Category Archives: Managerial Effectiveness

How to Do More with Less

Our current economic downturn has caused many businesses and organizations to downsize in order to survive.  This poses a number of challenges.  One of which is how to best fill the roles that are vacated.  In order to successfully manage this transition, it’s important to be strategic about how to maximize the talents of the employees that remain by matching your organization’s needs with the skills, motivations and aptitude of your employees.

Here are some strategies to help effectively fill the gaps left by downsizing:

  • Up skill across the organization.Your existing employees often have invaluable institutional knowledge and may have the aptitude for more varied responsibilities given the opportunity to learn new skills. For example, do you have employees that are natural leaders, who have great interpersonal skills but have not had management training?  Are there skills specific to your industry that your existing employees can learn, which would help fill some of your needs? Make sure you are having discussions with each of your employees about your organization’s needs and what new skills and experiences they desire.  These discussions will not only help you fill your gaps but will likely increase employee engagement because your employees will see that you care about their growth and development.
  • Ensure employees are playing to their strengths. Incorporating a strengths based approach can be a highly effective way to keep employees motivated and productive.  Rather than asking employees to pick up the slack by doing work that doesn’t play to their strengths, give them new opportunities to use their strengths.  The StrengthsFinder has become a quite popular and effective way to help people identify their strengths.  I have found that the implementation of the StrengthsFinder often falls short.  It is most frequently used to help employees better understand themselves and each other but is not used enough to tailor job responsibilities to match the strengths of the employees.  One way I have successfully used the StrengthsFinder is by helping organizations analyze the various strengths of their team members.  This can be particularly helpful when people are moved into new positions, as teams are more effective when comprised of people with complimentary strengths.
  • Use a psychometric assessment. In my work with clients I use the Prevue assessment to benchmark positions based on the skills, motivations and personality factors needed for a particular position.  Candidates take an assessment to see how their skills, motivations and personality match the needs identified in the benchmark.  This can be a very helpful way to fill the gaps left by downsizing with existing employees who could potentially meet the identified benchmarks.  And, using an assessment can help ensure the process of filling positions is not influenced by personal bias.

We are in the midst of very difficult times for many businesses and organizations.  In order to survive, it will be important to be strategic about how to maximize the talents of your employees.  If you are not strategic during these trying times, you are likely to face a workforce with increased burn out, decreased motivation and decreased productivity, which most businesses and organizations cannot afford.

Alisa Blum & Associates helps businesses & organizations select, develop and retain top employees.  To schedule a complimentary consultation, contact Alisa at (503) 481-7586 or alisa@developtopemployees.com.

Six Ways to Support Employees During the COVID Crisis

Credit: CentrallTAlliance

The challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have been with us for a while now.  Stressors from social isolation, balancing work responsibilities while homeschooling, concerns about job security and health concerns can easily interfere with an employee’s job performance.
 
Here are 6 actions you can take to support your employees:

Provide open communication about employee well-being. Encourage conversations between managers and employees that go beyond discussing tasks that need to be accomplished.  Ask employees how they are doing and how they would like to be supported.  In team meetings, allow time for team members to provide support to each other.

Affirm the employee’s value to your organization. Since people are now having less contact with each other, there aren’t as many opportunities for employees to get feedback about their contributions.  Take time to communicate specific ways their contributions are impacting your organization’s success, and you will positively impact their motivation and self-esteem.

Consider virtual support groups. Explore whether your employees would find it useful to form a group with the purpose of helping each other cope with common stressors.

Offer mentoring.  Mentoring can offer tremendous benefits to enhance employee and organizational success.  With many organizations dealing with the impact of downsizing, a mentor can work with employees to help guide their career development within your new organizational structure.

Build resilience.  Although some people are naturally resilient, many of us need to learn how to be resilient.  One of the best ways to become more resilient is to increase social+emotional intelligence.  The assessment and coaching we provide can help build the resilience that we all need right now. Mindfulness has been found to be an excellent way to build resilience.  Check out our programs that incorporate mindfulness techniques to improve organizational health.

Use your EAP. During these difficult times, some of your employees may be experiencing a mental health crisis or problems with substance abuse.  Make sure your employees are aware of the resources your EAP provides.  If you don’t have an EAP, provide employees with appropriate avenues for help.

Being proactive by offering support and resources now, can prevent common stressors from taking a major toll on your employees well-being and their productivity.

Alisa Blum & Associates helps businesses & organizations select, develop and retain top employees.  To schedule a complimentary consultation, contact Alisa at (503) 481-7586 or alisa@developtopemployees.com.

 

Are You Maximizing the Power of Your Holiday Events?

Successful business people celebrating with a high-five

As the holidays approach, think about the last time you attended a holiday gathering at work that felt meaningful?  How can you strategically use your upcoming holiday event to help your employees understand the unique contributions they each bring to the workplace?

Research has shown that recognition increases productivity, enhances employee engagement, improves team culture and increases retention. Your upcoming holiday gathering can be an opportune time to show employees the value they bring to your organization.  Make sure you are specific about how each employee has contributed to your organization’s success this year.  And follow up with frequent recognition throughout 2019.

If you would like assistance developing specific recognition strategies, we would love to help.  We can be reached at (503) 481-7586 or alisa@developtopemployees.com.

www.developtopemployees.com

How Negative Stereotyping is Impacting Millennials

 

A recent report from Udemy, based on a survey of more than 1,000 Millennials across the U.S., found that 86 percent feel undermined by negative stereotypes in the workplace.

I’ve spent many years providing training to help employees work better across generations.  Here are some ways I’ve found helpful in understanding Millennials and reducing negative stereotyping:

  1. Younger generations historically are the victims of negative stereotyping. If you are a Boomer, think back to how employers felt about your generation of hippies entering the workforce.  If you are a Gen X’er, you probably remember your generation being called  “slackers” when you entered the workforce.  You proved that you were productive employees and you will find that many young employees, if they have appropriate support, are and will become productive employees.
  2. Millennials are labeled as being too demanding when they are vocal about expressing their needs in areas such as equity, positive feedback and flexibility. Productivity and retention improve when employees feel supported and perceive they are being treated in an equitable manner. Listen to your employees and try to meet their needs.  When you can’t meet their requests, discuss the business rationale for doing so.
  3. Entitlement” is often confused with ambition.Employees from this generation may want to get promoted faster than those in older generations.  Rather than labeling them as “entitled”, they need to be given guidance about the skills needed to move to higher levels in the organization.
  4. Appreciating the unique contributions each individual makes can lessen the tendency to stereotype and enhance engagement.  Get to know your employees and determine how to leverage each individual’s strengths.

What do you think are the business costs of negative stereotyping?  What is your organization doing to address this?

I am very interested in your input on this topic.  Please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with me at alisa@developtopemployees.com.

 

How to Engage & Retain Millennials

Business and organizational leaders are becoming increasingly concerned about how to retain talented millennial employees, because they know that their organizations will only be sustainable with a cadre of employees committed for the long term.  Here’s a clip of a recent interview I gave to the MEECO Institute that addresses steps managers can take to increase the engagement and retention of millennial employees: https://www.youtube.com/embed/lgS9QevUrBQ?start=508&end=678 

Successful business people celebrating with a high-five

It’s Time to Focus on Respect

 

As the public has become increasingly aware of the sexual harassment and sexual assault women have been receiving in the workplace, there has been much discussion about what to do to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault at work. The solution to the prevention of the behaviors that lead to sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace is quite complex as legal issues, corporate culture and individual behavior change all need to be addressed.

One way to prevent this abhorrent and destructive behavior is to create a culture of respect in the workplace.   So, how do we do this?

First, it is important to develop the capacity to reflect on your own behavior. Are you communicating with others in a way they find demeaning? Do you even know if you are communicating in this manner? Do you have the courage to find out? What would happen if men in executive positions asked female employees what types of behaviors they found disrespectful — And then, changed behaviors that the female employees found to be offensive? If these discussions were modeled and encouraged by executives, would others in the organization feel free to have these discussions?

Creating a safe environment is key to developing a respectful workplace.   One way to create a safe environment is to demonstrate empathy. Whether you agree with the other person’s perspective or not, put yourself in their shoes and show them that you understand their perspective and their feelings.

When developing new strategies to create a respectful workplace, collaborate with others. Our best solutions happen when we ask for input and capitalize on the strengths of those we work with day to day. And finally, when all of these aspects of respect are put in to place, you will create a thriving work environment.

Keep this acronym in mind to help you remember the qualities for creating a respectful workplace:

Reflective

Encouraging

Safe

Perspective taking

Empathetic

Collaborative

Thrive

Employers can’t afford to wait to take the steps now to create a respectful work environment.

© 2017, Alisa Blum, Alisa Blum & Associates, All Rights Reserved

Alisa Blum & Associates works with businesses and organizations to build relationships that enhance individual and team effectiveness.  Information about our services can be found at www.developtopemployees.com.

Enhance Leadership Success by Building Trust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen M.R, Covey, in his book, The Speed of Trust, says that when trust is developed and leveraged it is “that one thing that has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity.”  Our experience and research (Interaction Associates, 2013) tell us that teams that trust each other, and workers who trust their leaders, are simply more productive and effective. And probably happier.

Whether we are talking about family, or friends, or the workplace, the trust we feel is about predictability and reliability, as well as respect for the quality of the actions. Think about someone you trust — don’t they show skill in their actions, do what they say, and are consistent? When we feel trust towards someone, especially a leader or boss, we are willing to do more, sometimes risk more, learn something, and make the effort.

Certainly, we bring our individual history, beliefs, and values to a situation. Many of us have people in our past who didn’t deserve the trust we gave them. They didn’t do what they should have done in their position, they let us down, their words didn’t match their actions, and their values weren’t in tune with what we think is important.

It’s really not much different at work. A leader who inspires trust does what he/she says. They communicate clearly and fully. They see the best in their team and are ready for problems. They are open and self-aware. They have commitment to the goals of the team or organization, and they inspire us to commit also. When we are in their presence, they are really there. Some people might experience as safety. We feel known, and while no worker or leader is perfect, feeling trust inspires us to be better.

Trust is a sense or feeling. We have this feeling in our body, and often know whether or not we “should” trust a person. At some point, each of us decides that we have enough information or evidence to trust another person. However, most of us have flawed gauges. Maybe we trust too easily and get stepped on. Maybe we are biased and negatively evaluating someone because of their culture (or race, gender, culture, age, even clothes). Knowing our personal tendencies biases (and confronting them) is a strong step towards calibrating trustworthiness accurately.

If you are a leader, you may not have thought about your presence in terms of whether or not people trust. Now is a good time to reflect:

  • Trust is based on history and consistency: Is my behavior aligned with stated values and consistent?
  • Is there anyone I need to rebuild trust with?
  • Are there situations in which I can build trust and become more transparent by encouraging questions and answering honestly?

A good way to start enhancing trust is to pick one of these questions to discuss with your employees. Let them know you want honest and constructive feedback. See how this changes the relationship.

Judy Sugg, Ph.D. and Alisa Blum, MSW, provide leadership development that incorporates mindfulness techniques and skills to enhance emotional intelligence. We can be reached at (503) 481-7586 or aimportland@gmail.com

www.developtopemployees.com

Develop Top Employees by Overcoming Barriers to Providing Positive Feedback

motivated businessman

Positive performance feedback has been shown to lower turnover, increase productivity, enhance teamwork and improve customer service.  This fairly simple skill is often lacking in today’s workplace.

These three common barriers can be overcome with specific strategies that will help you develop top employees:

  1. Lack of Time:  We often overestimate the time it takes to give feedback.  Consider how long it actually takes to say: “Thank you for helping me with…” or  “Here is how your contribution impacted our work…”.
  2. Lack Understanding of the Need for Feedback :   Individuals from the various generations may perceive recognition differently. A Boomer or Generation X manager who has received minimal recognition throughout his or her career may not realize how important it is for their Millenial employees to receive frequent positive feedback.  In addition, a person who is task oriented and not relationship oriented may not instinctively understand the importance of providing positive feedback.  It’s important to be attune to the differences between your needs and the needs of others so you can adapt your style accordingly.
  3. Lack of Skill: Sometimes managers don’t provide recognition because they don’t know how to give effective positive feedback. Their comfort level can be easily increased with focused skill development and practice.

You will find that as the obstacles to providing positive feedback are overcome, you will see increased motivation, enhanced communication and improved productivity.

Alisa Blum & Associates provides organizational leaders, managers and supervisors, with the skills needed in today’s work environment to develop top employees.  Alisa can be reached at (503) 481-7586 or alisa@developtopemployees.com to discuss your specific needs.

What Makes a Diversity Training Program Successful?

Mixed group business people

I have had the privilege recently to collaborate with intercultural communication specialist, Lillian Tsai, to provide a training program, “Working Across Generations & Cultures”. This training has been very well received, particularly among people who have been unhappy with other diversity training programs.

Here are some reasons why I believe this program is having a positive impact:

  • We use a strengths-based approach to help participants appreciate the positive contributions they all bring to the workplace.
  • We emphasize the importance of understanding people based on a multitude of dimensions, both generational and cultural, so they get an understanding of the many factors that influence communication in the workplace.
  • We incorporate a number of interactive exercises and discussions that help participants break down barriers and deepen their connections with each other.
  • Participants are given the opportunity during the workshop to figure out how they can apply the techniques they have learned to resolve a current conflict at work.

Although many people have had negative experiences with diversity training, I know that there are a number of successful programs out there. I am interested in learning more about what others have found useful when helping people work effectively across differences.

The Boomer Exodus & Millenial Explosion: 5 Strategies to Successfully Manage this Generational Transition

Mixed group business people

We are in the midst of huge demographic changes. Boomers are reaching retirement age at record rates.  Millennials will soon be the largest generation in the workforce. Many organizations today have a small window in which to pass on essential knowledge and evolve into the type of organization that is conducive to hiring and keeping a younger generation of top talent.

Here are some strategies that will help your organization to successfully manage this transition:

  1. Have career development discussions. It is essential to find out when your older employees are thinking about retiring and garner suggestions about how to best pass on their knowledge.       Discussions with younger employees is also imperative, as  younger employees are much more likely to stay at their current job if they have opportunities for career development.
  2. Determine which of your employees have the skills, motivation and interest level required to fill positions vacated by your retirees.   It can be extremely useful to develop benchmarks for the positions being vacated so that you can assess which of your current employees are able to fill positions that will soon be vacated. Then, assess current employees who you think could be qualified for these positions.
  3. Develop mentoring programs. Older workers tend to be motivated by having opportunities to pass on their knowledge. Younger workers enjoy the career development opportunities they gain as mentees while also learning critical skills needed to prepare for advancement.
  4. Create flexible work schedules. Many older workers either don’t want to retire full time or cannot afford to retire full time. Organizations can reap the benefits of their experience by creating part-time, on-call or consultant opportunities. Flexible work schedules are a highly effective way to retain employees from all of the generations as this provides them with a greater ability to manage work and family responsibilities.
  5. Move toward a collaborative organizational culture. Younger employees typically desire a flatter, more collaborative organization. In order to keep top young talent, it will be imperative to identify changes that need to be made in your organization to successfully create a collaborative organizational culture.

By implementing these strategies, you can prevent the potential loss of critical knowledge during the Boomer exodus, and can make sure you have successors in place to ensure your organization will grow and thrive.

Alisa Blum & Associates provides customized training programs, assessments, consultations, coaching and conference presentations to help organizations successfully work across generations.  You may contact Alisa for a complimentary consultation at alisa@developtopemployees.com or (503) 481-7586.

© 2018, Alisa Blum, Alisa Blum & Associates, www.developtopemployees.com