CMI Blog

the latest from cmi speaker managment

Posts by Heather Younger

The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Employee Empowerment by Heather R. Younger

By Heather Younger | Aug 04, 2021 | Comments Off

You help guide the employee teaching them to fly, and then you show them to the runway and watch as they take flight of their own accord.

A Common Misconception

Frequently a common theme I speak on is self-leadership, however that is not the focus of today. But a common sub-theme of self-leadership is delegation, or knowing when to pass things from your plate to a fellow team member’s plate. There is a frequent misconception that delegating tasks from your to-do list to someone else’s is the same thing as employee empowerment.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Employee empowerment is the theme I’m focusing on here today and I want to start out by clarifying the difference between delegation and true empowerment.

Employee empowerment is promoting the self-actualization of another team member. It is setting them up for success and then stepping back to observe their work from the stands as a supportive fan. Perhaps my favorite analogy for employee empowerment is the runway. You help guide the employee teaching them to fly, and then you show them to the runway and watch as they take flight of their own accord.

Clearly, empowerment is not the same as the shared responsibilities of delegation, and there are a lot more ways to empower your employees than assigning them more tasks.

Clear Expectations

The first means of empowering your employees starts where all things begin, with communication. What’s at stake when it comes to communication? Well among the general confusion and setbacks poor communication causes, there is also money on the line. An article published by SHRM entitled “The Cost of Poor Communication” states, “David Grossman reported in “The Cost of Poor Communications” that a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees.”

This reminds me of a quote I’ve heard one of my team members refer to, “specificity drives accountability, which drives results”. The core of this statement rings true, the more clear we can be in communicating our expectations, the less room for error there will be, and the greater the chances of a favorable outcome.

The power of clear communication is seen when entire organizations are united in their mission, vision, values and goals. That looks like a well-oiled machine moving forwards at great speeds gaining success at every step of the way. If the entire team knows the foundation of all expectations is the mission, vision and values, there is a greater sense of loyalty all around.

This can prove difficult, especially when organizations are going through restructuring or mergers, or even just identity crises. A close supporter of mine, Rich Gassen, offers a powerful example of how important this clear purpose is for organizations. He realized this importance and set out on a mission to establish a clear foundation at his organization, even if that meant tearing down an old system and rebuilding from the ground up.

Risk Taking

Rich’s example demonstrates the risk involved when empowering your employees. Had his mission gone south, it could have caused a multitude of issues for the organization. True empowerment is risky. But that’s half the point. If your employees aren’t challenged to think outside the box and try new and risky solutions, then their personal growth will be stunted as well as the overall success of the organization.

The plane could crash once it leaves the runway, but if it never takes off in the first place there is a zero percent chance of success. The hazard with allowing your employees to work with generous margins of error, is knowing how to react when the risks do turn south, when the errors do occur.

Caring Leaders must be accepting of errors. Leaders can be firm and constructive, while also supportive and a catalyst for that employees’ personal development. Fear of retribution is a huge deterrence from opportunities for success.

Jo Bauler in her book, Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead, and Live Without Barriers wrote, “As the fear center of the brain becomes activated, activity in the problem-solving centers of the brain is diminished”. Fear counteracts productivity and restricts the borders of the mind inhibiting critical thinking.

Be a Resource

My last tip for how to successfully empower your team is a third key to setting them up for success. You cannot ask someone to complete a puzzle without giving them the pieces. Just so, leaders must take care to provide all the necessary resources for their team to successfully launch their planes into flight.

A team without resources feels devalued and replaceable. I correlate this experience to being stuck with your hands tied, left helpless facing a goal, with no means to achieve it. You can read more about the hopelessness that a lack of resources can cause here.

The Gift of Empowerment

Empowerment is a gift, not complex in the way in which it is given, and a gift that is realized through the actions of the receiver. That is why it is so important that leaders go about empowering their employees in the right way. One slip up, an unclear direction, a harsh retort, or a missing resource, can set up your employee for failure and affect the overall success of your organization.

Be the gift of empowerment to your people, show them you care.

 

Buy Heather's book today, "The Art of Caring Leadership: How Leading with Heart Uplifts Teams and Organizations"  >>

 

New call-to-action

Corporate Change Post-Covid: A Cultural Audit by Heather R. Younger

By Heather Younger | Jul 06, 2021 | Comments Off

Maybe we should be considering how right now after so many unexpected turns of events, it might be the perfect time for change.

The Hitch With Change

Human beings are often complacent creatures. How many of you want to make little, or big life changes and lack the motivation? So often we think tomorrow I will eat healthier, be more productive, wake up earlier, make the right choices, and so often we continue to live in our comfortable patterns. 

On a grand scale our world just went through a dramatic and unexpected change. Covid-19 threw everyone into a turmoil. Many times, when people go through a sudden life change, they come out with a new perspective on life. Take the current labor shortage for instance, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in April alone, 4 million people quit their jobs. Four million people! That’s insane. It is the highest quitting rate since the Bureau was created in 2000. This flux of people leaving their jobs is a direct response to the effects of the global pandemic.

Is this the Perfect Time for Change?

Maybe we should be considering how right now after so many unexpected turns of events, it might be the perfect time for change. As so many employees are leaving their workplaces, it really is a crucial time to listen to and meet the needs of the employees you still have.  Many of the employees who are returning to work, and are not quitting, still have changes in mind that they would like to see. 

When was your company’s last cultural audit? I recommend that you immediately begin to run cultural audits to assess the wants and needs of your newly returned workforce. If there’s one thing we learned from this pandemic, it’s that there should be no more waiting until tomorrow. I encourage you to encourage your entire organization to present any and all ideas for changes, no matter how big or small, that they have on their minds. 

STEP ONE: Listening

The first step in running a cultural audit should be listening. Gather as much feedback as possible. Host listening sessions. Make sure to discuss any insecurities about the future of the workplace whether it’s returning to in-person, hybrid or staying remote. 

Some employees are less likely to speak up at a round-table or in a company orchestrated listening session, so accompany this action with a survey series. Promote anonymous feedback. The more details you can extract about changes people want the easier it will be to enact those changes. 

A large oversight when organizations tune in and begin listening throughout their ranks, is the things that remain unsaid. What isn’t being talked about? I think of the expression, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you,” well in this case, it can. The more you can learn about your employees, the better you can serve them, and the better they will serve the company overall. 

Part of the listening process is recognizing that your employees don’t always respond to surveys and audits. The reality is, many will feel uncomfortable and unsafe, and some just won’t care enough to respond. When the majority of employees are more comfortable leaving concerns unspoken, it is a clear indicator that the work environment is more toxic than safe. 

So work to create a culture of listening where less things remain unspoken, your employees feel safe, and you are able to tailor your response and plan for change better. Show your employees you really care about uncovering the truth of the matter. 

STEP TWO: Action

Once you unearth as many of the unsaid things as you can, it’s time for the action planning. Because what you don’t act on, can and definitely will hurt you. I discuss this extensively in one chapter of my book, The Art of Caring Leadership.  

The last part of The Culture of Listening is connecting the dots. Where your organizations’ leaders must take all the feedback and intentionally mull it over, make an action plan, and then communicate back to their employees each step of the way. 

By beginning the cultural audit process with in-depth listening you won’t leave any stone unturned. The cultural revival occurring in our societies will not only take place outside the walls of your organizations. It probably has already entered them by way of your employees and needs to be cared for and supported as new or improved cultures take root. 

The Next Step

If you are interested in improving your company culture by way of listening more, then feel free to take advantage of this free lesson in listening that I’m offering from the Caring Leadership Academy. 

 

New call-to-action

Transforming America’s Workplaces: An Infertile Place for Microaggressions by Heather R. Younger

By Heather Younger | May 26, 2021 | Comments Off


Microaggressions

Have you ever witnessed or been the recipient of a microaggression? If you are unsure, the answer is probably yes. These small acts concealed by their habitual nature are dangerous for our culture and especially for our workplaces.

Microaggressions are the brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental dignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial, gender, sexual orientation, and religious slights and insults to the target person or group (Younger 109).

I pulled this definition from my book, The Art of Caring Leadership, but it originates from Chester M. Pierce, MD, a Harvard psychiatrist in the 1970s. Microaggressions are based on assumptions that historically biased stereotypes have ingrained into our culture. They are extremely hurtful, whether by word or action, to the person from the marginalized group. 

Instead of spreading the message of inclusivity and belonging, microaggressions are like glaring flash signals that indicate there is space between two people (or groups). This space can be culturally, socioeconomically, racially, educationally; the list goes on. 

The Data

In a survey conducted by Gallup on microaggressions in 2020, 32% of Black adults responded that “people acted as if they were better than [them]” very often. Some examples of microaggressions:

  • A non-Black person asking to touch a Black person’s hair. 
  • Someone volunteering an Asian colleague to bring fried rice to a company picnic. 
  • When a Black person is articulate, a White person says, “Oh my gosh, you articulate so well!”
  • telling a thin person that they should eat more food
  • using outdated and offensive terminology, such as, “That’s so gay”

Some of these examples are from my book, others I found here. Actions such as these demonstrate presumptions about people from minority groups. For workplaces to function efficiently and while being inclusive and belonging, there can be no space for microaggressions. What does this mean for our workplaces comprised of people who are unaware of the harm they might be inflicting?

A Resolution

First of all, how many believe that ignorance means innocence? That’s an idea I am familiar with because of my faith. It holds some truth—you are not culpable for your mistake if you didn’t know it was wrong. However, ignorance does not preclude your personal improvement. Just because you are unaware of the harm you may have caused, it does not negate the wrongness of the action itself. You can only claim ignorance for a slip-up once; then, you should know better and must learn from it. 

Secondly, it does not fall upon the shoulders of the person or group of people you are offending to educate you. I would advise you not to seek out lessons on microaggressions from your peers who identify as a minority in some way. If they freely offer information on this topic, by all means, listen to their experiences. It is a great way to learn, but do not put the responsibility of resolving this issue on their shoulders. 

Lastly, we must transform our workplaces into Psychologically Safe Spaces where microaggressions desist as people learn to avoid discriminatory behaviors. Simultaneously, we must create a comfortable and safe way for employees to report bad behavior. 

A Psychologically Safe Space 

You can learn more about this in Chapter 7 of my book, which I mentioned above. I will provide you with a summary of steps to take to achieve this. 

  1. Earn their trust: seek to get to know your people on a deeper emotional level. Always be honest and transparent. Let them know they can rely on your word. 
  2. Encourage speaking the truth: invite people to share their experiences and feelings. Provide focus groups, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), and forums. Also, go a level deeper and create a seamless, safe, and anonymous system for reporting incidents. 
  3. Show openness to hearing the hard things: This step goes hand in hand with accountability. If the organization is going to make mistakes (disclaimer-it will) then they must own up to those mistakes. Instill accountability at every level of the organization. The highest leadership tiers especially must be held accountable, so the rest of the organization sees what kinds of behaviors will and will not be tolerated hands down, no grey areas here. 
  4. Acknowledge when people speak up: This step is crucial. If you encourage people to share, you must recognize their willingness and helpfulness to come forward. Always connect the dots and communicate back to the person what actions the organization is taking in response. 
  5. Provide educational resources: Encourage your whole organization to educate themselves on these issues. Make it mandatory. Once the proper behavior has been learned, and resources to learn are available, I encourage you to no longer tolerate any microaggressions in your workplace. You will have a system to report them and a system to hold people accountable; use these to eradicate microaggressions. 

While my book details many more steps to aid you in fostering a psychologically safe space, I will not get into each one here. I encourage my readers to go forward seeking to lead with your hearts and engaging in inclusive, compassionate, caring, and empathetic behaviors. I look forward to creating more caring workplaces worldwide with your help! Join our Community of Caring Leaders here

 

 

New call-to-action

Heather R. Younger - Be Intentional

By Heather Younger | Oct 28, 2020 | Comments Off

Being more intentional in everything you do will give you great results. Heather R. Younger shares the top three things you can do to be more intentional about during this trying time.

 

Hello, I'm Heather R. Younger, keynote speaker and author on all things leadership, employee loyalty and engagement. Today I wanted to share just one positive message with you, which is to be more intentional.
Intentional? "What's that?" you might ask?

I don't mean intentional by sitting around in a robe and eating a jelly doughnut, and doing nothing that day. Unlike me...kidding! I don't mean that.

What I mean is to be intentional first in your mindset. And that means before you even go to sleep at night, figure out the kind of day you want the next day. And if you didn't have a great day today, make a decision in your mind that you will not have the same day the next day.

Number two, be intentional in your language. Our words mean everything. And what we say to ourselves and to those around us has a huge amount of impact. So choose to be positive to yourself. Choose to be uplifting to yourself and to others.

And lastly, be intentional in your behaviours. Set a plan for yourself for the day, maybe the night before or the day of, about what it is you want to achieve. And maybe it's not a whole bunch. Maybe it's just getting out of bed. Whatever that is for you during this time. Just be intentional.

Being intentional will make you feel like you've succeeded a lot more during this time when we're all sitting at home remotely. But know that you have the power and the strength to get through it all. But you have to first start with your mind, your language, your behaviours. Your results will all produce great things for you.

In the meantime, be intentional!

Listen to Heather's Leadership with Heart Podcast for more stories on employee engagement, loyalty, and leadership!

Book Heather for your virtual or live event today

heather-CMI_blogCTA_-1

 

Diversity & Inclusion Speaker - Heather R Younger

By Heather Younger | Oct 07, 2020 | Comments Off


What do truly inclusive workplace cultures look like?

They look like places where leaders sit with their people and empathize with them. Where they embrace their people for who they are and what they stand for. They sit with them and ask them how they're doing inside and outside of work.

I know what it feels like not to be included or to feel like I don't belong, from a painful experience in my past. Being shunned from my own family because of what I look like, because of my race. But I use that pain from the past and transform it into a positive catalyst to help leaders understand what they need to do to create inclusive workplaces, where employees truly feel like they belong.

Now, I know right now is a tough time. Many of us don't know all the right words to say. But if we lead first with empathy and compassion, we will all be just fine. Come with me as we explore what it looks like to have a truly inclusive workplace where our employees can finally feel like they belong.

 

heather-CMI_blogCTA_-1

 

Heather Younger- Getting Unstuck

By Heather Younger | Oct 05, 2020 | Comments Off

 

Right now, everybody is still freaking out. It's been some months, and with all the unknown and everything that's going on in the market and with the layoffs in business...Coronavirus, are we all going to get it? What's going to happen? Living in constant fear. You know, companies and individuals are having to make a lot of pivots right now. Everyone is just feeling stuck, feeling paralyzed. Layoffs, safety concerns, uncertainty, fear for employees, fear for our families!

So today, what I'm going to do is teach you how to we can get unstuck and create results faster so that we can thrive long term. And, in doing so, we build our resilience so that if this ever happens again, anything like it, we'll be more prepared to get through it. The key, though, is that we cannot succeed or obtain the results that we want unless we muster the courage to face fear and our challenges head-on. And move away from that place of stuck that some of us may still be in.

All signs point to adjusting how we see and respond to the changes and challenges that are right in front of us, right now. So how can we see our challenges in a new and better light and strengthen our resilience muscle?

I bet you what you're thinking is "Is Heather telling us to be rah-rah and just ignore everything that's around us?! Ignore the risks and everything that's happening around the pandemic??!"

Absolutely not. We must understand risk. It's important that we understand what's happening in front of us, but that we don't allow it to overwhelm us or stop us from moving forward on our journey to wherever we were at before the pandemic. So the number 1 reason why most of us fail to see our challenges and our adversity differently is because of the unique lens we bring from our past, often from our childhood.

So this might sound a little strange or perplexing, but the truth is that many of us were raised to think in more limiting ways, and to live in fear of the unknown, of what's happening around us and feeling like we're not really in control. So often it's easier to just face up to the adversity in front of us. It seems easier to just to run away from it, or really to ignore it altogether. And a lot of people do that. They would rather sit in their home, close the door and say, "Okay, when this is over, call me. Call me out!"

But really, to thrive in this type of environment. We all need to know what we're facing and we need to show up differently. Often, you know, casting aside those the old lenses that we have brought with us from our past and replacing them with a new way to see things and conquer our current circumstances.

 

 

heather-CMI_blogCTA_

 

How to Navigate the Racial Divide at Work

By Heather Younger | Sep 09, 2020 | Comments Off

markus-winkler-4oc8J17cit0-unsplash-scaled

Read an excerpt from Heather Younger's blog below and follow the link for the full post.

"The other day, I hosted a LinkedIn Live to discuss the racial divide and how we can all show up as better humans in these turbulent times – particularly in the face of people who are demanding less talk and more action. 

As an African-American woman, I believe we MUST continue to have these discussions, because they need to remain top of mind. We have to remember that this is not just another news cycle. This is a reality for so many."

Read Heather's full blog post here for her top takeaways on how to navigate the racial divide at work.

New call-to-action

1