LeadershipTips

Transformation begins with small but mighty changes.

Bright Ideas:

Complacency develops for many reasons, with one being a perception that new ideas are unwelcome or even rejected. To combat complacency, consider ways you can encourage ideas from employees at all levels. Allowing employees to submit Bright Ideas to a peer group for review and implementation honors employees’ ideas while simultaneously improving the organization.

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Encourage Work Friendships

When people start a new job they are experiencing a transition; they’re introduced to a new role, coworkers, and environment. Paying special attention to a new hire’s first several months can positively influence their chance for success with your organization. Consider incorporating opportunities for new hires to bond with current employees and start developing friendships. Having work friendships is important, they help us feel connected and therefore motivated and productive. Gallup research has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job.

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The Silent Start

To ensure productive meetings, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos doesn’t use presentations. He recommends starting each meeting with at least 5 silent minutes for each member to review a memo in preparation for the discussion or meeting. Although this can sound awkward at first, Bezos notes several benefits: this time inspires the undivided attention of attendees, provides direction, reduces misunderstandings, and allows attendees time to think and make notes to contribute to the conversation. Leaders who have used this tactic with their teams have noticed more meaningful conversations, increased collaboration, and shorter meetings. Try a silent start during your next team meeting.

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Establish an Employee Onboarding Team

An employee onboarding team comprised of individuals who model the organization’s culture and values can be created to own the onboarding process for incoming new hires. The onboarding team can then work with each new hire’s leader to personalize an onboarding plan in which a variety of team members may be included. Does your department have a team with a variety of members to facilitate relationship building for the new hire?

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Empathetic Listening & Negotiating

Try your hand at empathetic listening and negotiating to strengthen team communication and relationships. During your next meeting, listen to other team members and strategies they are using or plan to use in the next 30 days. Before the meeting is over, communicate at least one way you will support that strategy.

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Be Interested

Instead of focusing on the next thing you will say after the speaker is finished talking, focus on the messages being sent. Where do you need more clarification? What do you want to know more about? Develop probing and clarifying questions for the speaker to encourage them to continue communicating and facilitate deeper understanding.

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Idea Bank

As you meet with your direct reports each month, you may find you have more ideas than you can possibly implement. Come up with a system to put the best ideas in place. For example, at the end of each quarter, a leader may present the bank of ideas to their team and let them vote on which ideas to fulfill.

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Engaged Employees Inspire Loyal Customers

Employees who are engaged are more likely to be enthusiastic and emotionally attached to their work. They are fully committed to the organization and more likely to go above and beyond to provide excellent service. A positive employee experience directly enhances the customer’s experience, after all, it is your employees who create the customer experience. Take action by implementing one recommendation for increasing engagement on your team this week.

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The Power of Silence

Silent feedback may seem like an oxymoron, but it can be a powerful tool for collective brainstorming and reflection. In a meeting, ask each participant to write his/her response to a given question or prompt. Then, ask them to pass their papers to right, read what their colleague wrote, and provide comments or a reaction. Continue rotating the papers until each paper gets back to its owner. Ask the owner to review all comments and provide a one-sentence summary about the contents of the entire page.

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Revisit Your Plan

Your career development map should be a living document. Revisit it every 90 days, or every 6 months to make changes and be sure it’s up to date. Don’t forget to keep track of your development progress.

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Question for Passion

During one-on-one conversations with potential new leaders, dig deep to learn about what motivates the individual. What part of their work do they most enjoy? What would they like to do more of? What skill areas do they think they want to develop? Connecting people with what they are passionate about at work increases results.

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Enlist Help From Your Team

The best person to improve a process is the person who carries out the process. Fully utilize employee skill-sets – can someone be doing more? If the process is improved, they will likely have time to take on higher level work.

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Round with Middle Leaders

Are your middle leaders confident in their abilities to execute your most recent goals? Could they use a hand? Take the time to find out what they need to feel confident in their ability to achieve their goals.

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Make Meaningful Connections Simple

Connecting personally with your employees makes them feel heard and valued. Take the time to connect with one employee today on a personal level. For example, if you heard an employee got a new pet, ask about it.

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Display Trust in Others

Start your day by speaking with each employee. Make a personal connection, know about them and their family. Ask colleagues how you can assist them in meeting their goals. Ask colleagues if they have the tools needed to be successful. Eat lunch in the break room with colleagues.

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Connect to the Heart

Thinking about and plotting staff on a performance curve can feel a bit mechanical. While this task is guided by the head, it is a prerequisite for connecting to the heart of employee performance. The ability to have meaningful conversations that support growth of individual employees is only possible once a leader has an accurate picture of each employee’s current performance. Differentiating staff is not just about placing a name on a curve, but about reflecting on opportunities to maximize each employee’s potential.

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Boost Your Low Solid Performers

Low solid performers are important members of our team. While they might need coaching around a particular skill, they are often eager to grow. Low solid performers are committed to the organization, but can also be easily influenced by negative, low performers. To best support a low solid performer, partner them with positive, high performers for skill development opportunities.

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Engage at All Levels

An employee forum can either be viewed as a valuable learning opportunity or as a waste of time. To ensure your next employee forum is an engaging and informative experience, think about the message you want to send and how to make the message relevant for each employee group. Incorporate clear connections to the work of each group in your presentation. Ask yourself, “Does the message tell employees how their work contributes to the whole?”

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Devote Time to Listening

As leaders, we do some things well and others not so well. Our perception is not always the perception of others. When we ask employees what we can do to be a better leader, we build emotional bank accounts with them. Now is the time to listen rather than react to the problem. After the discussion, continue to leverage relationships by following-up with specific actions we will take to improve.

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Tell Your High Performers You Want Them to Stay

Retaining high-performers is absolutely key to the success of the organization. Top-performing employees drive the culture and achieve quality results. When conversing with these employees, try saying, “We want to make sure you are with us for a very long time. Is there anything that would cause you to think about leaving? Are you satisfied with your work here? Are you moving in the direction you want to go?”

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Take Time to Talk

Leader Connection Questions are key to employee satisfaction. The better employees feel about their work environment, the greater opportunity they have to achieve results. Why ask employees these crucial connection questions? They give employees the opportunity to provide input and share areas working well and processes to be improved. Employees feel like valuable members of the team. As we know, when employees feel valued, they will always do more than what is expected.

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Celebration Builds Momentum

To help our teams understand the bigger picture and continue to focus on our big aim goals, take time to celebrate wins that indicate progress is being made towards the larger goals. Some goals take years to complete, celebrating progress motivates teams to continue the hard work.

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Take a Break

786 million vacation days went unused for Americans in 2018. Research reveals 55% of American’s didn’t use all of their allotted PTO. Use time off to recharge, enjoy new experiences, and connect with friends and family. While many high performers may struggle internally with taking a break from work, a vacation is proven to increase productivity, energy, and optimism.

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Guide Employees to Connect to Purpose

To help employees better connect to their purpose, ask them purpose-related questions during one-on-one meetings. Here are a few examples:

  • What do you most enjoy about your work with us?
  • Is there anything you wish you could contribute to?
  • What do you value personally and professionally?
  • How can I as your leader better support your purpose?
  • What about your role are you most proud of and least proud of?
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If You Want High Performers to Stay, Just Ask

Retaining high-performers is absolutely key to the success of the organization. Top-performing employees drive the culture and achieve quality results. When conversing with these employees, try saying, “We want to make sure you are with us for a very long time. Is there anything that would cause you to think about leaving?”

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Ask Your High Performers

Ask what high performing employees need to be a long-term employee; what can you do for them? Coach this individual to take on new responsibilities or reach new levels of performance.

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Specific is Authentic

Generalized appreciation doesn’t feel authentic and may even come off as just going through the motions. Instead, use details and be specific about the person and their actions. This will show you are really paying attention and value the receiver.

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Salute Customer Praise

Collect customer comments that reflect the unmistakable value your organization provides. Share those comments with your team to open up team meetings or as a quick email to remind them of the difference they make by providing unmistakable value to those they serve.

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Establish a Mentorship Program

64% of managers say they don’t think their own employees will be able to keep pace with skills needed in the future and only 20% have the skills needed for both their current role and their future career. Organizations can capitalize on their own employees to fill in any skills gaps by establishing a mentorship program. This can be more formal one-on-one mentoring, peer-to-peer mentoring, or group mentoring. Get started by asking your employees what they hope to get out of their future mentorship program.

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Reduce Communication Barriers

What communication tools, procedures, or standards are causing a barrier in your workplace? Is there a better solution for that communication tool or process? Take the steps to reduce the barrier and increase the quality of the communication tool or standard being used.

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Connect with Aspiring Leaders

Once you’ve identified upcoming leaders within the organization, get to know them better. Identify their skills and what areas can be improved. During one-on-one meetings with aspiring leaders, ask for their input on how they can build their needed skills. Strive to provide upcoming leaders with additional opportunities to own key outcomes.

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Increase Engagement

Ask employees you supervise what is one of their strengths or talents. Find a way to incorporate their strength into their responsibilities. According to Gallup (2014), focusing on individual strengths makes employees “six times more likely to be engaged.”

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Listen for Understanding

Avoid the temptation of listening to others only to prepare yourself for a response. The act of listening helps us better understand those around us. Pause for 5 seconds to make sure the person is done talking before you begin your response. Consider responding with a probing question or a clarifying statement to be sure you’re understanding the message correctly.

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What Do Employees Want?

Employees appreciate most when recognition is designed by them and for them. Ask your employees how they like to be recognized and tailor their recognition accordingly. Consider implementing a peer-to-peer recognition program and let your employees construct the award ceremony or event.

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Engage People with Feedback

Formal and informal conversations with individuals provide us with feedback we can immediately use to improve employee engagement. If an employee expresses a need for a tool to get their job done, provide the employee with a time frame for when they will receive what is needed. Follow-up on the information you gathered to close the loop.

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Discussion for Improvements

Strategy sessions provide a forum for open and honest conversation about challenges and resources. The more we involve the entire team in the discussion, the richer the options for improvement.

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Analyze The Process

Today, examine one process you or your team uses most frequently to eliminate extra steps and identify ways to improve. The most effective processes are simple, rather than complex, and are revisited regularly for efficiency.

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Feedback to Inspire

While giving critical feedback, remind the recipient that you believe in them and their abilities, the goal you are collectively trying to achieve, and the new information they need to drive to excellence.

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Show Value by Asking Questions

Learn something new about an employee by asking them about their family or interests. Value is created when we show interest and concern for their well-being.

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Engage with Input

Ask your team how they stay motivated, engaged, and focused. Ask for their ideas to increase employee engagement activities. What would they like to see? Choose at least 1 idea and implement it within the next month. The perfect time won’t present itself. You have to just get started.

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Share Your Purpose

Start today by sharing your connection to purpose with your team. Employees want to have purpose and do worthwhile work that makes a difference – remind them what this means for you by sharing your story.

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Tough Talks

When you are faced with a tough conversation, first consider your goals. The first is to solve the problem. The second is to do so without damaging the relationship.

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Get Personal

Individually ask your team members a personal question today. Investing in the emotional side of your team builds the trust required to achieve excellence.

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Give Trust to Get Trust

How do you get people to trust? Start with trusting first. Share a vulnerable experience with a colleague today that will begin building your relationship.

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Building Trust

Whether it’s the strategic direction or leadership decisions, building trust in an organization takes a consistent demonstration of action aligned to words. It also requires that trust first be given. Do you trust your team to do what they say they will do?

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