"people management"

Fri 22 January 2021
The goal of a 360-degree assessment is to identify blind spots and vulnerabilities in your professional skillset. By getting feedback from your colleagues and comparing their perspectives to your self-assessment, you can get a deeper understanding of your work performance. 

There are generally 3 outcomes from a 360-degree assessment: 1) somebody has underestimated their abilities, 2) somebody has overestimated their abilities, or 3) somebody is self-aware about their abilities. There are ten other articles addressing the two other possible outcomes of a 360-Degree Assessment available here:

Self-Aware - People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management

Overestimating -  People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management

Understanding Underestimating your Abilities for 360-Degree Assessments

When somebody has underestimated their abilities, they are essentially giving themselves a lower score for whatever category is being measured compared to their colleagues’ score of them. At first glance, this may seem like a positive thing: “If my colleagues believe that I’m better than my self-assessed performance, then I must be doing pretty well!” This is partially true, but this article will shed light and provide examples of how underestimating your abilities can be an opportunity for improvement.

When my team and I at Ambition In Motion facilitate mentorship programs, we also include our 360-Degree Assessment (and its report) to each participant. We’ve found that our members use these insights to reveal the areas most in need of improvement. This has helped members identify the best course for professional growth and helps provide a major launching pad for helping them open up and be vulnerable in their mentor relationships.

The 5 core areas we measure in our 360-degree assessment are People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management.

This article is one in a series of articles focused on why underestimating one's score on a 360-degree assessment report based on the 5 core areas listed in the paragraph above is not necessarily advantageous for one’s career.

People Management

People Management abilities are extremely valuable, regardless of whether or not you are in a leadership position or have the title of manager. People management stretches across one’s ability to maintain positive relationships with those they work with, participate in organizational citizenship activities (e.g., supporting a colleague with their work), be open to constructive feedback, and show that you are always open to learning more.

If you gave yourself a lower score than your colleagues on your people management abilities, this can indicate a lack of confidence/clarity about what you do that helps your colleagues, a higher level of excellence at work, or a lack of trust.

Lack of confidence/clarity about what you do that helps your colleagues

If you gave yourself a lower score than your colleagues on your people management abilities, that would indicate that your colleagues feel like you are stronger at people management than you believe you are. They may think you are great at building and maintaining work relationships, being helpful to others’ work, and being open to constructive criticism than your own assessment would suggest. This indicates a lack of confidence/clarity because if you felt confident and clear about how you help others and provide a safe place for others to give you constructive input, you likely would have scored yourself higher.

A Higher Level of Excellence at work

Just because your colleagues report your people management skills favorably, that doesn’t mean that you believe it. This may indicate that you set a higher level of excellence at work because, similar to lack of confidence, if you felt like you were engaged on all of these tasks, then you likely would have scored yourself higher. An example of this occurs in the popular Netflix show, The Queen’s Gambit. Essentially, the show is about a woman who is an incredible chess player and is unrelenting with her standard of excellence. For example, after winning her first state-wide chess competition she immediately set her eye on the next prize: being the best chess player in the country. Rather than settling for being the best in her state, she chooses to rededicate herself towards a higher goal. The point is that she wasn’t satisfied at the level she began at, but she made strides to improve her performance over time and her excellence followed suit.

Lack of trust

This reason primarily revolves around the topic of openness to receiving constructive feedback. If you don’t feel like people are open and honest when offering constructive feedback, then when they do offer feedback (positive or otherwise), you might dismiss its validity because “they must be holding back their honest assessment”. If you believe people are holding back their full feedback then the implication is that you don’t trust everything they are saying. This could be accurate as some people “fluff” their feedback for fear of being confrontational, but if your colleagues report via an anonymous assessment that you are open to receiving constructive feedback, that should hopefully be a signal that you can trust that they aren’t holding back when offering you feedback.

Here are a few solutions to closing the gap in one’s people management abilities. One is simply to ask your colleagues how your actions support their work so you can get a better understanding of your impact. You can also try thinking about how your work is helpful to your colleagues via introspection and spending more time asking clarifying questions when receiving constructive feedback.

Counter-argument

The eternal counter-argument to this is “I just set the bar really high and I feel like I am not where I would like to be in this area.” If that is the case, then you are not effectively communicating your standards to those you work with. If your colleagues don’t know your standards, then they can’t properly assess your abilities in relation to those standards.  

Overall, the goal of a 360-degree assessment and report is to identify the gaps and blindspots one may have so then they can improve their performance. The goal is to be self-aware, thus enabling you to work towards excellence in each area. Underestimating your performance might feel good at first because it shows others think highly of you, but continually failing to meet your own expectations means that you risk burning out or losing engagement. So, try being honest with yourself and setting honest goals. Professional growth is a slow process that takes dedication, consistency, and honesty, but by following the path, we are all capable of becoming our best selves.

Thu 28 January 2021
A 360-degree assessment is a unique survey that uses input from self-assessment and from colleagues’ assessments to understand a professional’s strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots. By gathering feedback from your colleagues alongside your own perspective on those same questions, we can get a deeper look at how your self-perception compares to the way your colleagues see you. 

With this data, we can break down the results of a 360-Degree Assessment into three outcomes: 

1) Somebody has underestimated their abilities (self-rating lower than colleagues’ ratings), 

2) Somebody has overestimated their abilities (self-rating higher than colleagues’), 
 or
 3) Somebody is self-aware about their abilities (self-rating matches colleagues’).

This article is going to address some possible problems and solutions that might arise for people who are self-aware of their abilities. This article is part of a series I’m writing about Ambition In Motion’s 360-Degree Assessments and how their results should be interpreted. There are ten other articles addressing the two other possible outcomes of a 360-Degree Assessment available here:

Overestimating - People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management 

Understanding Self-Awareness for 360-Degree Assessments

When somebody is self-aware about their abilities, this means that they gave themselves a similar score as the score their colleagues provided on the same skill. 

Initially, self-awareness may seem to be a cut-and-dry positive outcome but looking a bit deeper reveals some potential issues. After all, the goal of a 360-degree assessment is to identify blind spots and close the gaps between one’s self-perception and the perception of their colleagues. However, we find that there are opportunities for growth within a self-aware 360-degree assessment report and this article will review those opportunities.

At Ambition In Motion, our 360-Degree Assessment has 5 core components: 

a.                People Management, 
b.                Innovation
c.                Leadership Ability
d.                Communication Skills, and 
e.                Financial Management.

While self-awareness is likely the best outcome relative to the other two possibilities, I’m next going to explain how you can leverage self-awareness to grow as a professional and identify blind spots in your professional perspective. I’m going to show why self-awareness on your 360-Degree Assessment is more than just a pat on the back, even if you and your colleagues share similar views on your performance. 

People Management

People Management abilities are extremely valuable, regardless of whether or not you are in a leadership position or have the title of manager. People management stretches across one’s ability to maintain positive relationships with those they work with, participate in organizational citizenship activities (e.g., supporting a colleague with their work), be open to constructive feedback, and show that you are always open to learn more.

If you gave yourself a people management score that aligns with your colleagues, we can consider two types of outcomes depending on how well you rated your performance. 

Self-Awareness but poor performance

If you gave yourself a relatively low score and your colleagues agree with you, the reason why this isn’t a good thing should be immediately apparent. You perhaps gave yourself a low score because you don’t believe that people management is one of your strengths. Of course, acknowledging your shortcomings is the first step to improvement, however, the fact that your colleagues agree with you is concerning because that means they feel it as well.

One option is to just shrug it off and think to yourself “I am not in a role that requires me to manage people so my performance in this area doesn’t really matter.”

If you feel this way, I want to challenge that thinking. Whether you are relatively low on your company’s org chart, are a solopreneur and don’t have any direct reports, or are in pretty much any scenario where you don’t think you are managing people, I can make an argument that there is some form of people management going on.

If you are relatively low on your company’s org chart, that does not mean that you can’t manage up. Managing up is the notion that we, as employees, control our work environment and outcomes just as much as our managers do, and we have the capabilities to communicate our goals, roles, and what we are comfortable with in a way that allows for us to be productive while protecting our boundaries.

If you are not able to manage up, you may end up entirely at the mercy of your manager or other stakeholders. For example, if you are a full-stack developer but prefer to work on front-end design work and your boss keeps assigning you to back-end data tasks, without managing up, you are going to be frustrated/bored with the work you do. Either your leadership will keep asking you to do things because they are assuming that you will tell them when enough is enough or you will get the same tasks over and over again and feel the strain of monotony. Either way, the inability to people manage will create stress on your life.

If you are a solopreneur without any direct reports, you still report to your clients. People management is the ultimate in setting expectations and delivering results. Your clients could end up “firing” you if you can’t properly set and communicate expectations, or you could burn yourself out by working yourself ragged meeting trying to meet and achieve an impossible goal that a client demands. By practicing people management, you could change those outcomes by creating a shared perspective on the tasks ahead or even helping your client avoid an impossible expectation without causing them offense. 

If you are in any other scenario where you don’t feel like you should improve your people management abilities, challenge yourself with the following questions:

·        Am I enjoying my work?
·        If I continue doing my work like this with the same people for the next 5 years, will I still continue to enjoy my work and get compensated in a way that satisfies me?
·        Will I feel like I am growing in my career in 5 years if things stay the same?

If you answered yes to all 3 questions, then there is nothing you need to change. But, we find that the vast majority of people say no to at least one of these questions and that necessitates interacting with others and managing those relationships.

Self-Awareness and high performance

If you gave yourself a relatively high score for your people management ability and your colleagues agree with you, that is a great thing.

But, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for growth!

Here is a story that I believe exemplifies this. I have a cousin named Xavier. Xavier loves to play basketball. When Xavier plays basketball with his friends that live in his neighborhood, he crushes them and they think he is a great player. But, when Xavier plays against kids at his high school, he gets beat. Unsurprisingly, Xavier loves the comfort of playing against kids in his neighborhood and doesn’t love getting beat (so Xavier doesn’t bring it up to them). Since the kids in his neighborhood never get to see him getting beat, they still believe Xavier is the best player they have ever played against.

The point: oftentimes at work we lose objectivity.

We don’t have a work version of “high school basketball” where we can compare our skills. All we have is our insulated work environment. So, all our colleagues know is our current work environment and their past work environments to compare it to. Without additional experience, they might not realize your potential for growth, even with a high rating. 

The question you have to ask yourself is: “Am I really the Michael Jordan of people management? Or am I more like Xavier?” 

More likely than not, you are more like Xavier. 

This isn’t a bad thing. It is awesome that you have the respect and admiration of those you work with. But it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement. And honestly, even Michael Jordan would realize that his personal best is only his best so far if he keeps improving. 

What you can do to improve

Ask - If you would like to know how you can be more helpful to your colleagues - Spend more time intentionally asking your colleagues how you can help support their work. 

Introspect - If you would like to start being more helpful to your colleagues on your own - Take more time to consider what you could do to be more helpful for your colleagues. Be sure to check with them if that would be helpful to them.

Manage - If you would like to be more approachable for constructive feedback - Spend more time asking your colleagues for areas in which you can improve and communicating you want this feedback so you can improve yourself as a professional.

Overall, having a self-aware response on your 360-degree assessment report isn’t a free pass to give in to stagnation. It simply shows that you and your colleagues are on the same page. But, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement. The implications from having a self-aware score are not wholly positive or wholly negative. Instead, it is a snapshot of your current performance which can help you make informed decisions about where you need improvement. As long as you possess an open-mindedness about making improvements and are willing to measure whether the new changes worked, you can ensure that you are on a positive track towards continual growth and improvement.

Sun 21 February 2021
A 360-degree assessment helps you understand your professional performance by having both you and your colleagues assess your abilities across several key skills. 

The goal of a 360-degree assessment is to identify blind spots and vulnerabilities in your professional skillset. By getting feedback from your colleagues and comparing their perspectives to your self-assessment, you can get a deeper understanding of your work performance.  

There are generally 3 outcomes from a 360-degree assessment: 1) somebody has underestimated their abilities, 2) somebody has overestimated their abilities, or 3) somebody is self-aware about their abilities. 

This article is going to address some possible problems and solutions that might arise for people who have overestimated their abilities. This article is part of a series I’m writing about Ambition In Motion’s 360-Degree Assessments and how their results should be interpreted. There are ten other articles addressing the two other possible outcomes of a 360-Degree Assessment available here:


When somebody has overestimated their abilities, they are essentially giving themselves a greater score for whatever category is being measured compared to their colleagues’ scores of them.

At first glance, this can sting because you are essentially learning that your perception of yourself is greater than your colleagues' perception of you which may cause one to think “I must not be as good as I think I am” or “My colleagues must not realize all of the things I do to be strong in this area.”

For most people, the answer is somewhere in the middle. 

When my team and I at Ambition In Motion facilitate mentorship programs, we also include a 360-Degree Assessment and report to each participant. We do this for two reasons: 1) these reports can help reveal opportunities for growth in one’s professional skill set, and 2) deep self-reflection is a major launching pad for fostering vulnerability in a mentor relationship. These two components are crucial to developing strong, valuable mentor relationships. 

The 5 core areas we measure in our 360-Degree Assessment are: People Management, Innovation, Leadership Ability, Communication Skills, and Financial Management.

Next, I’ll explain the significance of each of these categories, and then suggest ways that someone can learn after finding out they are overestimating their abilities in each category. This should be an opportunity for growth and understanding, not a time to be defensive and stubborn.

People Management

People management abilities are extremely valuable, regardless of whether or not you are in a leadership position or have the title of manager. People management stretches across one’s ability to maintain positive relationships with those they work with, participate in organizational citizenship activities (e.g., supporting a colleague with their work), be open to constructive feedback, and show that you are always open to learning more.

If you gave yourself a greater score than colleagues on your people management abilities, there is clearly a gap. This could mean that either you are not as skilled as you believe, or that the people you work with don’t realize the effort you put into being a good people manager. The first step to reducing that gap is purposefully reflecting and trying to understand what is causing the gap. 

Not as good as you believe you are

This can be a tough pill to swallow. You may not be as good of a people manager as you thought you were. If you gave yourself a moderate score and your colleagues gave you a lower score, this typically is a product of stagnation: sitting still means falling behind in the long run. You might not think highly of your people management ability, but in your perception, you do enough to get the work done but you aren’t that bad. 

You gave yourself a moderate score

This is a fork in the road. One option is to accept being a bad/mediocre people manager, which means operating under the assumption that this skill is not crucial for your own career trajectory or happiness. This is a risky move! Humans are naturally social, whether we realize it or not, and poor people management abilities will have unforeseen costs. But if that’s how you decide, perhaps you can skip the rest of this segment. 

On the other hand, if you want to grow your People Management abilities, then keep reading. 

Being a strong people manager is all about being willing to help others and contribute positively to the workplace culture; we call this “Organizational Citizenship”. I like to refer to being a strong people manager as the Tim Duncan award. Tim Duncan is a retired professional basketball player who played for the San Antonio Spurs and won 5 NBA championships with them. Tim was consistently the best player on the floor, but he had a secret weapon. Tim’s playstyle was special because he deferred to his team and played to their strengths to amplify his team’s ability to win. Tim consistently ceded the spotlight to his teammates, even though he was the best player on his team for most of those championships. By helping build up those around him, even if it didn’t get him the stats, recognition, or pay that other superstars demand, he helped push his team towards victory. 

Now, I don’t know Tim Duncan personally. But, I would imagine that his professional basketball career was very satisfying: 5 NBA Championship Rings speaks for itself. He also avoided drama with his contract or playtime or coach, and his teammates took notice. When the best player on the team cares so deeply about building up his teammates and avoiding the BS, the rest of the team follows his lead because they are invested in reaching their team’s potential. 

If you are reading this, you are probably not a professional basketball player – most work environments don’t have a pinnacle moment that they work up to every year similar to a national championship. But, you do have a long “regular season”, even if your “championship” is only your annual review at the end of the year. And dominating your personal regular season can sometimes mean pulling your team together to avoid the drama and put in the hard work, game after game. 

Everyone wants to work in an environment in which they feel happy, respected, and clear about what and why they do their work. You probably also want a work environment with other people that also feel happy, respected, and clear about what and why they do their work. Regardless of whether you have people management in your job description, working on improving your people management abilities will help keep you and your team thrive and become happier at work. 

You gave yourself a high score

The other side of this people management coin is that you gave yourself a high score and your colleagues gave you a moderate or a low score.

This is typically a sign of a person who is well informed on what it means to be a strong people manager – e.g. you have read the books, maybe you have motivational quotes on your wall or posted on social media, maybe you’ve even written out what it means to be a good people manager.

You, theoretically, understand what it means to be a strong people manager, but in real life have not been able to effectively apply what you have learned.

Just to be abundantly clear, this is on YOU. Sure, you can find some mitigating factors or excuses, but in the end, good People Management will mean adapting to your environment. It’s not your team’s fault that your methods for being a strong people manager haven’t been impactful to them. It is up to you to listen to feedback, reflect on it, and then try something different to be better. And if you have tried multiple times to be a better people manager and it still isn’t working, it means you haven’t tried enough things. It took Thomas Edison 1,000 attempts to invent the light bulb. If you have studied people management tactics AND you have tried 1,000 different ways to be a better people manager but still are having trouble, you are probably just extremely unlucky. But just like in so many other parts of life, take some comfort in knowing that all you need to do is keep learning and trying new things.  

Keep in mind that people management is an ever-evolving process. In the 1980s, Jack Welch of General Electric slashed the bottom 10% of earners every year at the company, and at the time people lauded him for it. Now, GE’s stock is all over the place and a cutthroat culture ensued because nobody felt safe.  The point is that what is considered a strong people management strategy now may not be considered a strong people management strategy in the future. Keep an open mind for the innovation in People Management. 

Strategies to improve your people management

To begin, always ask for feedback. Performance reviews shouldn’t be some annual tradition; gathering feedback is the crucial final step when somebody has tried something new at work and they need to know if it was effective. And reviews shouldn’t just be between the manager and direct report. Anyone who is affected by your work should have their feedback incorporated when you seek to make improvements.

Being a strong people manager is about your ability to help others do their best work. Put another way, how can you be the best Robin to their Batman? If you can think of yourself as the sidekick to help those you work with be the hero in their own story, you will make incredible strides at being a better people manager.

Therefore, the first step is understanding where those you are working with would like to go. Have you ever helped someone and then felt that they weren’t grateful for your help? Oftentimes it is because what you thought would be helpful to them wasn’t what they needed. You assumed that going out of your way to perform some task would be what they were looking for, but you skipped past communicating and stepped on their toes. This might be because they wanted to experience doing the task themselves and your help seemed more like you didn’t trust them. Or, it could be because your assumption about what they want is incorrect, so by jumping in and taking over, you were really just forcing your personal style onto their own decisions.  

So, the best thing for being a better people manager is asking those you are working with what their biggest challenges are and finding the clarifying details that will help you truly understand the issue. Without that information, you can’t start the next step: working collaboratively to find new ideas to support them and ensuring achieving these new outcomes will work for the people involved. 

Notice how I didn’t write “performing these new tasks” but instead wrote “achieving these new outcomes”. This is critical to distinguish because you completing random tasks is not enough to be considered a strong people manager. You have to help the people achieve the outcomes that you all have agreed are important. If I lose my dog and you say that you will help me find my dog, I will be grateful if you help search but my pain is not alleviated until my dog is found. 

Thus, commit to clear, achievable outcomes that directly support your colleagues and ensure that achieving those specific outcomes will be, in fact, helpful.

Once you achieve that outcome, ask for feedback on how that outcome helped them with their work and how it made them more efficient or effective at work.

This may seem like a lot, but this is the type of work that is necessary to be a truly impactful and strong people manager.

In essence, overestimating your abilities in these categories does not mean that you will forever be this way, but it does mean that there are opportunities for growth that you must tap into if you would like to improve. 
Sun 8 August 2021
Over the past 2 months, I have interviewed over 50 senior-level leaders and CEOs of companies in the Louisville and Indianapolis communities, and this article shares their perspectives on the key trends and challenges facing local industries and businesses. This article omits specific names and companies to keep the focus on the industries, trends, and challenges facing our community.

Below are the industries and types of companies interviewed:

 | Industry | Company Types
| Recruitment  | IT, medical, sales, and manufacturing
 | Media  | AV, Entertainment
 | Sanitation  | Janitorial Services, PPE
 | Healthcare  | Telehealth, Pharma, Community-Based Healthcare, COVID Testing/Vaccine Rollout, Physical Therapy
 | Manufacturing  | Legacy and Startup
 | Hospitality  | Hair Care, Hotels, Restaurants, Theme Parks, Online Food Ordering,
 | Logistics  | Legacy and Startup
 | Banking & Finance  | Collections Agencies, Credit Unions, Banks, Title Companies, Insurance/Financial Management
 | Technology  | Development, Software, Hardware
 | Government  | Local Government, Criminal Justice System
 | Real estate | Commercial & Residential
| Consulting  | Management, Technology, HR
 | Marketing  | Legacy Mail Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Social Media
 | Key Challenges | labor shortages, inflation/raising prices, supply chain/inventory management, workspace management, finding new ways to sell
 
From the diverse perspectives of these industries and companies, there were 5 key challenges that emerged from these interviews: 1) Labor shortages, 2) Inflation and rising prices, 3) Supply chain and inventory management, 4) Workspace management, and 5) Finding new ways to sell.

This article will focus on these key challenges and share stories on how different types of companies reacted to these challenges and are creating opportunities from them. 


Labor Shortages
The number one challenge posed by the executives I interviewed was labor shortages.

From blue collar to white collar, from entry-level to highly experienced roles, finding the right people to fill those roles has become a challenge for many companies.

Two questions become apparent: 1) Why did this happen? and 2) What did the most successful teams do to keep their teams?

When the pandemic first hit, many companies laid off their less-essential employees because of the uncertainty as to what would happen next. Some companies were able to get creative, and they found ways to pay people hourly and retain their benefits for their employees, but the most common response was to either furlough their employees or let them go. 

Other companies kept their entire team on-staff and full-time, despite the reduced demand. Those companies definitely took a financial hit, but the stability and continuity paid off when business turned back around and they were ready to go.

However, the teams that thrived during the past 18 months were the ones that completely leaned in to the necessary changes and rapidly pivoted at the onset of the pandemic. Some companies fundamentally changed their business model and were able to successfully deploy their teams and leverage their skillsets into a different vertical. Some of those pivoting efforts became total successes – i.e., creating entirely new business lines and driving strong revenues. Others saw ephemeral successes that temporarily worked but eventually fizzled out (e.g., distilleries changing from making spirits to  hand sanitizer during shortages). There are also other pivot-stories that didn’t work out but provided great lessons and helped exercise their innovative muscles for pivoting, changing, and thinking creatively. Compared to stagnant companies that were caught flat-footed, even the unsuccessful pivots had long-term benefits on the companies that sought to adapt to the new challenges. 

Trend Observed: If you are a leader and you are ever faced with an existential scenario where your core business has completely fallen off, the businesses that thrive in these conditions are the ones that accept the need to pivot immediately and start trying new things, while the stagnant or stubborn companies get stuck in the churn that accompanies momentous change.

Most teams did not pivot immediately, and nor could they afford to hold steady, so most teams ended up with furloughed or laid off employees.

Paired with strong unemployment benefits during this time period and the lapse in hiring new employees from April through November of 2020 (for many companies), that 8-month gap disrupted the typical job turnover and growth cycle and led many to delay going back to work.

For companies that hire recent graduates, finding hires has been a struggle as well because of how many students delayed or altered their college education plans due to COVID. With fewer students graduating and a strong need to hire out of college, being attractive to candidates has become crucial for getting the best candidates.

For companies seeking to hire highly experienced (high salary) roles, finding and identifying the right person has been difficult because of the lack of in-person interviewing and onboarding. Most companies have found ways to make virtual onboarding work (and some even thrive), but when it comes to hiring for a highly sought-after role, some companies have become more risk-averse towards making a hire with less experience because of the high expense of making a mistake. Plus, with it being so difficult to fill less experienced roles with an organization, the promotional track for some companies’ employees have been delayed because companies need continuity for these key functions during this chaotic period.

However, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel! There are companies that have filled all or most of their hiring needs during this time without substantially raising their wages offered. Two of my interviewees found a way to successfully attract great candidates to their firms. One company was a management consulting firm, the other, a large hospitality company, but both used similar tactics. Their secret: focus on the brand and making the brand fun, enjoyable, and attractive. They observed that their benefits weren’t terribly different from comparable firms with similar hiring needs. However, these firms leaned their marketing resources, internal communications, and overall brand statement towards having fun and doing good work, they were able to fulfill all or most of their hiring needs. One other interesting observation about both of these companies was that they both also provided opportunities for either temporary work or changing work. For example, the hospitality company hired their employees with the expectation that they would only work for the summer. For these employees, this was great because they had a very clear end-date for their employment with the company which caused them to feel like they weren’t making a massive commitment by starting work with the company. For the management consulting firm, they constantly switch their new employees on the type of working they are doing (e.g. a rotation). So, the employees knew that if they didn’t like the work they were doing, they were going to switch in a few weeks and if they did like it, they knew that they could always come back to that work.

Trend Observed: The (usually) unstated precept from leadership to employees that “You should be grateful to have a job” is gone. In fact, in many ways it has inverted to become “You should be grateful to have me.” People’s motivations have shifted away from simply working to get a paycheck. For many people, work is an outlet to socialize, collaborate with great teammates, use their brain in fulfilling ways, and get some time away from the house. If you are a leader and you are struggling to hire and are feeling pressure to raise your wages and benefits past what is feasible, you might find greater success in attracting candidates by developing your company culture to be more fun in the eyes of your current and prospective employees.


Inflation and Rising Prices
Since many companies are struggling to make the right hires, or in some cases just hire enough employees to do the work, companies are following the logical conclusion and raising wages.

Paying for wages is the largest expense for most companies. Therefore, when wages rise, margins rapidly diminish. So, the only major way for companies to get back to their previous margins is by raising the prices for their goods and services.

Make no mistake about it – this is inflation.

Inflation isn’t necessarily horrible, but it can be if you don’t know how to handle it or if you are in an industry that regulates how you handle it.

For example, there were many small business owners that I interviewed that were apprehensive to raise their prices to avoid offending their legacy customers with sticker shock. Many small business owners also have fewer resources for determining when or by how much to raise their prices.

With inflation reaching a peak compared to the previous 15 years, it might be difficult to determine when the right time is to raise prices and project how inflation will change in future years. 

If you are a business owner and you are trying to figure out how to keep your salaries competitive, retain margin, and not offend your customers with price increases, you are not alone. Some ways business owners have handled this situation is by assessing how often they will adjust prices. By increasing the frequency of price adjustments, you can decrease the effects of sticker-shock that may coincide with increasing prices. If you are apprehensive to changing your prices frequently, then you need to project inflation’s trends and bake in extra margin now to buy time for once the margin dwindles over time.

There are some industries that don’t have the luxury of easily adjusting their prices. For example, in healthcare, many insurance companies have already determined the price of certain procedures and medications. Hospitals and healthcare companies are then forced to work their business model around the predetermined prices. This model works well when there is little to no inflation, but when inflation weakens the value of a previously competitive salary, companies must choose between more difficult hiring, or reducing their margins by offering higher salaries.

One question that comes up frequently around this topic is: What happens when the unemployment benefits end and all of these people flood the market seeking a job?

Most of these open roles will likely be filled, but it is unlikely that the companies will be able to drop their salaries back to where they used to be. At the start of the pandemic, some companies were able to get away with “hero pay” in which employees were temporarily paid a higher salary. It was mutually understood by both parties that the salaries would eventually revert. However, most companies have already adjusted their wages, some by 20-30%, and they are not branding this wage as “hero pay” or any other form of temporary high pay based on need, meaning that these salaries are here to stay – but so is the inflation that comes with it.

Trend Observed: If you have the freedom to adjust your prices, it is probably best to rip that band-aid early and have a plan around how often you are willing to adjust your prices and clearly communicate that to your team. Your team needs to be in the loop on the plan or they may become frustrated at being stuck in the dark regarding the changing prices. If you don’t have the freedom to adjust your prices (e.g. in an industry that has regulation), you need to begin lobbying and having the conversation around having more flexibility around adjusting those prices. This will likely take a very long time to happen, but what alternative do you have? You either get to a point where your staff is completely overworked and underpaid (compared to other work opportunities), and either your people leave or you eat the losses because the business is losing money (to keep wages competitive) for the hope that one day the prices will adjust.

Supply Chain and Inventory Management

The pandemic has put to the test the just-in-time inventory management system. Just-in-time inventory management is the notion that companies hold inventory for the least number of days before the item is shipped to the customer. By limiting the amount of time inventory sits in a warehouse, waste from spoilage, breaking, and mismanagement is significantly diminished, and this allows companies in supply chain and logistics to work more efficiently. 

But what happens when you have one part that is missing? You have a car that consists of hundreds of different parts and is completely assembled, but it is missing 1 semiconductor chip. What happens? The answer is that you have thousands of cars sitting, unable to be shipped because they are missing 1 part out of hundreds.

Why is it so difficult to get one measly semiconductor chip (or any other product or material that is leveraged in just-in-time inventory)? Aren’t there competing manufacturing companies that can find the part they need?

The answer is complicated. With the world economy opening up and allowing for companies to procure materials from anywhere at the cheapest price, the supply chain is growing more complex. Combined with just-in-time inventory management, this means that manufacturing companies hold only for their immediate needs. When a global pandemic hits, different countries are impacted in diverse ways. Some countries can’t let raw materials get shipped out, or some countries can’t get raw materials in for their factories. Others can’t operate at maximum capacity because people are sick. This all makes the seemingly brief delays pile up, turning an interstate into a traffic jam. 

Another massive issue in all of this is the overall lack of organization of many of the ports in the US. Many ports in the US, before the pandemic, were operating in a way where some shipping containers would never get processed and left in potential space available for unloading new boats. That extra space was taken for granted and containers just kept getting stacked up over years. Well, when the pandemic came, not only were boats still arriving in US ports, but the people to operate those ports weren’t coming to work because of COVID. Essentially, this giant game of catch-up for unloading cargo becomes exacerbated because the decreased workforce around the ports means that parts come into the US more slowly (or not at all) and the entire supply chain becomes compromised.

One supply chain CEO I interviewed was able to project what was about to happen and benefit from his forward thinking. He observed what was going on in China in January 2020 and decided to stock up on the raw materials he needed for him to provide his products, and this gave him an advantage later.

Most inventory management systems observe low demand (e.g. March, April, and May of 2020) as a sign to order less in subsequent months. When demand drastically swung back, companies were caught on their back foot trying to catch up. The supply chain CEO I spoke with projected this would happen, went to his clients to inform them of what was going to happen, and was able to get his clients to pay early for materials for the rest of the year based on this projection.

Trend Observed: Most inventory management systems focus on microeconomic, short-term factors for making inventory decisions. And although this works 95% of the time, it is extremely important to project for macroeconomic factors that could have a long-term impact on inventory and supply chain management overall. 

Trend Observed: The other trend observed was the importance of diversifying sources for raw materials. Obviously quality control, price, and a drive for simplicity play a factor in business decisions, but if your business is solely reliant on one provider for your raw materials, you are leaving yourself liable to changes in their market conditions which inevitably impact your business. 

Workspace Management

Work from home, hybrid, or the traditional office set up. Which is best? 

The answer is that it depends on your company and your work situation.

Every leader I spoke with had to adjust their working situation some way or another. Some leaders went to their employees and took a vote of what they would like to do. Some leaders immediately started having their teams work remotely. And some leaders had to implement sanitation and safety measures to keep their teams working at the office. 

Now that people are starting to feel more comfortable opening up socially, many companies are starting to come back to the office, but not all in the same ways.

Some companies are directly coming back to the office and generally returning to the status quo. However, many other companies are finding creative ways to either get out of or diminish their leases. For example, one executive that I interviewed partitioned off half of his office and is now leasing out that space to drive some additional income and allow his staff to continue hybrid work – partly from home and partly from the office setting. Other companies are simply letting their lease lapse and partially converting that funding to support coworking spaces for sales conversations or board rooms for big meetings, but otherwise allowing everyone to work from home. 

If you own commercial real estate, it isn’t all doom and gloom. There is an opportunity in supply chain. As mentioned in the previous segment, this notion of just in time inventory is falling out of favor meaning that manufacturing companies and companies that work with raw materials are starting to buy larger warehouses to store more raw materials. Some large logistics companies are even looking at leasing or buying old malls and converting them into warehouses and supply chain centers.

Trend Observed: Companies are finding unique ways to optimally deploy their teams into work environments that are efficient and work for them, and there isn’t just one trend everyone is following for finding the best working situation for their team.

But back to the original question as to what is best: working from home, a hybrid model, or at the office. The jury is still out. However, I have found it strange how many CEOs are clinging onto anecdotes and feelings when deciding between working in the office versus remote or a hybrid.

There is a lot of data that has shown that working remotely has led to greater productivity from teams, particularly for output and qualitative data around satisfaction at work. Remote work hasn’t led to greater productivity for every team, but between my interviews with executives and the research articles I’ve read on this topic, most teams were more productive working remotely.

However, many CEOs and leaders that I have interviewed have taken their team back to the office. I believe that the data on best practices for determining work location will become clearer in the future, but I have only seen a limited amount of data showing the advantages of in-person over remote. When I have interviewed CEOs that have taken their teams back to the office, the traditional response I have heard is “this working situation works best for us” or “everyone seems much happier at the office compared to at home” or “we have been able to collaborate much better at the office”. Like I mentioned before, I believe the data could come, but none of the CEOs that I interviewed referenced any sort of comparative analysis on productivity differences between remote-work versus in person. 

For the most part, this ends up being just conjecture and feelings and not rooted in metrics. My biggest surprise is how many of these CEOs dove fully into working from the office without offering a hybrid model to ease this transition. 

Trend Observed: If you are transitioning back from working remotely to the office, it is really critical that you consider some metrics you can measure to assess whether one works better for you. If your team is currently working remotely and you are contemplating coming back to the office, you must have a system in place for measuring productivity, so you can understand what happens when you come back to the office.  

Finding new ways to sell

Finding a new way to sell was critical for many companies to stay alive during the pandemic. From restaurants transitioning from legacy ordering via a server to online orders, to companies expanding delivery to include curb-side drop-offs right into one’s car, companies have had to completely transition the way they operate and sell their goods and services.

Here are some of the most interesting stories about how companies have had to change the way they sell.

One of the executives I interviewed works for a large pharmaceutical company. One of the biggest challenges she faced was retaining her high-level account executives who sold their medicines into doctors’ offices.

Since many doctors embraced telehealth, they left their medical offices and started working from home. For small pharmaceutical companies who relied heavily on in-person meetings with doctors to sell their medicines when doctors have a free moment to chat, they now had to find alternative ways to get their voices heard. Therefore, they started poaching account executives from larger, established pharmaceutical companies to harvest their rolodex of relationships and for the opportunity to drive business from those account executives. 

This forced these larger pharmaceutical companies to focus more heavily on the doctor experience and having multiple points of relationship with their company, not just one individual account executive who might convince the doctor to take their business elsewhere.

Another executive I interviewed creates software and learning programs for governments working on educating and rehabilitating people after they have been arrested for a crime. Most of these classes were in-person and expensive for local governments to run. Since most local governments have limited budgets for this type of work, and they must keep offering these services, they were in a bind. This executive decided to offer his software and learning programming to governments for free with the caveat that those who were arrested would pay for the classes. He was able to help these governments get COVID-compliant, continue offering these services to their citizens and still save money.

Other executives I interviewed decided to take full accountability of the entire process of their service. For example, one executive whose company helps roll out the COVID vaccine and testing in low-income areas. This executive’s work went beyond providing the vaccine and the tests, but also renting the portable facilities to create a comfortable environment for their clients to get tested and vaccinated. Another executive in the consulting space provided free consulting to businesses and startups trying to find traction in the pandemic, because he realized that he could boost his brand and name recognition by being helpful to others that may want his services but couldn’t afford them (yet!).  

Trend Observed: Never waste a pandemic! When consumer behaviors are changing rapidly, there are opportunities to solve problems and build relationships with people that could become fruitful both immediately and over time. If you are a leader, it is critical to take time to step back and observe the trends that are happening so you can leverage your team’s skillset and product to help solve a challenge faced by the constant changes in consumer behavior. If you don’t, you may miss out on an opportunity, or worse, get left behind.

Sun 28 November 2021
I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest on the IBJ podcast a month ago to discuss the topic of the Great Resignation and why people are making career changes in droves. One of the consistent themes my fellow guest, Mandy Haskins, and I identified was how critical of a role that the manager plays in whether people stay or go.

One of the most important components for being a strong manager that engages their team and helps them feel connected to the work is their ability to have effective one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. 

This article is going to explain why having one-on-one meetings between managers and direct reports is so critical to being a strong manager. Next, I’ll present some tips on how to have effective one-on-ones and how you can assess the quality of those important meetings.

Gallup came out with research that identified that 70% of employee engagement variance is based on the relationship between the manager and that employee. The adage “people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses” is absolutely true. And the best way to ensure that you are consistently connecting with and having a pulse on your people is by having regular 1:1 meetings with direct reports to understand their feelings about work and their own path within the organization.

What is 1:1?

A 1:1 is time taken between a manager and direct report to discuss updates between each other and their overall feelings about the work. However, not all managers treat these meetings with the same significance. Some managers define a 1:1 as a quick chat about upcoming tasks. On the other hand, some other managers create an agenda to discuss key components of the employee’s work, keep notes from previous conversations to follow up on, and share a vision for the employee (and have the employee share a vision with them) that includes their role in the organization and their role within the particular team or department. 

The problem here is that the difference between the former and latter examples of 1:1’s is vast: you simply can’t get a good read on the situation without putting in the work to have effective 1:1’s. So I wanted to take some time to identify what an effective 1:1 looks like, what you should be discussing, and how you can assess the value of those meetings over time.

What does an effective 1:1 look like?

An effective 1:1 is a meeting between manager and direct where report the manager has asked the direct report to share some updates about their work and tasks to the manager before the meeting has started (i.e., updates on goals, perceptions of task performance, team productivity, team cohesion, and feelings about their ability to help others without being asked - organizational citizenship). This key step gives the manager context on to what has been accomplished since their last meeting and how they are feeling about work from a high level.

When the manager and direct report meet, the manager has questions prepared to ask their direct report that will help the manager better understand any gaps between the manager’s perspective and the direct report’s experience. For example, consider a case where a direct report shared before the 1:1 that they are feeling a little down on their task performance this month. However, their manager feels that the individual did a fine job and didn’t notice any signs of lower task performance. Effective managers can learn more about the cause of this gap in perception by asking questions like these in the next 1:1 meeting:

·         What areas do you think you performed well this past month and what areas do you think you could improve?
·         What aspects of your work do you like most? How do they play into your strengths and vision for where you'd like to be?
·         How do you feel about your work and the people you work with?
·         What areas of your work would benefit from greater clarity from myself or other team members?

What is critical about the questions a manager has prepared for the conversation is that they are not simple yes/no questions, nor are they “why” questions. Yes/no questions are not as effective in a 1:1 because managing and understanding your direct reports requires some curiosity from the manager to get useful answers. Binary questions leave out the details that provide needed context and understanding between manager and direct report. 

“Why” questions are also not as effective in a 1:1 because they insinuate that something needs to be justified. For example, if the manager would have asked “Why do you think you performed poorly over the past month?”, the subsequent response involves backtracking and providing a justification for why they scored themselves the way they did. It puts the employee on the defensive and hampers shared understanding. It also disincentives’ employees from being honest in future conversations and doesn’t lead to any greater understanding between manager and direct reports. What/How/Who questions are much more effective for 1:1’s because they emphasize curiosity and help a direct report feel comfortable sharing an honest assessment of themselves, their team, and their experience.

How does one measure the impact of a 1:1?

Management simply doesn’t allow for some one-size-fits-all scientific solution. Management is more of an art that needs to be adjusted on a case-by-case basis to fit their direct reports, their work, and work culture. At Ambition In Motion, we have created a tool that helps managers better understand their direct reports’ core feelings about work over time (updates on goals, feelings about their task performance, feelings about the team productivity and cohesion, and feelings about their ability to help others without being asked - organizational citizenship) called AIM Insights. 

One thing we have found to be really effective with the tool is when we measure the correlation between the number of 1:1’s had and their employees’ change in responses month-over-month trends for those core feelings on work. When there is a positive correlation, that would mean that the more meetings that manager has with that direct report, the higher the direct reports’ scores are (which means they should have more 1:1’s with that employee). When there is a negative correlation that would mean that the content and quality of those meetings need to change to help improve that employee’s feelings about work.

Of course, there are other factors that can impact how an employee is feeling at work, beyond their relationship with their manager, so this can’t solve every challenge an employee is facing at work.

However, refer back to the Gallup statistic – 70% of employee engagement variance is based on the relationship between manager and direct report. Measuring this every month can help a manager find the right communication style and cadence that works best for each direct report. This, in turn, can help managers better understand their employees, improve their engagement levels, and increase retention. As the relationship between employees and employers continues to change and evolve, I’m sure that the “winners” of the great resignation will be the managers who adapt and thrive: they will keep their best employees, develop up-and-coming stars, and provide a prime landing spot for anybody that’s sick of the old paradigm.

Thu 6 January 2022

Work Orientation is how you derive meaning from work

Everyone has their own way of deriving meaning from work. We call this your Work Orientation. Research has helped show that people generally fall into one of three major categories based on how they find meaning at work. Some people are:
Career Oriented – or motivated by professional growth like getting promoted or learning new skills that support career advancement. 
Calling Oriented – or motivated by the fulfillment from doing the work and making a positive impact on the world with their work.
Job Oriented – or motivated by gaining greater control over work/life balance and gaining material benefits to support their life outside of work.
Work Orientation is fluid, meaning it likely will change throughout your life and be impacted by both personal and professional events. Work Orientation is also on a spectrum, meaning that you aren’t necessarily purely career, calling, or job oriented, and many people have mixed orientations.
Next, I’m going to share tips on how work orientation affects your work, either as a manager or as an employee, and how you could leverage this information to create a better, more sustainable work environment.
Calling Oriented
As a Calling Oriented Professional
If you are a calling-oriented professional, it means you are motivated by changing the world through your work. Your professional life and personal mission are intertwined. In a work setting, it can be frustrating if your work loses its clarity as to how it is changing the world. Eventually, you will become burnt out if you don’t receive clarity and reinforcement as to how your work is positively impacting the world.
Advocating for yourself and asking your manager to have these conversations can seem daunting, especially if your manager does not share your work orientation. But, for you to gain value and meaning from your work, it is critical that you have regular conversations with your manager about why the work is meaningful to you and find ways that reinforce and build more meaningful work practices. Your fellow coworkers may not also be calling-oriented and may not share your drive for changing the world through your work. But that is okay as long as you can work with your boss to stay cognizant of your impact and nourish your drive to continue making a difference.
Here are some suggested questions and suggestions you can use to help you broach the topic with your manager:
  • Hi {manager name}, I was wondering if we could have a conversation sometime over the next week or two so I could dive deeper with you into our work and how our work impacts the people we serve?
    • This may seem like a daunting question to ask your manager, but a good manager would much prefer you be upfront with them about your motivation for work. This helps you build a shared perspective and helps you find new ways to approach team goals. A good manager knows that for calling-oriented people like you, these tough conversations are crucial for understanding the meaning of your work and finding new ways to change the world. 
  • What is the biggest benefits people gain from the work we do? How does our work positively impact their lives?
  •  Can you share with me any recent testimonials from our clients about how our product/service positively impacted them?
  •  What are some of our goals for further impacting our clients in the future? How can I get more involved in having a positive impact on our clients?
  •  Some of my goals for impacting the world through work are {xyz}. I was wondering if you think it could be possible for me to work towards some of those goals over the next year? If so, which goals make the most sense for our team? If not, what do you think would be a realistic goal for me over the next year?
Managing a Calling Oriented Professional
Calling-oriented professionals are motivated by the belief that they are positively changing the world through their work. As a manager, you may not be calling-oriented and that is okay.
But it is critical that you nourish this drive from your calling-oriented direct reports, or they will leave to seek out work that better satisfies their calling to change the world through their work.
Calling-oriented professionals need regular confirmation that their work is making a difference. It can be easy for them to get lost in the minutiae and lose focus as to why they are doing the work. If your calling-oriented professionals lose focus on the “why” to work, they will become disengaged and eventually seek out better prospects. For example, I have seen calling-oriented professionals leave nonprofits because they lost sight of the positive outcomes driven by their work. 
Calling-oriented professionals will bend over backward to do a great job, so long as it’s clear that their hard work is making a difference. Calling-oriented professionals often can stay highly engaged, even for seemingly grueling work with long hours and not incredible pay, because truly believe in the value of the work they are doing. Often, this includes their manager regularly reinforcing how their work impacts the people they serve. 
Just to be clear, eventually, there comes a point where a calling can only get you so far. Work orientation is fluid and can change, and this shift can make previously acceptable conditions no longer tenable for a calling-oriented professional. When you are asking your people to do too much, consistent reinforcement will eventually run dry, often the case in startups with a charismatic founder. Their work orientation will adapt, and they will demand more from their work before being ready to switch back into that calling-oriented workstyle. But, if you are leading calling-oriented professionals, it is critical that you nourish their drive for impact regularly and creatively. "Regularly” is doing a lot of heavy lifting here, but once per month is a good benchmark, especially if you can find new ways to connect your employees to the greater value of their work.
Here are some suggested questions you can ask your calling oriented direct reports to better understand their goals and aspirations:
  • In your perspective, what is the best way we impact our customers?
  • How could see us making an even greater impact on the world?
  • How could you see our business growth goals also impacting the world?
  • Throughout a typical month, what typically reinforces to you that we are on track and continuing to impact the world in a positive way?
  • I would like to schedule another conversation with you in a month. Over the next month, I would like us both to brainstorm additional ways we are impacting the clients we serve and ways we can be more innovative at better serving them – even if they all aren’t realistic at the moment. Does that sound okay with you? (then put the date and time on the calendar for the next meeting!)

Mon 11 April 2022
Last week I hosted an executive symposium with local leaders on How to develop leaders in your organization. Shortly after the panel discussion started, a new topic emerged: who is in charge of building culture within an organization? This revealed some interesting disagreements between panelists, and so we explored this topic further. 

One of our panelists was Herb, an executive coach and former COO of a major healthcare system. Herb posited that culture-building originates with the CEO and trickles throughout the organization.

Mindy, another panelist and Chief People Officer at a venture capital-backed software company, partially agreed, but expanded the role to include the rest of the executive team. She believes that it starts with the executive team and then needs to be effectively communicated throughout the organization.

And Bernie, the CEO of a small construction company, went further. He argued that everyone helps build the culture of the organization.

CEO, executive team, or everyone at the company? Which of these arguments is actually right? I decided to seek input from the broader community to find out more. 

I conducted a modest-sized poll on LinkedIn and asked them who was responsible for building culture at their work. I heard from over 150 professionals, and the consensus pick was that everyone is in charge of building the culture – i.e., they agreed with Bernie.

But are they actually right?

Bernie is the CEO of a 25-person company. He uses quarterly meetings to bring the entire team together to reevaluate their core values, core focus, and goals, and he finds this to be an irreplaceable part of his company culture.  

His fellow panelists, Herb and Mindy, pointed out that a 25-person company can handle an activity like this, but scaling that concept up to hundreds or thousands of people is not feasible. Either nobody gets heard, or the process rapidly grows cumbersome because the time to review each person’s perspective takes forever. 

Furthermore, Mindy argued that an executive team should already be having these conversations regularly and connecting with each other as core values or core focus change.

Herb pointed out that having a CEO who prioritizes and values these regular meetings isn’t always going to be in the cards. Instead, many companies rely on standard operating procedures to be profitable. By plugging people into roles and following the company guidelines, the company should still be profitable for those roles, regardless of any specific employee’s unique contribution.

But, for a culture to adapt, scale, and thrive, there needs to be a CEO who is cognizant of the need to actively adapt and reevaluate culture if the company aims to constantly drive forward.

Herb subscribes to more of a command-and-control leadership style from the CEO position, but Bernie and Mindy disagreed with that prescription.  They argued that the responsibility to identify the proper pivots and seek new ideas is a shared task, not exclusive to the CEO. 

One thing that everyone could agree on was that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for building an effective culture, but whatever culture you have built, it must be readily understood, inspiring, and not general and exclusively aimed to benefit the organization.

What does this mean?

By “general and not exclusively aimed to benefit the organization”, means that the culture can’t simply be: 

‘Our mission is to grow and be the best',

or ‘We aim to deliver returns for our shareholders and increase the return on investment from our business development efforts'

or ‘We strive to be an ever-evolving company that constantly does better work for our clients’.

These types of generic or self-serving visions for a company’s culture lack substance, and the employees can tell.

By “readily understood” and “inspiring”, this means that the culture needs to be about something greater than the individuals in the organization or the organization itself. It needs to be about something greater; a culture that, with the support of others, with consistent reminders about what everyone is doing this for, and with flexibility for adjusting as new information comes to light, can potentially come true inside that company. 

For example, Bernie’s vision is that we exist to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with like-minded clients, design firms, and trade partners on the construction of unique spaces. We operate with humility, curiosity, diligence, and confidence. We believe our success will continue as we put others first, remain perpetually relevant, and execute best practices. We believe in a better construction process, one where you will LOVE YOUR HOME AND ENJOY THE JOURNEY.

Personally, I liked Bernie’s vision, but some aspects felt a little generic. Contrast this with Mindy’s vision, which spoke more strongly to me, particularly because it was shorter and more clear while still being aspirational.

Mindy’s vision is a world where the vast majority of people are excited about going to work. When they are there, their expectations meet reality, and when they come home, they feel fulfilled. 

Her team’s cultural norms and rituals are based on this higher goal of helping people enjoy work more. Because of these efforts, their team is amenable to the times when they need to put in the hard, extra hours because their work fills their cup instead of emptying it. 

When Mindy’s team loses their North Star (e.g., feelings of burnout, confusion, frustration), they can refer back to their vision for inspiration or use that vision for reason to gather clarity. Her team’s vision is for the vast majority of people to enjoy their work; when a team member feels the burnout, they feel empowered to speak up about it and try to address the issue rather than quietly applying for jobs outside of the company in search of greener pastures.

If you feel like your company’s culture falls into this overly general category, or isn’t particularly inspiring, or isn’t reminded to you consistently, that’s an okay thing to feel and perfectly normal. But, it doesn’t mean that you are powerless to do anything about it.

One of my biggest takeaways from the panel was that although the CEO and executive team may be the core people coming up with the vision, everyone is required to set and reinforce the tone of the culture and the vision set forth. CEOs and executive teams are burying their heads in the sand if they think that culture only goes top-down; culture-building is a team exercise, and nobody is on the bench.

This means that if you are confused, concerned, or unclear as to your company’s culture or vision, you should broach your leadership team for guidance or ask to set a plan. If your leadership team does not have a vision, the first step starts with you.

I hope you enjoyed learning about one small insight from Ambition In Motion’s first Executive Symposium. If you are interested in attending any of our future Executive Symposiums or learning about our Executive Mastermind groups, please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. 

 

Mon 25 April 2022
Your team knows better than anyone what it’s like to work for you. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to tell you. When it comes to giving feedback, many direct reports figure, “Why risk it?” or “What’s the point?”
They’re cautious because they’ve heard about, or experienced managers lashing out, hurting people’s careers, or just plain ignoring them when they share what they really think. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
You can be a different kind of leader; one who understands that just about everything you do and say impacts your direct reports’ lives and performance; a leader who truly wants to hear their unpolished feedback; who proactively seeks out that feedback so that everyone can reach their highest potential, including you. 
 
Why is it important that managers receive feedback from their direct reports?
No one wants to offend the boss, right? But without input, your development will suffer, you may become isolated, and you’re likely to miss out on hearing some great ideas. 
The feedback you get from your direct reports can help to shape your management style, decision-making process, and the ways in which you interact with your team members. This kind of feedback can not only make you a better manager, but ultimately, it can also help to inspire a higher level of performance in your team.
So, how can you get your direct reports to give you HONEST feedback?
 
How can managers get honest feedback from their direct reports?
            Acknowledge the fear, and embrace your desire to be the best leader for your direct reports! 
            As the boss, you have to set the stage so people feel comfortable with you. You need to break through their fear. You know that everyone makes mistakes, even you! Tell them this. Explain, honestly and openly, that you need their feedback.
But at the same time, it’s important that you recognize how hard it might be to hear this tough feedback. It’s human nature to feel upset when you’re criticized. However, in order for you to be the best leader that you can be, and to help your team thrive, you need this feedback! Here are three ways to help you get there:
 
●     Establish a groundwork for high-trust feedback exchanges 
●     Conduct regular 1:1 meetings with your direct reports 
●     Use the right evaluation software: AIM Insights 
 
  1. How to establish a groundwork for high-trust feedback exchanges
 
Do you want your direct reports to give you honest feedback?
You can’t expect your direct reports to provide honest, open, and helpful feedback if you don’t provide it to them. It’s a two-way street. So take care to model best feedback practices that signal trust, respect, and fairness. 
Unless you already have a strong, trusting relationship with your direct reports, you likely won’t get far bulldozing your way straight into a sensitive task (e.g., “So, how am I doing as a manager?”). But most people, even new hires, will be comfortable and possibly even flattered if you initiate feedback exchanges over lower-stakes topics related to the team’s work. This will send a strong message that you care about, and rely on, your team’s opinions. 
Showing that you care about your direct reports through mutual feedback is essential! You won’t get honest feedback from your direct reports if they don’t feel safe. And they won’t feel safe if you react to the inevitable challenges of work-life with cringes, frustration, or anger. 
 
 
  1. Importance of regularly conducting 1:1 meetings with direct reports
With a loaded schedule like yours, you have limited time, your task list is endless and the goals are aggressive. And your calendar is already full of other meetings: Management meetings, Quarterly review meetings, Sync meetings, and much more…
But as a manager and leader, there’s one meeting you should have and follow: one-on-one meetings with your team.
A one-on-one meeting is a dedicated space on the calendar and in your mental map for open-ended and anticipated conversations between a manager and an employee. Unlike status reports or tactical meetings, the 1:1 meeting is a place for coaching, mentorship, giving context, or even venting.
The 1:1 goes beyond an open door policy and dedicates time on a regular cadence for teammates and leaders to connect and communicate.
 
 
 
  1. Am I using the most efficient evaluation software? 
What method do you use to conduct self/team evaluations? 
When conducting performance evaluations, things can often get messy. How often should you conduct them? What forms should be involved in the process? How long should it take everyone? 
Stress, no more! At Ambition in Motion, we’ve created AIM Insights, a software to help YOU conduct your evaluations with simplicity
AIM Insights is a tool utilized by fortune 500 companies to help teams set goals, measure performance, and engagement improvement, and create greater communication between direct reports and managers.
This software allows leaders to stay up to date on their direct reports’ engagement levels, productivity levels, and individual goals on a month-by-month rolling basis. 
 
How should managers respond to the feedback from their direct reports?
As a manager, it’s crucial that you respond to employee feedback. 
One of the biggest frustrations for employees who take the time to give thoughtful feedback is when this feedback is ignored by their peers, manager, or organization. Responding to feedback from your team members shows them that you take their ideas and opinions to heart.
Remember, it’s important to read, ponder and acknowledge all of the feedback given to you, but you’re not required to take all of it! 
Regardless of whether you decide to take the feedback or not, you owe it to the direct report who gave you the feedback to communicate your intentions. 
Sometimes it’s important that we have these conversations about our intentions in order to show our direct reports that we’re changing and growing every day. 
 
Example of what you might say if you choose to take the feedback: “Thanks so much for your feedback, John. You make a great point. I’m going to work on talking less during meetings and making sure others get the opportunity to weigh in. If it’s OK with you, I’d also like to check in with you in our 1-on-1s to see if you notice any progress.”
 
Example of what you might say if you choose NOT to take the feedback: “Thanks so much for your feedback, John. I’ve given it a lot of thought. While hearing your feedback about my meeting facilitation was helpful, I’ve decided to prioritize another behavior change right now: committing more time to coach the team. But it means a lot to me that you were honest, and I’m going to continue asking for your input.”
 
            Utilizing your 1:1 meetings to convey your thoughts and appreciation of your direct reports’ feedback is a great place to start! 
            Good luck! 
Tue 26 April 2022
As a manager, it is imperative to maintain a constant stream of communication with direct reports. However, the phrase “information is a two-way street” comes to mind very quickly upon hearing that. A manager not only needs to communicate with employees but also needs to be equally open to communication. However, they can’t be everywhere or know everything. That’s where the term “managing up” comes into play.

Managing up is the act of communicating your work goals to your manager and clarifying your expectations from them of you so you can deliver (and potentially exceed) their expectations. However, it can be much more than that as well. Managing up, similar to a performance review, is a system of actions, or a process. It begins with anticipation, followed by clear communication, into execution. 

1.       Building rapport with your manager
The first step in managing up is to build a successful rapport with not only your coworkers but also your supervisor. Having a good rapport doesn’t necessarily mean emotional closeness or friendship. It can definitely mean that, but at large, should refer to the faith that you and your colleagues and supervisors have in each other. Understanding what everyone’s capabilities are is vital to a proper working relationship.
2.       Setting expectations for your manager
The second step in managing up is planning task completion. This can refer to a project deadline or task coordination. Once this is dealt with properly, anticipating potential problems is key. For example, let’s look at John, who has been assigned a project to create a customer database by his manager. John was able to structure and design the database properly with no hiccups whatsoever. However, when it came time to populate the database or fill the database with data, he realized that he had not been given the customer data by his manager. While yes, part of this responsibility does fall on the manager for not giving John any of the data, John could’ve also checked to see if he had the data prior to the implementation date. This is where managing up can come into play. If John had anticipated that he would need to upload all of this data into his database and that his manager had not given him this, he could’ve scheduled a 1-on-1 with his manager to discuss the problem, and gain access to the data, bypassing the problem entirely.

The key concept to understand is that managers aren’t perfect. They do not know everything, and often have several people and tasks to manage. Similar to how a probationary period is utilized by employers to evaluate potential employees and vice versa, managers oversee employees and employees evaluate managers. It is just as important for employees to give feedback as it is for them to receive feedback. Through this critical feedback, a manager can learn what problems to avoid in the future, how to better connect with an employee, as well as improve employee performance. Understanding what a manager’s priorities and goals are not only helps them in completing these tasks but also helps you gain recognition and meet with more success.  

Properly managing up can lead to increased accountability 

A manager who is extremely mentally taxed on high amounts of work tend to not be able to be as attentive as responsive to their direct reports compared to when they have the time to focus. However, if you as an employee are extremely attentive, which is indicated through your work as well as the results of your one-on-ones, it can free up some time and mental energy for your manager, which leads to a healthier and more fluid atmosphere in the workplace. 

We’ve gone on to mention one-on-ones several times but have not really gone into explicit detail on what all this entails. This meeting can go both ways, with you as an employee constructively criticizing what your manager does, and vice versa.  Important questions to ask in these meetings include some of the following: 

·         What does success mean to you? 
·         Or, what does success mean in terms of the team? 
·         Talk about how you best work, as well as what methods work well for your team or boss.  

Observe how your manager listens to what you have to say, and adapt a little. For example, I have had a boss in the past who upon hearing a problem, raced to try to think up a solution without listening to what I had to say regarding the problem. Therefore, I switched the order by stating the solution before defining the problem. Similar tactics can prove to be very helpful in these meetings. 

Managing up can also have several employee prospect benefits. Upper management will recognize and appreciate when an employee is able to give constructive feedback and fix problems before they even happen. These traits are shared by not only the best employees but also effective managers. This can lead to promotions, as well as raises, and other benefits, such as increased trust in the workplace, as well as a better reputation. 

In a poll conducted at Stride, which is an engineering firm- “When leaders up on the chain of command are given the gift of choice via communication, they tend to be more trusting.” 

This basic communication of talking to your manager can have truly powerful repercussions and benefits.                 

Managing up can be extremely difficult at first, so start by simply building a rapport and properly communicating with your peers and superiors. As long as you start with that, you are well on a path to success!

Thu 26 May 2022
I’ve had the privilege to work a few different jobs in both managerial positions and entry-level positions. I’m sure that you can relate to me in feeling that some managers were great at what they do, while others weren’t as great. The old adage of “People don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad managers” continues to hold true. According to research by The Ken Blanchard Companies, the average organization is 50% as effective thanks to less than optimal leadership.  

How does a bad Manager get appointed?

                To understand the cause of these terrible managers, you need to understand what the key problem here is. The way that managers are trained and appointed simply is not enough and sets them up for failure. 

Take a standard software firm for example, and a specific account executive named Jake. Jake is particularly good at closing deals, with very little haggling required, and on top of that, is responsible for a majority of the company sales. So, upper-level management chooses to give him a reward somehow. If Jake is capable of doing all of this, imagine what he could teach his coworkers to do right? So the administration chooses to promote Jake to a sales manager, responsible for managing other account executives and training new associates. 

                Unfortunately, Jake has no experience in developing people and the patience it requires. He just knows how to sell software. However, since he knows his methodology works wonders, he decides to teach everyone how to use his method, and boost sales. But his jokes just don’t sound the same out of other people’s mouths, and the charm he uses just feels off. And since he has no time to sell software himself, the company is making fewer sales. Ultimately, many of the sales associates choose to leave because they don’t like the command and control style of leadership Jake has deployed and those that stay aren’t meeting quotas because nobody is as good at selling using the “Jake method” as good as Jake is.

                The key takeaway here is that high performance individually does not necessarily translate into high performance as a manager. Unfortunately, promotion is often used as a reward for high performance, with increased pay used as an additional incentive. Therefore, the individuals who may actually have manager potential (based on their ability to develop people) get overlooked because they aren’t rockstar individual contributors. 

                Finding a good candidate for management can be tricky. However, training new managers can be successful. Performance evaluation software such as AIM insights can help your new managers get coached and develop the skills they need to effectively lead their team based on the data their direct reports are sharing in the tool. Using tools such as this can help you identify who is particularly good at working with a team, or who works well with many different types of orientations of workers. 

How can a good manager still be failed by upper administration?

Regardless of how skilled a manager may be, if they aren’t properly set up for success, they may still not be well prepared for their new role, at the company’s expense. A manager is not born into the world with perfect skills. They may naturally be able to work with other people, but they still need to be trained. The best way to think about a manager is as a person, but also as an investment. Would you choose to buy a house that has a lot of space, but no bathrooms? It’s a very similar concept. A manager candidate has a lot of potential, but not necessarily the exact skills needed for the role. Fortunately, these can be easily trained. 
Training a manager involves a few different subjects. These subjects include some of the following:
·         How to have effective 1:1’s and soft skills
·         Training new employees
·         How to give a performance review

All of these subjects are critical to ensure the best possible manager. Can you imagine how bad an incompetent manager could be? Fortunately, you don’t have to imagine as such. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, 84% of U.S workers say that poorly trained managers create much more unnecessary work and stress for them. Interact even researched poor managers and found that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees and would prefer to not give any direct feedback unless absolutely necessary. These managers have been failed. With adequate training, they could have been truly amazing. However, because they failed to go through a proper vetting process, and then a training process, they quite simply are not capable enough to assume such an important role. 

The way we train our managers is nowhere near where it should be at this point in time. It is just too important of a role to not give due diligence to. Understanding how to choose a good manager, and then how to train them will be the best course of action for the future. Only through this can we hope to create a better work culture for the future. 

Mon 30 May 2022
             If you recently received a new position at your company and were handed a portfolio of various reports and charts regarding overall past performance analysis, and told to analyze them and start your position, what would you do? 
            Of course, you can analyze the charts, and look at the trends of performance over time within the company. But what does that tell you about your position, or how you should perform to receive the best results from your new direct reports? 
            There’s simply no training for a new position in analyzing charts. 
            What do the charts mean? Sometimes trends are low, and sometimes they are high. But that doesn’t tell you what the employees were thinking or experiencing when they filed these performance reviews. 
            Charts and reports are not training. 
            In my last article, How to get your new managers to be more effective faster, I discussed the flaws within the current way that we equip new managers. 
 
The current way that we equip new managers to lead with data is flawed
Joining the leadership team is a great accomplishment, but it could also lead to the demise of a person’s career if not managed properly. 
It’s important to be able to recognize the right employee to transition into a first-time manager, but it’s crucial to help them become the skilled leader that the organization needs. But more than likely, these new managers won’t have all of the skills they need right away.
Even if someone is excellent at their job, being a new manager comes with an entirely new skill set. They are not just responsible for themselves anymore; they have an entire team to manage.
The biggest flaw when equipping new managers is the outdated protocol for transitioning positions within the company. 
When anyone is given a new position, they must go through the transition process of paperwork and assessments to assure that they are fully aware of what the job entails and what their new duties are within the company. 
Are charts and reports the proper training protocol? Or does this only confuse and lengthen the process of transitioning into a great new manager? 
 
            In order for performance reviews to be effective and accurately represent a product that is meaningful to the viewer, there needs to be more training for employees and new managers regarding the importance of performance reviews. 
            If new managers are properly trained on the importance of performance reviews, they will be able to conduct more effective evaluations and produce responses that they can work with, and build off of. 
            If employees are properly trained on the importance of performance reviews, they will continue to stay engaged and give honest feedback, knowing that it will be used for the betterment of their time at the company. 
            With proper training for both new managers and employees, new managers will be able to look at the performance reviews and analyze what needs to be changed and continue to benefit their direct reports and the company, overall. 
            
Challenges include… 
  • Managers aren't trained in why the tool is being used, diminishing response rates from employees
  • When data is collected and shared with the managers, managers aren't trained in what the data means or what to do with the data, so response rates from employees diminish. 
  • Managers are busy so asking them to sift through a "knowledge base" of helpful tips based on the data that comes in does not actually lead to them doing anything with the direct reports with the data, even if the knowledge-based was curated for them using artificial intelligence. 
  • When managers don't do anything with the data that has been requested of them from the direct reports, the direct reports become frustrated and disengaged
  • When employees don't complete the regular surveys, the performance management tools are rendered useless because there is no data to review
 
All in all, the key to new managers effectively leading their teams starts with proper training. The duties of a manager include much more than just understanding how to direct their employees in a certain direction of goals that the company aims to accomplish. 
In order for a manager to fully have an impact on their new employees and the overall change of the company, they need training in more than just the protocol transition charts.
Understanding how to effectively make an impact as a manager, make close connections with their new direct reports and emulate a positive workplace are all things that must be implemented into the new manager transition period. 
After the proper training to understand what the position entails and how the new manager can get creative with their new implementation to the job and the company, it’s important for the new manager to understand the performance review process. 
The performance review process should accurately portray evidence from employees of likes/dislikes/struggles/strengths within the company so that the manager can identify strengths, weaknesses, and goals for their team. 
So how can a company get the most out of its performance management? 
 
Performance reviews must deliver meaningful results 
            After you’ve properly trained your new managers, it’s your company’s job to provide your new managers with meaningful performance reviews to analyze. Meaningful reviews include honest feedback from employees; a product that your new manager can use to effectively lead their new team. 
            Traditional performance reviews lack meaning. Charts measure trends, but trends don’t tell a new manager how to make a difference, and how to best lead their new team. 
            Minimize the learning curve of new managers becoming effective leaders and use AIM Insights to conduct performance reviews. 
 
AIM Insights Performance Review SOLUTIONS include… 
  • All managers are trained and onboarded in a live training coordinated with the host company
  • All managers receive custom walk-throughs with an executive coach of their team's data every month with the executive coach providing guidance for each direct report a manager is in charge of
  • Managers receive unlimited email coaching to help guide them as they encounter challenges and roadblocks with their direct reports
  • When managers have effective 1:1's with their direct reports based on the data their direct reports are submitting, response rates increase and stay high, creating immense value and tracking for the company
 


 
 
  • Increased employee retention and satisfaction
  • Enhanced productivity and goal achievement
  • Improved work-life balance 
  • Streamlined communication
  • Seamless accountability
  • Greater transparency between you and your direct reports 
  • Zero prep time performance reviews
  • Alignment between employee goals and organizational goals
  • Monthly personalized tips on your team from an executive coach
Mon 30 May 2022
Previously, we’ve talked about Performance Reviews in great detail.  One of the key aspects of a good Performance Review Process is to have periodic one on ones with your direct reports. As a new manager, this is especially important since it will help you make an impression on not only your direct reports but also on your peers and upper management. An effective one-on-one is the best way for a manager to not only share feedback but also engage with their employees.

What is a 1:1?

A 1:1, or One on One, is a meeting between two individuals, most frequently between a manager and an employee. This can be about a range of topics but is generally about work-related topics such as goals or tasks. However, it is also a personal space where you as a manager can help develop your employee’s professional skills and help them with issues that may be plaguing them in their personal or professional lives. It is beyond what a work meeting will go into, by delving into personal matters and allowing for venting if necessary.  

When should a new manager host a 1:1?

Knowing when to host one-on-ones as a new manager could definitely seem intimidating. One of the most important tasks of being a new manager is getting to know your team members in respect to your new relationship. In addition to that, you should be having at least two or three of these meetings with your team members each month. Some companies like to have 1:1s every week! These meetings need to be regularly scheduled and held to allow for increased communication between yourself and your direct reports. Each of these meetings should be scheduled for between 30 minutes to an hour. Finding that perfect amount of time can be tricky. If it’s too long, neither if you will be efficient and will get bored quickly. Too short, and you may rush through a meeting and not sufficiently discuss all of your planned topics on the itinerary. I recommend starting with a 45-minute meeting and adjusting from there depending on how the two attendees felt the meeting went.

What should a New Manager say in a 1:1?

Generally, a good 1:1 will have a few different topics discussed. Some of these goals can include goal setting, previous tasks, current tasks, future tasks, as well as personal issues. Keep in mind that communication of any type is important. However, the first 1:1 should definitely be for you to set goals, introduce yourselves, and get to know each other. The tone of this meeting can set the tone of your entire working relationship for the future. This especially applies to new employees, since this is how you create a first impression and introduce them to company culture.

This first 1:1 should allow you to really create a personal connection with your employees. One of my mentors used to say that “They don’t care what you know until they know you care.”  This applies to your management relationships as well. According to Forbes, Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.  Some of the questions that you could ask are, “What can I help you with?”, “What makes you feel valued at work?”, “How do you work best?”, or “What do you want to know about me?” Personal Connections can really help you understand what makes your employee unique, such as their talents, interests, or skills. However, it is important to still maintain professional boundaries. Keep your wits about you to not only protect yourself and your company but also to avoid making your direct reports uncomfortable. Remember, the goal is to make your employee feel welcome and brought into the company culture, not to scare them away. According to Forbes, disengaged employees can cost U.S companies up to 550 Billion dollars per year. Try to engage them, but don’t scare them off. This doesn’t mean don’t be vulnerable with your team. It just means that you shouldn’t gossip or share personal information that isn’t pertinent to your role as a leader or the role itself. 

With these tips on the ideal starting 1:1, you should be able to begin these meetings with your staff, even as a new manager. Start slow and be friendly. You were made a manager for a reason; you have the skills. You just need to apply them to these meetings and without a doubt, you will be able to start a very fruitful working relationship.

Tue 7 June 2022
As a manager, it is particularly important to understand the value of DEI, also known as Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion.  This is especially highlighted in June, which is known as LGBTQIA+ Pride month. 

During this time, it is extremely common and almost expected that companies do something to acknowledge gay diversity, often combined with public statements, image management, as well as events. However, during the other 11 months out of the year, it is often that these very same companies fail to be as inclusive as they claim to be. Some even refer to this as “Performative Activism.” While LGBTQIA+ pride often falls victim to this act, performative activism can also include racial diversity, as well as gender diversity. 

The key question to ask is, how can managers foster diversity, while at the same time avoiding committing performative activism?

Understanding Your Biases as a Manager

                Bias doesn’t always manifest itself in terms of outright action. According to the Open Society Foundation, “Implicit bias occurs when someone consciously rejects stereotypes and supports anti-discrimination efforts but also holds negative associations in his/her mind unconsciously.” In other words, this bias is not described by outright action, but rather by microaggressions. More than 85% of all Americans consider themselves to be unprejudiced, but in actuality, the majority of United States Citizens hold some degree of implicit bias (Open Society Foundation). 

                Implicit bias is hard to spot easily, but it is often shown through microaggressions or actions that are driven by subtle or unintentional discrimination. 

Some examples of this are how judges have been found to grant longer sentences for darker-skinned defendants than fairer-skinned defendants. 

Lesser managers have been shown to not invite certain demographics in for job interviews or to not give the best performance reviews. 

Implicit Bias can often even be seen in the medical field. A growing issue within recent culture is that women have had to advocate for themselves when in severe pain. Doctors have been more likely to brush off female pain and chalk it up to menstrual pains. 

                With all of this in mind, avoiding implicit bias is trickier than you think. A great way to start is to take the Project Implicit Quiz. This is a test designed by Harvard, Yale, Washington, and Virginia researchers. This survey can help show implicit attitudes that you may not have been aware of at first either. 

An example of this would be how you may believe that men and women should both be prominent in the scientific world, but at the same time, commonly associate men with science over women. 

After taking this assessment, it is a great idea to review your actions and figure out the source of them. Did your second-in-command receive his promotion because of his merit, or because he looked like you? When making a decision on who to terminate out of two direct reports, what was the deciding factor? 

Allyship as a manager

                Understanding how to make the office the safest place for all of your workers can make a difference in their lives, as well as help them feel safe and understood. Once again, in the effort to avoid performative activism, it is important to truly believe in what you are doing and make an effort to stand by what you preach. While this could start by posting signage expressing support for certain groups, there are other ways to show support.  

Speaking of bias once again, try to figure out what biases may be in your company. The most common areas that biases tend to be within a company are hiring, promotions, giving raises, and delegating tasks. Self-analyzing this bias can help you see where you can improve as a company.  

                Additional structure improvements can also add a lot to your company’s success. A standardized interview process, with the same questions, asked to applicants regardless of gender, status, race, or any other colors, can help find you the best candidates for the job. Blind application processes can also be successful. If you’ve ever seen the Voice, a hit TV music reality show, you’ll notice that the judges start a performance with their back to the auditionees. This allows them to disregard gender, race, and anything else about the applicants. 

In the same way, if you can remove information about the applicant that is extraneous to their qualifications, you can minimize unconscious bias in the hiring process.

Business management software such as AIM Insights can be very handy in your decision-making as a manager. By removing any sentiment from this process, and solely relying on data, you can make the best decisions on who to promote. If you notice your management is staffed by a certain type of person, unconscious biases may be in play. Using the data, and that alone can help you determine who is the best person for a job. 

                Holding your employees accountable is one other way that you can show your allyship. Actions speak much louder than words. If you notice that the best performance reviews are all going towards a certain demographic, it may be time to review the process, as well as to have a one-on-one with each of the reviewers. Being attentive to what is being said in the workplace is important too! While it is important to let Human Resources do what they do best, you as a manager can set the tone for how your employees interact with each other. Lead by example! Avoid using targeted language, and do your best to make others welcome. 

In an elevated position, you are at the forefront of what your employees deem appropriate and inappropriate.  

                Eliminating bias and opening your company up to diversity can be challenging at first. But keeping an open mind, being self-reflective, and leading can set you up for success. The harder you look at yourself, the better the results will eventually be. The best things are never easily acquired, so be prepared for difficulty. Best of luck!

Mon 13 June 2022
A good office is diverse in many ways, and a good manager has picked his staff with a sense of diversity in mind (or if the team was inherited, ideally diversity was considered when picking the team members). Race, Sex, Creed, Religion, and Work Orientation are all important aspects to keep in mind. However, one aspect of employees that is often understated is age.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics department, 34.9% of the working population is below the age of 30. With this age comes equally diverse amounts of experience. An effective workplace will have employees of vastly differing ages, from high-school-age interns, all the way to individuals contemplating retirement.   

Therefore, the key question that you may ask is, “how can I as a manager foster growth for entry-level employees and help them contribute regardless of their lack of experience?” The answers to this question are far simpler than you think.

Why are Younger employees so useful?

Younger and entry-level employees bring a lot to any company they work for. Firstly, entry-level positions pay less than more senior positions. Please recognize that less pay typically equates to fewer responsibilities. It is perfectly acceptable to expect a certain amount of work from your younger employees, but you should expect more work from your senior employees. 

Entry-level workers are also a clean slate for the most part. A very frequent issue while hiring is encountering certain philosophies or ingrained ideas. For example, if I had to hire for a data management job between John, who has 1 year of experience, but uses cloud-based storage, and Dave, who has over 20 years of experience and uses physical hard drives, I’d probably pick John. Industries are always adapting and evolving, and stagnancy can be harmful.

Finally, what entry-level workers lack in experience, they can make it up in enthusiasm and engagement. They are often willing to put in extra time to ensure the quality of their work and will be in constant communication with you and their coworkers to be the best they can be.

What should a manager teach newer direct reports?

Skills that a manager can best impart to a new direct report are primarily soft skills. Direct reports are often very knowledgeable about the topic or tasks that they have been assigned but may lack office etiquette or may also have trouble understanding workplace dynamics.

                 When you were an entry-level worker, what did you struggle with? According to Glassdoor, many entry-level positions are client-facing, and often also require intra-office communication. What tools of the trade do you use to pacify angry clients? How do you coordinate a meeting with your entire team? How did you learn to delegate all of the tasks your bosses gave you?

                Teach them about how to properly communicate with your coworkers. Should they email someone directly, or would it be better for them to call a secretary? How do they need to request time off? Does it have to go through Human Resources? Through a direct manager? Does their team need to know? All of these answers just went through your head in the blink of an eye. Entry-level workers don’t have those answers yet. 

                In addition to this, there are often tricks that you use in your daily work that not everyone has the knowledge to be able to utilize. Imagine the following scenario. Microsoft Excel has a feature where users can fill a cell and its contents down a column or in a row. This is especially useful in relation to formulas and expressions utilizing other cells since it can allow you to finish an entire table in minutes. 

                However, if a user were to manually enter data into every cell, it could take drastically longer. Simply teaching a worker this small trick could make their work more efficient and could allow them to work on other tasks. 

                Remember that your experience is a privilege that not everyone has been afforded yet. Use it to help the person who may one day help others down the line as well. 

Why should you help foster these younger workers?

1.       It’s the right thing to do. When you entered the workplace, I’m sure you had troubles at some point and had some form of mentorship. Without that initial leg up, how else do you think you succeeded in the workplace?
2.       Younger workers may often have a few ideas that in spite of their experience can be extremely valuable. Have you ever heard the saying “The way to solve an impossible task is to give it to someone that doesn’t know its impossible?” 

                The same concept can apply to these entry-level workers.  Due to the fact that they haven’t been with your company for a long time, they may approach problems in a different way than your coworkers that you may have been with longer. As a result, you then have a different perspective that can be very helpful.

3.       You need to realize that you and your coworkers will not be around forever. New opportunities arise, retirement beckons, and situations occur. Entry-level employees can be developed into senior positions, and the improvement in their skills can only help the company. 

                All in all, younger workers can be a tremendous boon to your company, but only if you can properly nurture them. Set them up almost like a sapling. Continue to help them, and eventually, they will grow into an asset that will change the way your company thrives. 

Even if they don’t stick around, be a reference for them. Let them use the experience that you have given them to help more and more people, and keep the training chain going. It will only help.

Mon 13 June 2022
Brian is the Vice President of engineering for a high-growth startup with 800 employees. His company pays way above the market average but they hold an “earn your seat” mentality when it comes to the work. 
The challenge that he is facing is that his team will follow instructions and do everything they are asked to do, but won’t move the ball forward. They are always waiting for him to tell them what to do, rather than aspiring to set goals to impact the company on their own.
He would like for his team to better understand the company’s vision, both because it develops them and because most of his direct reports are interested in the compensation that comes with transitioning from a senior engineer to a staff engineer (the highest level software engineer at this company with almost a $200,000 increase per year).
Some of his direct reports want parity promotions, meaning that because they have been at the company for longer than others (which for everyone is less than a year), they deserve to get promoted.
The promotion process at his company is also really convoluted. Essentially, to get promoted, a manager has to sponsor the direct report with a 10-page overview as to why the direct report deserves the promotion.
It has gotten to the point where Brian will actually recommend his direct reports leave the company for the role they want (at a different company) for 6 months and then come back and interview for the role they wanted in the first place because it’s very difficult and time-consuming to move up in the workplace. This contributes to the job-oriented mentality that incentivizes employees to only do the bare minimum to get their paycheck.
As Brian is sharing his company’s processes with the Ambition In Motion mastermind group, he is realizing that the company may not be setting its employees up for success.
The well-above-market pay paired with the “earn your seat” mantra incentivizes people to sabotage each other, do the minimum work that doesn’t get them fired, and leave the company if they want to get to the next level.
The group suggested that Brian chat with his leadership team to discuss his thoughts because if things don’t change, they could have a bunch of people that are only there for the money and aren’t focused on the vision of the organization.
 
How does company culture impact employee motivation?
Employee motivation is the fuel that propels the organization forward. When motivation levels are high, there is growth; when it’s down, the momentum stalls. 
So, what motivates your employees? 
There are various reasons and needs that motivate employees. And your company culture has to address these reasons and needs to foster employee motivation and engagement.
Before we get into this any further, let’s start with the basics. Why do people work?
 
●     Purpose – They want to contribute to the company’s success.
●     Potential – They want to benefit in the long run in terms of promotions, salary hikes, or greater responsibilities.
●     Play – They enjoy their daily work as it ignites passion and curiosity in them.
●     Economic Pressure – The financial factors motivate them, such as a desire to earn more or fear of losing their source of income.
●     Inertia – They work because they have to; they have no goals or reasons to work.
 
If you notice, the first 3 reasons are positive, and the rest are negative. Employees with positive reasons to work tend to be productive and engaged at work. 
Companies with growth-oriented cultures encourage these positive reasons and build a culture around it.
 
How you can incentivize your employees to care about more than just salary 
Although Brian is part of a fast-growing startup, 8x growth in employee headcount within their first year, his desire for employees to care more is actually a quite common question that we hear from leaders of all company sizes; how do you make people care? 
It’s a more common problem than we’d all like to believe. It happens in every industry and workplace. This problem affects all of us. 
Unfortunately, you can’t make people care. But, you can provide all of the right elements that inspire them to choose to care about your business, your team, and their job. Here are four strategies for successful leaders that can skyrocket the results of your employees.
 
1. Share your care with your employees. 
As simple as it sounds, many leaders, even when they do care about their people, aren’t always very good at sharing that appreciation. Your employees won’t care about your company or your goals unless you care about them and their goals first. 
Learn, practice, and get good at recognizing your employees because appreciation is the number one thing that managers can do to inspire their teams to produce great work.
 
2. Cheer for effort, because it deserves it. 
As we travel and speak to organizations, we often find that many managers are confused by the difference between appreciation and incentives. Incentives can be seen as a transaction; if you accomplish “a-b-c”, then you receive “x-y-z.” 
Oftentimes incentives are presented before a project or assignment. 
Appreciation, on the other hand, isn’t solely focused on the outcome. Instead, it’s an acknowledgment of a person’s intention, hard work, and their results. When efforts and results are recognized, employees report:
a) increased confidence in their skills,
b) an understanding that they are on track and in good standing with their manager, and 
c) it creates an improved relationship with their leader.
 
3. Be crystal clear about what you value. 
Telling your employees that you expect the best from them doesn’t actually mean much to them because they don’t understand what that means to you. Employees want to know exactly what they value and appreciate.
 
4. Show them how they can make a difference 
Most people don’t apply for jobs and assume they’ll be mediocre at best. They apply for jobs at companies where they believe their skills and experiences will make an impact; where their thinking and effort will make a profound difference. 
Still, we’ve spoken with many struggling managers who can’t understand why a certain employee isn’t satisfied by simply becoming the mirrored version of a job description.
When employees are not shown that they have the capability to utilize their skills to make a difference, they may get in the habit of doing the same thing every day, without the incentive to do more. 
Encourage your employees right off the bat and throughout their time at your company to do the most that they can do, to benefit themselves and the company. AIM Insights can help you with suggested encouragement and questions you can ask your team to help convey this message. 
 
While it may seem frustrating that you can’t force your employees to care about your company, your goals, your customers, your teams, or even their own jobs, you have the ability to give them reasons to care
And, in our experience, when your employees care about more than just their salary, they’ll achieve at a level that surpasses anything you could have ever imagined.
Mon 27 June 2022
Offices are often set up to be diverse, with employees differing in age, gender, race, mindset, work orientation, and many other aspects. 

While we have previously discussed how to best foster entry-level direct reports, another demographic that is often ignored are the most experienced workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics department, 22% of the current professional workforce is above the age of 55. However, there is an ongoing movement where older workers and their knowledge are treated as obsolete and are let go. 

                Therefore, if you are in a managerial role in which you are overseeing older individuals, there are certain considerations you can make to ensure that you are best leading older Direct Reports.

What can Older Employees offer?

                Older direct reports tend to have great experience and perspective that many younger employees lack. They tend to understand the structure of your office better than anyone else there. Many managers often pair them with entry-level workers as a mentor to help them understand the soft skills of being in an office. 

                When I entered my first office job, I was incredibly lost since it was an entry-level and client-facing position. Consequently, I made a few mistakes, as one does on their first job. Unfortunately, I got a very angry phone call from a customer, and regardless of what I was able to offer them, they gradually became more aggressive.

                As I was crying in the break room, an older gentleman named Jim noticed and came over. After exchanging a few pleasantries, I learned that he had worked for the company for 37 years and was about to retire. He asked what had put me in such a bad mood and was shocked to hear what had happened. 

                As soon as I got a call from the next customer who was known to get irate easily, Jim sat next to me and started typing notes as he listened to what they had to say. He gestured at me to use some of the phrases he had typed up, and to my pleasant surprise, worked without a hitch. I received a high customer satisfaction score and learned a lot from Jim about how to communicate with customers.

                Jim continued to coach me and taught me skills such as customer-facing techniques, along with how to communicate and correspond with my managers and coworkers. I can confidently say that without Jim, I would’ve quit that job.

                People like Jim exist all over the working population. Understanding how these older direct reports can teach and mentor younger direct reports can dramatically improve your employee’s efficiency.  

Why the diverse perspective an older employee brings is beneficial to the business?

In addition to the potential mentorship opportunities that older employees provide, they also have a few aspects unique to them that lend them a perspective that younger employees may lack.

First, they are often very cost-effective.  Due to the fact that they are more settled in their industry, you do not need to worry as much about turnover costs. According to the Wharton School,  there is a common misbelief that older employees may need more time off due to health restrictions and incur higher health insurance. This is untrue. On average, health costs are less for older workers due to them no longer having dependents on their healthcare plans. In addition to that, Medicare can further reduce healthcare bills after an employee passes the age of 65.

Second, older employees also have a bigger focus on customer-facing skills. Due to their years of experience, these workers tend to have much better communication skills, with not only customers and vendors, but also with their coworkers. 

They also have extremely high problem-solving skills. Since they have encountered so many problems of their own, older employees can draw upon some of the solutions that they have used in the past to help solve current problems. A key part of problem-solving skills is to learn from past mistakes. These employees have made mistakes in the past, and typically do not harbor fears of making more mistakes, unlike younger workers.  Their angles and techniques can be drawn upon without any problems.

Should employers be worried that older Employees are outdated?
 
 
A current argument for hiring younger workers is that older workers simply don’t have the knowledge needed to survive in the current industry. An example of this could be in the technology industry, which is changing every day, and even newer employees struggle to keep up with it. 

This argument isn’t the best in my opinion, on the grounds that there are multiple areas in which an employee can be used. Not only can older employees be used in mentorship roles, but also in positions other than just the skills portion. 

It is important to remember that these employees grew up during a time when the internet and even smartphones weren’t as ubiquitous as they are now. Therefore, these employees grew up in a time where personal interaction and memos were mandatory for success. 

Due to the many changing environments that they’ve already been through, older employees are often extremely flexible and work hard. In addition to this, the power of a good network will never diminish. They can often set up future ventures for you that results in a large profit. Certain industries also have structures that have been in place for years, regardless of how trends develop. New workers may have trouble adjusting to these, but older workers thrive in them.

How can you best utilize these older and more experienced workers?

For starters, it's important to understand that these employees might even have more experience than you, regardless of your position. As such, you should acknowledge this, and be willing to learn just as much from them as they do from you.  Give them fair treatment as well. It is completely okay for an older person to make as much or more money as a younger person if they have more experience. 

Instruct your younger workers about the concepts of horizontal mentorship. Just like your younger workers may have biases, older workers can have the same biases. You can instruct and help your older workers in the same way that you would the newer workers. Give them opportunities to learn and develop, just like you would a younger direct report.

When recruiting, as mentioned before, try and eliminate race, gender, and age from your recruiters’ strategies. Longevity and age can be buzzwords for your strategies. It's important to recognize that not everyone has the same financial checkpoints at the same time. What one might accomplish by 65, might not be accomplished by someone else until the age of 70. According to the Harvard Business Review, it costs about a million dollars to retire at the age of 65.  Understand that everyone will have some form of motivation to work.  
Wed 29 June 2022
Employee Turnover is one of the most irritating and damaging problems that a business may face. There are a few reasons that this can occur, but luckily, most of these reasons can be easily rectified or ameliorated. 

What exactly is Employee Turnover?

                Employee turnover is the phenomenon in which an individual leaves their position for another position, or to be free of the workforce. There are traditionally two types of this. The first type of turnover is voluntary turnover, which is when someone chooses to leave their position. Examples of this can be retirement, seeking a higher position, or taking time off to take care of a family.

                The second form of turnover is involuntary turnover, which is when someone is forcefully relieved of their duties. This is often initiated by an employer or human resources. This can include being let go, fired, demoted, or a few other actions. 

                According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most industries have a turnover rate of 19%.  A turnover rate is calculated by taking the number of employees that leave within a specific period of time by the average number of employees working in that time frame. The lower this rate is, the better it is for the employer. 

Why is turnover so bad?

                The hiring process is not an easy one for a manager, nor is it inexpensive. The process of hiring the best possible candidate includes a few tasks. Not only does this job have to be posted and then advertised, but then needs to be screened for and interviewed. All of these cost large sums of money, estimated to be on average about a third of the employee’s yearly salary, which equates to around $16,500 in many cases. In addition to that, it costs time and money to train new employees and then set them up with corporate devices, insurance, and any other plans they elect to sign up to.  Turnover also has the unfortunate aspect of reducing productivity due to fewer hands on deck. 

                Turnover is often easily avoidable as well.  According to the Work Institute’s 2017 Retention report, 75% of the reasons for employee turnover can be prevented, many of which can be blamed on poor management. Employees often choose to leave because of a lack of challenges, feeling underappreciated, or bored. However, they also leave due to poor communication, lack of advancement, mistreatment, or being overworked. 

                Fixing some of these problems can help increase your retention rate, and consequently decrease your turnover rate. However, understanding that the fault can fall mainly on management is key to helping improve retention. Executive coaching programs such as Ambition in Motion’s AIM insights can help your managers learn about commonly made mistakes, along with how to avoid them. AIM Insights also offers executive mastermind groups, which function similarly to Masterclasses. 

Increasing Retention Rate

                The following problems are three of the reasons that most frequently cause employees to leave, along with some suggested solutions.

1.       Unclear Job Descriptions that do not portray a position accurately
This can be rectified at the source of the problem. Have your current direct reports have a hand in designing these job position descriptions. They understand these positions the best since they work in them every day.
2.       Poor compensation
This is often difficult to fix since your company may not always be able to simply add more money to the payroll budget. However, it is important to understand how to give fair and adequate compensation. This should be given based on experience, skill, and how much you expect out of them. Do not expect someone for who you are paying the bare minimum to go above and beyond in every task you give them
3.       A Lack of career advancement opportunities
There is a certain type of employee known as a career-oriented worker. These individuals strive to gain advancement and continue working. Without any promotions or opportunities for advancement, they tend to lose interest and will look elsewhere for jobs. Do not be afraid to give more opportunities to your employees. Have faith in them.

 Better communication will also almost always help with issues related to trouble retaining employees. According to a report made by TinyPulse on employee retention in 2018, there is a 16% retention rate decrease for employees who aren’t receiving or giving feedback. 

A good 1:1 can not only give your employees feedback and a feeling of appreciation and recognition but also show you as a manager what you need to improve in order to retain your employees. Regular and honest communication will show your employees that their help is valued and that you care about their growth as a direct report as well as a person.

A good onboarding program can work wonders as well. In a survey by CareerBuilder, 9% of employees who have left their company blame it on a poor onboarding experience, and 37% of those employees say that their managers weren’t even present during the onboarding.  More details will follow about how to create an effective onboarding process, but at the very least, make it as thorough as possible for your newer direct reports, and be present and attentive at these meetings.

Through communication and improvement, you can keep your turnover rate as low as possible, and succeed in the workplace. 

Fri 1 July 2022
Retention has become an increasingly critical metric for driving profitability, especially the retention of highly engaged employees. Turnover has become a big problem for a lot of companies. 
But, what if you’re looking at the problem wrong? What if it’s not about doing what you can to hold on to those employees, but perhaps it’s about focusing more on creating an environment where good employees thrive and stay?
Retaining employees is an important part of building a successful team. When managers and supervisors work to make their teams feel valued and motivated, employees are more likely to stay with a company that can contribute to the company’s overall growth and prosperity. 
 
Why is it important to retain your employees? 
●     It can build a strong workforce
Steady employee retention allows managers and supervisors to invest in their team members and helps them develop into more productive employees. When employees stay with a company long-term, they often accept more responsibilities, seek professional development, and help the company grow.
●     It increases productivity
Instead of spending time looking for and training new employees, managers and supervisors can focus on helping employees be more productive. A stable staff knows what needs to be done and how they can achieve it. They have a strong foundation for advancement based on institutional knowledge and developed skills.
●     It improves employee morale
Employee retention strategies are designed to increase employee happiness and job satisfaction. When managers regularly implement these strategies, they help increase employee morale overall. Employees who feel happy at work are often more willing to work toward the company's mission and contribute to a positive work environment.
●     It is more cost-effective
Hiring and training new employees are often more expensive than offering development opportunities to current employees. Consider offering current employees an educational stipend to advance their skills, on-site training, conference options or promotions, and/or extra benefits or perks.
 
How to retain your employees
If you want to keep more high-performing employees in-house, it’s important to start by creating an effective employee retention strategy.
In this article, we discuss the importance of employee retention and offer 8 effective employee retention strategies for leaders. 
 
1. Create an engaging onboarding process
During the onboarding process, take the opportunity to make a positive first impression on a new employee. Create a process where new employees get comfortably acclimated to the workplace. Do this by creating straightforward training materials, offering support and guidance, and explaining how the company operates.
Introducing new employees to others in the office can help them feel like they are a part of the team right away. Taking them out for a team lunch is another way to make new hires feel welcome and help them get to know their coworkers quickly.
 
2. Pair with a mentor
A strategy to pair an employee with a mentor can start with the onboarding process. It’s a good way to help new employees feel welcomed and know they have someone to turn to. However, mentorship shouldn’t be offered to just new employees. Everyone can benefit from a horizontal mentor relationship whether by helping others or knowing that they are supported by more experienced teammates.
 
3. Schedule employee performance reviews
Employee performance reviews are a great way for employees to grow in their roles. Meet periodically to discuss their strengths, weaknesses, and career goals. By learning their goals, you can help them continue to advance in the company. 
Offering positive feedback during this meeting can help employees feel valued and more satisfied at work. If the budget allows, use the performance review as a time to offer the employee a raise or a bonus.
 
4. Show your appreciation
When an employee is doing a good job or has recently earned a big achievement, recognize their hard work. You can show your appreciation by saying it directly to them or making a company-wide announcement. When employees feel their efforts are noticed, they are more likely to continue to work hard and stay with the company.
 
5. Encourage a work-life balance
A healthy work-life balance is when employees can effectively manage their work and home lives and feel like they have enough time and energy for both. This element has become increasingly important to many employees.
You can help employees achieve a more balanced work-life experience by giving staff more flexibility with their schedules. Consider allowing employees to come in late and make up their work if they need to leave for an appointment. If possible, give employees the option to work remotely. Employees who are feeling sick but can still work or those with a long commute may appreciate the opportunity to work from home occasionally.
Helping employees maintain a work-life balance shows that you value their well-being. They are more likely to stay with the company when they feel like they have a manager who cares about them.
 
6. Offer professional development opportunities
Helping employees meet their professional goals may influence them to stay with the company because they see it as a place with many opportunities. You can help them by spending time coaching and mentoring team members. Offer your team additional training or education opportunities, such as funding certifications, sending them to conferences, or providing education stipends. Update equipment so coworkers can learn and produce using the latest technology.
And when possible, promote from within. By investing in your team, they can develop their skills and take on more responsibilities, both of which can lead to improved employee retention.
 
7. Provide competitive compensation and benefits
In a competitive job market, it’s essential that you reward your employees with adequate compensation and benefits when you can. If you can’t afford salary adjustments, consider giving some type of bonus, adding a retirement plan, or improving health care benefits. 
You might offer reimbursement for fitness classes or schedule talks on stress management or retirement planning services. All will help raise employees’ job satisfaction and encourage them to stay with your company.
 
8. Keep communication lines open
Maintaining an open-door policy lets employees know they can come to managers with ideas, questions, and concerns at any time. As a manager, it’s your job to ensure your team, whether on-site or remote, feels a connection to the company and each other. The feeling of belonging and being heard can go a long way toward retaining employees.

Wed 6 July 2022
Do you have managerial experience in the corporate workforce? Or are you a current manager angling for a raise or more responsibilities? Regardless of your current position, as a manager, you can always benefit from learning how to market and improve your skills.

Understanding your Weaknesses as a Manager

                To be an ideal manager, there are two aspects of your leadership style that you need to recognize- your weaknesses as well as your strengths. Ideally, whatever changes you make need to help eliminate or improve your weaknesses, while either keeping your strengths the same or also improving them. In order to work on your weaknesses, you need to understand what they are.

                This is where a good managerial 1:1 will come in handy, as well as foster an environment in which your direct reports are willing to talk to you about your tactics as well. Horizontal Mentorship is an excellent system to implement in your workplace in order to receive this feedback. Once you identify these problems, you can then proceed to attempt to rectify them. Often, some of your own mentors can assist with these, such as former managers, higher-level administration, as well as some of your peers. But eventually, you will hit a point where you can’t really progress any further.

 Management is similar to any other career. There’s basic education and training you get, such as an undergraduate degree, and then the equivalent of a postgraduate degree, such as an MBA. But there is a flaw with an MBA. According to Southern Nazareth University, hosting a strong MBA program, the following classes are some of the necessary courses required to graduate with a Master’s in Business Administration. 

1)      Business Essentials
2)      Exploring Business Strategies
3)      Marketing for the 21st Century
4)      Business and Law
5)      Management Analytics
6)      Management Accounting

You’ll notice something particular about these classes. While they are no doubt useful and are a boon for any manager, they tend to focus more on the financial and accounting aspects of business management. None of these classes can really help you with the soft skills of a business. Low inventory turnover? Low-profit margins? High expenses? Get an MBA; that’ll help you without a doubt. 

That MBA just turned into an expensive piece of paper when faced with those types of problems.  MBAs are great and definitely cultivate very healthy financial businesses. However, a business is more than just profits, losses, and breakeven points. A business is all of the people that make it up. Effective management means not only having success with the financial parts, but also taking care of your human capital, and leading them to the best of your ability. 

Fortunately, there are people equivalent to the MBA. These are known as Leadership Certification Programs. Through these, you can not only fix your individual flaws as a leader, but also demonstrate your skill to your leaders, and then potentially advocate for raises or promotions. 

What are People Leadership Certification Programs?

                A People Leader Certification Program is a process designed to both teach and evaluate a leader’s ability to impact their team over a set period of time. The closest academic certification would be a degree such as a Master of Leadership. However, not only does this require full-time work, but it is also extremely expensive. Also, you do not get to continuously practice and hone your skills while in this academic program. 

                People Leader certification occurs simultaneously with your work as a manager and will often require you to execute what you have learned in the workplace as a way to learn more effectively. The best way to hone a strategy is by putting it under fire, and as such, a program such as this can help hone your skills. 

                The curriculum often discussed within a leadership certification program is as follows:

1)      Personal Leadership
2)      Intercultural Leadership
3)      Service Leadership
4)      Strategic Planning
5)      Conflict Negotiation and Resolution
6)      Organization

It is evident how this curriculum helps any manager. The questions originally posed above can easily be answered by the programs stated above. In addition to that, this training is focused on people management as opposed to financial management, making it more suited for someone who works with direct reports. 

                People Certification Programs are still very new in the business world. Almost every single one of them are hosted through a college, such as MIT Sloan, Cornell Dyson, or UPenn Wharton. It is rarer to see a privatized one. However, Ambition in Motion has created the AIM Insights People Leader Certification through their AIM Insights tool. By combining business analytics with communication with direct reports and executive coaching, managers have the potential to distinguish themselves from others with the same goals.

How does the AIM Insights People Leader Certification Work?

                AIM insights already have three key components to their mentorship process, the performance management tool, the executive mentorship program, and the horizontal mentorship program. Combining all three of these creates a unique and effective way to help managers improve.  Using this in conjunction with a direct report response collection process provides a tailored experience that is unique to you. 

                Start by scheduling an interview with them! You must currently be leading a team in order to participate in this program, due to the requirement of getting feedback and statistics from your team members. Set up AIM Insights and commence work as normal. 

                AIM insights provide an aggregated score known as a SMART Impact score, which is composed of three sub-aggregates.

SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

1)       Smart Goals Set- the number of goals set by direct reports that fulfill the SMART requirements as a percentage in relation to the total number of goals set.
2)      Goal Relevancy- The number of direct report goals that are rated as highly relevant to the overall company goals, once again as a percentage.
3)      Goal Impact- Your rating for each DR Goal on a scale including Low, Medium, and High in terms of how it moves the team forward. 

By using these productivity Metrics in conjunction with an executive coach who can guide you on how to improve your scores, you can not only improve this score but become better as a manager as well. 

How does a People Certification Program Benefit Me as a Manager?

                A good People Certification program can allow you to do the following:

·         Highlight to your senior leadership why you deserve a promotion or raise
·         Show prospective employers why you are a great leader
·         Compare your strategies to other leaders
·         Evaluate how you impact both the qualitative and quantitative output of your team

You also gain a certificate and all of the data used to coach you, which you can then showcase to employers, and your professional network, and also be able to leverage to negotiate additional benefits. 

The world is constantly changing. Be a good leader and be flexible with it. Don’t be afraid to go “back to school” to become an even better leader. A people leader certification program is a great place to start this. 

 

Wed 13 July 2022
More and more senior leaders are pushing for increased credentials from their managerial staff. In 2020, 43% of US firms had business managers holding an MBA or some form of advanced business degree.  This is almost twice that of the percentage in 1980, which was 26%. 

Recently, companies and schools have been creating certification programs in lieu of these postgraduate programs. These include Cornell’s business strategy certification, Harvard’s Executive Education Certification program, and Ambition in Motion’s AIM Insights People Leadership Certification. How do you choose what type of education you want? How do you choose between an MBA and a people leadership program?

The costs of an MBA vs the costs of a Certification

It goes without saying that college is expensive. An MBA holds true to this statement. According to Experian, the average tuition cost of an MBA is $66,300. However, this is an average and falls victim to outliers. The online MBA program from the University of Texas Rio Valley is relatively inexpensive $17,000. However, the MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania costs $161,810. 

MBA Today lists that among the top 30 MBA programs, the cheapest one would be $55,727 for a full-time two-year program. This means that working will be much more difficult due to academic commitments. In addition to tuition and administrative fees, students need to pay for textbooks, supplies, any equipment (such as laptops, computers, electronics), and transportation. If you are required to relocate to study in this MBA program, you may also need to pay for moving costs and rent. Out-of-state students may even need to pay additional tuition.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 50% of graduate students take out student loans for an MBA program and complete their programs with an average of $74,707 in debt. 

 In contrast, a leadership certification program rarely leaves the 4-figure mark at all. According to CIO,  the costs of these programs range from $1800 to $5700, while the leadership coaching for executive training ranges between $150 an hour to $500 an hour. There are generally no textbooks or supply costs, and most definitely no moving costs. Certification programs have the capability to be held completely online. 

In addition to this is the cost of lost wages. During a full-time MBA, it is difficult to hold a job, and you will often have to teach a course at the school you are matriculating in. At the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, full-time MBA students are required to teach managerial and financial accounting courses to undergraduate students. This holds true for many other schools. 

Under a certification program, you can actually hold your position and continue work as normal, since it will allow you to practice skills that are taught in these courses. Therefore, you don’t lose any wages.

Applications

Applying to an MBA program is completely different than applying for a certification program. An MBA program has a much more comprehensive application process and runs the risk of applicant rejection. 

Most MBA programs require either a Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT for short, or a Graduate Record Examinations, or GRE. Some schools actually require scores for both examinations. Applicants are also required to provide letters of recommendation from managers, colleagues, and mentors, and potentially provide references as well. In addition to this, undergraduate grade point averages are taken into consideration. Finally, to complete the first stage of the application, applicants are then required to write a statement of intent, which is similar to an undergraduate college application essay. 

After all of this is completed, applicants then need to wait a few months, and may have the opportunity to be granted an interview. Most MBA programs require an interview before officially accepting a student. The acceptance rate for the interview stage ranges from 34% to 75% in the top 20 MBA programs. The averages end up being a 62% rate of acceptance.  After a long and grueling interview, you have between a 10% and 40% chance of being accepted. 

A certification program is much easier. Simply verify your identity, provide billing information, and register for the course. If there is an executive coaching portion to the program, your company may have to meet some performance metrics as well. 

Time Commitment

The average MBA program takes about two years to fully complete, assuming that it is a full-time program. Online MBAs or Hybrid MBA programs can take a while longer. During this time, expect a majority of your day to be occupied by classes, homework, research, as well as any other responsibilities required by your programs, such as being a Teaching Assistant or an exam proctor. 

People leader certifications are more fluid. Since you can view most of the coursework asynchronously, or entirely online, you determine how long the program will take. If there are executive coaching or mentorship programs in your certification, you may have to give up an hour per month or a period of time similar to this.  

The Curriculum of an MBA vs the Curriculum of a Certification Program

Courses for an MBA are often very generalized, with a skill set focused on financial management and structural management.  Some of the courses include the following:

1)      Business Essentials
2)      Exploring Business Strategies
3)      Marketing for the 21st Century
4)      Business and Law
5)      Management Analytics
6)      Management Accounting
 
           These are all important topics and can definitely add value to a company if a manager executes them correctly. However, an MBA doesn’t necessarily help with soft skills and isn’t marketable in all scenarios. If you want practical and applied skills, an MBA isn’t for you.  For example, if you are working as a manager in a field outside of finance, such as in a scientific field, or engineering, it would be best to either get a leadership certification or a degree more relevant to that workplace.
            
            A people leadership certification utilizes soft skills and is much more specialized than an MBA. Examples of topics covered in a certification course include the following:
 
1)      Personal Leadership
2)      Intercultural Leadership
3)      Service Leadership
4)      Strategic Planning
5)      Conflict Negotiation and Resolution
6)      Organization
 
            These topics are frequently discussed and encountered in the workplace and are important points to address with your direct reports, peers, and superiors. 

Conclusion

            Without a doubt, an MBA can be a very powerful tool, and in the right hands, can dramatically improve a company. However, with all of the expenses and rigor in mind, along with the focus, it is also best to consider if a people leadership certification might be a better fit for you. Neither is worse than the other, but some may be better in certain scenarios. Evaluate yourself, and your ambitions. 

Thu 21 July 2022
There’s no better way to ensure that you, as a manager, are the utmost prepared to lead at your workplace than the AIM Insights People Leader Certification. 
            Taking the time to become AIM Insights People Leader Certified will evaluate how your leadership is impacting the quantitative output of your team paired with the qualitative sentiment of working for you as a leader, and overall it will show prospective employers why you are a great leader of people. 
            After all, managers and leaders provide direction to staff and ensure they are performing at or above expectations. They need to have the ability to assess problems, manage situations, and provide sensible solutions.
            However, this certification cannot be easily gained. Not only will this program test your skills and knowledge of management, and allow you as much or as little time as you need to practice these skills within your workplace, but you will also be challenged to learn more and be the best manager that you can be. 
            The AIM Insights People Leader Certification requires you to engage your direct reports in your certification process to prove your qualifications as a leader. 
            This is how the AIM Insights People Leader Certification is the only management certification that both teaches and evaluates a leader's ability to impact their team over time. 
 
How does the AIM Insights People Leader Certification engage your direct reports? 
 To get the aim insights certification, you need to have at least 75% positive response rates from your direct reports. 
This means that your employees will take surveys assessing their feelings about their task performance, team cohesion, team productivity, organizational citizenship, engagement, and how they feel about you as their manager. 
If the scores come back low, it reflects on the manager. However, if your direct reports like you and your management skills, they’ll give you great feedback, resulting in great scores. 
This is how the AIM Insights People Leader Certification drives accountability from managers
However, don’t let this scare you. Although this management certification must be earned, the AIM Insights team is ready to help you learn how to be the best manager that you can be in order to earn this certification. 
Employees want to feel like they belong, like their work matters (to the customer, team, or organization), like they have the tools and skills to do the job competently, and they are positioned for stability and relevance. 
In addition, many employees want to feel like they are growing and making progress. 
With these needs and concerns of the direct report in mind, let’s go through some general questions that you should be sure to ask your direct reports during regular check-ins to create a better and more inclusive employee experience.
 
1. How would you like to grow within this organization?
It’s important to figure out what growth opportunities each employee needs for optimum development, whether through coaching, mentoring, visibility, or challenging work assignments.
You might also ask, “What role would you love to do (whether it exists or not), and what can I do as your manager to encourage your development in this company?”
 
2. Do you feel a sense of purpose in your job?
Managers can play a meaningful role in helping employees understand how their roles contribute to the organization’s broader mission. But helping employees feel a sense of purpose must go deeper than this to tap into what’s purposeful to employees about their job and connects with their own values.
 
3. What do you need from me to do your best work?
The most effective managers respect and care about their employees by knowing them as individuals, acknowledging their achievements, having performance conversations, and conducting formal reviews. 
These supportive behaviors build a work environment where employees feel safe experimenting with new ideas, sharing information, exploring development opportunities, and supporting each other.
 
As you explore what your employees need to do their best work, you might also ask, “What is your biggest frustration, and what action can I take to help you deal with it? What have you been trying to tell me that I’ve not been hearing? How would you like to be recognized?”
 
4. What are we currently not doing as a company that you feel we should do?
The best managers let workers know that their opinions count by promoting open dialogue and providing honest feedback on employees’ opinions and suggestions, supporting good ideas, and addressing unfeasible ones. 
By asking individual team members what they feel the company could be doing better, what market opportunities the organization might be overlooking, and how to leverage company resources more effectively, you’re validating that their thoughts matter.
You might also ask things like, “Are you satisfied with our current work from home/hybrid policy? If not, what do you think needs to change? How satisfied are you with the tools you use to communicate with your colleagues when working remotely?”
 
5. Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?
To determine whether your employees are focusing on their strengths, you might also ask, “What is the best part of your job? Which of your talents are you not using in your current role? What part of your job would you eliminate if you could?”
When managers make checking in with these five questions a regular part of how they interact with their employees, it helps ensure that people feel seen and valued. And when managers help individuals on their teams feel that way, they’re more likely to be rewarded by employees who become advocates for the department and organization, no matter how long they stay.
 
The AIM Insights People Leader Certification program is for managers who strive to become elite and grow to more senior roles in their careers. So what’s next? 
            To recap, this management certification cannot be gained. It has to be earned. And the work and relationships that you build with your direct reports will show to your certification, including the following: 
 
●     You need at least 75% positive response rates from your direct reports 
○     What they think about you as a leader 
○     Performance review from your direct reports
○     Good scores/feedback 
●     Your direct reports sign off on your certification by evaluating your performance
●     AIM Insights People Leader Certification drives accountability from managers
 
Begin by scheduling an interview to see if you qualify - you must be currently leading a team in a management role in order to qualify for the certification! 
            Proceed to set up AIM Insights for your team, and review your monthly data with an executive coach who guides you on how to improve your overall performance management scores. 
 
Become AIM Insights People Leader Certified after 12 months, and reap the benefits as follows! 
 
●     Understand how your performance as a leader compares to other leaders
●     Leverage this data (and certification) as a basis for negotiating a bonus, raise, or promotion
●     Gain insight into why certain team members are performing better than others
●     Receive executive coaching guidance to help you gain certification
●     Showcase your certification to prospective employers and on LinkedIn
●     Distinguish yourself as an incredible people leader from others vying for similar opportunities as you
 
The AIM Insights People Leader Certification is the only management certification that both teaches and evaluates a leader's ability to impact their team over time. 
 
Thu 21 July 2022
Recently, I wrote an article on the differences between a professional degree and a people leader certification. While most people understand how a graduate degree is earned, such as the coursework, thesis, and potentially work-study, not many people really know the processes behind a leader certification program due to its novelty. Recently, Ambition in Motion pioneered their own AIM Insights People Leader Certification, and we’ll be giving you a little more information on it as well.

How to sign up for the AIM Insights People Leader Certification

                To be able to enroll in this program, you need to be leading a team. Direct Report reviews are a critical part of this program, and without them, you will not be able to receive the full benefits of the certification. In addition to this, you must have a certain level of engagement and response rates from your direct reports from the previous six months. You will also need to enroll in the AIM Insights program.  If you believe you fit these metrics, feel free to schedule an interview with CEO Garrett Mintz at your convenience.

What is included in the AIM Insights People Leader Certification Program?

·         Unlimited Email Executive Coaching Guidance
·         Conversation Prompts for your 1:1s
·         Certification
·         Customized monthly executive coaching videos and guidance

The First Tier of the  AIM Insights People Leader Certification

                There are three tiers to the AIM Insights People Leader Certification- Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. These can all be worked on concurrently, but each tier has certain requirements and unique features. 

                The first tier of certification allows you and your direct reports to get an understanding of AIM Insights and its platform. Ideally, this should take about six months, but can be retaken if necessary. The main goal of this tier is to become acquainted with AIM Insights but also to increase communication between you and your direct reports. 

Direct report responses are requested by the platform once a month, asking about goals, personal feelings, and feedback about the team. The primary requirement to pass Level 1 is to have at least 75% of your direct report responses within a 6-month period.  For example, if you were managing ten direct reports, the highest amount of reports you could have would be 60. Ideally, you should be aiming to get 60 every period. However, the minimum number of responses required to get a Level 1 Certification would be 45.

This certification signifies that you have been consistently measuring your team’s productivity throughout the period, as well as their sentiment. Level 1 also demonstrates how you have assisted your team and how they feel about their cohesion, productivity, and engagement. 

The Second Tier of the AIM Insights People Leader Certification

The second tier of certification can be worked towards starting on the fourth month that you are using AIM Insights. This is to allow you as a manager to work through an acclimation period for not only yourself but for your direct reports as well. Level 2 of the AIM Insights People Leader Certification not only focuses on consistent measurements, but also on Goal setting, Productivity, and Positive Sentiment.

To earn the Level 2 Certification, you will need a 75% response rate from your direct reports, just like in the Level 1 Program. However, you will now need to demonstrate this response rate over a period of 12 months or over 12 of whatever period length you have decided upon.

Your productivity metrics are evaluated, and must meet our average manager threshold in at least two of the following four categories:

·         SMART Goal Quantity- At least 70% of your goals should be rated as SMART 
·         Goal Relevancy- At least 70% of your goals must be rated as relevant to team goals
·         Goal Impact- At least 70% of your goals must be rated as either medium or high impact
·         SMART Impact Score- Each of your direct reports must have a SMART Impact Score of at least 30, with a maximum possible score of 108- This is flexible!

A Smart Impact score is designed to have each of your Direct Reports have at least 1 medium or high-impact goal per month. A 50/50 Split allows for 30 points.  For goals accomplished, each medium goal is worth 2 points, while a high impact goal is worth 3 points. 

For those of you who may also be unfamiliar with the term SMART, it is a mnemonic devised by Management Review to guide in the setting of goals. SMART describes the following descriptors for any goals that are set by management:

Goals should be:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Time-bound

In addition to this, you must achieve at least 80% in 3 areas of your sentiment review from your direct reports, or an average of 75% across all of these metrics. This requires at least 6 cycles of data, and only cycles with at least a 75% response rate will be counted in this. 

A level 2 Certification signifies that your team has higher productivity than the average manager and shows more concrete proof of how well you work with your team. With more quantitative data supporting this such as SMART Goals and tracking, combined with more qualitative data, your certification is much stronger. 

The Third Tier of the AIM Insights People Leader Certification

The final level of the AIM Insights People Leader certification is the Level 3 Certification. Similar to Level 2, this combines goal setting with productivity and team sentiment. However, in comparison to Level 2, Level 3 focuses on having even stronger productivity.

Like the Level 2 certification, you need to have at least a 75% response rate from your direct reports. You can’t improve without any feedback!  Once again, similar to the Level 2 Certification, your productivity is measured, but using higher numbers.

·         SMART Goal Quantity- At least 80% of your goals should be rated as SMART 
·         Goal Relevancy- At least 80% of your goals must be rated as relevant to team goals
·         Goal Impact- At least 80% of your goals must be rated as either medium or high impact
·         SMART Impact Score- Each of your direct reports must have a SMART Impact Score of at least 30, with a maximum possible score of 108- This is flexible!

Your sentiment rating needs to also be higher for every cycle. You now must have an 85% average across all of your metrics, with only cycles with more than a  75% response rate counting for this. The end goal of this certification is that your team’s productivity is now over 5% greater than the average team’s, and that you are also having better sentiment scores than the average manager. 

All in all, the AIM Insights People Leader Certification can offer a lot to both you as a manager, as well as to your team. 
Wed 27 July 2022
Congratulations, you’re in charge of your team now! The dynamic at work is changing, but don’t worry, you got this! 
If you want your direct reports to respect you, it’s important that you first show them the respect that they deserve. 
Actively treating all of your workers fairly, demonstrating your value for them through your words and actions, listening to their concerns, and addressing them as best you can will set you apart as a leader that they can trust and respect. 
Remember, you are in charge of your direct reports! The respect that you receive from them must be earned, and it begins with your ability to be confident in your actions and malleable to your new work environment. 
At Ambition in Motion, we understand the struggle of inheriting a new team of individuals who have already been working together, whether they previously knew you or not. 
 
How to ensure that your inherited team is successful
Inheriting a team can be very successful if you focus on the right ways to channel its energy. 
The first step when inheriting a team is to thoroughly assess it by holding a mix of one-on-one and team meetings, supplementing with input from key stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, and colleagues outside the team. 
You’ll also look at team members’ individual track records and performance evaluations. After you’ve interviewed everyone, discuss your findings with the team to ensure that you are all on the same page in regards to overall performance and your shared goals, individually and as a team.
Winning over a team is hard. Any time employees have to adapt to a new manager, they may take time to open up and be vulnerable.
No matter how sensitive you try to be, and how much you try to avoid new manager mistakes, just being there might send shock waves through the team.
Don’t take it personally: It’s just part of how teams work. The introduction of any new person, including a leader, requires the group to do a collective reset. With that said, you can control how your employees get to know you as their manager (and you should).
Here are five tactics that help you win them over:
 
1. Go First
Don’t hang back waiting for the people on your team to come meet you: Seek them out.
Remember, one of people's top desires is to be seen and acknowledged (by their boss, but also, generally). When you start, do some managing by walking around. Introduce yourself, and ask questions.
It may be awkward at first, but introducing yourself and meeting people on their own turf is a great first step to build trust and credibility with your employees. Sometimes meeting people on their own “turf” in a virtual setting can be meeting with them at times that are convenient for them.
 
2. Understand the Team Culture
Culture; the beliefs, assumptions, and unwritten rules that guide and inform people’s behavior; is a sensitive thing. Seek to understand before being understood.
No one likes being told their culture is wrong or broken (even if it is). For example, maybe people have a habit of chatting across their desks all day long, and you think it’d be an instantly more productive environment if these conversations were moved online or set times on the calendar.
While your goal is to help everyone work more efficiently, they’ll view you as someone who’s instantly upending their workflow.
A smart move is to wait and talk to team members about how you think this shift will be helpful. Instead of rushing to make cultural changes, take the time to make everyone feel like they’re a part of them.
 
3. Roll Up Your Sleeves (and Get to Work)
First impressions really do count, and people like to know their boss cares. Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and help out when the group’s under pressure to deliver and you can help.
In other words, be the leader who sits with the rest of the team for a bit and stuffs envelopes on the day of a major mailing, or help carry event materials from the service elevator along with everyone else. This is what AIM Insights calls organizational citizenship or work that needs to get done but isn’t expressly assigned to you.
Taking part in that “no-fun but highly necessary” team activity shows you don’t believe you’re too good to do the hard, mundane tasks. It’ll make talk about being a team player that much more believable because you’ve already demonstrated you mean it.
 
4. Create a Team Goal List
A goal list is a descriptive and compelling statement of the beliefs and values that guide the team’s actions. Over time, you’ll want to take what you learn about the team and their work to form a goal list, and invite them to help you create it!
A goal list is best when followed by a mission statement that motivates the team each day, and helps them feel more like a unit.
 
5. Celebrate the Team’s Accomplishments
School yourself on the history of the team by asking each person what he or she’s most proud of to date.
Ask about successes (and failures) and how those events have impacted people. As you learn about those things that make the team strong, celebrate them. For example, are there any traditions to acknowledge top performers or hit new milestones? 
If everyone enjoys team lunch after something major is wrapped or getting a shout-out in a department-wide email, don’t feel like you have to establish new ways to mark success.
Not just that, but people will remember what you do first. If you begin by acknowledging what’s working, as opposed to leading with criticism, people will be more excited to work with you.
 
So how can you stay organized in effectively getting your newly inherited team to buy in?
There’s no better way to ensure that you are the utmost prepared to lead at your workplace than the AIM Insights People Leader Certification. 
Taking the time to become AIM Insights People Leader Certified will evaluate how your leadership is impacting the quantitative output of your team paired with the qualitative sentiment of working for you as a leader, and overall it will show prospective employers why you are a great leader of people. 
After all, managers and leaders provide direction to staff and ensure they are performing at or above expectations. They need to have the ability to assess problems, manage situations, and provide sensible solutions.
Supplement your own managerial abilities with compelling employee coaching and counseling skills, and watch the incredible results.
This team-building seminar will teach you step-by-step, how to produce a manager's "game plan" to ensure you'll reach your goals and objectives. Plus, find out how to maximize every employee's best abilities and uncover strengths and talents you never knew existed!
Many managers fear that they won’t have time to complete a Leader Certification during their work-life routine. 
However, the AIM Insights People Leader Certification acts as an active learning program that goes along with your day-to-day management tasks and provides you with a leader certification that will boost your career benefits. 
In a lot of ways, the program saves you time because you can move around to different modules of the learning program as they fit into your schedule at work; instead of having to prepare for 1:1’s with your direct reports, you can use the AIM Insights People Leader Certification program to help you prepare. 
Click here to learn more about the flexibility and benefits of receiving an AIM Insights People Leader Certification: https://ambition-in-motion.com/blog/how-to-get-a-leadership-certification-at-your-own-pace 
 
AIM Insights Challenges Experienced Leaders to Do Better
At Ambition in Motion, we don’t control the execution of one’s work but we can have an impact on how people interact with each other at work. 
The AIM Insights People Leader Certification is designed to teach you powerful employee coaching methods to open up a multitude of opportunities and solutions for any situation your career takes you to and monitor the impact of your leadership.
This is what makes the AIM Insights People Leader Certification the only management certification that both teaches and evaluates a leader’s ability to impact their team over time. 
Winning over a new team, especially a well-established one, takes humility, patience, and restraint.
And remember, even if you’re the most experienced leader, it never hurts to brush up on your skills by seeking out advice and taking the AIM Insights People Leader Management program to advance your career with an official certification in your management skills.
Most important of all, give the team time to get to know you and accelerate the process by being curious and appreciative.

Wed 27 July 2022
A good workplace is only as strong as its weakest link. In most cases, the weakest link in a work environment is actually poor communication and engagement. Miscommunication costs many companies large sums of money and can severely damage their employee retention as well. 

In a research report conducted by Expert Market, 28% of employees cite poor communication and engagement as the main reason for not being able to deliver work on time. They also found that miscommunication can cost companies with one hundred employees an average of $420,000 per year. In 2019, 80% of the employee workforce reported feeling stressed in their positions due to poor communication. 

How does workplace engagement really help in the workplace?

Gallup has much to say about poor workplace communication as well. Higher employee engagement can translate into 24% better retention, 21% more profitability, and 17% more productivity. In addition to that, 90% of employees rank good communication as key to a healthy work environment.

So how do you boost your engagement rates? Especially in a time when more and more direct reports are looking for remote work? Even if you may be socially distanced, there is no reason that you cannot be properly communicating and engaging within the workforce. AIM Insights can assist with all of this, along with so much more.

How does AIM Insights Work?

“At first I was a little nervous getting started (using AIM Insights) because I didn't know how my team would receive the survey. But after using the tool, I am learning so much more about my team that I didn't know from our previous 1:1 conversations and it is helping me connect with my team on a deeper level.”

These words were used by the Vice President of Sealed Success of Zendesk, a software-as-a-service company. AIM Insights utilizes a horizontal mentorship strategy combined with additional employee feedback programming to assist with communication. Ambition In Motion has realized that there is a science behind the relationships between mentors and mentees, and why some are successful, and some aren’t.  

The main goal of Ambition in Motion is to work with companies to connect their people together in order to improve engagement, productivity, and retention.

Not only can Ambition in Motion seamlessly work with the HRIS systems you already have in use, but it can then proceed to add on your current processes. Direct reports are sent regular monthly surveys to complete, which are then reviewed by AIM Insights Executive Coaches. After this review, these coaches will then discuss these responses with you and your fellow managers to see how you can improve and what topics you should discuss within your direct report 1:1s.   

These surveys are anonymous and are only between direct reports and AIM Insights. With anonymity, direct reports are more likely to give candid feedback, and more thorough feedback. The surveys do not require much time and are easy to take.  

How can you improve communication between you and your Direct Reports using AIM Insights?

Every month, direct reports are sent an automated survey from the AIM Insights platform. The average monthly survey is about 10 questions long and takes about two minutes each. The end of every quarter culminates with a 50-question survey, which is still fairly short, amounting to about 5-8 minutes each. 

Each of these surveys will have questions pertaining to the following categories:

·         General Overview questions- introductory questions acquainting executive coaches with direct reports
·         Performance Questions-  Questions discussing Performance and Task Completion and Rigor over the past 30 days
·         Goal Questions- Questions asking about some of the Direct Reports’ Goals over the near future
·         Work Orientation Questions- Questions regarding how an employee views work
·         Job/Career/Calling Outcome Questions- Questions pertaining to how a direct report views work, and what they hope to achieve from their occupation
·         Engagement Questions- Questions asking about how an individual feels about their involvement at work

The end goal of these questions is to get a better understanding of what you should discuss within your 1:1s. Proper communication can allow a tailored 1:1, which is just overall more beneficial to both you and your direct reports. Tailoring these periodic discussions allows you to eliminate answers to questions you both already know and have a healthier conversation. 

How can you improve your Direct Report Engagement using AIM Insights?

            Similar to other HRIS systems, AIM insights has a task management and assignment feature. This allows you to determine priorities, importance, deadlines, and many other important factors in goal setting. More importantly, you can also assess your direct reports’ goals, and then enter your own feedback through the program on how these tasks were completed. 

            AIM Insights Executive Coaches can analyze all of this data as well and give you additional feedback on your goals. For example, take this anecdote into account:

            Imagine you have a direct report; let’s name him Bryce. He is an entry-level direct report, recruited straight from his university, and is still fresh to workplace dynamics. Bryce has been noted to prioritize his work/life balance, being an avid golfer and about to be married. You recognize that Bryce has a large amount of potential, and thus, plan to give him more responsibilities. Therefore, you give him direct control of an extensive project requiring constant attention and feedback and cannot be accomplished within 40 hours a week. Instead, it would require about 80 hours of attention to complete.

 To your dismay, instead of showing excitement and anticipation with this new responsibility, he declines the opportunity and hands in his two-week notice to Human Resources. Despite the fact that you had been giving him more out-of-work opportunities, and more and more responsibilities, he chose to leave. What went wrong?

            If you had more information about your direct reports, you would have been able to see how you made a mistake interacting with Bryce. With Ambition in Motion, the monthly surveys and executive coaches would have alerted you to the fact that Bryce is a Job Oriented Professional. Consequently, it is frustrating for him to lose control and freedom over his life. He would not have been the best candidate for this role, which would be better suited to someone who is Career Oriented.

            It’s okay to have trouble with communication. What matters is how you address these flaws. AIM Insights can make a large difference in how you fix this. 

Tue 2 August 2022
In the last couple of months, Sam’s team has grown immensely. They have good ideas, insights, and most importantly, engagement and the ambition to work together and take on more has spiked. 
Sam’s team’s engagement levels have been increasingly growing, making his team and company much stronger and ultimately more successful. However, he doesn’t have any quantitative results to show this because of economic and regulatory factors that have impacted his team’s ability to achieve the results they set out at the beginning of the quarter (before the economic and regulatory changes occurred).
It takes time and effort to grow a team to reach success. If people aren’t engaged, then a team’s overall efficiency and success rates will reflect that. However, when a team is engaged, the company is open to reaching high levels of success. 
In Sam’s case, the CEO found their lack of quantitative results concerning. Going into the meeting, Sam was excited to present their team’s growth and improvement as a unit. How can Sam approach this conversation with his boss, and show the team’s growth and improvement over the last couple of months, without quantitative results? 
 
Here are some helpful tips when having a performance review discussion with a boss who doesn’t think you’ve accomplished much: 
 
Mentally prepare yourself before the conversation
Before entering the meeting, tell yourself that regardless of how the meeting goes, it's just a meeting about one individual's perspective of your performance. Performance discussions are simply a way for you to receive information and feedback about how you're performing in a particular position within the company. 
It isn't an evaluation of your personal worth or how you would perform in a different position or with a different company. Don't take the feedback too personally. Instead, use their comments as you see fit to improve at your job and interact with colleagues.
 
Think before you react
When receiving negative feedback for poor work performance, it can stir some emotions that can quickly surface. If this happens to you, do your best to take a deep breath and count to three before you react with an outburst that might make matters worse. It's best to take the time to listen to your manager's input and allow yourself a few days to process the information before reacting or responding. 
If this is a case where your boss may not realize that your team is growing stronger and making improvements as a unit, but may not have reached a big goal yet, you can take a moment to show your boss that you hear what they’re saying, and then communicate the growth that is progressing between you and your team. At the end of the day, your boss may not empathize why regulatory/economic/any other factor outside of your control is impacting your team’s ability to perform, but it is critical that your boss understands that they are occurring and that your team is pivoting and making improvements given the circumstances.
 
Ask your boss for a performance improvement plan
If you believe there is validity to your manager's points, ask for an improvement plan that outlines specific goals and objectives. Make sure you align with your manager on specific ways to improve your work performance. This is a radical suggestion as typically performance improvement plans come from the top down. But if you specifically ask for it and craft it with your leader, you can control the outcomes in which you are being measured against versus them determining them for you (without their empathy or understanding of the situation).
The goals and objectives should be specific and quantitative with a specified time in which to reach them; the more specific, the clearer it will be that you have met the goals as requested.
 
Keep the communication open
Ask your manager if you could schedule some regular meetings with him or her so you can discuss your progress and the current state of performance. 
Having regular communication with your manager is beneficial regardless of performance, but especially when performance is a concern. 
Every month with AIM Insights, direct reports are sent to an automated survey from the AIM Insights platform. The average monthly survey is about 10 questions long and takes about two minutes each. The end of every quarter culminates with a 50-question survey, which is still fairly short, amounting to about 5-8 minutes each. 
 
 
Seek training and education
Ask your manager for suggestions or training resources that could help you improve in the work areas that were identified as your problem areas.
This type of action demonstrates initiative and shows that you genuinely care about your work performance.
Another simple and easy way to demonstrate this initiative is via AIM Insights.
Similar to other HRIS systems, AIM insights has a task management and assignment feature. This allows you to determine priorities, importance, deadlines, and many other important factors in goal setting. More importantly, you can also assess your direct reports’ goals, and then enter your own feedback through the program on how these tasks were completed. 
AIM Insights Executive Coaches can analyze all of this data as well and give you additional feedback on your goals.
 
 
Work with a career or personal coach
If you're struggling at work and genuinely want to improve, consider hiring a career or personal coach to help you. 
Sometimes hiring a coach can be very expensive. One cost-effective way to get coaching is via AIM Insights.
Not only can AIM Insights seamlessly work with the HRIS systems you already have in use, but it can then proceed to add to your current processes. Direct reports are sent regular monthly surveys to complete, which are then reviewed by AIM Insights Executive Coaches. After this review, these coaches will then discuss these responses with you and your fellow managers to see how you can improve and what topics you should discuss within your direct report 1:1s.   
These surveys are anonymous and are only between direct reports and AIM Insights. With anonymity, direct reports are more likely to give candid feedback, and more thorough feedback. The surveys do not require much time and are easy to take.  
 
 
Why is it important to track employee engagement as a form of team progression?
To analyze employee engagement, you need to know what your organization is doing well and where you can improve. Knowing how to measure employee engagement is the jumping-off point for evolving your engagement strategy.
Some things are easy to measure because they are concrete, individual concepts: like the time it takes you to drive to work or how many red lights you can hit without being late. But employee engagement is a bit more difficult. It isn’t concrete, and it’s influenced by many factors.
 
Before we talk about measuring engagement, let’s review how we define it:
Employee engagement is the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work.
According to Gallup, organizations with highly engaged employees have 17% higher productivity and 21% higher profitability. 
Bottom line: engaged employees work harder and stay longer.
 
Here are some key benefits of measuring employee engagement:
 
  1. To build trust. Asking for feedback from employees shows that you care about their opinions and how they feel at work. Prove that you’re there to listen and you want to create the best experience possible.
  2. To help everyone understand what’s going on. Once you have the data—share it with everyone—leaders, managers, and front-line employees. This gives everyone the opportunity to help contribute to a better culture.
  3. To understand trends. Understand what’s happening in your organization by location, team, over time, or compared to industry benchmarks. Keep a pulse on how and where the organization is (or isn’t) progressing.
Engagement is the culmination of how team members feel about:
·         Their camaraderie with other team members
·         Amount of energy they receive from doing the work
·         Whether or not the work compliments their strengths
·         How much they align to the mission of the company
 
How can I showcase my employee engagement?
            One unique element of AIM Insights is its ability to deliver data on a team-by-team basis in terms of engagement. E.g. it can inform me how engaged my team is which impacts engagement, productivity, and retention.
            There’s no better way to ensure that your managers are the utmost prepared to lead at your workplace than the AIM Insights People Leader Certification. 
            After all, managers and leaders provide direction to staff and ensure they are performing at or above expectations. They need to have the ability to assess problems, manage situations, and provide sensible solutions.
 
            Even if you haven’t had any big recent wins, tracking your overall employee engagement and metrics that showcase that you have been able to pivot, despite not many tangible outcomes yet, allows you to see your team’s progress over a period of time and show your boss that you are putting in the work to get on track.
Tue 2 August 2022
It is exceedingly important to build an environment conducive to allowing team members to communicate with each other as well as with you, their manager. This is particularly important as it pertains to feedback.

                In fact, according to Gallup, managers who receive feedback on their strengths and weaknesses show an 8.9% increase in profitability, while teams with managers that gave feedback report a 12.5% increase in profitability. 

                Feedback can truly add to the workplace. But while it is often a stated responsibility for a manager to give critical feedback, it is often difficult to encourage your direct reports to give feedback as well. This is a concept known as 360-degree feedback or two-way feedback. And you can alleviate this problem in a few ways. 

Creating an environment in which Feedback is appreciated

                Whenever you inherit or create a team, you should have a good 1:1 with any member of staff. This should help you not only inspire your team and show them your mindset but also allow you to set an environment in advance. While in this meeting, you should not hesitate to explain how you value both giving and receiving feedback, but also explain why you value this so much. The key is creating a culture where people feel enough psychological safety to give feedback – not a passive-aggressive culture that says the right words but doesn’t deliver psychological safety.

                In addition to this, you should also model certain behaviors through your own work to help demonstrate your passion for this. Try doing some of the following:

1)      Show interest in what your direct reports are doing- keeping a common image of you caring for their interests will help foster this environment where they don’t feel uncomfortable with conversations with you.
2)      Accept your mistakes and acknowledge them- most people will feel more comfortable with telling someone if they’ve made a mistake if this person frequently acknowledges their errors. Own up to your mistakes!
3)      Recognize the power dynamic- To your direct reports, you rank higher than them. There is an inherent power difference here, and it is natural for them to be nervous about calling you out. 
4)      Read Implicit Language- Before asking for feedback, it is important to figure out the ideal time and appropriateness of asking for feedback. Sometimes, when an employee is particularly stressed, they may not be able to give the most effective feedback. 
5)      Take Immediate Action- If you are getting feedback from your direct reports and proceeding to not act on it, do you really think that they will be giving you any more feedback in the future? Taking action on feedback signifies your dedication to your direct reports, as well as how much respect you have for them. Not acting on it would show that you either don’t care or don’t respect their feedback. Don’t be that person. 

How to Receive Feedback as a Manager

                Ironically, the same way that your employees should receive feedback is the exact same way that you should receive feedback. This is a process of grace and dignity. Here are some concepts to keep in mind while accepting feedback.

1)      Be an Active Listener- Being an active listener means asking for details, presenting interested body language, and being polite. Leaning in, using facial language, and using hand gestures are all good examples of body language. It is important to let the other person speak, and not try to stifle them though. 
2)      Cross-Check Feedback- The more people that are saying a specific topic, the higher chance that this topic holds true. For example, if most of your direct reports are noting that you have trouble issuing deadlines, then this is probably a very discerning feature of yours. If a topic is mentioned by one direct report, it still is worth looking into, but the more frequent a topic is, the higher priority it should be.
3)      Be Polite- This should go without saying, but at any point, if you feel that you are getting emotional, adjourn the meeting or discussion in favor of a later date. It is not a good idea to have emotions while in this discussion. 
4)      Ask for Examples- Anecdotes and specific examples can be very handy for the effectiveness of feedback. If an employee says that you have trouble delegating duties, it may be hard to understand how. But imagine if you received this feedback: “During the period of time that we were working with company A, you had a lot of tasks on your plate while we were unused, and you were frequently irritable.” That says a thousand times more than the former feedback. 
5)      Be Aware of What you Say or Do- The actions that you take while and after receiving feedback can dictate your entire reputation in the office.  If you overreact in front of one of your direct reports, imagine how the rest of them will feel about giving you feedback. 

Using Services to Garner Feedback

HRIS systems can often be your best friend in terms of getting feedback from your direct reports. Many of them can automatically prompt direct reports to submit their own feedback. 

Ambition In Motion also offers a service known as AIM Insights, which can assist you with communication between you and your direct reports. Each month, a survey is sent out to your direct reports to fill out. The most important questions on this survey pertain to performance, task completion, and rigor over a period of time. These allow you to get candid feedback and then see how your direct reports feel about their tasks.  

In addition to that, AIM Insights’ Executive Coaches will give further evaluation and feedback to you and your fellow managers. Feedback between you and your direct reports can also be anonymous, allowing your employees to feel safer expressing their opinions.  

Sometimes, it’s not only scary to receive feedback or criticism but equally scary to give it. Understand the position that your employees are in, because at the end of the day, it is their company just as much as it is yours. You might organize them, but their day-to-day work will define the company. Let them make it a better place for themselves, as well as you and your fellow managers. Be empathetic, welcoming, and an active listener, and you will turn out just fine. 

Wed 10 August 2022
"The customer is always right; The customer comes first." 
We've all heard these mantras, either as part of our jobs or as customers ourselves in the marketing materials of countless businesses. 
However, extensive research shows that customer satisfaction is more effectively built by first focusing on employee happiness.
 
At the July Executive Symposium last Thursday, July 28, 2022, Todd Coerver, CEO of P. Terry’s Burger stand stated his belief that “the customer is not always right.” 
He demonstrated the way that he invests in his employees because investing in them is just as critical as investing in the company. 
Coerver’s stance on the always-known “customer is always right” rule poses the question: “Is employee loyalty more important than customer loyalty?”
 
The idea of putting employees before customers seems counterintuitive, but it's not entirely new. 
Over 20 years ago, a group of business professors from Harvard University had been working on a model that validated this concept. James Heskett, Thomas Jones, Gary Loveman, W. Earl Sasser, and Leonard Schlesinger were comparing results from their own studies and synthesizing other research to construct a model to explain the outstanding success of the most profitable service-based companies.
 
It began with Sasser’s research, conducted with his former student Fred Reichheld. The duo took aim at a long-standing assumption of business: market share is the primary driver of profitability. If a company can increase market share, it will increase sales while taking advantage of economies of scale to lower costs and thus increase profits. 
When the pair examined a variety of companies and the existing research, however, they found that while market share is one factor in profitability, another factor better explains the most profitable companies: customer loyalty
Based on their research, Sasser and Reichheld estimated that a mere 5% increase in customer loyalty can yield a 25 to 85% increase in profitability. 
This finding laid the foundation for the five Harvard professors’ search for the causes of customer loyalty. After studying dozens of companies and troves of research, they created a model that tracked the origins of customer loyalty. 
They called it the "service-profit chain."
 
The service-profit chain links together several elements of the business model in a linear relationship: Profit and growth are driven by customer loyalty
 
But first let’s take a step back… How is customer loyalty achieved? 
Loyalty is influenced by customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction is stimulated by a high perception of the value of the service.
Value is the result of productive employees. 
Productivity stems from employee satisfaction.
 
Put another way, profits are driven by customer loyalty, customer loyalty is driven by employee satisfaction, and employee satisfaction is driven by putting employees first.
 
According to Forbes, a recent study demonstrated that managers play a significant role in employees’ satisfaction and the service-profit chain. 
A trio of researchers led by Richard Netemeyer of the University of Virginia collected data from a single retail chain that included 306 store managers, 1,615 customer-employee interactions, and 57,656 customers. 
The researchers were testing the effect of managers’ performance and satisfaction on employees, and hence its effect on customers’ satisfaction and the overall performance of the managers’ stores.
 
They found that managers’ actions, customer satisfaction, and store financial performance were indeed linked. These results support the argument that management’s support of employees significantly contributes to Heskett and his colleagues at Harvard internal service quality, the first link in the service-profit chain. 
The findings from the research of Netemeyer and his team also suggest that flipping the organizational chart really works. 
It’s essential that managers understand that their role is to support employee satisfaction and hence customer satisfaction, in no small part because their success in this role clearly has a major impact on the financial performance of their company.
 
The belief shared by many corporate leaders that hierarchies ought to be flipped and customers put second is simple in theory, but difficult to put into practice. 
Turning the organization around requires turning loyalties around. 
Leaders must demonstrate that their loyalty is to employees first, trusting that their employees will then be more loyal and caring to their customers. 
It’s a big gamble, but the results speak for themselves.
 
How can you demonstrate an employee loyalty policy in your workplace? 
 
All companies want to attract the best possible talent to their workplace. But who would want to work with a company that treats its members as disposable assets?
Investing in your employees is a great business opportunity, and it builds a solid reputation for your company. 
People want to work for organizations that promote their growth and value their opinions. 
When you recognize the importance and value of your employees, you remind your team what you’re working towards, and what they’re doing right, which in turn, inspires them to keep doing better. 
This plethora of inspiration and praise allows for a more open-minded environment for idealization between you and your direct reports. Engaging in your team will allow for an engaged work environment at your organization. 
If you’re looking for an efficient way to track your progress with your team as you engage in them, AIM Insights ensures visibility over all ongoing activities: task performance, manager performance, organizational citizenship, team performance, and goals for direct reports. 
Implementing employee loyalty at your organization is great. But tracking overall performance throughout this process will be crucial to understanding its impacts long-term. 
 
Just like the research that Harvard professors, James Heskett, Thomas Jones, Gary Loveman, W. Earl Sasser, and Leonard Schlesinger conducted, happy employees equal happy customers. 
When you inform your employees that the customer is always right, it pits the employees against the customers, with the customers always coming out on top. This creates problems on multiple levels.
 
●     It undermines the authority and control of the employees.
●     It often causes employee resentment against managers.
●     It signals that management supports customers more than employees.
●     It shows a lack of trust that employees can appropriately resolve difficult situations.
 
The reality is, supporting your employees will lead to happier customers.
It’s important to remember to take your employees’ side in a positive way so that the customer understands that you and your employees are the experts of your business, and you aim to help the customer. 
However, some customers may not be happy if they are not treated as though they are correct, and that is okay. 
Believe it or not, there are some customers you do NOT want. If a customer constantly complains, abuses employees, or creates stress for your company, they’re not worth it. It doesn’t matter how much money they pay.
 
A bad customer:
 
●     Erodes employee morale
●     Requires an unusually high amount of resources
●     Increases employee stress levels
 
 
There may be times when you have to “fire” a customer in order to protect your company and employees. If you’re planning on staying in business for the long haul, you need to avoid terrible customers.
Dropping bad customers may cost you a little revenue in the short term, but it’s better in the long term for your business.
Wed 10 August 2022
Management is often a position of mentorship in addition to leadership. One important aspect of mentorship is education, and consequently, many companies are willing to sponsor some form of education or professional development for their employees. After all, better employees equate to better profitability and efficiency

                However, it often comes as an unpleasant surprise that the professional development budgets are often frequently underutilized, or even worse, unused. What makes it even worse is that some of your direct reports don’t even know what they have access to. In a survey by Guardian in 2017, only 49% of employees could accurately recite what benefits they selected.  Thus, you might ask, “How can we get our direct reports to make use of the corporate education advantages?” The answer is far easier than you might think.

What is Corporate Education Sponsorship?

                Corporate Education Sponsorships are a phenomenon in which a Direct Report chooses to participate in further education or certification at the company’s expense. According to Statista, 47% of companies offer this in some aspect, and an additional 8% offer student loan repayment.

                Most companies actually prefer this over formal training and talent development programs, due to many inherent benefits of sponsorship.

Why should you offer Corporate Sponsorships to your Direct Reports?

                These sponsorships allow you as a manager to set up the best possible employee workforce that you could ever ask for. Sponsorship works as a development program, an engagement system, and even a recruiting incentive. 

                Think about it from your employees’ perspectives, and you can easily see how this would be an amazing recruiting opportunity. Not only would an employee have the potential to get a degree, thus expanding their skills, but would also be able to move up in the company ladder, and consequently get more pay.

                From a managerial perspective, you receive just as many benefits. First of all, at the end of the day, you will have better educated and more skilled employees. This alone balances out the cost of the programs. According to Human Capital Theory by Dr. Arnaud Chevalier and Gary Becker, higher education increases productivity. 

                Also, you will have loyalty from your direct reports. If a company were to pay for your education, and their only condition is for you to stay and work for them for a certain amount of time, you’d definitely buy into the company culture a little more than before. 

                An even better perk for your company is that you can often claim tax breaks, credits, or deductions. The IRS has been pushing for companies to fund employee education, and if a company meets certain guidelines regarding education, they have some options available to them regarding taxes.   

                On a more personal note, I was able to benefit from Company Education Sponsorships, and it completely changed my life as I serve as a paramedic.

                A Paramedic, or even an EMT Certification costs thousands of dollars, and as an individual barely out of high school, I had no way of easily affording this. However, a local rescue squad offered to fund this in exchange for me working with them for at least 6 months. I was able to pursue my certification, which I had originally planned to defer for a couple years, and consequently, was able to make my dream come true much earlier than anticipated. I went on hundreds of calls, some of which included lifesaving measures, along with medical evacuation, and was often the only Paramedic on duty at times. I was able to give back to the squad that paid for me to receive this advantage, while still benefitting.

How should you offer these Company Advantages?

                There are generally two different ways that Corporate Education Advantages operate. The first method is through reimbursement. This means that your direct reports will undergo their certification or education, and then upon completion, your company then compensates them for the cost of their education.

                Alternatively, your company could sponsor a direct report’s education, paying for it from the point of enrollment. This is often paired with a contractual requirement for the direct report to finish their coursework or risk having to pay back the cost of the degree or certification.  

                Regardless of the method, most companies also require a minimum amount of time served at the company after receiving a sponsorship or reimbursement.              

What Advantages should you sponsor?

                Typically, companies can sponsor a variety of degrees, certifications, or programs. The main consideration is that it is a relevant field to that of your industry. Here are some of the most common sponsorship targets:

·         GED- Some employees may have had extenuating circumstances while they were in high school and were forced to drop out. A GED can completely change their life.
·         Bachelor’s Degree- Undergraduate education can often have a fiscal barrier, which some individuals might not be in the best financial status to pursue.
·         Master’s Degree- Postgraduate degrees are often pursued only after experience in the workforce. Sponsoring this and combining it with a work agreement can result in an extremely valuable employee
·         CPA- This one is only common within the accounting field but is frequently sponsored. 
·         PhD- Sponsoring these is much rarer, and it is only really common to have a PhD program sponsored within the clinical or scientific fields. 
·         People Leader Certifications - This type of certification is a much newer innovation and provides quality education and experience for a fraction of the price of an MBA. While these certifications are often offered by educational institutions, companies such as Ambition In Motion have pioneered their own versions of this, such as the AIM Insights People Leader Certification.

Advertising Your Company Incentives

                Getting your direct reports to be aware of what exactly they have access to begins with the job posting. According to Gallop, 64% of workers cited significant increases in income or benefits as “very important.” So, wouldn’t it make sense to advertise using these incentives? Recruiting fairs, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Handshake, among others, should not only list financial benefits, but also some incentives, such as Corporate Sponsorships, insurance, time off, and any other associated perks.

                In addition to this, any new employee orientation or in-service should always reiterate the opportunities available to direct reports. The more times that this is brought up, the more likely an employee is to look into this. 

                Have your benefit companies come advertise with you as well. For example, if you have an MBA sponsorship, have a professor or dean come and speak about the merits of getting an MBA. Using these advertisements helps your credibility. 

                Also, create partnerships with local schools and certifying boards! See if they can reduce prices with you in exchange for exclusivity deals and similar concessions. Cut costs and see what you can do.

                An education can completely change an individual’s life and improve your own business as a result. It feels like a no-brainer. So don’t be afraid to push your company incentives. 

Sat 20 August 2022
Executive Coaches are qualified professionals who work with individuals- primarily executives but also high-performing employees- to help them improve in many ways.  They often work with these leaders on goal setting, goal achievement, communication, and act as a sounding board for ideas. 

Normally, this can cost quite a pretty penny- up to $3,000 an hour. However, Ambition In Motion has created a new program facilitating executive coaches and mentorship which only costs $150 a month. But how does this happen? What makes AIM Insights so different?

Why is it so important to have Executive Coaches?

Executive coaches often have extremely high business acumen. Whatever some of your goals may be, they can help you accomplish them. An impartial third party can often help judge your ideas as well. Because they will keep your information confidential as well, they can really create a relationship built upon helping you and improving your business and ease your fears about corporate espionage or similar topics. 

Another benefit of having an executive coach is that they often have extensive experience to draw upon. Every coach has led a team, founded a business, sold a business, or done something in their respective industry to warrant being hired solely for an advisory position.  

               Executive coaches can also point out weaknesses far easier than someone connected to your company. It is always easier to find an error if you are objective towards what you are auditing, which does hold true for executive coaches. 

               Think of an executive coach similar to how you would think of an athletic coach. No one would argue that Lionel Messi is one of the greatest players to have ever played soccer, or that Tom Brady is one of the greatest football players ever. However, despite both their respective skills, both of them have made use of coaches and improved their already formidable skills. The same concept holds true for you as a manager. Regardless of performance, everyone should have a mentor and educator in their back pocket. 

How can AIM Insights be provided at a far more cost-effective rate compared to traditional executive coaching?

               The key question here is how a cost is determined for Executive Coaches. After all, with a steep cost, you’d be curious. Typically, these coaches spend hours upon hours in what is known as the discovery process. This involves reading over 1:1s, checking exit interviews, reading performance reviews, looking at goals and successes, and so much more. Naturally, with hourly pay, this will add up, hence the high costs. 

               However, with AIM Insights, the platform automates this entire discovery process for the executive coaches, condensing it into easy-to-read graphics and briefs. This saves them quite a few hours and allows them to not only be able to work with their clients faster, but also to reduce their costs. 

               In addition to this, executive coaches tend to be great at their craft, executive coaching, but if assessing the total amount of time they are working, for example, the time it takes to develop business (online or in-person), there is a lot of total time spent in the process of serving a client. Ambition In Motion can once again automate this process. By creating a marketplace where coaches and managers can come together, coaches can spend their time coaching and developing business by showcasing their abilities as a coach. 

How else does AIM Insights differ from other executive coaching programs?

               One of the most important things that can be written about AIM Insights is that it can be completely tailored to your specific scenario. Picture the following: Your water heater burst overnight, and you and your family wake up to six inches of water in your living room. Who would you call to fix this?

               In this case, you are probably most likely to call a plumber. And why might you call a plumber as opposed to a general contractor or a handyman? The answer is obvious- the plumber specializes in this type of scenario.

               Executive coaching works in the exact same way. One executive coach cannot be good at all aspects of leadership. With AIM Insights’ pool of executive coaches, the tool can provide leaders with a coach who will be more experienced with their specific field and problems. 

               For example, AIM Insights has coaches that specialize in coaching sales leaders, others that specialize in coaching tech leaders, others that specialize in certain personality assessments like DISC, Strengthsfinder, Predictive Index, and Culture Index, and many other areas. The point is that multiple coaches can be assigned to a company based on their needs and drivers. Essentially, it is a marketplace where managers and executive coaches can come together.

               AIM Insights executive coaching can also be paired with a full people leader certification program, in contrast to others. Certifications are often much cheaper than postgraduate education, and can also provide unique benefits that are more tailored to your actual career.

               Executive Coaching can be nerve-wracking and can be expensive. But you don’t have to let it be either of the two. 
Sat 20 August 2022
Coaching enhances performance. It can benefit anyone, not just athletes. Just like athletes, leaders are under pressure to perform every day. And just like with athletes, coaching is the best way to ensure that leaders can perform at a high level.
Workplace coaching is a burgeoning industry with a growing body of literature to support it. In this article, we break down workplace coaching, how it works, and how you can use it to help grow your organization.
 
What is executive coaching? 
Executive coaches work with business leaders to enable their rapid development. They also assist with specific problems that a board member, or senior manager, wants to work through outside of the normal business framework. 
Unlike training, coaching focuses very specifically on the issues that an executive wants to work through. Thus it becomes a speedy way to improve skills and achieve personal and professional objectives.
The executive coach gives the executive feedback and a new perspective that enables them to set goals and work towards them. The coaching sessions use objective feedback to drive the executive's thought processes forward through their issues.
 
What are the main uses of executive coaching? 
There are many uses of executive coaching but the most common reasons for engaging a coach include the following:
 
●       Onboarding or Transitioning: when a board member or senior manager is promoted, coaching can quickly help them prepare for their new role. It's also a very useful method for helping someone who is transitioning from one area of responsibility to another at the same level.
●       High Potential: individuals who are identified as having real talent, can often be coached to accelerate their personal development within an organization.
●       Organizational Change: coaching can support transformative business programs to ensure that leadership can keep pace with change.
●       Neutral Party Support: sometimes the executive will need to run ideas over a sounding board to be better able to articulate them in their own business.
●       Personal Effectiveness Programs: if the executive themselves plays a coaching role, for example in their management position or during 360-degree review processes, coaching can help them develop their own approach.
 
Why is executive coaching important in the workplace?
Coaching enables leaders to deal with the unknown.
The workplace is a dynamic environment, characterized by turnover and volatile market forces. The beauty of coaching is that leaders do not need to know everything in order to be effective; instead, they need to know how to empower those around them.
Executive coaching gives businesses a way of developing their senior staff in a cost-effective and timely manner. 
Coaching sessions enable the staff member to concentrate on the issues that are most critical to their performance, without the fluff of lengthy training courses. They allow the director or manager to remain at their post whilst developing and thus don't take away from their contribution to the business.
It can be said that executive coaching is one of the most important methods for improving the skills of your leaders and directors. 
It should be easy to demonstrate a clear return on investment for this kind of coaching. And anything that has a positive impact on the bottom line is something that your business should be considering.
 
Identifying Your Workplace’s Coaching Needs
If you are interested in bringing a coach on board, there are several ways to identify the coaching needs of your workplace.
First, you can bring in a consultant with expertise in gathering information in organizations through surveys, assessments, and interviews.
There is no better way to identify needs than by talking to the people involved in your organization. 
In this case, you can select a sampling of your staff to interview, asking them about the skills and resources that they feel they need to do their job effectively.
If you feel that employees are not giving honest feedback or you are stuck, it may be time to bring in a consultant.
 
Find the best-fit executive coach for your company’s needs 
            AIM Insights has hundreds of executive coaches that specialize in specific areas of expertise: sales, technology, operations, etc. 
            Fill out our executive coaching form and the AIM Insights team will pair you with the right executive coach for you. You also have the option to be put on a rotation over a period of time with multiple executive coaches that specialize in different areas of business. 
Regardless, these pairings are made based on metrics and feedback tested by AIM Insights. When you begin, you will be asked to take assessments that will generate the most effective executive coaches for you. 
This can even be done through the AIM Insights People Leader Certification program, where you will be paired with an experienced coach, personalized to your field of management, working with you through gaining a management certification to excel in your career. 
What difference does AIM Insights bring to executive coaching? 
Lots of benefits at a fraction of the cost. 
There are two reasons why AIM Insights is cost-effective: 
 
1.     The insights from the initial assessments done on the executive client allow the executive coach to have enough feedback and guidance to give to the manager immediately 
2.     This is more effective than the executive coach going out and marketing themselves on LinkedIn, commenting on posts with no guarantee that they will be given a job. By creating a marketplace for managers and executive coaches to come together, coaches can spend more time coaching.
            
AIM Insights has hundreds of executive coaches, ready to guide you at a customized level. If you want to see efficient, long-lasting improvements within your organization, and you believe that executive training can benefit you, set up a meeting to speak with the AIM Insights team and find out how you can get started with a customized executive coaching program
 
As Bill Gates said:
 
“Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player. We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” 
Sun 21 August 2022
Gallup has extensively researched the relationship between employee engagement and company profitability, and they showed that engaged employees are 22% more profitable than disengaged employees. 

The tides of the economy seem to be shifting, making this a time when it is even more critical to focus on culture and employee engagement. Many companies, especially private equity-backed firms, have responded by laying off employees rather than investing in them. I was curious to know, “Why are private equity-backed firms more prone to layoffs in a down economy compared to private or public companies?”

I reached out to my network to learn more. I interviewed multiple employees, leaders, and professionals working for private equity, and their consistent answer was that “They are seeking an exit – at any and all costs and that part of achieving an exit is showing numbers that your costs are down and revenues are up.”

Ryan, a former VP of Operations, was recently laid off from a private equity-backed firm. He proposed some ways for the company to consolidate its overlapping expenses. They loved the idea so much that after consolidating those expenses they consolidated him…and replaced him with a junior middle manager to take his role at a fraction of his salary. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for eradicating inefficiencies and driving profitability. 

But can the short-term focus of achieving an exit coexist with a thriving company’s long-term goals, especially when these goals require an engaged employee base with a great culture?

I would imagine that most private equity professionals land somewhere on this scale from unapologetic to compassionate. The unapologetic professionals don’t care about the people because revenue growth reigns supreme. On the opposite side, compassionate professionals care about building a sustainable business and invest accordingly. In between these two sides, many professionals will say all the right things but their actions will reveal whether their true focus is sales and reducing costs to show short-term metrics.

Another focus of my interviews was on the reputational cost. I was curious to know if there was any reputational risk for offloading a company that looks great on paper but is a dumpster fire internally. I'm envisioning a prospective investor checking something like a Carfax to find out if they are working with somebody that has a history of leaving others to hold the bag.

Unfortunately, I haven’t received any great responses so far. 

And until we have a way for companies to assess the reputational risk of how private equity firms treat their acquired companies' employees, there is nothing to stop these private equity firms from propagating bad cultures to dump onto somebody else’s plate.

The issue with all these scenarios is harm done to the people at these companies. Hundreds of thousands of professionals work for private equity-backed firms, not realizing how little security they have in their role or the value they have in the minds of the owners. 

Or worse, many professionals end up working for a company and feeling trapped because of economic worries or personal constraints. These workers end up miserable, and the whiplash effects from ownership changes only exacerbate these effects. Imagine starting with an executive team that cares about you (e.g. the founders), and suddenly you find out that the new private equity owners want 120% more revenue but for 30% less pay. These paradigm changes wipe away years of work building company culture and leave a hollowed-out company in their wake.

Research has shown how powerful investing in culture and engagement can be for profitability. But until we have a way to hold private equity firms accountable based on their reputation for either building great companies, inside and on paper, or mirage companies, great on paper but awful inside, it will be difficult for private equity and company culture goals to align.

Thu 25 August 2022
Bridge the gap between hiring and onboarding
Welcoming new hires into your organization is an exciting process. An employee's onboarding can have a huge influence on their enthusiasm, motivation and performance. 
             As your new hires learn the fundamentals of their new jobs, you have the unique opportunity to make a meaningful first impression. 
 
Benefits of a good onboarding process
An employee's first impression of a new workplace can set the tone for their entire experience with a company. 
An engaging and exciting onboarding process can improve job performance in the long term by setting employees up for success from the moment they begin their training. In response, these employees see higher satisfaction in their jobs, increasing employee retention over time.
When a company makes the effort to create a captivating onboarding process, new employees are encouraged to engage immediately with their new surroundings, generating excitement about their role. 
An excited employee is likely to speak highly of the company they work for, improving a company's brand by word of mouth and contributing to the reputation that the organization is a great place to work.
 
Week one
During the new manager’s first week, they could be asked to think about and create a document outlining their 30-60-90 day plan. Here, they’d write down their main goals and their goals for their team, plus how they plan to achieve said objectives. 
Employees would include timelines for each set of goals and a description of what success would look like for them. 
As an employer, there are many benefits to asking your new hires to develop a 30-60-90-day plan, according to Indeed.com.
 
Benefits of a 30-60-90-day plan
-        Helps clarify their role. You can use the document to make sure new employees understand what they need to deliver.
-        Provides valuable insights. Discussions about the plan give you insight into your new employee, and you can also ask them to give you insight into your business.
-        Helps build relationships. Regular discussions with new hires can help you build a stronger team.
-        Aids in development plans. This document lets you see your new employee’s strengths and weaknesses so you can create their employee development plan.
-        Helps with time management. Starting a new role can be overwhelming, but a 30-60-90 plan gives a new employee focus and shows them where they should be spending their time.
 
With this, it’s important to keep in mind that it can be difficult for a new member of the leadership team to establish a set of goals when they aren’t 100 percent familiar with the company’s objectives or overall targets. 
It’s up to the HR team and the leader’s managers to provide any appropriate documentation and data that will help inform their goal-setting initiatives. 
This could include organizational charts, strategy and project documentation, and general company culture presentations.
 
30 days
After 30 days, the new manager may be ready to start diving deeper into their role. They may have set goals surrounding budgeting issues or cost-savings for their department or started seeking out ways to conserve other resources.
This is when they’re able to receive information and data that’s a bit more detailed, such as financial reports and forecasting analysis documents. 
As providing them with countless pages of context-less reports or stacks of old results can do more harm than good, it’s important to let them know what documents are most valuable to them and their role so they can prioritize their time most effectively.
 
60 days
Once they’ve been on the job for two months, the organization’s new manager will be expanding their company and product knowledge through multiple information streams. 
While their first month might have been more focused on high-level and general information and documentation, the second month gives them a chance to dig deeper into the areas of the business that are relevant to their own goals.
For example, if the new manager is a Director of Sales, they may want to meet with the Public Relations Team to discuss PR events that have positively (and negatively) impacted revenue.
With this in mind, it’s important that HR teams encourage members of different departments to create documents or info packets that can help new employees understand their team’s position and contributions to the business.
While it could be overwhelming for a new leader to try and get detailed information about each department across the organization right away, by having these dedicated resources created for onboarding, the new leaders are able to learn about other teams as they relate to their own goals and objectives.
 
90 days 
After three months, a new leader is usually ready to focus more heavily on their team’s development. While the new manager might have felt that they didn’t have the time or attention to properly foster their team’s growth during their first week or month, they’re usually more than ready by the third month.
They’ve completed the basic learnings required for their integration and are finally ready to turn their attention outward. This is when they can focus on their management-specific goals, such as aiming to lead a high-performing team.
Around the 90-day mark, the organization’s HR team could provide any documentation that relates to managing and supporting a team of employees. This might be formal leadership training documents, a company handbook on building and managing effective teams, or any other resource that concentrates on fostering talent within the organization.
 
Use the Right Tools
Adopting new technology and tools can streamline the onboarding process for all new leaders. These tools can help accelerate learning, maintain momentum, and make leader onboarding more effective than ever.
As mentioned above, it’s important to start the onboarding process before the new leader’s first day on the job. While setting them up with any necessary hardware and legal documents before day one is essential, understanding their team’s priorities before they’ve officially started gives them a massive head start. A tool like AIM Insights is made for exactly this purpose.
With AIM Insights, a team can participate in executive training prior to their new leader’s onboarding. This allows the newly hired leader to interact with the team in both group and 1:1 settings to understand each individual team member’s thoughts, pain points, and priorities. 
With AIM Insights training and executive coaching, the new leader is immediately privy to the issues most important to the team as a whole. These time-saving insights are incredibly valuable, allowing the new leader to get up to speed as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Once the leader has started, regular and ongoing AIM Insights coaching exchanges over their first few months help keep them on track and alert to any changes that might have occurred. 
They can gather honest, collective feedback and pulse-checks from their team, while benefiting from anti-bias software, which allows them to understand challenges and opportunities swiftly, plus build trust and connections.
Effective onboarding for leaders has long been a pain point for many organizations. With so much at stake, many businesses miss the mark when it comes to setting new managers up for success. 
With the tips and guidance above, organizations can help new leaders become valuable and impactful members of the business as quickly and effectively as possible.
And if you are a new manager interested in connecting with other people leaders to gain objectivity and improve your performance, you can check out the executive mastermind group.
Wed 31 August 2022
Effective leaders set clear expectations for their teams and align them with company objectives. This article is for new managers focused on becoming excellent leaders.
Stepping into a leadership position for the first time can be daunting, even if you feel prepared to handle your new responsibilities. Going from focusing primarily on your own work quality to overseeing an entire team’s output can feel overwhelming. 
However, effectively leading your team and experiencing success can be extremely rewarding. 
At a recent conference, a speaker mentioned that the average professional became a manager by age 25, but doesn’t receive their first leadership training until age 35. That creates 10 years of potentially bad habits to form before receiving guidance on what new managers can do to be effective in their roles.
Managers plan and coordinate tasks in a work team so that everyone does their job properly. Leaders focus on providing direction. They inspire their team to reach further and strive to maintain that level of motivation.
Each function is crucial for a company’s overall productivity although some view them as separate jobs, one can’t work without the other. The best managers are generally the best leaders. 
Few people can master both jobs, but when they do, they are able to generate great results out of engaged work teams. As a result of this train of thought, great companies see both functions as one job.
 
  1. Join an executive mastermind group 
Have you ever been faced with a new project and searched Google or YouTube to learn how to do it? Don’t you wish you had a direct resource for solving business problems? 
Many organizations recognize this need and have implemented mentorship programs to support new or rising employees. 
A mentorship program can help identify and groom high-potentials for management positions. 
Ambition in Motion is an Executive Mastermind group for servant leaders or leaders that believe the best way to lead is in service of the employees that report to them.   
This allows the use of both group and individual mentoring and group coaching and guidance as being in a leadership role can be a lonely place so having other leaders that can relate to and guide you as you work through your challenges is critical. You can be assigned to an executive mentor, personalized to your needs, interests, and field of work to guide you through any situation that may arise at your workplace. 
The executive mastermind groups also provide managers with a sounding board for problem-solving in the workplace and have been shown to increase job performance.
 
2. Participate in management training
As workforce demands keep getting more complex, management-level personnel need to adapt to the talent available. In the modern workplace, managers need to be active leaders in order to bring the best out of their teams. 
The relationship between a manager and their team can be complex to navigate. There’s more to it than telling everyone what to do; in fact, that management approach is highly discouraged. 
One great tool for management training is AIM Insights where a team of highly trained professionals will guide you through personalized training and professional development for your field of management. 
Guiding managers with 1:1's with their direct reports is a core component of AIM Insights and one of the biggest benefits the tool provides are guides to managers on how to have an effective 1:1 and what questions to ask each direct report based on each direct report's circumstances. 
It is crucial that managers and their direct reports are on the same page, and AIM Insights closes the perception gap between what a manager thinks of their direct reports and what they think of themselves.
 
3. Conflict resolution skills 
Conflict is a natural part of any relationship, working or personal. Resolving conflict is a learned skill and one that can be taught, developed, and refined. 
A study by Purdue University found that students who have hands-on learning experiences gain a deeper understanding of the concepts that are being taught. Attending a conflict resolution workshop can provide you with experience in a controlled environment so that you can better handle difficult and uncomfortable situations, and work towards a positive resolution.
 
4. Team building activities 
According to cmoe.com, Seventy-five percent of employees rate teamwork and collaboration as very important. 
Yet, 86 percent of employees and executives blamed a lack of collaboration or ineffective communication as the reason for workplace failings. 
A good leader recognizes that they are only as good as the people that surround them. Instituting team-building activities allows teams time to bond together as well as provides an opportunity for them to decompress from their jobs for a few minutes.
 
5. Value feedback culture 
In order to grow as a leader and the organization as a whole, you need to address the value of good and honest feedback. You give timely feedback to your team members and you should ask for that same feedback about your performance. 
That continuous exchange of feedback helps your entire team grow as a unit as well.
You can improve through others’ insights into your work. Honest feedback is fundamental for employee engagement and that should be one of your main priorities as a leader. 
AIM Insights focuses on providing leaders with the right tools and methods to gather feedback and build more engaged teams.
 
Bad leadership habits every manager should avoid 
Oftentimes, people believe that greatness happens when you are waiting for inspiration to hit you so that you can proceed to take action. 
In reality, a sturdy toolset consists of many processes involving brainstorming, collaboration, and trial and error. Much like conflict resolution, you can refine your methods and learn from yourself, your team, and other professionals. 
Constantly growing your leadership skills is essential, but paying close attention to your leadership failures is crucial to your growth as a leader. 
These are important habits to avoid: 
 
  1. Providing only negative feedback: Managers can fall into the trap of providing feedback only during performance reviews or when problems arise. Feedback is essential to an employee’s professional development. However, the feedback includes praise for specific tasks, not just criticism. When employees experience a carousel of negative – and only negative – feedback, they can become discouraged and thus disengage from their work.
  2. Micromanaging staff: While you must oversee your team’s workflow and help staff handle roadblocks, you shouldn’t try to control them completely. It’s essential to trust your team to complete tasks as a whole and respect each individual’s work style. Forcing your workers to perform tasks counter to their typical methods can cause a significant drop in productivity as they adjust. As long as the end result is the same, give your staff room for creativity.
  3. Not requesting feedback: Poor managers rarely solicit or address questions, feedback, and concerns. Good managers offer the floor to team members so they can freely express their questions and concerns. This will often clear up misunderstandings and create a more collaborative space. Keep in mind if one team member has a question, others may need the same guidance.
  4. Shutting themselves off from new ideas: Closed-minded managers won’t accept criticism or new ideas. They become a roadblock keeping the team from performing at its best. Each team member has their own perspective on the creative process and is uniquely suited to recognize inefficiencies within their workflow. Listen to your team’s input, and use their perspectives to enact positive change.
  5. Avoiding tricky conversations: Good managers must tackle challenging situations that affect the team’s productivity head-on. Avoiding these situations lets the problem fester and can cause employee engagement to drop significantly. 
Thu 1 September 2022
Construction managers often face several challenges in the workplace, as well as outside of it. Whether it’s pulling permits or workplace injuries, there is almost always some form of challenge that they face. However, the following tools are what every construction manager should have to ensure that their day gets easier.

1)     AIM Insights

Human Resources Information Systems are often one of the most useful tools by a manager for a few reasons, including tracking employee data, retaining demographics, and automation of tasks for HR staff.  AIM Insights integrates seamlessly into this, allowing managers to set goals, determine completion, as well as monitor the status of training. AIM Insights is particularly beneficial in the construction space as it leverages a bottom-up approach to helping front-line employees set goals that are safety-focused. Early studies have shown that when employees set their own goals focused on safety, they are much more likely to partake in safety activities.

For example, on a mining site, employees frequently wouldn’t wear goggles because they would fog up, blurring their vision, which is dangerous when drilling. So many employees wouldn’t wear their goggles or only temporarily wear them to appease their boss or senior leadership. Once they started implementing AIM Insights, different employees started proposing safety goals and solutions, and eventually, they were able to find a pair of goggles that were similar to pool goggles where they were close to their eyeballs and they didn’t fog up while still providing safety for their eyes. When the employees participated in the solution versus being told what to do, they were much more likely to follow the safety protocols.

In an industry marked by injury and litigation, tracking the status of training can help prevent both of these. Along with this, managers can earn a people leader certification to help improve their skills. This certification would include executive coaching as well. 

2)     Estimation Software

Contractors will always be asked for one number upfront by a client- how much a project will cost them.  This number is often devised by calculating the cost of all required materials, the cost of pulling permits, and the cost of labor.  The company’s own profit margin may be taken into account as well. Sometimes, creating a quote requires contacting multiple vendors to determine costs. However, this software can automatically request multiple quotes from different vendors at once. Using software can save an estimator hours of time that could then be better served elsewhere. Estimation software also has a lower margin of error than an individual. In addition to this, this type of software can also find where to cut costs as well. Software such as this can evaluate subcontractor bids and compare them to each other, and then to the schedule of the clients. It can then automatically find the most efficient and inexpensive option. Estimation software can also determine procurement timeframes as well, which is much harder to do by hand. 

3)     Cloud Storage

There are a lot of moving parts in creating a project. The two most important individuals in a project are often the Owner and the Manager. These two often have several important decisions to make regarding purchasing materials, assigning staff, and other logistical details. Having this information easily accessible to multiple people at once for both asynchronous and synchronous work can make a massive difference for users.  In addition to that, when determining budgets and expenditures, having multiple people working on a document at the same time can dramatically improve efficiency. Imagine using an online version of a database as opposed to Microsoft Access. Access databases are a great choice, but are limited to only one user being able to access them at a time. An online, cloud-stored database has no such weakness. 

4)     Construction Accounting Software (And an accountant)

The most common practice for accounting is to operate around a period of time. For example, most companies tend to release quarterly or yearly, or maybe even monthly statements. The problem with this for contractors though, is that most jobs have some form of unique input or requirement. They are also perpetually opening and closing projects during the year. 

Consequently, contractors have their own methods of accounting, known as Construction Accounting. This is centered around each project, as opposed to a period of time. Construction Accounting software is better designed to assist with contractors’ specific timelines and schedules, and as such, is a much better fit for them.  This will allow the average project manager to be able to track budgets, assets, and liabilities, while still receiving information pertinent to their industry.  It is important to note that this is not a substitute for finding a CPA. However, it may assist a manager in checking their finances. 

5)     Insurance

All state laws, and some federal laws, require contractors to have a certain amount of insurance.  The following are just examples of what most areas require.

·        General Liability Insurance- This covers bodily injury claims, medical payments, covers any property damage, as well as copyright infringement.
·        Professional Liability Insurance- This covers any financial damages from the services you provide. For example, if a web developer makes a mistake on an e-commerce site, he could be sued for missed sales opportunities. With professional liability, this would be covered.
·        Vehicle and Auto Insurance- This is insurance needed in order to drive or operate vehicles as a form of transportation. This would protect a contractor in the event of a car accident while driving to a site.
·        Inland Marine Insurance – Funnily enough, this does not in fact have anything to do with the sea or ocean. Inland Marine Insurance refers to covering any product, materials, or equipment when transported over land, or warehoused by a third party. This is especially important for project managers who are transporting heavy equipment or materials. Auto Insurance does not cover damage caused to these. However, Inland Marine Insurance will in fact do so.
·        Contractor License Bonds- These are purchased from state licensing boards and are often necessary in order to comply with building codes and are a condition for permits or licensure. 
·        Workers Compensation Insurance- This insurance is similar to General Liability Insurance but can cover gross damages on the worksite. It is far more specialized than general insurance, and typically has higher amounts of coverage.
6)     A Network

                      This is more often the case within construction, rather than general contracting, but most project managers have a network of subcontractors that they will use for each project. This network includes civil engineers, carpenters, masons, plumbers, electricians, and often quite a few other trades. 

                      A powerful network enables managers to have a quality talent pool for any of their upcoming projects and eliminates the need to have to hire and file checks on every contractor they have, saving time down the line. Managers can often get preferred vendor rates from subcontractors in exchange for having them on retainer as well, cutting costs dramatically.  

                      With all of this in hand, a good manager should be able to make the most out of their projects, and will easily be able to succeed at their job. 

Fri 2 September 2022
Ask - Don’t Assume

As a new manager, it is easy to forget about budget planning. However, don’t assume you don’t have a budget for investing in your team’s growth. Ask your department leader or finance partner if you have employee training, engagement, morale, or a miscellaneous budget line item. The department budget is not often earmarked for this type of spending and HR's companywide program spending.

Don’t Let Uncertainty Stop You

If your department does not outline employee engagement or growth as budget line items, discover what price point your department lead or finance partner would be willing to invest in solutions to support key business objectives. Typically you will get a rough idea of a range that they would be willing to consider for future proposals. Again, understanding your budget helps you strategically be proactive in how you support your team member's growth equitably. 

Identify the Problem

Assess the underlying root cause to inform the best investment solution. After identifying the problem, you may be able to leverage a current solution your company already has in place. Not sure where to start? One easy tool I like is asking yourself WHY five times. This tool helps you become curious and review all the data to identify the problem. As a result, you can now quantify the gap you seek to solve to ensure your team's future success. You may need to contact your HR partner or department leaders for additional data.

Write a Business Case that Gets to Yes!

Now you are ready to write a clear business case that outlines your:
  • Desired future state
  • Current state
  • Gaps holding you back
  • Supporting data
  • Request to invest in the proposed solution to implement 
  • Expected assumptions for the return on investment
For example, 
  • Desired Future State: I would like to better understand the well-being of my team members, get on the same page as them, and have more impactful 1:1’s so then they are more productive and engaged at work.
  • Current State: I have 1:1’s with my team but they are unstructured and I still feel that there are opportunities to build team trust.
  • Gaps holding you back: Lack of data and coaching to inform next steps as to how each of my direct reports feel at work.
  • Supporting Data: Exit interviews, engagement surveys, and anecdotal feedback
  • Request to invest: $187 per month for the AIM Insights People Leader Certification (see details below).
  • Expected Assumptions: More engaged team, increased team productivity, increased team trust, improved morale, and less quiet quitting. 

Don’t have enough data?

If you don’t have enough data to support your expected assumptions, think about how you might implement a trial or beta test of the solution to see the outcomes. Many products have a freemium or trial period that you can utilize as a beta test. If a software download is needed, ensure it aligns with your company’s data policy guidelines. Ensure you have identified your baseline KPI metrics before starting the beta test to compare with the results. If there is a significant positive change, your business case is now stronger!

The AIM Insights People Leader Certification is a great way to boost your performance as a leader and distinguish yourself from other leaders as you seek promotion. The AIM Insights People Leader Certification gathers feedback from your direct reports and provides executive coaching to guide you as you improve your team’s performance. The Certification showcases that you are not only a leader that drives results, but that you care personally about your direct reports’ well-being and ability to thrive. 


Thu 8 September 2022
Handling personnel conflict is an essential part of a manager’s position. Regardless of how strong the company culture is, human challenges are inevitable. Since many team members have different work styles and personalities, there’s always the possibility they will clash. However, proper management of these problems can not only rectify conflict but also set up the workplace to be better equipped for future mitigation.

What is Workplace Conflict?

Workplace Conflict is often defined by CPP Global, or the creators of the Myers-Briggs Test, as “any workplace disagreement that disrupts the flow of work.” CPP also noted that “85% of both individual contributors and leaders agreed they experienced some amount of inevitable conflict at work.” Conflict can manifest itself within the office in quite a few different ways, including some of the following:

·        Disagreements or Arguments
·        Verbal Abuse
·        Personality Clashes
·        Bullying
·        Difficult Relationships
·        Discriminatory Behavior
·        Physical Abuse or Harassment

Conflict is damaging in the workplace and can be a cause of a significant drop in productivity. According to Pollack Peacebuilding, each year an average of 485,000 individuals resign from their job as a result of conflicts with other coworkers. Replacing a direct report can be extremely expensive, since the hiring process often includes creating and distributing job postings, holding interviews, and going through training and onboarding processes. The easiest way to prevent this is to recognize the sources of conflict in the workplace as a manager.

What Causes Workplace Conflict?

            According to Gallup, one of the most frequent causes of all workplace conflict is inadequate communication. These communication breakdowns often pertain to the following causes:

·        Procedural Disagreements- These are typically when individuals cannot get on the same page regarding what work is required for completing a project. This can also include delegation of tasks.
·        Timeline/Deadline Disagreements- These occur when individuals have discrepancies on when a project or its pertaining components are to be completed.
·        Unrealistic Workloads- This will occur when certain direct reports have too much on their plate and either release their frustration on other coworkers, or gradually pull away to the point of what is known as “ghosting”, or disappear from the project either partially or completely.
·        Criticism- Many executive leaders often recommend following a constructive criticism structure to prevent unintentional verbal barrages onto recipients. However, some direct reports may not be able to take criticism well, and may consequently shut down, become overly defensive, and as a result, get into conflicts with other team members. 

How do Managers Prevent Conflict?

Managers can have many tools at their disposal to help mitigate or prevent conflict entirely. Many experts regard conflict with the same opinion as a fire- stopping it at the source will help prevent it from spreading. Looking for signs of conflict can be an important step for a manager in this venture.

Signs of Conflict are indicators that something may be amiss in the workplace. Many of these are often discovered in a 1:1 meeting, which should emphasize the importance of these meetings. Managers should not be afraid to ask about how a direct report is feeling about their coworkers and teammates during these meetings. 

Some signs of conflict within a team include the following:

·        Work is consistently late, or not of high quality
·        Requests to change groups, assignments, or transfers
·        Communication within teams is strictly for business, as opposed to being a mix of casual and professional
·        Issues directly brought up in manager/direct report 1:1 meetings
·        Tardiness
·        Frequent requests for Time off

Managers can also use Ambition in Motion’s AIM Insights to assist in tracking productivity and employee sentiment. AIM Insights allows managers to view how effectively and efficiently their direct reports completed the work that was assigned to them. It also has surveys explicitly for direct reports in regard to their feelings about their tasks. This metadata can help track a problem on its way to becoming a conflict. 

For example, let's say that Jake is a manager supervising Alicia, Bruno, and Hayley. Jake has been using AIM Insights for two months and is noticing that Alicia’s work has- by her own definition- not been up to par. He can also see that Alicia has been increasingly tardy with her work, often delivering her tasks well after deadlines, causing Bruno and Hayley to have to work overtime to ensure complete projects by company deadlines. Jake also can see how Bruno and Hayley feel about their work, and upon noticing that they are frequently having to do extra tasks without any overtime, can see the problem brewing. 

After using this data, Jake has the ability to approach Alicia and have a 1:1 with her and heading off any potential conflict between the teammates. 

Managers should also always be providing conflict recognition training to their direct reports. Creating a culture in the workplace that minimizes conflict, but can also recognize it will be invaluable to the company. 

This isn’t to say that all conflict is bad conflict. There is such a thing as healthy conflict. But for this article, we are focusing on eradicating negative conflict. 

Perhaps in this situation, Alicia could be going through something personal that is impacting her work output. As opposed to ignoring it and letting the frustration brew, or disciplining her without cause, it is critical that the manager better understand where she is coming from before determining the next step.

How to Manage Conflict that is already present

While heading off conflict before it erupts is ideal, it is unreasonable and naïve to believe that a manager will be able to always stop all conflict from even occurring. Therefore, professionalism will be of the utmost importance as they work with their direct reports. Here are some tips for managing conflict.

1.      Be objective- There is often no “good guy” vs “bad guy” situation set up. Conflict often goes both ways. 
2.      Acknowledge the conflict, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about it- Addressing an elephant in the room can often mitigate tensions, and then help to solve it.
3.      Facilitate a healthy discussion with the conflicting parties- Poor communication tends to cause many problems within a workplace. Sometimes addressing grievances can solve problems. 
4.      Use data- Stick to pure facts, and avoid bringing up sentiment. Telling a direct report that their coworker hates them will never help. However, explaining to them that they had a deadline that wasn’t met at the expense of their coworker’s time will have a much better impact. 
5.      Think about solving the problem, not the person- Having differing opinions helps the workplace so much more since workers can approach problems from different angles, often allowing managers to pick the most efficient solution for a problem. Fixing a problem between people is much more likely to be sustainable than changing the individual worker styles. 
6.      Create a plan for the future- It isn’t unlikely that the reason for this conflict could happen again in the future. Try to anticipate how it might manifest itself and create an action plan to avoid repeating history. 

Oftentimes, managers are quick to terminate before seeking to problem-solve with a direct report that is struggling or clashing with another team member(s). In most cases, this person isn’t intentionally trying to sabotage the team or create frustration for others. More often than not, they have pure intentions that aren’t being received in the way they were intended. The best managers seek to understand before diagnosing and rectifying a situation. Oftentimes, those solutions can be created by creating a lens as to how others are experiencing their actions and proposing new ways of doing things.

Conflict can be intimidating for any manager- especially newer ones. With the right skills, a manager need not worry about conflict and instead focus on being the most efficient they can be with their direct reports. 

Thu 8 September 2022
It can be lonely at the top. Managers must make decisions, and there aren’t too many people they can turn to for advice. Some managers want to be the “cool boss” that is comfortable with anything (think Michael Scott hosting a meeting in the conference room). Other managers believe that there can’t be any cordiality between them and their direct reports.
 This article will explain how managers can determine what is appropriate and what is not regarding relationships with direct reports. It explains why boundaries are necessary, and how to maintain social distance from your direct reports while creating a positive work environment with open communication and feedback, which many teams struggle with.
How can you find the perfect balance in the friend-manager relationship? Should you even try?
 
The Need for Friendships at Work
Research shows that friendships at work lead to enhanced emotional well-being. It’s important to have relationships with people who you can trust. 
Sharing life events decreases anxiety, improves productivity, and satisfies our need for human connection.
Of course, this is the case for peer-to-peer friendships, not employee-manager relationships. The latter requires a much more delicate balancing act by both parties.
 
The Need for Boundaries
A peer-to-peer relationship is an equal one; at least it should be. In an ideal world, there are no power plays to be had, and the two parties can be relatively open with one another at a personal level. 
A manager, however, must maintain boundaries with direct reports because they have significant influence over the direct report's professional and financial status. And that's a game-changer.
It is really difficult to be in the same fantasy football league with a direct report that then has to be disciplined or potentially fired…talk about awkward if you are matched up against each other in the playoffs!
The manager’s role in the relationship is to promote teamwork and guide individuals in their careers. A manager-direct relationship that is too friendly can compromise this role and make effective management impossible. There would be an imbalance in the way that one employee is treated over another. 
Kim Scott, the author of Radical Candor and leadership expert, delves into the “problem” of joining a workplace and being told to be “professional,” as if every other aspect of you and your character stays at home, and you’re supposed to be strictly professional at work. 
            But that feels more robotic than realistic to the way people interact with each other. Professionalism training has been pounded into everyone’s heads since their first job. 
How can managers deal with the situation of being friendly with their employees, and also maintaining structured policies and professionalism in the workplace?
Scott relays the idea of “radical candor” as a guide to moving specific conversations between employees and managers to a better place. 
 
What is Radical Candor?
Radical Candor is a philosophy of management based on the concept of “caring personally” while “challenging directly.”
●       Practices to get, give and encourage guidance and feedback at work (praise and criticism) 
●       Strategies for building a cohesive team 
●       Tools to help you and your team get stuff done with less drama 
●       It’s not a license to act like a jerk 
●       It’s not an invitation to get creepily personal
●       It’s not just for managers, we all want to succeed 
 
Radical Candor is practiced at companies all around the world, including Amazon, The New York Times, Forbes, Qualtrics, The Wall Street Journal, and many more. 
 
Use the Radical Candor Framework to Guide Your Conversations 
Understanding what is not Radical Candor can help you better understand what is. These are the behaviors that everyone falls into at one time or another: 
 
●       Obnoxious Aggression: Obnoxious Aggression, also called brutal honesty or front stabbing, is what happens when you challenge someone directly, but don’t show you care about them personally. It’s praise that doesn’t feel sincere or criticism and feedback that isn’t delivered kindly.
●       Ruinous Empathy: Ruinous Empathy is what happens when you want to spare someone’s short-term feelings, so you don’t tell them something they need to know. You Care Personally, but fail to Challenge Directly. It’s praise that isn’t specific enough to help the person understand what was good or criticism that is sugar-coated and unclear. Or simply silence. Ruinous Empathy may feel nice or safe, but is ultimately unhelpful and even damaging. This is a feedback fail.
●       Manipulative Insincerity: Manipulative Insincerity (backstabbing, political or passive-aggressive behavior) is what happens when you neither Care Personally nor Challenge Directly. It’s praise that is insincere, flattery to a person’s face, and harsh criticism behind their back. Often it’s a self-protective reaction to Obnoxious Aggression. This is the worst kind of feedback failure.
 
            These are the behaviors that people can accidentally fall into in the workplace. These categories make up “radical candor.” The goal of this is to share your humble opinions directly, rather than talking badly about people behind their backs. 
            In a nutshell, radical candor is the ability to challenge others directly and show that you care about them personally at the same time. If done correctly, it will help you and all the people you surround yourself with do the best work of your/their lives and build trusted relationships throughout your career.
            However, as a manager, it can be difficult to manage these workplace relationships; constantly tweaking your approach to find the sweet spot between friendship and professionalism with your team. 
            As you’re working through this, remember that it’s important to have an outlet for yourself.
 
Managers Need Their Own Support Network
It can be lonely at the top where there must be boundaries set for working relationships. So, it's wise for managers to find their own support networks within the company culture and outside. 
A mentor can be someone within or outside your organization who has the experience and can provide you with advice. A professional career coach can also give you impartial advice and an objective opinion.
One highly-rated professional mentorship program is the Ambition In Motion Executive Mastermind Group. The key part of this program is that your mentor acts as a source of guidance and coaching, customized to your individual needs.
 
What is executive coaching? 
Executive coaches work with business leaders to enable their rapid development in the workplace. They also assist with specific problems that a board member, or senior manager, wants to work through outside of the normal business framework. 
This coaching focuses very specifically on the issues that an executive wants to work through. Thus it becomes a speedy way to improve skills and achieve personal and professional objectives.
The executive coach gives the executive feedback and a new perspective that enables them to set goals and work towards them. The coaching sessions use objective feedback to drive the executive's thought processes forward through their issues.
 
            As a manager or executive, having a support system such as an executive mentor is crucial. Following the radical candor framework will guide your conversations within the workplace. But be aware of your own need for support and friendship in the work environment and make a conscious effort to seek them out in the appropriate places. 
Sat 10 September 2022
The AIM Insights People Leader Certification is the only management certification that both teaches and evaluates a leader's ability to impact their team over time. The AIM Insights People Leader Certification program is for managers who strive to become elite and grow to more senior roles in their careers.

Some of the core benefits of becoming AIM Insights People Leader Certified:

·        Highlight to your senior leadership why you should be promoted
·        Show prospective employers why you are a great leader of people
·        Compare your leadership score to other leaders
·        Evaluate how your leadership is impacting the quantitative output of your team paired with the qualitative sentiment of working for you as a leader
·        Distinguish yourself as an incredible people leader from others vying for similar opportunities as you

How does it work?

1.      Create an account and add your direct reports to your team
2.      AIM Insights prompts your direct reports to complete monthly assessments to better understand their sentiment about the work they are doing and the quantitative tasks they are focused on
3.      Managers receive executive coaching every month based on the results shared in the assessment
4.      After applying the advice given by the executive coach, managers can observe their team’s improvement in both sentiment and productivity over time

Are there different levels to the AIM Insights People Leader Certification?

Yes. And unlock traditional certifications which certify people based on time and exam completion (typically based on rote memorization), the AIM Insights People Leader Certification levels are determined based on your team’s scores over time.

What does it mean to become Level I Certified?

Timeline: First 6 cycles (typically 6 months) in AIM Insights - can be retried over the next 6 months if unsuccessful

Quantitative

  • You measured your team's productivity metrics (at least a 75% response rate) consistently over the first 6 months of the certification period - Example: With 4 Direct Reports over 6 months, you should expect 24 responses. You need to have 18 (or more) responses during that first six months to qualify. 
  • Productivity is measured by the percentage of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals set, the percentage of goals relevant to the outcomes you hope to achieve with your team (how your leader determines your team's success), the percentage of high and medium impact goals set compared to low impact goals, and the SMART-Impact Score (the number of SMART goals accomplished weighted by their impact)

Qualitative

  • You measured your team's sentiment scores consistently over the first 6 months of the certification process
  • Sentiment scores evaluate your direct reports' perception of their task performance, team cohesion, team productivity, organizational citizenship, engagement, and manager performance

What does it mean to become Level II Certified?

Timeline: First 12 cycles (typically 12 months) in AIM Insights

Quantitative

  • Your team's productivity metrics are greater than the average manager's scores (specific terms below)
  • Productivity is measured by the percentage of SMART goals set, the percentage of goals relevant to the outcomes you hope to achieve with your team (how your leader determines your team's success), the percentage of high and medium impact goals set compared to low impact goals, and the SMART-Impact Score (the number of SMART goals accomplished weighted by their impact)

Qualitative

  • Your team's sentiment scores have increased over the 12-month certification process and are greater than the average manager's scores (specific terms below)
  • Sentiment scores evaluate your direct reports' perception of their task performance, team cohesion, team productivity, organizational citizenship, engagement, and manager performance

Terms

·        60% of Goals were rated as SMART
·        60% of Goals were rated as relevant to team goals
·        60% of Goals were rated as medium or high impact
·        A minimum SMART Impact Score above 25 for each direct report
·        An average sentiment score of 75% or higher in all categories or at least 80% in 3 categories

What does it mean to become Level III Certified?

Quantitative

  • Your team's productivity metrics are far greater than the average manager's scores (specific terms below)
  • Productivity is measured by the percentage of SMART goals set, the percentage of goals relevant to the outcomes you hope to achieve with your team (how your leader determines your team's success), the percentage of high and medium impact goals set compared to low impact goals, and the SMART-Impact Score (the number of SMART goals accomplished weighted by their impact)

Qualitative

  • Your team's sentiment scores have increased over the 12-month certification and are on average far greater than the average manager (specific terms below)
  • Sentiment scores evaluate your direct reports' perception of their task performance, team cohesion, team productivity, organizational citizenship, engagement, and manager performance

Terms

·        75% of Goals were rated as SMART
·        75% of Goals were rated as relevant to team goals
·        75% of Goals were rated as medium or high impact
·        A minimum SMART Impact Score above 30 for each direct report
·        An average sentiment score of 85% or higher in all categories or at least 90% in 3 categories

How the AIM Insights People Leader Certification Helps You

Ø  Understand how your performance as a leader compares to other leaders
Ø  Leverage this data (and certification) as a basis for negotiating a bonus, raise, or promotion
Ø  Gain insight into why certain team members are performing better than others
Ø  Receive executive coaching guidance to help you gain certification
Ø  Showcase your certification to prospective employers and on LinkedIn
Ø  Distinguish yourself as an incredible people leader from others vying for similar opportunities as you

What are the elements of the AIM Insights People Leader Certification?

Executive Coaching

Receive monthly executive coaching based on your team’s scores so you can adjust your leadership style to best drive your team’s results.

Gap Analysis

Closing the perception gap between what you think of your direct reports and what they think of themselves is critical to helping you understand where you need to create clarity for your direct reports.

Goals Report

Giving you insight into what your direct reports think they need to be focused on can help you alter and adjust your direct reports' paths so your team doesn't waste time via miscommunication.

The goals report also helps you overcome subjectivity and recency bias when reviewing your direct reports because you will have a full understanding of everything your team has been working on over the time period being reviewed.

Org Chart View

Providing you access to skip-level teams down through your organizational unit can help you pinpoint where challenges might be existing and on which specific teams.

Communication Templates

Guiding you with your 1:1s with your direct reports is a core component of AIM Insights and one of the biggest benefits the certification process provides is guiding you on how to have an effective 1:1 and what questions to ask each direct report based on each direct report's circumstances.

Work Orientation

Learn what drives you at work as well as your direct reports so you can better understand your unconscious bias as a leader and craft a leadership strategy based on what drives each of your direct reports.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the first step to getting started with the AIM Insights People Leader Certification?

Schedule an interview with our team to see if you qualify to become certified.

If you are accepted, you will be prompted to get started using the AIM Insights Tool with your team and begin the certification process.

How do you implement it?

AIM Insights will remind your direct reports every month to complete a survey on your behalf. As their scores come in every month, it will inform us if you are or are not on track to receive your certification - your assigned executive coach will walk you through how to improve your scores every month.

Are there limits to the number of direct reports I can have using the tool?

There are no limits to the number of direct reports using the tool.

Do you offer support?

AIM Insights provides unlimited email executive coaching guidance and monthly coaching videos customized for you from executive coaches

Do I need to re-certify myself after receiving certification?

Yes, every 6 months after certification you will have your team re-assessed and every 3 years you will have to complete a new recertification to stay up to date - or you can keep using the tool on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Can I take the certification again in subsequent years if I want to increase my level?

Yes, you can re-certify as much as you would like to try and boost your scores.

Fri 16 September 2022
When CEOs describe their company as being “like family,” they mean well with the idea. They’re searching for a model that represents the kind of relationships they want to have with their employees, a lifetime relationship with a sense of belonging. But using the term family makes it easy for misunderstandings to arise.
In a real family, parents can’t fire their children. Try to imagine disowning your child for poor performance: “We’re sorry daughter, but your mom and I have decided you’re just not a good fit. Your table-setting effort has been deteriorating for the past 6 months, and your obsession with ponies just isn’t adding any value. We’re going to have to let you go. But don’t take it the wrong way; it’s just family.”
Unthinkable, right? But that’s essentially what happens when a CEO describes the company as a family, then institutes strict policies and/or layoffs. Regardless of the situation, a “family-like” work culture will leave employees feeling hurt and betrayed. 
 
Why your company shouldn’t be a family
●       Families are dysfunctional. How many truly high-functioning families are you aware of? There are always a few weird uncles dragging the average down. Family situations are much different than professional ones. 
●       Families are impossible to get out of. There is a lot of safety in families because they’re something you’re born into and can never be born out of. However, this is the wrong kind of safety to cultivate. “Unconditional love” means you will put up with quite a bit of nonsense, bad work, and even poor effort. Yes, the goal is for your employees to feel safe in that they always know where they stand and they always know they can tell you the truth. However, you don’t want them feeling safe enough to be content with subpar performance.
●       Families instill too much loyalty. Some amount of loyalty is commendable, but families can often take this to the extreme. You don’t want employees so loyal to you that they’re unwilling to push back if you start making questionable decisions. You also don’t want employees so loyal to you that they have no drive to improve, thereby stagnating in their roles. As a leader, you want people that are willing to contribute, not just follow you blindly. 
 
Why your company should be a team
●       Teams are built around a common goal. First off, teams are built, not born. Presumably, you have a strong company mission in place, something you’re all working towards. Teams have goals – namely, to win. Families are typically more lenient.
●       You need people that can jump in and do just about anything, even if they can’t do it all well. As you grow, you need more specialists. You are constantly hiring people who are better than you at particular skills. There will be times when you grow to a size where some of your more tenured employees are no longer needed to take the company to the next level. This is a hard truth, but it’s also a natural part of building a team. Unless you’re a horrible person, it can be incredibly difficult to recognize and respond to employees that helped to build you into what you are today, but don’t have a clear future at the company.
●       Players choose you just as much as you choose them. You can join a team. You can’t join a family. A good team starts at the top, with ownership. That’s you. Hire good coaches, treat them well, and always work to improve, and the rest will trickle down.
 
 
Mission Drives and Improves Engagement
Employees who fall in love with their work experience have higher productivity levels and engagement, and they express loyalty to the company as they remain longer, costing the organization less over time. 
According to Marie-Claire Ross, Trust Leadership Speaker, mission-driven workers are 54 percent more likely to stay for five years at a company and 30 percent more likely to grow into high performers than those who arrive at work with only their paycheck as the motivator.
High-performance organizations are linked to being mission-driven companies. Mission statements must reflect a commitment to higher social good for the community they serve, both local and global. Authenticity and transparency build trust.
According to Deloitte, organizations high in trust are 2.5 times more likely to function as high-performance organizations with revenue growth than lower-performance organizations. Eighty-one percent of those working for companies with a strong mission stated their stakeholders hold trust in their leadership team, whereas that number was 54 percent for organizations without a strong mission.
Companies that cultivate a strong work culture driven by deep engagement and meaningful work find success, beat the competition, and retain and attract high-performing talent.
 
Are You a Leader Who Drives a Mission?
Many employees go to work to do their job and earn their take-home pay. How do employees feel beyond this point? What is the work experience like? Do they feel their job adds value to life? All of these factors are highly important to determining success.
Mission-driven leaders ingrain the “why” and “how” of an organization’s existence beyond the mere “what” of providing a product. They assist with aligning the team and individual employee to-dos with the mission, and the mission may have several interpretations among employees. 
Connection to the mission is commonly linked to why any given employee wanted to work for the company in the first place. Nurture those reasons and unite them with the company mission.
Fri 16 September 2022
Most managers and companies tend to prioritize results and goals over other aspects of the work like team chemistry or organizational citizenship. Generally, direct reports assume the role of a vital cog in this process. However, when direct reports fail to meet expectations, it can result in a lot of work for their peers, as well as their managers. Consequently, the first step a manager will take is often a reprimand followed by termination.

Why Terminations aren’t necessarily the Best Option

            Firstly, the most important aspect of terminating, or firing an employee, is that a replacement worker must be found. Sometimes, a manager can get lucky and find a good candidate in-house, but the majority of times, they need to go through the entire hiring process once more.  

The hiring process includes posting an advertisement, reading through applications, scheduling and hosting interviews, conducting background checks, validating certifications, and on top of that, an onboarding process. In addition to that, the former employee will typically receive some form of a severance package with the parting of ways.  Termination also eats up time with exit interviews, appeals, and potential litigation as a result of unlawful termination claims. 

All in all, terminations can be very expensive for time and money. But how else should a manager deal with an employee who isn’t necessarily living up to the expectations held of them?  There are typically a few options.

Understanding the Root of the Problem

As with many other discrepancies within the workplace, communicating with an employee can often result in finding the source of the problem. Oftentimes, people have personal baggage that may make its way within the workplace. In addition to baggage, worker stress is a very real phenomenon. In most circumstances, bad employees aren’t intentionally bad employees, they just made decisions that negatively impacted the business and didn’t have anyone to bounce the idea of logic off of before acting.

Signs of worker stress include the following:

·       Reclusive Behavior- This does not include introverted behavior, but rather the contrast between this and previous behavior.
·       Change in  Body Language- This once again, does not necessarily mean introverted behavior,  but rather withdrawn activity, slumps, and similar posture.
·       Personality Clashes- When someone is in distress or dealing with trauma, they may lash out at other people, or attempt to withhold their grief. 
·       Change in Productivity- Trauma survivors tend to have harsh changes in how much work they can accomplish.

One thing to take note of is that these are often signs of distress within most areas, but are often better exposed within the workplace. If a manager notices that one of their direct reports undergoes a sudden change in attitude, while also displaying signs of anxiety or depression, it may be best to have a 1:1 with them. Being empathetic will often yield much greater results than being confrontational within this 1:1. Understand that it takes a significant amount of trauma for a person to have changed a significant amount. 

A good example of this would be from one of my jobs while in high school, which was the role of a swim coach. I was a member of a team of 7, with shifts assigned to us by our aquatics director each week, and sometimes also by our camp director. We continued in this way for two to three years, and then all of a sudden, we were either missing pay, not getting our names on the schedule, or worst of all, not receiving a schedule whatsoever. We ended up complaining to our director since it appeared that our camp director was not fulfilling her job requirements, and as a result, damaging our financial abilities with no regard for or time. 

Our boss was a very thorough individual and was able to have a healthy conversation with our camp director, out of concern for her performance, as well as her well-being. It had turned out that she had not only lost her father the previous week but had also been given additional responsibilities by the overall site director. With no other relatives, she alone was in charge of managing all probate-related duties and processes, but also organizing funeral details and bills. All in all, she was completely overwhelmed. 

Now, in worse managed work environments, this camp director, despite boasting over 15 years of experience in the field, would’ve been terminated. However, our boss knew her potential, and that this was a life-changing period of time for her. Therefore, he took on additional responsibilities and gave her as much time off as she needed. About a month later, she came back and was able to not only resume her original responsibilities but also that of her new position, to much more success. 

The moral of this story is that being empathetic is well-advised. Proper communication with direct reports is not only better for workplace relationships, but also ideal for difficult situations such as this. Providing accommodations for workers can eliminate the need for a replacement process.

How to Help Employees who are having trouble meeting expectations

While there are often employees who are undergoing significant personal situations, some employees may be unaccustomed to their new workloads, and responsibilities, or just find the material difficult. In this case, it is the manager’s responsibility and duty to try to assist these individuals. 

Using an impartial process can often help employees who are struggling. These are often known as Performance Improvement Plans or PIPs. The one problem with these is that they are often viewed extremely negatively, and often as a pathway to termination. Rather than giving strong targets that must be hit in order to maintain a job, managers should give fluid and flexible objectives that will not only allow for more success, but also for employee education and improvement. Using a device such as AIM Insights can also allow for a manager to have greater ease checking what goals have been met, along with more aggregated data about these goals, such as percent of goals achieved, and similar functions.

No manager should want to terminate an employee but may feel pressure to do so. While termination may still be required, it is best to approach these situations with empathy, and attempt to solve the problem in-house without resorting to this step.

Thu 22 September 2022
As interest rates rise and consumer spending habits change, rumors of a recession have started to emerge as a strong possibility for the coming months.

Regardless of whether a recession happens, the mere rumors of a recession can have a massive impact on our employees and their feelings about work, and managers should be considering how to adapt their leadership style to handle any economic worries by their direct reports.

On a high level, below are a list of things that typically happen when there are concerns of a recession:

·        Companies go on hiring freezes or begin laying people off – Companies tend to hire based on what they believe they will need so when a recession strikes and their projections are incorrect, they are forced to change course and lay people off as they adjust their projections.
·        Employee confidence diminishes – Strong economies with low unemployment help employees feel confident asking for higher wages and greater perks.
·        Teams are consolidated – Companies create departments and teams based on projected growth, but when economies start to slow, teams tend to be merged, people are laid off and those remaining must pick up the additional workload. 

Some companies and industries and going to be more impacted than others. If you lead a team and feel that your direct reports show some concern about the economy, this article covers how to be a better leader in times of uncertainty.

As a professional, I am a firm believer that you are an entrepreneur of your own life. I am not writing that everyone should be an entrepreneur, but as a person, you have full agency to make the decisions that you believe are best for you. When it comes to work, especially if you lead a team, it is critical that you do your own research to identify if the company you work for will thrive for the foreseeable future.

For example, one of the executives in our mastermind group works for a company that does COVID tests. This business model boomed over the past few years, but as fewer people get COVID tests, our leader has recognized that something needs to change for his team to continue working for their company. 

As opposed to doing the same thing over and over again as business dwindles, he is being completely candid with his team. He has been identifying business opportunities that he and his company can pursue based on the infrastructure they have created over the past few years. Essentially, he is becoming an intrapreneur – or a person who is pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities within a company.

This openness, honesty, and candor has caused his team to feel excited about the work they are doing. They still complete the tasks that keep the lights on, but they are taking the additional time they have from diminished business and putting that towards identifying new opportunities they can leverage and deploy. 

Many of the ideas proposed won’t work out, but it is much better than doing nothing and hoping it works out. His team has greater clarity and understanding regarding the business’s health and prospects, and most employees are staying and trying to help find a new path for this business.

This team is still searching for the next business model that will reinvigorate their business, but this isn’t solely a task for the leadership team anymore. Now, the entire company can be a part of the solution.

Therefore, to recap, when your team feels uncertainty because of a potential recession:

1.      Lean into the concerns and share openly and candidly why the company’s current way of operating won’t be affected by a recession (e.g. if you work in healthcare or grocery, you can share multiple data points that show that those industries tend to be minimally affected by a recession) or what you are doing to pivot and stay agile even if a recession does come.
2.      Incorporate your team in the innovation process when it comes to identifying ways to cut costs and increase revenue (laying people off has a very negative impact on employee morale and confidence).
3.      Understand the risks and benefits because if your team is unsuccessful at effectively pivoting, your employees will understand why they are being laid off. The benefit of incorporating your team in the innovation process is that they will feel that they had a chance (an opportunity!) to help be a part of the solution that turned the company around as opposed to being left in the dark and then one day getting laid off.

The key when identifying the opportunities to innovate and pivot is to explicitly lay out the risk tolerance you have for ideas. You may not have a million dollars to test out every idea, but you might have $1,000 and that could be enough to garner some early data points of success or failure. Risk tolerance also applies to legal risk. Our executive in our mastermind group is in the healthcare space which has rules and regulations companies must follow. It is critical that your team understands those rules and regulations before trying different ideas.

·        Set up both team and 1:1 meetings to meet with your direct reports to ask them if they have concerns and if so, what concerns do they have. Don’t avoid the conversation because a solution is unknown.  
·        Once you have gathered all of the concerns shared, craft a response for each concern. A response could be why the current way the company operates won’t be affected by the concern proposed, a potential solution that is being implemented that should alleviate the concern, or incorporate them in the solution process to help alleviate the concern as a group.
·        Clearly lay out a plan for your team for what the next 3, 6, 9, and 12 months will look if a recession has little to no effect on the company, a moderate effect on the company, and a major effect on the company. The worst thing you can give your team is uncertainty so crafting this projection allows them to fully understand and prepare for the worst possible outcome (which is never as scary as the unknown negative possibilities they could come up with in their minds).

Regardless of whether or not you are right, people will follow those that are certain. Certainty can come in the form of processes, inclusion in the solution, metrics that show why things will be fine, or projections for the best, moderate, and worst-case scenarios. 

As a leader of people during times of uncertainty, you must give people certainty.
Tue 27 September 2022
Incentivizing your employees to feel free to give feedback and challenge ideas doesn’t just happen. 
Many long-standing organizations such as Kodak, Sears, and Borders have failed to adapt to the reality of today’s world and have found themselves becoming irrelevant. 
One of the reasons is that the leaders did not receive valuable information that may have helped the organization turn around. 
Many leaders find themselves in a vacuum, unwilling to receive or seek information crucial to the health of their organization. 
In today’s highly competitive, fast-moving environment, businesses need to have everyone, and their ideas, on board. It is crucial to develop an environment that promotes and encourages constant feedback and to challenge ideas at all levels. 
According to Vip Sandhir, CEO and founder of High Ground, creating a challenge culture is key to employee engagement and an organization’s growth and future.
'The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni digs deep into five interrelated issues that undermine the performance of a team all in some way. So here are the 5 dysfunctions of a team and ways we recommend to counter them.
 
●       Issue 1: Absence of Trust. Without trust, teams cannot be completely honest with each other.
 
Solution: Confidence and building a team bond. Honesty, openness, and respect are key communication attributes of a successful culture, specifically in building trust. A culture of trust can do remarkable things for an organization. 
People who trust each other are more productive, feel a higher degree of loyalty to their team and organization, and are also known to give outstanding service.
 
What does trust look like in a workplace?
-        Confidence. If you are a person your colleagues or clients can trust, that means they have confidence in you. Confidence to:
-        Make decisions or work autonomously
-        Lead
-        Advise
-        Move up or take on more responsibilities
-        Be authentic
-        Have their back!
 
Developing trust and comfort is all about teams working together intelligently to achieve better results, reduce individual stress and create a successful culture that promotes customer loyalty. It’s where teams build collaborative relationships, communicate openly, and identify strategies for moving forward, quickly and easily, as a cohesive unit to its full potential.
 
It’s built through a process of establishing good habits in effective communication at all levels.
 
 
●       Issue 2: Fear of Conflict. Without trust, teams cannot have the healthy debate that is necessary to arrive at better understanding and decisions.
 
Solution: Feedback and strengthening your team performance helps facilitate a safe environment for authentic conversation that has space for safe conflict.
 
Feedback in dysfunctional organizations comes across as confrontational, feedback in organizations with successful cultures is regular, informal, constructive, and safe.
Safety is a fundamental human need. Your team needs to know where they stand over the short and long term. One of the best ways a team leader can do this is to provide regular feedback on performance and clarify goals, especially during times of change. The trouble with feedback is that it is often heard as criticism which could counter the feeling of safety.
Start incorporating a culture where feedback is welcomed and acknowledged for the powerful fuel it is for breakthroughs in growth and development. Set up the right environment for casual, non-confrontational feedback.
 
●       Issue 3: Lack of Commitment. If a team is not aligned with a decision, then it can naturally be difficult for everyone to be behind and committed to that decision.
 
Solution: Not everyone in the team is going to agree all the time, and nor should they but they do all need space for healthy debate. A safe space where they can say “convince me” if they need to.
 
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shared his "disagree and commit" approach to healthy debate within teams in this Inc article. ‘to "disagree and commit" doesn't mean "thinking your team is wrong and missing the point," which will prevent you from offering true support. Rather, it's a genuine, sincere commitment to go the team's way, even if you disagree. 
Of course, before you reach that stage, you should be able to explain your position, and the team should reasonably weigh your concerns. But if you decide to disagree and commit, you're all in. No sabotaging the project, directly or indirectly. By trusting your team's gut, you give them room to experiment and grow, and your people gain confidence.
Having defined the right core values for your business and your team is also one of the best ways to keep your team on track and working toward commitment and your ultimate goals. 
 
●       Issue 4: Avoidance of accountability. If they are not committed to the course of action, then they are less likely to feel accountable (or hold other people accountable).
 
Solution: Follow these 5 accountability actions:
-        Giving up excuses.
-        Giving up blame.
-        Seeking Solutions.
-        Doing something. Anything!
-        Keeping score on yourself.
 
There are many roads to success, whatever form you hope that success to be, but the one action common for every single successful person, team, or organization is accountability.
Where someone has not held themselves accountable, and the other team members can call out less than optimal behaviors, actions, or a ‘dropping of the ball’; then you have true team accountability. 
 
●       Issue 5: Inattention to results. This, according to the book, is considered the ultimate dysfunction of a team and refers to the tendency of team members to care about something other than the collective goal.
 
Solution: Be inspired as a team, by your team’s mission. Being a mission-driven team will allow you and your team to bond and work together at greater levels of impact in order to achieve a common goal (your mission) together, allowing your bond as a team to strengthen. 
 
Let’s look at the value of a straight question like: Why do we come to work?
Most people when asked ‘why do you come to work?’ Will first answer “money.” But that's not the real reason why. That is not the motivation for getting up at 6:30 in the morning, rushing around, organizing kids, or ironing shirts the night before. It's because of the kids, or the house deposit they are saving for, or the next mission to help in a developing country. That's the “why.” Every person has a “why.”
That's the reason why they get out of bed every morning. And when a team is engaged in each other’s why, they then understand why they should help each other. There’s an understanding of what their teammate is working towards.
According to Ambition In Motion’s Work Orientation, some people are motivated by work/life balance, some people are motivated by growth and learning new skills, and some people are motivated by having a positive impact on the world. You can learn your Work Orientation here.
At its highest level, this is understanding each other's “why” and helping each other achieve individual goals together. Championing each other to be the best and to have the best.
When team members know why and what they are each striving for personally, and from an organizational view, they will be focused on the right results. Each person will not be focused only on their own goals; they will be working to help their colleagues meet theirs too.
 
How can the 5 Dysfunctions of a team help you?
If your team is struggling, start breaking down the issues. Take a look at the 5 dysfunctions of a team to see if you recognize anything. Then get to work on understanding what's happening for the team personally and professionally.
If you are seeking help with implementing the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team with your executive team, reach out to [email protected] to see how Ambition In Motion can help your executive team implement the methodologies taught in the book.
Tue 27 September 2022
When a company has a direct report that isn’t necessarily meeting expectations, its managers generally take action. This is not an unreasonable process, since a direct report that isn’t performing can cause complications for the rest of the team members. One of the most frequent actions taken by a manager, or potentially even Human Resources, is what is known as a Performance Improvement Plan, or a PIP. 

               The main goal of a Performance Improvement Plan is to correct an employee’s issues that management has grievances with. At least, that’s how they are perceived on paper. In actuality, PIPs are often used as a way to either remove responsibilities from a direct report or as a way to force an employee to quit of their own volition, thereby attempting to negate the need for unemployment. According to Lawyer Mike Carey, a Connecticut-based employment law attorney, only 5% to 10% of employees stay with a company after starting a PIP. 

               In many workplaces, leaders view a PIP as a “gateway” to getting that person off the team.

What else is wrong with a PIP?

               There are several problems with PIPs:

·        PIPs provide no formal legal protection- Employees under a PIP can still choose to go to litigation for wrongful termination or a hostile work environment. 
·        PIPs often cause additional work for team members- PIPs often mean that employees have reduced responsibilities to display improvement and competence, which often means that their removed responsibilities are passed along to their peers.
·        PIPs require a large amount of maintenance and supervision- A properly set up PIP with a responsible and empathetic manager requires near-constant communication and monitoring, which not only burns time but also can be overwhelming for the employee.

Can a PIP be beneficial?

               The modern-day definition of the Performance Improvement Plan, as stated above, is not sustainable, and overall, just doesn’t benefit employees or employers in any way.  However, a modified format of this plan can work but will be strongly dependent on how willing a manager is to assist the employee. 

How to determine if a PIP is appropriate to use

               The first step of a PIP should be to determine if it is even a good idea to implement or attempt to start. 

1)      Is termination the end goal? Or is the employee too good of a potential asset to consider terminating? Depending on a manager’s answers to these questions, a PIP may not be appropriate. The goal of a Performance Improvement Plan is to Improve employee performance, not intimidate them out of a position. If a manager is already dead-set on terminating an employee, it is better to do so than to attempt to not only patch this relationship and try to repair preconceived opinions. 
2)      Certain issues are better handled with a formal structured plan, while others will not benefit from that. If a direct report is having trouble with meeting deadlines, or similar performance issues, a performance improvement plan will be a good option. However, if they are encountering disciplinary issues, such as fighting with other staff, or insubordination, an improvement plan would not be the best option.
3)      Empathy can go a long way in regard to staff not necessarily meeting expectations. If a manager notices that one of their direct reports undergoes a sudden change in attitude, while also displaying signs of anxiety or depression, it may be best to have a 1:1 with them. Employees have personal lives as well, and issues can easily trickle over from the personal to professional realms. Managers should use this 1:1 to see if there are any underlying factors or circumstances that may have caused this decrease in quality from their subordinates.

Setting up a Performance Improvement Plan

               When setting up a performance improvement plan, a manager should be straight to the point with their direct reports. This conversation should include the following aspects:

·        Who- This refers to not only who will be undergoing this performance improvement plan, but also to whom they will report, as well as a contact for them within Human Resources.
·        What- This will include information such as what a performance improvement plan is since most direct reports will have a different outlook on PIPs in comparison to management.
·        Why- This will generally entail an explanation as to why the employee is being forced to undergo this PIP.  This explanation should include quantitative data, such as how often work was handed in after a deadline or a percentage of tasks that they have done that were deemed incomplete or lacking.
·        How- This would include what would be known as the “Terms and Conditions.” This will be further expanded on, but in short, the Terms and Conditions include what an employee will be required to do as part of their improvement plan. In addition to this, the terms should explicitly go into detail about what will happen if further expectations aren’t met. This is most often termination. While termination is not the desired outcome of a PIP, it is still a potential outcome, and often an option after this process.

The Terms of a Performance Improvement Plan

               The goal of a PIP is once again, to improve an employee’s performance, and help them either learn new skills or rectify previously known misconstructions. Therefore, a set of goals should be set for this employee to attempt. Similar to the goals that a manager should have, these should all be SMART Goals. As a note of reference, SMART Goals are designated as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

·        Specific allows a manager to put more explicit details on their goals, such as what they may pertain to.
·        Measurable means that there is a quantitative element to the goal
·        Attainable means that these goals are actually possible to do
·        Relevant refers to how the goal relates to company goals and mindsets
·        Time-Bound means that there is a chronological element to the goal

Here are some examples of goals that can be proposed to prospective PIP targets.

·        Employee A must have a task competition rate of at least 75% over the next three weeks
·        Employee F must conclude 85% of their training modules within the next 2 weeks
·        Employee must increase their customer conversion rate to at least 5 customers per week by the start of next month. 

One great way to measure and track these goals you are measuring with an employee you have put on a performance improvement plan is with AIM Insights.

With this advice, a manager should be able to start, create, and implement a PIP. These can be difficult to follow through with but will help not only the company but also the employee. 

 

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