“If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings—and put compensation as a carrier behind it—you almost don’t have to manage them.”
Client Mindy Asks: Our tech company is growing and expanding. We’ve hired some managers in the past, and it hasn’t worked out the way we expected it to. How can we recruit and retain the kind of managerial talent that stays with us and produces the results we’re looking for?
Coach Joel Answers: Mindy, you’ve hit on two key points. When you recruit well, the second one—retention—becomes much easier. So let’s focus first on effective recruitment.
1. Determine your needs. First, it’s absolutely critical you have a thorough understanding of what you expect from your manager. You need to know not only the duties he or she will perform, but the intangibles—emotional intelligence. Even if your new hire comes with great technical skills, if they don’t have people skills, vision, and motivation, it will be difficult for them to manage.
So look at your corporate climate. What social, communication, and team building skills do they need as well? Enthusiasm and motivation can go a long way to ensure the success of the new manager.
2. Advertise broadly. Your ideal manager may be working within your company. Or they may be working for your competitor. Make sure your open position is made known to a wide range of prospects. Can it be filled by someone just out of college? Is the market so tight you need to look to pull someone out of retirement? Don’t lose your best talent by limiting your scope.
3. Sell yourself. What does your company offer to attract the kind of managers you want to hire? In order for this new hire to work out, you need to be transparent in the kind of company you are. A mismatch results in your managers not hanging around long.
What is there in your brand that will resonate with the recruit? Are you eco-friendly? Consensus building? Highlight your cross training or the value your company places on its employees.
4. Show them it’s true. What is there in your recruitment process that illustrates the strengths of the company you’re selling to your new hires? If you tell them your company values employees, will your prospects find a helpful HR office? Will they find your online presence reflects your promises to them? Is the application process easy and straightforward, or convoluted and full of hoops to jump through?
5. Offer sufficient training. Once you have your new managers in place you want to keep them. Keep them happy. Keep them fulfilled. Keep them engaged in and with your company.
One way to ensure you retain your managers is by ensuring they have a full range of training to orient them properly. Have a mentor to help them understand the company culture. Offer frequent feedback where your manager can feel confident he or she is on the right track and he or she feels free to ask questions. Work together to create realistic milestones for integration and achievement.
Recruiting and maintaining managerial talent are closely linked together. When you know how to attract your ideal hire, you increase the probability you will keep your manager for a long time. However it’s important to continue training, support, and open communication on an ongoing basis.
Are you looking for ways your company can recruit and keep excellent managers? Contact Joel for insights you might be missing.
Talkback: What has been one of the most important factors you’ve seen as you recruit and retain your top talent?
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“I want to look back on my career and be proud of the work, and be proud that I tried everything.”
Client Tony Asks: In today’s environment, it seems so many careers get derailed. Things start out promising, then bam! You’re taking a nose dive. What can I do to accelerate my career smoothly—without interruptions?
Coach Joel Answers: We live in a roller-coaster society with booms and busts. But there are ways to safeguard your career and make it much more likely you can keep it accelerating on an upward trend.
Take a look at these seven critical areas of business expertise. As you increase your skills in these areas, you become more valuable to your employer—or any employer.
These skills can super-charge your career to ensure you give more and more value, and in turn, are appropriately compensated.
1. Become an Expert. Look at the work you currently do—or what you want to do. Find ways to become more skilled and more effective in this field. Research, implement, get mentored. Do what you need to do increase your expertise until you become the person everyone naturally turns to for answers.
2. Communicate Well. Businesses run on clear communication. Mistakes and mis-communication can sink careers. So to keep yours moving forward successfully, master good communication skills. Choose methods that work best for you—in person, email, text, reports. Ask for responses so you can be sure your messages have gotten through as you intended.
3. Invite Feedback. You need to know the quality of your work. When you ask for feedback you can be assured you’re working to the expectations of your boss and others. When you invite frequent assessments, you can stop potential problem in the beginning.
4. Align Your Vision. Make sure you are focusing on what your boss or the company sees as most important. It’s terribly frustrating to work hard and produce excellent results—only to discover what you’re doing isn’t part of the core competencies of the company. It isn’t valued as you expected.
5. Team Work. Every job is part of a team effort to create the products of the business. Your ego needs to be neither too big nor too small to work effectively as a team member. Support others. Give credit. Be generous. People enjoy being around and want to work with those who are likeable and produce results.
6. Ensure Ethics. When you compromise your integrity you run a deep risk of placing your career in recession. Choose a company that matches your ethics. Then monitor your actions to make sure they fit that standard. One of the most important reasons people give for their decision making is trust. Ensure you are trustworthy.
7. Customer Service. Even if you are not dealing with the public, you can give great customer service to those around you. Make sure you are giving good value for what you are earning. Think of the management and your peers as your customers and serve them appropriately.
Stephen R. Covey says leadership is not a position, it’s an action. Regardless of your position in a company, you can practice leadership skills. You can make yourself responsible, forward thinking, and you can empower others.
As you do this, you accelerate your career—without any interruption or slow-down—and you reach the goals that define your success.
If your career is not on the upward path you’d envisioned for yourself, contact Joel for the strategy and skills necessary to accomplish your dreams.
Talkback: What steps have you taken to move your career off a plateau? Is there a particular trait or event that boosted your career?
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“Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”
Client Ron asks: Our company has got to get serious about a planning program for succession. We talk about it all the time, but only in some kind of informal, conversational way. “Oh, Janet would be a great comptroller if we could get her into a couple of training programs.” But there’s nothing in writing and no formal plan with benchmarks and milestones. I’m going to take on this challenge personally. But how do I even get started?
Coach Joel answers: Unfortunately, many companies never even think about a succession planning program until they are faced with some kind of crisis or emergency. Someone becomes ill or gets recruited by a competitor and suddenly there’s a huge hole in the organization chart and no one is available to fill it. You’re smart to shed some daylight on this issue. Here are three action steps I think you should take as soon as possible to tackle succession planning in your organization:
- Create individual development plans
- Start an internship program
- Train high potentials with job rotation
1. Create individual development plans. Virtually every employee in your company should have a written career plan. This plan should include his or her core competencies, career goals, and what training programs are needed in order to get him from where he is now to where he wants to go. Be sure to include a time frame for each development activity. Work with each person one on one, and let them develop their own plan with your guidance, rather than developing the plan yourself and dictating to them what’s to be done. Be sure they know the plan can be modified if situations or goals change.
2. Start an internship program. An internship program is an important component of succession program planning. I’m talking here about a special kind of internship, a formal growth structure for employees on the move, not an unpaid summer job for high school or college students. Let’s say, for example, that Kate, who is currently an IT supervisor, has expressed an interest in learning more about marketing. Kate can begin to spend a small percentage of her time in marketing, doing real work, such as a special project or a real problem solve. Kate should have a mentor who will support and critique her. At the same time she should be given opportunities to interact with senior marketing staff during meetings and trainings. Socializing with marketing staff outside the workplace would also help her feel comfortable and become more visible.
3. Train high potentials with job rotation. Job rotations are designed to give rising stars wide exposure to the big company picture by experiencing all phases of the company’s business. Don’t confuse job rotation with cross training, which usually takes place among employees within a department rather than throughout the company. As an important piece of your succession planning, you’ll want to set this up so that each program participant spends time assuming duties and getting hands-on experience in every department. For example, let’s say you’ve targeted Jeffrey as a potential future CFO. As a final phase in his growth plan, he might spend an entire year devoting 25% or more of his time to projects in HR, marketing, and production. Think of job rotation as an investment in leadership development that will ensure that promising young employees gain the experience they need to understand all aspects of the business.
When you set up this kind of structure, you’re doing two things. First, you’re letting your future leaders know you have confidence in them. You’re giving them an opportunity to chart their own course to a successful future. At the same time, you’re giving them a huge responsibility to rise to the occasion by devoting hard work and commitment to their own futures. Most, if not all, will rise to the occasion and you’ll sleep better at night, knowing that your company has the right people in place who can step up to the plate when the occasion demands it.
How’s your succession plan looking? Email Joel today for some ideas you can use to whip it into shape.
Talkback: Do you have some succession planning tools that are working for you? Share your successes here.
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“An employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with his or her manager.”
~ Bob Nelson~
Client Joan Asks: We’ve been really struggling with an employee retention problem. I’d like to help my managers determine where the problem may lie and come up with some solutions we can implement to keep our employees productive and happy.
Do you have some articles I could recommend to them that would help?
Coach Joel Answers: I like the direction you are going, Joan. If you allow your managers to read up on the way other people have resolved this problem, you get some buy in.
Then when they come to the table to discuss their ideas and solutions, you already have them taking ownership of the problem. They will be more interested in working toward a solution.
Here are six articles that will get you started.
1. How Managers Can Improve Their Workplaces for Employees. Joan, the fact is, most employees leave because of their boss and the management. The great thing about the suggestions in this article is that you don’t need to bust your budget to accomplish these strategies.
You’ll find seven simple steps you and your managers can take immediately to help retain more employees. Read Employee Retention Article.
2. Ten Ways to Keep Your Star Employees. Anytime you have top talent, you want to have them happy and secure with you. One of the issues that surfaces with rising stars is they will not stay if they don’t feel they are doing fulfilling work. Also, if they feel they are totally inundated with work they may become discouraged. Read Star Employees Article.
3. Highly Engaged Workplace. Sometimes you find workers just “biding their time” at their job. They don’t feel committed to the work. They stick it out because of the down economy, but don’t feel any loyalty to your company. This article helps you identify the key things that bring your employees fulfillment.
When you find those benefits and work situation that engages your workers, you change them from “waiting to leave,” to “wanting to stay.” It changes the entire workplace environment. Read Engaged Workplace Article.
4. How Men and Women in Leadership Can Help Employees Succeed. When employees are properly trained and feel they are using their skill sets to succeed, they enjoy their jobs more.
Use this article to examine the training opportunities you have in place. Do your workers need tutoring, mentoring, coaching or on-the-job training to feel more valuable? Are your employees confused about expectations and how you define success? This article will help you evaluate your workers better. Read Help Employees Succeed Article.
5. Give Employees What They Need. Sometimes as you evaluate your employee retention issue, you may discover that you have not given your staff the tools they need to succeed.
When workers stand on uncertain ground, they seek the security of another job. With this article you’ll find six tips to strengthen your employees’ commitment to succeed at your job instead of looking elsewhere. Read Keep Employees Motivated Article.
6. Learn How to Create a Happy Workplace with an Employee Retention Survey. What’s the best way to determine whether your employees are happy or unhappy and why? Ask them! This articles explains the importance of surveying current employees and provides examples of questions to include on your survey. Read the Employee Survey Article.
Joan, as your managers look at these employee retention articles, they will see where they can strengthen the workplace and their management skills. When employees enjoy their job, their manager, their work environment, and their pay you will find your retention problem disappears.
Looking for the solutions to your employee retention issues? Email Joel for options specifically designed for your situation.
Talkback: What articles have you read lately that could help managers keep their workers satisfied?
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“Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don’t think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other.”
~Bill Gates ~
Client Ann Asks: I worry that we are not standing out from the competition. My IT Director says that we can gain a competitive advantage through information technology, but I’m not sure how to do this. Can you give me some ideas?
Coach Joel Answers: Ann, you are right on target. It’s vital that your company outshine other similar companies in order to maintain market share. You need things that help you work smarter, faster, and at a cheaper cost. Information technology can help you do all of that.
Let’s look at nine ways to improve your bottom line, support the team effort, handle paperwork, and gain more loyal customers.
When you employ some of these IT systems, you’ll feel more in control, you’ll save time, and you’ll see results.
1. Web Presence. Help your business be easily found. Make your website inviting, informative, and easy to navigate. You’ll find you’re converting visitors to buyers faster and more often.
2. E-commerce. Expand beyond your brick-and-mortar store. A.J. Madison started as a simple store in Brooklyn New York, selling to locals. Its expansive e- commerce site now has it sending appliances into all 50 states. This is a huge competitive advantage. Make sure your IT allows different online payment methods.
3. Supply Chain Management. A good IT program can make sure you have products exactly when you need them. It can manage your inventory as well as the clerical supplies that keep offices running.
4. Customer Relationship Management. Nothing can destroy your business faster than poor customer relations. And few things can give you a better competitive advantage than a host of loyal customers. Use information technology to help you follow up with customers, hear and respond to complaints, and segment your customers to reward larger spenders.
5. Automation Software. Your automated programs can track numbers of sales, customers, and transaction details. It can make those numbers available across a variety of documents for taxes, customer follow up, and financial accounting. Paperwork is not glamorous, but when you save hours and dollars with excellent software, it becomes cool.
6. Collaboration Software. Quality programs help teams work together. It allows documents to easily be shared. On a basic level it connects computers, applications, printers, and internet connections. These simple steps save you time and money. They also make a more productive and satisfied, team.
7. Web Design. Each company wants to stand out. With your unique website you can differentiate your products from your competitors.
8. Client Segmentation. Don’t waste your advertising dollars on clients who won’t buy. Use software to focus on those who do. Sophisticated information systems segment your list so you can target new buyers and big spenders and spend little time on “lookers.”
9. Privacy. Use IT to protect the confidential information of your customers and employees. Nothing breaks trust with your customers like a hacker stealing their credit information from your site. That extra layer of information technology can give you a competitive edge against other businesses in your field.
Ann, you don’t even need to use every one of these programs right away. Choose the two or three areas in your business that could most benefit from streamlining, and start there.
Soon you’ll find ways your competitive advantage is bringing in more clients and more income for your company. Information technology really does let you work smarter, faster, and with a lower cost.
To learn how your company can blow your competition out of the water, contact Joel.
Talkback: What programs or software have you used to give your business an advantage?
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