Empowering Your Team & Retaining Talent

Keeping a job for a lifetime at the same company is no longer a concern for employees. Nowadays, most employees are looking to explore, to evolve professionally, to grow personally and do not depend on one company to do so. 

With the amount of layoffs in the last generation, employees have learnt to mistrust leaders and corporations. They no longer feel empowered, committed, engaged, aligned with their organization or no longer think that leaders have their best interest at heart.

However, good employees are needed to reach company goals. Leaders should be concerned when several good employees leave in a matter of weeks, when employees start performing poorly, act disengaged, take too many sick leaves, skip meetings, arrive late, are unmotivated, are overworked, unproductive or underpaid.

Wondering what are the strategies and tactics to empower your team, to maintain a trust climate, increase employee alignment and retain talent?

Empowering Your Team & Retaining Talent

What is employee empowerment?

Employee empowerment is a loosely used term.

It mostly designates the way people feel about themselves at work, the ease with which they are able to use their strengths, to freely demonstrate their talents, to achieve their purpose, to find meaning and satisfaction in their jobs.

It also stems from their ability to feel productive, confident and in control in the workplace.

Furthermore, employee empowerment is a leadership style. Leaders must feel empowered in order to empower. Indeed, they must be able to maintain self-confidence, to manage their time, to gain influence, to effectively communicate, to listen, to reach their goals and to be open to learn.

In addition, an empowered employee doesn’t need permission to do his or her work, to create an appropriate process, to control the outcomes of his or her work, to develop a personal scope.

On the other hand, employees who are disempowered don’t openly critique the organization, don’t make open suggestions, don’t challenge the status quo, don’t know what is expected of them, and are often blindsided. When employees don’t feel empowered, they tend to leave.

What are the challenges of employee empowerment?

Deciding to quit is a long process that can be triggered by various traumatic, memorable and emotional events:

  • Lack of empowerment, of recognition, validation or compensation.
  • Lack of career opportunities and possibilities of growth.
  • Lack of challenge. This creates boredom, a need for a career change and a need for more responsibility.
  • Lack of purpose. In this case, employees feel like they are not operating at their maximum potential, that their strengths are not properly used, that their jobs don’t have meaning and don’t bring them satisfactionWork constitutes an important part of your life. Therefore, making it meaningful and empowering is necessary.
  • Career disillusionment. Employees feel like their career path is not as they believed it to be.
  • Workplace toxicity and leader’s unethical behavior. Workplace toxicity comes from the fact that core values and trust have not been instilled. This can result in being influenced, in spreading toxic behavior, in feelings of being marginalized or harassed.
  • Aggressive office politics.
  • Poor communication with higher-ups.
  • Work-life imbalance and lack of flexible hours.
  • Change in personal situation (health, family, …).
  • New sudden career opportunities.

Should you hold back employees who want to leave?

Retaining young employees is the most difficult because they need more care, more validation and more training.

To increase employee engagement and to compete for talents, most organizations resort to quick fixes that provide short them results. It is essential to:

  • Accept that employees are going to leave no matter what.
  • Accept that employees who are leaving are sure about their decision.
  • Accept that the decision to leave is potentially connected to your behavior, to the company’s policy and culture.
  • Hire appropriate employees for the job in the first place by directly asking them about their needs.
  • Conduct an employee exit interview and ask your employees why they want to leave. Doing so will help you fix recurring problems within the organization and reduce employee turnover.

How to empower employees and prevent them from leaving?

To decrease employee turnover, leaders must change their mindset and rethink the company culture. Empowerment can lead to higher levels of commitment, innovation, motivation, more productivity and better relationships.

  • Determine your core values. Have enough integrity to share and demonstrate your values.
  • Be an example, demonstrate the benefits of empowerment, act ethically and a teacher to your team.
  • Assess and improve your communication style.
  • Be fair at all times and don’t pick favorites.
  • Learn to cope with change. Don’t expect immediate change and the change you envisioned.
  • Build an environment that promotes inclusiveness and unity. For example, remove the traditional organizational structures to improve communication among workers.
  • Value your employees and their expertise.
  • Listen to your employees. Ask them for advice, let them speak freely and truly consider their responses.
  • Share your vision and your story with your team in order to motivate them towards a unique goal and to check if they align with it.
  • Set high but achievable expectations for your team. Let them know about it.
  • Clearly define everyone’s activities so they don’t step on other people’s toes.
  • Help your employees identify their purpose, even if their calling is not in the organization. It would be more rewarding for them and more effective for you to remove them from the team and give them some indication of an ideal career path.
  • Increase your employees awareness. Share information about organizational policies, processes, structures, standards, decisions.
  • Involve your employees in the decision-making process
  • Learn to delegate. There is nothing more frustrating than a leader who micromanages, who needs to approve every stage of the process, who doesn’t think that their team can have the workload without them.
  • Encourage people to take initiative and to solve their own problems.
  • Give your employees autonomy and more ownership of their work. Give them the freedom to reach the company’s objectives.
  • Allow people to take risks and to make mistakes.
  • Increase accountability and avoid the blame game at all cost, especially when something goes wrong.
  • Recognize, reward your employees and show appreciation for the work that your team puts in. Help them understand that their contributions at work have a real impact.
  • Request and provide feedback often. Give credit when it is due, provide coaching and training.
  • Have an open door policy, if possible.
  • Help your employees grow professionally and personally. Allow them to succeed and be the best. Make them look good and they will reward you with good work
  • Increase benefits, avoid overwork, allow flexible hours and leaves of absence.

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.

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The Importance Of Effectively Improving Your Communication Skills

Leaders receive a multitude of information on a daily basis. They make hard decisions every day and expect that their employees will directly understand and precisely apply them.

Decisions become erroneous when leader fail to listen. The execution process falls short when leaders fail to communicate and clarify their vision. Subsequently, they also fail to solve problems and reach their goals.

Wondering how to hone your communication skills and create a better working environment? 

The Importance Of Effectively Improving Your Communication Skills

What is communication?

Communication is a complex and dynamic process, used to collect information. It is also a form of human interaction that always involves at least 2 people, that depends on the character of the people involved and that relies on trust.

While communicating, we receive and/or emit information through silence, facial expressions, writing, reading, talking or listening. We use these skills practically everywhere at work, for every situations.

In addition, a noisy environment, stereotypes, cultural differences, lexical differences, company culture are barriers to communication. These barriers distort what is being said and what is being received. However, being aware if them is the first step to reprogramming communication.

Why is it important?

Communication skill is the ability to effectively interact with people to influence, to convince, to mobilize people towards one goal, to unify teams.

Developing communication skills will bring success at every level, help convey a better understanding of your standards and requirements, build positive healthy relationships, avoid or work through conflicts.

Great communication skills will improve your leadership credibility, your self-confidence, your relationships with others, your feelings of belonging and will decrease your stress level. They will also drive change and increase team motivation.

Furthermore, poor communication skills can prevent you from understanding your coworkers, getting hired or getting promoted, saving time or sharing request in meetings. communication failure leads to resentment.

How to improve your communication skills?

At work, some people struggle to share their thoughts, ideas. To improve your communication skills and get ahead at work:

  1. Be self-aware and stay authentic to your principles.
  2. Demonstrate empathy. Empathy will allow you to reach people, to perceive their feelings and perspectives, to build a team that you understand. For example, start by learning your employee’s name to show that you care.
  3. Demonstrate that you can be trusted by keeping secrets, by following through on promises and commitments, by being consistent, and by not withholding useful information
  4. Even though you don’t believe it, you are a brand and must treat yourself as such. You must learn to present, to market yourself, to quantify and value your assets.
  5. Find a purpose for every interaction. Your purpose gives your communication direction.
  6. Remember that everyone is different and won’t communicate the way you do.
  7. Always think win-win. According to Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, it is better to seek mutual benefits in all human interactions, believe that life is a cooperation and not a competition.
  8. Understand the corporate culture to adapt your communication style. Your communication style will influence the way others react to you. Numerous communication styles have been developed throughout the years and most often, have been equated to leadership style. Needless to say, everyone doesn’t communicate the same way.
  9. Bear in mind that appearances are important, even detrimental to success. Maintain professional decorum at all times, dress appropriately, groom yourself, be hygienic, keep your composure according to the company’s culture.
  10. Take care of your own body language by standing straight, by eliminating over the top behavior, standing still, staying focused on your interlocutor, maintaining eye contact and restraining your facial expression.
  11. Actively listen and speak less. While listening, monitor body language, evaluate the emotional intensity of the conversation, stay open-minded, and choose your words carefully not to offend. This also means that you don’t need to emit judgement during the process, that you must avoid listening to reply or to seek ulterior motives in someone, and that you must allow people to talk without interruption, even if I disagree with them.
  12. When writing and speaking, keep it succinct, specific, clear, coherent and compelling for others. Avoid using ambiguous words.
  13. Treat people as you want to be treated. Stay polite and treat people with the respect that they deserve and with regards to their culture.
  14. Have an open door policy and be approachable.
  15. Analyze your audience. Take time and analyze the full situation and pay attention to non verbal communication.
  16. When in conversation, observe what is being said and paraphrase to confirm that you have properly understood, ask probing questions to get all the information and avoid daydreaming, tuning out or jumping to conclusions. If nervous, introverted or shy, practice your conversations before.
  17. Avoid using stereotypes to categorize someone or the info that they share.
  18. Use humor to defuse negative situations to elevate any subject, to put your audience at ease. Using humor is risky but is worth-while.
  19. Reward positive behavior and hold people accountable for negative behavior.

Last Words Of Advice!

To effectively improve communication, there are also a few unspoken rules to follow. One must avoid:

  • Discounting information on the account of discrediting the source.
  • Comparing the information you are getting with your own experience.
  • Calling attention to yourself or your situation.
  • Gossiping, openly criticizing or making fun of others and their interests. Find solutions and help resolve problem instead of creating them.
  • Noisy environment to have conversations.
  • Respect silence. Silence is golden in some cultures.
  1. Finally, don’t take anything personal.

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.

The Importance Of Resilience In Leadership

Adversity comes from various sources at work: people, change, rumors, lies, conflicts, differences in values or beliefs, decisions taken beyond your control.

When feeling challenged or blocked, people react in different manner (passivity, hopelessness, anger, blame shifting, avoidance, etc …).

Hoping that life or work is made of only happy, positive moments is an illusion. If you are submerged with setbacks, learn to discreetly deal with them and with the emotions that they bring.

Wondering how to build up your resilience and face adversity head on?

Resilience In Leadership

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to function under pressure, to skillfully master stressful situations.

In addition, resilience is a mindset that focuses on the essentials and your personal growth. In fact, it changes your perspective on a tough situations, shifts the focus from our self to a goal or a purpose, and removes the pressures of running after success.

That being said, resilient leaders demonstrate similar behaviors, beliefs and values in challenging times. Resilient leaders:

  • Find opportunity in failure. Resilient leaders are unafraid to fail or to succeed. Furthermore, they don’t stay down when they have been put down.
  • Are able to draw strength from within and to survive ridicule, undermining, alienation, manipulation and what people say and think about you. They have a deep understanding of self and belive that they cannot be moved no matter the circumstances.
  • Face obstacles head on because they understand that pain is inevitable in life. They are pioneers, the firsts tp experience everything and to face obstacles before everyone.
  • Have faith that there is always a solution and that they will find a way. They remain optimistic in adversity, believe that it is just a phase of life and that they can create a positive outcome out of any situation.
  • Are accountable for their actions, don’t shift blame, don’t complain uselessly or make excuses for themselves. 
  • Are able to respond to the demands placed upon them.
  • Effectively manage time.
  • Set high standards for themselves.
  • Are willing to go through uncomfortable situations to get where they are going and understand that these situations are part of life.
  • Are selective of the people they surround themselves with and the people they look up to.
  • Have strong coping mechanisms.
  • Know that you are not the only one facing adversity.
  • Welcome change.

What are the benefits of resilience in leadership?

Moreover, resilience will determine how far you will go in your career or in life. On the long run, in the workplace, it helps you grow as a person, it increases job satisfaction, job performance, success and moral.

It is notorious that during challenging times, you become stronger, that you build up your character and discover your authentic self. Furthermore, you learn from your failures, you learn to do the right thing in wrong situations, even when nobody is looking.

How to build and boost personal resilience?

To measure resilience, it is important to look at a leader’s behavior, emotional response during challenging times. To build up your resilience and the resilience of your team:

  1. Recognize that you are only human and that you will make mistakes. Being human is not an excuse for purposefully making mistakes or for creating setbacks for yourself or for others.
  2. Be self-aware, self-efficient, and adaptable to any situations. This step is detrimental to identify your stressors and anticipate your reaction.
  3. Realize that everyone faces adversity and that behind every obstacle lies an opportunity.
  4. Change your perspective and see adversity as a challenge.
  5. Share positive experiences and values with people around you.
  6. Discern the essential from the rest. Then, commit to these essentials. If you haven’t committed to your essentials, trials will seem insurmountable.
  7. Invest your time and energy rightfully and purposefully. Make sure you persist and put your energy behind the right goals.
  8. Discipline yourself and your emotions to be able to work under pressure.
  9. Accept that there will be things that you cannot control.
  10. Take care of your mental health and find ways to evacuate the effect of negativity.
  11. Avoid taking setbacks or failures personally.
  12. Reinforce your coping mechanisms, find strong people to support you and seek a sounding board who can bring new perspectives on an issue.
  13. If all fails, turn over a new leaf.

How to build and boost resilience in your team?

Team members are always looking for reassurance. When they don’t have it, they monitor leaders behavior and can possibly start false rumors. To reassure them:

  1. Remember that your team observe you and rely on you the most. Therefore, demonstrate the behavior required for success and for overcoming adversity.
  2. Deal with employees that have made mistakes quickly, before they seem acceptable, and with a cool head. When emotions are high, it becomes difficult to think straight, to make the right decisions, and to behave professionally.
  3. Help your team identify the origin of the issue, different strategies for improvement, for the problem-solving process.
  4. Be as transparent as possible and let them understand the difficulty of the situations.
  5. Treat people with respect and not as commodities. For example, try listening to their concerns without emitting judgement.
  6. Provide trainings to your team and allow them t learn skills such as goal-setting, conflict resolution or decision-making and apply them with confidence.
  7. Provide tools to measure progress and to control the damage done to ensure that what brought up the problem does not recur.
  8. Congratulate them, reward them on successes.
  9. Avoid punishing or reminding people of their past mistakes.

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.

The Importance Of Celebrating Success

In the workplace, as leaders, we mostly focus on results, performance and profits. We jump from project to project without taking the time to appreciate our achievements and the efforts provided by our teams.

However, even though we haven’t met our milestones, it is also important to build relationships and keep our team satisfied with their jobs, content with their lives.

Wondering how to celebrate success in the workplace?

The Importance Of Celebrating Success

Acknowledging personal and organizational success allows leaders to concentrate on the positive instead of the negative, to break the routine, to renew their mindset. Employees well-being is subsequently increased, company culture and values are reinforced.

Furthermore, praising employees from time to time allows leaders to give positive or negative feedback without followers feeling offended, criticized or taken for granted.

Finally, celebrating success brings team closer together. Celebrating success unifies the team and reminds them that the company they are working for is in fact successful.

How to effectively celebrate success?

Recognition brings job satisfaction and inner fulfillment. In order to focus on the positive and celebrate success, you must:

  • Practice gratitude early in the morning when they wake up. An attitude of gratitude will help you create a reserve of positive energy, resist challenging situations and run across the finish line. Above all, practicing gratitude allows you to show gratitude towards someone else.
  • Be empathetic, reinforce and build a sense of achievement within yourself to increase your own self-confidence before instilling it in others. Leaders have to focus more on successes than failures.
  • Build strong relationships with your employees. Appreciate your employees and recognize the hard work. Appreciating success means increasing employees morale, dedication, self-esteem, self-respect, values, alignment, engagement, and reduce employee turnover.
  • Take pride in your team’s success and don’t take them for granted. That will certainly boost your team confidence and value.
  • Know your employee cultural background, behaviors, personalities, preferences so you can congratulate them accordingly and Adapt your incentives and rewards. For example, don’t offer alcoholic beverages to someone who doesn’t drink.
  • Share success stories. Success stories are impactful, inspirational and motivational, helps you make important decisions on similar issues, set goals for other people, and create an exemplary roadmap.
  • Let your achievements sink in. Then, take a moment to pat yourself on the back and keep it moving. Don’t allow celebrating success to sabotage your results.
  • Write down your achievements (in a journal for example) and display it where you can see it.
  • Call your closest friends and family. Share your success with people who genuinely care about you and who are happy to see you progress in life.
  • Decide the milestone to which you want to celebrate. Set personal goals, define a mission statement, measure and promote progress, celebrate milestones and landmarks. This will help you know what to celebrate to and when to celebrate.
  • Create success boards to keep your achievements in mind and to keep pushing through.
  • Order food, sweets and display them in the office kitchen for example.
  • Treat yourself by buying yourself a gift.
  • Give out bonuses and raises.
  • Reward innovative ideas and reward your team with fun activities, extra holidays and adapt them to the crowd.
  • Send out handwritten thank you notes and thank you emails. You can also directly thank your employees. The way you proceed will depend on their personalities and preferences.
  • Give positive and informal feedback and give credit where credit is due.
  • Observe the energy employee put into their work, pay attention to their talents and passions, don’t only look at performance and results and place them in the right positions.

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni defines the five dysfunctions of a team to avoid in order to be successful. He teaches us how to build a team as a leader and how to effectively be part of one.

What is a team?

For Lencioni, a team is a “relatively small number of people (anywhere from three to twelve) that shares common goals as well as the rewards and responsibilities for achieving them. Team members readily set aside their individual or personal needs for the greater good of the group.”

Why build a team?

Patrick Lencioni believes in team work and that it is the ultimate competitive advantage in a company. Effective team work being easy to attain but hard to measure, he judges effective team work by measuring its performance, its results, by its capacity to overcome obstacles and the five dysfunctions model (seen below).

Five dysfunctions of a team Patrick Lencioni.

Overcoming Dysfunction #1

Trust is an uncommon trait in life, is the most important factor in team survivals, is rare and is generally hard to instill. Being a trustful and trustworthy designates a person unafraid to be open, candid, transparent, willing to expose their weaknesses, and admit their failures.

Because of human preservation instincts, because people wear masks to protect themselves and their true feelings, being vulnerable is uncommon and unnatural. People don’t find rewarding to take such risks, to put themselves in harm’s way for other people, for an organization.

Furthermore, lack of trust is a destroyer of team work, multiplies hypocrisy, causes the team to watch their every move, monitor their every word. To overcome this dysfunction, Lencioni suggests that:

  • Building trust takes time but is not impossible.
  • Team members take various personality assessment tests, like the Myers Briggs test, before sharing their story.
  • Team members open up so that everyone can judge them fairer, understand the person that they are today, not expecting that they reveal their darkest secrets or that they get emotional.
  • Leaders create a safe space for their team to speak. Team members generally look to their leaders to show them how to build trust. Leaders have to first put themselves out there without knowing that their behavior will be reciprocated, respected or rewarded.
  • Maintain the bounding experience and pursue the relationships built.

Overcoming Dysfunction #2

In addition to overcoming trust issues, teams must learn to handle conflicts. Conflicts don’t necessarily have to be feuds, quarrels or arguments. Conflicts can also be healthy debates that lead the team to a solution, discussions where people are listening and seriously considering other people points of view. Needless to say, without trust, the debate will easily become a contest.

Conflict is inevitable but must not be avoided. It is either constructive or destructive, and anywhere along that spectrum. It has the benefit to push people out of their emotional comfort zone.

To overcome dysfunction #2, Lencioni proposes to:

  • Assess each and everyone conflict profile before hand. Indeed, everybody handles conflict differently. Therefore, it is essential that everybody knows the way they react and interact during conflict, in order to adjust their behavior in the future.
  • Establish a conflict norm for the team. Conflict norming requires laying down rules of engagement, depicting how to team members should engage with one another, and which behaviors are acceptable.
  • The leader that sets the tone by applying the rules, adapting them to the team members and holding them accountable to the rules.
  • The leader has to moderate conflict, especially in meetings, push the quiet ones out of their comfort zone and temper the aggressive ones. Lack of conflict leads to boring meetings, bad decisions, lack of clarity.

Overcoming Dysfunction #3

A lack of commitment is the third dysfunction to be overcome by teams. Commitment lies in fact that the team buys in a decision whether or not they agree with it. To create clarity and alignment, to avoid assumptions:

  • Leaders must extract every unapologetic ideas from their team. Knowing that all aspects of a situation have been studied, that all opinions have been expressed and considered, team members are more likely to commit to the leader’s decision.
  • Leaders must share their principles, missions, values, goals, purpose and their behavioral expectations, generate consistent business policies.

Overcoming Dysfunction #4

All members of the team, including the team leader, must remain accountable for their actions. They must remind each other of their respectful responsibility, of their behaviors, standards, results and performance. Otherwise, they gradually lose respect for each other, lose morale.

Leaders have to be able to receive critical feedback around their behavior and performance in order to give feedback. To encourage a culture of peer-to-peer accountability, Lencioni suggests that teams must openly:

  • identify the most important behavioral characteristics that contributes to the strength of the team and the ones that weakens it of everyone.
  • know everyone’s area of expertise.
  • in meetings, everyone should verbalize their list of priorities and measure their progress.

Overcoming Dysfunction #5

Self-orientated distractions, individualization are also destroyers of teams. To address this last dysfunction, there is no need to have completely overcome the four previous dysfunctions.

Focusing on collective results implies that team members are not self-interested and not only looking out for number one.

Results are what measure team success and keeps people focused on the priorities. Teams must commit early and openly to their expected results, keep a scoreboard and measure the progress at all times.

Reviews

In Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni shows leaders how to build and optimize their team through practical examples, gradual exercises and valid  assessments such as the Myers Briggs assessment tests.

Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is very insightful and dedicated to toxic environments, to self-disciplined, thoughtful leaders. In order for them to be successful, Lencioni recommends that team members become:

  • More vulnerable with each other, without being touchy-feely or emotional, in order to be successful and to understand each other. It is always difficult to share information about yourself in the workplace because there is always room for manipulation and personal attacks. However, if the exercise succeeds the team is fit to understand the decisions made and actions taken.
  • Masterful at conflicts. This requires that team members assess their strengths and weaknesses, be disciplined enough to control their emotions, be active listeners and seek understanding of others.
  • Committed to the task and to the organization. Creating employee alignment and engagement depends on the leader’s vision and mission statement.
  • Accountable for their actions and behaviors.
  • Focused on results.

Each characteristic can be worked on simultaneously. Of course, the leader has to be the facilitator as well and all expected behaviors have to be modeled on the leader.

After analyzing the 5 different dysfunctions that destroys teams, Lencioni answers additional questions that he received from clients, consultants and executives, replies to the objections of some participants, demonstrates the obstacles to avoid, the ways to convince skeptical leaders, engage uncomfortable people.

At last, Lencioni provides us with tools, questionnaires, team building exercises, road maps, steps to take in order to start and maintain the team building process.

Ratings 4/5

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Patrick Lencioni

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Patrick Lencioni

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Patrick Lencioni is a speaker, consultant, founder and president of The Table Group. Patrick Lencioni is also the author of Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.