective management.

renee

 

CAI Advice & Resolution team member Renee Watkins is a seasoned HR professional with a diverse background in Human Resource. Renee provides CAI member with practical advice in a wide-range of human resource functions including conflict resolution, compliance and regulatory issues, and employee relations.

Showing Emotion is a Good Leadership Quality

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins discourages management and leaders from hiding their emotions and explains why.

Renee' Watkins, HR Advisor

Renee’ Watkins, HR Advisor

As professionals, we are taught and trained to keep our emotions in check when conducting a meeting or having a one-on-one conversation. The result can sometimes be the delivery of a message that seems a little too polished and rehearsed to be believable. These are times when a little more emotion is called for.

True emotion from our management is seen so rarely, when we hear it or see it, we are almost in shock. This reaction can make a message more powerful for us as it appears more genuine and trustworthy. Such a delivery can convey that the message is authentic and not trying to cover up anything behind the scenes.

Hiding our emotions may give the appearance of strength and control, but in reality it hinders our capacity to truly lead. Without emotion, we never really connect with individuals on their level. Employees who feel connected to management also feel an equal part of the company, with an equal stake in its failure or success.

Granted, there is also the other side of this coin. Being too emotional at a management level can sometimes cloud objectivity and lead to rash decisions that may negatively impact the company. It can be a very delicate balance, knowing how much emotion is necessary to connect with the workforce and how much is needed to be a strong leader when called upon.

To discover that balance, pay attention to your emotions. Ask yourself a couple of times a week, “How am I feeling right now?” Keep a journal of your emotions and try to identify what events or issues cause which emotions. Decide the importance of each and investigate how each emotion can be used to either connect directly with an employee or to advance forward in some decision process currently in play. Emotions, when used wisely, can be a powerful catalyst for change.

For more leadership tips, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution team and 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Leading Through a Crisis

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

In today’s post, Advice and Resolution team member Renee’ Watkins identifies poor leadership qualities and imparts information on how to rise above them during chaotic times.

Renee' Watkins, HR Advisor

Renee’ Watkins, HR Advisor

In the life of every business, there will be times when the organization will experience a crisis and the quality of its leadership will be tested. Strong, mature and experienced leadership during a crisis is certainly preferred. Poor leadership can quickly turn a crisis into a catastrophe. Even if the organization survives the crisis, the lasting effects of poor leadership can be felt long after the crisis is over.

Below are some of the behaviors that can define poor leadership, and how to overcome them:

Excessive Optimism

Being optimistic about solving a problem is all fine and good. However, some leaders are too optimistic that a problem will either solve itself over time or that someone else is handling it once it has been identified. Action is necessary to solve any problem and many problems cannot be solved overnight. Strong leadership involvement, with the ability to make decisions and take action, is necessary to demonstrate attention to any crisis.

Denial

Some leaders are under the false impression that a problem is not already well-known throughout the organization and if they deny its existence it will no longer be a problem. News, especially bad news, can spread through an organization like wildfire. Strong leaders never underestimate the intelligence of their employees. The best strategy in a crisis is to come forward and provide your employees with as much information as you can, reassuring them you are aware of the problem and have a plan for resolving it.

Trial and Error Is NOT a Crisis Strategy

This approach may work well in the development of a new product line or in the research end of your business. Some leaders use this strategy as a way to resolve a crisis. When finding themselves in a crisis scenario, strong leaders resist their first reaction and assemble a team of top management to work out a plan – quickly and efficiently. A clear direction with measurable results will keep your employees engaged and confident.

Ignore Common Sense

Over-reaction or panic can make a bad situation worse. When faced with crisis, our instincts are to fight or flee, neither of which will help. Seasoned leaders will simply slow-down, look objectively at the issues and apply simple common sense as to how to handle the problem. Common sense may be as simple as defining the problem in smaller, more manageable pieces or seeking the advice of peers.

Manage in a Vacuum

Poor leaders will sometimes try to solve a problem on their own without enlisting the help of others. This can spell disaster in a crisis. A strong leader recognizes when they need help and knows exactly what skills they need in a particular situation. The objective is not just to solve the problem, but to solve the problem in the best way possible. Many problems have multiple solutions and these must be vetted to determine which is best.

Blame Others

Leaders who spend more time blaming others and less time solving the problem simply appear weak to their employees. There will be plenty of time after the crisis is over to determine where the process failed and how to prevent it from happening again. Now is the time for strong leadership to assume responsibility and make themselves accountable for resolving the problem.

Cracking the Whip

Trimming expenses, cutting benefits or demanding more productivity are sometimes the reactions from poor leadership simply because they do not know what else to do and think this will somehow magically fix the problem. It is not likely the entire employee population caused the problem and they know that as well. Knee-jerk reactions will send a message of blame and uncertainty across the organization. Instead, hold meetings with employees to recognize the issue at hand and to stress that everyone is in this together and that together a solution will be found and implemented.

It can be lonely at the top, but it does not have to be. The most successful people surround themselves with other successful people. Recognize there are people who can help you in a crisis and never assume you know all the answers. Treat your employees as intelligent, hard-working people who have as much interest in the organization’s well-being as you do. Slow down, think clearly and apply common sense to any problem to make it more manageable. Strength does not always show itself as fast and loud. Often a calm and deliberate approach is the best way.

Survey Reveals Women and Millennials in Leadership Yield Greater Company Success

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

women leadersMost companies strive to create a work environment that embraces diversity. Differences in age, gender and other characteristics benefit companies in numerous ways, such as various perspectives for problem solving or creating new business opportunities.

New research from DDI and The Conference Board highlights a critical difference between the top and bottom corporate financial performers—companies with more women in leadership roles perform better. Another finding from the survey indicates that millennials in leadership roles can also impact business success positively.

The Global Leadership Forecast (GLF) 2014/2015, Ready-Now Leaders: Meeting Tomorrow’s  Business Challenges is the seventh edition of the annual report that DDI has put together since beginning this research in 1999. This year’s report includes responses from 13,124 global leaders and 1,528 human resources executives within 2,031 organizations. Survey results represent 48 countries and 32 major industries.

Here are some insights the survey revealed:

  • Men and woman are equally competent workers. However, men tend to portray themselves as more effective leaders overall than woman do.
  • In comparison to men, women are not as likely to rate themselves as highly-effective leaders.
  • Women are also less likely than men to have completed international assignments, led across geographies or countries or teams spread out geographically.
  • Of the participating organizations, those in the top 20 percent of financial performance have 37 percent of their leaders as women and 12 percent of their leaders are high-potential women.
  • Organizations in the bottom 20 percent count only 19 percent of their leaders as women, and 8 percent of their leaders as high-potential women.
  • An organization’s rate of growth is directly linked to the number of millennials in leadership roles.
  • Companies that were more financially successful were also more likely to have a higher percentage of millennial leaders.

“To improve business outcomes, bolster current development programs so that all leaders, including women and millennials, can improve their skills,” said Evan Sinar, Ph.D., DDI Chief Scientist, Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research (CABER) Director and study co-author. “Development opportunities build confidence. Provide opportunities for stretch assignments, ensure formal practices are in place to facilitate those opportunities and fully-commit your support to mentoring programs to develop and prepare new leaders.”

Receive full access to the report on DDI’s website here.

 

 

 

Behaviors that Define Positive Leadership

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

George PortsCAI’s Advice and Counsel Team answers several questions from members daily. Many questions the Team receives concern leadership and how people in power should interact with their employees. Here’s a question that many employers have:

Can leaders demand respect simply because of their position or title?

In today’s post, Advice and Counsel Team Member George Ports offers guidance for this employer issue:

The obvious answer to this question is NO!!!

Leaders earn respect leading by example, “Do as I do” rather than “Do as I say.” They earn respect by being up front and honest with their employees, treating them with “dignity and respect.” Dignity and respect goes both ways.

Observations that I have made over the years of behaviors that define “positive leadership” are as follows:

  • Positive leaders are people builders, they are in the construction business, not the demolition business.
  • Positive leaders are fair and consistent when administering organization policies and procedures.
  • Positive leaders encourage an open two-way flow of communication.
  • Positive leaders do not leave their employees in the dark creating an atmosphere of anxiety and insecurity.
  • Positive leaders recognize the need for responding to employee issues and concerns in a prompt manner.
  • Positive leaders work in conjunction with HR to ensure that internal pay equity is maintained among employees.
  • Positive leaders take up for their employees, stand behind and support them when necessary.
  • Positive leaders never take credit for employee accomplishments and ideas—they always give credit and praise where such is due.
  • Positive leaders work diligently to create an atmosphere of teamwork, a culture where every job and person is important, avoiding a “we/they”  relationship.

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

— General Douglas MacArthur

If you have any questions regarding leadership, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.

Don’t Let Your Top Employees Leave: 4 Tips to Encourage Employee Loyalty

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Do you know what it would take for your employees to leave your organization? If you ask them, the responses you receive might surprise you. The responses will also provide you with valuable information. Knowing the circumstances that could cause your employees to leave will help you find areas in which your company can improve. Instead of finding the answers when your employees leave your company, find time now to ask your top talent what factors would drive them to move to another organization.

Before you ask your staff members what would make them leave, review some of the reasons below why employees stay at their organizations. Are you providing your employees with these opportunities?

4 Reasons Why Employees Stay Loyal

Company Culture

The environment your company creates is a major factor that determines whether an employee will stay. Not every employee will appreciate or desire the same workplace aspects so it’s important to make sure you’re hiring employees that are interested in your company culture. For the most part, employees want to work for companies that respect their work/life balance and take a genuine interest in them and their career.

Challenging Work and Career Growth

Employees who are growing in their positions and like what they do find it hard to leave their employers. Make sure your staff members don’t leave because of workplace boredom, meaning their assignments aren’t challenging them. Meet with your employees on a weekly or monthly basis to gauge their thoughts on their job assignments and related performance. Help your team members grow by offering them opportunities to strengthen their skills, learn more information, and work on larger or more important projects.

Sound Leadership

Leadership is a top reason why employees decide to hold a long tenure with an organization. Many employee opinion surveys reveal that employees leave or are likely to leave because of the actions of their managers, supervisors or senior leaders. No one likes a micromanager or a leader who never checks in. Treat your employees with respect, be considerate of their time, communicate openly with them, and in return they will more likely stick with your organization.

Feedback and Recognition

Receiving positive and constructive feedback consistently is critical for the success of your employees. When employees don’t receive feedback, several consequences can result—employees feel frustrated, bad manager-direct report relationships develop, or employees search for new jobs that fulfill their needs. In addition to constant feedback, workers want to know that they are valued for the work they put into the company. Regularly demonstrate that you appreciate your workforce’s efforts. Whether you send them an email congratulating them on a sales win or take them out to eat on Friday, make it clear that they’re valuable team members.

For additional guidance for retaining your key employees, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

4 Benefits of Succession Planning for Your Workforce

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

How would your business perform if your top three employees left your organization tomorrow to join a competitor? What if members of your senior management team parted ways to begin their own businesses? If your CEO became terribly ill and couldn’t perform his duties, would your business continue to run smoothly?

Succession planning is essential for keeping your organization moving in the right direction even when several key members of your staff jump ship, retire or move on for other reasons.  As important as succession planning is, many companies forgo strategizing a plan to retain their best people to eventually take over different roles. Succession planning isn’t a rigorous assignment, but because the efforts of the process aren’t often revealed until a team member leaves, many businesses don’t take the time to start planning.

Deciding the key employees who will ultimately step into leadership and senior management roles is imperative for maintaining business success during any economic climate or business situation. Succession planning is also an office morale and engagement booster. Grooming employees for their future roles by giving them more complex tasks and investing in their growth keeps them focused, motivated and loyal to the company.

Here are four additional reasons to start drafting your organization’s succession plan:

Preparedness

Whether your employees leave to start retirement  life or plan to begin their own businesses, having a succession plan in place will help you more quickly identify which employees will take over your company’s open positions so your business can continue to run as normal.

Less Time and Money

Dedicating time to plan the future of your organization will save your company time and money. Plans to promote and train people within your company means less time spent recruiting for external candidates, interviewing them and checking their references. Money allotted to those efforts will also decrease with a solid succession plan in place.

Weakness is Uncovered

Finding future leaders reveals the strengths within your workforce, but it also uncovers the weaknesses that your organization must work on to secure business and financial growth. Help areas of your company that you discover to be weaker than others by offering training and resources that will help improve performance.

Get a Bird’s Eye View

Evaluating your workforce in preparation for succession planning gives you a great perspective of the talent in your organization. Ascertaining who should fill the shoes of another will help your team better understand the day-to-day happenings of your business. So as you’re planning don’t solely include roles for higher level executives. Incorporate middle managers and their direct reports to create a comprehensive succession plan.

For additional information on the benefits of succession planning or how to develop your company’s plan, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

4 Tips to Help Your Employees Succeed Through a Merger or Acquisition

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Several ideas pop into the minds of employees when they learn that their company is planning a merger or acquisition with another organization. Staff members worry about being laid off, not getting salary increases and competing with unknown talent. Their anxiety for the workplace transition reveals itself in their assignments and interactions with their coworkers. Managers often have several battles to deal with as they try to control emotional employees and dispel nonsensical rumors.

Mishandling this sensitive process can affect your business negatively. Absenteeism, loss of key employees, low morale and low productivity are some of the damaging consequences for not addressing a merger or acquisition appropriately.

Preparation is imperative for keeping your organization composed. The following four tips should help your organization navigate through the transition of a merger or acquisition with less difficulty:

1. Make Leadership Present

Forming a strong leadership team with members from both sides of the merger or acquisition will help smooth out the kinks of the transition. When both sides align to share the same vision, mission and strategy, employees have a solid support team to turn to. Before the transition is announced, make sure you indentify the key leadership players and begin to strategize steps to handle the change gracefully.

2. Communicate Often and Through Several Channels

To combat rumors and twisted facts, create a solid communications plan for your employees, leadership and other key stakeholders, such as customers and board members. Remember that your employees will want to know more than the details of the merger. They’ll want to know how their job will be affected, what their benefits will look like and who will manage them. Cascade messages through a variety of channels to ensure your stakeholders receive them. Additionally, practice two-way communication and readily take questions and suggestions from your team members.

3. Align Culture and Business Processes

A merger or acquisition requires the blending of two companies with distinct cultures and ways of completing work. Similar to your communications plan, knowing how you want to cultivate your organization’s environment early on will help you get your workforce on board. Carefully plan your new business processes before the transition takes effect. Educate your staff on the new changes and how they might affect their workflows. Communication is again important when telling employees that aspects of their job could be significantly altered. Always keep them in the loop.

4. Take Care of Employees

Agreeing to merge with or acquire another organization may benefit your company financially, but it could hurt other areas of your business, specifically your talent. News of a merger or acquisition can leave even your star performers feeling nervous about their fate and the new set of employees they’ll have to work with. The period before the official transition is a great time for competitors to pluck your top talent. Prevent this from happening by involving your staff through the transition process and getting them to understand how their role will fit into the changing organization. Develop a retention strategy, such as stay-bonuses or packages, to make sure your stellar staffers don’t become enticed by competition.  For employees you won’t be able to retain, let them leave the organization with dignity. Provide them with services to help them stay on their feet, such as resume reviewing. Additionally, show them that you appreciated their service by offering them a generous severance package.

For additional strategies to assist your workforce through a merger or acquisition, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Souce: Victor1558