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Posts Tagged ‘leadership training’

5 Steps to Managing Difficult Employees

March 23rd, 2014

Hi All!

In all the seminars and workshops training I conduct for Managers and Leadership Teams, I find that a majority of them struggle with managing difficult employees. And, regardless of their experience level, or age (Boomers, Gen X or Gen Y), I see two common ways many of them handle challenging employees: poorly or not at all…neither of which are effective!

But in a leadership role where you’re responsible for managing others, how you manage a difficult employee is critical. Why? Because undoubtedly you are forced to spend a disproportionate amount of resources, time, and energy on them, and this can cause frustrations and tempers to arise, productivity to decrease, morale to go down, retention of good talent to plummet, and your other team members (and possibly, customers) to become disgruntled.

What Can You Do? A Simple 5-Step Process:

1. Do Not Ignore the Problem

A small problem has the potential to turn big, so pay attention to red flags when you first see them. If you notice that an employee is exhibiting bad behavior, it’s time to take immediate action. The longer you wait, the worse it will get! Sticking your head in the sand will normally not make the issue magically disappear…and you’ll be faced with employees, and possibly your boss, wondering why you’re not taking charge of the situation.

2. Identify the Cause

Understanding the real motivation for their behavior unlocks your power to take the right steps to address the underlying cause. You have to find out WHY they are being difficult. Do they dislike their job? Are they having personal problems outside of work? Are they having issues with a co-worker you may not be aware of, such as a bully who is making them miserable? You cannot begin to determine solutions and a course of action if you don’t know “why” their poor behavior is occurring.

3. Provide a Comfortable Environment

Talk to your employee in a comfortable, non-threatening, environment that can enable them to disclose the reason for their behavior. Don’t forget to tell them that you’re there to help them, make their work life better, and help them be successful. Remember, your main goal behind this process is to uncover valuable information, so your communication should not be confrontational. Prepare your feedback ahead of time, ask questions, let the conversation flow, stay engaged, and listen closely. And once you’ve gathered the insights from your employee, you can then begin to determine a plan to resolve the issue(s).

4. Develop a Solution

When handling difficult employees, it is important for Managers to identify the problem and suggest a solution; not demonize them. Your goal should be to develop a plan which not only reflects your agenda, but also incorporates their perspective. If you need time to come up with a plan after you have your “fact gathering session” with them, take it. However, if you feel comfortable and prepared to discuss solutions right away, do so. Either way, make their input part of the plan to work together so that you get their (enthusiastic) buy-in. Just because you think your plan of action for them is great, doesn’t mean it can actually work. The objectives and goals that you establish have to be ones they can accomplish, and ones that they are very clear on.

5. Monitor and Provide On-going Effective Feedback

Once your plan has been mutually agreed upon, actively monitor their progress and provide them with regular, specific, effective feedback. Many Managers express their grievances and expect the employee to drastically change their behavior without any on-going guidance. That type of management style FAILS most of the time. Just like dieting, people tend to be way more successful when they have on-going guidance, feedback, encouragement, and support.

In closing…

As a Manager, if you do not take the appropriate steps to handling difficult employees, you are doing a huge disservice to yourself, your career, your company, as well as to your other employees who are working hard towards the success of the department and organization. You need to improve the retention of your top employees; not frustrate them to the point of leaving.

Can all difficult employees be “turned around”? Of course not! But by helping them determine why they are having issues at work can also help you both determine if this job, or company, simply isn’t the right fit for them. If that IS the case, typically there’s nothing you can do to shift their behavior. They need to move on to a job where they’ll be happier…and that’s a win/win outcome for both of you!

Communication is at the Core of Effective Leadership

March 04th, 2014

Hi All,

One of the main points I heavily emphasize in my Personal Branding workshops for employees and Managers, regardless of what generation they’re from or level they’re at in their career, is this: It isn’t possible to become a great leader without being an effective communicator. In fact, effective communication is a key component of success in the professional world, whether it is at the organizational, intra-group, inter-group, or interpersonal level.

And when I say “leader”, I’m referring to ANY level you’re at or role you’re in now. Millennials (aka: Gen Y), Gen X, and Boomers need to be in a “leadership mindset” at work and conduct themselves accordingly!

The best quality of an effective leader is the strategic way they communicate with other employees, translating key business goals into terms that help the latter identify ‘what’s in it for me, thus motivating them to align their actions toward the success of their organization. It’s part of a leader’s job responsibility to communicate effectively what the employees want and need to know.

Effective communication also includes a greater sense of contextual and situational awareness…which many people aren’t good at, and is why I believe companies need to provide more training on communication! That said, let’s look at some tips…

Communication Secrets of Effective Leaders

Great Listeners

Great communicators believe in two-way communication. They understand that simply broadcasting their message won’t have the same effect as engaging in a meaningful conversation. They are good listeners while being astute in observations, possessing the ability to adapt their responses to the environment and situation without missing a beat.

Great Contributors

Effective communicators are adept at transferring ideas and spreading their vision. Their words inspire action and align expectations, focusing more on contributing than receiving. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it pays off in the longer run. In fact, a leader that focuses more on leave-behind than the take-aways is more likely to learn deeper than they ever would by concentrating only on their agenda.

Clear Communicators

One of the best qualities of an effective leader is that they communicate with clarity, focusing on being simple and concise. Who would appreciate or understand your point of view if you remain complicated and confusing? After all, who has time to spare for trying to understand your complex language? Great leaders understand the value of clarity and brevity and know how to hit the point and cut to the chase. In order to be an effective leader, it is crucial to learn the importance of weeding out the superfluous in order to make yourself heard.

Focus on Inter-Personal Relationships

Great leaders reject the classic business theory that suggests them to stay at an arm’s length. They have a firm belief that only those prefer to stay away from others who want to remain in the dark.  No great leader wishes to receive highly sanitized versions of the reality. They believe in developing meaningful relationships with employees in order to know what’s actually on their minds. A deeper understanding of each other is necessary for organizational success, and a good leader understands this well. Don’t let your ego be the roadblock to your relationship with other employees in the organization. Be candid and empathetic toward others to turn doubt into trust and earn greater respect.

Preparedness and Contingency Planning

The best leaders are always prepared for any kind of situation. They have a contingency plan in mind for any message that seems to evoke anger or criticism. In order to be a successful leader, it is important to learn how to justify your message with reason, business logic, and knowledge in order to make a lasting impact on the listeners. Remember, communication isn’t about you, your beliefs, your opinions, or your circumstances. In fact, it’s more about understanding others concerns, and fulfilling their needs. This will help you show your empathetic side and add value to their world.

In closing, DON”T be the type of leader that you wouldn’t want to work for. And you can prevent that by working on HOW you communicate with people, both verbally and visually!

Ways to Promote Your Personal Brand at Work

August 02nd, 2012

Hi All!

I am on the final stages of writing my newest book, “Make Your Personal Branding Outstanding: How Any Employee Can Create & Promote Their Own Leadership Brand For Massive Career Success!”. I am very excited about how the book is coming together and thrilled with the interest people have expressed in wanting it when it’s published. My Personal Branding Workshop has become one of my most in-demand over the past 2 years, so this is clearly a very hot topic. And companies like eBay, Wells Fargo and Johnson & Johnson wouldn’t be hiring me to conduct it, multiple times, if it wasn’t resonating with their employees…and my audiences are from ALL generations and career levels! Plus, quite a few companies have me conduct this workshop as part of their overall Leadership Training Programs...and all of this plays into improving employee retention (something many companies are taking very seriously these days).

That said, one of the areas I cover in the book and in the workshop, is how to promote “your” brand at work. It’s always a popular segment in my workshops so I thought I’d share part of that chapter here to not only give you a glimpse of tips I will be providing in the book (it’s crammed full of good info!), but to also just to give you helpful tips to think about now.

And, no, the book is NOT just about how to promote your personal brand! The entire first section of it covers “how” to create a personal brand…ideas for promoting yourself come after that section.

Okay! Without further delay, here is a partial excerpt from one chapter in my new book due out in October 2012 on Amazon (in both print and Kindle versions):

You’ve created your Personal Leadership Brand by following the principles outlined in the previous chapters, and now you want to start attracting some notoriety. This is a good thing! However, it’s an area where many employees who want to achieve extreme career success drop the ball.

            Why? Because everyone gets busy and stuck in their department silos. It’s very common, especially if you work for a larger company, to spend a vast majority of your time at work with your department colleagues and rarely expand outside of that world, except to grab lunch somewhere.

            But if you want to achieve bigger career success and become more known throughout your company, there are things you need to do within your department and outside of it. Typically, just “doing your job”, even if you’re great at it, isn’t going to be enough to get you where you REALLY want to go.

            So let’s look at some key strategies for you to consider…

Networking at the Office: If you work for a larger company that has internal networking groups or clubs (like Women in Leadership Group, an African American Group, a softball team, a running club, etc.), have you joined one that matches your interests? And if you have joined one, do you actively participate?

When I ask this question at workshops, not many hands go up. But this is a KEY strategy! You’ve got to leave your department and get to know people all around the company.

And if you work for a company that doesn’t have internal networking groups, when was the last time you coordinated some sort of networking mixer to bring people from ALL departments together for socializing? Don’t wait for other people to do it!

Remember: This is to benefit your Personal Brand, so make the effort. People will appreciate your coordinating something fun for the company to participate in…and they don’t have to know it is part of your own personal “publicity” strategy.

But aside from participating in internal networking groups or clubs, or coordinating events, you can be proactive at introducing yourself to key people in other departments. I know a woman, who was a middle-manager at a Fortune 500 company, who looked at the org chart for each department, contacted VP’s in each one, and invited them individually to coffee. She simply said that she wanted to know more about their department and career path, and would appreciate 30-minutes of their time.

And what was the result? Not ONE VP declined her offer, plus most of those coffee meetings lasted for more than an hour! That’s significant face time, alone, with senior executives she would have probably never met otherwise.

Within a few months she knew most of the key VP’s throughout the company, and more importantly, they knew her. This then led to many invitations to be on special projects outside of her department, invitations to events she would never have known about before, even job offers from other departments, and finding internal Mentors that she could seek advice and support from.

Yes, it took guts and time to do what she did, but the pay-off for building her Personal Brand within the company was huge!

Go Out of Your Way to Help Others: If someone asks for volunteers on a project, or help with something they’re struggling with, or even help with cleaning the break room, do it. I don’t care what level on the org chart you are, if you’re capable and qualified to do what is being asked, do it. It will reflect well on you in a variety of ways and that is important.

Why? Most people WON’T do it because in our own little minds we think we’re the busiest people on the planet and don’t have time to volunteer for something else. Well, the reality is that most of us DO have the time; we just choose not to make the time.

Present Ideas Creatively: Don’t be the person who puts people to sleep when you do presentations. One of the best things you can do for your Personal Brand is become known as a great presenter. And if you know this is an area you struggle with, hire a Speaking Coach to help you or join a local Toast Masters group in your area to get help and feedback on your skills.

            I know employees who have worked on their presentation skills, became very good, and were then asked to do major, high-profile presentations because their boss knew they would do a better job than s/he would. That is huge exposure!

            No one likes a boring presentation. I’m not saying you have to juggle and tell jokes. I’m saying you need to have an air of confidence and that creates rapport and presence. Whether you have to do a presentation for 10 minutes to your co-workers and boss at your Monday morning meeting, or conduct a 45-minute presentation to 200+ people, always make it good. Be prepared, practice a lot, and again, get help with your skills if you need it. Good speakers have magnetism and that benefits your Personal Leadership Brand.

Promote Your News: Did you win an award from a club or org you belong to outside of work? Did you write an article that got published? Did you accomplish something cool like hike up Mt. Everest on vacation? If so, share your news! And if your company has an internal company-wide e-newsletter, send them your news!

You never know who may read about it and want to reach out to you because they share a similar interest. It could be a Sr. Vice President that you may have never met, that is planning to climb Mount Everest in a year, and she wants to pick your brain about your trip there…and who knows where THAT new connection could lead you!

Pat Others on the Back: Do not hold back compliments and kudos. And always share them publicly versus waiting until you’re alone with the person. Also, if you know of something a co-worker has done that is exceptional, or went “above and beyond” to get a project done and no one else knows the extra effort they put in, announce it in meetings and/or send out mass emails sharing the news. No one will forget you did that for them, others will think it’s admirable, and that could lead to people doing it for you at some point…and all of that supports the positive building of your Personal Brand.

Speaking at Work: Are there internal company events where you could think of a topic and submit it for consideration? I’m sure there is. Every big company has events throughout the year (departments or company-wide) where they look for employees to be speakers at. And if you work for a smaller company that doesn’t have internal events, you can create your own. Think of a topic that you know would help others at work or in their personal lives, and do a Brown Bag Lunch session. You can even do this if you work for a large company!

            Again, you can create your own “events” and that increase your brand recognition. And for an internal presentation at your company, the topic doesn’t even have to be around your “work” expertise. If you practice meditation for stress reduction, but your “job” is as a Software Developer, who cares? You can still promote a Brown Bag Lunch session where you’ll share tips and strategies to reduce stress through meditation. You can promote it company-wide and attract ALL types of employees, from all different career levels, who think the topic is interesting. And, by them attending that, they will then get to know “who” you are and “what” you do in your role at the company. See? Now those who wouldn’t otherwise have a reason to know you at work will know you!    

Alright! That concludes the excerpt from my new book due out in October. I hope you found those tips helpful! I also have an entire chapter on how to promote your personal brand outside of work to achieve more notoriety in your industry (not just in the workplace). So be sure to look for my newest book on Amazon this fall…

Bye for now!

Lisa

Gen Y: Time to Get Comfortable with In-Person Conversation

June 02nd, 2012

Hi All!

There are a variety of reasons I chose this topic to write about today, but one recent conversation with a good friend was the thing that got me motivated to actually do it.

She was telling me how she and her 23-year old Millennial (aka: Gen Y) son, who recently graduated from college, went mattress shopping for his new apartment. During their outing together, she was chatting up a storm with everyone; the salespeople, other customers, etc.

After a while, her son finally said, “Mom, what is it with your generation? You guys talk to everyone, all the time!”

He then continued to say that he wasn’t comfortable doing that and that most people he knew, in his generation, felt the same way. However, during their 3-hour mattress-shopping afternoon together, she told me that he hardly ever stopped texting back and forth with his friends. So, “communication” isn’t the issue; “how” they are comfortable doing it is.

Anyway, after his comment, at the very next store she made an effort to hardly say a word and decided to let him handle the interaction with the 40-something sales associate. It only took about 4 minutes for her son to ask her to talk to the salesperson because he didn’t want to anymore. Rather, he was more comfortable watching his Baby Boomer mom do all the talking.

I’ve seen this “not talking much” dynamic occur in many of the workshops I conduct for Millennial employees in corporations. That is also one reason I dedicate a chapter to “communicating like a leader” in my popular book for Millennial employees, “Millennials into Leadership”. My Millennial audiences are always totally engaged, but just aren’t comfortable making comments or asking questions, even when I ask them to. However, they come up to me one-on-one afterwards, or send me emails afterwards, with questions or comments. THAT is totally different from when I conduct workshops or seminars with “older” generations in the audience (i.e. Gen X and Boomers). I typically have to monitor how much time they take up talking!

Plus, I get tons of Millennials at my leadership training workshops that openly admit they just aren’t comfortable speaking with strangers, or even work colleagues, face-to-face. AND, I hear this complaint from many of their Managers. They get very frustrated with the fact their Millennial employees don’t participate much in meetings. However, they find it odd that those same Millennials are totally okay telling them about what they did over the weekend, in lengthy detail, EVERY Monday morning.

And I have to explain that most Millennials like, and need, close ties to their bosses, and sharing their personal life is one way they try to build that “bond”. Unfortunately, that’s something that most supervisors in the workforce, 35+ years old, find very irritating.

Hence just ONE of the reasons the multi-generational workforce challenges continue…and that’s what keeps getting me booked for speaking engagements at well-known companies across the country!

The bottom line to all of this is: Most Millennials grew-up communicating electronically with their peers and that is their comfort zone. However, as I explain to them, they need to work on getting out of that online comfort zone and work at being more comfortable with in-person social settings. It is critical to their career success and relationship building professionally.

My advice to all you Millennials is to take it slow and “practice”. Go to professional networking events, at work and outside of work, or if you’re job searching, and force yourself to meet as many people as you can each time. Trust me! It gets much easier the more you do it!

Also, to get you started, follow these great tips for networking successfully at events offered by David Spinks, who wrote this article for BrazenCareerist.com, an info-packed blog site for young professionals, entitled, “13 Tips for Your First Networking Event”.

Now get out there, turn off your mobile devices, and build some new relationships by communicating the old fashioned way…in-person! Your “career” will thank you!

Bye for now,

Lisa

40 Percent of the Fortune 500 Won’t Exist in 10 Years Due to Gen Y

January 13th, 2012

Hi All!

Okay…so for over 5 years companies have been hiring me to conduct presentations about how to manage, recruit and retain Millennials (aka: Generation Y). And, as an expert, they also hire me to conduct training workshops for Millennial employees that cover leadership, business etiquette, generations at work, communication and personal branding for career success. BUT, according to an article I came across yesterday, it looks like I might see an uptick of even more Fortune 500 companies contacting me.

Why? Well, according to the article entitled, “Gen Y Traits in the Workplace Unveiled” by Kristin Burnham, she shares:

Millennial Branding together with Identified.com, studied 4 million Gen Y Facebook profiles to obtain better insight into how members of this generation operate professionally-a topic of increasing importance as they are projected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.

According to the study, only 7 percent of Gen Y reports working for a Fortune 500 company-a statistic in line with another report that predicts that 40 percent of the Fortune 500 will no longer exist 10 years from now.

So, where are they going to work? The article states:

Instead, Gen Y workers are turning to startups in which the hiring process tends to be much quicker than that of the Fortune 500, and where Dan Schawbel says Gen Yers feel they can make more of an immediate impact.

While Gen Yers are turning more to startups for employment, they’re also branching out on their own in what Schawbel calls an “unprecedented entrepreneurial spirit.” “Owner” is the fifth most-popular job title, trumped by “server” (No. 1), “manager” (No. 2), “intern” (No. 3) and “sales associate (No. 4).

Retention is also a challenge with Gen Y because according to the report, they only average 2 years at their first job.

These are serious statistics and facts that large companies need to be aware of. If 75% of our workforce is going to made up of Millennials by 2025 (that’s only about 10 years away!!) companies need to start preparing NOW for a solid recruitment and retention plan of talent. I’ve been preaching this for a long time and the smart companies are already doing everything they can to retain their younger talent because they know their companies’ future well being NEEDS younger talent now, and they need to groom them for future leadership positions.

On average, 1 Boomer is retiring every 8 seconds, so companies are also scrambling to retain their employees who are 55+, too. NOT every Boomer was affected by the economic downturn so we have millions of them who CAN retire comfortably at 60-65 years old but companies need their expertise and knowledge to help the younger employees grow.

I’ve written TONS of articles, and have been interviewed by countless media, about these topics because it’s ALL true. But I also find many companies still have their head in the sand and suffer from denial. I have endless research material on the labor shortage the US is facing, and it’s based on the perfect storm of birth rates, Boomers retiring, etc. The numbers don’t lie, people!

Sure, because of the current economy it’s still an “employers” market…however I’ve been warning executives in my seminars that it will change soon, and the competition for talent is going to re-ignite and then it will turn into an “employee” market again and employers will be begging for top talent…and employees will be in control of the whole enchilada.

EMPLOYERS: Start planning NOW and get ahead of the curve…and if you’re a Fortune 500 company, as many of my clients are, YOU really need to take all of this seriously!

Bye for now,

Lisa

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