How to Avoid Being “That Boss”

Time to Watch: 3:16

Whether you call yourself a Boss, Leader, or Owner, there’s a very fine line between setting the pace and driving the pace, and knowing the difference is critical to the health of your team. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “Boss think” on this one and it can be detrimental to the health and productivity of your team. Here’s how to effectively set the pace as a leader, no matter what stage your business is at.

What we’re talking about here is your effect on the team in terms of your behaviour around implementation and execution. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you aren’t held to account in the same way that your people are, but to echo a sometimes-overused phrase, you really do need to lead by example to get the results you want.

You can’t create separate standards for yourself and your team, because the difference will be stark, and the result will be the creation of an “us vs. them” culture which does nothing to promote, ingenuity, motivation or retention—all cornerstones of a successful business.

If you’re looking to be a team and work as a team, then you need to actively participate as one of the team, regardless of how you view yourself in the culture of the business.

What are your biggest challenge jumping into the trenches? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you watch this and think: “If there’s no ‘I’ in team, why am I doing all the work?” This read is for you.

Get out there and have fun with it, and if you’ve hit a stumbling block, we can help. Reach out and let us know what you need.

Cheers,

 

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If This Is How You Handle Employee Performance, You May Be Doing it Wrong

The Employee Performance Problem

Ask any well-meaning manager what an employee performance appraisal should accomplish, and you’ll usually hear answers along the lines of: “to categorize the organization, improve employee performance and boost motivation.”

While these are all critical aims for an organization if the answer to how they currently accomplish this is through an annual performance review—then there are problems with the system. Namely, those annual performance appraisals generally only serve one of the three purposes listed above—and it isn’t performance or motivation.

So, How Did We Get Here?

The long and short of employee performance reviews is that they are derived from military practice, were never designed to foster improvement, and have long been used as a tool to cull an organization of their bottom performers. According to the Harvard Business Review, they also serve to punish past behaviour at the expense of achieving the desired future performance that is critical for organizational survival.

So, the question begs: If employees hate them, managers don’t see their value and an organization isn’t benefiting from them—why not ditch them all together?

The Elimination Problem

Well, while I was going to title this post “The Stone Age Called and They Want Their Appraisal Back,” that wouldn’t be entirely accurate, as ditching the yearly recap isn’t always the best solution either. So many initiatives are tied to it, including, planning and compensation. However, the employment landscape over the last few decades has made it clear that the conversation needs to shift away from the metrical to the malleable.

Anyone familiar with the psychological principle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs knows that motivation comes in various levels: from the basic (like food, shelter, and wages), to psychological (belonging, achievement, respect of others, etc.) and finally to self-actualization (morality, problem-solving, creativity, etc.)

Although this theory has its critics, the basic premise is that human beings are striving for self-worth and acknowledgment—and if you aren’t creating an environment where this (and the resulting performance growth) can occur—your employees are going to look to another organization to fill those needs.

The take-home is it’s no longer realistic to rank an employee with performance metrics once per year, give them either a raise or a performance improvement plan, and expect that the basic needs you do satisfy (like a regular paycheque) will be enough to sustain them and motivate them to perform to a level that will grow your organization.

So Where Do We Go from Here?

It’s no secret that supported, engaged employees do better—and when they do better, you do better. The goal of employee performance is to elicit behaviour that supports the organization’s bottom line while fulfilling some of those psychological needs your employees crave—and giving them the tools to do it effectively. There are several ways to get this done—and yes, you can keep your year-end appraisal—if you focus on its value as a recap of the year. A good rule of thumb is that there should never be anything in a performance appraisal that is a surprise for the employee. Other strategies could include:

  • Linking goals to key company objectives like the mission/vision (they “why you exist” stuff)
  • Tying goal achievement to collaboration and communication (not every task needs to be a group project, but increased collaboration and information sharing leads to increases across the board)
  • Training managers to check in consistently (this allows for accurate course corrections throughout the year while retaining employee autonomy. The key here is manager training)
  • Allowing the employee access to the tools, resources, and training to allow them to successfully fill any knowledge gaps they have.

Of course amended performance measures won’t solve all team issues (for an idea of what other issues employers regularly encounter and how to fix them, read this page) but it’s a good support system for overall team engagement. And of course, we’re more than happy to help with any issues you do have  in finding the system that’s right for your business.

 

How about you? How do you facilitate the employee performance process, and what challenges have you encountered along the way? What do you find helpful? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

The Hidden Profit Centre in Your Business

Think HR has no bearing on profitability? Think again…

Having long been denounced as nothing more than a cost centre and a necessary part of doing business, the people management aspects of an organization (specifically HR) have been overlooked as an integral component of the profit structure of an organization. The link, however, is a lot stronger than many businesses have traditionally thought.

In a recent study on management practices in Fortune 1000 companies, the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California found that employee involvement measures (that traditionally sit well beneath the HR umbrella) show a solid ROI and link to the bottom line.

For small to medium-sized businesses who don’t even have an HR department, the impact of this study is even larger, as decisions made at owner-run businesses see an immediate trickle-down effect due to the smaller work structures, and can see a positive impact in the bottom linke much sooner than a larger organization. The key is in increasing the employee commitment to the organization.

Any one of the following measures can be implemented by a company to see a lasting improvement in financial returns (not to mention the cost-savings garnered from reduced turnover):

  • Employees generally feel that if an investment is made in them, they will return that investment in-kind. Establish a feeling of “repricosity” through:
    • Information-sharing
    • Skills training
    • Encouragement of ownership thinking
    • Fostering “buy-in” for organizational change measures
    • De-centralizing decision-making
  • Using technology for process improvement, not just cost-cutting benefits. If employees are brought into the process on the ground level, working backwards and can have input into process design, hey are more willing to manage change, and feel a greater benefit of new technology as a tool for them—not just because it’s cheaper for the organization
  • Building a culture which values job-security – which means attaching value to the person over the employee number.

Each of these measures is fiscally achievable in one way or another, even for very small businesses and engage in the employee’s higher level needs, which leads to increased productivity, better customer interactions, a willingness to tackle challenges and stick with the company–all which have a positive impact on profit.

Small tweaks can often have the greatest impact on profitabilty, particularly if they are seemingly unrelated to the bottom-line. Remember that everything in your organization starts and ends with culture, so before you tweak your marketing, sales prices, or slash costs to boost productivity, have a critical look at how investments to your people-practices can pay you back in spades.

How Strong is Your Network?

It’s been said that your net worth is a reflection of your network, and when it comes to the sales and marketing of your business, a good network is an extremely valuable tool.

However, it’s important to note that a network is not just the sum of the people you know.

It takes strategy and intention to create a network that will help grow your business. Watch to discover what makes a healthy network, and how to make it happen for your business.

 

Roles and Responsibilities Made Simple

Every employee should be crystal clear about the roles they play in your organization, right? Well, why does the majority of the world rely on outdated and confusing job descriptions to convey that message? It’s a flawed system, and there is so much you can be getting from your employees when their role is communicated in the right way.

Team Alignment: Profit Sharing

Your employees don’t have to be owners to share in ownership thinking – in fact, ownership thinking can be critical to the success of your company. Profit sharing can be a good way of creating transparency and ownership – but it’s not for every organization. See when and how this tool can work for you – and when it won’t.

How to Structure Training With Your Team

It’s a well-known fact that if you grow your people, you will grow your business – but how exactly do you raise the level of thinking to achieve those ends? Here are a few simple ways to boost the level of thinking in your key employees which will allow for desired growth.

4 Tips For Hiring Great People

Business Owners often say: It’s so hard to find good people…

Good People say: “It’s so hard to find good jobs”. So, where’s the disconnect coming from?

Just like your ideal customers are looking for companies that can help them solve their problems, your ideal job candidates are looking for the same thing. Only their problem is not about buying it’s about finding a great company to work for.

When thinking about hiring, always think in ideals. And I don’t say this because I live in fairy tale land but because thinking about ideals helps you to dream about what is possible. For something to be created, first, you have to be able to see it in your mind. In the case of hiring, get clear on the ideal candidate. Who is the absolutely perfect person for the role you want to fill?

Once you are clear on that person, now ask yourself – “what sort of company would that person be drawn to work for”. This can be hard to do because you need to put yourself in their shoes, not yours. There are going to be logical things like good pay, job security, close by etc – but I want you to think of the less tangible things such as the four below.

What is the quality of: Your Business, Your Vision, Your Culture, Your Leadership?

By quality of business I mean is there some level of professionalism and organisation or are you in chaos. Do you have some good customers and clarity on how you want to get more or are you dealing with deadbeats and whiners? Do you have some systems that ensure consistency or are you and your team winging it?

The quality of your vision is – do you know where you (the business) is going. Can you see it, does it excite and inspire you. If you are not excited and inspired, you can’t expect others to be.

The quality of your culture might be self-explanatory but it is about what it’s like to work in your business. How does your team interact and behave? Is it positive, challenging and supportive – or are complaining and gossip present … or perhaps somewhere in between.

Lastly, the quality of your leadership refers to how you view your people. How much do you care about them? How much do you invest in helping them grow? Leadership is a massive topic so we won’t aspire to cover it here, but essentially ‘what’s it like to work for you?’

With all these things, you don’t need to be perfect but you do need to recognise that you will only get the quality of people that you’re ready for. You will attract a quality of person that matches the identity of your business. And the identity of your business is largely made up from the four categories outlined.

Attracting great people is a journey. See the quality of the people you are attracting as a marker of your progress toward building a great business. Keep at it and have fun.

Unlocking Employee Potential Using the Keys You Already Have

Unlocking employee potential is easier than you might think.

When we run team alignment days to help clients with their business strategy, we coach the team through some principles that form the foundation for great teamwork. One particular exercise we run is a survival scenario, which has a byproduct of unlocking employee potential you may not even know about. We break the team into small groups of 3 or 4 and set the exercise up in a way that shows tangible improvements from working as a team vs working as individuals. Or at least that is the desired outcome. Occasionally it works out the opposite!

During the debrief of a recent team alignment day, I asked a particular group for their score. There are several scores that contribute to the overall outcome but one that is always interesting is how many people on your team had a better individual score vs team score. (i.e. who on your team would have been better on their own vs being with the team.) And as occasionally happens, one girl had an individual score that was significantly better than the team score.

I then asked the question, “why do you think your score was so much better?” Her response … “well a couple of years ago I actually did sail across the Atlantic and learned a lot about navigation, survival and sailing”. My next question … “did you happen to mention that to your team?” …. her response “No, I didn’t”

This happens in life and business all the time. We are often working with people who we know very little about. And if you think about all the experience, skills and knowledge that is probably lying there dormant … let’s tap into it.

Another case of unlocking employee potential appeared recently with one of our business coaching clients who has an employee that just finished an economics degree, majoring in accounting. As of right now, they are doing next to no analysis on their financials. Doing so will enable them to make much better decisions, so we’ve quickly moved her more into that role. Untapped resources.

 

The Potential for You

The lesson is – “who is on your team? and how well do you know them?” What skills, knowledge or natural interests do they have that you can tap into and leverage? The kicker is, people love utilizing their skills and contributing at the highest level. Particularly at what they are good at.

See what you can find out within your own team 🙂