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How to Develop Management Experience, Even if You’re Not a Manager

manager

So you think want to manage people? How can you get a management position when you lack management experience? While you may not be able to list the title of manager on your resume, there are plenty of ways to demonstrate that you’re ready to assume more responsibility.

Start by thinking about what being a manager means:

You will be responsible for the projects that you oversee and the performance of the employees that report to you. You will be expected to lead and encourage success.

Are you up for that? Are you passionate about helping others succeed? The first thing to ask yourself is “do I want to be a manager because I want to manage people, or because I see it as the next step in my career”? If it’s the first, read on. If it’s the second, talk to your manager about opportunities for advancement that are outside of supervisory roles. Only manage people if you are going to commit to the work that goes along with it, and WANT to!

Steps to Take on the Job:

  1. Assess yourself. Examine your abilities and ambitions. Maybe you want to be a manager or maybe you prefer doing research or creative tasks on your own. Be honest about your strengths and the areas where you would like to grow.

  2. Pick a project. There’s probably some project that your boss would be happy to have help with. You can start small by organizing a charity run or redecorating the lobby.

  3. Crunch numbers. Budgeting and forecasting are part of most manager’s job descriptions. If you have a facility with numbers, ask if you can contribute to the process.

  4. Help with hiring. Smart companies often think of recruitment as an ongoing activity. Until you have employees to supervise, you may be able to get some practice by joining the selection committee or participating in group interviews. That could also lead to a bigger role in training and onboarding new hires.

  5. Propose solutions. Identifying challenges and how to address them is one way to help your boss recognize your potential. Ask for a meeting and go in armed with a list of options for landing a new client or replacing outdated equipment.

  6. Look at the big picture. To be a leader, you have to be knowledgeable about the entire company as well as your own area. Pay attention to industry trends and how your job impacts organizational priorities.

  7. Speak up. Advocate for yourself. Let your boss know that you’re interested in taking on more responsibility and willing to earn greater trust.

  8. Be professional. Remember the basics. A manager needs to set an example for being punctual and courteous.

Steps to Take on Your Own Time:

  1. Read a book. A successful manager is committed to learning. Ask your boss or a business librarian for titles that they would recommend.

  2. Take a course. Contact a local university or browse online for classes that would be helpful for your career. You may want to complete short certification program or acquire an additional degree. See if your company offers tuition reimbursement benefits.

  3. Interview others. Do you have contacts in your network who are doing the kind of management work that interests you? Invite them out for coffee or lunch so you can discuss their experiences and advice. Ask for referrals about who else you can talk with. Be sure to thank them and return the favor.

  4. Volunteer in your community. Volunteering can involve management activities as well as stuffing envelopes or answering phones. Contact a charity that interests you and ask about how you can be considered for a board position. You could also offer to lead a project.

Regardless of your current job title, you can make the jump to management if that’s what you want to do. Developing your management skills now will broaden your opportunities and increase your job satisfaction. You’ll be able to perform your current responsibilities more successfully and explore more challenging positions.

If you are interested in upping your management skills, contact us! We can set up a coaching plan to help you meet your goals!

How to Improve Communication with Your Boss – Some Easy Steps

Communication with your boss

We all have the horror stories…the great job with the horrible boss. How do you handle it?

Good communication allows many life situations to run smoothly. However, there are certain relationships that deserve extra attention, such as the relationship you have with your boss. You and your boss have drastically different roles, and when each of you fulfills these roles with a hard working and understanding attitude, you’ll both feel fulfilled.

Get To Know Your Boss

As in all personal and professional relationships, it’s important to understand how others communicate.

Everyone has their own set of likes and dislikes, and everyone has their own unique personality types and communication styles. Once you understand their preferences, you can adjust your style and methods of communication to best suit their needs.

Understand Your Relationship

It’s important to develop a good business relationship with your boss. Find out what he expects and what his goals for the business are, that way you can both be working toward the same goal.

The following tips can help you further improve your communication with your boss:

  1. Avoid being too friendly. It’s important to be friendly, but only to a certain extent. You’re not true friends with your boss. While it may seem like a good idea at first, it can lead to some uncomfortable situations. Your boss might have trouble giving you negative feedback, or your co-workers may develop jealousy.
  • Schedule meetings with your boss. Your boss may or may not be scheduling regular meetings with you. Regardless of this, take the initiative to schedule time with your boss if you feel the need. Your boss will know that you’re serious about developing your business relationship and that you really care about your job and the company.
  • Problem solving. Find out if you can help your manager with any problems that need attention. While you don’t want to step on any toes, your boss will surely appreciate you taking the initiative. Doing so will really give you the chance to stand out.
  • Maintain patience. Perhaps you would’ve done things differently than your boss or you strongly feel that one of his decisions won’t turn out right. Develop the wisdom to know if you should keep your mouth shut and go with the flow, or if you should politely speak up.
  • Shift your perspective. You can improve your communication with your boss and feel less frustrated just by putting yourself in their shoes. Imagine what everything is like for them; they likely have more burdens and pressures on their shoulders than you realized.

Be Prepared

Even if you’re not quite sure what to say all the time, as long as you prepared and honest in your communication, your boss will surely notice. So if you have to reflect and write down your thoughts ahead of time, so be it. That level of preparation will benefit you in the long run.

With any relationship, good communication skills are a huge benefit. Strive to work on strengthening these skills every day and it will help your career to flourish. In the end, your positive attitude and willingness to understand others will help you forge stronger, more permanent bonds.

If you are interested in more tips like this, join our mailing list! Or, if you need help in navigating your life and work, contact us to discuss our coaching services.

Some Tips for Hiring Remote Workers – Seize the Opportunity!

I was talking with a manager recently who was nervous about hiring people. He was anxious about onboarding, managing, and engaging with people that are not in a physical office. My response? Embrace this opportunity! With high unemployment rates across the nation, there is a lot of great talent available, and many are seeking out remote work. That person in Boise that you wouldn’t have interviewed before may be a perfect fit for your organization. I am encouraging my clients to embrace the remote workforce if they can. It opens up a whole new group of candidates to your business! Read on for some tips on hiring remote staff.

Remote work is all about independence and self-reliance, meaning that you need to look for talent that fits these qualities. When interviewing, you want to ask them if they have worked remotely before to get a sense of the familiarity the person has with accomplishing tasks without being supervised. However, even if this is a person that is new to remote work, they may still be motivated, so not having experience should not immediately exclude them. Instead, ask for examples of their previous work and ask them about their project management experience.

Make sure you are aware of the compliance issues with hiring outside of your area. Determine whether you will be hiring these people as full-time employees, freelancers, or using a staffing service to payroll them. While hiring remote workers can be a great opportunity to find new talent, you also need to make sure that you are following all federal, state, and local laws in the area where that person lives.

Similar to hiring a new local employee to your team, you should be prepared for an onboarding period to allow the worker to get familiar with your company and your products or services. Furthermore, there is always a learning curve when starting on a new project, which is only exacerbated when you are not working physically with a team. Be patient, provide milestones and feedback, and allow for some growing pains.

Given the challenges that a remote workforce may present, setting up weekly or bi-weekly calls with your new team members will help ease them into the new position. This is an opportunity to check in on their progress and to ensure that they understand their tasks and the expectations of their work, but also gives them a chance to ask questions about the company or work.

Make sure you are also getting to know these new employees on a personal level. What are they doing on the weekends? How can you help them? What motivates them? Many companies are doing virtual happy hours or game hours (check out the app www.houseparty.com for some ideas) to allow their staff some fun downtime and the ability to engage with each other outside of work.

As many companies around the world are rethinking their expectations of what their workforce looks like, you may be considering adding remote workers to your talent pool as well. At 425 HR we are experienced with talent acquisition and can help you build your remote workforce. Contact us today for more information or to book a consultation!

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

There are several traits that successful business leaders embody, including intellectual capability and technical skill. But one trait that sets a great leader apart is what is known as emotional intelligence or EQ. This is the ability to understand and use emotions in a way that positively impacts the organization, such as through managing stress and overcoming challenges. In this article, we will discuss why emotional intelligence is important and how you can implement practices to improve your EQ.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

As mentioned, emotional intelligence affects how people manage their emotions and how their emotions affect others. This impacts our stress management, focus, and ability to work in a team with others. Contrary to IQ, which is relatively set, emotional intelligence is dynamic, and you can actively improve upon it throughout your career. This is especially important in the workplace where it is normal to interact with many different people with varying levels of stress throughout the day.

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence

There are four key aspects to emotional intelligence: self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and relationship management. All four are things that you can work on to improve your emotional intelligence.

Self-awareness is the ability to recognize your emotions and realize how they impact both your thoughts and your behavior. This includes having confidence in your skills and abilities and realizing your weaknesses. While self-awareness focuses on internal reflection, social awareness addresses your empathy toward others. This means actively listening to the problems of your employees and colleagues and engaging with them, as opposed to focusing on yourself. Try asking your colleagues how they are doing and genuinely listen to their response.

Similar to self-awareness, self-management is the ability to control impulsive feelings and behaviors and apply your emotions to discover and reach your goals. To work on your self-management, you may want to start journaling to discover your aspirations. Similarly, reflection or mindfulness will also help you define your goals and become more at ease with yourself and your feelings.

Finally, relationship management is the ability to develop and maintain good relationships with others. This is crucial for working in a team and following a common goal for the organization. This also means having the ability to diffuse any conflict that may arise within your team or organization, so it is important to practice viewing conflict not as a threat, but as an opportunity to encourage a conversation within your team.

While emotional intelligence may seem complex it is an important part of being a successful leader. Despite the many facets of emotional intelligence, it is something that you can learn and improve upon throughout your career. We hope that this article has given you some insights into the topic and that it inspired you to learn more about emotional intelligence. 

Are you curious about your own EQ and how to improve it? We can help! Reach out to schedule a time to chat and we can go through our options with you.

Best Practices for Ensuring a Safe Return to Work (if you absolutely have to)

My first question is this: Do you need your people back in the office? Or is it what you are used to? Before you try to bring people back, think about WHY you want them there and if it’s possible to create a new normal for your company. Perhaps the typical 9-5 office life is a thing of the past, maybe it’s time to chart a new path.

If you have considered that and still feel it’s important to return to the office, read on!

As restrictions across the nation are starting to ease up, companies are considering how to ensure their employees’ safe return to work. There is little doubt that employees will be returning to an office that is very different from the one they left behind. Not only has everyone become accustomed to working from home, but we have become acutely aware of how easily a virus can spread, making us much more cautious with how we interact with others. In this article, we will provide you insights into what returning to work entails and offer some best practices for a safe return to the office.

Before you can consider returning your employees to the office, management should familiarize themselves with the guidelines put out by the CDC to ensure that all workers are kept safe. Depending on your business, these guidelines will also help you determine whether it is too soon for your employees to return to the office.

Continue Social Distancing

As one can expect, adjustments will need to be made to ensure that workers health is top-of mind. Social distancing is still an important recommendation from the CDC, and therefore you may need to re-evaluate your office space. Many offices are open to spark collaboration and creativity, but they will need to be reconsidered, as employees should not sit too closely. Employees should be assured personal space with at least six feet between them and their closest colleagues. Additionally, all areas should have disinfectants readily available and employees should be encouraged to regularly wipe down their work surfaces, including their desk, mouse, and keyboard. Hand sanitizer should also be provided in high traffic areas such as meeting rooms, kitchen, and bathrooms.

Implement Staggered Schedules

If you are operating out of an open office, you may consider implementing a staggered work schedule, where only parts of the workforce come in at a time. Not only will this ease the stress that employees may feel returning to work, but it will also reduce the number of employees in the office at a time, improving employee safety. Depending on the size of various teams and your office layout, you may choose to have the full team returning on certain days, while others work from home on those days. Not only will this improve safety, but it will also ease the transition between working from home to returning to the office.

Encourage Empathy

While the office will need to be reconsidered to ensure employee health, the importance of the mental health of your employees should also not be understated. People may have been directly affected by the virus, while others may still be worried about family members. Even if employees have not been sick, they have still experienced multiple months of being cooped up at home which also takes its toll. Some workers may be prepared and excited to return to the office, but others may still be apprehensive or even scared to return. Be empathetic with your team and encourage their suggestions about how to ensure that they feel safe returning to work.

Before urging employees to return to work, evaluate how things have been going as employees have worked from home. Have they maintained the productivity levels they had before? If they have, consider allowing employees to continue working from home indefinitely. Many employees would be thrilled with the opportunity to work from home just a couple of days a week, splitting the time between the home and the office, which will also make for a smoother return to the office.

How is your organization preparing to return to the office? Have you already implemented guidelines for how you will welcome back your employees? Let us know in the comments! 

The Most Important Leadership Traits During COVID-19

We can all agree that leadership positions are stressful during normal times. However, leaders have been challenged like never before during these unprecedented times. Not only have many leaders had to rethink how their organizations work as most employees are working remotely, but many have had to pivot to develop new revenue streams as a result of the economic downturn. In this article we will discuss some of the most important leadership traits during the COVID-19 pandemic and their impacts on organizations.

Empathy

As many employees have been given the additional role of caring for children or aging parents while working from home, leaders have had to learn empathy. Team members may be approaching leaders to discuss sensitive topics relating to the current situation, and leaders have had to be empathetic and listen to their concerns. This also means re-evaluating the company’s time off, sick leave, and working from home policies to accommodate employees who are dealing with these unprecedented circumstances. Some leaders may have found that they are not naturally empathetic and have felt challenged this year. If you are not a naturally empathetic leader, fear not! You can also lean on other managers in the organization and encourage employees to seek out this person regarding these topics. This is also a great time to hone your EQ!

Transparency

During these trying times, many employees may feel insecure about the future of their jobs or the organization as a whole. Generally, humans are uncomfortable during times of uncertainty, which can breed anxiety and stress. This can be very dangerous in an organization and can damage company culture in the long-run as employees naturally start to fill in the blanks when information is lacking. Transparency and honesty during this time are extremely important to maintain employee trust and keep rumors at bay. This will also ensure that your employees feel valued once they return to work, thus strengthening their commitment to the organization.

Humility

Many leaders may be feeling overwhelmed right now, especially as they are having to manage situations that they have never experienced before. Understanding that one person cannot know everything and learning how to ask for help is important to manage stress and to ensure that the company will continue thriving beyond the pandemic. This is a great time to seek the assistance of your managers and team leads and encourage them to take on more responsibility and have them ask for help if they need it as well. If you are struggling, look for a trusted advisor or a professional coach to help you out. There’s no shame in asking for help!

Setting Boundaries

Now is a great time to learn how to set boundaries and model the behaviors that you as a leader want to see within your team. Depending on your organization, this could mean modeling self-care and encouraging employees to ask for help if they are feeling stressed. This also means setting boundaries regarding your working hours, including sending out emails in the middle of the night or early in the morning. Not only will this ensure your mental health, but it will signal to employees that you do not expect them to work beyond the normal working hours, despite working from home.

What are some of the behaviors that you have had to learn during the pandemic? How have your leadership skills been tested? Let us know in the comments, we would love to hear from you!

Assume Good Intent

It may seem simple, but it changed my professional life. Years ago, I worked for a leader that made me think, analyze, and approach things from a different perspective. I will always be grateful to him for his wisdom and all that he taught me. I learned a lot from him, but the most important thing was, “Assume Good Intent.” It was a mantra he pounded into our leadership team regularly, and it was life-altering. When you look at actions through the lens of “good intent,” you see things with an open mind. You become accessible, you become open to change, and you listen to understand instead of listening to respond (this is something we will talk about in a future article!)

Many of us have been conditioned to approach many workplace scenarios with negative intent. Whether through a series of bad experiences or by adopting the general attitude of the companies where you have worked, we have been trained to always be on guard and act defensively in many situations. However, positive intent, at its core, simply means giving people the benefit of the doubt, as opposed to assuming that they are out to get you. How can you adopt this practice in your work life? And how can you encourage others in your organization to do the same? In this article, we will give you some tips and tricks for practicing positive intent.

Take a Breath

We have all received a passive-aggressive email from one of our colleagues and felt the urge to reply defensively. This tip might sound simple, but it can be challenging to put into practice. Before making any decision, or sending that sassy email back to your colleague, simply take a couple of deep breaths. Taking a few seconds just to do a gut-check on a decision will prove beneficial because you may find that you have been approaching the situation wrong. Is there a possibility that your colleague was simply in a rush to send out the email? Could you be reading the tone wrong? Taking a breath to consider this might help you diffuse a situation and avoid further hostility.

Get a Second Opinion

If you feel that someone in your team may be operating with negative intent, and you have reason to believe that they may be “out to get you,” consider talking to another person in your team about this. Do they have the same negative experience as you? This is a way to gauge whether or not you might have misinterpreted the signals sent by this colleague. If they do feel that this colleague is operating with negative intent, you can consider talking with the person directly, or if you are uncomfortable doing so, talking to your manager. Having a one-on-one conversation may help you overcome any differences you might have to operate more smoothly in the future.

Practice What You Preach

Possibly the most powerful thing you can do is to practice what you preach, especially if you are in a leadership position. Make positive intent a practice in your work life and make it known to your colleagues that you are doing so. If you are in a leadership position, you can teach your team about positive intent and encourage them to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that their colleagues have their team’s best interests at heart. Encourage them to help their peers navigate tricky conversations with coworkers or clients and urge them to come to you if they are unsure of how to deal with a situation. Remember that they will be looking to you to see how you are living with positive intent in the workplace.

Positive intent is a powerful tool for both your personal and professional life. In the workplace, you will find that giving people the benefit of the doubt will increase trust within your team and will build your employees’ confidence as they learn that they are trusted to make the right decisions. Not only that, but you may find that positive intent will spill over to your private life, enabling you to better deal with tricky situations with your friends and family.

Is your organization practicing positive intent? Is this something that you would consider implementing? Let us know in the comments!

Why you should hire a coach

As a company grows and becomes more successful, many leaders find themselves in need of guidance with how to deal with this added responsibility. One such way is through hiring a management coach to help identify areas of improvement and to help you develop a plan of action to reach your goals. While some executives may be wary of asking for help, recognizing the need to improve is a sign of commitment to your organization and will help you achieve the vision that you have for your company. In this article, we will discuss what a management coach is and how a management coach might help your organization.

What Exactly is a Management Coach?

A management coach, also commonly known as an executive coach, is an external partner that helps management recognize areas of improvement within the organization. As organizations grow and markets change, it is common that leaders feel that their ways of leading the company could use some help. Engaging a coach can help open up the conversation within the organization, which can build employee trust in the organization. It is also common to hire a management coach when a leader feels that their organization is not reaching its full potential, as having external input helps to realize a plan of action for how to grow.

Typically, a management coach will initially meet one-on-one with executives and managers to open up communication and provide a safe space of support for each individual. Because the management coach is not associated with the company, they can identify what is and is not working well within the organization and provide suggestions for how to improve. Identifying issues allows for opening up the conversation on how to improve moving forward. Finally, a coach will also help to develop a plan of action to identify and reach your overall goals.

How Can a Management Coach Help your Organization?

Emotional intelligence is one of the key strengths of a great leader, and a management coach can help you improve upon this. As you may know, emotional intelligence is learning how to recognize your emotions and how your emotions affect the people around you. High emotional intelligence helps you manage your relationships more effectively, which is crucial in a management position. Furthermore, a coach can teach you ways to improve upon your confidence as well as your vulnerability toward your team members.

In addition to opening up a conversation to initiate change, a management coach can also help leaders build relationships and trust within their team. As a management coach offers an external perspective, employees will feel more comfortable sharing their insights into potential problems within the organization and will share their suggestions on how to improve. By making them feel heard, you are signaling that you are listening and have their best interests in mind. The result is employees that feel supported and grow their allegiance to the company.

Ultimately, nobody expects a manager to be perfect right out of the gate. It is a sign of maturity to be able to recognize that there are things you can improve upon, which will benefit your organization. At 425 HR, we understand that we can all use help when it comes to reaching our potential. Therefore, we offer tailored leadership and management coaching to help you and your team realize your best talents, skills, and attributes to help you succeed. Book a free consultation today to learn how we can help you.  

Five Tips for Motivating Your Team Working Remotely

Five Tips for Motivating Your Team Working Remotely

During these times of uncertainty, many workers may be faced with additional pressure which can affect their motivation. You may be wondering what you can do to ensure that your team is succeeding from home. In this article, we will go through five tips that will help you motivate and engage with your employees remotely.

Operate Transparently

Many companies are facing difficulties due to the loss of customers and sales as the world is facing the economic repercussions of the global pandemic. If your company is experiencing a loss of revenue and is in the difficult position of having to cut employee benefits, salaries, or even furloughing employees, make sure to establish open communication with your employees and encourage them to reach out. Consider hosting virtual town hall meetings regularly to keep employees up-to-date with the company and encourage your managers to stay connected with their team through regular check-in calls. These are important to reduce the feeling of uncertainty that many people are experiencing at the moment.

Set Realistic Expectations

In addition to working from home, many people are taking on the additional role as their children’s teacher and caretaker. Some may also be dealing with sick family members or caring for aging parents, adding to the emotional pressure. This means that your employees may be unable to work as consistently as they would in the office. Make sure that you are setting realistic expectations for your workers and encourage them to seek assistance if they need help with their tasks.

Encourage Exploration

If your company is experiencing a lull in projects coming in, why not inspire employees to work on a passion project? Perhaps there is an area of interest for the organization that there simply wasn’t the time to explore before. This is a great opportunity to research new business opportunities if your employees have extra capacity. While many businesses are simply focused on surviving, this period could prove a valuable time for expanding business potential in the future. 

Remote Team Building

Being away from their colleagues undoubtedly has an impact on your team members. Normally, our employees see each other every day, usually building a bond within the team that leads to collaboration and support. In addition to team video conferences, you can also encourage managers to organize a virtual coffee break or a virtual happy hour. There are several free websites that enable us to have fun while being apart, including Scribbl.io and House Party, and these can be great tools for remote team building.  

Trust Your Talent

While working from home certainly is different than being in the office, you must trust in the talent that you have hired. After all, you hired them for a reason, right? While motivation levels may be different than normal, working from home may lead to increased productivity or greater efficiency when working. Try to see this period as a learning experience and trust that your employees will do their best.

Undoubtedly, managers and employees alike are being tested during this unprecedented period in time. While employee motivation may be different than before, it is important to understand how you can encourage them while being apart. What have been some of the tactics you have used to encourage your employees? Tell us in the comments below!

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Yes, You Must Talk to Your Employees About Current Events!

As protests are spreading throughout the country, many managers are considering how to speak to employees about current events. While politics is commonly a taboo topic in the workplace, the current events go beyond politics, and it is now a topic that leaders must address. In this article, we will provide you some insights into how leaders are speaking out against racism and provide you with insights into how you can address your employees during this time of unrest.

Addressing Inequality

According to HR Technologist, racism, politics, and religion are the top three most loaded topics to discuss in the workplace. However, the coronavirus has put the world on edge and has made racial inequalities difficult to ignore. After the killing of George Floyd, people around the nation have taken to the streets to protest the racial inequalities that still persist in our country today. Many companies have shown their public support for the protests, and you may be considering whether you need to make an internal announcement to your employees.

While this is a heavy topic for an organization to address, it is an important opportunity to show empathy to your team. When you make an internal statement to employees, management and HR should be aligned to ensure that the statement reinforces the company’s already established policies against discrimination.

Leaders Speaking Out

The last week has had several CEOs of the biggest companies in the US make statements publicly in support of the protestors and are using this moment to reinforce their company values. From Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, to CEOs on Wall Street, many are using this opportunity to enforce their company values through internal statements to employees. Many consumer companies are showing their support externally, including Nike who released a new campaign urging consumers to “for once, don’t do it,” a play on the brand’s popular slogan, denouncing racism. These are just some examples of companies that are using their positions of power to highlight the racism that is still prevalent in today’s society.

While some leaders have been faced with criticism for how they have spoken about the situation, especially as the majority of CEOs are white males, many experts agree that starting a conversation about racism is much more powerful than remaining silent on these uncomfortable topics. This could also provide an opportunity to identify areas of improvement and create a plan of action for addressing these areas.

What Should You Do Now?

While the current events are difficult to address, especially as many companies are still working remotely, now is a great time to re-evaluate your company guidelines to make sure that they reflect the diversity of your employees. Ultimately, this is an opportunity for your leaders to show empathy to employees of color, and to re-evaluate how your company encourages diversity among employees.

If you are still unsure of how to address the current situation in your company, 425 HR is here to help.

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