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 #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 #147: Retain Your Up-Coming Gen-X Managers: Offer Flexible Work Alternatives

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Gen-Xers, individuals in their late 30s and 40s, are the new management backbone, and as such, are vital to your company. Yet too often, businesses complain that Gen-Xers, once trained and apparently a great fit for a position, up and leave at the drop of a hat.

Indeed, a 2011 survey from the Center for Talent Innovation  (CTI) showed that 37% of Gen-Xers have “one foot out the door” and were looking to leave their current employers within three years.

This can be disastrous for your company, not to mention a drain on resources, since once a qualified, trained, Gen-Xer leaves, you must fill that management position, incurring new costs of recruitment, training and so on.

One of the key ways to retain those Gen-Xers you are loathe to lose, is to offer flexible alternatives to the 9 – 5, on-site, norm. CTI research shows that fully 66% of Gen-X women, and 55% of Gen-X men, with and without children in the household, want better work-life balance, including flexible work arrangements (both in terms of time and place) and schedules.

Ask your Gen-Xers how they want to structure their work, time-wise and location-wise, and do your very best to accommodate their preferences. You’ll find that productivity does not diminish, on the contrary, when Gen-Xers can work how, where, and when they choose, productivity and performance benefit, and retention greatly increases.

Management Success Tip #107: Treat Your Employees as Volunteers to Enhance Company Succes

volunteer_clip_artOf course your employee comes to work to get a paycheck, that’s obvious. However, your employee can get a paycheck somewhere else–even in a rough economy. Employees, especially your best and brightest, stay because they feel valued, listened to, and fairly rewarded for their efforts.

A fascinating management perspective that helps you treat your employees in a way that will keep them happy and engaged, is to think of your employees as “volunteers.”

In other words, you cannot force anyone to do anything. In the final analysis, any employee has the freedom to leave.

David M. Dye states:

“This fundamental truth — that everyone is a volunteer — will change your leadership forever. Every person on your team becomes a gift. Every action they take is a freely given gift. Every ounce of energy they expend on a project is a gift.

Your work as a leader shifts from force to invitation, from control to influence, from fear to gratitude. You won’t lead to wring out the worst, but to bring out the best.”

Dye continues with a specific tool you can use in treating your employees with the respect you would a volunteer:

“Connect the ‘what’ to the ‘why.’ Work without meaning is a form of punishment suitable to prison camps. Make sure your team knows the purpose behind their tasks, the value in the organization’s work, and how their work makes a difference. If the work has no meaning — eliminate it!”

Your willingness to listen to your employees’ concerns and opinions, and your respect for who they are and what they contribute, will grow in direct proportion to your willingness to see each and every employee as a valued “volunteer.”

Along with, as a natural consequence–the success of your business.

Management Success Tip #103: A Performance-Enhancing Question to Ask Employees: Are You Happy?

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You may believe that asking your employees flat-out “Are you happy?” opens the floodgates to a litany of complaints, or would result in a confused “Uh, yeah” as in “Why are you asking? If I say ‘no’ will I get fired?” An exercise in futility, all around.

Wrong! Allison Rimm reports that leaders who ask their employees how they feel receive “priceless information that helps them retain their best employees and optimize their productivity.”

For example, according to Rimm:

“Daniel Parent, director of field human resources at video game retailer GameStop, has a recurring appointment on his schedule that says, “Ask employees how happy they are at work and what can I do to make them happier.” Daniel has learned over the years that simply asking those two questions indicates to his group that they have his support. Furthermore, he learns what their real issues are so he can provide them with meaningful direction.”

By asking this question, Daniel discovered that one of his employees was concerned about her ability to care for her new baby while maintaining her work performance, and together, Daniel and his employee came up with a mutually satisfactory arrangement.

Rimm concluded: “The small investment of time he [Daniel] makes in asking his employees how happy they are has paid off many times over when he considers what it would cost to replace any member of his team.”

Happy employees do indeed make for engaged, productive employees!

Management Success Tip #81: Don’t Let Your Workers Jump Ship: Let Them Know They Matter!

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Most of us spend more of our waking hours at work, or working, than at any other single activity. Often at more than all of our other activities put together. So the fact that New York’s Conference Board shows that over 50% of Americans today hate their jobs, is painful, to say the least.

A clear reflection of the fact is that according to the U.S. Labor Department, 2.1 million people resigned their jobs in February of 2012, the most in any month since the start of the Great Recession.

People aren’t quitting because they’re happy. People are quitting, overwhelmingly, because they don’t believe their managers are interested in their well-being.

You know that you don’t set out to make your employees unhappy! You set out to make your business successful, but in the process, often it’s your employees who get the short end of the stick.

It’s too easy to assume employees will work for their paychecks, and forget that workers need more than a fair wage.

Your employees need to know, directly and personally, that they matter, that they count, that they are important to you and to the business.

Genuine, specific positive feedback given on an immediate basis is priceless. Asking an employee what their personal career goals are, and doing the best you can to support those goals is invaluable. Catching your employee in the act of doing something right motivates better than all the rah-rah speeches in the world.

Be mindful of the deep-seated need we all have to be acknowledged and appreciated, and your employees will be motivated to do their very best for you.

Management Success Tip #71: Not All Under-Performers Are Created Equal: Nurture Your Good-Performers-In-The-Making!

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Managers typically don’t like to deal with under-performers. After all, what’s more fun: congratulating your super-star on his/her latest achievement? Or dunning an employee for yet AGAIN, not getting it right.

Under-performers get short shrift in the honest-feedback department. Mostly because you’d rather get rid of them than nurture them into good performance. And certainly, there are those who are just not a fit for the job. However, don’t punish those who are a decent fit, by giving them less than your best.

Be honest. Tell your under-performing employee what, specifically, they are doing that’s not up to par. Then, give them a chance to improve. Give them an opportunity to take a seminar, assign a buddy/mentor to them. Tell them what positive traits or abilities you observe that your under-performing employee can bring to bear in their area of challenge: perhaps it’s their persistence, or their attention to detail, or their willingness to learn.

Be interested in their development. Check in to see how they’re doing. Find out what their personal career goals are and foster those. The more you show an active, genuine interest in your under-performer’s own goals, the more likely they are to want to demonstrate active, genuine interest in yours.