This week we're here to help you coach your team through conflict with a focus on cohesion.
It’s natural for humans to form teams, and it’s normal for those teams to develop specific dynamics. As a coach, a leader, it's important to influence those dynamics by setting clear goals, encouraging communication, and emphasizing ways to be productive and creative. Without effective leadership, teams can become unproductive, apathetic, and even toxic.
While not every group will automatically become unified in their goals, these teams can be coached into cohesion with the right leadership. Cohesive teams are industrious and generally drama-free. Interactions among team members are respectful, disagreements are resolved peacefully, and agreement is a regularity.
How can you support your team to become more cohesive? We suggest the following:
The first step toward a top-performing, cohesive team is believing it exists. Set your expectations and your standards high. Offer support needed to meet these expectations and hold team members accountable to you and each other. Examples of ground rules include: Everybody shows up on time and ready to work, everyone participates, all ideas are respected, and commitments are kept.
We all learn differently, communicate differently, and handle conflict differently. These differences, combined with those based on race, gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, age, life experience, and so on, can be the driver for enhanced problem solving and innovation. Still, they also can be the source of stress and discord. Rather than assuming what people are likely to believe based on their outward characteristics and backgrounds, why not introduce some team-building exercises that reveal, more objectively, who’s who? Omnia’s professional development report helps employees understand their own personality traits and motivations. The report is ideal for reducing conflict and building collaboration.
In every group, some members will be more vocal than others. These individuals might be the natural leaders worth following, or they might be those with the biggest egos who enjoy hearing themselves speak. In either case, don’t allow them to take over. The magic of diversity can’t work if true inclusion isn’t practiced. That means everyone gets a say, and each idea is given the consideration it deserves. This is not to say the team is obliged to spend hours hashing over every bad idea. However, dismissing an offering with a snort or off-handed comment is out of bounds and violates those ground rules mentioned earlier. Instead, anyone who cares to counter another’s idea should be required to defend her position with rational and clear principles.
As any sports fan knows, coaches encourage and enable others to do what they do. Coaches don’t do the work the players must do. So it is with good leadership. Getting out of the way is crucial. To bring your team to cohesion, be prepared to provide resources, inspiration, guidance, and wisdom, but don’t interfere where you’re neither needed nor wanted. At best, you’ll infantilize the team and teach dependence. At worst, you’ll create resentment and other ill feelings – all the while impeding work that would otherwise get done.
It’s common to complain that the same manager who is quick to criticize what employees do wrong is also slow to praise what employees do right. Don’t be that manager. Instead of catching your employees doing “bad,” catch them doing good – and let them know it.
Nothing can tear a team apart faster than a leader who plays favorites. It’s okay to like some people more than you like others. It’s human nature and nothing to fret over. However, allowing your personal feelings to influence how you manage to the point of treating some employees unfairly is clearly to be avoided.
Highly functional teams are extremely valuable to the companies that support them. Coach your team into cohesion (or ensure it stays there) by following this article's advice.
Do you know what motivates your employees to come to work every day? If you don’t have an answer to that question, there’s a good chance that you don’t have the workplace strategies in place to ensure that your workforce remains engaged in their tasks. Without using employee assessments of some kind, it can be difficult to determine what’s most important to your employees.
Many organizations take employee motivation and employee engagement for granted, assuming that as long as no one is complaining openly or failing to complete their work, everything is going along just fine. But a lack of motivation can take its toll on a workforce over time, contributing to declining work quality, diminished productivity, and high levels of employee turnover. If employees are only motivated to show up each day to earn their paycheck or avoid getting fired, it will be difficult for the company to find sustainable success.
When employees are highly motivated and fully committed to the organization’s mission, they play a major role in reaching its full potential. Motivated employees are more efficient and productive in their work and are more likely to make innovative contributions that deliver positive results and create new opportunities. Engaged employees communicate more effectively and take a more proactive role in their own development.
Of course, not every employee is motivated by the same thing. Some people will be amped up by a pep talk from leadership, while others will roll their eyes if they’re expected to ring a bell to celebrate wins. One of the biggest mistakes an organization can make is imposing one motivational style upon every department and employee.
That’s where employee assessments can make a huge difference. While pre-employment assessments are a useful tool for identifying whether or not a candidate possesses the core competencies needed to excel in a position, behavioral assessments also provide a more nuanced picture of how they think and what motivates them to come to work every day. Personality assessments are incredibly useful for their ability to identify career opportunities and learning tendencies.
Some of the questions an employee assessment can answer include:
Assessments provide actionable data on what makes employees tick. Rather than making broad generalizations or simply assuming that what motivates one person will work just as well for others, organizations can use assessment data to develop a strategy for motivating employees as unique individuals.
There are a few ways that the information gathered from assessments can be used to improve employee motivation.
Finding ways to empower employees to help them do their jobs more effectively is one of the best ways to motivate them. But to do that, organizations first need to know what “empowerment” means to those employees. Some people might work well in a low-information environment, where they’re free to make their own decisions and be more accountable for the outcomes. However, others will feel like they’re being set up for failure if they don’t get the right amount of support and guidance. Understanding how to strike the right balance for every employee is an essential leadership quality. Assessment data can provide a better picture of what each person feels like they need to do the best job they’re capable of doing.
It’s difficult for employees to feel motivated when they don’t have a firm idea of what they’re supposed to be doing. Unclear expectations leave employees wondering if they’re doing everything they need to do to succeed or producing work that contributes genuine value to the organization. Over time, lack of clarity can lead to frustration, disengagement, or even resentment. Employee assessments can provide organizations with a better idea of how people perceive their roles and responsibilities, making it easier to align them with reality. When people have better clarity about expectations, they’re more likely to be motivated to meet them.
No one wants to feel like they’re toiling away all alone in a dark room. Employees want to know the work they’re doing is valued and appreciated. When people have a good sense of how their efforts contribute to the organization’s success, they’re more likely to be invested in achieving those goals. But not everyone wants to be recognized in the same way. Some people are motivated primarily by monetary compensation, while others want to see their role treated with the respect they believe it deserves. Understanding the proper way to recognize performance is critically important. For example, simply paying someone more money won’t be enough to keep them if they think they’re being treated like a replaceable cog in a machine.
Building a healthy workplace culture is important for any organization, but many companies make the mistake of establishing a culture that doesn’t reflect the diversity of their workforce. An office that feels like a frat house might be a great place to work for some employees, but it probably isn’t the best environment for everyone. When people feel out of place at work, it can be difficult for them to be engaged in what they’re doing. Using employee assessments to better understand what kind of environment everyone wants to work in can help organizations build a work culture that reflects its employees' diverse needs.
For over 30 years, Omnia has helped organizations implement a data-driven approach to hiring and employee development. Our diverse array of employee assessments provide actionable information that can be used to shape development strategies that boost employee engagement and employee retention. From behavioral and cognitive assessments to custom reporting and workshops, the Omnia team has the resources to optimize your workforce fully. Contact us today to learn more about our hiring assessments and employee development solutions.
Many people have a lot to say about Millennials, especially as this generation begins to distinguish itself as the largest segment of the workforce.
If you’re like me, you likely once harbored the mistaken belief that Millennials, despite their size, could expect to be conformed by the workplace like everyone else. In other words, they’d learn to suck up the bureaucracy, the hierarchy, the authoritarianism, and so forth, just like the rest of us.
Well, maybe not.
Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace has this to say on the topic (bold mine):
“Most workers, many of whom are millennials, approach a role and a company with a highly defined set of expectations. They want their work to have meaning and purpose. They want to use their talents and strengths to do what they do best every day. They want to learn and develop. They want their job to fit their life.”
So here’s my question – is your company Millennial ready?
The Great Recession of 2008 put a hurting on many workers, including millions of Millennials entering the workforce at just the wrong time. Armed with their liberal arts degrees and their idealism, they found themselves smack dab in a highly competitive market where professional, good-paying jobs with benefits were few and far between. They became salespeople. They became nannies, baristas, and bartenders. They moved back home with their parents.
Eventually, the market got better, and Millennials did better. But the damage had been done. Traditional employers expecting to keep these workers inline using the old “command and control” style of management would find themselves, for the most part, disappointed. Millennials had learned their lessons. Employers aren’t loyal to them, and they won’t be loyal to employers. These young employees like paying their bills, and they definitely want to impact their communities, but if the working relationship doesn’t work for them, they’ll stop working for it.
Now here’s the twist. Although Millennials are working to live and not living to work, work is still vital. In fact, it’s so important that they’re prepared to keep switching jobs until they find one that fits.
Most of us want our work to be intellectually stimulating. Being bored at work, as a matter of course, is … well, boring.
In fact, millennials are no different and may be even more prone than the rest of us to eschew boredom. After all, they came of age during a time when constant stimulation – via the Internet, hand-held electronic devices, and television – was the norm. (Actually, it still is the norm.)
And guess what? Gallup reports that Millennials are the most bored generation at work. This is particularly bad news for many employers, because (as previously mentioned) Millennials want their work to have meaning. If they’re bored, most likely, they aren’t long for your workplace and/or are merely “going through the motions” until “something better” comes along.
But there’s hope.
In that same report referenced immediately above, Gallup offers the following advice for getting your company “Millennial ready.” They call these the “Big Six:”
To be sure, this is a tall order and maybe impossible for some organizations for a variety of reasons. However, organizations willing to take on the challenge of meeting Millennials where they are will be rewarded with a team of decidedly un-bored and highly productive staff.
What are the true costs of bad employee turnover?
First, a definition: Bad turnover is when productive employees leave your workplace long before they’ve exhausted their value. These employees have more to contribute to your organization, but they've decided to take those potential contributions elsewhere.
Sure, no one is irreplaceable, and you’ll likely (eventually) find another great worker, but what will that cost? In cash? Morale? Lost productivity and training expenses?
According to SHRM’s 2016 Human Capital Benchmarking Report, the average cost per hire is $4,129. Other sources estimate that number to be much higher after factoring in the time it takes to craft and place job ads, screen resumes, conduct interviews, and orient the new employee. And while it’s hard to put a dollar to interrupted processes, unfinished projects, and “reinvention of the wheel” (when current employees unwittingly retrace the steps of past employees), for certain, there is a hard dollar cost.
All of this is to say – savvy employers understand that it’s smart to take steps to keep talent content. But how? Here are our top tips:
Every A-Player knows the importance of staying marketable by keeping up skills, knowledge, and abilities. Help your employees do just that by offering tuition reimbursement, monies toward continuing education, and access to workshops, webinars, and conferences. Whenever possible, allow employees to use work time to pursue learning. Employers who insist that all “extra-curricular” learning occurs off the clock may get a reputation among their staff for being stingy and not truly committed to their personal and professional growth.
Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace declared: “Most workers, many of whom are millennials, approach a role and a company with a highly defined set of expectations.
They want their work to have meaning and purpose. They want to use their talents and strengths to do what they do best every day. They want to learn and develop.” Put another way, your A-Players are not interested in being seen as “hired hands” – expected to do as they’re told when they’re told. Instead, they expect to be seen as experts in their fields, and they want to use that expertise to impact the business in significant ways. Employers who reject this idea in favor of traditional command and control management styles won’t be able to engage or retain the most sought after employees.
Rare is the workplace in which employees can get anything done by acting alone. Instead, most of us regularly rely on each other to meet our goals. That said, it’s all too easy to ignore your coworkers’ contribution to your success when your company encourages competition and ignores backbiting, backstabbing, and other forms of aggression, all in the name of getting things done. True, we need to get things done, but A-Players (especially those who have embraced the more modern workplace values of teamwork, collaboration, and diversity) are likely to shy away from toxic, everyone-for-himself/herself work environments that don’t feel very good. Behavioral assessments are one way to test each team member’s tendency to enjoy working in teams and/or collaborative and accommodating by nature.
Nobody, least of all A Players, want to work under someone else’s thumb. Micromanagement, constricting rules (both written and unwritten), and policies that run counter to common sense are all a turn off to top talent.
It’s like Lee Iacocca said – hire smart people and then get out of their way.
Low unemployment means competition for talent is tough, yet too many employers do everything possible to drive their most productive employees out the door. The rest, however, are learning the New Rules of Employee Retention and encouraging their best and brightest to stick around for a while.
If you’re tired of hearing about Generation Y (i.e., Millennials) and what they like, don’t like, and want from work, you’re in luck! Generation Z (or whatever they’ll eventually be called) is in high school, which means they’ll be entering the workforce in just a few short years. Time to get ready!
A report by Knoll Workplace Research characterizes Generation Z (born after 1998 and counting) as:
While it may seem premature to be thinking about this stuff now (after all, Gen Z is composed of teens, pre-teens, and those not even born yet), when Gen Z first enters the workforce, they’ll be joining Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomers. That’s a big deal.
The author of "Baby Boomers Still Got Game; Where Does That Leave Gen X, Gen Y?" put it this way:
“This unprecedented generational smorgasbord is enough to turn even a Millennial's hair gray. From attitudes about work and career to vacation schedules to training and development, each generation has different needs and wants. Breaking down barriers and bridging gaps is no task for the faint of the heart, naïve, or unprepared.”
If your workplace is like most, it’s already multi-generational. That means you already have some first-hand knowledge of the various wants, needs, and expectations of the different generations. Hopefully, you’ve been paying attention and adjusting your work policies and procedures accordingly. If not, perhaps now is your chance to get a second bite of that apple.
Here then, are a few ways employers can start getting ready for Gen Z.
Develop a succession plan. People move on, and no one lives forever, so a succession plan makes sense no matter who’s coming of age. Still, many companies continue to struggle with succession planning despite the direct and indirect benefits of having one.
A 2015 study by Software Advice, an HR and recruiting technology research company, found that 62% of employees would be “significantly more engaged” if their company had a succession plan, and more than 90% of workers aged 18 to 34 said a succession plan would “improve” their level of engagement.
Now combine those stats with these findings in a recent report by Robert Half International titled “Get Ready for Generation Z” — 32% of Gen Z expects to be managing people 5 years out of college, and another 20% expect to be making their way up the corporate ladder. The bottom line? Gen Z will come into the workforce expecting to move on up or move on out. Smart employers will begin creating those career paths now.
Review your total compensation. Cash compensation has always been important, but cash is not the end all be all. Affordable medical and generous retirement benefits may be especially important to this generation that craves stability, and employers shouldn’t overlook the lure of flexibility and short commutes, either.
Ramp up employee development efforts. According to that Robert Half study mentioned earlier, Generation Z is comprised of learners who are “used to being taught.” Employers should take note of this depiction for two reasons: (1) by all reports, these workers will come to the job with a shortage of writing and “soft” skills (so they’re going to need learning, but employers can take comfort knowing they’re at least receptive to it) and (2) much like the Millennials, Generation Z will be more likely to stick with a job that provides continuous learning opportunities.
There are plenty of people who think “generational differences” are a bunch of bunk. We disagree. It’s true that not every-one born in a certain year will think and act a specific way, but there are enough commonalities to make a discussion worthwhile.
Is your company getting ready for Gen Z? Why or why not?
The data are in. Diverse teams are more innovative, productive, and better at problem-solving than homogenous teams. Is there anyone still debating the importance of diversity in the workplace? Probably not, but head knowledge doesn’t always translate into action. Why do so many employers struggle with diversity in the workplace?
Diversity in the New Millennium
Diversity in the new millennium covers differences: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, marital status, caretaker status, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, and gender identity are just for starters.
For example, in more recent years, we’ve become aware that the way people approach to conflict, process outside stimuli (i.e., extroversion versus introversion), and view the cup as half empty or half full all impact our ability to work together effectively.
By default, if not by design, then our workplaces are already diverse and becoming more diverse every day. The Pew Research Center is only one agency predicting a larger and more varied U.S. population in the years to come. These demographic shifts will naturally continue to affect the workforce. But realizing the benefits of a diverse workforce can’t happen by accident. Like any other aspect of a business, diversity must be managed.
Case in point. Since we know diverse teams perform better, managing diversity would create workplace teams, taking care that differences are represented.
Another way would be to review how talent is developed within your organization carefully. It’s natural for each of us to gravitate toward those who remind us of ourselves in some way. However, is it possible this tendency is interfering with more effective and equitable ways of grooming leadership within your organization?
Finally, are your hiring processes helping you further your diversity goals? It’s not uncommon for employers to discover that their regular means of sourcing talent (e.g., personal referrals, advertisements in familiar venues, headhunters at familiar agencies, and so on) aren’t producing qualified diverse candidates. Instead, different recruiting methods will be needed to bring about a different result.
Your Customers are Watching
Whatever you’re selling, odds are another company is selling it, too. Of course, what that means is that the way you position your product, including the corporate “face” you show to your customers is key.
As advertisers have known for quite a while now, the decision to buy and from whom is often emotional. All other things being equal (such as price, quality, and availability), products that appeal to a more diverse customer base will be more popular than those that don’t because people want to purchase from a company that makes them feel seen.
Companies that project themselves as diverse are also perceived as more fair, progressive, and innovative. Who wouldn’t want that?
Diversity versus Inclusion
That said, it’s not enough to hire a few people who are “different” and call it a day. Instead, employers must work hard at creating an inclusive environment.
Inclusion is the process of making employees feel “a part of” the organization. In inclusive companies, communication is open and transparent, and employees feel heard and respected.
Nearly all employees, regardless of personal characteristics, desired to feel included. It’s no wonder, then, that diversity without inclusion is a losing proposition leading to morale, engagement, productivity, and retention issues.
So while workplace diversity most definitely matters, what matters, even more, is that employers manage the diversity for best results.
Your employees, your customers, and your shareholders are counting on it.