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Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

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!

Stress at Work is the New Health Epidemic Amongst Generations

December 11th, 2013

Hi All!

Dubbed the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by the World Health Organization, stress at work is increasingly being seen as a costly issue, thus stress management is becoming one of the most important challenges for employers across the globe. And employees, from all generations, are struggling due to stress. In the U.S. alone, 3 out of 4 workers describe their work as stressful!

A few of the key factors that cause stress for employees include: Firings, cost-cutting, business readjustments, working in an uncomfortable environment, unclear supervision, trouble with the boss, changes in financial status, altered responsibilities, variations in work hours, changed work conditions and office procedures, and transitioning to a different line of work.

However, work-family conflicts are increasingly common, especially with the growing issue of Baby Boomers being “caught in the middle” as The Sandwich Generation. They are now not only caring for their own Gen Y (aka: Millennial) children but also having to be caregivers for their elderly Veteran Generation parents…all while having to maintain a full-time job in the workforce!

The financial, emotional, and physical stress of this dilemma on the Boomers is staggering, and it’s going to continue to grow in severity. So employers are going to have to manage and support it…quickly.

Smart companies are addressing stress in the workplace because it makes good business sense; employee stress-related issues are costing employers around the globe a fortune. Here’s just a few fast facts (out of many on this topic) to illustrate this:

  1. According to a study in the UK, 20% of employees experience work-related distress on an average day, which amounts to 40% of sick days.
  2. On average, American businesses suffer annual losses worth $300 billion, with each employee contributing $2,000 to the losses, in lower productivity, absenteeism, staff turnover, medical insurance, workers compensation, among other stress-related expenses.
  3. 60% of lost workdays each year are attributed to stress.
  4. Only 29% of employees are able to operate at peak productivity levels due to stress.

Based on those stats, it is crucial for employers to take earnest steps to deal with the problem and help employees cope with occupational stress.

Organizations looking to compete in a volatile marketplace are proactively making efforts to address the issue seriously. Examples include:

  • Analyzing the situation to find the root cause of the workforce stress and developing solutions to reduce the issue, such as: educating employees on work life balance, offering telecommuting opportunities, and providing flexible work weeks.
  • Leveraging employee assistance programs, which may include individual counseling, interpersonal skill development, team building, and organizational consulting on change management.
  • Encouraging employees to take responsibility for their health and motivating and supporting them to do so.
  • Requiring staff to do self-assessments in order to find out how they are feeling and asking them to identify factors they think might be contributing to pressure or stress. By getting feedback from staff and responding with a customized plan for each person can be very effective.
  • Taking steps to improve the company’s marketing approach to raise managers’ awareness of the employee benefit programs, such as: online wellness workshops, employee assistance programs, online seminars on issues of workplace stress, and mindfulness training.
  • Communicating regularly with employees to reduce uncertainty in their minds about job security. An employer, and its Leadership and Management Team, should ensure that communication with employees is friendly, motivating, and supportive, giving an equal opportunity to the latter to make themselves heard. It is the employer’s responsibility to show employees that they are valued to the organization. Rewarding workers is a good way to recognize their performance and reinforces their sense of worth to the company.
  • Reducing environmental stress, such as uplifting the workplace by improving air flow, natural lighting, reducing noise pollution, and providing quiet rooms for rejuvenation, can also help improve employee focus and attention, thus reducing their occupational stress.

By focusing on individual stress management and organizational change, businesses can produce more productive, healthier, happier, and motivated employees. But employers have to make it a priority and foster a corporate culture that truly embraces health and wellness in their workplace…not just “say” they do!

27 Ways to Prepare Gen Y Employees for Leadership Roles

May 18th, 2011

Hi All!

Why do smart companies, large and small, spend so much time seeking ways to retain Millennials (a.k.a. Gen Y) and groom them for leadership? It’s truly boils down to basic math.

According to the Employment Policy Foundation (EPF), our country is at the beginning of a labor shortage of approximately 35 million skilled and educated workers, which is estimated to continue over the next two decades – especially now that Baby Boomers are starting to retire at an estimated rate of 1 every 8 seconds.

Out of necessity, Millennials – many of whom may only have one to three years of career experience – are moving into management roles much sooner (and younger!) than the generations before them did – and are expected to perform in these roles successfully. That’s why many companies also hire me to conduct my leadership training workshops and seminars for their Gen Y workforce!

Based on these facts, CareerBuilder.com invited me to write a 3-part series addressing this topic to help employers better retain and groom their Millennial talent for leadership.

And, they also decided to run a contest where you can win a copy of either of my books, Millennials into Leadership or Millennials Incorporated!

All you have to do is submit a 1-2 sentence answer to this question: “What advice do you have for working with Millennials?”  (submit to CareerBuilder.com in the comments section of the third article below).

Ten (10) lucky winners will be drawn at random by CareerBuilder.com! But their contest ends tomorrow, May 20th, so submit your answer today. Click here for entry info!

To read my 3-part series, simply click on the links below:

Part One: Six Ways to Retain Your Gen Y Employees

Part Two: 9 Ways to Teach Gen Y Employees a Leadership Mindset

Part Three: 12 Problem Solving Tips to Teach Your Gen Y Future Leaders 

And many thanks to Mary Lorenz, staff writer at CareerBuilder.com and manager of CareerBuilder’s popular blog, TheHiringSite.com. Mary is who contacted me about writing for them. Thank you, Mary, for your interest and support! 

Bye for now,

Lisa

The Top 10 Leadership Books All Gen Y Employees Should Read

January 31st, 2011

Hi All!

I conduct various seminars and workshops on Leadership and Personal Leadership Branding for Millennials (Gen Y) employees and college students, and one of the things I tell them is to “feed your brain”. That is a key trait of effective leaders regardless of how high up the ladder they are in their careers…they never stop learning to be better.

Along with that advice, I’m also asked,”What books on leadership should I read?” Obviously, I can’t resist recommending mine, “Millennials into Leadership”. I would be crazy not to!!

But here are some of the other (wink) top books on leadership that I think Millennials, and all other generations at work, should read to learn and nurture their leadership and management skills. Quick side note: Just because you’ve been given a leadership role, doesn’t mean you’re good at it! Some people are born leaders, but MOST everyone else needs training. That’s why organizations hire me to conduct leadership seminars for their Millennial employees!

Okay, back to the list…this article was in WashingtonPost.com and written by Andrea Useem, and the list was created by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten, who run the business book publisher and website 800 CEO Read. And based on their research, this is what they chose as the 10 best leadership books.

Excerpt:

…and how did they choose them? “We had three litmus tests,” Sattersten told me in a phone interview. “Was the book accessible and well written? Are its lessons applicable today? And, third, would we apply the insights in our own business?”

1. On Becoming a Leader, by Warren Bennis

2. The Leadership Moment, by Michael Useem

3. The Leadership Challenge, by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner (NOTE: Recommended by one panelist as the FIRST book on leadership you should read)

4. Control Your Destiny or Someone Else Will, by Noel Tichy and Stratford Sherman

The other books on their list are:
Leadership is an Art, by Max De Pree
The Radical Leap, by Steve Farber
Leading Change, by John Kotter
Questions of Character, by Joe Badaracco
The Story Factor, by Annette Simmons, and
Never Give In! Speeches by Winston Churchill

So there you have it! Choose a few, or all, and get reading! Your employees and employers will thank you!

Bye for now,

Lisa

Good Info on How to Develop Gen Y Job Hoppers

December 16th, 2010

Hi All,

I recently came across this article on TalentManagement.com, written by Bobbie Little, a Director of Worldwide Coaching Services for PDI Ninth House. The article title is, “How to Develop Millennial Job Hoppers”.

Much of what is discussed are things I talk about in the various seminars and workshops I conduct, and I’ve written many articles about this. But I wanted to share Bobbie’s extensive article with you because it is filled with good info and recent statistics.

Here’s one excerpt:

Generation Y — also known as the millennial generation, born in 1981-2000 — is not immune to the effects of a down economy. In 2006, the Pew Research Center discovered that 50 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds were employed full time. That percentage dropped to 41 percent in 2010.

Troubled times are causing some millennials to re-adjust the ideals and expectations they envision for the workplace. Those expectations include interesting, challenging work with fast, upward mobility, a clear path to advancement, ongoing and timely mentoring and feedback, and access to the latest technology tools.

Taylor Foss, vice president of human resources for LifeBridge Health, a regional health care organization, said her millennial employees are realizing they cannot walk in and ask for the world. “I counsel them that career advancement, under today’s circumstances, may mean a lateral move before an upward promotion, and they’re willing to take on responsibilities that they would be reluctant to pursue in a healthy economy,” Foss said.

And here’s another excerpt that drives the point of this article home:

While Generation Y may be going through a reality check, employers should be forewarned that millennials’ ideals and expectations cannot be shelved forever. Employers need to take a long-term view of the employment situation. Their short-term view is focused on keeping companies afloat at any cost, including pay cuts, salary freezes, benefit reductions and requiring employees to absorb the duties left behind by their laid-off colleagues.

But Generation Y makes up approximately 30 percent of the U.S. workforce, the second largest group behind baby boomers. The economy will eventually sputter back to life, and this could create a big issue for employers.

If you’re a manager of Millennials, a leader in the workforce concerned about your company’s future leadership and employee retention, or an HR executive, I strongly recommend reading this whole article! CLICK HERE. And please note it does go on for 4-pages, so be sure to click the arrows at the bottom of page one!

Bye for now!

Lisa

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