Tuesday, March 19, 2019

How To Succeed At A Career Fair

Think a career fair is a waste of time? Think again. It’s a space packed with people searching to fill open roles and make connections for future opportunities—the perfect place for a soon-to-be college grad to score a new job or network with a dream company. But it’s not enough to simply show up: To be successful at a career fair, there are several things you should do before you go and while you’re there.

Here, we asked career experts to walk you through how to succeed at a career fair.

1. Search For Open Roles.

Before the fair, get a list of the companies that will be attending—then search their sites (and Glassdoor) to see if they have any open roles for which you might be a fit. “Prioritize which companies you want to visit based on your goals for your target industries, roles, and locations,” says Jenny Zenner, career advisor and senior director of technology careers at University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

2. Research Your Target Companies.

Now, take that list of companies whose booths you’d like to stop by and research them. “Go through their website, current news, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn,” Zenner says. “See if you have any contacts at those companies—such as fellow alums, friends, and family—and reach out in advance to learn more about what they do.” Armed with inside knowledge, you’ll be sure to impress company representatives.

3. Plot A Path.

Grab a map of the fair (one should be available online) and find the companies you’d like to visit, then create a path that will help you make the most of your time there—one that starts with the most popular brands. “Arrive early so that you can get to the popular companies that likely will have lines,” Zenner says. “After you’ve visited all the companies on your priority list, then you can circle back to visit other booths.”

4. Dress For Success.  

Jan Hudson, COO of the recruiting firm Surf Search, recommends that men where a sports jacket while women should don a blazer or other business attire. “You’re looking for a job, not headed to class,” she reminds us. Be “neat, tidy, and pressed.”

5. Connect The Dots For Representatives.

When you approach a booth and discuss open roles, don’t forget to connect the dots, says career and life coach Kyle Elliott. “Ask questions about open positions, then be ready to discuss how your knowledge, skills, and passion align with the positions your target company is hiring for,” he says. “Demonstrate how your experience has prepared you perfectly to join the company,” or how you’d fit with company culture.  

6. Bring More Resumes Than You Think You’ll Need.  

You’ll bring resumes to the fair, for sure, but bring plenty of extras. You never know who you will meet, and you don’t want to be caught without one. “Make sure [your resume] is as polished as it can be for a newly graduating candidate entering the workforce,” says Hudson. “Get help from career counseling on writing that resume with applicable examples of your successes as a student.” The very best resumes will include internships, applicable work experience, and college activities, she says.

7. Practice Talking With Representatives.

Don’t wait for real-time to talk yourself up. “Work on your communications skills ahead of time with a friend,” says Hudson. “There is nothing like good-old role playing to help you feel more comfortable.” Search online and find top behavioral interview question prompts, she suggests, then run through answering them—several times—with your friend. Practice showing confidence without being overly arrogant, she says, as well as listening to another person and not overtaking them.

8. Follow Up.

After you leave the fair, “send a thank you email and a hand-written note to each person you met,” says Elliott. Then, you can keep the conversation going by adding the representative with whom you met to your contacts on LinkedIn, as well as “requesting an informational interview to learn more about the company,” he says.

Thanks to Jillian Kramer / Glassdoor
https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/how-to-succeed-at-a-career-fair/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=031819_401k&utm_campaign=mar19_us

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Friday, March 15, 2019

4 Reasons Good Employees Lose Their Motivation

Motivation — the willingness to get the job done by starting rather than procrastinating, persisting in the face of distractions, and investing enough mental effort to succeed — accounts for 40% of the success of team projects. Yet managers are often at a loss as to how to effectively motivate uninspired employees. Our review of research on motivation indicates that the key is for managers to first accurately identify the reason for an employee’s lack of motivation and then apply a targeted strategy.

Carefully assessing the nature of the motivational failure — before taking action — is crucial. Applying the wrong strategy (say, urging an employee to work harder, when the reason is that they’re convinced they can’t do it) can actually backfire, causing motivation to falter further.

These reasons fall into four categories — a quartet we call the motivation traps. Namely, they are 1) values mismatch, 2) lack of self-efficacy, 3) disruptive emotions, and 4) attribution errors. Each of these four traps has distinct causes and comes with specific strategies to release an employee from its clutches.

Here are the four motivation traps and each targeted strategy to help your employees escape them:

Trap 1, Values Mismatch: I Don’t Care Enough To Do This.

How this trap ensnares employees: When a task doesn’t connect with or contribute to something workers value, they won’t be motivated to do it.

How to help an employee out of this trap: Find out what the employee cares about and connect it to the task. Too often, managers think about what motivates themselves and assume the same is true of their employees. Engage in probing conversation and perspective-taking to identify what your employee cares about and how that value links with the task.

There are different types of value which you can draw out. One is interest value, or how intellectually compelling a task is. For this, find connections between the task and the things that the employee finds intrinsically interesting. Another is identity value, or how central the skill set demanded by a task is to an employee’s self-conception. Point out how the job at hand draws on a capacity that they consider an important part of their identity or role — such as engaging in teamwork, analytical problem solving or working under pressure.

Importance value is how important a task is. Identify ways to highlight how crucial the task is to achieve the team’s or company’s mission. Finally, utility value is a measure of the cost of achieving (and avoiding) the task versus the larger benefits of achieving. Find ways to show how completing this particular task contributes to the employee’s larger goals and avoids blowback. Sometimes it may be necessary to ask an employee to, essentially, hold their nose while carrying out an undesirable task — making clear to them the future benefit its completion will yield or the problems it will prevent.

When an employee doesn’t value a task at the outset and the values mismatch may not be apparent, a manager’s best bet is to try to appeal to multiple values. One or more of them may resonate with the employee.

Trap 2, Lack Of Self-Efficacy: I Don’t Think I’m Able To Do This.

How this trap ensnares employees: When workers believe they lack the capacity to carry out a task, they won’t be motivated to do it.

How to help an employee out of this trap: Build the employee’s sense of confidence and competence. This can be done in several ways. One is to point out times in the past when they’ve surmounted similar challenges. Perhaps share examples of others just like them who overcame the same challenges in a way the employee can do, too. Build their sense of self-efficacy with progressively more difficult challenges, or by breaking down the current task into manageable chunks.

Often, employees who lack self-efficacy are convinced that succeeding at a particular task will require the investment of far more time and energy than they can afford. Explain that they have the ability to succeed but may have misjudged the effort required; urge them to invest more effort while expressing confidence that additional effort will lead to success. It helps if managers offer some extra support as work gets underway.

Occasionally employees have the opposite motivation trap. They may lack motivation because they feel, in a sense, overqualified. Employees with inflated self-efficacy pose one of the more difficult motivational management challenges. Overconfident people often make mistakes, even as they’re certain they know what they are doing. When they err, they insist that it’s the criteria for judging success on the task that is flawed, so they take no responsibility for their failures.

When dealing with such employees, it’s important to avoid challenging their ability or expertise. Instead, demonstrate to them that they have misjudged the requirements of the task, and convince them that it requires a different approach.

Trap 3, Disruptive Emotions: I’m Too Upset To Do This.

How this trap ensnares employees: When workers are consumed with negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, or depression, they won’t be motivated to carry out a task.

How to help an employee out of this trap: Begin in a setting where you cannot be overheard. Tell them you want to understand why they are upset and engage in active listening. Do not agree or disagree. Be nonjudgmental by asking what the employee believes is causing them to be upset. Then, briefly summarize what they said back to them and ask if you have understood. If they say “no,” apologize and tell them you are listening carefully and to “please try again.”  When people feel they have been understood, their negative emotions soften a bit. It may be useful to tell them that you want to consider what they told you and schedule a time the next day to discuss. This often helps the person get more control over their emotions.

Keep in mind that anger is the belief that someone or something external to the person has caused or will cause them harm. Ask an employee feeling angry to try to reframe their belief about the external as resulting from ignorance or accident, not intention. Suggest ways they could invest the effort to eliminate the threat. Depression sometimes results from employees’ belief that they are internally inadequate in some way that they cannot control. In this case, it often helps to suggest that they are not “broken” or “inadequate” but only need to invest more effort in effective strategies. Offer your help. Anxious or fearful employees often respond positively to assistance with their approach to the task as well as to reminders that they are capable and can succeed with more effort.

If the emotions do not soften with time and effort or if they spring from outside the workplace, for example, it may be advisable to help the employee access counseling.

Trap 4, Attribution Errors: I Don’t Know What Went Wrong With This.

How this trap ensnares employees: When employees can’t accurately identify the reason for their struggles with a task, or when they attribute their struggles to a reason beyond their control, they won’t be motivated to do it.

How to help an employee out of this trap: Help the employee think clearly about the cause of their struggles with a task. Attribution errors are often to blame when employees seem to be finding excuses not to carry out a task (calling in sick, pleading overcommitment or “not enough time,” trying to foist the task on colleagues). Helping the employee identify exactly why the task seems insurmountable can help them move past such avoidance. If they identify a cause that’s out of their control (blaming other people, for example, or a flaw in themselves that can’t be fixed), suggest other causes that are under their control, such as the need to adopt a new strategy or to apply a greater level of planning.

With each of these four motivation traps, the trick is to think more comprehensively about what stops employees from initiating, persisting, and putting in mental effort. The research suggests that managers can do more to diagnose the motivation problems of employees. When motivation goes off the rails, identifying exactly which trap has ensnared your employees — and applying just the right targeted intervention — can get things moving again.

About The Authors :- Richard E. Clark is a professor emeritus of psychology and technology at the University of Southern California, where he is the co-director of the Center for Cognitive Technology. He’s also the founding CEO of Atlantic Training, Inc. in Los Angeles.

Bror Saxberg is the Vice President of Learning Science at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. He was previously the Chief Learning Officer at Kaplan, Inc. He earned an MD-PhD dual degree from Harvard Medical School and MIT.

Thanks to Richard E. Clark, Bror Saxberg / Harvard Business Review / HBR
https://hbr.org/2019/03/4-reasons-good-employees-lose-their-motivation?ab=hero-main-text

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How Being A Workaholic Differs From Working Long Hours

Hanna, a finance director at an international home care retailer, works long hours. She’s usually in the office from 9am to 5pm, but at home, when her three children go to sleep, she’ll work another four hours, not closing her laptop until midnight. She sometimes also works on weekends. But even though she works 60 to 65 hours per week, she told us that she can “switch off” when she needs to, and that she still feels energetic every day. She hasn’t had to worry about her health.

Michael, the director of strategy for an American insurance company, does not work as much as Hanna. His workdays usually start at 8am and finish no later than 6pm, and he often leaves work at 3pm on Fridays. But even though he works an average of 45 hours a week, and is single with no kids, he has a hard time “switching off” and unwinding from his job — he is constantly checking his email and worrying about work. A few months ago, at a routine health check, his doctor noted he had high LDL cholesterol, which raises his risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. He was prescribed medication to lower it.

We generally assume that working too much is bad for our health. But what exactly is unhealthy about this is unclear. Is it working long hours that increases our risk of developing health issues? Or is it something else, like Michael’s compulsive work mentality, that is harmful for health?

What Our Research Shows

We sought to unravel the difference between behavior (working long hours) and mentality (a compulsion to work, or what we call Workaholism). We conducted a study in 2010 at the Dutch subsidiary of an international financial consulting firm with over 3,500 employees. We asked employees to complete a survey and then sign up for a health screening conducted by medical staff. 763 employees completed both.

What Is Workaholism?

The term “workaholic” was coined in 1971 by the psychologist Wayne E. Oates, who referred to “an uncontrollable need to work incessantly” as an addiction. Workaholics are characterized by having an inner compulsive drive to work hard, thinking about work constantly, and feeling guilty and restless when they are not working. Workaholism often goes hand in hand with working long hours, but the two are distinct: it’s possible to work long hours without being obsessed with work, and it is possible to be obsessed with work but only work 35 hours a week or less.

The survey asked about participants’ workaholic tendencies (e.g., “I feel guilty when I am not working on something,” and “I put myself under pressure with self-imposed deadlines when I work”), their work skills, work motivation, and their work hours in an average week. It also asked if they experienced various psychosomatic health issues such as headaches and stomach problems. The health screenings gave us information about their various biomarkers (such as waist measurement, triglycerides, blood pressure, and cholesterol), which, when aggregated, are a reliable gauge for an employee’s risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes — what is referred to as Risk for Metabolic Syndrome (RMS). We also controlled for a host of factors such as gender, age, education, and family history of cardiovascular disease.

We found that work hours were not related to any health issues, while workaholism was. Specifically, employees who worked long hours (typically more than 40 hours a week), but who did not obsess about work, did not have increased levels of RMS and reported fewer health complaints than employees who demonstrated workaholism. We found that workaholics, whether or not they worked long hours, reported more health complaints and had increased risk for metabolic syndrome; they also reported a higher need for recovery, more sleep problems, more cynicism, more emotional exhaustion, and more depressive feelings than employees who merely worked long hours but did not have workaholic tendencies.

The experiences of Hanna and Michael, individuals whom we interviewed separately, outside of this study, align with these results. Hanna works long hours, but she is not mentally pre-occupied with work. When she finishes work for the night, she feels fulfilled and falls asleep easily. In the morning, she feels refreshed for a new workday. She told us, “I take my work very seriously while I’m working, but I forget about work the minute I decide I’ve done enough for the day.” Michael, on the other hand, has a compulsion to work hard and feels restless when he is not working. He continues to ruminate about his job and often finds it difficult to fall asleep and recharge before the next morning. When asked about his general stress levels, he mentioned that he “cannot remember the last time not feeling stressed or anxious about work.”

Unlike people who merely work long hours, workaholics struggle to psychologically detach from work. And we know that ongoing rumination often goes together with stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep problems, and it impedes recovery from work. Stress levels in workaholics are therefore often chronic, which leads to ongoing wear and tear on the body.

Here’s a quick explanation of why: To cope with stress, the body activates several systems (e.g., cardiovascular, neuroendocrine). So say you’re facing an important deadline. As you approach it, your stress hormones (e.g., cortisol), pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines (e.g., interleukin-6), and blood pressure would likely go up. But after the deadline, these would return to their original levels, known as the “set points.” When you’re working an excessive workload and continually pushing your system beyond its range, you may re-set your set points. Elevated blood pressure may become chronic, and cortisol levels stay elevated. When your biological systems keep working around elevated set points, you have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, and even death.

Does It Matter If You Love The Work?

Most workaholics are aware of their obsessive work habits, and friends and family will often warn them about the possible health risks. But a common defense is that they love their jobs. Linda, a personal injury lawyer whom we also interviewed separately from our study, readily admits to her work addiction but says she simply enjoys her work too much to change. Linda works for a medium-sized law firm in Canada and although her hours are exceptionally low for a lawyer (40 hours per week), she feels guilty when she is not working and often tries to come up with solutions for her clients off the job. As a result, she finds it difficult to fully engage in play with her five-year-old after work. She often experiences headaches and difficulty sleeping, as she ruminates about work and thinks up new ways of tackling work challenges. When talking to her husband and a trusted colleague about the ongoing headaches and sleep problems, they both urged her to visit the doctor — but she initially resisted. She told us, “There is really not much wrong with me, at least not physically. I just need more hours in the day.”

We wanted to see if enjoying the work mitigates the negative health effects of workaholism. Looking at the data from our study, we differentiated between workaholics who reported being highly engaged with their work — meaning they enjoyed their work, felt vigorous at work, and got easily absorbed in their work — and workaholics who reported low work engagement. We found that both types of workaholics reported more psychosomatic health complaints (e.g., headache, stomach problems) and mental health complaints (e.g., sleep problems, depressive feelings) than non-workaholics. However, non-engaged workaholics had higher RMS — a 4.2% higher risk — than engaged workaholics. (This number might seem small, but even a small increase can pose a serious health risk.)

This suggests that loving your work can mitigate some of the risk associated with obsessing over it. We also found that engaged workaholics reported having more resources at home and at work compared to non-engaged workaholics. Engaged workaholics reported receiving more social support (e.g., advice, information, appreciation), from their supervisor, co-workers, and their spouse, than their non-engaged counterparts. They also scored higher on communication skills, time management skills, and general work skills, and they reported much higher intrinsic motivation for work than non-engaged workaholics.

We think that this arsenal of resources may help engaged workaholics prevent initial health complaints from developing into more severe health risks. In Linda’s case, after listening to her husband’s concerns, she eventually consulted her doctor. The doctor did a general health check, and as Linda suspected, the results did not reveal any concerns in terms of physiological health. But her doctor referred her to a counselor to work on the sleep problems Linda mentioned during the check-up.

If we look at all of our examples, it’s clear that while Hanna, Michael, and Linda all work hard, the way they engage with work differs substantially, and hence, their health risk differs as well. Due to Hanna’s long work hours, her stress levels are high at times, but because they return to baseline levels, her stress is not chronic and she does not have the related mental or physical health risks. Michael has an obsessive work mentality, and he does not enjoy his work, which causes ongoing stress and frustration, frequent anxiety attacks and feelings of depression, and also elevated risk for cardiovascular disease. Linda has a similar compulsive work mentality, but she loves her job and reports having a supportive family. While she experiences some sleep issues and headaches, she does not have an elevated risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Two Key Messages — And Their Caveats

These stories and our research findings reveal two key messages: First, when it comes to effects on health, working long hours is not as bad as obsessing over work. But this warrants an important disclaimer: The employees in our sample worked a maximum of 65 hours per week, and therefore we do not know the health outcomes of working longer hours. It may be quite difficult to detach from work, engage in recovery activities, or get enough sleep if one works 70 hours per week or more. Still, it seems that more than hours, our thoughts and feelings about work impact our subjective well-being and health risks.

The second key message from our study is that workaholics who love their jobs are somewhat protected from the most severe health risks, and this may be because they feel that their work is worth all the hard work they put in. But this brings up another caveat: Although we found that engaged workaholics had lower physiological health risks (lower RMS) than non-engaged workaholics, they still reported more depressive feelings, sleep problems, various psycho-somatic health complaints, and a higher need for recovery than non-workaholics. These are all signs that well-being among workaholics, regardless of how much they love their job, can be impaired.

Avoiding The Negative Effects Of Workaholism

Our research suggests some potential solutions to help keep stress levels manageable and prevent health risks. The first step is to acknowledge when a relationship to work is unhealthy — when it feels out of control and is undermining outside relationships. The next step is to regain control over your work behavior. One way to do this is by setting clear rules for how many hours you will work each day. This can help you accept that there is a point at which you’ve done enough work for the day. If you have trouble “switching off,” you might want to stop working two or three hours before bed. Taking up enjoyable non-work activities, such as seeing friends, watching a movie, reading a book, or learning a new skill, can also help you psychologically detach from work.

It can also be useful to reflect on the reasons why you work excessively and compulsively. We found a striking difference in work motivation between engaged and non-engaged workaholics. Whereas engaged workaholics worked because they enjoyed their work or found their work meaningful (these are intrinsic motivators), non-engaged workaholics were more likely to work for extrinsic motivators such as money and status. Intrinsic motivation is associated with more optimism, effort, and persistence, whereas extrinsic motivation often instigates anxiety and undermines persistence, making failure more likely.

The proactive mentality that is characteristic of employees with intrinsic motivation may help them take action when they experience initial health complaints, whereas the anxiety and frustration that can accompany extrinsic motivation may make non-engaged workaholics more passive, such that they continue unhealthy work habits and eventually face substantial health risks. Thus, finding ways to promote intrinsic motivation in one’s work, whether through new projects or even a new job, may not only make you happier but also healthier.

Managers too can intervene by helping employees find intrinsic motivation; they can re-engage them in their work and provide more support. This can mean assigning employees challenging but feasible tasks, reducing red tape and other barriers, discussing their personal and professional growth, and providing them with ample resources to do their work, such as autonomy, feedback, and support. Managers can help hard workers develop stronger communication and time management skills, with tactics such as making a to-do-list each week, making a long-term goal list, differentiating between urgent and non-urgent tasks, and scheduling non-interrupted time for important tasks. Friends and family can also play a role by making sure that employees have emotional and tangible support at home.

Ultimately, the challenge for anyone is to identify a compulsive work mentality and prevent its consequences. Focusing on one’s engagement and ability to “switch off” will go a long way in helping employees feel happy at work and outside of it.

Thanks to By Nancy P. Rothbard, Lieke ten Brummelhuis / Harvard Business Review / GetPocket
https://hbr.org/2018/03/how-being-a-workaholic-differs-from-working-long-hours-and-why-that-matters-for-your-health

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Role Of Leadership In Strategy Implementation

In this age of constant turbulence, steering an organisation to success depends so much on how a leader crafts effective strategies and how he implements those strategies.

An organisation without a proper laid out and thought out strategy might end up operating like a ship without a rudder.

A strategic plan acts as a roadmap that directs the organisation towards one vision. A strategic plan helps in coordinating all the activities of an organization and energizes the staff to work towards one goal.

Research has proven that there is a link between success in strategy implementation and active leadership involvement in strategy formulation and its subsequent implementation.
There are different views on the need for strategic planning.

Other academics argue that planning limits business leaders from being very responsive to the changing environment whereas others advocate strategic planning on the basis that it helps in guiding the organisation towards one goal by operating in a coordinated way.

It has however been said that a failure to plan is planning to fail. So there is a place for proper strategic planning be it written or unwritten and a leader plays a very crucial role in ensuring that a company formulates and implements its strategy to ensure the success of the organization.

In most instances formulating a strategy is fairly easy but successfully implementing it throughout an organization is more difficult.

It is therefore very important that senior executives put more effort in ensuring that the strategy is properly implemented.

It demands that a leader takes an active part in seeing the successful implementation of a strategy.

Strategy implementation is an area that is now highly valued by many organizations because failure to implement a strategy will result in the failure of a well-crafted strategy.

The success of a strategy starts right from the inception-at the crafting of the strategy itself. Leaders need to be involved in crafting a clear vision for change in the organization.

When everyone knows what the organization stands for, its mission and what its vision or desired future state is, it makes it easier for everyone to pull in one direction, motivated and with the determination to achieve.

A clear vision with clearly articulated strategic initiatives should be communicated to management and the rest of staff.

The mode of communication should ensure that listeners understand the vision and are able to put it into action.

Everyone should be aware of what the organization intends to do.

Different ways of communicating should be used ranging from meetings, which is the most frequently used communication tool to use, use of memos, public address and circulars.

Leaders should use layman’s language that ensures everyone understands the message clearly.

As the leader communicates his vision he should make use of his interpersonal, technical, motivational, teambuilding and other leadership skills and abilities to create the need and urgency for change which will enhance successful strategy implementation.

A leader should properly delegate responsibilities to his managers for a smooth implementation of an organisation’s strategy.

The manager who is given that responsibility to implement part of the strategy should be able to pick out the people and teams best able to move the project forward.

Leading the implementation requires a good dedicated team to work with that has a mix of skills and so a manager should be able to select an appropriate team.

Whichever manager a leader picks and delegates strategic implementation responsibilities, that manager should at least be one who is enthusiastic with what he is doing, imaginative and people-oriented.

You need to get goal getters; managers with an ambition to achieve. As a leader you should prioritise your objectives, and then put resources at the managers’ disposal.

You cannot delegate responsibilities without at the same time equipping the manager with the necessary resources to put into effect the strategy.

Strategic implementation requires that all departments that are affected by the strategy participate in the implementation.

The organization’s leadership needs to identify which those departments and give the necessary responsibilities to the managers.

The appointed managers should then work with their teams and will be accountable in ensuring that the implementation team meets its timetable for getting the new project or program in place.

It’s very critical that the leader is visible and participates in the strategic implementation.

He should observe and ask employees questions to establish if they really understand what they are doing and its impact on the organisation.

The managers assigned with strategy implementation responsibilities should be asked to submit weekly or regular progress updates.

This will ensure that the leader is kept abreast with any challenges that might arise and so will be able to handle them expeditiously.

Strategy implementation requires that you be flexible so that if something does not work well in the way you have designed it, then you and your team needs to find other avenues that work better.

It is advisable that you document the process carefully so that you and your team can refer to how you handled the process for future ventures.

A leader should lead by example because your attitude will prove contagious for the staff.

If you put your all into the project and you are energetic and willing to give your best to the organisation, others will follow suit.

Be a consistent role model who is dedicated to the task and is there to assist the whole team.

Employees will want to emulate such behaviour. You need to create a culture of encouraging your team and also where you praise hard working creativity and innovativeness in performing certain tasks.

This will motivate your staff into ensuring that the implementation process is a resounding success.  Stewart Jakarasi is a business & financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy and performance management.

Thanks to The Post
https://www.thepost.co.ls/insight/role-of-leadership-in-strategy-implementation/

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

8 Sure Signs That Your Co-Workers Are Toxic

Sometimes The Employees Who Do The Most Damage Are Hiding In Plain Sight.

Are your coworkers toxic? (Do they make your workplace toxic?) Oddly enough, sometimes it isn't the truly terrible employees who cause the real problems. They're easy to spot -- and deal with.

Sometimes the real problems are caused by employees who appear to be doing a satisfactory job... but are actually slowly destroying the morale, attitude, and performance of other employees.

Here's how to tell if one or more of your coworkers are toxic:

1. They Lead The Meeting After The Meeting.

You have a meeting. Issues are raised. Concerns are shared. Decisions are made. Everyone in attendance fully support those decisions. Things are going to happen.

Then someone holds the "meeting after the meeting." Now she talks about issues she didn't share earlier with the group. Now he disagrees with the decisions made.

And sometimes they even say to their teams, "Look, I think this is a terrible idea, but we've been told to do it, so I guess we need to give it a shot."

And now, what was going to happen never will. Waiting until after a meeting to say, "I'm not going to support that," is like saying, "I'll agree to anything, but that doesn't mean I'll actually do it. I'll even work against it."

Those people need to work somewhere else.

2. They Act As If They've Already Paid Their Dues.

An employee did great things last year, last month, or even yesterday. You're appreciative. You're grateful.

Still, today is a new day. Dues aren't paid. Dues get paid. The only real measure of any employee's value is the tangible contribution he or she makes on a daily basis.

Saying, "I've paid my dues," is like saying, "I no longer need to work as hard." And suddenly, before you know it, other employees start to feel they've earned the right to coast too.

3. They Like To Say, "Yeah, But That's Not My Job."

The smaller the company, the more important it is that employees think on their feet, adapt quickly to shifting priorities, and do whatever it takes, regardless of role or position, to get things done.

Even if that means a manager has to help load a truck or a machinist needs to clean up a solvent spill; or the accounting staff needs to hit the shop floor to help complete a rush order; or a CEO needs to man a customer service line during a product crisis. (You get the idea.)

Any task an employee is asked to do -- as long as it isn't unethical, immoral, or illegal, and it's "below" his or her current position -- is a task an employee should be willing to do. (Great employees notice problems and jump in without being asked.)

Saying, "It's not my job," says, "I care only about me." That attitude quickly destroys overall performance because it quickly turns what might have been a cohesive team into a dysfunctional group of individuals.

4. They Think Experience Is A Tangible Commodity. 

Experience is definitely important, but experience that doesn't translate into better skills, better performance, and greater achievement is worthless. Experience that just "is" is a waste.

Example: A colleague once said to younger supervisors, "My role is to be a resource." Great, but then he sat in his office all day waiting for us to come by so he could dispense his pearls of wisdom. Of course, none of us did stop by--we were all busy thinking, "I respect your experience, but I wish your role was to do your job."

How many years you've put in pales in comparison with how many things you've done.

Saying, "I have more experience," is like saying, "I don't need to justify my decisions or actions." Experience (or position) should never win an argument. Wisdom, logic, and judgment should always win--regardless of in whom those qualities are found.

5. They Love Gossip.

Before a meeting, some of us were talking about supervisors in another department when our new boss looked up and said, "Stop. From now on we will never say anything bad about anyone unless they are actually in the room. Period."

Until then, I never thought of gossip as a part of a company's culture--gossip just was. We all did it. And it sucked--especially because being the focus of gossip sucked. (And in time, I realized people who gossip suck too.)

If an employee has talked to more than one person about something Martha is doing, wouldn't everyone be better off if he stepped up and actually talked to Martha about it? And if it's "not his place" to talk to Martha, it's definitely not his place to talk about Martha.

Saying, "Did you hear what he did?" is like saying, "I have nothing better to do than talk about other people."

Not only do employees who create a culture of gossip waste time better spent on productive conversations, but they cause other people to respect their co-workers a little less -- and anything that diminishes the dignity or respect of any employee should never be tolerated.

6. They Use Peer Pressure To Hold Other People Back.

The new employee works hard. She works long hours. She's hitting targets and exceeding expectations. She rocks. And she eventually hears, from a more "experienced" employee, "You're working too hard and making the rest of us look bad."

Where comparisons are concerned, a great employee doesn't compare herself with others--she compares herself with herself. She wants to "win" that comparison by improving and doing better today than she did yesterday.

Poor employees don't want to do more; they want others to do less. They don't want to win. They just want others to make sure they don't lose.

Saying, "You're working too hard," is like saying, "No one should work hard, because Idon't want to work hard." And pretty soon very few people do--and the ones who keep trying get shunned for a quality you need every employee to possess.

7. They're Quick To Grab The Glory.

OK, maybe he did do nearly all the work. Maybe he did overcome almost every obstacle. Maybe, without him, that high-performance team would have been anything but.

But probably not. Nothing important is ever accomplished alone, even if some people love to act like it.

A good employee and good team player shares the glory. He credits others. He praises. He appreciates. He lets others shine. That's especially true for an employee in a leadership position--he celebrates the accomplishments of others secure in the knowledge that their success reflects well on him, too.

Saying, "I did all the work," or "It was all my idea," is like saying, "The world revolves around me, and I need everyone to know it." And even if other people don't adopt the same philosophy, they resent having to fight for recognition that is rightfully theirs.

8. And They're Even Quicker To Throw Others Under The Bus.

A vendor complains. A customer feels shortchanged. A co-worker gets mad. No matter what has happened, it's someone else's fault.

Sometimes, whatever the issue and regardless of who is actually at fault, some people step in and take the hit. They willingly accept the criticism or abuse, because they know they can handle it (and they know that maybe the person actually at fault cannot).

Few acts are more selfless than taking the undeserved hit. And few acts better cement a relationship. Few acts are more selfish than saying, "It wasn't me," especially when, at least in part, it was.

Saying, "You'll have to talk to Martha," is like saying, "We're not all in this together." At the best companies, everyone is in it together.

Thanks to Jeff Haden ... Contributing Editor, Inc. / Inc
https://www.inc.com/magazine/201904/jeff-bercovici/sila-nanotechnologies-silicon-lithium-ion-battery.html

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