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Active Listening: The Greatest Skill by Heather R Younger

By Heather Younger | Oct 14, 2021 | Comments Off

"Nonetheless, I must recommit to seeking to understand those around me before taking any action. The caring leader does this and then reflects on what he or she hears."

Listening and Leadership

The mark of a good leader is one who is caring. I define caring leadership as “taking daily actions in ways that show concern and kindness to those we lead”. At the core of being a good, caring leader, lies the crucial skill of listening. Leaders in any walk of life, whether extensively trained, or called on to lead in a passing moment, all seek to possess a deep understanding of the people they lead or the problem they seek to resolve. The best path to gain this understanding is via listening. Listening is the express lane that takes you straight to your desired destination while avoiding the obstacles and roadblocks that delay the flow of traffic.

Listening and Employee Engagement

If leaders focus on staying in the listening express lane, they will coincidentally build up a culture of listening within their organizations. I want to include an excerpt from my latest book, The Art of Caring Leadership, to reveal my own personal testimony on the effects of listening in my leadership role.

“Personally, I move very fast in and out of projects and even in and out of thoughts. Sometimes, this makes those around me feel that they are not a part of the process. Often, I feel myself going into hyperdrive. Then I slow myself down and begin to see the others who are with me on this journey. I know that I need to include their voices and their input.

I am not always great at executing on that. I continue to work on this, and because it is so important to me, I make it a priority. Nonetheless, I must recommit to seeking to understand those around me before taking any action. The caring leader does this and then reflects on what he or she hears (92).”

I have listened to tens of thousands of employee survey comments, and worked with countless organizations to build cultures of listening. Once a sturdy culture of listening takes root within an organization, every time without fail, their employee engagement numbers soar. Loyalty and buy-in reach peaks, and consequently, happy employees mean successful business.

An article entitled, “The Power of Listening” by Forbes, states:

Effective active listening within an organizational setting has been shown to produce a wide range of positive benefits for companies, leaders and individuals, such as: (1) building stronger relationships, (2) developing greater trust, (3) more effective team collaborations, (4) enhanced individual and group decision-making, (5) greater productivity and (6) enhanced creativity and innovation.

Clearly, the list of positive effects of listening is extensive within an organization. But, the simple yet powerful strategy of active listening extends far beyond the reaches of your workplace.

Let me tell you a story.

Listening in Customer Engagement

I once served as a leader in client development, which meant I worked in our sales department. One day, I heard that one of our biggest clients was significantly unhappy with the process we were using which had been established by our leadership team. This was a two-million-dollar client on the verge of leaving because they were dissatisfied with one of our systems and processes. Were we going to cling to our rule book and run the risk of losing this valuable client? Not on my watch. I took my understanding of the client’s needs to my leadership. I knew there was the chance they wouldn’t listen to me or take the situation seriously, but I owed the client at least a shot at positive change.

However, it did go well. I got leadership’s attention and we began the process of changing our strategy. We even included the client in our roundtables and redesign project. Their voices guided us to our solution. Because we brought in the client and welcomed them to our table and acted on their word, they felt valued and decided to rely on us even more heavily. They became an even bigger client of ours. This all began with the listening process.

Listening and Relationships

Listening is not only the crux of caring leadership, it must be the foundation of any relationship. For example, active listening is singlehandedly the most powerful tactic a salesperson can wield. When we tune into the needs and desires of those we serve, whether they be our superiors, peers, direct reports clients, or people in our personal lives, we will see a direct return on our relationships.

This story illustrates how I felt confident enough that I would be listened to within my organization to bring forward a crucial piece of information from our client. I caused disruption and change, but I also caused us to increase our revenue and build a stronger relationship with our client. I knew my organization would listen to its employees. I listened to our client, and our sales process was transformed to always involve a listening step to better work with each client’s specific needs.

I encourage anyone reading this to take listening to the next level, whether that be in their personal relationships, with their employees or with their customers. There are no negative side effects when it comes to listening. Merge into that express lane and steer your organization towards listening and towards greatness.

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

 

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How to Use “Designed Moments” to Earn Employee Loyalty by Clint Pulver

By Clint Pulver | Sep 30, 2021 | Comments Off

The employees we’ve interviewed who loved where they work had a very specific quality in common: they trusted their managers.

One of the biggest misconceptions we come across in our undercover workplace research is the idea that employees have to earn the trust of their managers. If you are a leader who still views loyalty this way, it’s time to flip your script. Because you can’t expect trust if you haven’t earned it yourself.

The employees we’ve interviewed who loved where they work had a very specific quality in common: they trusted their managers. They knew they could ask for help in a crisis; they knew they could express a worry or a complaint without being punished for it somewhere down the line. And because these employees trusted their leaders—meaning they didn’t have to perform under the weight of anxiety or resentment—they felt free to return that same loyalty.

And we’ve found in our research that they return it by the boatload.

Creating Employee Trust Through Designed Moments

Earning that level of trust from your staff is not about making a big show of what a great pal you are, or what a super cool boss you can be. It’s about little, everyday actions—I call them “designed moments.” These types of moments are the #1 thing that come up when we ask employees to tell us about a manager who inspired unbreakable loyalty.

What is a designed moment? It’s simply a moment of attention and consideration—one that stands out and feels like the opposite of the daily routine. Moments like these can have a sense of wonder to them, giving an employee a deep sense of being noticed, supported, and even cared for. Think of them as a personalized action you can take to turn an ordinary workday into a powerful memory.

Sounds pretty incredible, right? But, it’s more subtle than you think.

Here are just a few real-world examples of designed moments that made a huge impact on the employees we’ve interviewed:

• Inviting the team out for a surprise lunch
• Sending a six-month supply of diapers to an employee who had a new baby
• Launching a GoFundMe campaign for an employee who was having a health crisis
• Picking up the phone and checking in on how an employee was doing after an ambitious project fell through
• “Calling out” an employee’s contribution to a success, and offering a heartfelt thanks
• Recognizing an employee’s specific talents, and the future the manager saw in them

Get the idea? Simple, thoughtful actions, made regularly over time with each employee.

Building a Bank Account of Trust

Do these moments seem small? Well, they are. But it’s their very smallness that packs such a powerful degree of surprise and meaning for the employees who receive them. That’s the amazing thing about designed moments: it isn’t about staging a huge event, like paying for college or sending your employees on a vacation. You’re not holding a lottery, with random big winners. Instead, what you’re doing is making regular deposits of trust.

It’s like building a bank account of loyalty with each of your employees. And, just like with a bank account, when you deposit a lot—even if it’s slowly, in small amounts—you can ask for more in return.

Over time, each of your designed moments—each investment you make in care, attention, and praise—will move your employees closer to a relationship founded in trust, connection, and, yes, even love. But you can only reap those returns if you keep making your deposits.

And I mean with each employee, as often as you can.

Challenge: Create a Designed Moment

There is no recipe for a designed moment—and that’s because they have to be genuine, and—this is the most important thing—they have to be personalized both to the situation and to the employee. So, to determine the best way to design a moment for a given employee, you have to invest your time and interest in that person, and get to know them as an individual: their talents, goals, hopes, dreams, interests—and disinterests, too.

Here’s where to start: with one single employee. Pick someone—perhaps a person you’ve been struggling to connect with—and try to design one moment that will have meaning for that person. Is there a big life event on the horizon you could acknowledge or support? Something they have accomplished at work to celebrate? What kind of action could you take that might startle them out of their daily grind—in a really good way?

Can’t think of anything? That’s a clue you need to start a little further back. Invest some time in getting to know that employee better. Work alongside them. Ask about their lives. Pay a little more attention to how their workday is going. This groundwork will give you better insight into what might make an impact for that individual.

Remember: deposits of trust aren’t about making a big show. They’re about simply being there for your employees, both in the literal and metaphorical sense.

It’s Time to Take Responsibility for Trust

If you want your people to truly commit to you, you first have to earn it. Yes, winning that trust—building those individual bank accounts—takes effort and time (sometimes lots of time). But once you have loyalty, it’s contagious—and it won’t be long before you’ve created a workplace culture in which your whole team has each other’s back.

So, design those impact moments, invest in that loyalty, and keep making those small, everyday deposits of trust. Because if your people trust you, they will give their all for you.

 

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How Do You Help Your People Achieve Greatness? by Heather R. Younger

By Heather Younger | Sep 13, 2021 | Comments Off

"We do not ever want to turn a blind eye to our employees. How much fruit would they be capable of bearing if they received a little more attention, a little more care."

Ignorance is Not Bliss
I have an entire chapter in my most recent book on leadership, The Art of Caring Leadership, on looking for greatness in those we lead. I detail how to take into consideration their strengths in order to better lead them and guide your organization to success. The art of leadership is perfected and achieves greater success when the leading extends beyond just the hands of leadership. The more you know about your employees’ strengths, the better your team will work.

While leadership can feel very lonely in theory, especially for leaders who are part of a one-person team, it is an action that thrives the more perspectives it takes into consideration. A leader who makes decisions without consulting others comes across as self-centered. Leaders, like all human beings, are imperfect and we have limited perspectives and often very particular points of view.


A Plumb Metaphor
Think of it in terms of this story. When I first moved into my house back in 2007, I barely noticed a big purple tree in our front yard. Fast forward a bit, my neighbors are moving away and they come over to say goodbye. She mentions how grateful she was for all the plums they got from our tree. It was a plum tree! I had a fruit-bearing tree in my yard for months without even noticing it! Luckily, my neighbor was able to put some of the plums to good use, but I wonder how many grew and died without ever being used.

We do not ever want to turn a blind eye to our employees. How much fruit would they be capable of bearing if they received a little more attention, a little more care. Heck, even just looking is the key sometimes. Imagine that, their talents on full display for anyone to see if you just stop and observe for a mere matter of minutes.

I don’t know about you, but I can attest I know what a plum looks like. I really just didn’t ever look. But the plums were right there, plumb in the middle of my yard.


What’s the Plum Tree in your Life?
In the chapter of my book on looking for and leveraging greatness, I detail some actionable steps leaders can take to notice more.

The first way to do this is by looking for the things that make your employees shine. Spend some time with them, ask them key questions and learn what it is that sets their hearts on fire. Whether work related or not, these details are invaluable and establish a deeper connection between leadership and employees.


A Fruitful Environment
There is something else that is just as important as watching for these shining moments: provide your employees a space to shine in. Begin meetings with casual discussion about people’s lives, listen to what it is they spend their time talking about, or what excites them. Make sure their position gives them room to take risks and innovate. If you manage employees who perform a lot of the “busy work” for your organization, then present them with a new challenge or task that expands their horizons more.

If you have routine meetings or performance reviews, then incorporate interview questions that get your team to consider their strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes people are very in tune with their best skills and lesser abilities. Asking someone what they can improve in and what they excel in can be very telling for a leader who has less time to devote to observational activities. The environment for conversations with leadership can be the perfect place to catch the driving passions of your team, the things that make their eyes light up.

Find Outside Support
It can be hard to be the sole driver of an initiative and one that requires deeper connections with all your employees is a tall order. I do encourage leaders to give as much of themselves as they can while trying to get to know their employees. I recognize that there are human limitations. To compensate for our own fallibility, I always recommend a secondary source of information. Your personal research might not unearth all the skills and talents of your team. Oftentimes, your employees aren’t even aware of all of their special talents. It’s better for everyone to also study your team’s strengths through an outside source.

One of the best ways to know and see where your employees produce their richest fruits is by using assessments to gauge their strengths. I love the StrengthsFinder assessment. Once you pin down their strengths you have the fun job of making sure they can utilize their skills and maximize their strengths. Trust me when I say, it is fun for both the employee and their leader when the employee discovers the best that’s inside of them. People thrive doing what they are good at, and we tend to enjoy it more too.

Other Ways to Harvest
Apart from going to the employee themselves, or to their scores on assessments, there are other means of discovering your teams’ strengths.

● Social or intranet posts
● All staff feedback
● Team successes and failures


After exercising each of these principles to uncover your team’s strengths, you will be well-equipped to open the doors for your employees so that they may thrive.

Without considering your team’s strengths and giving them opportunities to use them, your organization can suffer. Organizations that don’t offer fertile soil for your employees to grow in find themselves held back by things like: revenue losses, tarnished reputation, lost customers and a lack of faith in leadership.

Be a part of their success story and they will be the fruits of yours.

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

 

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The 4 Types of Managers By Clint Pulver by Clint Pulver

By Clint Pulver | Aug 09, 2021 | Comments Off

How to Assess Your Leadership on the Standards–Connection Spectrum

When you interview as many employees as we have in the Undercover Millennial program, you get a lot of insight about what creates a workplace people love. But the super interesting thing happens when we analyze that insight and compare it to a leader’s results. When we do that, two factors become so consistently linked with success that you can actually use them as a framework for assessing managerial performance.

And what are those factors? Standards and Connection.

Now, standards are your expectations for your employees’ behavior and performance, and connection is the level of empathy, recognition, time, and advocacy you offer them. In the conversations we’ve had with employees, we’ve heard consistent descriptions of four specific types of management—and each can be placed on a spectrum of these two elements. And not only that, each of those four styles can actually be linked to specific behaviors among those leaders’ employees.

So, which type of Manager are you?

The Removed Manager

The Buddy Manager

The Controlled Manager

The Mentor Manager

THE REMOVED MANAGER

Low Standards, Low Connection
First let’s look at the Removed Manager. This person leads with low standards, and low connection.

They’re completely removed from their organization and from the people they lead—we’ve seen this separation manifest emotionally, and even physically. They’re hard to find! Maybe they’re in their office, maybe in the back room—maybe they’re not even there. And when you do find them, it can seem like they’re just ticking boxes, and that they don’t really care.

OUTCOME - Disengagement

If hearing this feels uncomfortable, this might be you! And that means you’re probably struggling to connect with and lead your people. Maybe you’re feeling burned out—or maybe you’re even having difficulty connecting with your own boss. But whatever the underlying reason, that disengagement you feel is likely showing up in your people as well.

THE BUDDY MANAGER

Low Standards, High Connection

You get the Buddy Manager—hooray, a buddy, a friend! Yeah, sounds fun—everybody likes a buddy, and, hey, wouldn’t it be great to have a job where you can get away with anything. But hold on: what’s that going to do to your sense of respect for your employer? And how likely are you to feel like you’re building a career that has real meaning? While employees with a Buddy Manager might feel cared for, that’s not actually a good thing if they also feel a lack of real leadership.

If approval and friendship mean more to you than guiding or developing, you might recognize yourself here. You probably bend over backwards to make your team happy in the moment, but you fail to balance that with consistent expectations. And the outcome? Entitlement, complacency, and a lack of professional growth.

OUTCOME – Entitlement

An even bigger risk with Buddy Management is treating some employees differently, making exceptions and granting favors because you like them, or, worse, because you want them to like you. Soon you have some people seeing how far they can stretch your authority, and others feeling resentful, ignored, or shut out.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a great relationship with your employees, because you absolutely should! But if friendship becomes more important than what’s best for your employee’s development and performance, your company is going nowhere¬—and the same goes for your employee.

But here’s the tricky balance—the flipside to the Buddy Manager is the Controlling Manager. You’ll recognize yourself here if you have a “my way or the highway” style, with little collaboration and a whole lot of consequences.

THE CONTROLLING MANAGER

High Standards, Low Connection

Do you find that you’re always writing your people up or dressing them down? If you do, you might think you’re just pushing for higher performance, but the real result can be just as bad as with the Buddy Manager. Only in this case it takes the form of rebellion, bitterness, and a different kind of rule breaking—we’ve seen Controlling Management lead to less productivity, more theft, and even intentional mistakes made as a way to express defiance.

OUTCOME – Rebellion

And that doesn’t even begin to include the negative results of what doesn’t happen under this style of management: and that’s collaboration, innovation, and the sense of connection your customers get when they enter a business where people love where they work.

Ah, but now we reach the place where these two elements come together! This is leadership that combines high levels of standards with high levels of connection. This is Mentor Management, and it has without fail reaped the best performance results across all the workplaces we’ve researched.

THE MENTOR MANAGER

High Standards, High Connection

Employees who work for a Mentor Manager feel loyalty, show respect, and engage better with their work. You’re operating as a Mentor Manager when you provide your employees with the standards and expectations they need to feel secure in their job, and at the same time you’re spending time with them—creating meaningful moments and building trust simply by getting to know them. And the result? Respect, and loyalty.

OUTCOME – Respect & Loyalty

Now here’s the big question: for each of those managers, how much of their style do you see in yourself? If you see similarities, does that make you feel good, or uncomfortable? Who could you emulate to help yourself increase the level of standards and connection you are offering your people?

What could you do to increase the levels of both empathy and expectations in your workplace? Your title might make you a boss, but it’s your people who decide if you’re a mentor. And that’s where you want to operate as a leader.

 

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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"  >>

 

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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. 

 

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The Best Advice Stephen Covey Ever Gave by Ty Bennett

By Ty Bennett | Jun 21, 2021 | Comments Off

It’s not about you - it’s about them!

What Is the best advice you have ever received?

Was it a coach telling you, “When you quit, you fail.”
Or maybe it was a friend who said, “It’s ok to say no.”
Or perhaps it was your Mom who told you to wear clean underwear.

In any case, advice from the right person at the right time can often change our perspective.

That is what happened to me the first time I met Dr. Stephen Covey.

The advice he gave me at first seemed specific but I have found it to be more general and has shaped my mindset.

When Stephen Covey found out I was writing a book he told me “Make sure you write the book for the reader, not the writer.”

Let that soak in.

It’s great advice for a writer and I have thought about it often as I have written my four books.

But the thought has more application when you think about it as a mindset.

It’s not about you - it’s about them!
The focus of an influencer is always on the audience.

If you are in sales – it’s about your customer or prospect.

If you are a leader – it’s about the people you are leading.

If you are a teacher – it’s about your students.

If you are a parent – it’s about your children

If you are a speakers - it's about the people listening to you

Almost everyone has this backwards. They think being influential means they need to become polished or powerful. Influence, though, is all about the audience. Be it an audience of one or one thousand. When it’s about them, they get it, and we grow in their eyes.

By thinking out instead of in, by concentrating on others instead of on us, a tremendous transformation takes place. We go from inner-directed to outer- directed, from taker to giver, from self-centered to others-focused, from tight-fisted to generous, from short-sighted to farsighted, from selfish to selfless. We begin to see and act on behalf of others' needs ahead of our own; our thoughts are in terms of "we" instead of "me."

That’s what Stephen Covey taught me with what seemed to be a simple piece of advice. “Make sure you write the book for the reader, not the writer."

 

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How to Determine the Current Status of your Employees by Clint Pulver

By Clint Pulver | Jun 16, 2021 | Comments Off

The 3 Questions You Need to Ask Your Employees Right Now

So here’s kind of a sad story? One day a talented employee gets hired at a business, and she’s full of excitement about the future. But over the weeks and months that promise doesn’t pan out, and she starts to feel stuckFinally, she’s had enough—she hands in her notice. And on her last day, her manager invites her into his office, sits her down, and asks her a question that comes way too late. He asks her, What could we have done to keep you here?”

Tragic, right? I see it all the time, and it breaks my heart! The absolute worst moment you could ask an employee what they want in their life is at an exit interview. It’s like a hospital keeping its heart monitor in the morgue. The best companies we’ve worked with are checking their employee’s vitals all the time, before they get tired of their job. And they don’t just do it with stuffy performance reviews that are more about what the company wants than what the employee wants. They do it with a status interview. This is one of the best practices I’ve seen for consistently maintaining an accurate measure of how your employee is feeling and what they need to perform at their best. And it has three specific elements that might seem in conflict but aren’t: it’s informal, it’s in-the-moment, and it’s comprehensively planned and targeted.

The Status Interview

  • Informal
  • In-the-moment
  • Planned and targeted

Done well, a status interview is not about the company; it’s about the employee: the focus is on being an advocate, and asking what they need and what you can do for them. You need to get the information that will help you plan a route forward, and we’ve found that the most effective way to do that is with three very specific questions: “What can we do to keep you here?”“What’s getting in the way of you reaching your maximum success?”; and “How can I help you get where you want to go?”

The Status Interview Questions

1. “What can we do to keep you here?”

2. “What’s getting in the way of you reaching your maximum success?”

3. “How can I help you get where you want to go?” 

Each one of these questions achieves a different goal, and has to be approached in a specific way. Let’s take the first one: “What can we do to keep you here.”

This is how you acknowledge your employee’s value: that you appreciate what they bring every day. Set them at ease by pairing this question with some vocal praise, like, “Hey, you’re really important to this company, and I want to make sure that you’ve got what you need to be successful. What can we do to keep you here?

1. “What can we do to keep you here?”

  • Inspires loyalty and trust and value
  • Pair with vocal praise 

Asking this question before there’s a problem inspires loyalty and shows them they matter—and adding in that praise lets them know right away that this isn’t a conversation about a problem.

Then that next question shows your employee that you’re invested in boosting their skills and getting them to their goals: “What’s getting in the way of your maximum success?” Here’s what you’re really asking: What skills do you want to learn? How’s your schedule working out? Is anything going on with your health or your family that might be causing you stress? And, most importantly, what can I do as your manager to connect you with resources and get you past those obstacles?

2. “What’s getting in the way of you reaching your maximum success?”

  • Shows support for an employee’s goals
  • Pair with offers of help, training, or resources 
  • Then, you cap it off with the kicker: “How can I help you get where you want to go.”

 As a leader and a mentor, your job is to connect your people to their dreams, even if those dreams have nothing to do with their work. Asking an employee how you can help them get anywhere they want to go in life demonstrates to them that you are their advocateShowing support for an employee’s personal projects actively taps into their excitement. It will re-engage that person, so they can bring that energy and incorporate it into their work. And the beauty of knowing what your employee wants is that you can play to those strengths, and find opportunities within the company to that will move them further toward those dreams.

 3. “How can I help you get where you want to go?”

  • Demonstrates advocacy
  • Pair with help in finding opportunity

But there’s one more critical element to the status interview that you cannot forget—and that’s a relationship that can bear the weight of truth. Your employees need to know that they can tell you what they’re really feeling without risking any anger or retribution from you. You can’t create that kind of strength and confidence just in that moment—you build it over time, through all those little daily deposits of trust that you’re making with your people. It’s true that some employees will never tell you the complete truth, but even then, I promise you that it will have so much meaning that you at least asked, and that you asked authentically and with open intentions. Just remember that this is not your moment to criticize or bring up performance issues. This is support—a check-up, a heart monitor. You’re looking to create that healthy stability, and you’re taking action if you spot any sign that things aren’t great.

So today I want you to look at your schedule for the month ahead, and slot in time for a status interview with every one of your employees. Ask those three questions, pair them with praise, and figure out how you can support their dreams now, even if it seems like everything’s fine. Because an employee’s last day on the job is absolutely the wrong time to find out what could have done to keep them in your company.

 

Clint-Pulver-Undercover-Millenial-Speaker

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