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.

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Management Success Tip #158: What Matters to Your Employee? Engage Workers by Engaging the Personal

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You work hard to recruit the right people for your department, for your business, and you work equally hard to train them, so that your department is staffed with enthusiastic, engaged, productive employees.

There comes a time, though, when despite your best efforts, some of those employees – often the best ones – become restless, their engagement falls off a bit, and you worry that some of them may feel the grass is greener elsewhere.

Promotions and raises are good, however, as Michael E Kibler, founder and CEO of Corporate Balance Concepts, Inc., states: “More money won’t cut it. . . Companies must instead provide a new kind of currency to engage their professionals – one we call ‘active partnering.’ The first step is to create a system that allows executives to talk candidly with their managers about what is most important to them professionally and personally and how their organizations might support these goals…”

Although Kibler is referencing executives, the same thinking applies to any of your employees. When you demonstrate real interest, followed by practical assistance, steps or resources, in what matters personally as well as professionally to your employees, you engage them on a whole new level.

It doesn’t matter, as Kibler states, whether those interests are “… writing a book, reconnecting with a disenfranchised family member, starting a non-profit” or the more “prosaic – running a 10K, coaching a child’s soccer team, volunteering as a mentor,” the genuine interest you show, along with discussing possible ways to assist your employee in achieving his or her dream (and following through!), develop a mutual respect and loyalty which dollars alone can never do.

Management Success Tip #154: Indulge In A Powerful Motivator: Thank Your Employees

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You’d think that saying “thank you” or “I appreciate what you did here” would be normal, business-as-usual, in the workplace. You certainly think that you do your fair share of appreciating your employees. You may very well, however, here’s a wake-up call from UK’s performance improvement consultants Maritz (as discussed by business consultant Steve Roesler): their “research has found that almost one in five of us (19 per cent) have never been thanked for our efforts at work while more than a third only hear those two little words once or twice a year.”

More importantly, approximately one third of workers “receive regular recognition and are thanked several times a week, something that (as more than eight out of 10 of those surveyed acknowledged) has a positive impact on their desire to remain with their employer.”

Even if you think you already recognize, appreciate, and actually speak words of thanks and appreciation to your employees, think again. Are there workers you regularly thank, but some you take for granted? Are there workers you overlook in your thanks? Do you only think “Gee, good work, I appreciate that” in your mind, or do you actually speak the words?

When you next do a walk-through, or as a team meeting concludes, make the effort to catch an employee – or several – in the act of doing something right, and thank them, right there on the spot, in specifics, for what they’ve done right.

Thanks matter.

Management Success Tip #152: Keep Your Newbie’s Enthusiasm Alive With The Big Picture!

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The ability of your employees to engage, to work at the level of their best selves, relies on their psychological well-being at work. What that includes, among other things, is a sense of purpose and meaningfulness in one’s job, a feeling of accomplishment and of contributing to something worthwhile. This is not a big surprise, since one of the most important functions of work is that it brings a sense of purpose to people’s lives. We need to feel that what we do is meaningful and that it has value.

Surely you’ve noticed the “newbie syndrome”? Employees are all gung-ho the first three to six months, and then fall into gung-yawn for the duration of their employment. What’s happened is simple and predictable: employees’ initial passion for the job peters out as they fail to see how what they do matters. They begin to feel like interchangeable parts, pieces of a machine that can do just as well with or without them.

Leadership consultant Lolly Daskal states: “Great leaders supply strategy and clarity. They work hard to understand the big picture and help others see their team’s role, and their individual role as part of the team, within that context.”

Tell your employees how the seemingly boring tasks they’ve been assigned fit into the bigger picture. How their contribution makes a difference. Take it a step further: tell those who report to you how the experiences and skills they are gaining will serve them later on.

Be a great leader: address not only the company’s big picture in discussing the part your employees play, but your employees’ personal big work-picture as well.

Management Success Tip #126: Want Employees to be Engaged? Answer These Three Questions

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The results of Gallup Organization’s recent meta-analysis of employee engagement are well known. In summary, highly engaged organizations have double the rate of success of lower engaged organizations. Why? Many reasons, but for starters, highly engaged organizations, those in the top-quartile, have lower absenteeism and turnover – 65% lower turnover, which in and of itself has enormous consequences for a company.

What constitutes employee engagement? John Baldoni has a plain and simple definition: “People want to come to work, understand their jobs, and know how their work contributes to the success of the organization.”

Three great questions to ask yourself:

“How do I make work a place my employees want to come to? Not just in the grand scheme of things, but every day?”

“What do I do to make sure my employees understand their jobs? Not just by giving them instructions at the beginning of a project or task, but by asking questions, soliciting their opinion?”

“How do I let my employees know specifically the ways in which their work contributes to the success of our company? Not just at time of hire, to lure them in, but regularly, throughout the days and months we work together?”

You want engaged employees? Answering those three questions, honestly and directly, is a great way to start.

Management Success Tip #114: Add Value to your Business by Showing Your Employees How Valuable They Are

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I have been a long time fan and admirer of how SAS, the Cary, North Carolina-based tech company, treats their employees. Simply put, for years now, SAS has been at the top of “best places to work” of pretty much every single list in the world.

Now many people will say, “Well, easy for them to do. SAS has the resources to provide things like free child care, a gym, postal service, dry-cleaning, shortened work days (37.5 hours weekly, max!)…” and the list goes on.

True. SAS does have those resources. But what matters is that SAS made a commitment to treat their employees as valued and valuable individuals. That’s why they devote such resources to their employees, rather than line corporate pockets with more bonuses. It started with a commitment, not billions of dollars.

No matter what size your business is, you can make the same commitment. And you can provide employees with what they consider to be important, without bankrupting your company. It just takes a little thought, and asking employees what would make a big difference in their happiness factor at work.

You may only be able to offer one small thing at a time, like offering flex-time on Fridays, but whatever you do that overtly demonstrates to employees that what matters to them matters to you, will make a substantial difference to your success.

If you’d like to know more about how SAS values their employees, check out HuffPo’s article, or go directly to the SAS website.

It’s downright inspirational.

Management Success Tip #105: Engage Your Employees With Honest Admission of Mistakes

Employees are engaged when you are trustworthy, authentic and straight-forward with them.

According to Julie Winkle Giulioni, two of the most powerful things you can say to employees that demonstrate your candor are:

I was wrong. When supervisors share their vulnerability and admit mistakes, it has a powerful effect on their employees. Rather than undermining respect or esteem, it actually inspires confidence. It creates an environment in which failure isn’t fatal, experimentation is encouraged, and problems are openly addressed, helping others learn and grow.

I’m sorry. Apologies are powerful… for both those on the giving and the receiving end. Recognizing a problem, misstep, or misunderstanding and correcting it is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard for many… which makes it all the more impactful. Apologizing when appropriate communicates your humanity and a sincere commitment to your relationship with others.”

Neither “I was wrong” nor “I’m sorry” make you appear weak or less authentic. On the contrary, your calm, factual accountability engenders respect, and encourages your employees to do the same.