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Category: Employee Behavior (Page 2 of 15)

Dealing With Difficult Employees

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“article courtesy of http://businesstimezone.com”

Managing your own business requires not only leadership competencies but also excellent people skills. While you are able to brush aside difficult people in other areas of your life, you can’t just simply ignore unengaged employees when you are running your own company.

If you want the organization to thrive, you must learn how to deal with them effectively.

Learning how to deal with difficult employees is something that every leader or manager should know. Workers who are pretty much hard to manage can undermine the overall success of your business. As a matter of fact, this kind of dilemma is quite contagious.

With low employee morale, unengaged workers can create a highly stressful work environment which may cause others to feel unhappy. Now to prevent this from happening, here are some tips on how to effectively manage difficult individuals in an organization.

Create an Action Plan

Setting aside the issue and not paying attention to what needs to be done will only worsen the problem. If you know exactly what is going on in your company, make sure you come up with an action plan to resolve the dilemma. Your main concern is to be able to address the issue straightaway in order to prevent further damage to your business.

Once you have the details, you should come up with a concrete plan on how to resolve the issue. At this point, your leadership and people skills are needed. Identifying the necessary steps toward your goal will help you address the problem.

Look Into the Issue

Facts and details are all important when it comes to resolving the dilemma. Despite the pressing need to settle everything, it is important that you take time to investigate. Doing so is necessary in order to identify the root cause of the problem. Once you have determined the source of the problem, it will be easier for you to come up with a resolution.

Take Heed

When it comes to dealing with unengaged and difficult employees, active listening is very crucial. This communication technique is essential in conflict resolutions. Now before you lay out your decision, make sure you have given everyone the chance to talk. It is important that you set aside any personal emotions during the one-on-one conversation. Be objective and pay close attention to the issue at hand.

During the resolution process, ensure that your employees are involved. Allowing them to take part in the decision-making will make them realize that their contribution in the company is indeed valued.

What CEOs Are Afraid Of

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“By Roger Jones, hbr.org”

Deep-seated fears — of looking ridiculous, losing social status, speaking up, and much, much more — saddle children in the middle school lunchroom, adults on the therapist’s couch, and even, my research has found, executives in the C-Suite. While few executives talk about them, deep and uncontrolled private fears can spur defensive behaviors that undermine how they and their colleagues set and execute company strategy.

In 2014, I surveyed 116 CEOs and other executives, interviewing 27 in depth afterwards. Of the 116 survey participants, 73% were male, 27% were female, and all but 9% were based in Europe. About a third (32%) were CEOs or presidents; 31% were division/business unit heads; 30% were senior managers reporting to division/business unit heads; and 7% were in investment or professional services firms.

What I found about executives’ fears and their impact in the boardroom was revealing, and in some cases astonishing:

  • The biggest fear is being found to be incompetent, also known as the “imposter syndrome.” This fear diminishes their confidence and undermines relationships with other executives.
  • Their other most common fears, in descending order, are underachieving, which can sometimes make them take bad risks to overcompensate; appearing too vulnerable; being politically attacked by colleagues, which causes them to be mistrustful and overcautious; and appearing foolish, which limits their ability to speak up or have honest conversations.
  • About 60% said those first three fears affected behaviors on their executive team, although 95% said that executive team members had a very limited view of their own fears. About two-thirds believed they had “some” self-awareness.
  • The five top fears resulted in these dysfunctional behaviors: a lack of honest conversations, too much political game playing, silo thinking, lack of ownership and follow-through, and tolerating bad behaviors.
  • Asked to think about the fallout from those dysfunctional behaviors, the executives mentioned more than 500 consequences. Those mentioned most frequently were poor decision-making, focusing on survival rather than growth, inducing bad behavior at the next level down, and failing to act unless there’s a crisis.

The 27 executives whom I interviewed spoke candidly about their own fears. The most frequently mentioned fears were losing their reputation, underachieving (even among seasoned executives), and dying, both literally and in their career, and how it inspires a fixation on status, appearing youthful, and making money. Ten spoke at length about how greed at the top inspires greed (sometimes disguised as ambition, which is more socially acceptable) among lower-ranking executives. Two-thirds said their company’s executives were unable to talk directly to one another and even lied at times.

Many of their quotes are poignant and telling: “Greed. It controls everything.” “If someone told the truth they would be isolated.” “You’ve got to look virile.” “You know what? [A new CEO] was frozen by fear. He couldn’t think straight.” “He [the CEO] would publicly humiliate them, bully them [senior executives].” “We are competitive so there is less honesty.” Five executives in their 50s (four of them millionaires and all with stable families) admitted that they feared retirement.

Other studies have shown that such fears disrupt the healthy functioning of executive teams and whole companies. Noted INSEAD leadership professor Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries wrote in 2014 that anxiety over death often causes workaholic behavior. Through studies of adults, professors Tomasz Zaleskiewicz, Agata Gasiorowska, Pelin Kesebir, Aleksandra Luszczynska, and Tom Pyszczynski have proposed that money alleviates death anxiety. So greedy workaholics are really trying to stave off death, and the 50-something executive who fears being put out to pasture may fixate on a merger that stakes him with a big payoff, even if it’s not in the company’s best interest.

Fear is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to poison an organization. I have found seven approaches to be effective at reducing such fears:

  1. The CEO should be aware of his or her own fears and those of the team, and committed to building a strong organization.
  2. Organizations should value emotional intelligence as a key executive attribute. One financial services company’s business unit CEO has great emotional intelligence, and in running the company over the last four years has created a healthy group dynamic to debate the unit’s strategy and ongoing decisions. The unit’s revenue and profits have grown.
  3. Top team effectiveness programs should encourage executives to tell personal stories about key moments in their lives. This gives them insights on what drives their colleagues’ behavior, including their fears and motivations. One engineering company’s top team conducted an offsite at which its executives shared such life experiences (good and bad). They trusted one another far more and made much better decisions afterwards.
  4. The executive team should set guidelines for how team members must communicate with each other, and define acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.
  5. CEOs should actively encourage all team members to speak up without fear of consequences. That fosters honesty, debate and better decisions.
  6. The CEO should let his team meet without him occasionally, so that his fears and influences don’t constantly shape the others’ behavior and decisions.
  7. Incentive systems should discourage self-interested behavior.

Fears and dysfunctional behaviors will always influence human beings, from the playground to the boardroom. Other factors – such as deadlines, competitors and economic downturns – will also create pressures on a company’s top team. But executives and chief human resources officers need to look at the deep-seated private fears that may be eroding the executive team’s dynamics and company performance.

Trust Makes Culture Change Ready

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What is the level of trust in your culture? What do employees think of senior management?

Research says that only 49% of employees trust senior management. The scores for CEO’s are even more dismal; 28% of surveyed employees felt the CEO was a credible source of information.

Trust promotes creativity, conflict management, empowerment, teamwork, and leadership during times of uncertainty and change.  A culture of trust is a valuable asset for any organization that nurtures and develops it. Amy Lyman’s work on the 100 Best Companies to work for concludes, “Companies whose employees praise the high levels of trust in their workplace are, in fact, among the highest performers, beating the average annualized returns of the S&P 500 by a factor of three.”

As a core enabler of a high-performance organizational culture, the absence or presence of trust can be either an accelerator or barrier of organizational strategy and performance. As Stephen M.R. Covey writes in his book “Speed of Trust”, when the level of trust in an organization goes down the speed of change goes down with it and the costs of the change go up.

Before you start that transformational change, ask yourself if your organization is ready for change. Will your organization’s culture, and more importantly, its level of trust support the change you wish to implement?

What is Trust?

Here are three unique qualities about trust; it’s a process, a choice and something that is uniquely human:

  • Process – trust is a learned skill. It involves an ongoing process of relationship building, communication, and action. For example, doing what you say you will do builds trust. Building trust is a process that layers on level after level of deeper trust. When actions do not match words and trust is breached, this is also a process that works in the reverse.
  • Choice – people decide whether or not to extend trust. Trust evolves incrementally over time, is based on sound judgment, and is not without limits and conditions. Those who choose to trust understand that there is the possibility of a breach of trust, and weigh risks and benefits before proceeding.
  • Uniquely Human – while you may consider your car to be reliable transportation, you don’t “trust your car.” Trust is about keeping your word, honoring your commitments and involves a decision, action, and a response. Trust is something that is unique to human beings.

The Process of Trust Building

Relationships are complex and so is the trust building process. Trust comes from who you are, what you say, and how you behave.

Think of trust like a bank account. You extend trust credits proportional to the risk you are willing to take with someone. When that person honors the trust you’ve granted, then he or she gets a deposit in the trust account. When the person says or does something that busts your trust, then you deduct from their trust account.

Components of the trust building process:

  • Code of Honor – the basics like showing respect, telling the truth, and keeping your word are foundational to the process of trust. If you are consistent in keeping the code then you build trust over time.
  • Extend Trust – go first and give trust. Not a blind trust but rather a trust with clear expectations and strong accountability built into the process.
  • Be Open – People who communicate only when they need something or when it’s in their best interest to tell you, limit trust. Those who share information appropriately increase trust. Tell people what they need to know not everything you know. Use judgment to balance between protecting confidential information and sharing needed knowledge. Information that adds to overload or isn’t pertinent diminishes trust.

Trust accounts can become overdrawn and create situations where it’s foolish to extend trust because there is no more trust to give. Be intentional about building trust and recognize that it’s a process. That’s why they say, “trust must be earned.”

To build organizational trust, employees need connection to their work, to what’s going on in the organization, and to the leader. Here are three ways to build that connection:

  1. Help employees understand how they fit in and how their contributions make a difference.
  2. Improve the flow and frequency of communications. Employees often feel they are out of the loop and they are not involved in decisions that impact them.
  3. Close the gap between senior leaders and employees. Leaders need to take time to develop authentic relationships with employees by connecting to their daily reality.

What destroys, breaks or busts trust and how do you repair broken trust? Trust busters are behaviors that destroy trust, sabotage relationships and reduce the balance in the “trust account.” There are two key categories of trust busters.

Expectations that are broken or miscommunicated
Broken expectations occur when you give your word that you will do something and you don’t do it. Broken expectations result in broken trust. Organizations break trust with employees when the employees have expectations of lifetime employment or stable work and layoffs occur. Leaders break trust when they commit to one course of action and take a seemingly different path.

Unfairness – whether it’s real or perceived
The human brain is always evaluating for fairness. Unfairness is a brain threat that creates an instant and automatic negative response. Perceived unfairness creates an environment in which neither trust nor collaboration can flourish.

When undergoing change, there is a significant risk of these trust busters. Too often, communication is emphasized during change as an antidote to trust busting. Leaders believe that if they “communicate better” they would overcome all the trust busters. The problem arises when actions don’t align with the words of the communication or the leader just presents rather than having a conversation.

Beware of trust busters and be prepared to address them or you risk raising the cost of your change and increasing the time it takes to get the change completed successfully.

 

5 REASONS I’M NOT TELLING WHERE I’M GOING

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Article courtesy of The Tim Sackett Project

There is a phenomenon that I find completely hysterical.  It’s this little game we play in our culture.  You go and accept a new position, with a new company.  You come back to your current employer and you put in your notice.  Your boss instantly says, “where are you going?” You replay with, “I’d rather not say.”

Happens, Right? Almost 100% of the time.

So, you wait the two weeks, or whatever notice it was, and the very next Monday the person updates their LinkedIn profile and posts on Facebook where they actually went.

I find this ‘dance’ we do very, very funny.

Look, I get it.  Your employees believe one of five things will happen to them if they tell you where they are going:

1. You’ll magically find some way to screw me over, because you’re upset I’m leaving you. Jealous girlfriend style.  This one is almost never happens, but it’s the first one that comes to mind for most employees!  Look, if I had that much power to screw over everyone who worked here, I wouldn’t be working here!

2. I’m not telling you because for once in this relationship, I finally have the power!  This is the real reason, for most people! You just sound like a complete freak if you actually verbalize it out loud!  I actually understand this one from a psychology position.  If you don’t feel you have control, then you get control, you’re not going to give that up easily!

3. You’ll judge me for the company I’m going to. Either way, you’re going to judged, so this is completely true!  Most organizations are like family. If you decide to leave the family, for that crackhead family down the block, I’m going to judge you!  Plan on it.

4. You’ll judge me for the position I’m going to take. See #3.  This one probably has less merit.  I was one of these people. I had in my mind a certain ‘title’ I needed to get to, so I moved around a bit in my early career, chasing titles. Then one day you wake up and realize it’s baloney. Just pay me.

5. It’s always been done that way in our culture, so let’s keep it going!  This is also a large part of what’s going on in these situations.  I took a new job. The people before me didn’t say where they were going, so I’m shouldn’t either!

My take is that you have to do you.  You don’t want to tell anyone, that’s fine, they’ll all know in about 14 days anyway. If that makes you feel all big and powerful for a few weeks, great! We should feel that way from time to time.

For myself, I have friends at every company I every worked for. Also, I wanted to maintain a professional relationship with the leaders of the organizations I’ve been with.  I told people where I was going.  We talked about it, and I tried to help them understand if it was just me, or if it was them.  Ultimately, how can we leave this point in our lives better than we found it.

My way isn’t the correct way, it’s just my way.  Everyone has to make this decision for themselves, but I’m still going to laugh at it when I hear “I’d rather not say”.

Work Friendships: They Improve Productivity and Job Satisfaction

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By Derek Irvine, TLNT contributor

The findings are consistent with what we see in the U.S., with employees highly valuing relationships at work but feeling unsupported by the organization in building those relationships more deeply.

This year’s survey shows that organizations would benefit greatly from celebrating their employees’ dedication to the company, as well as the strong bonds people form while at work. 

While many may claim that they do not have friends at work, perhaps if they were given the opportunity to see the impact they have made on their colleagues, their opinion would differ.

Work relationships: Critical to quality of work and life

  • Some 83 percent of UK and Irish employees believe their work relationships are important to their quality of life, yet almost half (45 percent) have no colleagues they consider to be real friends
  • A third (33 percent) of survey respondents do not think their company culture allows them to easily build lasting relationships with co-workers, despite 43 percent of them spending between 31 and 50 hours per week with colleagues.
  • A quarter (24 percent) of those with friends at work say they intend to stay with their current company for as long as possible, compared with just 16 percent of those without friends at work.

How to increase the impact of friendships at work

  • Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of UK and Irish employees say they would feel good if their colleagues acknowledged their first year anniversary at their company
  • Some 17 percent say shared memories and kind words from co-workers would be the most meaningful way to celebrate their one-year milestone.
  • While 67 percent would like the opportunity to congratulate or share stories and memories on their colleagues’ anniversaries, 62 percent of organizations have no program in place to acknowledge such events.

Social recognition: key to increasing productivity

  • 86 percent said they would work harder if their efforts were better recognized and appreciated
  • While 61 percent feel they are appreciated, 43 percent are not satisfied with the level of recognition they receive.

Adding a social element to recognition encourages interaction and friendships amongst colleagues. It deepens friendships, bonds people together, and provides the foundations for building trust and stronger relationships. The end result is increased engagement and a stronger company culture.

How deep are your relationships at work? Does your company culture support the formation good, positive relationships?

How do these relationships affect your attitude toward your work, your colleagues and your company?

 

Company Culture and “Fit” Are Real – and Really, Really Important

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Editor’s Note: Last month, longtime TLNT contributor Laurie Ruettimann wrote about how Yes, Your Company Culture Is Just a Myth. Some took exception to Laurie’s perspective, including new contributor Ed Frauenheim. Here is his response:

C’mon, Laurie.

It’s one thing to warn against blowing smoke about workplace culture and hiring clones without considering hard data. But to claim in your recent TLNT article that firms don’t have a culture, or that “fit is nonsense,” is itself nonsense.

In fact, the data suggests that company culture is more important than ever to business success. And that paying attention to team chemistry — in addition to competency and character — when hiring is vital. 

To the extent it’s trendy to talk about culture and fit, that’s a good thing. For far too long organizations have given short shrift to how it feels to work in a place.

The fact that leaders are paying more attention to building trusting, inspiring, humane workplaces is positive for employees and employers.

Culture matters

In your blog you say the term “culture” doesn’t apply to companies, because the way people behave boils down to the way they are dominated by executives.

That’s just wrong, Laurie. To start with, let’s define “culture.”

Culture is a set of beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that define a group of people. The notion that organizations have cultures is well-established in scholarly research and it makes sense intuitively.

Think about your own workplaces. You can probably describe the cultures of those places in a few words or statements. Terms like “warm,” “intense,” “backstabbing.”

And those cultures strongly shape the experience of people. My colleague Bob Lee tells a story about two organizations that gave out turkeys to employees for the holidays.

In Company A, where staffers had come to distrust management, the response was “All you’re giving us is a measly turkey?!!” At Company B, where people felt appreciated by management, the response was “Thanks for the great gift!” Same company action, with dramatically different outcomes depending on the culture.

You basically admit companies have a culture, calling it a “vibe.” But you say you can’t call it a culture because the leadership team calls all the shots, “has particular points of view about how work should ‘feel.’”

Sure, executives shape culture — more than anyone else. But their opinion on how work should feel matters less than the actions they take and the practices they establish. The CEO can proclaim she loves transparency, but culture will be cloudy if she doesn’t share financials on a regular basis, explain strategy in detail or make herself available to answer questions from the rank-and-file.

It’s not all about Execs

What’s more, middle managers can have a big impact on how work feels — cultivating hot spots of creativity or killing a team’s spirit. And in today’s more collaborative workplaces, peers are increasingly powerful in terms of a person’s experience at work.

You may be right that some companies are paying “employees in culture when we can’t pay them in cash” — in other words, trying to compensate for low pay with overblown claims of excellent cultures. But truly excellent cultures are highly valuable — to employees and employers alike.

Great workplaces allow their people to make a living even as they enrich life with meaningful work and social ties. And growing mounds of research show that high-trust cultures crush the competition.

For example, a 2013 report from research and consulting firm Interaction Associates found that “companies adept at practices that reinforce strong leadership, trust, and collaboration enjoy better financial performance.”

Why do the best cultures succeed? That leads us back to fit.

To be sure, there should be a place in any healthy culture for some employees who “don’t go along with the flow,” as you put it. But go too far in that direction and you’re going to break Stanford professor Bob Sutton’s famous “No Asshole Rule,” with debilitating results.

If you have a culture that’s all about positivity, playfulness and pleasing customers — say a company like Ruby Receptionists — and you hire in a deeply cynical person with a mean streak, you’re threatening both the chemistry of the place as well as the business strategy.

Getting “Fit”

On the other hand, if you hire people who are inspired by your organization’s vision and who are likely to enjoy the vibe of your workplace — whether that be frequent hugs or less-touchy-feely kinds of socializing — you can strengthen your culture and your business results.

In fact, given the high costs of replacing employees who don’t work out, it makes little sense to ignore the likely culture fit of a candidate. And Laurie, while you worry about companies using fit as a cover for bias or data-poor decisions, the best companies check for culture compatibility while also testing for competencies and working hard on diversity. Consulting giant Accenture comes to mind. It’s a “both-and” situation.

It’s not just on organizations to try to find people who fit their culture. Smart firms are making it easier for applicants to see if they will groove there — being transparent about their cultures, practices and what employees say about them.

This is partly because people increasingly expect to make job decisions based on sound data — such as Great Rated’s representative surveys of employees — just like they research vacations, personal electronics and cars that will work for them.

Indeed, power is shifting away from the grim bosses-rule-all work world you describe, Laurie. At Great Place to Work, we believe we’re at the dawn of what we call The Great Workplace Era, a time when all people can expect to work at a place where they trust their leaders, take pride in what they do and enjoy their colleagues.

Mounting evidence

This more hopeful epoch is being driven by factors including the rise of balance-minded, meaning-seeking Millennials, increased transparency into organizations and growing proof that high-trust cultures improve business results.

As a self-described cynic, I imagine you doubt we’re headed to such a work world. But as a data-lover, please take another look at the mounting evidence, Laurie.

Culture and fit are real. And they’re really important.

The No. 1 Reason You Want Happy Workers?

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By Taro Fukuyama, TLNT Contributor

We all know that happy employees are much more productive and creative at their jobs than their unhappy counterparts. Yet, according to Gallup, unhappy employees outnumber happy ones by nearly 2-1 odds in the U.S.

With workplace productivity, employee satisfaction and overall office culture on the line, many companies are paying more attention to the importance of delighting their employees.

Why focus on employee happiness? 

Managers are responsible for employee happiness

In addition to producing high-quality work more efficiently, happy employees tend to stay with their companies longer and become loyal brand champions. They actually like going in to work every day.

Rather than watching a team sulk into the office, bury their heads in cups of coffee and get lost in the daily grind every morning, managers have a responsibility of finding easy (and cheap) ways to brighten their days.

It’s a given that a good paycheck and solid benefits are important for employee satisfaction, but take it a step further to ensure workplace delight. Consider the following three workplace happiness factors: challenges, work-life balance, and rewards.

1. Challenges

If workers aren’t challenged to grow and stretch their skills, they quickly become discouraged and lose motivation. Here are a few tips to keep them engaged and satisfied:

  • Provide opportunities to use and develop their skills. For example, after your team returns from a conference, ask them to use one thing they learned in their next projects. If they hold a college degree or specialization that they don’t use in their daily job, ask them about it, and figure out a way they can put it to work.
  • Set difficult, but achievable, goals that your workers are proud to reach. Know the difference between pushing hard and pushing too far.

2.  Work-life balance

Life exists beyond your office walls, and happiness in the workplace has a big effect on overall happiness. If you keep that in mind and show that you care about their well-being as an employer, workers will look forward to being in the office every day.

A few ways you can help improve that work-life balance include offering:

  • Telecommuting — Depending on the workload, it can be very easy for employees to work from home. By cutting out the commute, they have more time for daily errands and chores and have less to fret about at their desks the rest of the week.
  • Flexible work schedules — Some offices hold strict 9 am–3 pm office hours and then allow employees to come in either earlier or work later, so long as they are present for eight hours.
  • Compressed work weeks — Consider offering four 10-hour workdays to give your team more relaxing three-day weekends.

3. Rewards

Hard work pays off for a company, so try to reward the employees once in a while, too. To recognize employee contributions, employers can “give back” through:

  • Company gatherings — Whether it’s a happy hour or a catered lunch, food and drinks get everyone around a table and away from their desks.
  • Group outings — Sometimes it does a team good to escape the office for an afternoon. Consider a quarterly volunteer day, cheer on your local team at a sporting event or – to really get the adrenaline going – plan a skydiving outing, go kart race or exhilarating hike.
  • Performance-based rewards — Never doubt the power of good old-fashioned positive reinforcement. If you notice hard work, you might consider rewarding the employee with a gift card, gadget or online subscription. Whatever you choose, match the gift to their personality. It shows that you care a bit more than a standard gift card or bonus check.

How to measure employee happiness

If you’re investing in employee happiness, you likely want to know what you get in return. One method is the employee Net Promoter Score (ePNS). This uses survey questions to rank attitudes into Promoters, Passives and Detractors to measure overall workplace engagement and satisfaction.

You might also measure happiness the old-fashioned way by paying attention. What perks do your team actually use? Keep the ones they like, get rid of the ones they don’t. Showing that you are paying attention to preferences goes a long way.

Caring about workplace happiness isn’t just about measuring emotions — it’s about improving your bottom line. Keep employees happy and they’ll become more loyal, stay on board longer and produce better results.

6 employee warning signs — and what to do about them

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By Matt Straz, SmartBlog contributor

You know when something’s not quite right. Your new employee is the black sheep of the bunch, and you aren’t sure if they might be the wrong fit for your company or it’s just the learning curve.

Employee fit is influenced by both skill and culture. Skill is the easier aspect of these two, because it’s more tangible and you can always train someone to master a skill. Cultural fit is harder to pin down. It involves an employee’s personal values and the social norms they live by.

One issue with cultural fit often comes when someone puts themselves ahead of the team and the company. In a previous company, I had a person who felt that it was more about them, such as wanting a sales commission for deals they didn’t actually close. I also had a marketing person who would consistently try to be in the limelight. such as being in articles or advertisements.In hindsight, I wished I acted quicker on that behavior because, ultimately, I had to dismiss those people. Nobody wants to work for someone who is selfish and tries to take all of the credit.

If your employee is the wrong cultural fit for the job, you’ll want to know sooner than later so you can prepare. Replacing an employee can cost companies more than 20% of the employee’s annual salary. It’s time to investigate if there is a problem so you can be proactive rather than reactive in your management strategy.

Here are a few signs your new employee might be the wrong cultural fit for the job, accompanied by tips for improving the situation before deciding to let him or her go:

1. “That’s not my job” mentality.

When an employee refuses to take on tasks outside of the position’s normal job duties, it shows she’s not a team player. If your company values flexibility and team collaboration, she’s probably not the right cultural fit for your company.

Sometimes, employees can learn to be great team players by watching others on the team support one another. Give the employee a project and supply her with the team and tools she needs for success. Ideally, throughout the project she will learn the advantages of working on a team and the value of others stepping outside their normal duties to accomplish the big picture goal.

2. Negative attitude.

Pay attention to the way your employee speaks to others about work. Expressions like, “I don’t want to be here,” and “this place” are signs your employee feels negative about where he works. If any of those expressions contain profanities, you’re in trouble.

Why? Negativity in the workplace is contagious, research shows. One negative employee can affect your whole team and, if you aren’t careful, bring the whole business down.

A great way to combat workplace negativity is with positive activities that enhance team bonding. Take everyone out for happy hour. Perhaps all your new employee needs is to feel connected. If things don’t turn around in a few weeks, you’ll want to cut him loose.

3. It’s ALL about the money.

If you’re employee asks more questions about paychecks, bonuses and raises than he does about the company or job function, that should raise a red flag. He might nickel-and-dime you for every expense, but when it comes to his work, he overlooks details easily and seemsblasé about his work in general.

First, if an employee seems unhappy in his current department, check other departments to see if his skills might be a better fit there. If that’s not an option, try offering money-based performance incentives for elements like deadline timeliness, accuracy, and overall work quality.

4. Extended absences.

After the fourth time-off request in a month, you’re starting to get suspicious. You’ve noticed your employee come into work 30 to 45 minutes late every morning. She seems to take extended lunches, too, some lasting more than two hours. Is it your employee’s goal to be at work as little as possible?

All of this time off wouldn’t be as much of a problem if she met her deadlines, but she doesn’t. Ask your employee out to lunch to discuss her self-proposed flexible hours. Are there any personal or family emergencies happening that are requiring her to take extra time off?

Stress the importance of meeting deadlines, and explain that you don’t mind allowing time off, as long as quality work is turned in on time.

5. She lives for the weekend.

“Is it Friday yet,” you’ve heard repeatedly coming from your employee’s office. When you walk by, she’s texting or on her cell phone making plans with friend. At 4:30 p.m., she’s already logging off and packing her bag, even though her to-do list is still more than half full.

Talk to your employee about using personal time such as lunch breaks to make plans with friends. Work with her to develop an agenda for managing her work every day, give estimates for time spent on projects, and clarify daily deadlines.

6. You need an “employee-sitter.”

If you have the sense that your employee is a loose cannon about to go rogue, he probably is. You gave him a project with a checklist, but still found five items overlooked. You asked him to prepare a report in a specific format, and he used a completely different program. You asked him to attend a business-casual after-hours company event, he showed up in cutoffs and a Hawaiian shirt. Mahalo.

It seems this employee is an independent thinker, which you value when it comes to innovation. The problem is you don’t want to send this employee anywhere alone for fear that he might make crucial errors, misrepresent the company, or worse, steal clients.

Talk to your employee about his training experience. Was he shown how things are done properly? What questions does he have? Give timely and consistent feedback on his performance. Be specific and use a method for presenting criticism in a positive way such as the sandwich method. Your employee will then know what your company values about them, and some things he should work on to be a better fit for the job.

Don’t doubt your intuition, especially if you’ve been working in management for several years. If you sense something is off, spend some extra time noticing your employee’s habits and patterns. If you think someone might be the wrong cultural fit, try a few of the methods above to see if things change after a few months. If not, it might be time to put up the hiring sign.

When Are We Ever Going to Get That Kinder, Gentler Workplace?

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By

I have this recurring fantasy that corporations of the future will be kinder and gentler.

I know there’s danger in judging the world according to my personal experiences only, but nevertheless, experience tells me it’s not too nice out there.

I wish it were nicer. For example …

Earlier this week, TLNT published an article about screening applicants using social media. I’m not a huge fan of the practice, but so what? 

Opinionated people are a problem?

That said, this line really jumped out at me:

Hiring opinionated … employees runs the risk of offending others, tarnishing your brand, and poisoning the workplace environment.”

Being a loud mouth myself, my stomach did a flip-flop when I read that.

Seriously? Now having an opinion is a problem for some organizations?

News flash to employers: People who work for you have opinions. And we should be able to have opposing opinions, even strong opposing opinions, and still work peaceably and productively together. It’s called respecting others’ differences. It’s called tolerance. It’s called maturity.

Frankly, I don’t think it’s any of your business whether I believe men should only marry women, or whether I believe that such thinking is gender bias. Not everyone who believes differently than you is a liability.

From the knowledge economy to the human economy

So while I get the gist of the article, honestly, this is too damn much.

It’s as though humanity and the workplace are oil and water, when they should go together like peanut butter and jelly.

So imagine my delight when I ran across an article from the Harvard Business Review titled From the Knowledge Economy to the Human Economy.

The author, Dov Seidman, says we’re now seeing a shift from the knowledge economy, which values brain over brawn, to the human economy, which values humanity over traits that “can’t be programmed into software.” He writes,

In the human economy, the most valuable workers will be hired hearts … [they’ll] bring to their work essential traits … like creativity, passion, character, and collaborative spirit—their humanity, in other words.”

From your lips to God’s ears, Mr. Seidman.

Hold your horses, sister!

So you say, “Geez, Crystal, I think you’re missing the boat on this one. Nobody’s suggesting all opinions are bad. The author of the TLNT article was simply saying it’s a good idea to protect your business from people with the poor judgment to post their distasteful opinions on social media for everyone and their Grandma’s third cousin twice removed to see.”

Hmmm…

Yeah, well, all I know is for every thought I could ever have, there’s someone in the world ready to take offense at it.

Enough already. At some point we must learn to separate people from their ideas (even ideas with which we strongly disagree) and move on. There’s no evidence, for example, that someone who thinks abortion is murder can’t respectfully serve a manager who’s pro-choice, or vice versa.

Shoot, if I’d decided I couldn’t work with anyone whose world view differs from mine, I wouldn’t have a single day of gainful employment to my name.

No (fill-in-the-blank) need apply

And that’s the most disturbing thought of all — that I, as a mere worker, can’t afford the luxury of avoiding every manager in the universe with beliefs I dispute, but a manager should feel comfortable excluding from the workforce anyone who doesn’t quite see things the way he (or she) does.

I’m sorry, that’s wrong, and it’s flippin’ lazy too. Stop looking for shortcuts, dude.

Listen, I’m not naïve. The hiring process is subjective, and it always will be.

But come on. We’re taking things too far. Job seekers shouldn’t have to present on social media as neutral drones — devoid of any potentially “offensive” opinion — to be deemed job worthy.

The Single Smartest Thing That a Hiring Manager Can Do

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By Dr. John Sullivan, contributor for TLNT.com

If you are a corporate manager, you already know that you routinely spend a significant portion of your time trying to motivate your employees.

On average, I estimate that encouraging, cajoling, and the worst part, having to hang around just to ensure that your employees are continuously working takes up to 50 percent of the average manager’s time each week.

If you don’t believe my estimate, ask a few managers to keep a work log for a few weeks if you want an accurate time for your firm. You might go a step further and ask a few of your managers if they enjoy trying to motivate and if they are good at it, because you’re likely to find that they dread every minute of it. 

Why you need self-motivated employees

Fortunately, you can recapture every minute of that “motivation time” if you just do one simple thing: Begin recruiting and hiring self-motivated employees.

These type of employees are not a myth. They are called self-motivated or intrinsically motivated people. Imagine what it would be like as a manager to have a team full of employees who not only automatically did the work that they were assigned but who would also proactively seek out new work that needed to be done.

If you’re having doubts about the value of hiring self-motivated individuals, think back to a time in your career where you had an employee who was 100 percent self-motivated and driven. You shouldn’t have to stretch your memory to remember the pleasure of having them as part of your team because they produced so much with literally no effort on your part.

Now imagine what it would be like to have an entire team of those self-motivated individuals who would free up so much of your time that you would have 2 ½ days per week extra to work on more important management tasks such as planning, forecasting, and innovating. In my experience, the best phrase to describe that situation would be “pure unadulterated joy.”

Managers are the “Chief Employee Motivator”

I teach in a business school where a majority of the management classes and textbooks cover how to motivate employees. As a result, I did not consider it unusual when one of my students asked Brian Gaspar, a visiting visionary manager from Oracle, “How do you motivate your employees?” Without a second of hesitation he answered abruptly “Why would I do that? I simply hire self-motivated people.”

The universal reaction from all of the students was stunning. They had simply never considered a recruiting solution to this universally difficult problem (note: his answer to a similar question “How do you set goals for your employees?” was equally as stunning. He responded, “I don’t have time for that; I make them come up with their own goals and success measures and I only modify them when it is necessary”).

Since that time I have researched the concept and I found that there are in fact self-motivated people and that it is relatively easy to find, recruit, assess, and hire them. I’ve also learned that the alternative approach of identifying motivators, measuring motivation, and applying the motivation or engagement levers is not only very difficult but is also true that most managers simply aren’t very good at it.

The inability to successfully motivate their employees is one of the reasons why managers are frequently listed as the No. 1 cause of employee turnover.

A self-motivated recruiting prospect, candidate, or employee is an individual with a track record of having the internal drive and motivation to begin and continue tasks without external prodding or extra rewards.

You don’t have to identify why they are so driven; just be satisfied with the fact that it is something in their character, upbringing, training, or attitude that drives them to work without any external stimulus or threat.

Benefits from hiring self-motivated people

Once you bring this recruiting approach to any hiring manager’s attention, they almost instantly appreciate its value. But if you are cynical, I have listed below some of the many benefits that come from hiring self-motivated people.

Those benefits include:

  • The benefits are long-term – You could say that recruiting the self-motivated is “the gift that keeps on giving” because self-motivation is an internal character trait that is unlikely to change. That means that once they are on board as an employee, they will continue to work without needing to be prodded or watched over every year of their tenure. As a result, you need to multiply the added value of hiring a single self-motivated individual by the number of years that they are likely to stay.
  • There are no wasted hours – The primary measurable benefit of hiring self-motivated employees is that, because they continuously work hard, there are simply no wasted hours where they are paid but they are not working at their maximum. This means that there are no “slack hours” or times where they are not working at full speed. The term for describing these unproductive hours is compensation waste.”
  • Self-motivated individuals are likely to be top performers – Hiring self-motivated individuals would be problematic if they underperformed on the job. Fortunately, at least one academic study from the University of Jaffna revealed a direct positive connection between self-motivation and higher on-the-job performance. Because the self-motivated are willing to put in so many uninterrupted hours at 100 percent speed, this factor alone almost assures that they will be above-average performers.
  • As employees, they don’t cost any more – Because they are internally or intrinsically motivated, you don’t have to pay them significantly more than other workers with the same experience and education level. If you offer them supplemental rewards for working hard, some may even take it as a personal affront that you think that they need external rewards just to do their job.
  • The self-motivated have a high ROI – The return on investment on these self-motivated individuals is extremely high because on the cost side of the equation, they don’t require extra rewards. But they do produce high returns. First because they produce more output (because they work at 100 percent speed without interruption) but also because they free up so much expensive management time that otherwise would be spent on motivating them. Taken together that make their net ROI extremely high.
  • They are self-motivated to succeed – Most of these individuals are not only self-motivated to continuously work but they are also driven to succeed. This drive to succeed means that most of them are also problem solvers and self-directed continuous learners who know how to adapt after they have learned. That means that when you give them a complex task, you can assume that they will be fully committed to every aspect of the task and that they will complete it without any further major action on the manager’s part.
  • Others may copy them – Because other workers around them will see their intensity and focus, they may cause other employees to voluntarily work just as hard. If they are visible to your customers, their visible work ethic may also impress your customers. That may result in more sales.
  • You can teach skills but you can’t teach self-motivation – Firms like Southwest Airlines and Zappos are noted for their recruiting approach, which is “hire for attitude and train for skills.” I am proposing an alternative approach which is “hire the self-motivated and train for skills.” This is the recommended approach because I haven’t found any research that has shown that you can successfully train your employees to become self-motivated.
  • You won’t have to worry about employee engagement – because self-motivated workers are intrinsically driven, managers and companies won’t need to take positive actions to reinforce their already strong loyalty and commitment.

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