"performance management"

Sun 26 September 2021
Attracting and retaining talent in the summer of 2021 has been incredibly difficult – so much so that LinkedIn and other news outlets have dubbed this time period as the “Great Resignation”. I have personally interviewed dozens of executives and consistently heard sentiments like this: 

“Business is booming, but we can’t find people to staff the demand we are receiving or keep the people we have!”

Some executives I have interviewed have blamed working from home and the general burnout from the increased uncertainty as reasons for this. Other executives blame generous unemployment benefits as the reason for these hiring struggles.

This article won’t serve as a deep-dive into why the Great Resignation is happening. Instead, I’m going to focus on solutions and highlight one major way we can handle this challenge to our businesses’ viability.

According to a Gallup survey, 75% of employees who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses, not because of the position itself. 

In other words, the adage ‘people don’t quit jobs, they quit bosses’ seems to ring true for people who are quitting – and with workers quitting at an incredibly high level at the moment, it is paramount that we, as leaders, do more to equip our managers with the tools and resources to be better managers.

There has been significant research into measuring work engagement and its impact on retention and productivity from teams – and if your team isn’t measuring engagement, I would highly recommend starting now. But new research is showing that there are 5 additional criteria that should be measured to understand the level of satisfaction employees have at work and their productivity.

1.       Team Cohesion – Employees’ self-assessment of how well the team has been working together in terms of their camaraderie
2.       Team Productivity – Employees’ self-assessment of how productive the team has been 
3.       Task Performance – Employees’ self-assessment of how productive, they personally, have been
4.       Manager Performance – Employees’ assessment of how effective their manager has been at leading them
5.       Organizational Citizenship – Employees’ self-assessment of their ability to be helpful to the team outside of their explicit work duties 

Caveats about measuring this data: 

1.       It should be measured monthly, at a minimum. Feelings about work and productivity change rapidly and asking annually, bi-annually, or quarterly is not enough to garner an accurate picture.
2.       It should be measured on a team-by-team basis, not a general overview of the entire company. The dynamics that occur within teams are more relevant and critical to an employee’s sense of belonging and willingness to stay at a company. Company-wide metrics are far too broad to be useful.  
3.       Managers should be provided with tools for enacting change based on these metrics. For example, conversation prompts and suggested questions for 1-on-1 meetings with direct reports can help managers address these issues early. Collecting data without immediate action diminishes the employee experience instead of enhancing it.

If you can measure this data on a month by month basis for each and every manager and their respective teams and equip your managers with suggested questions and conversation prompts to discuss with their direct reports based on the data, you are significantly better equipped to elevate the employee experience and feelings of belonging at work.

Why?

Because employees’ feelings of burnout and dissatisfaction with managers don’t happen because the manager is purposefully trying to sabotage the team or individual employees. These negative feelings typically happen because of poor communication between the manager and their employees. Most bad managers think they are good managers.

When an employee receives poor communication from their manager, there are consequences. It may cause them to do work that is not what the manager actually wanted, or to feel they are being treated unfairly, or to feel they aren’t receiving ample feedback (or too much unnecessary feedback), or just feel uncomfortable or dissatisfied with the manager in any way. When this happens, it is VITAL that the manager understands this frustration right away and have a conversation to rectify it (Kim Scott, the author of Radical Candor calls this “challenge directly while caring personally”).

If a manager doesn’t rectify the situation and this feeling of dissatisfaction from the employee festers, they are going to become actively disengaged, bring down other employees because of their dissatisfaction, and eventually leave. 

If you are a CEO and you believe that having an “open door policy” or “clear lines of communication” is enough to gather this information, you are making the MASSIVE assumption that your managers’ direct reports have the same level of psychological safety as your direct reports have with you. You are also assuming that your employees have personality traits in which they are comfortable being optimally objective with everyone they interact with across all levels of an organization. 

Overall, now is the time to equip our managers with the data and the tools necessary to build strong teams. Providing a robust system through conversation prompts helps managers understand how their direct reports are feeling about work in terms of their team cohesion, team productivity, task performance, manager performance, and organizational citizenship. If we can do that, we are much more likely to increase retention and the productivity of our teams.

A quick final note, my team and I at Ambition In Motion are working on tools and ways to research these 5 core areas that increase work satisfaction and productivity across all employees. If you are a manager that is interested in collaborating or learning more about our research, please feel free to send me an email at [email protected]

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 18 April 2022
What is a performance review?

Performance reviews are periodic processes in which you as an employer, or a manager, document and evaluate your direct reports’ work in a set of given time. These can feature either qualitative data, quantitative data, or a combination of both. An effective performance review recognizes both strong and weak areas of performance, provides solutions to some of these areas deemed to need improvement, and sets goals to achieve by the time of the next performance review. 

The term “Performance Review” primarily refers to the documentation or analysis involved in evaluating an employee’s performance. However, as mentioned before, the ideal review is also a process. Therefore, the term also includes any meetings or discussions in relation to this evaluation. 

Why is a performance review important?

Performance reviews are extremely useful for a company due to the potential impact that they can have. Through an effective review, a manager can successfully have an intentional conversation with an employee and help improve performance, and more importantly, keep a stream of feedback between the two tiers of hierarchy.  Compounded with regular discussions about employee progress, an individual can feel much more satisfied in knowing how their supervisor views their work, and how they can progress.

When should a performance report be written?

Many managers often struggle in recognizing when to write a performance review. To properly identify when to write such a device, it is important to realize the concept of Recency Bias. Recency bias is defined as a cognitive bias that favors recent events over historic ones. An example of this would be how a lawyer’s final closing argument in court is said to be one of the most important moments in law due to it being the last, and therefore favored, event that the jury hears prior to being dismissed to deliberate.

 To put this into the context of business, imagine that a worker has completed a very important project in January, with constant work through the rest of the year, and a below-average performance in December. Should a manager write this employee’s performance review in December, what would be the first thing to go through their mind? In most cases, it would be the latest event, which in this case would be the aforementioned poor performance in December. The report would probably focus on this, and therefore, would not be a good metric to evaluate an employee with.  Therefore, it is extremely important to remain cognizant of this bias and recall the other tasks, in this case, the project completion, and add them to the review. A performance review that is clear of recency bias is much more reliable, and also more accurate.

Once you have identified the concept of recency bias, and have taken steps to ensure avoidance of such, you can write this review at your convenience. Performance reviews are best written at the conclusion of a financial or business year but can also be written more frequently as well to create a constant stream of feedback – for leaders using AIM Insights, the data is optimized for monthly reviews. Regardless of when this report is written, it should not be the sole way that an employee is evaluated. The key thing to remember here is that an employee has no way to improve without receiving feedback or constructive criticism. If someone doesn’t know that there is a problem, how would they be able to fix it? The same applies to the employee review. Provide feedback, whether it be through a Slack message, or a text, or even a chat over coffee. This way, an employee would not get blindsided by a bad review. 

How should a performance review be conducted?

Ideally, a review is started from the very beginning of the period to be evaluated and defined by management. This boils down to recognizing what an employee has been assigned, and then what they are completing. Workforce performance management software such as AIM Insights can be used to help automate this process. The primary responsibility of the reviewer is to take notes throughout the entire period to ensure the best possible review. This helps with avoiding the aforementioned recency bias conundrum. As mentioned before, this review should be compounded with regular conversation or meetings, to allow for improvement. Once it is time for the actual written report, use benchmarks and performance indicators. In some businesses, it may be the number of sales, or the number of customers recruited. Regardless, quantitative data is objective, and can often assist in writing the rest of the report. Use thresholds and compare them to the employee’s progress to determine acceptability.  

After this review is written, a meeting should be set up to discuss this with an employee, with prior delivery of the review. While this discussion may be difficult, it is important to recognize that this is to help improve performance, as well as employee mood. Remember, keep it constructive, juxtaposing both praise and improvement recommendations. With these tips, you should be well on your way to writing the perfect performance review. Best of luck!

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!

Wed 4 May 2022
Hybrid? Fully remote? Never left? Regardless of how your team operates now or in the future, the pandemic changed how companies will need to manage their people. This article is titled how to measure performance for remote teams, but these lessons apply across all teams if we want to effectively lead into the next 5-10 years.

There is this common notion: what is focal is causal. Or put simply, what people see, they perceive as important. This focus on management through visibility has been the traditional style until the pandemic. But as more teams continue to work remotely, we must find new leadership methods that can ensure productivity without relying on visibility without context.

Why?

The pandemic exposed the major flaws of traditional methods. Focusing on visibility discourages actual productivity and encourages performative productivity (e.g. people looking busy while being observed).

For example, I recently interviewed the CEO of a tech-focused logistics company. I wanted to learn how other leaders are responding to the tail-end of the pandemic. He shared his intentions to bring the entire team back into the office. He believes that his team is more productive from the office than from at home. I suspected that he had fallen into the trap of relying on that same old notion: What is focal is causal.  

So, I pressed him on some key statistics to see why he decided to end remote work. We discussed sales, fulfillment, and the other factors that indicate the health of his business, but he didn’t have the new data for comparison because they just got back into the office. We scheduled a follow-up interview two months later to see how the company changed and to compare metrics.  

When we met again with the data to compare, the results spoke for themselves: people were more productive working from home. But this CEO couldn’t shake his intuition; he still preferred to work from the office with everyone else on his team because he liked seeing everyone working.

He was always skeptical of “work from home” and had the same worries that many CEOs and managers have had to deal with: “What if people skip work early? Or they take a day they said they were working completely off? How can I manage people that I can’t see?” He was stuck in the traditional mindset that what is focal is causal. Intuition is a dual-edged sword. When it leads you astray, your key to getting back on track is taking your intuition out of it. 

The answer to this is to measure and take the guesswork out of it.    

When ‘what is focal, is causal’ pervades a workplace culture, people are incentivized to look busy when in front of their managers; the key word here is “look busy”. This is Performative Productivity. 

In the book Deep Work by Cal Newport, Cal talks about this concept of the mental residue that occurs when we switch tasks or are distracted from one task to the next. Different people prefer different times and techniques to get into a flow-like state to focus as deeply as we can.

Productivity occurs when we eliminate distractions

When we work in an office, anyone can interrupt our work, distract us, or force us to work in ways that are not conducive for our flavor of deep focus. We can put ourselves in a position where our real productivity is sacrificed to support performative productivity. 

Therefore, if we can 1.5x, 2x, or 3x increase our productivity when we control when we work and when we allow distractions, it seems only logical to allow our people to do that if we can.

The challenge lies in how we measure productivity and what actions we take for granted that we realize need to get done.

Sure, in sales, it is pretty easy to quantify productivity – number of calls made, meetings scheduled, meetings had, follow ups made, and deals closed. But for less quantifiable tasks, it is critical that we identify useful metrics for measuring progress. 

For example, an executive in my mastermind group runs a consumer-packaged goods company. He started putting QR codes on packages that link consumers to surveys. These surveys let customers share their feedback on product quality, packaging, and labeling. He also started implementing end-of-call surveys to gather feedback from his clients (or prospective clients) on his customer support team. 

As he started creating opportunities for gathering more feedback, he learned that some metrics were more important than others. He also learned that he can only improve what he is measuring. He focused his team on specific outcomes, but more importantly, he was upfront that some of these metrics may change over time as he learns more feedback. 

This iterative process helped him develop a strong system. Now he measures change and improvement pretty accurately and can share that insight with his team. His team knows when they are working in a positive direction or when things need improvement.  

Performance reviews shouldn't be a surprise

Another benefit was that performance reviews become super easy for him and his team. They have minimized surprises and his direct reports are now reporting to him where they know they can improve.

His team has now started implementing a hybrid approach where his team members have total autonomy of when they come into the office. If somebody decides to work half the day in the office and the other half from home, they can do that. Or they can rent an RV with the family and work on the road or pull all-nighters so then they can work on their start-up during the day. No matter how they decide to work, he doesn’t care because he knows what they are measured against and leaves the decision making to the employee.

Measuring works for collaborative teams just as much as individuals

And this works just as much for collaborative work as it does for individual work. When teams are working collaboratively, they are measured against the team goal. Individuals break their segments down and are held accountable to their individual tasks. Their success is tied to the team’s overall ability to achieve their goals.

When the team doesn’t achieve a goal, they work together in an experimental way to identify what they can change to achieve the outcome they desire for the future. Sometimes part of that solution is working together in the same space, sometimes they identify other methods. Either way, a manager with a strong system for accurately monitoring productivity can trust their employees to take the initiative and find productivity instead of micromanaging. 

The notion that “focal is causal” forces bad incentives. When goals are clear, employees know what needs done. Everyone can be measured based on what they know they need to accomplish, and you can continue to make incremental improvements to the goals and metrics. Together, this new method builds resilient productivity and helps you manage your team better whether your team is remote, hybrid, or in-person. 

Mon 9 May 2022
Do you have a perfectionist on your team? The good news is that your direct report has high standards and a fine attention for detail. The bad news is that he fixates on every facet of a project and can’t set priorities.
Can you harness these positive qualities without indulging the bad? Can you help them become less of a stickler? Yes and yes. 
In fact, many people claim to be perfectionists because they think it makes them look good. But true perfectionism is a flaw more than an asset. In many cases, this compulsive behavior can be a thorn in the side of a great performer. 
Managing a perfectionist can be challenging but it’s not impossible. And when done well, you both will benefit. 
 
Discovering perfectionism in the workplace 
 
Recently, an executive from a Fortune 500 company was experiencing issues within his team; he felt that they were performing well but they were failing to give him feedback
As he dug deeper to find the reasoning behind this issue, he found that his team struggled with a competition issue. 
His team’s drive to be perfect and not show mistakes gave the executive a false sense that everything was going well. And in turn, his direct reports were hesitant to give honest feedback because they didn’t want to look bad or come off as imperfect. 
Fortunately, he had the group to work through his challenges. Just like his direct reports were fearful of going to him with issues, he was fearful of going to his boss with the issue that he built a culture that wasn’t psychologically safe and competitive which resulted in issues being hidden, and developing into larger issues. 
 
A perfectionist is defined as a person who refuses to accept any standard short of perfection. It’s not necessarily a bad trait! Striving for perfection means you care a lot about your task and your desired goal. 
There are actually a lot of pros and cons to perfectionism in the workplace: 
 
Pros and Cons of perfectionism from direct reports
 
Pro – Your direct reports go the extra mile with their tasks.
Con – Your direct reports often put in a lot more work than they may communicate with you or your team, creating an exclusive atmosphere in the office where people feel as though they are in competition with each other.
 
Pro – Your direct reports look as though they really have everything together. 
Con – Your direct report lacks honesty with you and the rest of your team because they are constantly trying to attain an image of perfection in order to hide the fact that they are actually imperfect, just like everyone else.
 
Pro – Your direct reports have motivation, determination, persistence, and drive; all qualities that most people find redeeming and can make a great candidate for a job.
Con – Your direct reports often stretch themselves thin trying to constantly exude these qualities in every aspect of their work, to the point where they create an environment of competition rather than togetherness. 
 
One of the most important pros and cons of them all happens to be a huge challenge of perfectionism that acts as both a pro and a con: 
 
Pro – You never accept failure from yourself.
Con – You never accept failure from yourself.
 
There are pros and cons to everything, but the challenges to perfectionism can breed a culture of competition where no one wants to admit their mistakes. Sometimes, people end up sabotaging each other rather than working together. And worst of all, when an issue arises, people hide it and try to solve it on their own, which in turn creates a much larger problem for the team to deal with. 
 
What is the biggest challenge of perfectionism? 
 
Some signs of perfectionism in the workplace include:
●     Very high standards (and the belief they must be achieved)
●     Highly self-critical
●     Fear of failure and making mistakes
●     Over-focused on minor details
●     Obsession with rechecking/redoing work
●     Difficulty completing a task or project
●     Overachiever
●     Stressed or anxious about performance or results
●     Too much competition
 
However, the biggest challenge when dealing with perfectionism is not wanting to make mistakes. If your direct reports are struggling with perfectionism, they likely are afraid of making mistakes, and even more afraid of others (including you) finding out that they’re capable of making mistakes. 
Just the word “mistake” is capable of striking fear in a lot of people’s minds when it really shouldn’t. It makes them anxious, indecisive, and at times, overwhelmed too.
It’s not a nice feeling to be regretful about something that you worked hard for and put a lot of time into. This is where direct reports may get caught up in either trying to be absolutely perfect or simply not reaching their potential by “playing it safe” and not trying new things out of the fear of making mistakes. 
As a manager of this team, it’s your job to encourage your direct reports to find a happy medium! 
It can be very easy for your direct reports to get stuck in the area between the paralyzing side of the fear of making mistakes and gathering the courage to give it a shot, or in the area of perfectionism where they’re too scared to admit to their mistakes.  
 
How to effectively manage the challenges within perfectionism 
 
Create an environment where it is mutually understood that you (the manager) take the blame when things go wrong. 
Mistakes happen! 
A leader who assumes the blame, and passes the credit, sends a message that mistakes are OK and that when they happen, it will be an opportunity to learn and grow. By inspiring those beneath you, your employees will emulate your best traits, which will include assuming the blame for themselves.
            The best leaders inspire others and give credit. 
Giving credit and taking accountability sets yourself apart from the team, as a guide toward your team’s overall success. The more emphasis that you put on guiding your team, rather than showcasing your leadership (by taking credit or blaming others for mistakes), the more respect you will gain from your direct reports.
Here are a few important tips for creating an environment with your perfectionist direct reports where it is assumed that mistakes are inevitable, and welcomed: 
 
  1. Appreciate the positives while recognizing the negatives
Working with perfectionists can be frustrating. They tend to be impatient with or hypercritical of others and they’re not good at delegating. 
However, it’s your job to recognize that while irritating, their behavior is not all bad. It stems from a place of care for their work
In fact, because of their insistence on excellence, they often raise the standards of those around them. Be sure to tell them that you appreciate the level of enthusiasm and drive that they bring to the team, and encourage them to work more with the team, rather than against the team, on their own. 
A perfectionist wants to do what is best for them and their goals; be sure to reassure them that they will reach the highest of their potential by sharing, communicating and working inclusively.
Every employee needs feedback. But perfectionists may have a harder time than others hearing criticism of their work. 
Since critique is difficult for them, perfectionists are likely to hear only the negatives. Instead, share your apprehensions first
An important aspect in giving feedback to a perfectionist is to ensure that they know they are appreciated and valued. Don’t be afraid to ask your direct report: “Is there a most efficient way that you prefer we exchange feedback with each other?” and “What aspects of your work could use greater clarity from myself or other team members?”
With this in mind, you can deliver the input in a way that won’t make them defensive or demotivate them. 
 
Looking for a more efficient way to evaluate performance reviews within your company? Ambition in Motion offers their software, AIM Insights reports, ensuring visibility over all ongoing activities: task performance, manager performance, organizational citizenship, team performance, and goals for direct reports. Click here to learn more about how you can simplify your performance review process! 
 
            Managing a perfectionist can be challenging but it’s not impossible. And when done well, you both will benefit!
Tue 10 May 2022
As a manager, it is extremely important to understand what type of workers or direct reports you have.  Each person has a unique archetype that they tend to fit into. These don’t necessarily refer to how they are motivated, which is also another important aspect of your direct reports to keep track of. There are six archetypes that are commonly identified. 

What are the archetypes of workers?

In 2022, Forbes and Bain & Company worked together to determine how to organize workers and what characteristics each of these groups would have in common. Similar to the ubiquitous Enneagram tests or Myer Briggs tests, an aptitude test will suffice to test which group an individual fits into. The six most commonly identified archetypes are operators, givers, artisans, explorers, strivers, and pioneers. Each one of these groups has a uniquely defining trait, along with a few advantages and disadvantages.

Operators are individuals who are not really work-oriented. In the culinary world, there is a saying that there are two types of people. Those who eat to live, and those who live to eat. Operators are much closer to the former. They understand that there is more than work, and primarily work to be able to achieve other goals. Operators are excellent team players due to them not seeking recognition with every move they make and are extremely dependable. Conversely, they can lack proactivity, or will not take initiative frequently. According to Forbes, 23% of the working class in the United States are operators. This type of individual tends to align with having Job Work Orientation.

Givers are the exact opposite of the operators. They are highly results-oriented.  These individuals are often selfless and feel rewarded by making an impact in their organization or by helping others. They are a little rarer than operators, making up about 20% of the American workforce. You will often find these workers in service positions, such as in hospitality, customer relations, or even human resources. Their selflessness makes them great team players, but the amount of work they may take on could be impractical and can lead to burnout. This type of individual tends to align with having a Calling Work Orientation.

Artisans are even rarer than both operators and givers. They make up 15% of the workforce in the United States. These individuals are extremely common in fields requiring meticulousness and precision, such as in many STEM-related fields. The key identifier of an artisan is someone who is always pursuing some form of mastery in their field or a way to improve something at all times. They can be relied on to solve some of the hardest challenges out there but can get lost in the minute details and may have trouble keeping final goals in focus. They can also be aloof. Similar to givers, artisans fall into the dangers of burnout due to their need to perfect any work that they put out.  Artisans are especially common within the computer science industry, in positions such as developers or consultants. 

Explorers make up a tenth of the workforce and are frequently overlooked in favor of Operators or Artisans. Explorers typically seek out excitement and variety from work and are excellent multitaskers. However, they are not the best at finishing individual tasks. They are versatile, either being excellent team players, as well as good individual workers. Resourcefulness is a quality any explorer will have, along with a strong sense of individuality. The fashion industry is filled with explorers, with some of note being Levi Jeans and the North Face. At the same time, there are brands that allow creativity such as Starbucks which also welcomes explorers. 

Strivers can make some of the best managers in the world. Making up about a fifth of the workforce, these powerful workers are highly competitive and set high standards for themselves and their coworkers. In any successful team, you will find a striver at the forefront.  They are less risk-tolerant and are much more comfortable taking actions that are much more likely to yield success. However, having multiple strivers can lead to disaster due to their urge to be at the front of whatever project is ongoing. While they are disciplined, their competitiveness can be unproductive or worse, disruptive, in a team environment. Culinary environments such as Michelin star-rated restaurants are frequently run by strivers, such as Gordon Ramsay. This type of individual tends to align with having a Career Work Orientation.

Finally, are the rarest of the archetypes- the Pioneer, making up 8% of the workforce. These individuals frequently have a vision in mind and will stop at no end to achieve these goals. Pioneers are strong-minded and will do their best to create lasting change. However, they are uncompromising and may have trouble seeing anything other than their own view.  Many entrepreneurs are pioneers, along with activists. In today’s world, Greta Thunberg is known as a pioneer, with her strict views on climate change and global activism. She is seen as a leader throughout the world of sustainability but is often thought of as harsh due to her strict views.

Why do these archetypes matter?

                These archetypes are important to track due to the appeal of creating a cohesive team, as well as understanding what tasks are best assigned to which worker. For example, giving something that is extremely meticulous to a giver will end in success, but won’t necessarily be the best for their mental health, since they may try to do too much and burn out. Similarly, giving a task that is a gamble to a striver is a contradiction of what they will naturally want to do, and will not be the best possible task for them. 

In baseball, coaches frequently tell players to “play their natural game”, meaning that they should do what feels comfortable for them. In this case, you’re the coach. How will you choose to give tasks to your workers? By enabling them to do what they do best. 

Software such as AIM insights will be invaluable in this case by allowing you to understand your employees on a much better level. By using task completion rates and success rates, you can deduce what archetype of worker your employee fits in, and then assign better fitting tasks going forth. Archetypes will help you understand your workers, give better tasks, and get better results. 

Mon 23 May 2022
How important is it to help your managers succeed? 
Managers and how they manage their reporting staff members set the tone for your entire business operation. Managers are the front-line representation of your business.
It's easy to understand why managers make significant mistakes in their daily management of the people they employ. 
Many managers lack fundamental training in managing people, which is usually manifested in their inability to practice the significant soft skills necessary to lead.
But more importantly, many managers lack the values, sensitivity, and awareness needed to interact effectively all day long with people. 
The best managers fundamentally value and appreciate people. They also excel at letting people know how much they are valued and appreciated. 
 
Why is it important to prioritize the best training for your managers?
You want to make sure all of your managers are successful, right? After all, managers have a huge impact on their entire team.
They are the cogs that hold your organization together because all of your employees report to them, for better or for worse. 
The majority of communication about the business is funneled through your managers. For your business and employees to succeed, your mid-level managers must succeed and become adept at managing in a style that empowers and enables employees.
Skills and techniques are easier to teach, but values, beliefs, and attitudes are much harder to teach, and harder for managers to learn. 
These are the underlying issues that most managers struggle with being successful. 
This is why educating your managers to the best of your abilities and coaching them for success matters to you and your employees.
 
The current way that we equip new managers is flawed 
Many people aspire to get promoted and move into leadership positions. But with this exciting transition comes a natural challenge: one of the biggest tests new managers face is knowing how to go from being a peer to managing their peers.           
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.
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. 
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. 
However, 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 work. 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
Going into the job, managers will be more confident in their abilities to perform successfully if their training includes more than just the most basic protocol. 
New managers need to be confident in their promotions and know that it's possible to assimilate everyone successfully. For example, having the mindset of “I’m ready and willing to learn” will position new managers on a path toward a thriving managerial journey.
These are the kinds of things that need to be enclosed during the new manager training/transitioning period.
 
What do new managers need to have to succeed within their roles? 
It's always exciting to promote a member of your team to a management position. However, some of your other workers might not take kindly to their peer becoming their supervisor, especially if that means they’re missing out on the same opportunity.
As challenging as this may be, there are ways to get through these hoops! 
It starts with proper training. 
Beyond the basic transition guides and paperwork that a new manager must endure at the beginning of their term, it’s important for new managers to do some intentional observation of the work environment. 
Advising and teaching your new managers to observe the operations of the team through the lens of a manager rather than a peer will inspire your new managers to take notes and learn the inner workings of their new direct reports, and how they can best serve their needs. 
 
Here are a few insider tips for your new managers: 
 
●     Get to Know Their Employees
Developing a relationship with reporting employees is a key factor in managing. You don't want to be your employees' divorce counselor or therapist, but you do want to know what's happening in their lives. When you know where the employee is going on vacation or that his kids play soccer, you are taking a healthy interest in your employees' lives.
Knowing that the dog died, expressing sympathy, or that her daughter won a coveted award at school makes you an interested, involved manager. Understanding and connecting with your employees will make you a better manager who is more responsive to employee needs, moods, and life cycle events.
 
●     Provide Clear Direction 
Creating standards and giving people clear expectations as a manager is crucial so that people know what they’re supposed to do, and how they can manage their time. More importantly, they will always feel as if they have accomplished a complete task or goal if the timeline of everything is laid out in an easily understood way. 
Within your clear expectations, if you are either too rigid or too flexible, your direct reports will feel rudderless. You need to achieve an appropriate balance that allows you to lead employees and provide direction without dictating and destroying employee empowerment and employee engagement.
 
●     Trust From the Start
All managers should start out with all employees from a position of trust, which shouldn't change unless an employee proves themselves unworthy of that trust. When managers don't trust people to do their jobs, this lack of trust plays out in a number of injurious ways within the workplace.
Micromanaging and constantly checking up on others are examples of how to create an untrustworthy work environment. However, if you work to trust your employees from the start, you can create an environment that fuels creativity and trust within your direct reports’ work, allowing for an inspired and communicative work environment. 
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
Todd is an executive for a high-growth tech startup that has 400 employees. His biggest challenge in optimizing his team’s performance is the ever-changing nature of the business.
Todd’s CEO and board regularly come to him with changes to the company’s operations. Sure, he is involved in many of these decisions, but often by the time the conversation gets to him, the CEO and board have already made up their mind and changes are already in the works and he has to catch up. 
The challenge is that his team has been spending the past 3 months working on a completely different plan and now, much of that work has to be scrapped for this new plan.
As a mastermind group, the Ambition in Motion team asked Todd questions to clarify his situation and then we provided some suggestions.
One of the big suggestions was getting ahead of the trends so that he and his team could be a part of the change management process as opposed to having the change happen to them. 
This requires better data collection and access to user feedback information as well as the freedom to begin experimenting with new ideas as the new information comes in.
The other big factor in all of this is properly setting expectations both for his team and for his board and CEO as the ideas he and his team come up with may not work, but at least it gives them a lens into what they are trying and gives them an opportunity to experiment.
Ultimately, the ability to set expectations both for your team and for your leadership is critical to having work where the expectations meet reality and people are excited to come to work. When people feel unclear about their role or the changes happening at work and they feel powerless over them, stress ensues and people leave or worse, become actively disengaged.
Oftentimes, this confusion of beginning a new role with a lack of understanding, training, or data, occurs most frequently amongst new managers beginning the role as a leader of a new team. 

Why is data important in an ever-changing workplace?
 Data in a workplace is absolutely essential. Data includes performance reviews, employee values, wants, and needs, as well as information about what previous employees implemented and how it impacted their teams. 
 The amount of data connected to an organization today is on an unprecedented scale and impossible to process manually; this is why it is important to invest in an effective data management system.
This is why data is seen as one of the most important assets of an organization; it is the foundation of information and the basis on which people make decisions. Hence it would follow that if the data is accurate, complete, organized, and consistent, it will contribute to the growth of the organization. 
Most importantly, the right data alongside proper training is what will lead a new manager thoroughly into the position of effectively leading a new team. 
These are some of the additional and undeniable benefits of effective data and how it can effectively improve a rapidly changing workplace.

1. Increases productivity
If data can be accessed easily, especially in large organizations, your company will be more organized and productive. It reduces the time that people spend looking for information and instead ensures that they can do their job efficiently. 
Employees will also be able to understand and communicate information to others. Furthermore, it makes it easy to access past correspondence and prevent miscommunication due to messages lost in transit.
For new managers, being able to access and identify information about past performance can boost effective leadership faster than having no data at all.

2. Smooth operations
A seamless operating system is every business’ dream and data management can make that a reality. It is one of the determining factors in ensuring the success of an organization; if one takes too long to respond to their customers or to the changing trends around them, they run the risk of falling behind. Heightening the data within performance reviews will allow for quick transitions of productivity for teams. 
A good data management system will ensure that you respond to the world accordingly and stay ahead of the competition.

3. Cost-effective
If you have a good system in place, you will spend less money trying to fix problems that shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. 
 Most importantly, improperly training new managers will lead to a decrease in productivity and ineffective leadership, which will ultimately lose time and money for the company. 

4. Better decision making
When everything's in its place, and everyone knows where to look for it, the quality of your decisions improves drastically. By nature, people have different ways of processing information, but a centralized system ensures a framework to plan, organize and delegate.
Additionally, a good system will ensure good feedback, which in turn will lead to necessary updates to the process that will only benefit your company in the long run.

Get ahead of the struggles that come with change; engage in the best management practices 
Performance review data 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 and minimize the learning curve of new managers becoming effective leaders.
 So why do managers need more than just data to effectively lead their team? 
 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. 
 However, putting effort into detailed and trustworthy performance management with coaching will enhance training for new employees in new positions as well as guide your company in tackling the changes that occur within a workplace, and quickly making effective leadership decisions. 


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 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. 

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.
Tue 30 August 2022
In a time when more and more workplace injuries are occurring, it is important for managers and leaders to improve safety in the workplace, particularly in areas where there is a higher risk of injury. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,  the Construction and Manufacturing industries make up 10 of the top 15 fields where injuries occur in the workplace. 

                      Safety incidents don’t even solely affect the workers involved. They also have a strong trickle-up effect, as a result of fines, litigation, and replacement training. In 2022, Dollar General was struck with a 1.3 million dollar fine by the Department of Labor for staggeringly dangerous work environments, including but not limited to obstructed exit routes, missing sprinklers, and inaccessible electrical panels. 

                      With all of this in mind, managers should not only care about their profit line but about the safety of their direct reports. But how can these leaders improve safety in the workplace while still maintaining their profits? 

Safety Costs Associated with Incidents

                      The first cost that a manager should recognize is one of the steepest scaling costs in the manufacturing industry- the EMR, or experience modifier rate. This is a number that insurance agencies will use to determine premiums and compensation rates. EMRs are determined based on a specific company’s historical cost of injuries and future risk chances. This number is then compared with the average losses other companies accrue in a specific state. 

                      The average EMR tends to gravitate around 1.0. The lower an EMR is, the lower the compensation amounts are, which also applies vice versa as well. In addition, the higher an EMR is, the higher the insurance premiums are. EMRs are considered to be very accurate due to a concept known as Experience Rating, which states that history tends to repeat itself. Losses in the future will probably be similar to those of the past. 

                      EMRs are extremely important in the Manufacturing and Construction Industry for one sole reason. Every business in these industries is required by State and Federal Law to have the following insurance coverages: 

·        General Liability Insurance
·        Professional Liability Insurance
·        Vehicle and Auto Insurance
·        Inland Marine Insurance (Refers to any equipment that is towed)
·        Contractor License Bonds
·        Workers Compensation Insurance

              Some states may even require further insurance. All of these insurances have periodic costs known as premiums, which can be increased depending on how often the insurance was used. Imagine how quickly this can add up. Insurance can be extremely expensive. It is important to note that insurance does not always cover negligent activity.

              Businesses should also account for costs associated with OSHA requirements. OSHA is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and is the federal board charged with “ensuring safe and healthy working conditions by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance”. They can also audit workplaces, and determine if they are in violation of safety protocol. 

              OSHA also mandates that workers receive a certain amount of company-funded training. This is required to be kept up to date and does get checked frequently as well, so it can’t be completed in-house and under the radar. For example, when I worked as a lifeguard, I was required to receive training in managing bloodborne exposure, basic and advanced first aid, bodily waste management, and hazardous chemical management. 

How does a manager improve safety in the workplace?

              The first step in adding safety to the workplace is to conduct very thorough examinations of your personnel, equipment, and workspace. 

                      Personnel examination refers to checking any of their personal certifications and doing a thorough background check. Managers should also contact prior employers. User error is a common bane in the construction industry, and 86% of contractors admit to having made an error in the field. The severity of an error can make a very big difference, however. In addition to that, a common sanction placed on dangerous employees is for certifications to be voided. Checking into the history of a certification can make a big difference. While some managers believe that people may improve, it is important to remember that in the construction industry, safety should always be the number one priority. Background checks are important to read over due to potential liability. If a worker has been sued in the past for negligent behavior, bringing them onto staff could prove to be dangerous, and if a mistake is repeated, litigious. 

                      Equipment examination should be something that a manager not only trains workers on but should be proficient with themselves. Heavy machinery such as forklifts, cranes, and bulldozers, along with their associated equipment such as ratchets, braces, and supports should always be examined before any use. In addition to this, managers should frequently bring in experts and mechanics to determine the safety and longevity of their specialized equipment. While yes, these machines are expensive and built to last, nothing can be left up to chance with them, due to the inherent danger that they pose. 

                      Workplace examination is something that an outside entity or inspector should assess. The ideal goal of this is to ensure OSHA Compliance, as well as to ensure that the workplace is a safe area to be within.  OSHA will also conduct this examination, for a fee

                      The next step in adding safety to the workplace is to create a proper education program. Managers should facilitate a space in which it is not only okay but welcomed for workers to ask questions about safety compliance and regulations. The environment should be designed in a way to offer as many educational opportunities as possible for this. In my experience as a paramedic, I was also required to attend monthly in-services, where we would have our squad leader going over every safety feature and regulation in not only the house but also on our ambulances.  This not only gave us refreshers on the safety tools already present but ones that were brand new as well. This actually ended up saving one of my coworkers’ lives. In our in-service, we were taught about the C02 Fire Suppression System within the AIRTIGHT server room connecting us to 9-1-1 Dispatchers and our radio systems. One very important thing that was noted was the fire axe planted next to the door. C02 Fire Suppression Systems are designed to be waterless and can extinguish a fire without creating a mess or damaging electronics. However, the C02 removes the oxygen from the room, strangling the fire. Naturally, this is incredibly dangerous for individuals in the room.  This system ended up triggering while a technician was working in the room. If he didn’t know where the axe was to break the window and allow oxygen to come into the room, he would’ve most likely suffocated to death. Thanks to his safety training, he was able to escape with his life. 

                      Another thing managers in the manufacturing industry can do to increase safety is to implement AIM Insights. AIM Insights and the subsequent AIM Insights People Leader Certification can help companies improve their safety by deploying a bottom-up approach to helping employees identify innovative solutions to improving safety and communication guidance from executive coaches on how to handle difficult situations when a manager has an employee not abiding by safety rules. 

                      Safety is a product of tolerance. The more we tolerate bad behavior, the more likely accidents will occur. AIM Insights helps managers bridge a gap between the inconvenience of following safety procedures with the discomfort of confronting somebody in a manner that drives mutual understanding and compliance.

                      This should assist managers with starting to improve safety within their workplaces. It is important to note that incidents will always happen within the work sites. However, with proper management, this number should go down and enable a safer area.  

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
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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