We couldn't help it, we had to have ONE listicle to end the year. What better week than between Christmas and New Year's? I'm sure many of us are wrapping up projects, finalizing details, and checking our to-do lists so frequently even Santa would be impressed. If you are lucky, you may be in that easy limbo of having work wrapped up and you are taking a breath. Whatever your situation, we hope you’ll take a break with us and catch up on the topics that kept people coming back. Maybe you've visited these already, or perhaps they're new to you. Either way, these articles are worth your time and can help you gear up for the new year!
In the current times, you may have had to furlough or lay off employees. Now that you're able to hire again, you're considering a rehire. You find yourself weighing the pros and cons of bringing previous employees back to your team. Will this decision be a good move, or is it better to start again?
Join us as we uncover the pros and cons of rehiring and offer food for thought as you thumb through applications.
While it's unlikely you'll ever actually look forward to conducting a review, they're a necessary part of the job that, if done correctly, can drive high performance. Part of an effective onboarding process is providing honest, actionable feedback. Without feedback, employees don't know whether they're doing a good job or how they could do a better job. According to a recent survey, 32 percent of employees must wait more than three months to get feedback from their manager. However, 96 percent felt that regular feedback was helpful. We offer a painless way to do just that.
Suppose you work for an aggressive personality type. In that case, you probably need answers and solutions to help you get through the day. Why does your boss do what he does? Why is she so difficult? Is there an effective way to work with someone who can never be wrong? What if your aggressive manager is also hypersensitive to all criticism? We answer these questions and more in the article.
Soft skills were the MVP of the year. And we understand why! An employee's soft skills can make or break their job performance, especially in leadership positions. Technical or "hard" skills are undoubtedly essential. However, having good soft skills — characteristics like agreeableness, empathy, the ability to influence and listen, likeability, and the ability to resolve conflict — can impact far more than the individuals' daily tasks. Measuring soft skills will help determine whether an employee can enlist the necessary cooperation and buy-in from peers, direct reports, leadership, clients, and vendors. If your new hire will engage with anyone, it's good to know which skills are innate and which may need coaching.
You may be a computer whiz, a scientific genius, or a Master of Mathematical Theories. However, to be successful, you need more than just expertise in your given specialty. You might need to hone your soft skills. Soft skills are broadly classified as a combination of personality traits, behaviors, and social attitudes that allow people to communicate effectively, collaborate, and successfully manage conflict. People with good soft skills tend to have strong situational awareness and emotional intelligence to navigate challenging work environments while still producing positive results. This is especially important for leadership positions. Good leadership is about managing people and directing their efforts toward the desired outcome, more so than applying specific technical skills.
So, there you have it. 2020 was a year of questions and answers, challenges, and solutions. We all had adjustments to make. Some people started new jobs, some may soon return to previous ones, and still others are deciding what’s next. Most of us were handling new and unusual stressors, and because we're human, we didn't always get it right. And if there was one thing that made a difference across the board, it was leadership's ability to leverage their soft skills.
In the current times, you may have had to furlough or lay off employees. Now that you’re able to hire again you’re considering a rehire. You find yourself weighing the pros and cons of bringing previous employees back to your team. Will this decision be a good move, or is it better to start again?
The fact is, it depends on the specific person you’re reconsidering, the position in question, the culture of your company, and the nature of the former employee’s departure the first time around. Of course, the employee must meet any rehire eligibility requirements, which usually exclude dismissal for cause or violation of ethical or behavioral conduct rules.
The good news is, it is entirely possible for the rehire process to offer a solution where everyone benefits. While HR directors and managers once considered rehiring a former employee to be a bad idea, times are unprecedented and have changed more than anyone could foresee. Many HR directors and hiring managers come to see the potential benefits of rehiring former employees.
If employees see their employer is actively working to bring back talented people, it can have a positive effect on morale and engagement, especially if the rehire was well-liked and respected. Rehiring high-performing and high-potential staff can also bring productive teams back together and lay a solid foundation for trust and confidence.
Unless the employee has been gone for a long time, it is unlikely that they will need to receive much in the way of retraining. This not only saves time when it comes to onboarding costs but also allows you to slot the rehire employee into their position with minimal disruption. Even if some training and development are needed to support them in a new role, the time and cost involved should be much less than training an outsider. Previous assessment records and development plans might even be available as well.
Another advantage of hiring past employees is that there are few, if any, recruiting costs. Since the person already has a track record within the organization, employers have a good idea of what the employee can do so they don’t have to find someone new and recruit them. Rehiring past employees saves on the frustration of trying out a new employee and finding they’re simply not what they seemed.
Another advantage of rehiring employees is that they already know the procedures and the culture within the business. Compared with a fresh hire, they have the advantage of knowing what goes on during meetings, how workflow is handled, and how performance is assessed. They also know why some employees or managers do one thing one way and why others do it another way. The procedures are familiar, enabling them to get up and running fast, which is a big benefit to your company.
Yet another benefit of rehiring employees is that they will be more engaged and committed to the organization upon their return. Many companies find that these employees show a more positive attitude after rehiring. In most cases, that’s because they’ve seen how other companies run and worked with other people, which has given them a chance to know a good thing when they see it. These employees tend to be more appreciative of the company they work for and the team members they work with. They also bring a new perspective with them that could lead to significant changes in an organization.
On the other hand, rehiring isn’t always a great idea. There are a few key reasons why sometimes it doesn’t make sense to bring a former employee back into the fold.
While performance is obviously important, if an employee’s behavior or personality caused friction within a team or made other employees unhappy, chances are good that you’re better off without them. There’s a popular adage that people don’t quit jobs, they quit managers. Bringing back someone who might adversely affect retention or create a toxic work environment is just asking for trouble.
There are many practical reasons why it makes sense to rehire a former employee, but just because it will be cheaper and faster doesn’t mean they’re the best choice to fill a position. If a new person is a better long-term hire for the organization, the added challenge of bringing them in might be worth it. No one wants to miss out on a future high-performer just because they didn’t want to bother with onboarding them.
Organizations can change dramatically in a short period of time. There’s a good chance that a previous employee could be walking back into a work situation that isn’t at all like the one they left. That would negate many of the benefits of rehiring an employee, so you should always consider how much things have changed when considering bringing someone back into the fold.
If you choose to hire a former employee, clearly communicate to your existing team your reasons for doing so. Also, brief the returning employee on the company’s current situation and set your expectations. If the person originally left for a specific reason, be sure that the situation has been addressed to avoid losing them a second time around. And finally, make sure to follow up regularly with the returning employee to make sure they are adjusting well.
Every organization wants effective, engaged employees. In fact, employees want to feel engaged and effective in their workplace. How does one keep employees engaged and identify and address issues before they become real problems?
As you've probably experienced, employees are more likely to leave an organization when they don’t feel engaged, and they’re not comfortable performing their job. That’s understandable because disengaged workers don’t feel like a part of the organization, which causes a breakdown in communication and productivity beyond one employee.
Another common concern is if an employee finds their job too difficult to perform, they won’t be confident in their abilities, and will likely be fearful that they could be disciplined, demoted, or even fired for poor job performance issues, erodes productivity further.
However, there is good news.
When managers provide effective employee mentoring, training, and coaching, employees become inspired, motivated, and confident. It’s an obvious win-win! And it doesn't have to be difficult to get started.
According to the Harvard Business Review, coaching helps employees and companies achieve the following: Overcome performance problems; Strengthen employee skills; Boost productivity levels; Develop talent; Make better use of resources; Improve retention.
Overcome performance problems – By identifying areas that need improvement and providing training (including demos, one-on-one or team practice presentations, and playbooks), managers can help employees improve job performance.
Strengthen employee skills – Coaching provides an opportunity for employees to learn valuable skills that will make them more comfortable performing their jobs. It also enables to coach to understand which skills may need to be improved or refreshed and enables the coach to develop a continuing education plan.
Boost productivity levels - Once employees become more efficient and proficient in performing tasks, they can assume more responsibilities, which increases their value to the organization. Regular status updates and one-on-ones can alert the coach to new areas of interest or problems to maintain momentum.
Develop talent – Creating a pool of competent employees makes them more confident to seek leadership positions. It also strengthens internal communication and bonds within teams to ensure their working together toward common goals.
Make better use of resources – Informal coaching is less expensive than formal training sessions. It can also be more valuable as it's more personal and strengthens employees' feeling of "belonging" in the company culture.
Improve retention – Coaching encourages employees are more confident and feel more engaged. They’ve developed skills that can be used in career advancement, feel that their manager and the company support them, and experience pride and satisfaction in being competent to perform their job. As a result, they are more likely to be loyal to the company.
For coaching to be effective, you need a plan. It should include a well-thought-out process that fits the behavioral insights of your employee. That's where assessments come in.
When you understand what an employee needs to improve upon and what they want to accomplish, it's a lot easier to coach. Fortunately, development assessments can provide actionable data detailing what motivates employees to learn, what gaps exist in their natural aptitudes, and what learning and coaching formats are most effective for them. This allows you to build a customized development process for each employee that sets them up for learning success.
Behavioral and cultural fit assessments are also valuable for telling you what environments and situations are the best matches for employees. This can be especially valuable when putting new teams together because it can head off potential conflict sources and help put people in the roles where they’re most likely to be successful. The ability to provide insightful information makes these assessments critical to successful employee retention strategies.
According to Scott Williams of the Raj Soin College of Business at Wright State University, there are several steps included in effective coaching:
1. Put the employee at ease. This is a vital first step in the coaching session, especially if the coaching results from poor performance.
2. Discover what the employee already knows. Once determined, this can serve as a foundation for new information and correct any erroneous data that the employee may have.
3. Present information or demonstrate work methods.
4. Repeat the presentation of information or demonstrate the work methods again. Repetition increases the chances of understanding and retaining the information.
5. Evaluate learning. Test the employee to determine if they understand the information that has been presented or if they can perform the skill as demonstrated.
6. Provide feedback. Let the employee know if they have successfully learned what was presented. If not, go over what still needs some work.
7. Correct. Provide or demonstrate the correct answers or procedure again.
8. Evaluate job performance. Periodically check to see if they are correctly implementing the knowledge or methods. Smith recommends gradually increasing the time frame for checking on the employee, with the eventual goal for the employee to monitor their own performance.
9. Reward. The employee should be praised or given some other reward for mastering the area that required coaching.
Coaching is not the same as counseling. Wright says that “can’t do” problems require coaching, while “won’t do” problems require counseling. Won’t do problems refer to such issues as the employee’s attitude or fears that may be preventing them from performing their task. In this case, counseling is the first step that must be taken to resolve the won’t do issues first before providing coaching to the employee.
*Updated from a 4/22/15 post.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to force more employers to shift to remote working arrangements, it’s more important than ever for managers to monitor employee performance. While a remote workplace can certainly be quite effective, the lack of direct supervision can sometimes cause accountability to fall by the wayside. This is especially true if employees aren’t accustomed to working in a remote environment.
However, monitoring performance is important, no matter where employees are located. When someone begins to fall short of expectations, it can be hard to get them back on track without creating a confrontational situation.
When things aren’t going great with a new (or even a seasoned) employee, it may not be fun to address their performance problem, but letting it slide isn’t doing them or you any favors. There are times when it is clear that you, as a manager, need to step in whether you’re dealing with a remote employee or someone working on-site.
Sometimes it might be a matter of behavior and accountability. Your star performer might be producing good work. Still, if she’s consistently showing up late and blowing off her manager to do her own thing, other employees might start getting the idea that if the rules don’t apply to her, they shouldn’t apply to them either when the stakes go up a level during a crisis, however, attention to detail matters. If everyone on the team isn’t doing their job to the best of their ability, producing quality deliverables will prove rather difficult.
The same principle applies whether people are working remotely or in the office. If a few employees aren’t pulling their weight and meeting expectations, everyone else is left picking up the slack or may even decide that they don’t need to hold themselves accountable either. When performance starts to slip, it can be difficult for everyone to “flip the switch” when they need to do more than “get by.” It can also lead to widespread resentment and frustration.
Of course, in other cases, an underperforming employee becomes a detriment to the team. Maybe they’re unable to meet quality standards or can’t seem to make it to work on time every day. Whatever the case, when someone isn’t able to meet expectations, it’s up to their manager to find a way to address the issue quickly and effectively.
Sometimes it just takes a candid conversation to get somebody back on the right path. In other cases, they may need to be put on a performance improvement plan or be reassigned to another set of tasks that are more suited to their skills. If none of these efforts prove effective, however, leaders must then make the difficult decision to part ways with an employee who cannot consistently meet expectations.
Regardless of the work situation, the sooner you address the issue, the sooner it can be resolved. Remember, there should be no unpleasant surprises on an annual performance review. The employee should already know how he or she is doing before then. Whether they’re working remotely or on-site, you should regularly communicate expectations to employees so they have a sense of how well they’re doing and where they need to make improvements.
Documentation is important here because it provides both guidance for the employee and a record of what actions were taken to improve performance. If an employee is still feeling unclear about what is expected of them, they can refer to a record of what was discussed in meetings and what action items were put in place to help them improve. Having this documentation makes addressing performance more productive and less stressful or emotional. It will also prove critical if disciplinary action needs to be taken, up to and including dismissal.
Explain the goal or standard the person was expected to meet and discuss the action that actually occurred. The difference between the two can speak for itself.
If you tend to err on the “too nice” side, make sure you discuss the entirety of the problem. You don’t want the performer leaving your office thinking you just had a friendly gab session. But, make sure you aren’t making things sound worse than they are. That can hurt your credibility.
You may be upset or offended or disappointed that the person is not meeting expectations, but your feelings are not the reason for the meeting: the person’s performance (or lack of performance) is. If you need to throw a mini-tantrum before or after in private, go for it! Then pull yourself together and move on.
If someone is falling short of key indicators, make sure the goals are realistic given the person’s training and time on the job. Is there a learning curve you need to respect? You may need to offer additional coaching and mentoring.
You’ve pointed out the problem, now give the person the steps to fix it. What specifically do you need to see to know the issue is improving? Give clearly defined actions and set a follow-up date (or dates).
It’s worth stressing this point once again. Write it down. Did you write it down? Make sure you wrote it down. Did we mention writing it down? Check with your HR department for any rules regarding performance documentation. Also, write it down.
Check-in when you said you were going to and (if necessary) take the action you said you were going to take. It’s not enough to lay out solutions and hope things improve. You need to follow up with the employee to make sure they’re taking the necessary steps to improve performance.
Whether you’re managing a team remotely or working in a traditional on-site workplace, it’s important to evaluate whether your team members are meeting expectations constantly. Performance issues rarely get better on their own, which means it falls to you to step up as a leader and provide the feedback and guidance people need to understand what’s expected of them and how they can get better.
Regardless of what industry you’re looking at, there are plenty of people who have to deal with aggressive managers regularly. In most cases, they can’t simply avoid these difficult individuals, especially if they have to work for them!
If you work for this aggressive personality type, you probably need answers and solutions to help you get through the day. Why does your boss do what he does? Why is he so difficult? Is there an effective way to work with someone who can never be wrong, refuses all input from others, and is hypersensitive to even the hint of criticism (while dishing out plenty of criticism of others)?
Fortunately, there are many ways of handling an aggressive manager that allow you to be successful in your role without creating unnecessary conflict.
Also Popular: What is Your Conflict Management Style
Dr. George Simon, author of Character Disturbance, In Sheep’s Clothing, and The Judas Syndrome, is a nationally recognized expert on manipulative, cunning, aggressive people. He says that aggressive personalities are “fundamentally at war with anything that stands in the way of their unrestrained pursuit of their desires.” And unlike the rest of us, aggressive people don’t shy from conflict. More than anything, aggressive personalities want to win at whatever cost. It’s why they seek the dominant position in all interpersonal interactions, no matter how minor.
There’s a common but unfortunate perception that bosses should be aggressive. Apparently, the idea is that things just can’t get done unless someone is clobbering someone else to do it. Aggressive people aren’t easily discouraged, are tenacious, and are motivated to meet their goals—or so the thinking goes.
In reality, however, aggressive managers are usually pretty lousy bosses. They have little regard for others’ rights and boundaries, aren’t concerned about people’s needs, and make decisions based on their own agendas, not what’s best for employees, their teams, or the company.
If you work for an aggressive boss, you may be confused, frustrated, angry, and anxious. Aggressive managers have that effect. Let’s take a closer look at some defining characteristics of these people.
According to Dr. Simon, narcissism is a common trait in developing individuals (particularly adolescents). He writes:
“But most of us eventually grow to develop a healthier balance of perspective with respect to our regard for ourselves versus our regard for and need of others. When a person enters adulthood, retaining the narcissistic tendencies they had as a child, there’s bound to be lots of trouble in their relationships.”
And if that’s not bad enough, destructive narcissists (that is, those whose narcissism is pathologic) don’t just view themselves as superior; they view everyone else as worthless, expendable, and justifiably exploitable. Such individuals have no qualms about using lies, manipulation, intimidation, flattery, or anything else to get what they want.
Aggressive managers have a disdain for authority and rules, at least when it’s not coming from them. By contrast, they typically expect other people to respect their authority without question. The rules don’t apply to them, but woe to anyone else who dares to question their judgment or demands. This lack of respect for authority also manifests as a lack of accountability. They’re more likely to blame others when things go wrong and make excuses for their behavior.
An aggressive manager will always do what’s best for them. Always. Even when appearing to submit to someone else’s wishes or demands, the aggressive personality is employing a strategy to get what they want. Unfortunately, this means stepping over (or on) anyone who gets in their way.
Truth and fact are “bendable” according to the aggressive personality’s desires. One day your boss gives X instruction for doing Y, but when you do X, and the result (through no fault of yours) is unsatisfactory, the boss denies giving that instruction. They may even feign outrage that you would “accuse” them of such a thing.
Ironically, aggressive people will own this trait as a virtue and brag about their tenacity. However, this lack of “internal brakes,” as Dr. Simon puts it, is not a positive quality. In extreme cases, this trait can lead to ethical and legal breaches.
At times, dealing with an aggressive manager feels like dealing with a child, and that’s because aggressive personalities often exhibit childlike qualities. They’re immune to reason, logic, and common sense in the pursuit of their desires—just like a willful six-year-old.
An aggressive boss can make coming to work unpleasant and even cause psychological and emotional harm over time. How can you protect yourself? Here are a few suggestions:
Read everything you can get your hands on about aggressive personalities. You can’t approach someone with a character disturbance or personality disorder as you would a normal person. It doesn’t work, and you’ll be forever perplexed and frustrated. So read, learn, and act accordingly.
Doing your job well isn’t an absolute defense. Aggressive personalities make it hard for you to do a good job because they routinely ruin relationships, withhold information, micromanage, and provide conflicting instructions. That said, doing the best job possible will help insulate you from credible accusations of poor performance, provide a sense of self-worth (very important when working with someone who loves to tear others down), and give the aggressive manager a good reason to leave you be.
It’s important to establish firm boundaries based on your values and sense of self-worth. As long as those values are in line with the company’s mission, there shouldn’t be any conflict between your personal ethics and the expectations of your job. Draw those lines in the sand, and don’t let aggressive leaders compel you to cross them. If you do, you’ll hate yourself for it, and you won’t win any favors with the aggressive manager either, who’ll use you until they tire of you.
Taking notes is particularly important when your boss’ conduct crosses the line from merely unpleasant to unethical or potentially illegal. Keep a daily log if you must; a pad and pencil within arm’s reach at all times is a necessity.
If your aggressive manager has been around for a while, your company has most likely gotten complaints and ignored them. There are plenty of organizations willing to justify unacceptable behavior because they think the person in question is too valuable to lose (they’re almost always wrong about that, but that’s another story). Even so, your company can’t stop you from pursuing your rights. Go ahead and put your complaint on the record following whatever process is in place, and don’t hesitate to go outside the organization for help if needed.
Standing up to an aggressive manager has a cost, and you may find yourself marginalized or even out of a job. But understand that some things can’t be helped. If your organization tolerates abusers and your boss is one, you’re going to feel the effects no matter what. So decide what you’ll accept and won’t accept and don’t look back.
Aggressive personalities, especially narcissistic ones, think they’re smart, and everyone else is dumb. Take advantage of that fact. Eventually, your boss will make a mistake, and you’ll be there to document it.
If you’re an employer hoping to ban these unsavory characters from your workplace, that’s a good and healthy instinct. Unfortunately, however, we’ve all been trained to believe that confident, even brash, individuals who are loud and smooth-talking make for the best employees. So, if you don’t want your workplace ensnared by an aggressive employee, you’ll need to pay special attention during the interview phase and set your biases aside. Ask tough behavioral questions designed to elicit how the candidate handles conflict on the job, and listen carefully to the answers.
Also, don’t hesitate to administer a behavioral assessment to provide some information about character traits such as agreeableness, assertiveness, cooperativeness, and resilience. However, do NOT rely on a behavioral assessment to reveal whether an individual has a personality disorder; behavioral assessments are NOT medical exams.
If you have an aggressive manager (especially one with a character disturbance or a personality disorder), you already know the damage he or she can inflict on organizations and the people within them.
However, there are ways you can protect yourself, so do it. Today.
Also Popular: When Employees Lose Respect For Their Managers
Companies that actively manage their cultures tend to be more successful than companies that don’t. In fact, Deloitte’s research has found that organizations that develop and promote a strong sense of purpose among employees have 30 percent higher levels of innovation and 40 percent higher retention rates. They also rank among the top one or two firms in their respective markets.
So why is assessing organizational culture so important?
Well, it turns out that managing culture is quite a BIG deal. Culture encompasses how and what employees do, which, of course, affects everything else, including your capacity to outperform your competitors.
More importantly, knowing your organizational culture is key to effective business practices, such as hiring for cultural fit, resulting in happy and engaged employees. For example, a behavioral assessment such as Omnia's Profile Selection Report is most powerful when you have a true picture of the culture in which a new employee will be required to operate.
Frequent and regular employee “pulse” surveys tell employers what people are thinking in real-time. The surveys typically contain between three and fifteen questions and are distributed weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The purpose of the surveys is to provide a high-level overview of how employees are experiencing the company at the moment. When done consistently, pulse surveys are a powerful tool for assessing your actual organizational culture rather than the one you think you have or wish you had.
Focus groups are an excellent way to start and maintain a conversation with employees who otherwise might not feel empowered or inclined to talk. They should be small enough to be manageable, but large enough to yield actionable information. Comprise your groups of people of various tenures, seniority levels, and departments for the best results. You should always prepare and distribute the agenda in advance and have your list of questions ready. At the same time, stay flexible enough to follow the conversation wherever it goes. For instance, I once facilitated a focus group to review the company’s performance evaluation process. We definitely covered that topic, but I also learned that employees felt the lack of a strategic plan left them unclear about how their work impacted the current and future leadership plans. After revamping performance evaluations, I was given the green light to create a strategic planning committee.
Distinct from a performance review, 360° feedback surveys allow team members to provide honest, anonymous feedback about their managers and coworkers. They offer employees a unique opportunity to learn how their performance and behavior are viewed by others, all without expressing their thoughts through a metric of some kind. That’s because the impact of many unproductive workplace behaviors can’t exactly be easily measured. For instance, how do you measure a micromanaging leader's workplace culture affects who undercuts their subordinates' confidence level while bottlenecking processes? Such managers will almost always find a way to blame someone else for the results of their own actions. While incorporating measurables is definitely helpful, you’ll also want to focus on comments that indicate a trend, even if you can’t measure the impact of those trends in hard numbers.
Not all turnover is bad, but that doesn’t mean there’s no downside to people leaving your company before their time. If your organization has an unusually high voluntary turnover (the average turnover rate varies by industry), your workplace culture may be the culprit. However, don’t dismiss the “tell” of too many involuntary firings, either. Unless your company is going through a massive cultural shift, there’s no good reason to be firing people indiscriminately due to a lack of cultural fit. Sometimes, your employees aren’t “making it” because the work environment is unreasonably demanding, cutthroat, or chaotic.
Exit interviews often get a bad rap, and when poorly handled, they seem to serve no purpose other than checking a box on HR’s checklist. However, if they’re conducted properly, exit interviews can provide you with some much-needed information about what’s working and what’s not in your company. This is especially important if high-performing or long-tenured employees suddenly begin leaving the organization. While the exodus could be a coincidence, it could be a warning sign that something has gone wrong with your workplace culture. Exit interviews are the best way to diagnose the problem because they allow departing employees to speak honestly without fear of retribution.
Given the huge role that organizational culture plays in a successful company, companies must have systems to assess the way employees feel about their work accurately. By implementing tools and processes to gather feedback from multiple directions, you can develop a comprehensive and detailed picture of what’s going on with your organizational culture and take steps to address any potential problems before they have a chance to impact your bottom line.