5 Professional Development Opportunities Businesses Should Offer

Professional Development

Offering useful and meaningful professional development opportunities to your staff members is one of the keys to a more effective company.

Investing in professional development may help your company avoid costly mistakes and keep your best employees motivated and increase their knowledge.

This way, it may be more likely that you’ll retain your best workers and spend less in hiring and training new staff.

5 Professional Development Tools

Here are five ways you can offer professional development choices to your staff members.

1) Collaborative Workshops

One way to help keep your employees’ skills sharp and their engagement level high is with a collaborative workshop approach to professional development. Rather than bringing in an expert to lecture for employee training sessions, try implementing a more interactive approach that allows your staff to build their skills through team sharing activities.

You can utilize your resources by helping your company’s different departments share expertise with topics like computer technology, management strategies, customer service skills, and more. You can also help foster community within the workplace by using this method.

2) Leadership Development

Next, be on the lookout for budding leaders who show promising skills that could benefit your organization’s corporate structure. Spending time on developing leaders within your company is a great way to build up your team’s supervisory skills and their own expertise in the job.

You can also look to your own backyard when recruiting for new managers instead of hiring from outside sources. Many companies find that staff members with credentials from top graduate programs, like the University of Maryland business school, demonstrate many of these leadership qualities.

3) Intern Mentoring

Another way to help get more out of your employees is with an internship program. You can partner with a university in your community, like UAB Online, and help find qualified interns who may be able to be recruited as new hires for the future.

Additionally, you can help your current staff take on new leadership duties by tapping them as intern mentors for the new class of students.

4) Online Coursework

Strong businesses also look to online coursework opportunities for employee professional development. There are many ways to bring online coursework to your staff, or you can simply encourage career growth by sharing graduate and other online classes through email or a staff bulletin board.

Some companies partner with local colleges and create low-cost courses of study that allow employees to develop new skills on the job.

5) Growth Incentives

The last method of offering professional development to your workers is through an incentive program. The most popular incentive you could give your employees for professional development is tuition reimbursement. Some companies allow workers to take a certain number of credits each year or semester and get reimbursed upon successful course completion.

Another great incentive to offer is a pay raise for employees who earn additional degrees while employed with your company.

Developing your current staff members into tomorrow’s company leaders takes some time and investment. Eventually, your time, effort, and investment dollar amount could pay off with new talent and new company ideas to help boost your organization’s profit and productivity.

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On Leadership and Burning a Few Bridges

Mega Shark

Conventional wisdom tells us to never burn a single bridge in our professional lives because you never know when you might need that relationship again. 

I firmly believe that there are going to be circumstances and people that nearly require you to do this:

Burn some bridges so that you will never need to work with those people again.

That’s Right, I Said It…

I have been working for the past 35 years and have learned a thing or two in this time span. For a long time I followed conventional wisdom and did whatever it took to part ways on a positive note.  There are times when the reason I was leaving was more than a promotional opportunity, more money, or a shorter commute.

These are all the generally softer ways of giving notice.

They are often spoken in truth, but many times they are used to cover up the real reasons to avoid burning bridges.

Burning a Few Bridges

As time progressed, I thought it would improve circumstances if I shared the issues that caused me to consider other opportunities, more money, or a shorter commute.

When leaving previous jobs, I did the conventional thing and had candid conversations with Human Resources during exit interviews, explaining the challenges with processes and particular personalities that cause concern and issues in the workplace.

I have spent the past 22 years in learning development, so my core was telling me that people can’t improve until they know that there is a performance gap.

Looking back, I would say that each of those times when I was honest and doing what I thought was helpful, I burned a bridge.  I’m not talking about toasting the wood a little; I’m talking about a five-alarm fire, nothing but ashes when I left.

There was no walking back over that puppy after I was finished burning it.  The people I left never spoke with me again.

And now I am left to wonder if this is really such a bad thing?

Out of the dozen or so people who would sooner slit their throat then say hello to me, I have to be honest that it doesn’t bother me in the least that they do not care about me.

These were folks that the word ethical wasn’t even in their dictionary.  Underhanded, manipulative, rude and down-right mean are better descriptors of their personalities.

I hated working for them at the time, and after leaving I felt a rush of relief at never having to work with them again.

Although it was not my intention to burn a bridge with these people, the fact remains that I did, and the primary benefit was to never hear from them again.

A Bad Referral Backfires!

Burning BridgesWhen they say we are only separated by about six people from each other at most, (six degrees of separation), it does cause a reduction in referrals and future contacts that might cause these people to question if they should begin a working relationship with you.

Recently I suffered the opposite of that type of disconnect when someone contacted an old manager to find out what kind of training professional I am and what it would be like to work with me.

I know that this must have been this guy’s dream come true to work his magic by telling this new contact what a nightmare I would be to work with.

He said this:

“Jim is a purist when it comes to training and needs to do everything the right way.  He plays by the rules and Joan of Arc has nothing on him when it comes to ethics.  It makes it challenging to work around him because he is such a goody two shoes.”

Well thanks to these comments, I have a new client that shares my servant leadership style and ethical code.

What my old manager was trying to do was clue in his friend to how difficult it will be to work with a person like me, and at the same time selling the attributes the new client was looking for in a new working relationship.

Now I will be the first to admit this situation was a fluke.

Understanding Consequences

Most of the time when you burn a bridge with someone, that person will have a negative influence over anyone asking about you, not to mention that they will never work with you again.

When I began consulting 6 years ago I was heart-broken that a particular person wasn’t giving me the time of day or throw me a bone’s worth of business.

He was angry over my leaving because as he said, “I don’t want you to go.” 

I had a difficult time explaining why I was being called to strike out on my own and go from a reliable income to complete uncertainty as a self-employed consultant.  While financially it was not the best decision I’ve ever made, it has brought me innumerable benefits I would not have collected if I had remained.

Finding a Better Route

One of these benefits has been the realization that burning a bridge forces you to find another route.

Without the easy ability to rely on old relationships to fund my new consulting business, I was forced to find new relationships early on and not wait until after the well went completely dry.

While I might have gone along with conventional wisdom in my early working years and left no bridge unburned, I’m glad to look back at a few I burned on purpose and realize that it was for my benefit that I can no longer connect with those people again.

I’ve learned overtime that you can’t fix every relationship, nor should you try.

What bridges have you burned in the past that you are glad you did? What bridges are still in place that should have been burned down? What do you think is wrong with burning a few bridges? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories!

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Jim Hopkins

Jim Hopkins is the CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting
He a Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker in Organizational & Performance Health
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Equipping Leaders to Battle Fear with Accountability

Leading with Honor Video Coaching from Lee Ellis

Six Leadership Obstacles to Team Success  

As leaders, we want the positive elements of success—achievement, notoriety, money, and excellence for clients and customers.

pilot plane But we’re unwilling to do the right things to get there. The missing cultural piece is courageous accountability.

What are the six obstacles that can get you off-course? Read Lee’s latest article below, and see where you’re vulnerable –

Read Now

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——————–
Lee Ellis

Lee Ellis is Founder & President of Leadership Freedom LLC & FreedomStar Media.
He is a leadership consultant and expert in teambuilding, executive development & assessments
Email | LinkedIn | Web | Blog | Book | Facebook | Twitter

His latest book is called Leading with Honor: Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton.

 

 

L2L Book Review “Under New Management” by David Burkus

An Open Invitation To Join The Integrative Leader's Book Club

L2L Book Review Logo

David Burkus argues in his book Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual that the management practices that have evolved from the factory work economy just do not apply to today’s knowledge work economy.

Burkus walks the reader through compelling case studies of companies who have abandoned traditional management and leadership practices in favor of new ways to organize and lead.

His premise is this:

Burkus’s insights are convincing companies to leave behind decades-old management practices and to implement new ways to enhance productivity and morale. Fire all the managers, outlaw email, and make pay transparent.

L2L Book Review

Title: Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual

by David Burkus

Purpose:

NewManagement_3D

The purpose of David Burkus’s new book Under New Management is to find answers to these questions and more:

  • Do open-floor plans really work – or do they make employees miserable?
  • Are there companies which really put their employees’ welfare first, and their clients second?
  • Are annual performance reviews really necessary?

Premise:

Fire all the managers, outlaw email, and make pay transparent. These are all chapters in David Burkus’ new book “Under New Management”. David argues in this book that the management practices that have evolved from the factory work economy just do not apply to today’s knowledge work economy.

He walks the reader through compelling case studies of companies who have abandoned traditional management and leadership practices in favor of new ways to organize and lead.

A Reader’s Guide:

I found myself starting each chapter thinking that there would be no way that what I was about to read would work. But, by the end of most chapters, not only did I feel it was possible but optimal.

In my opinion, any book on leadership and management that gets me to pause and reflect is of great value. This book provides page after page of things to pause and contemplate.

New Book Club

The Integrative Leader’s Book Club

I was so energized after reading it, that I decided to feature it as this month’s selection in The Integrative Leader’s Book Club.

What is really exciting is, I was able to connect with David and he graciously agreed to join us for a live Q&A session.

Linked 2 Leadership is one of the best forums for leadership exploration. By nature, its readers are actively working to hone their craft. Therefore, I would like to personally invite you to join The Integrative Leader’s Book Club. Each month we pick a thought provoking book to read and discuss.

This club was created to help us lift our heads up from working in our business and allow us to spend a little time working on it. Leadership is a practice and the books read and the wisdom shared will help us all become better at our craft.

Sign-up Here.

I would also invite you to register for the online Q&A session with David on Monday, May 23at 11am Pacific.

Click Here to Register.

At the end of each month, I will post right here on Linked 2 Leadership a review of the book and some of the key learnings that our club gained and shared. Hopefully together, we can all become better leaders and develop future leaders that are well prepared to guide the organizations of the future.

I hope to see you in the club.

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———————–
Elliot Begoun

Elliot Begoun is the Principal Consultant of The Intertwine Group, LLC.
He works with companies to Deliver Tools that Enable Growth
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Mentoring in the Workplace: Spreading the Knowledge

Sharing Knowledge

We often hear about the need for gaining and sharing organizational knowledge to further our careers, reach our goals (and create new ones), and make connections in various industries.

One of the best ways to share knowledge is also a vital part of the leadership toolkit – mentoring.

Mentoring in the Workplace

Mentoring is an essential leadership skill, and encompasses the professional development of others. Mentors show others the ropes, answer questions, and guide mentees in the direction they need to go.

When a new employee first meets with a mentor, the first question often is this:

What can you tell me about your experience at this organization?

Mentees must get oriented to their working environment and learn how to handle the challenges it poses. The mentor serves as a guide through those challenges with advice and constructive criticism, while paving the way to the mentee’s next goal or challenge.

Throughout the process, mentors build on their acumen as leaders and information sharers.

Sharing Knowledge

Sharing organizational knowledge is an invaluable part of mentoring, as much as it is a way to keep an organization’s business practices. Mentoring to share knowledge is different from traditional mentoring, in that there is more emphasis on practical applications than on organizational culture or building networks.

The key is to combine both types of mentoring.

Sharing information about an organization and teaching about its culture, mentors offer mentees a richer experience and a more complete picture of the organization and its needs.

Types of Knowledge

Knowledge management (KM) is the process of capturing, distributing, and using knowledge, and considers an integrated approach to sharing the information assets of a given organization. These assets include policies, databases, documents, procedures, and the expertise and experiences of individual employees.

KM looks primarily at two types of knowledge, explicit and tacit, which are the primary types of knowledge imparted to employees, especially via mentoring; a third type, embedded knowledge, can be found in processes, organizational culture, and ethics.

  • Explicit knowledge is codified, and can be found in documents and databases.
  • Tacit knowledge is more intuitive and is rooted in experience, context, and practices.

Learning How to Teach

One way to look at mentoring is to imagine teaching someone how to ride a bike. The act of learning to ride the bike is the tacit knowledge, while a set of precise instructions on how to ride the bike is the explicit knowledge. And embedded knowledge is the “rules of the road” to keep in mind while riding the bike.

Establishing mentoring relationships are crucial to fostering leadership skills and professional development, both for mentors and mentees. Mentors ensure the transfer of organizational knowledge and offer guidance to those who may one day become leaders themselves; mentees benefit from learning about their roles and the organization.

So how are you doing at creating an atmosphere and workplace that actively relies upon sharing knowledge, experiences, and expertise? If you are not doing this, what steps can you take now to implement a process of systematic mentoring to help people learn, grow, and develop? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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———————
Linda R. Ranieri

Linda R. Ranieri is a Graduate Student in Communication
She works in the Medical Testing and Assessment Industry
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Communication Breakdown: Are You Resonating With Your Audience?

How Leaders Can Refine their Focus to Know their Audience

Communication Breakdown

Over the course of my career many leaders have lamented this: “Little I say seems to be resonating!?!?”

Although this can be very frustrating, it certainly does not mean that you should just stop communicating (as I’ve also heard…)

Knowing Your Audience

Problem:

Most likely, the failure to communicate effectively an indicator that you need to take more time to find out what makes your audience tick, and how and when they’re most receptive to information.

Solution:

Think about any questions and concerns they might have that will impede their ability to hear you. By anticipating audience needs and concerns, you can ensure that you shape your message in a way that will resonate with your listeners.

The Real Communications Challenge

As challenging as it can feel to state your thoughts clearly and concisely, the real challenge is shaping those thoughts clearly and concisely for your audience.

Employees (and any audience) want you to appeal to them in terms that speak to them and their needs, often on a personal and emotional level—yes, even if you’re just talking about work.

Especially if you’re talking about work.

When leaders don’t understand their audiences’ needs or perspectives, they make these two common missteps:

  • They mistake any communication for good communication
  • They communicate from their perspective instead of the audience’s

Your Communication Role as a Leader

As a leader it’s your job to use communication to help your audience make the connection between business objectives and their role in helping you meet them. But it’s important to understand that before you can get to the business big picture, you’ll need to address employees’ personal needs first.

At the end of the day, employees want to know “What’s in it for me?

They might articulate that need in any number of ways:

  • “How does this affect me?”
  • “What does this have to do with me?”
  • “What should I be doing?”
  • “Does anyone care about me?”

The Solution: Know Your Audience

Know your audience and speak to them. There’s real magic in addressing your audience’s needs first. When you do your audience is more likely to trust you, and as a result be more generous, open and receptive to big-picture, strategic communication.

All communication should always be tailored to the specific audience to make them aware of their role in the organizational whole.

That’s what leads to engagement and the discretionary effort all of us want.

Then, you can truly inspire employees to action as only a great leader can by giving them feelings of significance, community, and excitement through your communications.

Specifically as a leader you should:

  • Contextualize organizational information to ensure your team understands how it fits in.
  • Craft information so that it’s relevant to individual employees and teams.
  • Provide job-related information so that individuals and teams can do their jobs effectively.

When it comes right down to it, it doesn’t matter what you say, it’s whether you can make it relevant to your employees.

So, how clear are you about who EXACTLY is your audience? Have you developed the right mindset to serve them in a way that will work with them? Or are you stuck in a place where you seemingly don’t connect well? If you are, what would you do to get to a more effective platform for your audience? I would love to hear you thoughts!

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———————
David Grossman
David Grossman is Founder and CEO of The Grossman Group
He is a much sought-after Consultant, Speaker, and Executive Coach 
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Leadership and The Ugly Four-Letter Word: Fear

by Kristi Royse

Fear Face

We all have different ideas of what fear looks like.  Some people fear taking risks, others fear conflict or confrontation, and still others fear rejection by peers, just to name a few.

So what is fear?  

My Fear of Failure

Personally, I struggle with fear of failure.  I am a perfectionist by nature, as are many of us in the corporate world.  As children we are taught making mistakes equates to failure, and accumulated failure makes it impossible to become successful.

Further, failing can sometimes feel like a knock on who I am as a person-I’m not good enough, I’m not smart enough, I’m not driven enough, etc.  It has taken me many years to unlearn the lies I was fed as a child, however this fear still holds me captive from time to time.

“Everybody has their own Mt. Everest they were put on this earth to climb.” ~Hugh Macleod

The Four-Letter Word

The point is that we all have fear in our lives.  If we all face fear, though, why isn’t it more readily discussed in the workplace?

“Fear” is often viewed as an unmentionable four-letter word.

  • Uttering it is received with feelings of discomfort and disdain.
  • To admit fear is to accept defeat.
  • Society at large views fear as a sign of weakness.
  • We are expected to be big, bad, courageous trailblazers.
  • Overlooking the presence of fear, though, gives it power.
  • Inability to face our fears allows them to grow and fester until they paralyze us.

Thus, the first step to ridding oneself of fear is admitting that it exists.  From there, one can begin to understand the fear that holds him/her hostage and create a plan of action to confront and overcome that fear.

“The key to release, rest, and inner freedom is not the elimination of all external difficulties.  It is letting go of our pattern of reactions to those difficulties.” ~Hugh Prather

Facing Uncomfortable Circumstances

Freedom from fear does not involve changing or avoiding our circumstances.  Rather, freedom is found when we face our fear-invoking circumstances head on.  This confrontation helps to release us from our bondage to fear.

“The circumstances of our lives have as much power as we choose to give them.” ~David McNally

A Choice to Be Made

So, then, at the root of fear is a choice:

  • Do I allow my circumstances to define me? 

OR

  • Am I willing and able to overcome my circumstances?

In Maximum Leadership, John C. Maxwell poses the question, “Which emotion will [you] allow to be stronger?” (2012) Choosing faith over fear is a moment-by-moment decision.

  • Will I choose to face my fears or will I let myself be overcome by them?
  • Do I have faith enough in my abilities and belief in what I am pursuing to overcome my fears?

These questions, and others, are what define who we are as leaders and team members.

The Solution

So once we face fear, what is the next proactive step to keep it away?

Learning to trust.

In Oestreich and Ryan’s book, Driving Fear Out Of The Workplace, the authors discuss the benefits of creating a high-trust workplace environment.  The authors interviewed 260 people at 22 organizations about fear and how each workplace handles the fear they face.

In the book, “fear” is defined as “the belief that speaking up about on-the-job concerns may result in adverse repercussions.”  An overwhelming 70% labeled this situation as one that provokes anxiety.

Why does this matter?

The workplace can be full of change and uncertainty.  Fear affects us all as both individuals as well as a corporate body.

On Anxiety, Trust and Fear

Anxiety and fear in the workplace creates:

  • Insecurity in workers
  • Fear of honesty, vulnerability, and openness
  • Anger as a result of misunderstanding, miscommunication, and ego defense
  • Lower levels of creativity
  • Lack of concern for the company

Trust has the power to eliminate fear.

Trust creates an environment that fosters positive vulnerability among coworkers.

When trust is present, people:

  • do not fear they will be rejected as a result of speaking up
  • feel comfortable and are willing to take more risks
  • are willing to be more open and honest with coworkers and company leaders
  • push themselves further, knowing they will have the support of their coworkers/leaders
  • have greater commitment to work at hand and the company as a whole because the ability to trust at work creates loyalty to coworkers/the company itself

Anxiety inhibits, trust relaxes and releases. 

For more information on trust, check out my trust blog entry here.

Continuing On In Freedom From Fear

Over the course of the next four months we will be discussing different types of fears that inhibit growth for leaders and teams as well as the steps necessary to overcome these fears.

We will also be discussing Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team as it relates to overcoming fear in the workplace.  The five dysfunctions include:

  • Inattention to Results
  • Avoidance of Accountability
  • Lack of Commitment
  • Fear of Conflict
  • Absence of Trust

“Striving to create a functional, cohesive team is one of the few remaining competitive advantages available to any organization looking for a powerful point of differentiation.” ~Patrick Lencioni

My hope is these tools for overcoming fear will create more cohesive teams and more effective leadership within your company.  I hope you will join me in reading the upcoming blog focused on exploring the fear of conflict.

What fears in the workplace hold you captive? What tips do you have for dealing with these fears? Do you tend embrace fear or run from it? Do you believe trusting relationships can truly combat fear? Do you have another way of handling fear in your life/at the office?

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——————–
Kristi Royse

Kristi Royse is CEO of KLR Consulting
She inspires success in leaders and teams with coaching and staff development

Email | LinkedIn | TwitterWeb | Blog | Articles | Services | (650) 578-9626

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The Importance of Leading Your Future Today

6 Do's and Don'ts of Reputation Management

Leadership today requires much more than just doing your job with the people who you lead. It now involves your public persona. 

This reality impacts your ability to influence with the global reach of the Internet. Things that you say and do are now are on display and can impact you, your role, and the organization that you work for. These things also have a funny way of staying around into perpetuity.

Your reputation, your role, and your business can change overnight with just a single Tweet.

If you are online doing business today, then you should understand a few things about your online reputation. First of all, you need reputation management no matter how small – or how big – your company may be. Secondly, you must understand how to properly use reputation management in the modern world of business.

This article will discuss some of the things that you must do as well as things from which you must stay away!

6 Do’s and Don’t’s of Reputation Management

1) Claim and complete all of your social media profiles

Because of the way citations are done, completing all of your major social media profiles will give you a boost in all of the search rankings.

Make sure that you have a profile on these sites:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • SlideShare
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Pinterest
  • Yelp
  • About.me
  • YellowPages

and any reputable niche social media sites that are relevant to your industry.

Fill out these profiles as completely and uniquely as possible. Keep the address the exact same on all profiles. Do not abbreviate if you can help it. List a local number that matches with the zip code that you are advertising instead of an 800 number.

This will help to maximize your search listing juice and will help fill the search engine result page (SERP) with online profiles that you control.

2) Don’t rely on your personal websites alone to get the job done

Most people will find your business from your major social media profiles at the start of your campaign. You may be able to redirect traffic from those places to your landing pages later on, but the major websites will always have a juice that your personal websites will probably never attain.

Starting multiple WordPress or Tumblr accounts to build a link profile will probably serve you in a negative way, as the major search engines are all against this technique. They have protection mechanisms against it. And these thin, minimal blogs will have very little chance of ranking well themselves for your brand or personal terms.

Yet there are many who still try to rely on building dozens of micro-blogs for their business in order to try to overcome negative content on the SERPs.

3) Do take time to build an authentic online presence

Not only does authenticity help you with your human visitors, but the major search engines love it as well. If you are seen as an expert guest blogger and you are on reputable sites, then these sites will often appear high in the SERPs for your branded terms.

If the information that you tout matches your social media personality, this maximizes your effort. As a matter of fact, you may want to take the time to use Google Disavow to disconnect your landing pages from any spam techniques that you may have employed previously.

Poor links to your site are tantamount to being seen in a bad neighborhood.

They’re simply bad for your online reputation.

4) Don’t try to downgrade your competition with fake reviews

Not only is this a waste of time, but review sites like Yelp.com are actually quite good at determining what may be a fake review and completely destroying it. On top of this, if they link it to you, then your business suffers.

Even if you do get a few fake reviews up, your time is much better spent making your own reputation positive, as creating negativity for a competitor does not help your visibility at all.

5) Do be proactive when you see something that needs to be fixed

You should look at authentic negative reviews as an opportunity to fix a problem before your competition gets to fix it and take your business away from you.

Many companies will use an aggregation program to see if there are any trends in the comments that people are making. The company mentioned can then devise a strategy based upon these trends rather than guessing at their next PR move.

6) Don’t ignore your online reputation and try to fix it at the last-minute

Why should you never do this? First of all, it never works. If people have already run your name through the mud, then you will spend a great deal of time trying to play catch up rather than improving your ranking online.

As you learn how to incorporate the tips above into your everyday marketing online, you will see a gradual but consistent shift in your online visibility. Keep this up for the long-term, and your business will eventually occupy a position online that will be very hard to usurp.

As the reputation of your business ages online, it crystallizes. Make sure that you give it the best chance to crystallize as a positive for your business.

So, how well have you done to make sure that your online persona is working well for you? Are you represented well by having a comprehensive mindset and approach to your online presence? What steps can you take to cast a positive light on you, your organization, and the opportunities ahead of you? I would love to hear your thought!

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__________
Tayven James

Tayven James is a Freelance Business and Tech Author
He focuses on Emerging Trends and the Marketing Methods Behind their Success
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Want or Need? Rethink Your Recruitment Priorities

Recognizing Long-term Potential Means Looking Beyond Short-term Expectations

Uncle Sam Recruiter

Before preparing a new job posting, recognize that the “ideal” candidate does not exist—yet.

In trying to separate the good from the great, people like to start with perfection and list all the traits that make someone ‘ideal.’

The Difference Between Needs and Wants

Whether it is describing the ideal mate, planning the perfect day, or defining the ideal candidate for a position, conventional wisdom holds that by making a wish list covering every preference, you have a firm base for comparing your options.

The trouble with this approach is that people are usually very bad at distinguishing “needs” from “wants.” You see this disconnect often in the form of budgeting and buying decisions, but the same principle applies to recruitment.

Think of this way: Needs are basics; Wants are all bonuses.

Typically, a new-hire wish list is made up of few Needs, layered between lots of Wants that ultimately hurt your chances of finding the best fit for the job.

Aim to Replicate Success

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat through a meeting where a new job posting is being drawn up, and the “must have” column gets so big and detailed, that even existing employees wouldn’t be able to fit every requirement.

You can define true Needs quickly by looking at what makes your current team function. Not what makes them excel—that comes later, through practice and slow, steady cultural integration.

It is easy to reinvent the wheel when preparing to do recruiting, but expecting new hires to come in to your organization ready to meet and exceed the performance of existing employees is beyond unrealistic, and sets the whole relationship up for failure.

Plan on Remedial Training

The fact is, you need to plan for remediation in any recruitment effort.

Too many executives hear this and think it is a compromise: if they aren’t getting the absolute most skilled recruits, they must be settling for mediocrity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any job in any company has a learning curve.

Bruce Tulgan, researcher, author, and expert on generational issues in the workplace, explains how organizations face a baseline skills gap even in the most promising new, youthful recruits.

He says this:

One of the things we’ve measured over 23 years is, what are the hiring managers saying? And an awful lot of what they’re saying, with increasing incidence, is that [Millennials] have the hard skills, but they lack the old-fashioned soft skills.” 

Before you can capitalize on any fresh talent, your recruits have some learning to do to get acquainted with your company, your staff, your product, your mission, your systems, your expectations (let’s face it: nobody is completely forthcoming in an interview).

If every new hire is going to require an upfront investment to train and get up to speed, why pretend that raw talent matters more than the will and ability to learn, fit in, and care from day one?

Tulgan goes on to say:

One of the things you have to do to succeed with the new young workforce, is find a way to channel their fresh training and new technology that they’re comfortable with, the new processes, new ideas, new energy—you have to find a way to tap that. But you also have to find a way to teach them some of the ‘here is how we do things around here, and this is our culture.’”

Reframe Your Needs as Learning Opportunities

Getting the best talent on your staff isn’t just a recruiting challenge, it is a responsibility of management and leadership. Know that going into a new hire decision, and you can make sure they know they are expected to learn, grow, and evolve alongside your organization, from the beginning.

Presenting potential recruits with a role as a learning opportunity allows you to cultivate a cultural fit alongside the skills fit your organization needs. This is where an investment of effort on their part will be met with an investment of training, high expectations, and coaching on your part.

Tulgan continues with this:

Good management is synonymous with teaching, and good followership is synonymous with learning. Good management is constantly, systematically focusing on what they can do to make things better. People should be doing that up, down, and sideways every step of the way.”

Whether that is remediating soft skills in Millennial recruits, or getting older workers up to date with the latest technology, every member of your team needs both expectations, and opportunities to continue learning and growing.

Attract Character by Demonstrating Character

If your hard skill need happens to be programming, remember that:

You don’t need the best programmer in the business, you need the best programmer your company and your culture can attract and retain.

When it comes to posting a new job and attracting candidates, you have more reach and access than ever before. The number of resources and opportunities you have to set yourself apart from the other dull, grey “Help Wanted” postings online (especially free ones) gives you freedom to experiment, have fun, and put the focus from the very beginning on what really matters: finding the right fit.

Try doing this:

  • Convey that you take cover letters as seriously as resumes.
  • Show how skills needs align with cultural norms.
  • Ask what you can learn from applicants, and what they hope to learn from you

If you are looking for skills without consideration for character, you’re trying to hire a robot, not a person. As a result, your job posting is probably going to come across as equally robotic.

Finding someone with the right skills who also fits your company’s culture requires you to not just ask for evidence of skills, but demonstrate an interest in the person offering to help you.

What are the most unique, captivating job postings you’ve ever seen? What made them memorable? How can you go from advertising a job to advertising a culture? Are you focusing on too much on Wants and forgetting what your organization truly Needs? How are you helping your youngest team members learn the soft skills that allow them to fully realize the value their hard skills can provide?

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——————–

Edgar Wilson is a Writer, Consultant, and Analyst
He follows trends in Education, Healthcare, and Public Policy
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Image Sources: recruitusmc.org

 

 

Creating an Atmosphere of Collaboration

How to Use Icebreakers for Powerful Results

Atmosphere of Collaboration

This past week, I had a project team meeting. The project had a number of people on it that I hadn’t worked with before.

When the project began, we all had very divergent ideas on how we were going to accomplish our end goal.

I’ve found over the years, that the less clear something is on a project, the more apt there is to be a misunderstanding and/or miscommunication. Along with the many different ideas, I was working with many different personalities.

And some were quite stronger than others!

I decided that to get the best results for our project it was necessary to begin by building an “Atmosphere of Collaboration.”

I wanted to initiate an activity that demonstrated our need for clarity and the need for teamwork. I thought about the many diverse “collaboration ice breakers”  I had read about and researched and found a few possible ideas. But when they didn’t seem to fully apply to the task at hand, I was inspired to create my own activity.

Breaking the Ice in Style

Not only did the activity generate some really thought-provoking and idea-inducing conversation, but it turned out to actually be fun!

I called it the “Jungle Survival Challenge.”

Here’s a quick overview of how the activity is played:

  • Divide the group up into small teams (2-4 people each)
  • Pass out the “Survival List.” This is a written list that catalogs 60-80 items and keep them face-down until the timer is set.
  • Read the instructions to the participants and ensure everyone understands.
  • Begin the timer and provide notice of the half way point, two-minute warning, one minute and then count down from 10 seconds until the time expires.

Read the following “instructions” to the group:

You and your team have been flying in a small plane and encountered a small storm that has forced the captain to land the plane. There was not a clearing for a runway so the pilot was forced to try to land in a jungle. Unfortunately, the pilot did not survive the crash,  and you and your team are uncertain where you are.

You all must gather your supplies quickly and get away from the plane though, as fast as you can because the plane is on fire and it will likely explode within minutes!

You and your team have five minutes to agree on what supplies you need to survive and get out of there! Unfortunately, you failed to prepare for a disaster in advance, so you need to pack your Bug Out Bag with the 10 items that you think you will need most.

NOTE: Let the team members collaborate on which items they will need to choose together to survive in the jungle.

Inspect What You Expect

Here is the suggested debrief of the activity:

  • Have each team review/discuss the 10 items they selected and why.
  • Point out the similarities and the differences.
  • As you recap the activity, you may want to say something like the following:

This activity is much like a team project. We all have differing ideas on what we need, and most of the teams made different selections, but they all still contained the four basic types of supplies. (Most teams will select a source of light, a form of shelter, some type of fire, and some food.)

As with a project, there were clearly some differing thoughts about what supplies were needed. Yet, most of you were able to come to an agreement as to what your team needed in a relatively short period of time, set clear expectations and discern the common goal. (If a team does not have a smooth experience, then use that as a teachable moment of the dangers of a project  failing if everyone doesn’t work together.)


Kickstart CardsNot Just Another Icebreaker!™
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Leading Through Variables

Participating in this activity helped to align the project team and allowed them to begin to realize all the variables of a project. I found that it also went a long way to committing us to working together to make the project a success.

If you consistently promote an atmosphere of collaboration, it is exceedingly likely that your project will run smoothly and efficiently and it will lead your team to a successful outcome.

So, what type of success have you had using things like icebreakers, interactive activities, or problem-solving exercises to increase collaboration and teamwork? Which ones have been most successful? Which ones flopped? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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——————–
Leonard Cochran, CPLP

Leonard Cochran, CPLP is Manager Learning Programs for Hilton Worldwide
He helps people Identify and Move Toward their God-Given Talents
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Image Source: sundaymag.tv