Ten Fresh Ideas for Appreciating Your Team

Ten Fresh Ideas for Appreciating Your Team

It has always been clear to great leaders that an organization’s people are its most important asset. However, as of late, this realization is expanding even to less enlightened leadership teams, as key talent is leaving in droves for greener pastures.

Dubbed “the great resignation”, resignations peaked in April of 2021, and have remained abnormally high, with 10.9 million open jobs in July 2021, per the Harvard Business Review. Resignations for employees between 30 and 45 years old increased more than 20% between 2020 and 2021, and the increase is highest in tech and health care. Unfortunately, it does not appear the end is near: according to Microsoft, over 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer this year.


Why is Talent Leaving?

According to Manila Recruitment, 50% of over 7,000 surveyed employees left their job because of their manager. 82% of workers said that lack of recognition leads them to consider switching employees.

More generally speaking, an employee may look elsewhere for opportunities due to lack of strong relationships in the office, lack of flexibility in the workplace or too heavy of a workload.

In today’s market, if you aren’t focused on retaining your top performers, you will lose them to competition. Remote job postings have made the talent pool global, and the best performers in every industry are now available to organizations worldwide. Thus, if your top employee has an interest in working elsewhere, they’ll likely be able to find a taker.

There are many ways to increase engagement and retention, most of which start with listening to your team. However, in this article, we’ll focus on showing appreciation. As discussed, the majority of employees leave their job because of their manager, rather than because of their job. To be the manager that an employee stays for, you must make it clear to your team that they are appreciated.


Tactic One: Ask How

Ask your employees how they want to be recognized. Remember that each member of your team is an individual with different preferences. Make an effort to show appreciation to each person how they want to receive it.


Tactic Two: Build the Culture

Create a culture of recognition. Provide ample opportunities for your team to provide recognition to each other in team meetings, team chats and over email.


Tactic Three: Put it in Writing

Write a thank you note. Even those individuals who shy away from the spotlight will appreciate receiving a personal thank you note that shows you appreciated their efforts on a particular initiative.


Tactic Four: Throw a Party

Have a team celebration or outing. If your team reaches an important milestone, be sure it doesn’t go unnoticed. Take them out to lunch or bring in pizza – and connect it to the hard work that they did for the organization.


Tactic Five: Make it Public

Celebrate on social media. Your team’s big wins should be made public whenever appropriate – and the team members that made them possibly deserve to be part of the post.


Tactic Six: Engage Leadership

Implement regular Skip Level Meetings – either broadly, or specifically for your highest
performers. Studies show that individuals who have more time with their skip level managers are generally more engaged and likely to feel valued in an organization.


Tactic Seven: Give a Recommendation

If you have an employee who consistently goes above and beyond, let them (and their network) know via their LinkedIn profile. This will not only help them now, but also in their future.


Tactic Eight: Give Regular Feedback

Give feedback regularly during 1:1s. Creating a culture of feedback, both positive and negative, shows your employees that you are engaged in their performance and development. Positive feedback will help them to feel recognized and appreciated, while constructive feedback will help them to develop and learn. Providing a combination of both will help them to recognize that you have their best interests in mind.


Tactic Nine: Incentivize Peer Feedback

In concert with the culture of feedback described in tactic eight, ensure that employees feel comfortable giving recognition and feedback to their peers. Consider a program that encourages employees to publicly recognize one peer who has gone above and beyond in your next company-wide meeting. At the following meeting, that employee is tasked with recognizing someone else. (Bonus tip: Adding an incentive for those recognized can help!)


Tactic Ten: Compensate Appropriately

Ensure financial benefits are provided when possible and appropriate. Obviously, you can’t give every employee a raise each time they perform well. However, it is important that you notice your top performers, and find room in the budget for monetary recognition when it truly is warranted.

Of course, the possibilities for recognizing a team are as unique and limitless as the number of individuals that make up each team. Consider your team specifically: what motivates them? What do they do best? How can you really make it clear to them that you care?

At the end of the day, forming a genuine connection with each member of your team is the primary goal. If you can do this successfully, you’re one step ahead of the competition.

How HR Can Build the Organization of the Future

How HR Can Build the Organization of the Future

Today’s organizations are faced with higher-pressured and faster-paced problems than most have ever encountered.

COVID: Organizations worldwide are making challenging decisions regarding their workforces every day: should it consider a vaccine mandate? Should it consider a mask mandate? Are its employees safer working from home? What regulations apply?
The Great Resignation: In healthcare and tech, employees are resigning at record-high rates. The increase in remote work modality is removing geographical boundaries from the talent pool, increasing competition, and making organizations across the world rethink their recruitment and retention strategy.
Supply Chain: In manufacturing, global supply chain issues are expected to continue through 2023, causing ripple effects throughout the global economy.
Technology Advancements: Across industries, technology advancements provide great opportunities but also create a need for advanced and complex training and a highly skilled workforce.

How do organizations remain competitive as the demands continue to grow? While every team has its role to play in helping the organization achieve success, executives should consider HR as the pillar for advancing their team through the challenges of today’s world and into the future.

The eight core HR functions that follow will provide examples of how HR can help your organization remain competitive in the marketplace of the future.


1. Purpose: Establish and radiate the organizational WHY

A company with strong organizational health will be more resilient in times of turbulence. Rely on your HR team to assess your organizational culture and health, and work with the team to build the connection to the organizational why. This sense of connection will keep them engaged and help the organization fare better through challenges.

2. Culture: Make culture a top down, bottom-up priority that is measured with data

Once your HR team has made strides in step 1, step 2 will naturally follow: a team of employees that is connected and aligned with the organization’s mission will seamlessly grow and enhance a strong culture.

Setting culture as a priority, and regularly checking in on it with data, will send the message to the team that they are just as important as any other business output, further connecting them to the organizational mission.

3. Value: Map talent to value

Ask HR to be your guardrail in talent and team planning – with a strategic focus. Be laser-focused on value. Assess every role in your organization: which roles truly create the most value?

With those roles in mind, where does your talent fall? Starting with the value-creating roles in mind first, rather than starting with people first, will ensure that you’re prioritizing your most critical roles with your best talent.

4. Decision Making: Drive speed in decision-making during crises

As an operational expert with background in each area of your organization, but no bias in any area, HR is a fantastic source for decision-making during a crisis. HR can help you to not only understand the thought process of each of your team members, but also the key factors to consider related to the potential outcomes.

5. Structure: Adapt to new organizational design to support hybrid and flex work environments

As previously noted, employees are resigning in high numbers for more flexible opportunities, and organizations that don’t provide comparable options will risk losing their best talent.

HR can not only assist in designing processes that make sense for your organization but will be the best gauge of what your team truly wants and needs. They understand what will drive retention for your best talent and can help implement the appropriate strategy.

6. Talent: Lead strategic workforce planning, improve retention, and drive performance enablement

On the same theme of driving retention, lean on HR to lead strategic workforce planning, ensuring your organization is prepared for the needs of the modern workplace. Your team should be set up in a manner that enables them to achieve the highest success possible.

7. Career Trajectory: Reskill and upskill talent; drive a continuous learning culture

With technology advancing at the rapid pace that it is today, leading a skilled workforce is not a nice to have but a need to have. Investing in microlearning opportunities that align with the needs of your team will not only support retention and engagement but will ensure your team is equipped to continue performing at a high level to achieve goals and meet outputs.

8. HR Technology: Adopt the right HR technology platform that works for employees and the employer alike

According to Gartner, by 2025, 60% of global midmarket and large enterprises will have invested in a cloud-deployed HCM suite for administrative HR and talent management. While options are abundant, it is critical to thoroughly explore the marketplace to find the right fit solution for your organization before investing in a system. The right choice will support your HR team, your administrative staff, and your employees’ self-service needs now and well into the future.

Empowering your HR team to be key strategists in the organization, leading the conversation around these key topics will not only support your team, but help to grow your organization, ensuring you are well-positioned to be resilient through whatever turbulence may lie ahead.

How to Mentor a Team Member: A Seven Step Guide

How to Mentor a Team Member: A Seven Step Guide

If you’ve made the choice to read this article, you likely are aware of the mutual benefits that a mentoring relationship has for both the mentor and the mentee. However, the challenging part can be knowing where to start, and how to serve as an effective mentor to a team member. It could be that you are participating in (or launching) a formal mentoring program, or it could be that you are just interested in helping more junior members of your team develop and grow. Regardless, following a few key best practices and actively engaging in your mentoring relationship will be essential to helping your mentee grow.


Step One: Pre-work: Understand the importance of mentoring

The benefits to both the mentor and mentee in a mentoring relationship are significant.

Your mentee will have the opportunity to:

● Receive feedback from a neutral party
● Gain new perspectives on business challenges and personal development goals
● Learn more about new areas within the organization

As a mentor, you will be able to:

● Hone your coaching skills
● Gain new perspective by learning about a different part of the organization from a fresh voice
● Help solve problems
● Bridge new relationships

Because the benefits to both parties are so important, the mentor must take time to prepare for the relationship by ensuring they are invested in the process and ready to commit to the relationship. There are several things the mentor should consider in advance of the relationship beginning:

● The frequency in which they can commit to meeting with the mentee
● The modality in which they’ll be most effective at mentoring, eliminating distractions and staying focused on the mentee
● The timing that best fits their schedule, availability and focus

The mentor should also consider what they need up front from the mentee to better understand their roles and goals, and request that information early on to start preparing for the relationship.


Step Two: Understand where your team member is coming from

At the onset of the mentoring relationship, the goal of the mentor should be to understand where the mentee is coming from.

● What are the mentee’s goals for the mentoring relationship?
● What do they want to accomplish?
● What problems are they trying to solve?

The mentor should connect with the team member to understand their point of view.


Step Three: Allow for failure and learning

As the mentor and mentee relationship builds, it is important to create a culture of safety. A mentoring relationship is meant to create challenges to develop the mentee. With true challenges, failures will occur. The mentor should be there to assist the team member with troubleshooting the errors that occurred and identifying the necessary steps to move forward.

This allows for a cycle of continuous learning and growth. As new challenges present themselves, the mentee can continue to explore new approaches and solutions, and will continue to learn and develop, with a supportive mentor available for feedback and guidance when necessary.


Step Four: Have your mentee explain what they are thinking

When an issue or failure occurs that the mentor has trouble understanding, the mentor’s first approach should be to seek to understand. Ask the mentee to explain what happened, and where they are coming from. As the mentor, try to connect to understand their perspective and how you can help them to course correct.

Even in situations without failure, this can be a useful strategy to have as a regular habit. Approach your conversations with your mentee with a constant goal to understand their perspective. Then, you’ll be able to offer the most appropriate guidance for their situation.


Step Five: Work to dismantle the sense of hierarchy

Regardless of where the mentor and mentee sit within an organization, a mentoring relationship should be separated from a reporting relationship and should not come with the associated tension of a hierarchical relationship.

When this hierarchical relationship naturally exists based upon the preexisting organizational relationship, the mentor needs to take active steps to dismantle it. The mentee should be given clear grounds to speak freely with the mentor. If ground rules need to be set up related to potential conflicts or legal issues, these should be clearly described up front, so that outside of those guardrails, the mentee can feel comfortable voicing any and all concerns or opinions they may have.

This level of comfort is critical for developing the mentoring relationship and helping the mentee to open up to the mentor. It will also allow the mentor insight and perspective into the mentee’s thought process and problem solving approach, which will grant them greater opportunity to coach and develop the mentee.


Step Six: Allow for risk taking

If Step 5 is fully embraced, Step 6 should naturally follow. As the hierarchical relationship is dismantled, and the mentee is encouraged to be open, honest and transparent with the mentor, the mentee should feel well-supported in risk taking. That said, the mentor should always continue to be direct in this piece of advice, as it is critical to the development of the mentee.

Encouraging the mentee to take risks, while providing a safety net, will help them to grow, learn and, critically, fail. Without failure, the mentoring relationship does not reach peak value. The mentor’s role as a sounding board and advice giver is helpful, but the true role as a coach truly comes in while assisting the mentee in how to respond to and learn from failures and setbacks.

A strong mentor will not only accept these failures as okay, but encourage the risk taking that makes them inevitable.


Step Seven: Take an active approach to being a mentor

In a well-developed mentoring program, the mentee should always be the one accountable for leading the mentoring relationship in the form of setting meetings, establishing agendas, and coming prepared with items to discuss. That said, a mentor must be prepared to take an active approach in the relationship. This can mean different things to different leaders, and also to different mentees.

Draw from the key takeaways in step 2:

● What are the goals of the mentee?
● What are they hoping to gain from the mentoring relationship?
● How does this impact the type of mentor you need to be?

With a new recruit to the company, taking an active approach to a mentoring relationship will likely look very hands-on – introducing the employee to key relationships, identifying challenging stretch assignments for them, and providing direct feedback to them.

With a more seasoned veteran who is looking to move to a higher level of leadership, taking an active approach to a mentoring relationship might require stepping back and allowing the mentee to drive the relationship, so as to not “over-manage” the relationship.

Regardless, the approach should always be in line with the needs of the mentee, and although it is inevitable that a busy mentor’s involvement with ebb and flow, the mentor must commit to a minimum amount of involvement, and not waiver.

While mentoring is critical to developing talent and building pipelines, it is important to have a strong sense of awareness regarding one’s capacity for mentoring. It may be that at one specific moment, you would not have sufficient time and energy to dedicate to a truly supportive mentoring relationship. It is better to acknowledge this and opt out of a mentoring opportunity, than to engage in a relationship without full commitment.

Once a leader has truly committed to the relationship, provides positive support and direction to their mentee, and actively participates in the mentoring relationship, a successful mentoring relationship will naturally occur.

Six Attributes to Prioritize in Your Next Remote Hire

Six Attributes to Prioritize in Your Next Remote Hire

More than likely, your organization has tested the waters of remote or hybrid work over the last year and a half. If you are like most, you may have had to flip the switch seemingly overnight, with little time to prepare and inadequate tools to properly meet work objectives in a virtual environment. Hopefully, your path to sufficiency was not too lengthy, and your team’s culture was strong enough to remain resilient.

The statistics surrounding remote work are eye-opening:

● 4.7 million people worked remotely prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
● In the U.S., remote work increased 173% between 2005 and 2018.
● 77% of remote employees believe they’re more productive when working from home.
● U.S. companies with remote work policies have a 25% lower employee turnover rate.
● 25% of companies that participated in a survey planned to convert 10% of their employees to permanent remote positions post-COVID 19.
● 99% of remote workers would like to continue doing so to some extent.

Most companies found that even with a rocky start, remote work served their organizations well. Their teams were still able to collaborate, and their employees were just as productive, if not more so. As organizations return to their office spaces and make plans for the future, many are making plans for continuing development of remote and hybrid workforces. As they do so, it is critical to prioritize finding the right remote hires; sometimes your best in-person employee fails in a remote environment, and vice versa.


Why Prioritize Hiring?

According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s Human Capital Benchmarking Report, the average cost-per-hire is $4,129, with an average hire time of 42 days. Most organizations are deeply burdened by having a critical position unfilled for 42 days – and many don’t have thousands of dollars to spare on extra hires, either.

In the remote working environment, you may think that employees simply want to complete their tasks and clock out for the day. However, this is not true. Employees still want connection to their peers and their organization. In 2020, there was a 9% increase in Google search interest related to team-building. In a remote work environment, and particularly a newly remote work environment, developing a team culture can be difficult without having traditional opportunities for happy hours and team lunches. However, this does not mean that team-building isn’t possible – it just means that finding the right hires is even more vital. Building a team that works together well, without regular in-person interaction, is essential in a remote or hybrid work environment.

An additional risk related to poor hiring in a remote environment comes with the potential challenges of remote talent management. Particularly if an organization’s leaders are new to managing a remote workforce, it may be challenging to hold employees accountable if they are “just skating by”. Similarly, an employee who is a poor fit but otherwise capable of completing their work assignments may have greater struggles as they may be less likely to mold into the workplace culture. Without developing an in-person connection, it may also feel difficult to assess the performance of someone who is not the right fit.

As with any hire, a wrong fit will result in costly hiring, training and onboarding efforts. Prioritizing the six attributes below in addition to stated job qualifications will assist in finding ideal remote employees.

Attribute One: Communicates Clearly and Often

Perhaps most importantly, your new hire must be able to communicate clearly and often. Twenty percent of remote workers identify communication as an obstacle. As a leader, it is essential to set up proper communication channels to allow for easy flow of communication across your team. In addition to email, encouraging use of video conferencing tools like Zoom, messaging tools like Slack, and collaboration tools like Dropbox and Google Suite will set your team up for success.

However, it is equally important to hire someone who will be eager to participate in each of those channels from day one. In a remote work environment, it is possible to “hide”, only minimally engaging with other team members. The right hire will understand the importance of clear and regular communication.

Interview questions to gauge this skill:

● Tell me about a time when you had to rely on written communication to get your ideas across to your team.
● Tell me about a time when you had team members with different opinions than yours on a high-stakes project. How did you ensure you each had your voices heard?

Attribute Two: Manages Time Productively

A challenge of remote work can be the absence of a timeclock – in both directions. For some, it can be tempting to risk a late start. For others, it can be hard to log off of the computer. In either case, effective time management and productivity skills are essential to ensure the proper amount of work is getting done in the time allotted. The right hire will show evidence of how they work productively, without a supervisor monitoring their work in person.

Interview questions to gauge this skill:

● Give me an example of a time you managed numerous responsibilities. How did you handle that?
● Sometimes it isn’t possible to complete all of the priorities on your list. Tell me about a time that you had to make a decision about something that wasn’t able to get completed according to a deadline. What did you do?

Attribute Three: Demonstrates Internal Motivation and Self-Starter Demeanor

In a remote work environment, it will be essential to still maintain regular check-ins with your staff. However, some employees struggle without seeing their supervisor in person on a daily basis. The right hire will be internally motivated and a self-starter. Since you won’t necessarily have visibility into their workload 100% of the time, you’ll want to know that this person will take the initiative to step up and ask for more when they need it.

Interview questions to gauge this skill:

● Describe a time when you saw some problem and took the initiative to correct it rather than waiting for someone else to do it.
● Tell me about a time you were dissatisfied in your work. What could have been done to make it better?

Attribute Four: Gets Results

Building off of Attributes Three and Four, a drive for results will help ensure that your new hire stays productive, busy, and moving forward. An individual who is driven by results will continue looking forward to the next milestone, interested in helping your organization advance.

Interview question to gauge this skill:

● Tell me about a time that your performance was measured based on specific metrics. What did you do to ensure they reached the proper indicators?

Attribute Five: Keeps Track of Moving Parts

In an in-person office environment, it is likely that a new hire is oriented into an office with a cubicle or office, filing cabinets, equipment and plenty of space to keep track of their visible cues that might help them recall work priorities. Equipment provided to remote employees varies, but in most situations, work is performed in a highly digital environment with less infrastructure support for “work cues” and visual reminders. This requires remote employees to set up their own systems for keeping track of deadlines and organizing work responsibilities.

Interview questions to gauge this skill:

● Tell me about a time you had to be very strategic in order to meet all your job responsibilities.
● Tell me about a time you had to create your own structure to keep track of projects and deadlines.

Attribute Six: Maintains a Healthy Dose of Flexibility

Even in the best of scenarios, remote employees should be prepared for things to shift from time to time. While this is also true for employees who report to an office in-person, extra flexibility may be required for remote employees since oftentimes informal communication channels for remote employees include very fast-paced methods such as messaging. Being ready to adapt to new ideas and methodologies is critical for a successful remote employee.

Interview questions to gauge this skill:

● Give an example of a time when you had to quickly change project priorities. How did you do it?
● Give an example of a time when you were trying to meet a deadline and you were interrupted and did not make the deadline. How did you respond?

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve considered the most important attributes of remote hires, start thinking about how to communicate them in your next remote job posting. While these attributes may not quite fall in line with your typical “desired qualifications”, they can still be communicated in a job posting clearly convey to your prospective hires what kind of skills you value. Keep an eye out for more information in a future article, where we will discuss attracting, hiring and developing remote employees.