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Tag Archives: Employee engagement

What should you communicate about promotion to your employees?


PromotionTo most employees, promotions are often mysterious. They often feel that some people rise quickly based on who they know rather than what they know. Unfortunately, this might be true for some organization, this assumption is not accurate for all situations. Actually, most managers don’t provide their employees with enough information about their promotion, and hence, their employees always feel that their promotion is purely based on luck (or lottery). Thus, as a manager, we need to help clear up their confusion by providing clear answers to their questions. In this blog, I will provide you with some tips through which you can prepare yourself to answer their questions.

Get your basics clear: Before you talk with your employees about their promotion, you should do your research. For example: Look at your organizational guidelines for promotions. Identify how people are chosen for promotion within your organization. Does your organization use their values as a primary screening tool for advancement, or does job-specific competency supersede all other considerations? Are your policies administered uniformly, or are they bent on a regular basis? Does who you know matter more than what you know? Once you have a clear picture of your organization’s practices, then only you can talk to your employees regarding their promotion opportunities.

Help them learn: No matter which position or field your employee works in, he/she needs technical competencies in both hard and soft skill area. Some employees might already have few of these skill-sets that you might be looking for in the next position, while some employees might lack these skills. As a manager, you need to make your employees understand that they need to take charge of their own skill development for their promotion. And if they need any kind of a support for that, then you are available to help them. You can display your support by informing them about various skill development programs that your company already offers, or by providing him/her with the opportunity to learn on the job through a mentor.

Provide regular feedback: Most projects and tasks at work are not just about getting the job done, they are about how you go about getting that job done, too. Your employees can be very intelligent, but if they can’t work well in a team or if they always carry a negative attitude towards their job, then this is going to hinder their promotion chances, isn’t it? Unfortunately, some employees don’t even realize that their behavior is hurting them, and that’s where you come in. As a manager, you need to ensure that all of your employees are given regular feedback, not just once a year at review time. Whenever you have promotion communication with your employees, make sure that you talk about how their attitudes are perceived throughout the organization. If your employees need some help in changing their behavior then try to help them by providing avenues through which they can match their behaviors with the organization’s values, so that they can get that promotion quickly.

Once you are clear about your company policies, and once you become transparent to your employees about their strengths and weaknesses, and try to help them increase their skills to get that next promotion, then only your promotion communication with your employees will become natural and more easier.

Would you discuss anything else with your employees during these promotion talks? If so, please share it with me through your comments here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2015 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to increase your employee’s trust in you through your actions?


ManagerBuilding a trust relationship with your employees is a tricky business in itself. Even though you can’t control your employee’s perception of you, you can affect their idea of you by your actions. And hence, in this blog, I will continue my conversation from my last blog about how to build a successful trust relationship with your employees through your consistent actions.

Listen to your employees: No relationship can be build successfully, if you are unwilling to listen. Same logic applies here. As a manager, you should seek to understand your employees, and try to show empathy towards their viewpoints. If you don’t agree with the opinion of your employee, then don’t try to shoot their idea immediately. Let them tell the thought process behind their idea, and you might be surprised with what they can come up with. Let’s say, you still don’t like their idea after hearing the entire story. In that case, you should try to explain your viewpoints to them and explain your thought process to them rather than rejecting their idea directly. With this approach, they will feel more connected with you and they will at least try to understand your perspective rather than just thinking that “my manager doesn’t like my ideas, so he always says NO”. If you can at least get your employees involved in the decision making process and seek their ideas before making the decision, you can build a better trust relationship with them.

Keep your commitments: Let’s say, you have a manager who tells you something (ABC) and does completely different thing (XYZ). Will you be able to trust his/her words again? Same goes for your employees. If you don’t keep your commitments often, then they will have a really hard time trusting you. Thus, in order to improve your trust relationship with your employees, you have to make sure that you do what you say you are going to do. By seeing your consistent behavior, they will develop an idea on what they can expect from you, and hence, they will try to trust your words on the basis of your past actions. Take this for an example, if the final decision about a problem is outside of your direct control, then it is better that you tell your employees that you will “look into it” instead of telling them that you can “fix it”. In this way, they will know what they can expect from you, which is a key component in building any kind of trust relationship.

Admit your mistakes: We are all humans, and hence, we are all prone to make mistakes. But if you make a mistake and don’t admit your mistakes, then it will send a wrong message to your entire team. They will consider this as the new precedence, and they won’t admit their mistakes either, when they make them. If you do something wrong, then it is very important to apologize and admit your mistakes. This behavior will bring you and your team members close together. When you accept your mistake, try to explain your intentions going forward and live up to the new expectations that you have established. Everyone makes mistakes, the difference is what you do when you have made one. If possible, try to share what you have learned as a result of your mistake so your employees don’t make the same mistake again. By sharing your experience, you will not only be improving your relationship with your employees, but you will also be teaching them a lesson that you have learned.

With these pointers, I am ending my two part series blog about – ‘manager-employee trust relationship’. If you have any other ideas through which we can increase our trust relationship with our employees, then please share your ideas with me through your comments here. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to build a successful trust relationship with your employees?


234ec-encourage-othersI have seen many managers struggling with building a successful trust relationship with their employees. Building a trust relationship with anyone in itself is not easy, and it is even more complex when you have to build that relationship with your employees to whom you can’t disclose certain confidential information. Thus, most managers take a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. Obviously, neglecting that part of the employee-manager relationship will not help you either. Trust is very critical to the success of any organization, and as a leader you need to be able to trust your employees; and more importantly, your employees need to be able to trust you. Hence, in this blog, I will provide you with few pointers through which you can build a successful trust relationship with your employees.

Be open with your employees: I am not telling you to disclose all the confidential information to your employees, at the first chance that you get. But you should at least keep your employees informed about what’s happening in your organization. You should always try to disclose some general information that you know without releasing any sensitive (or confidential) information. Also, whenever you get an opportunity, you should try to share your values, thoughts and beliefs with your employees, so that they get the opportunity to know you better. If you support and praise your employee’s achievements and try to be positive most of the time by maintaining each other’s self esteem, then you will at least earn their respect by showing this consistent behavior.

Provide regular feedback: Unfortunately, most managers don’t consider feedback-giving process as the avenue to build trust relationship with their employees. For some managers, feedback is just another process through which they have to go through once a month during their one-on-one sessions with their employees. If you change this mindset and recognize the potential of your one-on-one time with your employees, then you can do wonders. Do this…try to develop a habit of talking to your direct reports at least once a day. I know, it will be hard at first, but you will be surprised to note the positive change in your employees within few weeks. By providing them regular feedback (yes I mean it, regular), you will be giving some time to this manager-employee relationship. And sometimes, only the time is needed to build stronger relationships. Don’t you agree?

Trust others: I know, this is easier said than done. But trust is a two way street. Unless you trust your employees, and always assume their positive intent, you won’t be allowing them to build a trust relationship with you. If you are serious about building this relationship with your employees then you need to stand up for your employees, and suspend any judgment that you might have. You should develop a practice of respecting your differences and appreciate each other’s skills. I know, it will take time, but it can definitely be achieved. And once you stand up for your employees, you will see that your employees will start standing up for you.

These are some ideas through which you can improve the trust relationship between you and your employees. If you have any other ideas through which we can improve this trust relationship, then please share your ideas with me through your comments. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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Why do we refrain from taking or giving feedbacks to our peers?


FeedbackAs a manager (or a leader), we should continually be looking for feedback from our peers and employees, and try to improve ourselves. After all, management is more about listening than doing, isn’t it? Even though you would like to improve yourself from these feedbacks, they are hard to come by. So, before we find out a better way to get feedback from our peers, we need to find out basic reasons due to which people feel uncomfortable taking (or giving) their honest feedback.

It emphasizes inferiorities: Honest feedback can sometime make people feel psychologically attacked. Even the most experienced manager or employee can become defensive when feedback seems negative. Take this for an example…Recently, I had to deal with a situation where one of my employee was struggling with time management, so I recommended him to take some time management training. Even though he is a top performer in my team, he was offended by hearing that I was disappointed with his performance. Instead of seeing this feedback as the opportunity to learn something new, he saw it as a personal attack instead.

Don’t know what to ask: Some people misunderstand feedback as the sign of poor communication. To those kind of people, feedback indicates that the message was not communicated very well, and hence, there is a necessity for feedback to get on the same page again. Often people are either so confused that they don’t know what to ask or so confident of their understanding that they ignore the need for any kind of verification. Thus, people refrain to ask for any kind of feedback, after all, no one wants to admit that they didn’t understand anything properly.

It is time consuming: No matter what kind of feedback you are seeking, verbal or written, it is always going to be time consuming task. Then it maybe at the meeting or through an e-mail, you need to make sure that you ask the right question, and get the honest response. Unfortunately, most of the managers won’t take the time to make sure that everyone is on the same page by asking for their feedback; instead, they will prefer to redo their tasks that should have been accomplished correctly the first time. Maybe they are used to this practice of dictatorship, or maybe they are afraid to put in the required time to ask the right question.

People are afraid: If you work in a developed Nation like US, UK, or Canada, you don’t want to admit that you are afraid of your Boss/Manager. But inherently we all respect the authorities of our Boss, and we are kind of afraid of their authorities as well. Even though we are taught to speak up our mind, we sometimes refrain from providing true feedback to our managers by being afraid of the consequences that it might have in the future. Is that not true? There is nothing wrong with this behavior. From our childhood we are taught to respect authority, then it maybe the authority of our parents or our teachers.

Can you find any other reasons due to which people refrain from giving their honest feedback to others? If so, please share it here, I would love to hear your take on this. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to deal with the frustration of your employees?


EmployeeFrustrationWe are all humans, and we all have moments of disappointment when things don’t go our way. And I am sure, as a manager, you must have encountered these situations often, when your employees are feeling down for not accomplishing something that they have set their target on. Although most employees can easily navigate through these small bumps, sometimes you need to jump in when you see these opportunities. Having a quick one-on-one chat with your employees during these tough times would soften the blow, and lead them to a quicker recovery. So, what should you talk about during these times? Following are some of my advice…..

Appreciate their work: When you sit down with your employee to analyze the issue, you must not forget to appreciate their hard work first. Tell your employees that their work is highly valuable and their efforts are highly appreciated. This kind of conversation starter will put your employees at ease before discussing their issues. If I were their manager, I would say something like this – “These kind of issues keep on happening, and despite our best efforts, sometimes things don’t work out our way. But look at what you have accomplished, you tried something new, and got new experience, that’s what is important. After all, you can’t be perfect at everything, right?” This approach will not only let your employees know that you care, but it will also ease their mood before before having the actual conversation.

Walk through the issue: Once you have soothed the attitude of your employee, you can then get back to the business. Now, try to talk to your employee about the issue at hand and walk through it with them. By walking through the entire scenario again, you will get some good insight on the issue, and might be able to provide your valuable feedback to your employee. If he/she was expecting one outcome while other team members were expecting something else, then try to find out where did this disconnect come from? Were there some missing communications or interactions? Don’t interrupt your employee in between or recommend any solutions, just yet. Try to listen to his/her side of the story and take your notes on what might have gone wrong, that’s all.

Help them learn: Once you have completely listened to your employee and her side of the story, now it’s your time to help her think through the ‘do-over’.  Even though you are trying to help her, restrict yourself from coming up with any solution, just yet. Let her come up with her own solution to this problem. Ask her – “How can you handle it differently the next time?” Of course, the setback may have occurred even though she did everything right. So, try to ask her – “What were the factors outside of her control?” Try to help her gain a new perspective on these uncontrollable factors, so that she can handle them well in the future.

If you follow this three-part conversation while dealing with your employee’s frustrations, then you will encourage your employees to take better steps next time, rather than acting on their natural desire to avoid such situations in the future.

Was this blog helpful? Do you have any other ideas that you can share with me here?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2015 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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What would you ask your employees, if you were given a chance to be an Undercover Boss?


UndercoverBossRecently, when I was watching this show – Undercover Boss, I got to think,  what would I have done, if I had an opportunity to be an Undercover Boss  on the show. For those folks, who are not familiar with this show, please  look at this link here. In a nutshell, this show is about how company’s CEOs  and executives work undercover in their organization, and how they find  opportunities of improvements through their experiences while working as  a normal employee. If I were given an opportunity like this, then I would  focus my questions on the following areas…

The whole picture: When you are in the field or working as a line  employee, you want to find out two most important things about your  employees and work culture, if you want to improve any kind of efficiency  in your business. First, try to understand the depth of the knowledge  people have about your organization as a whole. Second, try understand  what kind of major misnomers are floating around the company regarding  company’s perception and internal processes. By asking questions related  to these area, you will get a rough idea on how educated is your workforce  regarding your company’s functions, and what are some of the wrong  assumptions that are made in their day-to-day work life.

The money flow: Not all employees need to understand all the details in  the 10K (annual report) of your company. I don’t expect an IT Engineer to  understand each and every financial detail about the company, but at the  same time they should have some rough idea on how the business  functions at its core. At least in the IT field, most people have never been  taught how their business works, and hence, they fail to see importance of  some critical decisions that we need to take to keep the business running.  Thus, it is very crucial to ask your employees about company’s financials,  and gauge their understanding on company’s core businesses, and how the  company makes money.

Value of their work: As an executive/CEO, you should always make sure  that your employees understand the value of their work. Then it maybe the  IT Engineer, Janitor, or the field engineer; they should understand that they  play a crucial part in your organization’s success. Thus, asking questions  like.. “How is this job related to company’s overall success?” or “How is  your job making a difference in this organization?” would be very helpful in  understanding employees behavior towards their job, and how they  perceive their work in the bigger picture.

What would you do here? I mean…. what would you ask, if you were given this opportunity? I would love to hear your perspective on this. So, keep on posting. Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2015 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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5 practical ways to show your employees that you care


Recently, one of my friend arranged her 360-degree feedback. And to her surprise, some of the negative feedback that she got from her employees was that she doesn’t seem to care for her employees that much. Thus, she turned to me for some advice. And hence, through this blog post I am going to share some practical advice on how to show your employees that you care.

  1. Write a thank-you note to your hard working employee by saying how much you appreciate the time that they have put in the project. Trust me, in the world of electronic communication, sometimes a personalized sticky note on their desk can make a difference.
  2. Put together a slideshow of your staff’s accomplishments or your client’s feedback, and then keep it on display in a shared conf. room or during your team meeting. If you don’t have those high tech displays, then you can just print these slides on one page in a collage format, and distribute it over your regular team meetings.
  3. Depending on your schedule, make sure to check in on your employees everyday. If your schedule gets overbooked often, please reserve half an hour in your calendar beforehand, so that no one can double book that time. And you get at least 5 min to talk to each of your employees. Try to be personal with your employees during this time by asking about their day, their weekend, or any other issues. Once they know that you care, they will definitely respond the favor.
  4. Track the dollar value of your employee’s service and present them with a “mock” check at your annual recognition event. It might be a good idea to host the annual recognition event somewhere outside, where you can invite your employee’s friends/family, and recognize their achievements in front of them. This approach will not only display your employees that you care, but it can also help you to attract best talents. After all, great minds know other great minds.
  5. Recognize your hard working employees (who put in lot of overtime) with unexpected perks such as treats in the break room, extra paid time off, or a visit and a handshake from your VP or CEO. Though these kind of small appreciation techniques sound silly, they make a big difference. Just try to look at the expression on your employee’s face, when they meet the VP or CEO of your company. 

Do you have any other ideas through which you can show your employees that you care? Please do share your ideas through your comments. I would love to hear them.

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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How to reinforce performance expectations with your team?


Performance ExpectationAfter a recent company reorganization, which resulted in the team losing a few veteran employees and acquiring few new employees, the team started missing important deadlines, and morale had declined. Seeing that situation, the manager of that team (one of my good friend, let’s call him Bob) came to me for some advice. On asking specifics about the situation, Bob told me that his veteran team members have complained to him about the new team members slacking in their work. There could have been various reasons for this situation such as….lack of training, lack of established goals, strained team dynamics, etc. After doing further research, I figured out that the problem was in the fundamentals of how that team was operating. The team had very precise performance standards, but they were poorly reinforced after the reorganization of the company. Thus, in this blog I would like to share my experience on how I fixed that issue, and hence, giving you some insights on how you can reinforce your performance expectations with your team.

Go back to basics: In my example above, Bob had all the information that he needed, but he never gave attention to those. I can understand that. Sometimes, we are so much occupied in the details of the task at hand that we lose the big picture. Thus, I would recommend you to revisit your team’s mission before you take any action. Review any reliable documentation that you have which can confirm the team’s directives. If that document is not clearly stated, then please update that document to make sure that you are clear about what your team must accomplish before you meet with them in-person. It wouldn’t hurt to consult with your manager regarding these priorities, so that you have another person in authority who can confirm your redefined mission, and make sure that you are headed in the right direction. 

Meet with your team: Once you have ironed out your team’s mission, goals and specific objectives, now it’s the time to meet with your team. But yeah! DON’T conduct a one-way meeting with your PowerPoint slides. Consider asking the team to give you their ideas about the team’s goals, as it stands right now. In this way, you will be able to understand their point of view, and maybe, find out the reason for team’s deteriorating performance. After the team has shared their understanding of your team’s mission and goals, present them with your version of the goals in a document that everyone can view simultaneously, such as a slide presentation or a paper handout. Compare the team’s version of the goals with your version, and point out any gaps between the two versions. If the team’s version of these goals is reasonably close to your version, consider complimenting them. If they have added a goal or task that you think should be included, but was missing from your version, praise them. While closing, make sure that you reiterate individual team member’s roles and responsibilities, and get their agreement. 

Re-establish your goals: Just to make sure that everyone has the same understanding of all the goals and objectives of the team, you need to send a follow-up e-mail after the meeting. Make sure to summarize your meeting with the mission, goals, accomplishments, and responsibilities that the team is expected to deliver. If possible, deliver your message, or messages, in multiple formats, so that everyone receives the content, even if multiple message modes cause some redundancy. Use whatever mode of communication you know will be received by individual team members. Meet with them in person, send them email messages, or place paper documents in their mail boxes. Don’t forget to obtain feedback from individual team members, so that you can verify that everyone on your team has received your message and understands the team’s mission.

Follow-up with everyone: Even after re-establishing your goals, you can’t be sure that all of your team members will be committed to helping the team meet goals and produce the required results. Thus, I would recommend you to meet with team members one-on-one and identify whether they are committed to helping the team meet its goals. During the meeting, you should ask for direct feedback about each team member’s level of commitment. I know, it would sound silly, but I would recommend you to observe the body language and emotional tone of each team members. Try to find out, if he/she seem sincere and enthusiastic about the prospect of helping the team move forward. Ask each team member about their role in helping the team meet its goals, and ask them how they see themselves as adequately filling that role. Consider keeping notes about your findings. If you are uncomfortable taking notes during the one-on-one meetings, then jot down a few notes after each meeting, so that you are clear about where each team member stands, and then, you can take any corrective actions, if necessary.

Have you ever been in a situation like Bob? If so, what have you done to resolve it?

Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi

 
 

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How to provide coaching to your front line managers?


Coaching your line managersIf you are a Director or a Sr. Manager, who is involved in managing the front line managers, then this blog is for you. I agree that senior management’s role is very crucial and busy, and maybe that’s the reason why you can’t allocate enough time to coach your front line managers. But avoiding coaching/mentoring your front line mangers will create disastrous situations in the future. Your front line managers require more coaching than any other employees in the organization, since they define the culture of your company. In this blog, I will provide you with few pointers to coach your frontline managers effectively.

  1. Provide them training: If you are super busy with your day-to-day activities, and if you are unable to provide coaching to your managers, then please take the benefit of some external trainings. Most of the bigger companies (employees 1000+) have these kind training classes established in-house for their front line managers. So, make sure that your managers go through these training opportunities. While internal training is crucial for every company, not every company can afford to have internal training programs. In this case, you can partner up with few consulting companies to provide similar training opportunities to your front line managers. While selecting those external training programs, make sure that those programs match your company’s culture and working style.
  2. Help them build a network: In a senior management role, you should always encourage your front line managers to network with the key people from your company. By doing this, their area of influence will increase and they will become more independent to do their work. Thus, you should always help them to broaden their exposure within the company by visiting different areas of the company with them, or by introducing them to the new people within your organization. Your work doesn’t get done after an introduction, you need to help them to find opportunities to represent their part of the organization to others. In this way, they can be encouraged to discuss strategic issues and share the information with other management personnel.
  3. Reinforce your culture: Line managers are the one, who will define the culture of your organization. After all, they work at the root level. And hence, it becomes very important to ensure that they are embedded in your organizational culture. In order to reinforce your values, you need to teach them to respect and promote diversity in all areas and jobs in the company (if your company is diverse). You might want to have the discussion during your one-on-one session on how their behavior makes a difference in the organization. Sometimes, it is very important for you to provide them with ongoing information about the people, culture, and history of the organization. Reinforcing these values frequently through your one-on-one sessions or your interactions with them will ensure their growth with the company.
  4. Encourage them: I know, this sounds very simple, but this is very crucial part of the coaching. You need to help your line managers to learn how to deal with and manage ambiguity. Being in the senior leadership role, we always expect our line managers to get everything right. But that may not be the case always. And hence, you need to embrace their failure and provide them encouragement during those situations. I am not telling you to agree with their failures all the time, but have the behavior where they can come to you if they failed. You should also encourage them in their efforts to sponsor and develop potential leaders in the organization. After all, it will help your organization to become better. And yeah! When appropriate, offer feedback, support, and “push back”.

I hope, these tips will help you to better coach your front line managers in your team. So, what would you do to coach your front line managers in your team?

Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in 21st Century, Leadership, Management

 

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