Manager and team

Top 7 Tips for Becoming a Better Manager

Bad managers cost businesses billions of dollars each year. According to Gallup, managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Gallup also discovered that great managers tend to share the following traits: motivational, assertive, accountable, transparent, and makes decisions based on productivity, not politics. As a manager, your success depends on both your and other people’s efforts. To get the optimal performance from your team members and be the best manager you can be, follow these 7 tips:

1. Focus on team building

While you’ll be relating to each of your employees as individuals, you also need to be aware of the fine art of team building. Your staff will be most productive when they mesh well together and have a strong identity as being part of the same team.

2. Work on your communication skills

Clear messaging is a fundamental piece of your management skill set. Focus on what you want your direct reports to hear, and keep in mind that people have varying styles of processing information.

3. Ask for feedback

The best managers are always in conversation with the people they’re supervising. Asking for feedback helps you avoid becoming isolated, makes you aware of problems before they become critical, and opens the door for innovative new ideas.

4. Set high standards

The best way to elicit great performance from your team is to be clear about your high expectations. Of course, expecting excellence must always go hand-in-hand with providing your staff with all the resources and support they need while holding yourself to the same high standards.

5. Delegate effectively

One hallmark of inexperienced leadership is a reluctance to delegate crucial tasks. You can’t produce optimum results if you micromanage or maintain control of every single function. Prepare your team well for a project and then let them run with it; you’ll be more relaxed and you’ll achieve more in the end.

6. Avoid inter-department conflicts

The agility that characterizes today’s most effective organizations often requires improvisation and free-form cooperation between different departments. You can facilitate this flexibility by maintaining good relationships with your colleagues in different departments while clearly articulating areas of accountability.

7. Recognize and appreciate your employees

Employee engagement, productivity and retention all depend to a high degree on the human sense of being appreciated. Make sure that your direct reports are not included in the 53% of employees who don’t feel recognized for their achievements at work. Monetary and social approaches can both be part of an effective system of rewards and recognition.

Management excellence is learned, not innate. When you integrate these time-tested tips into your management tool kit, you’ll not only reach your productivity goals sooner, but you’ll also nurture a positive workplace culture. By focusing on becoming a better manager, you will build better work relationships, boost employee happiness, and produce stronger business results.

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Manager and Employees

10 Things a Good Manager Never Does

According to a recent article in The Huffington Post, 3 out of 4 employees report that their manager is the worst and most stressful part of their job, and 50% of employees who don’t feel valued by their boss plan to look for another job in the next year. Don’t lose top talent because of poor management. We’ve compiled the top 10 things that leadership should never do if they want to keep their employees happy and engaged in the workplace.

  1. Pit generations of workers against each other
    In a multi-generational workforce, each generation has something to offer your organization. A good manager connects more experienced older workers with the younger employees to encourage the transfer of knowledge and skills.
  1. Rely only on financial motivators
    Employees want more than money. They want opportunities to learn and grow, to feel like a valuable member of a successful team, and get social recognition as well as financial rewards.
  1. Under-appreciate employees
    Under-appreciated employees are usually unmotivated employees. A good manager uses a variety of techniques to demonstrate employee appreciation, including giving rewards and recognition.
  1. Discourage enthusiastic new hires by neglecting a formal onboarding program
    Recent Aberdeen Group research found that only 32% of companies have a formal onboarding program, with the remaining two-thirds neglecting new hire socialization and acculturation. Implementing a formal onboarding process, including new hire socialization or a “buddy system,” speeds the pace of integration of new employees into a positive organizational culture. According to Aberdeen, “When onboarding goes ‘right’ new hires feel engaged, motivated to perform, and eager to contribute to overall business objectives.”
  1. Ignore employee turnover rates
    CompData surveys for 2015 show a total turnover rate of 16.7% for all industries. If your turnover rate is higher than this, you’ve got a problem that needs to be addressed. A good manager determines the reasons for a high turnover rate and takes steps to increase employee engagement in order to reduce attrition.
  1. Take credit for their employees’ efforts
    Some managers never share the limelight of success. The many benefits of an organization-wide employee recognition platform include the fact that effort and results are made public and employees get the credit they deserve. A good manager should recognize achievements and take shared responsibility for failures.
  1. Expect people to do the impossible
    A Stanford study found that productivity declines sharply when someone works more than 50 hours per week. Giving someone an unreasonable deadline is a setup for failure.
  1. Micromanage employees
    Micromanaging is an outward sign of distrust and a relationship issue. It discourages teamwork and open communication. Good managers challenge employees to be innovative and gives them the right tools to succeed.
  1. Make non-transparent decisions
    Making decisions with a lack of transparency damages the employer-employee relationship by implying a hidden agenda and discouraging collaboration. It reeks of the outdated command-and-control management style. Good managers encourage employee input into decision-making.
  1. Ignore employee career goals
    Most people take a job with the expectation they will have career development opportunities in the form of conversations with peers, formal training, stretch assignments and management feedback. The manager is the link between the employee and opportunities that can build a career. Good managers ensure that link is strong for employee success.

The common thread linking all ten poor managerial practices is the failure to recognize the importance of employee socialization, engagement and recognition. To better understand what it takes to be a best-in-class manager and provide your employees with the support they need to succeed, download the report “The Art of Appreciation: Top-Tier Employee Recognition.”

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rewards and recognition

Top 5 Reasons Businesses Need Rewards and Recognition Programs

How do you handle rewards and recognition within your workforce? Has your company kept pace with current trends in HR and the widely recognized need for employee engagement programs? Most importantly, are you aware that 51% of employees are not happy at work and that, according to Gallup, fully 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged? It has been proven that engagement is crucial for business growth. Business2Community recently reported that organizations with highly engaged employees outperform those with low employee engagement by 202%. And the Harvard Business Review reported that recognition for high performers was the top driver of employee engagement. With all that in mind, we humbly present the top 5 reasons your business needs a rewards and recognition program.

  1. Recognition is the top driver of engagement

    Harvard Business Review reports that “the most impactful driver of employee engagement is recognition.” In today’s world, recognizing employees is very different from the recognitions of the old days; no longer are we restricted to giving out watches, pins and coffee mugs on yearly work anniversaries. While these types of gifts are still in the picture, today’s workforce is better engaged in the moment than in the future.

  2. Employee recognition is meaningful from peers

    As workplaces flatten and allow for lateral partnerships, the opportunity for peers to nominate others for awards or give recognitions directly has increased. HR Today notes that 42% of companies have peer recognitions in place, the third most common award. Peer recognition can especially boost engagement in companies with a remote workforce.

  3. Recognitions can reward effort, not just success

    Leigh Buchanan, writer for Inc.com, shares the funny story about how SurePayroll offers a periodic award for “Best New Mistake.” Seem odd? It’s actually a way to reward innovative thinking, even if the result was less than desirable. Can you think outside of the box and offer less-than-traditional awards and recognitions? It might just give your business the edge it needs to improve company culture and employee engagement.

  4. Recognitions engage employees outside the workplace

    Employee engagement efforts shouldn’t end when employees walk out the door. Go beyond the standard rewards program and start recognizing employees for wellness achievements, such as losing weight, stopping smoking, lowering cholesterol and more. By giving employee rewards for positive behaviors, you not only support your employees’ improved lifestyle but also help to create a workplace that is healthier overall.

  5. Happy employees = happy customers

    Forbes shared, “Creating a happier work environment starts with a company that is willing to listen to what employees want and value.” We couldn’t agree more. Success starts with your employees, and the positivity ripples to your customers. Forbes also shared that most publicly traded companies named as ‘Best Companies to Work For’ saw their stocks significantly uptake in performance. It’s a win-win. Focus on employee happiness – the happier the employee, the more motivation they will have to put forth their best effort and make your customers happy.

Curious as to what the state of employee disengagement looks like? Check out our Greatness Report and see. The report analyzes the gap between how often awards are actually given versus how often employees would like to be recognized. In particular, the gap between actual and preferred widens at the monthly, weekly and daily level. Think frequent recognitions seem unsustainable? Take a look at how some of the most innovative and successful companies in the world, such as Ericsson, are using rewards and recognition to successfully engage their workplace and you’ll feel even more motivated to kick off an impactful rewards and recognition program of your own.

To learn more, download The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement.

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ACE 2016

Elite 8 Gala Kicks off ACE 2016 in Toronto

Last night in Toronto, Achievers announced the winners of the Elite 8 at the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ Awards Gala. In a setting that was a perfect mix of glitz and industrial chic, the award recipients and representatives from almost every one of the 50 companies included on this year’s list enjoyed dinner, drinks and good times at the Steam Whistle Brewery in the heart of downtown Toronto. The event also provided attendees ample opportunity to network with peers from some of the most easily recognizable and highly successful companies in the world, and for entertainment, the world famous Second City comedy troupe.

Steam Whistle Brewery

Steam Whistle Brewery

Second City Comedy Troupe

Second City Comedy Troupe

Attendees at the Awards Gala

Attendees at the Awards Gala

Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala 2016

Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards Gala 2016

The Elite 8 were recognized for receiving the highest scores for each of the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement—the criteria Achievers used to determine the Most Engaged Workplaces winners.

The 2016 Elite 8 winners are:

The Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards are designed to recognize and celebrate top employers in North America that display leadership and innovation in engaging their workplaces, as evaluated by judging panel of employee engagement academics, thought leaders and influencers. Among the 50 companies selected as winners, the judging panel selected eight companies that represent the best of the best, with regards to the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement.

The event marked the kickoff of Achievers Customer Experience 2016 (ACE 2016), Achievers’ annual customer conference. The full conference program officially began this morning (09/13) and runs through Wednesday (09/14).

Achievers' Opening Keynote with the VP of Product and CTO

Achievers’ Opening Keynote with the VP of Product and CTO

Spencer West's ACE 2016 Keynote

Spencer West’s ACE 2016 Keynote

ACE 2016 Networking Break

ACE 2016 Networking Break

Day 1 at ACE 2016

Day 1 at ACE 2016

Follow all the action from ACE 2016 at: #AACE16. And if you couldn’t make it this year, be sure to register early for next year’s event!

Ericsson culture of innovation

Ericsson: Uplifting Employee Engagement Scores With Achievers

Did you know companies in the top quartile of employee engagement see significantly better business results than bottom quartile organizations? According to Gallup, engagement leaders  see 21% higher productivity, 22% higher profitability and 41% higher quality of work. This is also supported by Aon Hewitt, which found that a 5% increase in employee engagement is linked to a 3% increase in revenue growth in the subsequent year.

One company that is doing what it takes to stay in the top quartile of employee engagement is the world-leading communications technology and services company, Ericsson. In order to maximize their business potential, the team at Ericsson understood the need to focus on employee engagement as a driver of business success. But finding a way to engage and unify such a large and diverse set of employees was no easy feat for Ericsson, considering the company employs over 15,000 people across 30+ regional offices in North America alone.

Ericsson had tried a number of recognition initiatives previously but was looking for an enterprise-class technology solution that was truly scalable and would serve to unite its employees around their culture of innovation The company’s leaders also wanted to find a platform with robust analytics and that would help them regularly track spend, leverage recognition data for business insights, and streamline the recognition process. After researching different employee rewards and recognition providers, Ericsson chose the Achievers Employee Success Platform as the best solution to engage its employees while aligning them with business goals.

Ericsson rolled out the Achievers platform — internally branded as “E-Star” — to its 15,000+ employees across 30+ locations in North America in 2014. With a 98% employee – manager activation rate, the E-Star program soon became the most widely-utilized “voluntary” enterprise platform the organization had ever implemented. Even better, a whopping 65% of the recognitions awarded were social, or non-monetary, helping Ericsson to stay on target with budget. With widespread adoption and usage, the company was soon seeing the payoff in the form of improved engagement scores across the board. Among the successes they saw:

  • A 3% increase in overall engagement scores, up from an already world-class score of 81%;
  • North America employee engagement scores that were 5% higher than Ericsson’s global scores and 14% higher than the industry average, and;
  • Employee engagement survey results pertaining to recognition given by managers rose 4%.

With increasing positive employee engagement survey scores and new business insights derived from Achievers analytics, Ericsson is rightfully confident about the strength and ongoing success of their employee engagement strategy.

To learn more about Ericsson’s success story, download the Ericsson Case Study.

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Workplace Diversity and Employee Engagement

The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion On Employee Engagement

By: Jeff Waldman
Head of Talent, Security Compass
Founder, SocialHRCamp

It is no secret that there is a positive correlation between highly engaged workforces and strong employee productivity and business performance. Depending on who you talk to the numbers may vary, but all the data points to the fact that engagement drives performance. With all of this recent attention on employee engagement and its impact, it’s not surprising that boosting engagement is becoming a number one priority of C-level executives around the globe, a claim supported by Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends survey.

Before we dig deeper, it is important that we understand exactly what employee engagement is. At its core, employee engagement measures the emotional commitment an employee has to his or her organization and its goals and objectives. The outcome of high engagement is employees putting discretionary effort into their work. They go the extra mile, push themselves a little bit harder to achieve their goals, and do just about anything that betters the organization. The collective impact of these bursts of discretionary effort leads to a noticeable increase in productivity, performance and business outcomes.

So how do you achieve a highly engaged workforce? There is no one-size-fits-all solution, because every organization is different. But, the trick to figuring out the path to success is tapping into the heart of what your employees value the most. Generally speaking, the factors that tend to have the greatest impact on employees’ engagement levels include: senior leadership, direct manager, corporate communication, recognition and rewards, relationship with co-workers, empowerment, and career path. The impact of each of these factors can be measured collectively as overall “engagement,” as they connect with and influence one another in varying degrees.

What if we further dive into the interconnected elements that impact employee engagement? First let me ask you a question. Let’s take a look at a fictitious company called “Company G” that is made up of 80 employees. If all 80 employees looked the same, behaved the same, possessed the same skills and experience, have the same personal interests, are all the same age, and are the same in every possible way, do you think Company G would have a high level of employee engagement? I guess you could say, “it depends”. But let’s take it one step further. What if Company G operated in a country like Canada, United States, England, or any other highly multicultural country? Or what if Company G operated in any other country where there are 5 demographic groups (Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomer, Traditionalist) in their workforces? What if Company G served a market that was made up of customers who were between the ages of 18 and 100, possessed different levels of education, have a very broad range of personal income? The list goes on – the point is, engagement is dependent on a number of different factors and different factors impact engagement differently on an individual level, as well as a on a generational, geographic, industry-based, income or educational level.

The fact of the matter is, workplace diversity has a huge impact on employee engagement. Canadian top 5 bank, RBC, is well known for its principled stance on workplace diversity — “To win in your market, you need to hire your market.” Aside from the fact that diversity does drive employee engagement, it’s just smart business.

But when we talk about diversity, do we really know what it means? Among many other things, people typically attribute diversity to sex, religion, ethnicity, family status and age. What about things like difference in thought, personality, pathways to solving problems, life experiences and the list goes on. RBC defines it perfectly on their website. Inclusion comes into play when the work environment optimally enables each and every employee to perform at their best, regardless of their unique and individual difference.

So, if you put all of the above together, truly diverse and inclusive workplaces are in fact more successful organizations. If diversity and inclusion are based on the workplace enabling people to perform at their best, then what is employee engagement based on? You got it… the exact same thing. In fact, diverse and inclusive workplaces boosts employee engagement. You could even argue that the impact on employee engagement and diversity are exactly the same. This makes a lot of sense, and the research proves this.

The next time you are talking to your peers, your professional network, or your co-workers about the impact diversity and inclusion have on employee engagement, think about what I just shared. Employee engagement is a strategic business imperative, so it only makes sense to include diversity and inclusion in the conversation.

What should you do about it? For starters, you can attend my session at the upcoming 7th Annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2016 conference in Toronto (September 13-14). I’ll be leading a session titled, “Can You Hear Me Now? Good. Let’s Talk Diversity, Inclusion & Employee Engagement,” where I will be taking you on a journey through my own struggles growing up with a severe hearing disability and how my disability enabled me to work with and support many leading organizations to build truly diverse and inclusive workplaces. After that, you can return to your own workplace and think about how diversity and inclusion can factor into your own company’s engagement efforts.

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About Jeff Waldman
Jeff Waldman ACE Guest Speaker
Jeff Waldman is Head of Talent at Security Compass, Founder at SocialHRCamp and inaugural organizer at DisruptHR Toronto. Jeff has been leading the way in a growing niche that brings together human resources, employer branding, social media, marketing and business. With a diverse career spanning all facets of HR Jeff founded SocialHRCamp in 2012, a growing global interactive learning platform that helps the HR Community adopt social media and emerging HR/Recruitment technology in the workplace. In Jeff’s role as Head of Talent at Security Compass, he is responsible for all aspects of human resources and recruiting for a rapidly growing technology organization with operations in Canada, United States and India.

Jeff is an avid speaker, blogger and volunteer with diverse organizations such as SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, HR Technology Conference, Illinois State SHRM,Louisiana State SHRM, HR Metrics Summit Canada and many more. Jeff also continues to advise emerging HR and Recruitment technology companies on their business strategies.

Originally from Vancouver, and currently living in North Toronto, Jeff has three awesome young boys who he spends his personal time with. He also coaches his kids’ sports teams and is an avid hockey player and snowboarder.

He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Team Work Culture

The Language of Engagement

By: Karin Volo
Chief Joy Bringer, Evoloshen Academy

“I love my job!”
“I can’t wait for Monday again!”
“I’m doing what I was born to do!”
“I am living my life’s purpose!”
“I don’t consider this work—it feels like play!”
“Where did the day go? I got so much done!”
“This is the best company to work for!”

How often do you hear these types of statements? Or perhaps we should ask have you EVER heard anyone saying these things?

Within highly engaged organizations, statements like these are actually pretty common. Employees at these companies love their work and are deeply, emotionally connected to their co-workers, their company’s purpose, and their own passions. Their values are aligned so that they can easily live and breath the company values since they are a part of who they are authentically.

And what happens to the culture and the performance at companies like these? They tend to be highly productive, profitable, and making a positive difference in the world on some level.

There are many ways to understand and begin to tackle engagement. Achievers has created the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Awards to recognize and showcase organizations that are truly making employee engagement work for them. They have defined eight parameters for engagement that include: Culture, Leadership, Accountability & Performance, Professional & Personal Growth, Communication, Vision & Values, Rewards & Recognition, and Corporate Social Responsibility. All of these areas are great places to start tracking and improving your level of engagement.

In doing the research for our book Engage! we found many examples of companies that are demonstrating a whole new way of doing business, innovative companies like Virgin, PUMA, Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Achievers, and many more. But most of all, we found that it is through company culture where you can work actively with principles of engagement to make a positive impact. To paraphrase Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, culture is to employees what brand is to customers and the market. Or as management guru Peter Drucker famously put it, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” But the quote I love best is from Simon Sinek, TED speaker and author of the book Start With Why, who said: Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” No matter how you say it, it is clear that companies with highly engaged employees and a culture of engagement are consistently among the most successful, innovative and inspiring organizations on the planet.

In Engage!, we defined the formula for creating highly sustainable engagement through the following five Cultural Keys:

  1. Collaboration – taking teamwork to the next level and having a sense of belonging and family
  2. Creativity – allowing the innovation and creative ideas to flow from within the organization
  3. Connection – creating a deeper emotional connection both to the employees and the customers through the bigger purpose and values
  4. Celebration – focusing on what is going well, celebrating the small wins as well and the big ones, showing appreciation and recognition
  5. Contribution – giving back on some level that is related to the business that gives meaning and significance to the employees and makes the business do good in the world.

When all of the 5 KCI’s (Key Cultural Indicators) are high, there seems to be a powerful positive force or energy within a company that accelerates productivity and drives the business forward.

Whether you refer to Achievers’ Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™ or to our 5 KCI’s, you can see how closely both “languages of engagement” correlate with each other—these are similar messages using different words to describe the same essentials.

Whatever words you choose to use, actively working on engagement is sound business strategy. It is possible to systematize it and it is essential to continually work with it consciously. At times, you may see examples of zany engagement activities (team-building exercises anyone?), but there IS a method to making work fun and bringing out the best in your people. And when you are able to do that consistently, you tap into an often under-utilized resource—your employees—who, working together, bring success to your company.

Working actively to build a culture of engagement is the first step in building an environment where your employees and your business can thrive. Your employees will be excited to come to work on Monday mornings and you’ll often hear what is music to any employer’s ears: “I love my job!”

Come see Karin Volo at the 7th annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference from September 13-14 where she will be running the panel discussion with the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces Elite 8 winners on employee engagement. Learn more about the activities happening at ACE this year and find out how to register by reading the latest event blog post.

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About Karin Volo
Karin Volo
Karin is an expert in engagement, career, personal, and organizational development- aka the Chief Joy Bringer. She is a co-author of the international best selling book, Engage!  With 15+ years experience working with international Fortune 500 companies on two continents, she has insights on business building, cultural transformation, and high performance. She is the best selling author of 1,352 Days: An Inspirational Journey From Jail To Joy, the Bringing Joy children’s series, a regular blogger on Huffington Post, a faculty member at the Institute for Inspired Organizational Cultures, and an expert judge on employee engagement in both the UK and the US.

Millennials at the workplace

Motivate Millennials With a Culture of Recognition, Inspire All

Millennials are the hot topic of conversation in human resources departments today. This much talked-about but little-understood new generation is coming into its own in the workforce and will soon represent more than half of all U.S. employees. As baby boomers continue to retire, companies are facing the challenge of attracting and retaining millennials to replenish their ranks. With this backdrop, understanding the kind of corporate culture millennials desire and the forces that motivate them is key. But when you dig a little deeper, you will find that many of the same forces that motivate millennials also have a broader positive impact on your entire workforce, no matter their generation or demographic.

Millennials aren’t as different as you think

There’s been a lot of talk about how millennials are different from other generations, but the latest studies show that may not really be the case. The differences between the older and younger generations have more to do with age and life stages than with the different generational experiences they had growing up.

Millennials share many of the same long-term career goals as older workers. These include making a positive impact on their organization, helping to solve social and environmental problems, and working with diverse people. They also want to work with the best, be passionate, develop expertise and leadership capabilities, and achieve both financial security and work–life balance. In fact, only a few percentage points separate the number of millennials, gen-Xers, and baby boomers who claim these as their top goals.

That doesn’t mean that companies don’t need to adjust and evolve to attract and retain millennials; it just means that the changes they make will resonate with, and increase employee engagement among, all their employees, not just the youngest. And while there are technology solutions that can help you in this area, technology alone won’t compensate for a corporate culture that doesn’t focus on showing workers true appreciation.

What you can do to get started

If you’re a business looking to boost millennial appeal and improve overall employee engagement, consider making the following changes:

  • Emphasize a broader purpose. Create excitement around the company’s mission and purpose by connecting to broader social causes and cultural movements.
  • Encourage collaboration. Break down silos and encourage collaboration between diverse teams across your organization. Use team-building activities to help employees get to know each other and build interdepartmental connections.
  • Provide frequent feedback. Recognize contributions. Encourage employees to develop their skills and expertise by providing with training opportunities along with frequent feedback. Create a culture that recognizes and rewards achievements.
  • Provide opportunity. Look for employees who are ready to take leadership positions and give them the chance to show what they can do. Hire and promote from within rather than bringing in outside experts.
  • Reward and recognize. According to the “Happy Millennials” Employee Happiness Survey, 64% of millennials want to be recognized for personal accomplishments, but 39% of them report that their companies don’t offer any rewards or recognition. Show employees you appreciate and value their hard work by recognizing and rewarding their efforts and achievements.

Getting the most out of millennials and other generations in your workforce requires creating a culture that encourages, supports and rewards success. When you do this it will have positive ripple effect across your entire organization, regardless of generation. Download our e-book, “The Ultimate Guide to Employee Recognition, and learn how to use rewards and recognition to engage and motivate all your employees.

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Culture of Trust

The Currency and Culture of Trust: 5 Ways to Improve Trust Within the Workplace

iPhone

By: Bobi Seredich
Co-founder, Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence

Picture this: Your phone rings and you see the caller I.D. pop up on the screen. The little voice in your head questions, “Should I answer the call or send it straight to voicemail?” It’s understandable that we don’t always want to pick up our calls. But have you ever put yourself in the other person’s shoes and wondered how many times someone has chosen to not answer your calls?

As leaders, it’s important to get every call answered. But even more important is having the trust in your team that they will be there when you need them – and vice-versa. With one missed call, opportunities can be lost and situations addressed too late in the game. Simple things like not picking up phones calls are subtle clues in a work culture that the level of trust may not be where it should be. Reputations and relationships are formed – at a foundational level – during stressful moments when trust is either built or broken.

As leaders, not getting your team to answer calls may be a warning sign that there is something bigger going on. You have to remember that every interaction with someone is a chance to build trust, including a simple phone call. All great teams have one thing in common – trust: as defined by the ability to be vulnerable, admit weaknesses, and believe in one another. It’s extremely vital to set egos and titles aside in order to move the organization forward as a whole. Even little things like having the confidence to say “I’m sorry” is important for a team looking to build trust.

If your team has a challenge with trust, there can be big costs associated. According to famed productivity and organizational behavior expert, Stephen Covey, trust is a real and important economic factor. In his book, The Speed of Trust, Covey discusses the ‘trust tax’ and ‘trust dividend’ – if there is low trust among your team, speed decreases and cost increases as a result. If you are working in a high trust culture, there is the opposite effect, with an increase in speed and decrease in costs (in essence giving you a trust dividend). With a high trust culture, you are also creating a happier and more engaged workplace which boosts productivity. You might have great strategies and execution plans, but if you have low trust you won’t get the desired results. Keep in mind that high trust won’t save a bad strategy, but low trust will derail a good one.

According to the Edelman 2016 Trust Barometer, “Nearly one in three employees don’t trust their employer. And more than two thirds feel that CEOs are too focused on short-term performance.” What can you do differently to build trust in your company with team members and clients? You have to be willing to move away from old habits and negative attitudes to effectively change behaviors and build a healthy culture that is more proactive than reactive.

Here are 5 powerful ways to improve trust within your workplace according to the research by Stephen Covey in The Speed of TrustHere are the ‘Stop’ and ‘Start’ behaviors that promote them:

  1. Deliver results

Stop these behaviors:

  • Accepting low standards
  • Quitting or not seeing things through
  • Overreacting to setbacks
  • Making excuses
  • Saying you are too busy and swamped

Start saying:

  • “Let’s do this together!”
  • “What are the measures and how will we know? By when?”
  • “What does success look like?”
  • “How will we celebrate?”
  • “Let’s discuss our barriers to success and a Plan B.”
  1. Talk straight

Stop these behaviors:

  • Lying or deceiving
  • Hiding or covering things up
  • Beating around the bush
  • Giving upfront disclaimers
  • Withholding information

Start saying:

  • “Here’s how I see it…”
  • “I respect you and I want to talk straight.”
  • “Here is my intention…”
  • “Here are the brutal facts…”
  • “I want to be as transparent as I can.”
  1. Listen first

Stop these behaviors:

  • Speaking first
  • Interrupting
  • Thinking about what you are going to say next
  • Multi-tasking during conversations
  • Pretending to listen

Start saying:

  • “What I hear you saying is…”
  • “Let me make sure I understand.”
  • “Let’s clarify…”
  • “What’s your perspective?”
  • “What do you mean? How are you feeling?”
  1. Right wrongs

Stop these behaviors:

  • Taking things so personally
  • Making assumptions
  • Justifying bad behavior
  • Denying you made mistake
  • Covering up anything
  • Procrastinating

Start saying:

  • “I made a mistake. I’m sorry.”
  • “I was wrong.”
  • “This is my fault. It won’t happen again.”
  • “I’m truly sorry for how my actions impacted you.”
  • “What can I do to make this right?”
  • “Here is what I can commit to doing moving forward…”
  1. Show appreciation

Stop these behaviors:

  • Assuming people think you care as a reason not to show it
  • Micromanaging others and their work
  • Withholding trust
  • Confusing accountability with trust

Start saying:

  • “I truly appreciate you and what you did.”
  • “Here is what I appreciate about you…”
  • “Thank you.”
  • “How are you doing? Tell me about you.”
  • “I believe in you. I know you can do this.”
  • “How can I support you?”
  • “What are your thoughts about this?”

You have the ability to rebuild trust and inspire others in your organization to do the same. Trust may be thought of as a soft skill set, but it delivers bottom line results. Please join me at the 7th annual Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) Conference from September 13-14 where I will be sharing more about the currency and culture of trust. Learn more about the activities happening at ACE this year and find out how to register by reading the latest event blog post. Can’t wait to see you there!

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About Bobi Seredich
Bobi Seredich Headshot

Bobi Seredich is a recognized speaker, author, trainer and successful entrepreneur specializing in leadership development. She has spent over 20 years of her career dedicated to creating, directing, writing and presenting leadership programs for top companies in the U.S. and around the world.

Bobi is the co-founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence and Managing Partner of EQ Inspirations. In 2001, she founded Equanimity, Inc. also known as EQ Speakers – a speakers’ bureau and leadership training company. It fast became a top speaker bureau that booked hundreds of speakers with large Fortune 500 clients. EQ Speakers was sold in 2012 and continues to be a leader in the industry.

Her book, Courage Does Not Always Roar – Ordinary Women with Extraordinary Courage, was published by Simple Truths in the spring of 2010. The book is a collection of her experiences and stories of women who have had the courage to overcome very difficult life events.

Her passion is to guide individuals and organizations to a higher performance level through her own business knowledge, inspirational stories and leadership emotional intelligence training. Bobi lives in Phoenix, AZ with her husband and 4-year old twins, Alex and Gia.