You’ve Got Style

I am pretty sure we have all read about the seven leadership styles. What I would like to do is pick one or two and see if we can dissect them a bit to see how effective they may or may not be.

Seven Styles:

  • Autocratic
  • Democratic
  • Coaching
  • Strategic
  • Transformational
  • Laissez-faire
  • Charismatic

We’re going to chat about three of them.

  • Coaching
  • Transformational
  • Democratic

Coaching

The Coaching Style offers hands-on advice to problem solving. This type of leader believes that people come before profit. So, If you put the professional growth of the team first, then the profit will follow. They should not be confused with a coach, but do have coaching skills. This is done by receiving and providing valuable feedback and having motivating conversations with their team members.

This style is popular because it can level the playing field, it builds confidence, promotes individual and team excellence, develops strong commitment to common goals, and produces valuable leaders.

Big Picture Thinking

Coaching leaders show how the work fits into the overall goal by encouraging employees to try new things on their own. This shows them how they have the different pieces to put together into the final product. Coaching leaders use their empathy and self-awareness to encourage each person on the team to develop their individual strengths even though they assign challenging assignments. The key is providing them with the tools for their success.

Transformational

The Transformational leader boosts morale, motivation, and performance by creating a singular sense of identity and purpose for a project. In it’s ideal form, it creates valuable and positive change in the followers with the end goal of developing followers into leaders.

Having a vision is the starting point. Then through inspiring the employees with influence, motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration the team makes sacrifices for the good of the whole.

Is this you?

Have you ever taken control of a group situation by explaining the end goal, conveying a clear vision and a passion for the work? If you did and then energized the rest of the group to get you to this goal, then you might be a Transformational Leader.

Democratic

This leader makes decisions based on the input of each team member. The leader with make the final decisions but each team member has an equal part of the project.

This is an effective style because it allows the employee to exercise authority at different levels. Something that they will use later on in their careers. Everyone is given the opportunity to participate, ideas are freely exchanged, and discussion is encouraged while the democratic leader is there to offer guidance and control.

How do you compare?

Many people believe that the Democratic style is the most effective style and works well in organizations that desire innovation. Using this style you get the reward of group member participation, high productivity, and more ideas and creative solutions.

How do you develop your own leadership style?

It is important to be yourself, authentic, and always professional. Think about your natural way of being and use those skills to show authority in your own positive way.

Having flexibility in situations will require you to access different types of leadership approaches but this will allow you to be sensitive to the needs of the team members you are working with while attaining your goals.

Don’t be afraid to try something new or different. Ask for feedback from your senior leadership team and really listen to how you could have approached a situation differently than you did.

Why is all of this important?

It goes back to my previous article on employees not leaving their jobs, but leaving their managers. Leaders have people follow them. Managers have people work for them. Leaders inspire and engage and create of vision that their people (followers) turn into reality. They make people become a part of something bigger than just reaching a goal. When this happens, you receive employee engagement, higher morale, and higher productivity. Turn over decreases and you have the basis of a positive company culture. You can sell a good company culture. Your team members will talk about it and people will want to work for you because of it.

It’s Time for the In-house Interview

So you have phone-screened your candidates and you pick a lot to come in and meet the team. Today is the day. What will happen?

You decide that you can spread out the three candidates in one day. Make sure you and your team are fresh all day. Each candidate deserves your complete attention without distractions or fatigue

Types of Interviewee’s

All of these candidates are coming in hopeful, energetic, and a bit nervous at the same time. Let’s take a look at what could happen and what you can do to counteract it.

  1. The “One word answer” candidate. What should you do? Well, obviously the interview will be shorter but let’s see if you can get the person to open up a little. If you have asked all of the pertinent questions for the job, ask the person what they are passionate about. The person may surprise you and start blabbing about their passions. This is when you can see the real deal. The person behind the fear.
  2. The “Can’t stop talking to save my soul” candidate. These ones are hard for me because I want to keep on schedule and when someone just keeps rambling on, it is really hard to concentrate. This person is usually this way all the time. It’s not nerves. Let’s be real. You may love it or not, but it is hard to listen to. Of course we don’t let that get in the way of seeing if the person is qualified for the job, but it does go to “fit” within the organization.
  3. The “Confident Interviewer” candidate. I feel a kinship to these types of candidates. I have been in my field long enough that I am confident in my skills and abilities and at a certain level, the employer should be understanding that the position they are hiring for the person they speak to has the education and skill level they are looking for. Sometimes we are wrong. I know this. However, the majority of the time it is true. So this interview goes by smoothly and someone on team feels that the candidate is cocky or conceited. Is this really true? Or…is it the fact that confidence can make others uncomfortable if they are not as confident in their own roles.

I know I sound like a head shrinker in this case but be aware that this may happen. We don’t want to lose a good candidate because someone on the team is threatened. We also want to make sure that we are not basing this decision on gender too. If a man is confident, they are seen as go-getters. If a woman is the same, she is seen as a bitch or conceited. Let’s make sure we are providing equity in the workplace and not allowing this to happen.

Pick the Final Two

Of these three, who would you pick to come back? Only you and your team can decide. You know your culture, what the job entails, who they have to work with, etc. Make sure you decide on the person based on their skills and abilities and then fit for the organization. Don’t just pick someone because everyone liked them. Make sure they can do the job.

Also, a person may surprise you when they get hired and they have the pressure of being “on”. They might relax and show you their personality a bit easier. Yes, this can backfire. Let’s concentrate on the good for a while and play that this has a great outcome, shall we?

The Last One Standing

Here is your winner. You have had all of the interviews, you have asked all the questions and answered some too. Congratulations on picking your new team member. There is nothing in HR as satisfying as giving someone a new job. I love the feeling of it and I love seeing their face on the first day!

Utilizing Your Employees’ “Other” Talents

Do you know what your employees do off the clock?

I’m not talking about personal things that you don’t really want to know about. I’m talking about talents they have that may be useful at work.

  • Does your team member know how to write and you have a writing project you could use some help with?
  • Do you have a budding photographer on your team that can take some pictures for your social media page or your marketing brochures?
  • Is there a member of the group that is a semi-professional organizer and can help you clean up that office supply closet you are always avoiding?

I know there are some restrictions with using employees on a contract basis, but I am looking at this more from a team building angle than a business venture. If your photographer is willing to take some shots for the social media page on the Halloween party you had, then let them enjoy what they do and share it with the rest of the team. This and other ideas are types of things that can motivate your team and show them how invested you are in them.

Transfer of Skills

I had an administrative assistant come to me and ask if there were any projects she could help with in the “writing category”. She had experience writing articles for a newsletter at another organization she worked at. It just so happened that I was starting a monthly employee newsletter the next month. I worked with her manager to see if this would affect her workload and we worked out a schedule for her to help me with writing some fun and interesting articles about after work activities in the different neighborhoods around town. She also researched the annual summer fairs and posted the dates for our employees which they appreciated for things to do on the weekends. I was happy to have the help and she was happy to be writing again.

Make Me a Movie Please

Another example is when I wanted to create a short video for our recruiting page and I found out that one of my employees did documentaries on the side. They were excited to film the video for me. It was very professional and we posted it on our social media site and hired several employees off it.

Sharing is Caring

Maybe try a “Vendor Day”. What is this? Well, on one day of the month, maybe a Friday, set up a table at work and let people bring in a sample of what they do. I realize there are non-solicitation policies out there but you can stipulate that the team member can only bring a sample and some business cards so they can sell their homemade gifts and treasures outside of the work schedule.

If not a vendor day, you can definitely do a talent show as a team building event if you have the chance to go on a team retreat.

Team retreats are great for working on the next years goals and at the same time get to know your team mates as people, not just workers. I would love to hear about team building ideas you have done or skill transfer breakthroughs you have had on your teams. Please put a comment below for consideration!

I’m Back From Vacation!!!

Don’t Work While You Are On Vacation!

Stop right there, don’t say it. I already know what you’re thinking. There is NO way I can’t do some work while I am on vacation otherwise my desk and inbox will be full when I get back and I don’t want to deal with it. Well, I say try harder!

It is so relaxing to not do work on vacation. I was gone for a week and hardly thought of this blog. Yes, I said “hardly”. I’ll admit how hard it is to completely go off the grid from work. However, I feel so much more relaxed and rejuvenated.

We’ve Already Discussed PTO

Yes we have, but only the difference between PTO and Vacation. Not the actual process of using it. Not only for ourselves but our team members too. We want you to encourage your team members to use their time. Everyone needs rest and relaxation. If your department is stretched, try to give people a 4-day weekend or an extra 3-day weekend when applicable. If you don’t have those types of concerns, then make sure you check in with the team and find out their vacation schedules early so you can put them on the team calendar so everyone knows when people will be out. This is a great tool for everyone so they know when they need to pick up the slack or when it’s their turn to get out of Dodge!

Cashing Out Time Instead of Taking it.

Please don’t allow this to happen. All you are going to get out of it is a burnt out staff and higher turnover. When you encourage your people to take time off you are effectively telling them that you genuinely care about them and their well-being. Their job will be here when they come back because frankly, you don’t want to do it for them for an extended period of time anyway.

Vacation Season? Is There One?

Generally speaking the summertime is the busiest time for vacations because kids are out of school and it is nice. If you can spread out the vacations during this time then the rest of the team won’t always feel like there is a lack of bodies for a three month period and get burnt out waiting for their turn. Do you have on-call staff that can cover? If so, this will prevent too much overtime for the people that are still in the building. They won’t have to pick up the extra work for the vacationing team mate because you have this built in already.

Some Slack Should be Given upon Return

Now if you have a desk job you know what that inbox looks like when you return from vacation. On the first day back for your team members, set the expectation that the first day back is going to be a catch up day. Try not to schedule them for back-to-back meetings on this day. They will appreciate it and you for giving them the time to catch up on correspondence.

Wineries, Family, and Fun

For me, I spent a glorious week with my family and toured some wineries and ate some fantastic food. Notice how I put wine first! You know!

It filled my heart with joy to reconnect with my cousins and just enjoy life for a bit. After all, why do we work so hard if we can’t enjoy it now and again?!?

Stay Interviews

How Important is Employee Retention?

If you want to keep good employees in your organization you need to ask your team how they are doing. Don’t just rely on the annual performance review for your communication. You should be speaking to your team at least quarterly and I like to work with my managers and supervisors on conducting “Stay Interviews”.

What is a Stay Interview?

It’s a conversation that increases employee engagement and retention.

These structured questions are asked in a casual manner and usually take only about thirty minutes. Here are some examples:

  • What makes you get up and come to work each morning?
  • What keeps you home pressing the snooze button?
  • Do you believe your work here is meaningful?
  • Have you ever considered leaving this job for another opportunity?
  • What can I do as your manager to make your work experience better?
  • If you could change something about your job, what would it be?
  • What motivates you?
  • What might tempt you to leave?

Hey, Wait a Minute…You Asked if they Would Leave?

Yes, I did and you should too. This is not used as a means to punish people and there definitely should be NO retaliation for any answers you receive. This is an information gathering meeting so you may retain the employees that are doing the best job for your team, department, and organization. Remember, that stay interviews are conducted to help managers understand why employees stay with the company and what might cause them to leave.

Communication is a Two-way Street

Make sure you give the employee plenty of warning for this meeting so they have time to prepare and feel comfortable asking you questions during this one-on-one time. In fact, encourage them to come with questions and suggestions.

If you stay on a regular schedule with these interactions your teams will be increasingly engaged and come to expect them. That would be an incredible result! These are only a sampling of the questions that you can ask your team.

Remember these Simple Rules

Never promise something you can’t deliver. This would be a raise, bonus, or promotion. Keep asking them what you can do for them. You are bound to find one or two things you can do for them.

The second thing to remember is to keep these meetings short and sweet. Thirty minutes is the maximum. If the conversation is great and you are both communicating in ways you haven’t before then by all means don’t cut them off, just remember you have other people on your team and want to be fair and consistent.

Interview Questions that Suck…

What is your greatest weakness?

Why would you ever in 2019 want to ask a candidate what their weaknesses are? This is a punitive and antiquated question. I feel like this question needs to go hide in the closet and never come out again.

The answer you are most likely going to get from people so they don’t have to speak badly about themselves, is “If anything, I am a perfectionist”. Is that really a weakness? Candidates spin this so it looks like they’ve answered your question. I don’t see how wanting to do things extremely well in our work is a bad thing. If we were to really just lay it out there, a good answer to this question could be; “Sometimes I just hate dealing with stupid people and want them to leave me alone so I can get my job done”. Is that a weakness? I know we all have thought this same sentiment at one time or another.

Where do you see yourself in Five Years?

Wow. As an HR professional that has been in this business for a long time, I know that either people stay in their positions for ten or more years, or they leave within two or three. With the surge of millennial’s in the workplace, asking them what they think they might be doing five years from now is daunting to them. I once read an article that said instead of trying to retain millennial’s, we should invite them to come and work for us and if they decide to leave, invite them to come back when they have tested out other organizations. Guess what you’ll get back? A more experienced employee with ideas that might help you move your business two or three steps further based off the knowledge that they have gained elsewhere. On top of that, you will have shown this employee that you cared enough to let them fly free and come back to the nest when they were ready.

Tell me about yourself…

Yikes. I have been guilty of asking this question in the past. This is a very difficult question to ask candidates and even more difficult for them to answer. Most people don’t want to talk about themselves. It is awkward and at times you may be getting answers to questions that fall on the line of being illegal. Does this question affect the candidate’s ability to do the job? Will the answers they give you contribute to their ability to do the job? Most likely, not. So don’t ask this. Let’s stick to questions that are job related. Especially if these are initial screening questions. As HR professionals we want to verify that they have the necessary skills and abilities to do the job, not if they were to be any tree in the world, they’d be an Oak.

On-boarding; Make it the Best First Day of their lives.

An employees first day is one of the most important days of their tenure at your company. Better yet, the first two hours are. Those two hours are highly critical for their decision making process. The decision on whether or not they are going stay with your organization.

We could back up a bit to the recruiting process and the interactions and interviews you had with them because we know that these events are also ones that shape their decisions too. We must always be on our best behavior. Let’s just assume for the sake of this article that we already are doing this.

Day One…

My philosophy is to start the new employee later than their normal schedule will be and let them go home early the first day with a full days’ pay. You have already emailed the pertinent on-boarding paperwork to them so when they show up at 9:00 am on their first day they have all that paperwork with them filled out for you to simply double check. They should have their proper identification out and ready to present to you. Why do they have it ready? Because you emailed them a list of everything they need to bring with them on that first day. Is that snickering I hear from you? All of this preparation does come with the knowledge that sometime the new hire will not have read the email and come empty-handed. Remind them that they must bring in the proper identification to you within the three days or we are not in compliance. Don’t let this ruin the employees first day experience. We all know that we are responsible for getting that information.

Tips and Tricks

If you can have a card signed by the team and some executives ready for them that be a great welcome for them. Have their desk set up with all the basic supplies they need for their jobs and the card presented on the desk. If the position does not have a desk set up then presenting it at the end of the HR portion of their first day is fine.

The next step should be with a team leader or supervisor to give the new hire a tour of your facility. Take the time to show them the restrooms, lunch area, lockers if applicable, etc. After the tour have a special meeting to introduce them to the team with pastries and juice. A meet and greet if you will. Show the employee their desk and let them take a bio-break.

Mealtime

Lunch on the first day for the new hire should never be spent alone. We are not, or should not be too busy to schedule a special lunchtime meeting between the new employee and their manager. This is a nice way to answer get to know them personally, answer any questions they might have, and give them the rest of the days’ itinerary. A written agenda shows you took the time to prepare the days’ events and sets aside time for other for any other introductions with department heads this role with will be working with.

The End of the Day is Near

At the end of this first day, remember to give your new team member, if you can, a daily operation manual for them to go through or take home to read at their leisure. Right before they go home for the day the manager and the employee can work out the regular schedule for the rest of this first week and going forward depending on your needs at the organization. Having clear communication of expectations is the best way to start out this relationship.

This first day the new employee has met many people, learned many new things, and most likely is exhausted. Leaving early is a chance for them to regroup for the next day. (As well as knowing we have to get caught up on all the things we didn’t get to do today, its a never ending cycle).

First Impressions are Lasting

I hope this glimpse of a first day has helped you out. First impressions are lasting. Please comment with ideas you have used for on-boarding your new employees!