Management Success Tip #178: Turn Your Boring Meeting Notes into a Powerful Action Plan

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If there’s anything you find more annoying than meetings, it’s having to take meeting notes. Why have to repeat everything that was said? It seems a monumental waste of time.

Indeed, if that’s how you look at it, meeting notes are a waste of time.

But, if instead, you think of meeting notes as a powerful way to get things done . . . well, that changes everything!

Think of meeting notes not as an historical rendering of what happened, but rather as a succinct series of bullet points which captures the key points, lays out the specific commitments for each topic discussed, and reminds all concerned of who’s responsible for what and by when.

In other words, an action plan! Where is it writ that meeting notes should be useless? On the contrary, make your meeting notes strong, solid and purposeful. Make sure your notes define in clear, actionable terms, who is to do what, where, how, when and with whom.

Which is how you can insure that the critical follow-up occurs. Because, as you well know, nothing happens without follow-up. If your meeting notes form the action plan, follow-up becomes a piece of cake.

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Management Success Tip #177: Encourage Your Employees’ Best Work: Adopt Employee-Friendly Body Language

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You’re in a tough spot as a boss. On the one hand, you have to exude sufficient authority that your employees accept your directives, on the other hand, you have to be sufficiently user-friendly that employees are willing to tell you the truth of what they see and how they see it.

There’s a reason why there are couches and chairs in the Oval Office, in addition to the President’s desk. The President sitting behind his (or one day, her?) desk conveys a message of relative separateness: “I’m over here, you’re over there.” When the President sits at a couch or chair, with the guest sitting similarly, the message is one of working things out together.

When it’s important that your employees experience you as in “together” mode, make sure your body language is congruent with that message. For example, Detert and Burris suggest: “Keeping your arms at your side (rather than crossing them in front of you), lowering your voice, dressing less formally, and even smiling can make people more likely to share their thoughts with you. So can behavioral cues, such as sitting at the same tables as everyone else at lunch and not being the first to articulate a point of view at meetings.”

Gone are the days of “He/She Who Must Be Obeyed”! For all you may regret that, adopting an employee-friendly manner will go a long way towards gaining your employees’ trust, and with that, their best work.

Management Success Tip #176: Volunteering: A Surprising Way to Recruit and Keep Those Sensational Hires

VolunteeringYou’d think that time spent by your employees in anything other than either doing their work, or attending classes and seminars to do their work better, would be a total waste. If anything, water-cooler time has to be tops on your “most annoying” list.

And yet . . . sometimes employees doing something entirely unrelated to their work, but doing it together, has surprising benefits for the company.

For example, giving your employees an opportunity to volunteer, by actively organizing, supporting and giving them the time to volunteer, has great benefits in attracting and keeping great employees.

Xactly Corporation, is a pure-play, SaaS company that provides cloud-based enterprise software and services, among which tools to allow for sales performance management, sales effectiveness, sales compensation, and employee engagement. The company created a volunteering program called “Xactly One,” in which small groups of employees, including leaders, are organized to volunteer at a local school or food kitchen–on company time! Their success in recruiting and retaining excellent employees is evidenced in the following: Fortune named Xactly among the 50 Best Small and Medium- size companies to work for in 2014. Xactly Corp. was also named one of the Top 10 Coolest Companies to Work For in the San Francisco Bay Area.

People who share a common purpose or mission, tend to be more engaged, individually and collectively. Let purposeful volunteering be yet another way to find and retain the very best employees.

Management Success Tip #175: 3 Steps to Getting Employee-Resented Tasks Done: Give a Reason, Get Real, Give a Reward

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Into every manager’s life must fall those tasks you hate to inflict upon your team, yet must get done. Mainly because they’ve been inflicted on you by your higher-ups . . . or just because it’s that time of year.

It’s tempting to say to your team “Just do it!” and stuff your ears with cotton wads so you don’t hear their grumbling. It doesn’t work well with your kids, you should hardly be surprised that it doesn’t work well with your team either. Oh, they may do the task, but half-heartedly, not thoroughly, and with zero enthusiasm. Which disinterest may then bleed into other parts of their work, which is a shame, because they’re usually high-functioning.

There’s an easy 3-step fix: give them a reason, get real, give them a reward.

Give them a reason: “The image library has to be labeled and catalogued because it eats up far too much of our time to search haphazardly.” “Corporate year-end report must include our stats; if we don’t provide them, corporate will  send in an outside consultant to dig them up and that will mess with our work flow.”

Get real: “I don’t like having to do it either! I don’t like having to ask you to label and catalogue; it’s boring, mind-numbing and tedious. And yes, I’ll be taking on a chunk of it to do also. I’m not asking you to do something I won’t do.” “Yes, pulling the stats together is a real nuisance, but having an outsider poke around in our work is even more of a nuisance. Let’s get organized and get this done as painlessly and quickly as possible.”

Give them a reward: “When we’re done, I’m treating everyone to lunch/giving you all Friday afternoon off/tickets to the ball game/etc.” In a word, whatever works. Whatever pleases your team and is meaningful to them.

People respond to honesty and shared endeavor. And if you can find a way to kick in your sense of humor, so much the better.

Management Success Tip #174: If Engaged Employees Are Great, Inspired Employees Are Even Better!

Recent research shows that although engaged employees are by far better for your company’s productivity than dissatisfied or even satisfied employees, inspired employees outpace even engaged employees by over 150%!

The table below tells the tale:

Inspired Employees are Most Productive Employees

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how do you get your employees up past the satisfied level into engaged, busting into inspired?

Garton and Mankins suggest that you start by looking at foundational elements: “If people are constantly struggling with unnecessary meetings, cumbersome approval processes, and routine obstacles, they are unlikely to be satisfied, let alone engaged or inspired.”

Ask yourself, for example: how many meetings can you slash from your employees’ calendar? Including virtual ones? How can you better streamline the meetings that are actually necessary? Can you tighten up the agenda?

What is your approval process? Is there duplication of steps? As simplistic as it may sound, people prefer a one click-through process to a three or four clicks-through to get something done. How close is your approval process to a “one-click” style?

And so on. Review your basics, and you have much better chances of cultivating an environment where employees are inspired, not just doing what it takes to get by.

Management Success Tip #173: Don’t Force Your Square Peg Employee into a Round Hole Job!

#173 Square peg round holeYou know the expression “square peg in a round hole”?  It’s usually used when we’re describing someone who just doesn’t fit in with something: like a very relaxed, mellow, easy-going fellow who’s joined the Armed Forces. Not likely to succeed! Unless somehow he forces his laid-back personality into the tight structure required by the military.

Well, all too often, managers can inadvertently “square peg round hole” an employee. By that I mean that at one time or another, the employee’s skill set and job matched up, but that over time, either the employee or the job changed, such that it isn’t a match any more.

Rather than determinedly try to seminar, coach, teach, partner-up and in general force your square peg employee into that round hole job, consider a different approach.

Take a moment, and evaluate your employee’s current strengths. What he/she brings to the workplace that is of great value. Now, how can you re-configure your employee’s responsibilities so that he/she is operating from those strengths? Because only when an employee is able to operate from their strengths a majority of the time, will they feel effective. And it’s only when we feel effective that we can actually be effective.

It’s in the best interests of your company and your employees, for them to be using their best skills.

Yes, it may take some juggling of responsibilities: perhaps the employee you’re working with can assume some responsibilities previously assigned to a different position, and vice versa. But the payoff in terms of increased productivity and improved performance will be worth it.

Should you allow your employee to only operate from their strengths? No. It’s healthy and stimulating to be challenged out of our comfort zone. We all need some impetus to reach and grow. However, spending too much time and effort out of one’s comfort zone eventually erodes self-confidence and with it, ability.

There’s a balance here, and a wise manager respects that. Evaluate your employee’s strengths, and proceed from there.

Management Success Tip #172: Engage Employee Cooperation By Asking Open-Ended Questions

#172 Ambro

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Even as children, most of us didn’t like to be told what to do. And although a certain amount of “Here’s what you must do” is obligatory in any business, there are many times when “What” or “How” open-ended questions are more effective.

For example, “How do you think your task could best be accomplished?” “What resources do you think you might require?” invite consideration by your employee as to just with what and how they might meet a desired goal. More importantly, open-ended questions invite dialogue, and dialogue, in turn, is how positive relationships are born.

Successful managers foster positive relationships between themselves and those who report to them: not necessarily friendships, but certainly relationships of mutual respect and appreciation.

You can, of course, lead by commanding, but that has proven to be an increasingly less effective strategy. Leading by engaging is far more powerful, and inviting dialogue is a prime way of engaging.

People always cooperate better with a decision they’ve had a hand in creating. Asking open-ended questions that invite dialogue is a sure way of facilitating your employees’ role in making, and then adhering to, those decisions that apply to them.