Life is Short, Work Somewhere Awesome!

Are you ready to learn the surprising truths about how to attract and retain top talent? I know you are, so let’s get right to it!

Forget the fully-stocked fridge with fancy bottles of water, craft beer and in-office massages. As cool as this sound, perks are not the reasons why people come to work for you nor are they enough to keep them from leaving. The secret to retaining smart, talented, ambitious, and innovative employees is to make sure they are surrounded by the same type of driven people.

The truth is that people want to be around people who light them up. We all want to learn something new, find a solution to a complex problem and work as a team to develop a ground-breaking product or service. At the heart of this, is the unwavering sense of belonging. Simply put, we need to feel connected to others.

So how do you do this? Making long-lasting connections with employees starts with a genuine care for them. When you care about someone, you want to bring out the best in them. You want to emphasize their strengths and help them strive to be better in all areas of their life. You can do this by involving them in daily business decisions, asking for their input and how they would approach a certain issue. Continually make eye contact and actively listen when they speak. Ask follow-up questions. Provide them with real-time feedback that is both positive and negative. By doing this, you are telling them they are part of something bigger.

Creating an environment where people feel safe to share their opinions and take risks is crucial to building trust. By encouraging all employees to use their voices, traditional walls between departments come down and suddenly everyone is trying to help the company achieve its goals. Your receptionist, accounting assistant, floor technician and inventory clerk all need to know their purpose. Here’s a question for you: If someone asked your entry-level employee what the top 3 things the company was working on, would they be able to answer? If not, you need to start educating them on the big picture. Don’t make the assumption that because they aren’t in a leadership role they don’t have anything to contribute.

Another way to build trust is to advocate friendly debates on work issues. This is an opportunity for people to shoot holes or find loopholes in other’s ideas and to decide together the best course of action. You don’t want people on your team who always agree with you just because you are the boss. This doesn’t help you get ahead of the competition.

Hold “after action review” meetings that include employees at all levels. Discuss a recent event’s wins and fails and encourage everyone to admit and share their mistakes. There’s no better way to learn and grow than a review session. Decide as a team what you will do differently next time.

Although some policies and workplace rules are essential, don’t stifle your employees with too many of them. By trusting them to be responsible adults and to make good decisions, you are creating a culture of freedom. This is achieved by holding them accountable with specific deadlines and deliverables. If they show you they aren’t responsible, then you can reign them in with clear expectations. Sadly, most company policies and rules are in place due to our litigious society. However, consistent and honest feedback go a long way to avoid a lawsuit. The root of all conflict is unclear expectations and lack of communication.

You don’t have to incorporate all of these things today. Pick one and do it consistently for a week and see what happens. You will begin to notice a dramatic shift in your team, your business and your bottom line which will leave you wondering why you didn’t do this sooner!


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6 Steps to Get Amazing Results with Your Team!

We can all relate to unrolling a project out to our team and being less-than-satisfied with how it turned out. We feel frustrated and emotionally drained because as leaders, we know exactly what the result should be.  We envision the exact deliverable down to every last detail. It’s easy to take this for granted because we often assume that people understand what we want. The disconnect comes in when we don’t know how to articulate this to our team.

Well how do I do that, Wendy? Great question!

Step 1: Make sure you have an uninterrupted 15 minutes. Close your laptop. Turn your phone to silent.

Step 2: Set a time for 15 minutes. I know you are busy, but this will payoff I promise!

Step 3:  Take out a pen and some paper (yes, actual paper and a writing   instrument) and write down your desired result for the project.

Step 4:  Perform a brain dump of the steps needed to get that result. Focus on the broader steps first so you don’t get bogged down on the details.  Don’t worry about getting them in the right sequence yet.

Step 5:  Prioritize the steps in numerical order. Read the steps as one of your team members would. Is anything unclear or ambiguous? Does anything need to be simplified? Make any changes that you see immediately. Now, put it aside and come back to it after one hour.

Step 6: Read the list one final time making revisions as necessary. And Voila! You just reverse-engineered your deliverable!

Now here are just a few tips to get you to the finish line. Meet with your team and review the steps together. Reassure them there aren’t any “dumb” questions.  Invite them to ask clarifying questions. This is critical to getting the project off on the right foot.  A lot of times employees (especially millennials) are afraid to ask follow-up questions. They feel like they should already know what to do. Rather than asking you, they go straight to the internet to find their answers.  By making yourself accessible and approachable, you can avoid conflicts in later stages of the project.

But Wendy, why do I have to babysit my employees? Great question! The simple answer is you don’t.  Once you have given clear expectations and have emphasized that they come to you for answers, they will start to learn your preferences, and you will notice less and less hand holding. Yes, it may take more time initially, but you are training your staff on your likes and dislikes and preferred methods.

As a bonus, you are building morale, engaging, and empowering your employees just by spending more time with them and letting them know it’s okay to come to you when they get stuck. You will be surprised by the positive results clear communication and investing your time will yield!

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