How to Follow Through on Your 2020 Goals

By | Career Guidance | No Comments

The start of a new year is the perfect time to reevaluate how you approach goal setting. Setting goals is easy. The hard part is following through on them. Most professional goals are challenging. They involve hard work and dedication. So how can you keep yourself motivated? Here are some tips to follow through on your 2020 goals.

Be Consistent

The key to following through on a goal is consistency. Work on the steps toward your goal every day. Not only will this help turn it into a habit, it will give you with momentum. One way to approach this is with a calendar. Each day, when you make progress on your goal, put a red X through the date. The further you go into the year, the harder it will be to stop. When you see the long chain of crossed out dates, you won’t want to break the chain. It seems simple but having a visual representation of your accomplishments is powerful. Seeing that you’re making progress on your goal every day will motivate you to continue.

Connect with Others Who Have Similar Goals

Look to friends and coworkers for support. Some of them have likely set yearly goals that are similar to your own. It is much easier to follow through on goals when you have people to support you and hold you accountable. Finding trusted friends to keep you honest can make the experience more fun. Schedule lunch dates to discuss the progress made toward goals or plan an outing together when you hit important milestones on the way to your end goal.

Use Self-Knowledge

You won’t follow through with goals if you don’t select those that you have the ability to accomplish and strategies that play to your strengths. Reaching a challenging goal always requires some sacrifice. When setting goals, make sure you consider what those sacrifices will be. For example, the goal you set might require you to work longer hours. Are you willing to sacrifice your work-life balance? Don’t pick a goal if you know you don’t have the will to make the necessary compromises. You also want to play to your strengths. If your goal is to be more organized, don’t plan time in your schedule to work on organization in the morning if you know you’re not a morning person. Think about what time of the day you have the most energy and focus.

Many of us make goals for ourselves every January. Fewer of us follow through with them. Usually, adjustments aren’t made to build the momentum necessary to achieve them. Selecting attainable goals that you genuinely care about, being consistent with your progress, and building in accountability can all make it easier to follow through on your goals in 2020.

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How to Create a Perpetual Prime of Life

By | Hiring Strategies, Leadership, Training | No Comments

As recruiters, we ask candidates a powerful question which typically elicits immediate pause, reflection, and authenticity in the answer. It is a question that catches most off guard, creates a feeling of nostalgia, and sometimes even prompts a smile. “At what point in your career did you feel most fulfilled? When did you feel you were truly in your prime, or at your best?” Unfortunately, more common than not, the answer is a story of the past. This creates a dual-sided dilemma; how do we expect others to be inspired by our vision and actions if we ourselves are not inspired by them? How do we create a perpetual prime of life for ourselves and for those we lead?

Perpetual Prime: Yourself

A commonly cited quote (original author contested) reminds us that “it’s never too late to be what you might have been.” It might help to know that celebrity chef Julia Child worked in advertising for the majority of her life and did not release her first cookbook until age 50. Legendary comic creator Stan Lee did not create his first comic until he was 39. Colonel Sanders of KFC fame did not start franchising his company until the age of 62. The individual responsible for inventing instant ramen noodles did not do so until he was nearly 50. However, this is not an article about the possibilities of succeeding later in life. It is about how to take the environment of previous success and push yourself to stay in it, year in and year out.

The best place to start is by learning from the past. What is your answer to the question above? When have you felt truly in your prime, and what circumstances were in play at that time?

  • Commonly, the following four statements are generally the answers we hear most often as recruiters:
  • I had a team around me and we were all rowing together, hard, to achieve a goal we all believed in.
  • I was busy, maybe even overwhelmed, but overwhelmed doing meaningful work.
  • I was tasked with a challenge and given autonomy but support to solve that problem.
  •  I was surrounded by a team or a leader who pushed me to be more, learn more, take on more and grow more.

Sound familiar? You might identify with some or all of those experiences, whether they are in the past or in the present. The remaining question is “what changed?”

As leaders, we are in a position of power – a position to recreate the very circumstances that once made us feel we were the zone or at our best. We have the ability to take control of the variables that put us in those situations and control of the variables that detract.

Consider instead:

  • What is our collective vision, and what can be done to make it a more purposeful goal?
  • What mundane tasks should be outsourced, freeing up time for the most fulfilling and highest gain daily activities as a leader?
  • What can you do to create an ongoing learning environment with new challenges to overcome?
  • Are you surrounded by the best, both peer-level and those on your team? If not, what changes need to be made?

It is normal to find yourself entrenched in the day to day routine of work, family, and life. Many people go through the day on autopilot of knowing what is expected and performing to that expectation. It is not necessarily easy or comfortable to take the time to answer the questions posted in this article and start to understand true aspirations, motivations, and desires. It is certainly not comfortable to initiate change and uproot unproductive teams or face the reality of uninspiring objectives, but it is necessary in order to create an environment in which everyone feels at their best.

Perpetual Prime: Your Team

Being a leader can often times feel like being a parent, where every word is heard and every action is emulated. That leads us to another question: who was the best boss you ever had? Most answers include things such as “he/she had a vision and could articulate where we were going and how we would get there” or “their impact was felt daily as they worked tirelessly towards our goal” or “he/she put me in a position to succeed and I felt there was a strong belief in my abilities and potential.” Sound familiar? Although we are all different, we are also often alike. Creating a professional environment in which your team feels they are all in their prime takes work, but it is not a unique challenge.

In fact, someone once felt it with you; think about it! The best boss you ever had took responsibility for inspiring you, for making you feel heard, and for believing in you at times more than you believed in yourself. As leaders, we owe it to those who have put their careers in our hands, and the formula exists for what to do. It has been done for you already in the past. In fact, Google has even made leadership a replicable quality! Google’s people analytics team started by researching the qualities that make managers great at Google and then built a training program that teaches those exact qualities. Once the program has been completed, Google measures the behaviors of the leaders to ensure that they’re making improvements and morphing into managers that Googlers want to work for.

We don’t need to make it as complex as Google has. Start with becoming the boss you most admired and recreating the circumstances that used to make you feel you were in your zone. So goes the leader, so goes the team; once you feel you are in a perpetual prime of life, you will be surprised by how many others follow.

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Retention Tips: How to Retain Your Best Talent for the Long Term

By | Executive Assistant, Hiring Strategies, Leadership | No Comments

Retaining your best employees is an essential strategy in growing your business. Poor retention drives up an organization’s costs and can negatively impact the team’s morale and confidence. Here are some retention tips to help retain your best talent for the long term.

Overcommunicate Expectations and Details

One of the main reasons new employees quit is because the job isn’t what they expected. Throughout the hiring and onboarding processes, overcommunicate expectations and other important details. New hires should know exactly what to expect when it comes to their job responsibilities and the company culture. Also clarify what their priorities need to be in order to succeed in the role.

Establish What it Takes to Accomplish Their Goals

Employees need to know what to do in their position that will allow them to accomplish their daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals within the company. Often, employees leave because they don’t see how they are contributing to the company in a meaningful way. Instead of putting out fires, they need to know they have a purpose. Part of your job is to communicate to employees clearly and consistently how the role will allow them to contribute to the company. If you make that clear from the start, then they will have a much greater chance of reaching (and exceeding) those goals and feeling the sense of accomplishment that comes along with that success.

Set Employees up for Success, Not Failure

To ensure that new hires are happy at the company, set them up for success from the beginning. During the onboarding process, help new hires understand what challenges they will face in their new job, and provide them with the appropriate resources, such as a mentor, to overcome these challenges. You also want to give them tools to learn about the company and their role as quickly as possible. Finally, you want to provide new hires with opportunities to socialize with their peers so they can start to feel like part of the team right away.

Give New Hires Time to Train and Attend Regular Meetings

The most common complaint that new hires have is that they don’t feel like they have adequate time for training and meetings. New hires need the appropriate amount of time to train and attend meetings so they can learn their role and learn what they need to about the company and its culture. Otherwise, they might not figure out how to perform their job fast enough, become overwhelmed, and leave.

Have a System Place

With the above in mind, you have a system in place for training new hires and providing them with the onboarding they need to succeed. You might also want to incorporate a mentorship program to help accelerate the learning process and help make the new hire feel more comfortable.

Retention is essential for a successful business. You need your best employees to stay loyal to the organization so you’re not wasting time and money constantly searching for talent. To improve retention, make sure expectations are clear, establish how the role will help them accomplish their goals, provide them with the tools and resources they need to succeed, and give them sufficient time to train.

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Loss Aversion in the Workplace

By | Hiring Strategies, Leadership, Training | No Comments

Imagine this scenario: a colleague offers to flip a coin and give you $20 if it lands on heads. If it lands on tails, you give him $20. Would you accept that bet? For most of us, the answer is no. Behavioral science experts Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman performed an experiment which resulted in a clear example of human bias towards losses. The experiment involved asking people if they would accept a bet based on the flip of a coin. If the coin came up tails the person would lose $100, and if it came up heads they would win $200. The results of the experiment showed that on average people needed to gain about twice as much as they were willing to lose in order to proceed forward with the bet. This tendency reflects loss aversion, or the idea that losses generally have a much larger psychological impact than gains of the same size.

You likely experience this phenomenon daily. Have you ever purchased something knowing you’d likely return it, but the longer you keep it the more attached you get? Sending the item back now feels like a loss. The longer we wait to be seated at a restaurant, the harder it becomes to leave, because it feels as if the time we’ve invested would then be lost. The more we try to fit a new couch through a too-narrow entryway, the less inclined we are to give up and accept that we need a smaller couch, and the more steadfast we become in making it fit. It seems that sometimes we will persist with a belief or course-of-action long after it is rational to do so. We feel trapped by what we have already committed.

Although a fascinating piece of knowledge about human behavior, what does the concept of loss aversion have to do with the workplace?

As leaders, knowing that losses have a tremendous psychological impact can cloud judgement when it comes to truly evaluating employee performance. We have a tendency to double down with those we’ve invested time with yet who continue to underperform.

“B” and “C” Players

A less enjoyable component of management is the act of working with and coaching the perpetual under-performers. Every department has them, every leader has struggled with them, and some may even have a few who come to mind immediately. They are the few who we try to encourage, who we try to train, and for whom we hold out hope that change will come, but it can seem like an endless cycle of performance management and frustration.

We all recognize “A” Players. Within most organizations, there is even room for the competent, steady “B” performers who balance their work and personal lives while still performing a significant amount of tasks that need to be done. They stay in their lane, don’t require a great deal of attention, and they get the job done.

On the other end of the spectrum, “C” Players sometimes make up the smallest segment of the team yet require the most time and attention. They are the employees with a constant litany of excuses – a vehicle is broken, someone is sick, excessive days are missed, and the workload either gets passed to someone else or delayed altogether. They walk the fine line between “good enough to get by” and “fireable offense worthy of termination.” They are granted continual employment primarily because the act of hiring, training and managing someone you don’t know is sometimes more intimidating than continuing to deal with the perpetual issues of the presently employed “C” performer.

Stop Doubling Down

It’s time to step away from the fear of losing $100 and focus instead on the opportunity cost of not winning $200. The obvious unintended consequence of having a seat filled with an under-performer is having it not filled by a significant contributor. What rarely is considered is the impact on those who are current significant contributors; there is little more frustrating than having your own success consistently hampered by another person’s incompetence. If the majority of your team is working hard, producing great results with tremendous collaboration, what message are you sending by supporting the 10 percent who are doing the opposite? How long do “varsity players” want to be surrounded by sub-par athletes?

Beyond performance issues, it is likely time to top-grade when:

  • The individual is the central cause or perpetual perpetrator of office drama
  • Co-workers (or possibly worse, clients) have taken note of the incompetence
  • The employee has an apathetic attitude
  • He or she ignores actionable feedback
  • The individual handles emotions poorly, mistaking the work environment as a therapist’s office
  • You spend more than ten minutes a week, week after week, dealing with issues created by the employee

Toxic Workers, a Harvard Business School study of more than 60,000 employees, found that “a superstar performer–one that models desired values and delivers consistent performance” brings in more than $5,300 in cost savings to a company. Avoiding a toxic hire, or letting one go quickly, delivers $12,500 in cost savings.

Sometimes, it truly is best to return the item, leave the overcrowded restaurant, or succumb to a smaller couch. Instead of experiencing a loss, you might actually gain the improved morale of the entire workforce. Instead of experiencing a feeling of loss over time invested, you might actually gain more time to invest in those worth investing in. Instead of feeling the loss of an employee, you might actually gain a key contributor you would not have otherwise hired.

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