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Are you promoting a positive and productive work environment for your employees? Being a generous leader doesn't mean you have to give away the farm! Every so often, I’ll encounter a stingy manager, and it gets me thinking all over again about what makes these individuals tick. Don’t they understand that inclusive, generous management leads to trust, high levels of engagement, loyalty, and increased productivity? No? What a shame!

There’s nothing to be gained by being a stingy leader. What do I mean by “stingy?” I’m so glad you asked!

Here are three things I've noticed over the years that stingy managers do:

(Please DON’T do these)

1. Low Employee Ratings

Rate everyone low or medium on performance reviews because a high rating means people are “perfect” and have nothing else to learn.


Are indifferent to the career aspirations of their staff. Stingy managers don’t offer stretch assignments that enhance the employee’s resume unless they think of it first or see the assignment as a personal “win.”

3. No compliments for you!

Hold back on compliments and positive feedback. Rather than focus on employee strengths, they focus on employee deficits that need “fixing.”

What’s behind all this? It depends. Some managers fear that being “too nice” will make them look “weak” and encourage employees to take advantage. We all know that “nice” doesn’t equate to generous, but the concepts are often confused.  While it's true that a boss does not need to be well-liked to be productive, the best, at a minimum, carry the respect of their teams.

Other managers believe there’s no reason to be generous. Generosity is simply irrelevant. Employees come to work, do the job, and get a paycheck and benefits in return. What else is needed?

And then there are the truly troubled. These managers enjoy deliberately withholding positivity because they’re mean. They might also believe that the only way to build themselves up is to make others look bad, an easy way to stand out that comes at their employees' expense. There aren’t too many of these, thank goodness. If you happen to work for one, don’t expect any support. Stingy managers are notoriously bad at supervising others. Just earn what you can while learning what you can and get the heck out.

How to be a More Generous Leader

How can you learn to be a more generous manager? Self-awareness is a great start! Knowing your personal leadership style and the individuals' motivators/demotivators on your team is an education worth pursuing. Generous managers have the potential to inspire intense loyalty, which, in turn, causes their staff to work “above and beyond” regularly. Tap into this loyalty by learning how to communicate with all the different personalities on your team effectively.

And not to mention -- generous management is a humanitarian, sustainable way to lead. Why wouldn’t a manager want to do whatever they could to help an employee reach their career aspirations? It feels great to do that! And in truth, a high-performing team can only make a leader look good. Finally, keep in mind that today’s progressive manager is more of a coach and mentor than a “boss.” Yes, the buck needs to stop somewhere, and there’s a time to pull rank, but generally, that’s not every minute of the day. In fact, in the modern workplace, rank pulling is for special occasions only.

(And while we’re on the topic, don’t mistake genuine, generous management for the favoritism that permeates authoritarian cultures. Giving out goodies like raises, promotions, flexible schedules, plum assignments, and extra perks to the office favorite (while ignoring the needs of other employees) is not what we mean by “generous management.” There’s nothing generous about misusing company resources toward a selfish end.)

But back to the original question – how can you be more generous in your management?  Simply put...practice those behaviors that stingy managers avoid:

(Please DO these)

1. Don’t hold back the praise.

If an employee does something worthy of a thank you (or better), say so. Whether it’s public praise or a quiet email, everyone likes to hear it.

2. Don’t make employees wait to receive tangible rewards.

If you need someone to step up permanently, don’t give them the work without the raise, elevated job title, etc., until they prove they’re “worthy” of it. You asked them to do the work, and that means you think they’re worthy already. Reward them in kind and stop being so stingy. You couldn’t get away with that behavior with an outside consultant. Why do it with someone who’s already on your team?

3. DO be a mentor.

Help your employees get to the next level. There doesn’t always have to be a direct line between the next job and this one for you to offer support, resources, and encouragement. And remember, this attention will pay off in increased retention and loyalty.

If I were to sum all this up in one word, that word would be “advocacy.” Unfortunately, that’s a scary word for some managers who believe their role is to be as neutral as possible. Not so. Neutrality has its place, of course, but advocating for your staff to receive what they need to (1) do their jobs and (2) develop as professionals is definitely within the job description of the generous manager!

Soon, the latest wave of eager, book-schooled graduates will be crashing onto your industry’s shores. With eyes focused on their organization’s long-term success, decision-makers and strategists have already determined which departments can take on fresh, inexperienced talent and which simply cannot. Making room for enthusiastic new hires often compels managers to implement changes to their workplace; it also propels many to take an active role in growing the business by promoting their existing employee superstars.


How readily can your staff accommodate new situations, new members, new business practices? When considering an employee for promotion, be sure the person is productive and ready to take on leadership responsibilities. Some people are great at what they do, but they have no real desire to move into leadership. They set modest personal goals and like working with very little pressure.

People like this are often content performing the same job year after year or want to grow as individual contributors versus managers. They’re loyal, diligent workers that are often also quite accommodating. They may heartily agree to take on a promotion only because you want them to. The result: an unduly stressed, unmotivated, unhappy employee – disastrous in a role where they are supposed to motivate and engage others.

You may come to the disturbing realization that your superstar teller is now ineffective. It’s important to know not only your team’s abilities but also their career goals. Don’t make the mistake of imposing managerial career objectives on someone who does not have them. Fill positions of authority with people who are enterprising, ambitious, assertive, and self-confident.

Remember, promoting a great person into the wrong job will create stress, confrontations, confusion, worry, and resentment. Make sure you understand your needs and analyze your employees to help ensure a good mutual fit.

Succession Plans

Unexpected situations can arise and grow beyond our control. A health issue or family crisis can erupt. A new interest or sudden desire to cast aside business pressures and pursue long-held personal dreams has compelled countless high-level executives and managers to do what they never thought they would do: step down from their job. Not to mention the wave of managerial staff reaching retirement age and fully intend to retire. Some businesses experience a smooth, cost-effective transition of power by implementing their existing succession plan. Others, too often, will face pandemonium and lost money because there is no such plan in place.

What are the criteria for positions of leadership in your organization? Does your current team meet them?

Preserving the good name, solid reputation, and positive image of your credit union is essential. It is critical to provide your customers and your staff with an ongoing sense of confidence about your organization's future regardless of who is at the helm.

Your short-term goal should be to develop a pool of leaders. Find workers who show the potential to make independent decisions, act on their own behalf, and take action. Doing so, however, can be more difficult than it seems.

For example, an employee who is openly enthusiastic, talkative, and comfortable in the spotlight might seem like a good choice to lead others. Be careful! The leadership ability you think you see may really be social assertiveness, an ability to strut before an audience. Make sure there are other signs of determination, ambition, and resolve. People whose greatest strength is their social savvy often talk a bigger game than they can actually play.

The effects of poor leadership can be widespread, from loss of customers to low morale. The opportunity to avoid these mishaps is yours. Know your needs, avoid guessing, and learn your staff's work habits, objectives, and personalities. The Omnia Profile, a top employee behavioral assessment tool, can easily and objectively highlight your existing staff and new hires' leadership strengths, challenges, and potential.

Your credit union's future is in your hands and depends on the strategies you have in place today. There is no turning back, no second chance, and no margin for error!

The world needs good leaders, that’s a fact. Look around. Whether in the political arena, the spiritual arena, or the workplace, people need leaders to provide direction, guidance, resources, and inspiration.

Still, raising a leader in your organization is easier said than done. A 2015 report from Gallup posited that only 1 in 10 individuals actually have what it takes to manage. Repeat: 1 in 10. If you’re a manager, you might take objection to that statistic—until you consider your own manager, or the manager down the hall or around the corner, that is.

Fortunately, none of that means you can’t transition your chosen employee into a dynamic, effective leader. And like we said, the world needs good leaders. So what are you waiting for? Here are three tips to get you started.

Tip#1. Recognize that Leaders Are First Born and Then Made

Whether you agree or disagree with the Gallup report, you have to admit that not everyone is suited to be a leader. Great leaders are patient, assertive, organized, and skilled at communication, among other things. While all of these qualities can be learned, there are limitations. Consider the following:

Putting it all together then, before you decide to transition an employee into leadership, make sure you’ve targeted an employee who’s demonstrated he/she has the natural ability for the job. Ideally, this individual has a history of using informal power effectively and has had his/her natural tendencies verified through a reliable behavioral assessment, such as the Omnia Profile. Testing employees identified as potential future leaders is a smart way to ensure a healthy return on your investment.

Tip #2. Create a Culture Where Good Leadership Can Flourish

Your efforts to transition an employee to a leader will be hampered without a solid foundation. For example:

Tip #3. Finally, Make Sure Your Employee Wants to Lead—and For the Right Reasons

As we’ve already noted, not everyone is suited to leadership. It’s equally true that not everyone wants to lead, but few are willing to forgo a promotion if that’s the only option. As the employer making these decisions, you need to be aware of your employee’s motivation to lead and take pains to ensure he/she truly wants what you're offering. You’ll also want to steer clear of employees attracted to leadership because they desire power but not the responsibility that comes with it.

It’s the holidays, and it won’t be long before the sense of urgency your employees normally demonstrate takes a marked nosedive.

It’s only natural. Right on cue with the holiday parties, company-sponsored gift exchanges, and daily influx of seasonal treats most employees will start to slow down as they look forward to time away from work.

As the manager, how do you handle your employees’ requests for time off? Regardless of the holidays, you’re still responsible for seeing that work gets done, and some departments—such as Finance and HR—will experience workload increases as they scramble to meet year-end deadlines even while preparing for the year to come.

But employees have been known to get grumpy if not downright hostile when they can’t use “their” time. How should you decide who gets to leave and who must stay?

Here are a few suggestions.

Develop a System and Stick with It

Many companies have rules about how much notice employees need to give when requesting time off, but others leave these decisions to the manager's discretion. If that’s the case at your company, you’ll do well to develop your own system (whether based on seniority; first come, first served; or some other parameter), communicate it to your staff, and stick with it.

Be a Facilitator

A well-functioning team is likely capable of organizing itself around the issue of holiday employee coverage, so let your employees give it a shot. Be available to help facilitate any sticky areas, of course, but if Sue is okay covering the office so that Marty can fly home to be with family (even though Marty didn’t give the customary notice because his plans only came together at the last minute) let her. 

Be Flexible

The line between work and home has all but disappeared over the last few years, especially as smartphones have gotten more popular, and checking email has become a national obsession. If work from home would allow your employees to meet personal and work obligations, consider allowing it—ditto for a temporary part-time schedule or flexible hours. 

Plan for a Slow Down

If at all possible, avoid assigning big projects or deadline-driven work as the holidays approach. You’ll be less frustrated (and so will your employees) if you avoid the possibility of certain conflicts even occurring.

Offer Special Incentives

If you can afford it, and it makes sense for your business, offer special incentives to entice employees to work when they otherwise wouldn’t. Special incentives could include spot bonuses, differential pay, or increased paid leave to be used at a later date.

Be Nice

Much has been written about the “nice” boss who can’t get the job done because he cares too much about being liked, but let’s face it—no one wants to work with a jerk! What’s more, employees will go out of their way to accommodate a boss they like and respect. Remember that the next time you’re tempted to fret the schedule.

And, finally, when all else fails …

Let It Go

If your department can survive on less than a skeleton crew, do yourself a favor and decide that stressing about who won’t be around as the year comes to a close is a worthless waste of energy. The holidays are a once-a-year event, and no matter how much everyone does, there will always be more work! So, for these few weeks, give in to the reduced pace as you wish your staff, “Happy Holidays!” Come January; it’ll be back to business as usual.
It’s understandable if employee leave requests are beginning to turn you into a bit of a Scrooge, but there’s no reason to lose your holiday spirit! Instead, follow our tips for managing employee absences, and then go ahead and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season.

What are your tips for managing employee absences during the holidays?

When Accounting Principles surveyed more than 500 US HR and hiring managers, two-thirds said their company plans to give holiday bonuses this year, with the average amount expected to be $858.

Eighty-one percent of those same HR and hiring managers indicated employees could increase their chances of getting a holiday bonus by:

The Holiday Bonus: A Mixed-Signal?

Everyone knows the holidays are a time of gift-giving. Merriam Webster defines “gift” as “something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.”

When you give your employees a “holiday bonus” (and especially if all bonuses are the same or essentially the same, i.e.,  a week’s pay for everyone), your employees wouldn’t be wrong to assume the bonus is a gift and completely unrelated to merit.

In "What Should I Give for a Holiday Bonus?" retired CEO Richard Hayman suggests small business owners consider forgoing the holiday bonus entirely. “If it's a holiday event, then it's expected. Once you're on that treadmill, you can't get off. Business has good years and bad years. What if there is no money to go around or they don't deserve it, or we missed our goals?”

So should you give that employee a (holiday) bonus?

Sure, so long as your intent is to give a gift that requires nothing from the receiver. Otherwise, you may be sending mixed signals while setting a precedent that’ll hamstring your business in the future.

What about Merit-Based Performance Bonuses?

Performance bonuses are an important part of your total compensation package, and, if conceived and executed properly, they are good for motivating and retaining employees.

Unfortunately, however, many programs don’t bring about the intended result. According to a recent survey by Tower’s Watson, 3 in 10 companies plan to give bonuses to employees who didn't meet goal. To quote Bloomberg Business, “companies that differentiate give their lowest performers about 65 percent of the target payout, on average.”

Most of these employees (56%) met expectations but didn’t “exceed” or “far exceed” them. That’s not too bad, but 3% flat out failed to meet expectations, and another 8% only partly met them.

And here’s the thing—a performance incentive only works when given to reward performance the employer actually wants to encourage.

So again, should you give that employee a (merit-based) bonus?

Well, that depends. Is your goal to reward good employee performance, and have they given good performance? Then absolutely! If not, then maybe the answer is no. At the very least, you’ll want to think twice about the behavior you’re actually encouraging versus the behavior you intended to encourage.

Final Words

Pay for performance has become a compensation buzz word, and bonuses are a big part of many incentive plans.

There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, and bonuses can be particularly effective in spurring certain desired outcomes, such as sales outcomes.

On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional cash gift that’s unrelated to merit, especially for those employees who’ve endured stagnant wages and reduced benefits during the past six years.

Ultimately, however, whether you decide to offer a bonus and what kind is completely dependent on your resources and your goals. Whatever your choice, though, be clear in your intention for the best result.

Who doesn’t like a party? Parties are fun! There’s music, food, laughter, and great conversation. No wonder most everyone enjoys a good party.

Your office holiday party, which typically occurs during work hours, is double the fun. Instead of being paid to work, employees are being paid to not work. How cool is that? Still, there are a few things your employees would appreciate more than a holiday party. Read on for the top 5.

A Real Vacation

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 76 percent of professionals in private industry receive some paid vacation. And yet, stories about overworked Americans abound.

The Great Recession is to blame for some of this. Consider that many employees are still doing jobs previously performed by two people or more.

Technology is another culprit. Smartphones ensure that we’re plugged in virtually 24/7. We regularly send, receive, and respond to email messages off the clock. We manage to stay in touch but at the cost of precious downtime.

The bottom line? Your employees would like real time away from work without having to think about who needs what at the office or whether you’ll be displeased at the inconvenience of their absence. So, if you’re one of those managers with a reputation for piling it on and then looking sideways at your employees when they announce plans to be elsewhere, consider the costs, please. This tactic may work in the short term, but in the long term it’ll lead to burnout, workplace stress, resentment, reduced productivity, and lower quality. 

A Holiday Bonus

A recent poll of more than 500 US HR and hiring managers revealed that two thirds of companies plan to give holiday bonuses this year, with the average amount expected to be $858.

As a sign of employer gratitude, nothing says “thanks” quite like cash, and employees always take notice when a company puts its money where its mouth is.

Decent Management

Good managers are so hard to come by, and they’re so very needed. If you’ve been hanging onto leaders who micromanage, create bottlenecks, or even abuse their staff, you’re doing your company a great disservice. Either coach these managers to greater performance or let them go. An annual holiday party can’t make up for the indignity of daily bad management. 


Trust is an essential quality for any healthy relationship and that includes work relationships. Your employees will do their best work when they believe they have your confidence. Every employee needs room to take some risks and make some mistakes, so don’t hesitate to give your staff space to do things their way. It’s like they say: The best managers hire good people and then get out of their way.


Talented employees don’t need their hands held, but most welcome a little attention every now and again.

In general, employees like to know they’re doing what you want to the standard you want and that their work is making a positive impact on the company. That’s why managers who provide regular performance feedback and are otherwise available to give guidance and support without micromanaging are considered golden by their staff.

In Summary …

Holiday parties are a positive expression of a company’s appreciation of staff, and most employees enjoy these celebrations very much.

That said, nothing makes an employee smile quite like cash, and more important, a party (no matter how fabulous) can’t compensate for a bad manager, a lack of trust, or a lack of regular and constructive feedback.

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