Recruit and Retain Talent

Determining Success

“Your growth determines who you are.  Who you are will determine who you attract.  Who you attract determines the success of your organization.” – John Maxwell

What do you value? What does your organization value? How will those values lead to success?

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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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Talk is Cheap

…unless it’s a manage up. Messaging and celebrating the impact of an individual doesn’t have to be elaborate. A simple manage up of an individual’s impact in front of the larger team means more to most than a purchased prize.

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Analyze Your Communication

Barriers and silos often exist in an organization when there is a lack of effective communication. People in different departments aren’t sharing information, causing work to get repeated or the organization to send out mixed messages. Audit your communication to identify areas to eliminate barriers that are a result of inefficient communication.

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Who’s Doing What?

To increase accountability across a team, create clarity. Ensure roles, responsibilities, and goals are clear. It’s easier to be accountable when you know who’s doing what and where the team is going.

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Unmistakable Recognition

Remember to recognize those providing unmistakable value in your organization. This recognition can be as simple as a shout-out during the next team meeting. Recognizing an employee’s commitment to being unmistakably valuable to stakeholders encourages more of this behavior and mindset across the team.

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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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One at a Time

After an initial communication of all organizational goals, consider focusing on one goal at a time during the next few team meetings. Use this time to help team members see how their roles connect to the larger aims and identify actions the team will take to support achievement of the goal.

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Connect Actions to Values

When discussing strategic direction and strategic actions with our teams, it’s helpful to connect those actions to the organization’s values to allow people to visualize the meaningful outcomes of their work.

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Make Goals More Manageable

Support high solid performers by working with them to breakdown their 90-day goals into more manageable pieces. Identify opportunities to celebrate the small wins along the way, which add up to the completion of the goal. Celebrating small wins motivates, encourages, and retains solid-performers.

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Remember Why You Started

Don’t forget why you started on the path of continuous improvement. Regularly remind yourself and your team why changes are occurring, particularly during the tougher phases.

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Win Vs. Loss

When we’re trying to accomplish really important goals, it’s easy to forget to celebrate progress. For one week, keep a tally of the number of times you point out a set-back and a tally of the number of times you celebrate a win. Do the wins win? If you proclaimed the negative more often, try again next week. Build a habit of celebrating wins that matter.

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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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Reward Mastered Skills

Monitor your aspiring leader’s progress and when a new leadership skill is mastered, recognize and reward the new leader. Individuals generally like to be recognized and rewarded in different ways, try to be as personal and specific as possible. If you are using or creating a formal new leader development program, incorporate regular reward and recognition into the program plan.

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Use “But” to Improve

When you find yourself describing a supervisee as “a great employee, but lacks punctuality,” use what comes after the “but” as an opportunity to improve that individual’s performance. Instead of accepting the one bad behavior because you think the person is a high performer, try providing support to correct the problem and help the individual become a  true high performer.

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See it – Reward it

Recognize the right behavior right away. Don’t wait until it’s time for a quarterly or yearly recognition program. Make it a habit to recognize performance that deserves to be rewarded.

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Reflect on Turnover

Is your organization or department retaining talent? Is there room for improvement in your hiring process? Chances are there is ample space to make stronger hiring decisions. Apply just one new method to your next round of interviews.

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Get a Team Together

If your organization doesn’t have a peer interview team, determine how you can start assembling the right team for your next hiring process. If you have a team in place, consider adding new tools to make the process a smooth success.

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Non-Dominant Hand Practice

Time yourself writing your name with your non-dominant hand. Then, time yourself writing your name with your dominant hand. Relate that to the time wasted when we, or our team members, are asked to work outside of our strengths. Think about how you or your team members can spend more time working within their strengths.

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Lead by Example

Be aware of your actions as a leader but also be aware of the actions of the leadership team. All eyes in the organization are looking to you to commit to excellence and lead by example.

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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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Empower People to Solve Problems

Good processes arise when the workforce is empowered to identify and solve problems to achieve excellence. Process improvement reinforces and accelerates a culture of performance excellence. Encourage people to be problem solvers by bringing a solution with every problem.

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Grow Your Own Program

Set up an exploratory pipeline program for new leaders interested in building career options within the organization. Partner a potential successor with the leader serving in a position soon to open to complete current projects, especially ongoing or challenging projects, to learn about the position and processes. Conduct ongoing talent review discussions to keep options and opportunities open for rising talent. Invest in talent development training for rising successors.

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Build Strong Relationships

When you consistently treat people with respect, transparency, fairness, and gratitude, you’re building a strong emotional bank account with them. Our own happiness and success are largely dependent on the relationships we build with others. Having a good friend in the workplace increases satisfaction at work according to Gallup. Take one action today to build a stronger relationship with your coworkers.

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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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Grow Owners

Owners are deeply committed to organizational performance. They often take personal responsibility when things go wrong and immediately begin looking for solutions. This is the type of behavior organizations seek to replicate. To grow owners in your organization, find ways to deliberately and publicly highlight displays of ownership behavior in others.

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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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Make the Application Process Easy

Candidates spend a lot of time looking for the right jobs, reading job descriptions, and filling out forms to apply for positions. The easier the application process is for your potential candidates, the more likely you are to get more highly qualified applicants. High performing job seekers who are currently working will appreciate the efficiency of a straight forward, easy application process.

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Consult Current Employees

While creating job descriptions or new job roles, ask your current employees for their opinions and feedback. It’s likely that current team members have a unique perspective on what a role will require and what skills the company should be looking for.

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Focus on Growth & Development

When crafting a job description and searching for highly talented candidates, it’s important to focus on how this person will contribute to the overall success of the organization. Don’t create a list of endless responsibilites. What opportunities will they have to grow and develop their skills? How will the candidate’s achievements in this role align to business objectives and advancement opportunities?

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Develop Specific Job Descriptions

When crafting a job description, be as clear and detailed as possible. Provide an accurate picture of what’s required for the position. Avoid using terms such as “ninja,” “rockstar,” “guru,” or “wizard,” which are vague and do little to contribute to the actual responsibilities of the job. Think carefully about the words you use, and whether or not they deter applicants from applying for the available position.

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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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Use High Performers to Guide

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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Encourage Solid Performers

Solid performers want to build relationships with their leaders, have opportunities for professional development, and hear feedback that inspires improvement. Identify the solid performers on your team, and help them grow by identifying one skill or area for improvement at a time. Ask engaging questions to gain reflective insight and possible solutions from the employee. Ask how you can support their growth and professional development.

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Address Poor Performance

High performers want to work in organizations with other high performers. When leaders avoid addressing low performers, high and solid performers notice sub-par performers aren’t keeping up and can become frustrated, sometimes to the point that they will choose to leave the department or organization. It’s not fair for your team of high and solid performers to carry the low performers, its crucial to address low performer behavior quickly and effectively to retain high performers.

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Meet with High Performers Monthly

50% of high performers say they expect at least a monthly sit down with their managers, but only 53% say their manager delivers on their feedback expectations. High performers want feedback. They want dialogue with you as their leader. Make monthly meetings with high performers a priority.

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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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4 Steps to Re-Recruit High Performers

  1. Thank them for their contributions.
  2. Ensure that the employee is informed of the direction of the organization.
  3. Review the characteristics that make the individual valuable to the organization, be specific.
  4. Ask what can be done to ensure you do not lose the employee as a member of the team; reiterate that person’s importance to the organization’s mission.

Listen carefully and follow through with any requests for support.

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Rejuvenate High Performers

Conversations to re-recruit high performers are intended to have the high performer leave the conversation feeling appreciated, rejuvenated, and with a renewed sense of purpose. How would you express to a high performer they are a valuable member of your team?

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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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Design a Gratitude System

While everyone will appreciate a random act of gratitude, to ensure gratitude is a part of the culture, a system must be in place for expressing gratitude. Some ideas include: peer-nominated opportunities for employees who go above an beyond, establishing a gratitude station for thank you notes, ending each meeting with time for gratitude, etc. What system can you establish for your team or organization?

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Create an Appreciation Board

Write one thank you note thanking one employee for extra effort at work, post the note on the board, and provide blank cards and pens for others to add their own notes. Intentional expressions of gratitude by leaders provide opportunities for peers to express gratitude and help employees reconnect to purpose and worthwhile work.

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Turn Aspiring Leaders into Mentors

To encourage the development of aspiring leaders, offer them the opportunity to mentor the organization’s newest employees. Not only will your aspiring leaders learn how to coach others, but the organization will see a variety of benefits from reduced turnover to increased morale.

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Harvest Wins from Data

One way to use data you’ve collected is to identify wins from the results and follow-up with a celebration. When you begin to review your data, start by looking for 3 wins you can pass on to your teams and celebrate.

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Use Probing Questions

Rather than risk alienating a team member with constructive criticism, try probing questions to initiate improvement. Start with: “Have you experienced any barriers to achieving results recently? How did you work through that?” Then, probe: “Can you think of a time you’ve experienced a similar barrier? What did you do?” Offer suggestions by explaining what has worked for you in a similar situation. Close by asking: “What actions could you take to grow and develop your skills? How can I help you?”

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What’s Working Well?

Even the highest performing employees appreciate check-ins with their leader. Meet with your direct reports on a monthly basis to talk about what is going well, what can be improved, what support is needed, and what progress the individual has made on their quarterly and/or annual plans.

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Culture of Care

Employees who feel that they’re cared about by their leader are far more likely to be engaged with their daily work and continue to work for the organization. Listen to individuals, tell them why you value them, and have empathy for their situations.

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Commit to Monthly Meetings

Employees want leaders who are approachable, work alongside them, provide training and development opportunities, build a relationship with them, and utilize efficient systems. These needs can be met by participating in one-on-one monthly meetings with individuals you supervise. Make a commitment today by scheduling monthly meetings for next month.

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Discuss Available Leadership Development

What resources can upcoming leaders take advantage of to develop their skills? Are there external professional development opportunities available? Can aspiring leaders easily access the necessary resources? Connect with identified aspiring leaders and show them the available resources aligned to their leadership development needs.

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Develop with Specific Goals

Prepare a plan with an aspiring leader this week. It’s recommended for the professional development plan to include goals, objectives to meet those goals, criteria for completion, and a timeline. Using specific, measurable goals, rather than vague goals like “improve communication,” we can better track progress and identify areas with further development needs.

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Get Aspiring Leaders Involved

While supporting the development of an aspiring leader, involve them with real-life situations that present an opportunity for decision making or problem-solving. New leaders can also develop skills in these areas by conducting role-play scenarios and reviewing case studies.

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Support Succession Planning

Consider what a leadership development program would look like for your organization. Picture a process for developing aspiring leaders and supporting growth in areas such as communication, performance conversations, talent management, and continuous improvement. This may include leadership development retreats, learning tools, or a partnership with a mentor.

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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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Communicate Your Superpowers

Spend time as a team discussing each individual’s strengths and natural communication tendencies. To build stronger work relationships, make an effort to communicate with team members in their preferred communication style. Brainstorm how to use each other’s strengths to accelerate results.

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Align Actions to Strengths

When aligning the goals of the organization to actions for specific employees, first consider each employee’s strengths. To increase employee engagement and productivity, distribute the actions according to each individual’s strengths.

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Recognize New Team Members

While introducing new team members to other employees in the organization, boast about their previous success, experience, and how they are a great asset to your organization. Reduce any anxieties and confirm that you are happy and the new employee is a good fit for your team.

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Evaluate Your Recognition

Is recognition in your organization leader-driven or employee-driven? Do rewards align with the recommended behaviors and values of the organization? How often do individuals get recognition? More than once per year? Evaluate your recognition processes at least once per year and strive to make recognition as employee-centered and engaging as possible.

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A Handwritten Thank You

Observe the right behaviors. For example: When employees are doing exceptional work, being especially helpful to others, and living the values/standards of the organization, then act. Hand-write a genuine, thank you note with specific details and send it to the team member’s home. Thank you notes are meaningful and are saved over time by those on the receiving end.

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Stay True to Your Organization

Employees feel valuable and motivated when they are recognized for their contributions. Authentic, consistent, and specific recognition aligned with the organization’s values is the most effective. Aim for recognition that feels organic rather than forced.

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Value Based Recognition

Recognize an employee of the month for living out organizational values or create an opportunity for peers to reward each other monthly for living out values.

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Use Feedback to Motivate

Many individuals crave feedback at work. It lets us know we’re on the right track, and reveals areas for improvement. The best feedback results from asking questions such as, “What is going well and why is it going well?,” “Are you experiencing any barriers? Why?,” and “How have you overcome similar barriers in the past?.” Use these prompts next time you’re providing feedback to a team member.

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Develop a Peer Interviewing Team

When team members are included in the hiring of new employees, they take ownership of recruiting and retaining new individuals on the team. Being chosen to interview potential new peers instills a sense of pride in your team and they will feel accountable and be invested in helping that new employee succeed.

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The Right Fit

To determine if a candidate’s attitudes and beliefs align with the organization’s values, develop behavior-based interview questions. Ask for examples of situations that provide information about the candidate’s attitudes and personality. Example: Tell us about a time when you worked on a team and experienced success. What was the situation? What made it successful?

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Encourage a Welcoming Culture

Have a plan in place for welcoming new team members. Don’t allow them to wander alone on their first day. Let them know where to park, how to dress, what the lunch policies are and, if possible, partner the newbie with a seasoned team member to show them around the office and introduce them to all of their coworkers. Ask your team to contribute their ideas for welcoming new members.

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Recognition Team

Establish a service team of individuals who are responsible for creating reward and recognition programs and ideas for your organization. Individuals respond differently to various forms of recognition. By using a team to create reward and recognition programs there will be a greater variety of them.

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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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Forward Virtual Wins

When you receive an email from a customer or client celebrating an individual who makes a difference in your organization, spread the love. Forward the email to your entire team. Not only does it provide an example of what the right behavior looks like, but it will also help the team stay connected to their purpose.

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Align Awards to Performance

Everyone makes a difference in the organization. Spend time during quarterly strategy sessions awarding individuals who have reached specific performance outcomes.

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Quick Wins

Invite a coworker to have a cup of coffee or bring them a small gift to celebrate a job well done or personal accomplishment.

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Be Specific

During performance conversations, address specific actions and behaviors you’ve observed. Avoid talking in generalities.

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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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Use Fun to Motivate

Come up with a way to incorporate ‘FUN’ into a workday. To get people excited, you have to be excited. Why shouldn’t work be fun?

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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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Celebrate Your Newbies

Welcome new members of your team before they begin their first day. People want to go where they are celebrated, not merely tolerated.

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Show Your Team They Fit

Ensure everyone on your team has a place, a purpose, is prepared, and is passionate about what they do.

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Invite New-Hires into the Story

Stories build legends and legends build legacies. Share the stories that shaped your company and values with a new-hire.

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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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Moving Towards Greatness

Ask your employees what they need from you (tools, resources, feedback) to exceed results, and give it to them or explain why you can’t.

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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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Catch Them in the Act

Look for who is modeling what’s right today, and thank them. “The key to developing people is to catch them doing something right. Catching people doing things right provides satisfaction and motivates good performance.” Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson – The One Minute Manager

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Celebrate people

Recognizing when things go well is one of the most effective ways to get more of what we want. Publicly recognize a member of your team for a job done right.

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