Category Archives: Communication
Generations ago the typical work week as Monday through Friday from 9am until 5pm. Needless to say that model rarely if ever exists today.
Most workplace environs run beyond the old school work week. Banks have been open Saturday mornings for many years. The service industries of retail and restaurant have grown past blue law Sundays and even run 24 hour operations (such as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart). The trucking industry has been on the go around the clock for decades. Healthcare facilities need 24 hour care workers, and electrical workers need to be on call for many hours at a time due to storms.
And thinking more long term, many companies span time zones and countries, making a leader’s task of connecting with their people more challenging than ever before.
In order to be an effective leader, you cannot stay within the confines of a work timeframe that is comfortable for you, especially when your people look up to you. The best leaders find ways to reach out and impact their teams during times that it is not convenient for themselves, in order to tie together the people who work in these expanded time workplaces.
Here are some real-life examples of how effective leaders work across today’s round-the-clock and/or round-the-globe organizations:
- They know their job is to serve their employees and put personal convenience aside for that end.
- They use the old and still effective management-by-walking-around method to physically be at those places or shifts to connect with those teams.
- They set aside some of their work for off-hours and ensure their working day is in support of the mission-critical actions of the organization.
- They show up unexpectedly on a day off or holiday to lend their support.
- These leaders work long days to connect with second shift or come in extra early to meet with the 3rd shift and break down those silos.
- The best leaders will often travel to remote locations to ensure culture permeate the local area and that they feel connected to the homebase.
- They use technology like Zoom, Skype, and other online platforms to host meetings and live discussions.
- They make those team building conference or person-to-person calls at 2 am to reach that team across the globe.
- They don’t see their role as having arrived and not needing to put for the extra effort. They see their role as having greater scope and responsibility and needing to extend themselves even further for the organization to succeed.
If you’re company extends across shifts or time zones, you have opportunity today like never before to effect a winning culture and connect with your people. Leaders will make the effort, managers and supervisors will not.
Many leaders have either one of three approaches to influence people to perform certain behaviors.
They either Assume, Ask, or Affirm. And based on how they use these can yield a variety of differing results from their people.
Approaches that Assume will either:
- Assume ill intent or poor performance
- Observe without all the facts
- Believe once told the training is complete
- Can be presumptuous
- Closely associate with top-down, “do as I tell you” managing styles
- Deter trust form your people
- Alienate engagement and connection
Some creative ways to use Positive Assumption:
- Assume good intent
- Trust people want to generally do a good job
- Know that people are willing to learn and grow
- Believe your people want to share the vision
Asking approaches vary in these ways:
- Asking to find fault
- Coupling with a condescending or condemning tone
- Impersonal if phrased incorrectly
- Puts people on the defensive
- Hides true motives of the question
An effective leader Asks in these ways:
- Prefaces questions with reasons and transparency
- Asks as a favor, not a command
- Inquires for understanding and facts, not dirt
- Asks to fill a need, not carry out a duty
The Affirming leadership approach has these challenges:
- Being too nice and not talking straight
- Leading people to not face reality of course correction
- Can give false sense of security and lead to complacency for entire teams and organizations
It’s best to couple the Affirming approach in the following ways:
- Trusting in the right values and vision that align with the core
- Believing in the skills and abilities of the individual(s)
- Confirm shared vision and goals
- Recognize clear understanding so all parties on the same page
- Lead others to the feeling of accomplishment during the process
While there are many camps that prefer one way or the other, it all comes down to approach and dynamics from the leader. Any style, managed poorly, can have an adverse effect. But with the right understanding of your people and how to influence up, you can use virtually any approach to a positive effect while keeping intact the mutual respect and drive for your teams.
A recent workplace training study over the last year resulted in an astonishing fact:
Between 79-80% or workplaces spent less than $1000 in training on their employees
That’s a staggering amount and even more when you break it down further:
- Given a median hourly rate of $22, this equates to 45 hours of training
- 45 hours is just barley the first week of work for a full-time employee
- This is an annual figure, meaning onboarded staff from prior years barely get 1 hour of training and development a week
- Weekly, the average employee gets less than $20 of training spent on them to develop skills or increase productivity
It’s no wonder that lack of adequate training, development of skills, and creation of new challenges are a consistent metric that appears in most every survey of why employees leave.
Leaders and organizations can do better than this. So as to get our mental acuity focused into the realm of increasing training competency, here is a checklist of items you’ll want to consider in making your training programs effective to better develop your staff and organization.
- Onboarding with Clear Expectations.
- Onboarding with a Mentor, Big Sister/Brother
- Mini-boot camp (or training camp) training (any title will do)
- Yearly skills calibration
- Micro-learning accessibility
- Tailor training methods to meet employees needs, not company’s (or the trainer’s)
- Thread Culture, Values, Vision through every fabric of training (yes, the finance team too!!)
- Subject ALL staff, from hourly to C-level – to the exact same training modules and sessions
- Mix up remote digital training with in-person small groups
- Find each person’s needs and match to a training plan
- Train every day (athletes and orchestras do it!)
- Make training a bigger budget line item – it does ensure a solid ROI if done right
- Leadership must by in
- Training must be a culture, not a counter-culture
- Always work to improve content, engagement, and relevancy
- Ask trainees for feedback personally, not through a survey
- If you do ask for feedback through a survey (because some of you will), leave open ended comment boxes so employees aren’t penned into a few irrelevant answers that don’t allow them honest feedback
- Infuse fun and creativity
- Encourage training credit in extra-curricular training that augments and dovetails into the work (thru Lynda.com, local colleges, online sessions, etc)
- Reinforce continually to keep skills sharp throughout their career
- Have a monthly training focus throughout the entire organization to rally around a core value (customer service, safety, communication, integrity, etc)
- Combine learning styles for maximum impact and reach
- Include your hourly staff in teaching to build there skills and grow future teachers, trainers, subject matter experts, leaders
- Don’t make it boring – mix it up with breaks, change seat locations, content structure to avoid boredom and increase retention
These are just a few of the many ways great companies get proper training done. It’s easy – if you’re willing to make it happen. And it reaps benefits – if you execute it correctly.
If you have other methods of training that you’d like to include, please list them below!!