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Best Practices Growth Management Personal Development

Pay Attention to Support Staff and Behind-the-Scenes Employees

Giving Behind-the-Scenes Staff the Attention They Deserve.

What’s your commitment to your staff? Are you giving your support staff of employees who are behind the scenes as much attention and recognition they deserve? I’d like to give you five ways that you can pay even better attention to your behind-the-scenes employees, and show them how committed you are to their success.

I’ve been privileged to work with my Maria for over 12 years. Now, my Maria is affectionately called the “Queen of Neen” by all of my clients. I could never do what I do without my Maria. I have a position where I am so fortunate to have several people who work with me on my team. Now, notice that they work with me, not for me. These talented team members need to be acknowledged and recognized for the value that they deliver. So, how are you doing that with your support team? Here are five ways I’d like you to consider where you can be even more professionally attentive and committed to your support staff as much as your front line of support.

#1. Train.  First of all, training employees on your mission, vision and values is as important as policy and procedure and the protocols, but in your mission, vision and values.  Send them to conferences and development seminars to help them in their daily work. Encourage them, and provide for them, industry and position-related books that will help develop them.  Share TED Talks and blogs. Training your support staff and committing to their development makes them better at their job and makes your life even easier.

#2. Meet. Maria and I have regularly scheduled one-on-ones, and the reason this is important is not just for me to share with her things I need to be done. It’s for us to talk about her development, our strategy, review all of these things. She drives the agenda, not me. Can you schedule one-on-one so that your support team gets that individual attention from you? Maybe it’s by phone, face time or Zoom. Maybe they actually get to be in your office, but can you meet regularly with your support staff?

#3.  Seek. Seek their feedback and input because they get an unusual view of the world that maybe you don’t get to see. You see, support staff talk to other support staff. People who know me well know that I often say that, “Assistants rule the world,” and assistants do business with other assistants. When you are looking at your process, procedures, sales, and protocols, can you seek their input too? Furthermore, seek their feedback on your ideas and how they may be perceived by others outside of customer-facing teams. Ask them if there’s a better way to do something, a more clever, a more productive way because they look at the world differently to you and their perspective is so valuable.

#4. Review. Now, review in our world means that every summer we take time to review the way the business is going. We look at all of the ways that we organize things for a checklist, for travel, for client work, for invoicing. The team and I review everything coming up in the next six months, operations manual, and more. The summer is better for us because it’s a quieter time for me when many of my corporate clients are on vacation. But review processes do you have in place to truly pay attention and commit to your support staff? We want to always make sure that we are delivering the best value for our clients, and so for us, that means we have to constantly be in review.

#5. Celebrate. Finally, celebrate with your support staff when you’ve had a great win or a fantastic year or closed a sale.  For instance, when we released my book, Attention Pays, we were so excited that it was number one best new release on Amazon. We were super excited that it became the number one bestseller for 800 CEO-READ that month. Now, that was a huge team effort, and my Maria who has been with me for a long time, she and I went out that night and we celebrated. Celebrate your wins with your team too; because they work so hard to help you do what you do.

In conclusion, ask yourself: How are you paying attention to your support staff? What are you doing to recognize and acknowledge the work that they do? For some, it might be just a handwritten thank you note. Others may need a shout-out at the team meeting. It might be tickets to their favorite concert or sending them to a conference or maybe sending them some great books to review. Either way, it’s time to pay attention to those you depend on, your support staff.

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Growth Management Personal Development

The Leadership Tip That Could Save YOU and Your Team

Just last night, I learned that one of my clients had a serious workplace accident, probably caused by an employee working distracted (thankfully, the worker survived with relatively minor injuries). If you’ve turned on your smartphone, your television, or opened your web browser today to read this article, you’ve heard about car accidents, fires, and other tragedies, often caused by … rushing and distractions.

The fact is, certain times of year are more hectic and even chaotic than others. As a leader, your task is to help your team to remain focused on the really important things. On any given day, though, we are inundated with so much stimuli it can be difficult to finish a thought, much less a task. Team members need your leadership, coaching, support, and guidance to navigate through the sea of information and stimuli. Here are a few

Executive leadership tips to save you and your team:

Slow down. I know. You don’t want to hear it. It even may seem impossible. How could you slow down? As we barrel through our days at breakneck speed, it can be difficult to notice what is going on around us. Of course, this is how accidents and mistakes happen. As an executive leader, you also need to pause long enough to notice and “hear” not only what people are saying, but what they are NOT saying. Keep in mind that everyone experiences stress differently and you want to tune-in to body language as well as words.

Establish guiding principles, values, and priorities through which your team should filter all of the distractions bombarding them. Author Stephen Covey says that we should not just prioritize our schedules, but we should schedule our priorities. Figure out what is most important, share these priorities with your team (don’t assume they know), and then help your team to focus on those priorities like a laser.

Let go. For my fellow control freaks, I know this can be tough. Recognize that you cannot – and should not – do it all yourself. Learn to delegate more effectively. Objectively consider (gasp!), if some tasks have to be done at all.

Reflect. Even if it means setting the alarm to go off a little earlier in the morning, schedule yourself some time to process and “metabolize” your experiences and plans. Stepping back from the day-to-day can help you and your team to see your way forward more clearly. (Personally, I find that journaling helps tremendously with this process.)

So the key takeaway? That one tip that might save you, your business, and/or your team, is to . . you guessed it . . slow down. Breathe and have some boundaries. They may seem simple, but we could all use a reminder from time to time. As a business owner, and busy wife and mom, I have to work on these practices every day. Like the song says, “Slow down, you move too fast… and you may even get to … feelin’ groovy!”

JOIN IN: 

  • What would you add to this list of leadership tips?
  • What strategies do you use to create greater focus and ensure safety for yourself and your team?
  • Please leave a comment on my blog below and share your insights with the community.

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Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems

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Best Practices Culture Entrepreneurship Management Personal Development

Bureaucracy or Trust? Choose One!

The old cliché reads, “Actions speak louder than words.”  It’s true.  It’s especially true when a leader wants people to trust him/her.  Besides agreeing on this cliché, can we also agree how important trust is to the performance of a team and performance of an organization?

Successful leaders must be proactive in their approach to managing trust because it has such an enormous influence on what I call the performance troika: organizational performance, employee engagement and on customer experience.  Successful leaders must behave (take actions) in ways that create an environment that shouts, “I trust you!”.  The four key elements of the Autonomy Card can help leaders send this important message of “I trust you!”. 

In May 2018 two brothers aged about 5 and 7 decided to help an under privileged child in a foreign country.  They wanted to sell lemonade on a hot spring day. Mom and Dad thought it was a great idea because it could help teach the boys entrepreneurial business skills, customer service skills, and charity.  What could be better?  The Denver Police disagreed. The Denver Police were forced to disagree because someone called to complain.  The boys did not have a permit and they were selling lemonade too close to a Denver Arts Festival.

In a bureaucracy. young boys cannot be trusted to run a lemonade stand for fear they will not do it according to the rules set up by local bureaucrats.  What lesson are the boys learning from this?  Is it how to be an entrepreneur? How to be a good citizen?  How to care for others less fortunate? NO!  They learned they can’t be trusted by some neighbors and some bureaucratic administrators who have control over economic decisions of a 5-year-old and 7-year-old boy.

A bureaucracy is an environment that is opposite of an environment of trust.  A bureaucracy is an enemy of engagement and customer experience because of its inflexible set of impersonal rules and regulations which demand specific actions.  The rules are more important than innovation.  The myriad of rules prevents creative thinking by individuals especially for responding to the continuously evolving customer needs and expectations.

In environment of trust, individuals make the decisions, from their perspective, that best serve a clear purpose and vision.  This autonomous environment is easy to understand and sends a clear message, “We trust you to make the best decisions!”  A successful leader knows the key elements that provide autonomy and trust.  Leadership is challenging and paradoxical.  You want to have rules, but you don’t want to have a bureaucracy.  Understanding and developing the key elements of The Autonomy Card can help address this challenge.

The Autonomy Card

There are four key elements in the Autonomy Card.  These can allow a successful leader to trust employees while optimizing decision making and innovation.:  1) Clear legal and ethical standards, 2) Clear values behaviors, 3) Clear mission, vision, and strategy, 4) A commitment to optimize customer experience.

If these four elements are clear, and employees admit they are clear, will provide the autonomy that allows them to make decisions and to be engaged.  The Catholics call this subsidiarity.  It’s the ability to make decisions to solve problems at the least centralized and most competent level possible.

Clear Ethical Standards

Successful organizations often have very clear ethical standards listed in an employee handbook.  These rules provide guidance in basic subjects such as company intellectual property, use of company materials and equipment, substance abuse, discrimination, harassment etc.  These are the very basic, are common sense, and are useful as a reminder to all.

Clear Values Behaviors

Clear descriptive behaviors allow employees to know how they will be treated.  For example, if treated with respect, they will have less fear to speak up.  If they will be coached and not criticized they will be more likely to take risks.  If they keep their agreements others are more likely to keep their agreements and everyone will feel safe.  Specifying these behaviors contribute to creating a safe, creative, trusting environment.

Mission, Vision and Strategy

A clear mission explains why a company exists.  A clear organizational vision explains where the company is going and what it will look like in the future.  A clear strategy provides the suggested priorities about how to live the mission and move toward the vision.

Customer Experience (Internal and External)

Consistently providing great customer experiences generates long lasting benefits such as loyalty, referrals, and higher profitability.  This focus includes both internal customers (colleagues) and external customers (those who pay for the products and services).

Once these four elements are clear and employees make an agreement to make decisions consistent with them, it’s time for the Autonomy Card.

The Autonomy Card

If the answer to all four questions is YES, do it!

  1. Is the action consistent with legal and ethical standards?
  2. Can it be done with values behaviors?
  3. Is it consistent with the mission, vision, and strategy?
  4. Will it enhance customer experience?

It may be scary to adopt the Autonomy Card because it sends a clear message “I trust you!” and sending that message requires courage. It is easier to create a bureaucracy than to create a trusting environment.

What if the Denver boys could have been allowed to form and run their lemonade stand? What benefits would it have generated for them, their family, their neighbors and the disadvantaged children?  What would higher trust do for your organization?  Try the Autonomy Card and see.

Check out the interview on C-Suite Best Seller TV to learn more about how to stop leadership malpractice and replace the typical performance review: https://www.c-suitetv.com/video/best-seller-tv-wally-hauck-stop-the-leadership-malpractice/

Wally Hauck, PhD has a cure for the “deadly disease” known as the typical performance appraisal.  Wally holds a doctorate in organizational leadership from Warren National University, a Master of Business Administration in finance from Iona College, and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.   Wally is a Certified Speaking Professional or CSP.  Wally has a passion for helping leaders let go of the old and embrace new thinking to improve leadership skills, employee engagement, and performance.

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