Category Archives: Business Leadership

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5 Ways to Have More Effective, Better Meetings

Meetings are an important and often necessary element of working in teams, but in many workplaces, they are dreaded, inefficient, and often not able to achieve intended goals.

Creating structure and using tools like leadership and emotional intelligence to manage and improve meetings can improve team morale, boost total productivity, and improve communication cross teams – simply because meetings become a tool for communication and collaboration rather than an ineffective to-do item.

Here are 5 ways to have better meetings.

Create an Agenda

Every meeting should have an agenda to follow, whether it’s on a digital screen or a written board. Ideally, this would include a timetable of how much time to allocate to each topic. Anything that goes past the relevant timetable can be moved to a separate meeting with relevant parties (most subjects don’t require everyone) to keep meetings on topic.

Similarly, it’s crucial to ensure that key decision makers are present before tabling and discussing anything. Before the meeting starts, bring up the list of agenda points and encourage questions in advance.

Ask Everyone to Contribute

Most team members can and should be able to contribute in a meeting, even if it’s in a small way. Taking time to ask quiet team members for their opinions or setting aside moments to recognize and highlight team members as part of the meeting can help everyone to feel appreciated and valuable.

For example, you can give recognition to a team effort or individual team member, ask others to recognize their team members, or create a 10-minute session where you go around the table asking each member to discuss what they are doing on that day or week that may be relevant to the rest.

Use a wrap-up to close the meeting

If you’ve had a good meeting, you’ve created solutions or discussed outcomes and next steps. It’s important to wrap up by ensuring that tasks and deadlines are assigned, that all action items have a realistic deadline, and that each assignment is given to individuals who can achieve those tasks.

Focus on Others

It may be natural to focus on what you’re doing, but shifting attention to others and their emotional needs is important. Problems often arise because of difficulties in communicating, stress, and individuals focusing on giving input rather than listening to others.

Recognizing when people are struggling, how people respond to both criticism and reward, and what they are capable of will allow you to better delegate tasks, meeting-room communication, and make decisions based on capabilities.

Be Accountable for Your Results

Meetings are often time-sinks, where you can become caught up in anything. Recognizing when you’re going off-topic, when you aren’t delegating well, and when you need to practice emotional intelligence to help your team communicate will help you to have better meetings overall.

Good meetings require a combination or organization, emotional intelligence, and trust between team members or participants. Working to foster all three with emotional intelligence, good workplace tools and structure, and by building good habits will help you to improve the efficacy of your meetings.


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5 Ways to Address a Performance Gap in Your Team

Skill and performance gaps crop up in every workplace. Jobs, technologies, and even demand change over time. When this happens, recognizing and working to fill performance gaps is crucial to maintaining results and productivity inside your team.

In most cases, performance gaps are the direct result of missing skills inside your team. This could show up as lack of development for team members or missing team members.

The best short-term strategy is to use direct intervention to bridge these gaps with training and hiring, but long-term goals should involve using competency models and frameworks to account for skills gaps before they occur, so that employees are hired, developed, or directly trained to prevent them.

Identify Performance Gaps Correctly

Correctly identifying performance gaps and their source is one of the most important elements of correcting them. Performance gaps can stem from numerous sources, but common reasons include;

  • Lack of job knowledge
  • Changing job requirements
  • Lack of understanding of the role due to improper hiring
  • Ineffective management
  • Physical or emotional conditions in the workplace
  • Leadership and structural problems within the organization

Properly identifying performance gaps may mean bringing in a third-party depending on your existing resources and ability to properly assess your organization.

It’s also a good idea to use multiple data sources such as KPIs, employee assessments, and leadership assessments, which you can then use to cross-validate results.

Train Employees in New Hard Skills

Changing technology often means that employees who were previously very good at their job can no longer use their relevant skills, which often results in a performance gap.

Using competency frameworks and clear job profiles will help you to identify which skills are necessary for the role, which can help you in offering training and development to those who need specific skills to perform.

Use Leadership Development to Prevent Performance Gaps

Leadership and management problems are often a direct cause of performance gaps, especially when high performers are promoted from a technical to a leadership role.

Some high performers make the switch effectively, but many may continue to perform in technical roles, micro-managing teams and doing work themselves instead of empowering their team. This will result in a lack of motivation and a huge performance gap.

Integrating leadership development to ensure that leaders and management know what is expected of them and how they should perform in their roles will help prevent this.

Address Workplace Culture and Environment

Workplace and cultural problems often dramatically affect performance and productivity, with issues stemming from a lack of emotional intelligence, poor communication, and even the actual office layout.

These issues can be identified through assessments, and must often be fixed by taking direct action on specific instances (such as offering communication and teamwork workshops), giving training in emotional intelligence, or creating more flexible and agile workplace solutions.

Integrate a Competency Framework

A good competency framework will help you to recognize and address performance gaps more quickly by creating a foundation to assess and monitor individual role productivity. Competency frameworks recognize what good performance looks like (rather than simply skills), which can help you to review when performance is being affected and how, so you can take steps to correct issues on an individual level.

Performance gaps are a major problem in many teams, but they are often related to leadership, direct skills gaps, or lack of motivation. Integrating good HR tools will help you to assess and solve these problems more quickly, while preventing them in the future.


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Leadership Techniques: How to Manage Legacy Employees as a New Manager

Moving into a role as a new manager can be difficult under normal circumstances. However, legacy employees, typically defined as those who have been with a company for 10+ years, further complicate matters.

On the one hand, legacy employees often have a long history of dedication, loyalty, and good work. On the other, many operate using old processes and structures, may be resistant to change, and are often unwilling to accept the expertise of outsiders who often (arguably) do have a lot to learn.

In some cases, the answer to legacy employees is simply removing them if they are not willing to adapt to new processes. In other cases, working with legacy employees to introduce the how and why of new processes, or otherwise help them to adapt to new leadership may be beneficial in retaining valuable and loyal employees.

Drive Buy-In

It’s important for any employee understand leadership changes and structure, but many new managers don’t make the effort to generate buy-in for legacy employees. This creates problems where needed changes are obvious to the new manager but often intelligible to the employee.

Workshops, meetings, and one-on-one coaching with employees can help them to better understand why and where change is needed for success.

Show Emotional Intelligence

Most people have difficulty with change and adopting new processes because it challenges their authority and often their ability to do their job well. Understanding that resistance to change is often because of insecurity can help you create a better approach based on their specific problems and difficulties.

Show Respect

A long-term employee may feel that they know the company and its needs better than you. This may be true.

Showing respect by asking for opinions, soliciting advice, and directly sharing the reasoning and information behind your decisions will help to build trust, giving legacy employees further opportunity to feel valued while understanding changes. Operating a culture of transparency gives you and them the ability to see what’s going on, why, and will help them to trust what you are doing.

Redefine Roles

Legacy employees often feel as though they are experts in the company and their job. Redefine roles to better reflect what the company needs now, and offer training and assistance to move to those roles. This can help legacy employees adjust, while helping them understand why change is needed.

Job roles and expectations often change over time, and someone operating in a legacy position may not understand that. By redefining the role with HR using a competency framework, you can better define and communicate both hard and soft skills needed to perform well in the role now.

Terminating Legacy Employees

In some cases, employees are no longer a good cultural fit. They may be unwilling to adapt, may no longer have relevant skills, and may have no interest in respecting new leadership. Terminating their employment (with severance and help), may be the best way to go. It’s difficult to cut long-term employees, and you should give them the option to learn and grow with the company first, but you won’t always have that option.

Legacy employees can be valuable contributors to business, with a long history of loyalty and dedication. If processes and leadership are changing, it’s crucial that they have the opportunity to understand what’s going on and why. Similarly, it’s also a good idea to respect that change is often difficult and showing compassion and recognizing the seniority of the employee in matters regarding company history and processes. Doing so will allow you to build trust and buy-in for change, so you can develop new relationships with your organizations most loyal employees.


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Develop, Don’t Hire: Using Competency Frameworks for Internal Leadership Promotion

Finding and hiring good leaders is one of the most expensive and time-consuming processes undertaken by HR. In addition, hiring a leader who was successful in any role in another company doesn’t necessitate their success inside of your own.

Developing your own leaders from within the organization helps to reduce the total cost of hiring, cut leadership pipeline gaps, and ensures that new managers understand the organization and its culture.

Good leaders are made, not hired. Working to promote and develop promising candidates from within your own ranks will greatly increase the quality of leadership and culture.

Recognizing Potential with Competency Frameworks

Competency frameworks are crucial to recognizing the factors that make up good performance in your organization. Creating one that includes leadership will allow you to recognize leadership potential by looking not at skill sets, but behavior and ability to learn.

However, it’s also important to note that many people will need direct training and development to move into different types of leadership, especially as they make the jump from technical to managerial work.

Make Leaders Accountable

If someone moves from a technical role to a managerial position, and continues to do technical work rather than delegating, they will create a bottleneck and will likely serve as a bad example for their team.

Ensuring that everyone understands what their role is, and their role in recognizing and developing potential leadership candidates, will help you avoid the situation above. This also means ensuring that leaders have the means to offer coaching and mentoring to potentials.

Offer Development Opportunities

While you will often come across fast-rising stars inside your organization, intelligence is never enough to create a good leader. It’s only the bare minimum of what they need.

Offering development opportunities such as training or additional responsibilities will help potential leaders develop and broaden their experience. It will allow employees to improve their EQ before having to bring skills into play as a leader.

Even if you can’t offer these opportunities to everyone, your competency framework will help you to identify the right candidates based on performance, ambition, and behavior.

Formal training can be an option, but assignments and job rotation are the most crucial aspects of development.

Monitor and Measure Success

Strong measurement and management of candidate progress is crucial to ensuring success, both in developing a technical employee for a management role and for promoting management to higher levels.

Tracking behavior and performance based on what is expected in the role they will move into (rather than what they are in now), will give you a good idea of where they are and whether or not they’re ready or need further development before moving up.

While developing leaders from within requires that you have a strong HR and existing leadership structure, it’s significantly more effective than hiring externally. And, by developing leaders, you control their experience, opportunities, and training, which ensures that you can ‘grow your own’ to meet your specific needs.


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How to Use Emotional Intelligence to Become a Better Leader

Whether you’re leading a team, a department or a business, leadership isn’t easy. It often involves focusing efforts on managing not just your own behavior and output, but also that of your entire team. Using emotional intelligence enables you to apply emotional considerations to problems so that you can separate your own ‘gut’ reaction and respond with empathy, kindness, and consideration – which will in turn foster a better and healthier workplace.

As Daniel Goleman, inventor of the term explains, “It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but… they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions”. Understanding and using emotional intelligence as part of your leadership style will make you a better leader by helping you to deepen your emotional understanding of yourself, your team, and how thoughts and actions impact success.

Actively Listen to Employees and Peers

Most people naturally spend time formulating responses while others are talking. If you’re upset or angry, you could be completely ignoring what the other person is saying. Taking the time to consciously listen and process what someone is saying, so that you are sure you understand their reasons and motivations, will help you to make better decisions. It takes time to learn to actively listen, but it will build empathy and trust inside your team.

Spend Time Around Other Emotionally Intelligent People

Spending time around people who show and use emotional intelligence can help you to develop your own. If the people you talk to are emotionally self-aware, calm under pressure, and able to use emotional intelligence for solving problems and resolving them, you will learn from them.

Recognize and Learn from Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes and everyone benefits from treating self-improvement as a lifelong process. Working to recognize and admit when you make mistakes is one way to practice and use emotional intelligence to become a better leader. For example, let’s say that an employee turned a task around late, made an excuse, and help up the entire team. You get angry and you berate them in front of the entire team. You could easily see that this was not an emotionally intelligent way to approach the problem, even if the employee was at fault. Apologizing to them and asking what they would want to do to try to prevent being late on tasks in the future or offering help on the next big task would help you to develop as a leader, while building trust from inside your team.

Pay attention to your decisions, observe what goes wrong and why, and make sure you understand how your actions and reactions affect your team and their motivation.

Practice Empathy

Empathy is the practice of understanding and sharing the feelings of others. When someone is upset, it’s important not to blindly react, but to understand why. As a leader, emotional intelligence can help you to understand motivation, offer motivation, and compromise.

  • Pay attention to body language. Are people upset? Disappointed? Confused?
  • Respond to emotions. How can you alleviate concerns? Make up for disappointments? Provide motivation? For example, if your team working overtime, can you provide emotional motivation to do so?
  • React with empathy. For example, is someone late because of a problem? Can you react with empathy instead of “by the book”?

Empathy can help you to bridge the gap between being an intelligent leader and one who can build trust and loyalty with your team. Hopefully you can use these tips to integrate emotional intelligence into your leadership and become a better leader.


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Integrating a Leadership Competency Framework

Excellence in an organization often starts from the top down. If your leaders including managers, board members, CEO, and other top staff are not behaving in a way that benefits the organization, you cannot expect the rest of the workforce to do so without them. Leadership competency frameworks allow you integrate new competency standards from the top up, first integrating and adjusting leadership and then onboarding the workforce.

While it is important that leadership competency frameworks never become standalone or separate from the competency framework as a whole, integrating or introducing competencies for leaders first gives you the ability to introduce and streamline the process where it matters most – the people guiding the rest of your workforce.

Providing Training

A leadership competency framework will give leaders a template for their own behavior, showing what is effective and what isn’t inside of a role. However, making the switch to new management styles often isn’t easy. Providing training and learning opportunities gives everyone the ability to adapt and learn new things. This, in turn, gives those who won’t succeed well with the new model the opportunity to recognize where they have to change in order to keep up.

Clearly Communicating What is Expected

Many organizations attempt to be ambiguous about what is expected from competency frameworks, simply because information can be translated in many different ways. While it’s true that allowing individuals to interpret competencies in ways that apply specifically to their situations can be valuable, this can backfire. By taking the time to identify and clarify points of confusion you ensure adoption and understanding. Offer clear examples of what good behavior is so that leaders know what is expected of them. Using behavioral statements as well as anecdotes, studies, and even case-studies of behavior inside the organizations can be extremely helpful for conveying a point. For example, if you can say “remember when X employee did this and achieved Y? What if X employee had done Z instead, a behavior that many of you do every day… would Y have still been achieved?”

  • Link expected behavior to outcomes and production
  • Make sure leaders understand why competencies exist. What’s the end-value?
  • Provide examples that fit your work culture and environment
  • Ask leaders to come up with their own examples to ensure understanding

Define Where and How Competencies Are Used

Leaders will eventually use competency frameworks to assess candidates for hire, for managing performance, for professional development, and for career planning for their workers. It’s crucial that they understand this and how those factors affect them and their own careers before they begin to use it.

For example, a common misunderstanding is that competency frameworks only come into play during end-of-year review. However, a good competency framework integrates into daily behavior, individual task management, and in guiding employees on how they should perform their job.

Introducing any new performance measurement tool will be met with resistance, even from leadership. The best path to success is to ensure that everyone involved has the information to see what it’s for, how it works, and what it will do. Providing adequate training and information also ensures everyone has the opportunity to get onboard.


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5 Leadership Competency Examples

Competency is a recognized and important part of modern workforce management. Ensuring that leaders have the necessary competencies, rather than simply hard skills, to excel in their position is becoming increasingly crucial, as attention shifts from simply getting teams to do their jobs, to getting teams to efficiently do their jobs.

While necessary competencies can vary depending on a specific role (factors such as job environment, and or who is doing the work do affect requirements) experts agree that the most important leadership competencies include strong ethics, empowering self and others, openness to new ideas, nurturing, and communication.

How do these leadership competency examples play out in a real work situation?

5 examples of leadership competency at play

Strong Ethics

A leader with strong ethics can a) adhere to strong moral standards, making choices based on an ethical code to follow company procedures and policies, follow the law, and make choices based on empathy. In real-life, a strong ethical code results in leaders who follow the rules, who respect the safety and emotional safety of their employees, and who work to build others up.

This allows a leader to build a safe environment, where employees understand that they will be treated fairly and can therefore trust their leadership.

Empowering Self and Others

Empowerment ties into motivation and direction – giving others the tools and motivation to perform well in their jobs. This directly benefits any organization, because no matter how technically skilled a leader, they are wasting resources if they are trying to do everything themselves.

Teams that understand they will have the tools and resources they need and that are motivated are also more productive and proactive, with more job satisfaction.

What does empowering self and others look like on the job? A leader demonstrating this skill works to allow employees to self-organize, provides insight and guidance where necessary, and works to empower others to do their own work rather than taking it all on themselves. What else? They’re openly working to apply the same standards to themselves.

Openness to New Ideas

Being open to new ideas ties into several leadership competencies. For example, flexibility to change, willingness to learn, providing room for trial and error, and willingness to adapt to new technologies and ideas. This means being open to admitting that you’re wrong, accepting ideas from unlikely sources, identifying and working to correct ‘tunnel-vision’ or an unwillingness to learn or problem solve in employees, and the ability to withhold judgement until hearing or experimenting with all the options.

Why? Taking an active problem-solving approach, whether to technology, tasks, or employees is crucial to adapting to an ever-changing digital world. Building new techniques and options requires a certain “fail fast and forward” mentality, where leaders are encouraged to try new things, test, and allow small failures with rapid feedback and correction – to not only build teamwork and collective knowledge, but also to improve the collective capabilities of the organization.

Nurturing

Workforce management is a valuable part of any organization, and any leader should be able to nurture those under him or her. A leader who is committed to helping employees to do and become their best adds value to the organization by improving the competencies and skills of an employee, by nurturing future leaders, and by building employee loyalty and motivation.

This means that a good leader must be able to mentor and coach, to recognize where people are succeeding and failing, and be able to motivate individuals to improve.

Strong Communication

Strong communication skills allow leaders to share often and openly with others and to build teams by creating a sense of connection and belonging. Communicating openly with teams allows members to build a sense of trust, to become friends with each other, and to be more open and honest when they themselves need help.

Teams that communicate well, enjoy each other’s company, and work well together are more productive and have more energy than those who frequently miscommunicate, hold negative emotions towards each other, and otherwise don’t know how to interact on a social level.

Each of these five leadership competency examples can greatly affect how a leader is able to perform inside your organization.  It also impacts the direct value they drive in their interactions with workforce they are leading.


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Loss of leadership? Here’s how to handle business reorganization

Any business reorganization presents a tough challenge for HR. Employees are left disgruntled and often bitter, new roles must be filled, old employees must work in new ways, and many suffer from demotivation and guilt or anger. These problems are exacerbated when leadership roles are emptied by reorganization, through either restructuring organization, changing teams, or removing old leaders. Employees may be left feeling confused, unproductive, and unmotivated, all of which can dramatically hurt the company.

In fact, one study showed that 74% of employees who maintained their roles through restructuring were demotivated afterwards. Managing a business reorganization and keeping everyone on track means recognizing these issues and working to correct them by reestablishing trust in leadership.

Recognize Problems

Employees who stay on after a reorganization feel sad and even guilty. They may have lost friends, leaders, and people they worked with for years. They may be anxious about their future role, changing roles in the company, and even the future of the company. Recognize this, and act accordingly.

As a result, many employees are left feeling unconfident and unmotivated. To balance, try offering resources to help employees deal with the transition and to boost their confidence, even when they’ve lost trusted leaders. Consider training, classes, seminars, or projects that will get employees excited about working there, offer opportunities, and help everyone understand the value they bring to the table so that they are self-motivated.

You’ll also likely have gaps. Take the time to assess missing skills, equipment, and resources before moving forward.

Offer Opportunities

Restructuring is about moving on. Use it to offer opportunities, like stretch assignments, training, and the ability to take on new and bigger tasks. Even if restructuring is part of a sale, it can be used as an opportunity to allow existing employees to move up or across so that they feel the restructure benefits them. This is especially important when changing how teams work because it gives workers something to grow into.

Empower Employees

Building personal leadership and helping employees to take initiative and lead themselves is often a big step for improving productivity and the quality of the workforce. Spend time helping individuals to adapt and to gain confidence in new roles. Reorganization needs to be about employees, and that means communicating upfront, treating people with respect and dignity, offering opportunities to help those being let go to find new job opportunities, and so on.

Getting Restructuring Right

A good reorganization should involve considerable planning, needs and gap analysis, and training for employees. Consolidating roles, removing teams, and changing how work is completed changes infrastructure and leadership completely – you need to know when and why it is happening so that you can communicate to the people it affects.

Modern companies restructure completely as they change direction, move to meet changing technologies, and adjust for targets. Your workforce should be driven, self-motivated, and capable of personal leadership to help you meet these challenges – so that your company remains productive and motivated throughout changes.


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