Leadership

Ever go to a social event and meet a person who just would not stop talking about themselves? You ask a friend about their vacation and before they get two sentences out this other person interrupts with their story of visiting that same place. Every time your friend tries to continue, the other guy interrupts with a bigger, better adventure. Or after asking you what you do for a living he goes on and on about his accomplishments with no prompting inquiry from you. Dominating the conversation, you’re stuck standing there nodding your head and mumbling “uh-huh” over and over. Bored to tears, you’re trying to figure out how to escape.

Does that person resemble you? In networking environments there is always the pressure to get your message out, but is that effective?  Only if by chance you randomly hit exactly on a pain point of the person you are conversing with. Otherwise you’ve been saddled with the description of a boor and have incentivized them to get away from you quickly. I’ve experienced that and been guilty of it.

As a very talkative person with strong convictions I must be very aware when I am dominating the conversation in not necessarily a good way. What I do now is ask questions; find out about them, their family, how long in the area, who do they work for, what is their position/department, use questions to show their potential as a prospect or influencer.  I’m looking for the potential of them being interested in what I have to offer.

Usually, once they have slowed down, they get around to asking me about me. Hopefully I’ve discovered enough to customize my delivery in a way that relates to something I’ve learned during my questioning phase. My goal is to use a related story about something we have done that relates to them. Once the conversation gets around to me, I usually dominate it. I’ll quite often get “Wow, I’ve experienced that same thing,” that opens additional conversation about potential solutions and away we go.

How do you handle networking conversations?  What techniques have you found helpful?

As businesses continue to rebuild from the recession, it is important to understand how to engage and retain employees. Treating employees fairly is at the core of meeting this goal. It sounds simple but it’s often not well executed. Businesses see the bottom line and forget the path to the bottom line is the people within the organization.

Costco CEO Craig Jelinek understands how to treat employees fairly. He pays them a wage that sustains and retains them as employees. The industry average is $12.67 per hour compared to Costco’s $20.89 per hour wage. 80% of Costco employees have health insurance compared to 50% of the employees at their biggest competitor, Wal­Mart. As a result of having a living wage and affordable healthcare, they are less stressed, and happier. Jelinek believes that treating employees fairly is the key to creating a healthy economy. He might be on to something with the Costco stock rising as much as 30% since he became CEO. (Source)

There’s no secret formula for treating employees fairly. It’s all about who you hire and promote to leadership positions and how they execute the following:

  • Effective communication of the company mission, vision and values. Leaders need to have a grasp of what the company values in order to hire and manage employees who fit the company culture.
  • Set clear roles and expectations. Employees want to know what they need to do and how what they do fits into the larger company goals.
  • Establish a path to recognition and rewards at all levels of the organization. An effective recognition program will help engage and retain employees.
  • Mentor and coach employees to their individual styles. Not everyone learns the same way. Pairing complementary learning styles during the on boarding stage for example dramatically enhances the process as well as increasing the engagement of the individual. At all levels of training understanding how a person learns is crucial to training effectiveness and productivity.
  • Understand the personality types of employees at all levels of the organization to ensure they fit within the organization.

It’s on this last point where the team at Viatech Global can be most effective for your organization. We believe in helping businesses hire the best, empathetic leaders who treat employees fairly and with respect. We accomplish this by measuring their inherent talent to be leaders. To learn how we can help your organization engage and retain employees, please contact us.

Just like when we get ready to elect another leader; we need to remember the characteristics of a great leader. Whether in the White House or whether in the workplace, leaders can make or break an organization. A combination of these characteristics is what makes a leader a great one.

  • Visionary: Great leaders have a picture of the future they can describe in great detail. The process of getting from the leader’s vision to actionable and executable steps is done by the management team. A leader’s role is to communicate the vision and to be sure the team understands it.
  • Passion: A leader without passion- well, it just doesn’t exist. Leaders grab on to an idea and are determined to make the idea or dream a reality. They can motivate others to believe and execute their vision into reality.
  • Character: Being a leader means having a set of standards by which you make decisions. This set of standards is your character.
  • Focus: Understanding that multi-tasking leads to less productivity-not more. Leaders are focused on one task at a time.
  • Decision Maker: Because leaders have vision and passion they can make decisions relatively easily. Often, they are made using the Q-CAT system; Quick (not hasty), Committed (not rigid), Analytical (but not suffer analysis paralysis), and Thoughtful (concerned)
  • Engaging in Discussions: Leaders ask and answer questions of their own team. They aren’t afraid to revisit their vision, making changes as needed and depending on circumstances.
  • Driven: As the vision grows to reality a leader understands a plan could change. They are determined to see a project- or a version of a project-to its completion. Great leaders are unstoppable in a way that builds, not destroys, teams and organizations.
  • Listener: A leader who doesn’t listen makes others think they don’t matter. That’s exactly how not to motivate others to follow you. They won’t think you care if you aren’t listening to them.
  • Identify and Develop Other Leaders: There comes a time when the project or organization becomes too big for one leader. Great leaders are constantly mentoring others to lead future organizations.
  • Accountability: Taking responsibility for the good and the bad results are the role of a leader. Great leaders hold themselves and their teams to standards and are accountable to these standards.

Employers around the globe are increasingly seeking employees who fit a corporate culture over skill set. That’s not to undervalue specific skills and training. Rather it speaks to trending in hiring and training employees. A recent study by Video Arts finds Leadership and Development professionals are training on soft skills more than Leadership development. What does this mean in the workplace?

A shift from hard skills to soft skills indicates the greater recognized value of Emotional Intelligence and good judgement in the workplace. Employers are running on tight budgets with a decreased number of workers as businesses rebuild post-recession. There is no wiggle room for hiring two people instead of one. There’s limited space for employees especially employees who don’t fit in with the team.

Every company has a culture driven not only by the management but by the type of people attracted to that company. Software development companies are famous for their blend of hard skills like programming and soft skills of work ethic and teamwork. They invented working from home and casual Friday. The rest of corporate America is still trying to figure out that trend of empowerment and engagement.

Soft skills are often overlooked for the fact that they are difficult to measure. You can’t directly measure work ethic or teamwork but you can measure output of production. Developing soft skills unleashes a power to motivate employees to be more productive. Allowing employees to work autonomously under a shared vision can easily result in the team members pulling all-nighters to complete a project- just like the software programmers have been doing for years.

A business that values soft skills, including individual recognition and treating employees as people first and employees second, may look, at least to outsiders, a bit chaotic and mismanaged, but the results are nothing short of amazing! The reality may be that the CEO is sitting in the middle of the production floor his or her employees. The CEO wants to be heard and seen and isn’t afraid to address employee concerns. This eliminates rumors and negativity from spreading across the organization.

Your business may not be fully embracing what is described above- at least not all in one day or week or even year. The point is to value employees and prospective employees as more than just their skills and/or college degree.

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