What is the difference between a frustrated employee and an employee that is so unhappy that they actually start looking for a new job?
To find out more we conducted new, original research to look at what the key drivers of employees actually starting to look for a new job are.
We polled 500 employees across a wide variety of industries to understand:
Our survey gave one overwhelming answer – a lack of control.
As part of our research, we asked employees how often they left work feeling that things were under control.
The results are contained in the graphs below.
The link between how often an employee feels that their work is under control and how likely they are to be looking for a new job is direct.
The correlation between the two figures is over 90% for this graph.
By contrast, while happy employees do feel that their work is out of control, they don’t do so so often.
It would appear that when employees feel out of control for the majority of the time (3 days per week or more) then the stress that that generates will drive them to look for a new job.
Our finding is a piece of empirical evidence of a link between control and the intention of leaving a job.
Does this match with other findings?
The short answer is yes as there is strong research that links feelings of control with lower stress and higher resilience.
There is also well-established research linking increased stress levels with an increased intention to quit a job.
In the sections below we look further at the individual pieces of this chain.
People who have an internal locus of control. feel that they have agency and a degree of control over events in their life suffer less stress and anxiety than people with an external locus of control.
The difference in their way of perceiving events leads to different ways of reacting to events.
People experiencing the same challenging set of circumstances can deal with them pro-actively, seeing them as a chance to grow and develop, or passively, as another example of life being unfair. Some people view failure as a learning experience and part of life. Others view it as a catastrophe that they won’t be able to recover from.
Guess which one finds failure more stressful?!!
The link between stress and resilience is also very well established.
People who find life’s challenges less stressful are more resilient.
It doesn’t matter whether they naturally have a positive outlook or they use techniques to cultivate a positive mindset when things are hard, the result it the same. They are able to keep going when things are tough and find a way through their difficulties.
All jobs have their ups and downs. It is how people deal with them that is crucial.
People who find the downs very stressful are more likely to struggle psychologically and also far more likely to quit for obvious reasons.
Conversely, people who can find ways to thrive despite the challenges they are facing are far less likely to quit conversely.
Image Credit: Agni B
One of the biggest disadvantages of remote teams is that building trust between team members is tough.
In this article, we look at ways to build trust in remote teams.
As with physical teams, it just requires some thought and planning.
We look at:
Trust is the belief that someone else will interpret and approach every action honestly and with sincerity.
If you trust someone you are confident that they will behave positively and that an interaction will be mutually beneficial.
Without trust in a business, there is nothing but process, hierarchy and extra expenses.
Trust is at the core of all good relationships, whether they are at work or at home, and fundamental to a good organisational culture.
Trust impacts all aspects of relationships.
Given how crucial relationships are to team performance, if follows trust can have a material impact on team performance.
This is backed up by research which shows that increased intrateam trust does improve performance.
Interestingly this work also found that the more interdependent a team is, the more trust is important. This makes sense as the more you depend on others to get your work done, the more benefits you will get from a high trust environment.
The benefits of a high trust environment at work include:
Trust is one of the biggest factors in workplace collaboration.
This is the mechanism that means that improving trust in a team leads to better performance.
As the benefits of collaboration in the workplace are very widely known and understood.
When people share ideas and work together, they make better decisions and get to focus on the tasks that they are best suited to.
High trust workplaces are reasonably easy to spot.
A high trust environment will manifest itself in some or all of the following:
Team members don’t fear the judgement of their peers. This means that employees are far more likely to get the help and co-operation they need to do their best work, as they don’t have to worry about ridicule.
Team members exchange ideas and opinions openly working to find the best solution to problems. They aren’t concerned about others trying to claim credit for their good ideas, or dismissing their bad ideas.
Team members are committed to working with each other, regardless of their opinion about a decision. Even if they disagree with a decision that has been taken, once it has been taken they will contribute towards the shared goal in the same way that they would if they agreed with the decision.
Team members will hold each other to account, as they know that they can do so without bad feelings. A trusting team will know that others are treating them fairly and so find criticism far easier to accept.
Not all of these ways to build trust will apply to all workplaces.
As you look at the list below you will need to think about which methods would apply best to the virtual team that you manage.
You might know your team members’ names, but do you really know who you’re working with?
The most effective way to develop trust between remote employees is to ensure everyone knows the other team members properly. This means knowing more than their names.
If time allows, encourage your team to spend the first few minutes of a meeting chatting and breaking the ice. This will mean that they get to know more about each other and connect more closely.
If you are their manager you can model the behaviour you would like to see by asking people about their day, family, pets or hobbies.
The more people connect with each other, the more they are likely to trust each other.
Another great team building activity for remote teams is having a happy hour meeting.
These encourage them to come together as colleagues and talk about anything but work. It is best if participation is encouraged rather than mandatory.
When everyone is working remotely from their homes, it is easy for people to become confused about their objectives and goals.
This is especially true when there is a lack of clear goals.
When there are face-to-face interactions these misunderstandings are easily picked up and corrected.
When a team is virtual these misunderstandings are much less likely to be spotted and can remain uncorrected until they become problematic.
The best way to avoid confusion is
– Regularly clarify the team’s primary objectives, priorities, and milestones;
– Specify a role for each team member and tell them how they can add value to the outcome;
– Use modern digital technology and tools to ensure everyone stays updated;
– Encourage people to ask questions when they are doubtful. It will ensure they are not working based on their assumptions.
One of the major challenges of remote work is monitoring progress and outcomes.
You don’t have the option to ask for quick updates face-to-face in the same way. That’s why you need a system in place that ensures every team member is working effectively.
Without this, lack of productivity and derailed projects will become a problem.
Creating a standard set of rules and procedures is a well-established way to deal with this.
– Create mandatory rules and standard operating procedures. Make sure that everyone is held accountable to them.
– Explain what you expect from each member. Tell them about their responsibilities and deadlines.
– Use digital tools to your benefit. Rely on shared documents, calendars, project management apps, and more to ensure consistency.
– Provide feedback during the process. Adapt according to the progress and outcomes.
Celebrations of milestones and successes bring people together and provide positive feedback.
Celebrations are tricky when people are working from home. Some managers feel that there is no point but this is exactly the time when extra efforts should be made.
They offer a reason to bring team members to focus on something positive which is a really good way to build trust in a group as they can see what they have achieved together.
Many companies struggle with building trust and collaboration because they are not democratic. When people don’t feel that their ideas are listed to they stop contributing them.
Managers need to give their team members a genuinely open forum and allow their team to have debate ideas and solutions openly and honestly.
The isolated nature of the virtual workplace exacerbates this issue making it even more important.
The sense of being a part of something bigger than themselves motivates people to work harder. This way, they are more likely to work as a team and achieve the company’s goals.
It is natural for people to reciprocate behaviours.
If you show trust in your team they are much more likely to show trust to your and others on the team.
This means that if you want to foster trust in a group the best place to start is by showing them trust.
There are many benefits to having rules and SOPs in place as discussed above.
However, when people are working from home they don’t have the same ability to compartmentalise their home and work lives that they would in a physical office.
This means they might not be able to exactly meet all of the requirements.
If you avoid getting too hung up on small things and focus on whether they are hitting their milestones you are showing that you trust them to successfully manage small issues.
Team managers often make a multitude of mistakes while attempting to build trust and collaboration in virtual teams. A few of the common ones include the following:
Most of the managers believe that their team members should earn their trust over time.
They feel that employees should only gain the organisation’s trust after achieving their milestones within the allocated budget and deadline.
Requiring team members to prove themselves often leads to demotivation and a sense of mutual distrust.
When you don’t trust your team members, they don’t trust you back, resulting in a less efficient work environment.
That’s why it is important for the managers to give and communicate their trust right away. This can take multiple forms such as:
If you commit to something, make sure that you follow through.
Similarly, try not to change priorities at short notice unless there is a very clear reason to do so, and if you do so make sure that you communicate those reasons to all key team members.
A big part of trust is consistency.
It is difficult for people to assume anything about your intentions if you are not consistent, and you don’t keep your word.
In turn, a big part of being consistent is being transparent. If your team members understand why things are being decided then they won’t feel that things are contradictory or unpredictable even when things are changing rapidly.
You cannot promise a bonus to your team members if they can ensure early delivery of the project and then back out.
Trust is built over time. It is a process that takes time.
Trying to force the pace is counterproductive. People don’t like being pushed
Another mistake that leaders often make is they try to force trust in their team. Instead of attempting to build and nurture it gradually through positive feedback, they attempt to force it.
When you try to force a situation on your employees, you lose credibility and integrity, which can be potentially disastrous for your team. Instead of trying to force people to like you and each other, give them the opportunity to do that themselves.
If you are leading a virtual team, your role as a leader is crucial to building trust and collaboration.
Building a trusting and collaborative culture in your team will also be one of the biggest contributors to productivity and creativity.
The great thing is that if you get it right not only will your team be more efficient but you’ll have more fun leading them.
If a micromanager has ever managed you, you know how demotivating it is.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at micromanagement.
The next article in this series will look at: What To Do If Your Manager Is A Micromanager.
Micromanagement describes a management style that involves excessive supervision and over-attentiveness to the minor details of a team member’s work and methods.
Micromanagers try to control all aspects of an assigned task rather than delegating tasks and trusting in the ability of their team members to carry them out.
Usually, micromanagement is a way for the team leader to manage their feelings of lack of control.
Micromanagers require excessive reporting on a task to maintain a sense of control and will go to extreme lengths to involve themselves in all aspects of a job assigned to a subordinate, even when it is one the subordinate has completed successfully before.
While this might be fulfilling to the micromanager, it stifles employee creativity, wastes time (spent on monitoring irrelevant details) and creates a hostile work environment.
Signs that your manager is a micromanager include:
If your manager is concerned about the processes you carry out to complete a task or project and not the outcome, they are probably a micromanager. Micromanagers focus less on results and more on making sure you are doing things their way. They check every process of a task, leaving no room for creativity.
Micromanagers tend not to be good at acting on feedback. If your manager is constantly ignoring your feedback, then they may be a micromanager. Micromanagers tend to see people more as tools to carry out a task in the way required and miss out on the experience that team members can offer them by listening to them carefully.
Being detail-oriented is a desirable trait, but in a manager, this can become suffocating if they can’t look at things with the right level of detail. Managers and leaders should focus on the big picture and leave their team members to deal with the details.
Micromanagers hate decisions being made without them. Their need for control makes delegated decision-making very difficult for them. So someone who struggles a lot with delegated decision making is likely to be a micromanager.
At heart, micromanagers don’t like delegating work. Mistakes and problems give them the excuse that they’re looking for to take back work. After all, this is what they were worried about in the first place.
Micromanagement isn’t a black and white thing. We all sit on a spectrum and it only becomes an issue when this trait is excessive and out of control.
Let’s look at a practical (and terrible) example of micromanagement.
Your boss asks you to collaborate with the company accountant and collate a list of all team members above a certain age and earning below a certain amount.
It’s a simple task that is well within your capabilities, and so you would hope to be left to get on with it.
A micromanager might well then do any of the following:
The manager’s discomfort with delegating means they come up with excuses to remain involved in the project.
A recent study by Accountemps shows that as many as 59% of people have been managed by a micromanager at some point in their career.
Of the people who reported working for a micromanager, 68% said it had decreased their morale, and 55% claimed it had hurt their productivity.
A different study found that 36% of employees have changed jobs as a result of a micromanager.
Micromanagers seldom see themselves that way. They believe that they are good, detail-oriented managers.
Micromanagement is a combination of nature and part nurture.
People most inclined to be micromanagers show the following fear-based characteristics.
These character traits can be exacerbated when someone feels insecure, for example, when they are new to a supervisory position or if they have been told that their team’s performance is poor.
Different organisations have different cultures. Businesses whose leadership emphasises control and detail-orientation or that are highly pressured will encourage micromanagement.
Some people will always micromanage no matter where they work.
Others who may tend towards it less strongly will be more heavily influenced by their employer’s culture. Someone who might not ordinarily micromanage can be turned into a micromanager by their organisation’s culture.
Studies show that autonomy is one of the biggest drivers of employee engagement.
Working for a micromanager is the opposite of having autonomy.
Micromanagers bring a rapid drop in employee engagement and an increase in the problems that that brings.
Micromanagement can get good results in the short term, but it is very damaging in the longer term.
Over time employee engagement and productivity fall, and employee turnover increases more than reversing the short-term productivity boost achieved initially.
Micromanagement impacts teams across the board. Let’s look at some of the specific ways that it can impact people.
1. Reduced Productivity:
The time a manager spends nitpicking is time that they and their team member aren’t spending on productive work.
2. Reduced Teamwork:
Micromanagement forces employees to work with their manager individually instead of working together as a team.
3. Poor Morale:
Micromanaged teams are not happy teams. A boss that is never satisfied and tends to focus on the negative is not a receipe for a happy team.
4. Loss Of Ownership:
Being told exactly how to do something and kept rigidly to that plan inevitably leads people to lose a feeling of ownership of their work. After all, if you’re told exactly how to do something, and it goes wrong, it’s not your fault. Equally, if it goes well, you can’t really celebrate in the same way as what you did wasn’t your idea.
5. Employee Absence:
The irritations and frustrations of working for a micromanager tend to mount up over time. They lead to reduced employee engagement and increased employee absences, as people feel less enthusiastic about going to work. In extreme cases, the mental health of team members can be impacted. Studies have shown a link between depression and micromanaging leaders.
6. Limiting employee growth:
One of the principal ways that growth occurs, personally and professionally, is by making mistakes. A micromanaging boss has no room for errors. Which means the employees can’t grow.
7. High employee turnover rate:
All the above effects eventually lead to employees leaving the company after only a short period due to the hostile work atmosphere.
Micromanagement is only ever appropriate temporarily when a project is going wrong.
At this point, it is appropriate for a manager to involve themselves more deeply in the project. This will allow them to analyse where it has gone wrong and put the appropriate fixes in place. However, at this point, they should then step back and leave the team member to get on with it.
Ideally, this analysis will be done collaboratively with the person carrying out the work so that they still feel a sense of ownership and agency.
Some people believe that it is appropriate to micromanage when a very particular outcome is required.
If this is the case, then the manager needs to be sure that their team understands this clearly at the outset. They need to communicate their expectations and requirements very clearly about what success looks like. It is also appropriate for them to request precise updates to ensure that the requirements will be met.
Requiring a very particular outcome isn’t a reason to become a micromanager.
We are all on a spectrum with micromanagement.
No one is immune from it.
So keep an eye out for it in yourself as you develop your management skills.
Virtual teams are swiftly replacing physical teams in many companies.
According to the Office for National Statistics, in the UK the number of people working from home doubled in 2020, for obvious reasons, and it is set to remain far above where it was pre-coronavirus.
But what sort of working environment can remote workers expect, and what potential pitfalls are there?
This article looks at the pros and cons of remote teams.
Hopefully looking at the issues that you and your team might face will make learning to manage a remote team simpler.
Businesses and their employees have discovered that there are lots of advantages to working from home:
Remote work means that you can hire the best person for the role worldwide. You aren’t restricted by people’s geographical locations.
Members of a virtual team can be located anywhere, something that wasn’t an option a few years back.
According to freelancer site Upwork, 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028.
Remote working promotes a healthy work-life balance.
Being a member of a physical team means that you have to commute to work. Remote workers obviously save this time.
In addition, members of a virtual team have a greater opportunity to balance the demands of work and their personal life.
According to Owl Labs, 91% of people stated that a better work-life balance was their top reason for working from home.
Remote work do not have to share their workspace. This means that team members do not have to compromise on their office set up, as they have to in a physical office.
At home they choose their own working environment and can set it up exactly to their requirements.
Virtual teams do not require an office and so save the costs that go with running a physical office.
Indeed, Global Workplace Analytics report that cost savings are one of the most significant benefits of having a virtual team working for a company.
Virtual team interact predominantly through online tools and these tools have activity monitoring built-in which makes activity monitoring far simpler for managers.
This makes ongoing management far simpler as managers have a stream of metrics available to them making it far easier to identify higher performers and team members who are struggling.
Many home workers cite flexibility as its biggest advantage.
Members of a virtual team have more control over their daily schedule than those who commute each day.
They can fit work (other than calls and meetings) around other home commitments and hobbies.
Working in a virtual team promotes real-time collaboration.
In a remote team, members can work on a project at the same time and be able to see what others are doing in a way that they couldn’t in an office.
Real-time collaboration can be carried out with the help of online tools like Zoom, Slack, Basecamp and many others.
Remote teams are not all positive. Lets looks at the negatives.
Remote work requires new software, and hardware, in order to make it work.
Obviously, for a business this is usually more than outweighed by savings on rent and other office costs as this article shows.
The flip side of being able to recruit the best talent from across the globe is that you now have to manage time zone differences.
Having your team members spread across the globe will make it more difficult to manage them effectively and to ensure that they all work together seamlessly.
This can be a blessing as well though. If you offer client support on a 24/7 basis, then having members in various time zones can make this much easier to staff.
Members of a virtual team will not feel as close to one another as members of a physical team.
The lack of time spent in each other’s physical company and social opportunities can lead to a more distant relationship.
A way of trying to lessen this impact is by encouraging things such as;
According to this survey of remote workers, the absence of physical interactions among the team members is one of the top challenges that people face in a virtual team.
In addition, many businesses run periodic physical meets ups to help build team spirit and morale.
It can be easy for virtual team members to be distracted at home.
According to a Porch survey, more than three-quarters of people admit to watching TV during working hours.
The only way to manage this issue is trust your workers and work hard to ensure that they stay motivated and engaged.
Perhaps they will occasionally watch a bit of TV but does it really matter if they’re working hard and delivering?
Remote teams are here to stay.
They’re different to traditional teams and managing them brings different challenges.
Understanding those challenges is the best way to prepare for them so hopefully, this article has given you some food for thought.
Image Credit: Yaroslav Shuraev
What do employees want from their managers?
This article is part two of a three-part analysis of original research carried out in 2021.
You can find part one of the analysis (which contains questions 1 to 3) here: Employee Happiness Statistics
In this article, we look at the differences between happy employees and employees who are looking for new jobs.
We were aiming to see if we could find clear differences between the two classes of employees so that managers can learn and improve their management style.
We wanted to see if we could find broad themes that managers could then apply.
Everyone is different and a big part of learning the art of management is learning to know how best to apply broad findings to your team’s specific situation.
A large part of the basics of management revolves around goal setting and communication.
New managers are taught that they need to set goals and communicate goals in order to ensure that their team understand what is expected of them. The subtext being that if those targets are then missed the individual concerned can no claim to have misunderstood what was expected of them.
This is true but we have always felt that employees want to be involved and engaged.
Humans want to feel part of a group, and a key part of a group is having a shared goal. Even better if you understand how you can influence that goal. It gives you a purpose.
We’ve seen relatively little research which views objective setting and targets as a positive for employee engagement. This McKinsey article which discusses this is unusual, and so we thought we should look for ourselves.
Happy employees are 87% likely to understand their company’s targets for the current year.
This is a material difference and shows how powerful feeling part of a group can be, although we would argue that this is unsurprising given the amount of time that people spend at work.
Happy employees are 61% more likely to know how they will contribute to their company hitting its targets.
Understanding your company’s targets allows you to feel part of a group.
Understanding how you will help to hit those targets makes you feel like you are an active contributor to the group, which is better again. We’re not surprised by this finding.
Interestingly the overlap between happy employees answering ‘Yes’ to Question 4 and this question was 94.5%, so very high indeed.
Happy employees are 61% more likely to be clear about how their performance will be assessed.
This is a big increase over those employees that are looking for new jobs.
However, in absolute terms, the fact that only 39% of employees were clear about how their performance will be assessed was very disappointing.
Given the above findings, managers are clearly good at communicating overall goals and also making people understand how they fit into the organisation. However, the next step of showing people how they will be assessed is getting missed. Of course, this is where managing gets more difficult.
Setting and measuring people against goals is where conflict and difficult conversations come in and so people have a natural tendency to avoid this despite the research showing that clear goals motivate people.
Happy employees 41% more likely to catch up with their line manager at least once per week.
Employees want to be engaged with the business and their managers, they just don’t want to be micromanaged.
The fact that happy, engaged employees have regular meetings with their managers has been understood for some time and this supports that.
Hopefully, this research has given you pause for thought.
It puts into hard numbers some of the differences that good management can make to a team.
Next time you’re thinking about your team, perhaps go back and make sure that they understand the basics?
Image Credit: Lukas
Lots of people are reassessing their work now that coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.
To find out more we conducted new, original research to look at what the key drivers of employee happiness ( or lack of! ) are in 2021.
We polled 500 employees across a wide variety of industries to understand:
For more details of our sample size and methodology see the bottom of this article.
This question was used to split the respondents into happy employees, unsure employees and employees looking to leave.
Encouragingly this showed that almost 4 in 5 people are happy in their roles. It also showed that people have high expectations for their jobs.
Of the people who were unhappy more than 75% are looking to leave their current role. People are not happy to stay in jobs that they do not enjoy.
This question was used to identify why happy employees are happy.
Again they could choose more than one answer. On average they gave 2.9 answers each. The top 5 answers were.
None of these answers is about money. They are all about the human aspects of work.
Having good colleagues makes for a happy workplace which is clearly one of the biggest drivers of people’s work satisfaction.
Similarly feeling appreciated is a very soft, human answer.
If “good colleagues” refers to people’s peers then “feeling appreciated” refers to feelings about their managers, and primarily to their line managers who they will deal with most days.
This would support other pre-corona virus research that demonstrated the critical role of line managers in maintaining high levels of employee engagement (CIPD ). Building strong relationships is a key part of our line management training.
Looking at the next two answers- flexibility and learning new things – these also sit with someone’s line manager and show the value of good management. Both will take time and energy from a line manager but this research shows the benefits that will accrue from this work.
Respondents who said they were unhappy with their current role were asked to identify why they are unhappy in their current role.
They could choose more than one answer. On average they gave 3.6 reasons each.
Interestingly, again feeling underpaid was not quoted as the primary reason for being unhappy at work, although it is close.
Other research has shown that feeling appreciated is the biggest driver of employee satisfaction. This shows that the opposite applies as well. Feeling unappreciated is the biggest driver of employee dissatisfaction.
Unsurprisingly ‘Feel underpaid’ also appears very high on the list. Often it appears as the number 1 reason for employee dissatisfaction in other research.
Other reasons given, like ‘high stress’, ‘bad manager’ and ‘difficult colleagues’, all also highlight the value that people place on the human aspects of work. Good pro-active management can help deal with these issues (other than ‘bad manager’). This is the other side of the research we discussed above which shows the impact that good managers can have on people’s work satisfaction.
The research for these statistics was carried out using Pollfish. 500 people were surveyed.
It polled a representative sample of working people. It was split between male (45%) and female (55%).
It was evenly split between age groups with 20% of the replies being received from people in each of the following age categories.
To separate the ‘unhappy’ employees in our survey into the unhappy but not likely to leave (‘dissatisfied’) and the unhappy and very likely to leave we asked them if they would leave their current job for a new job in the same position and on the same pay as their current job.
These employees were so unhappy that they would put up with the uncertainty and effort of moving employers just to change their work environment. They confirmed that they would move to the same job, on the same pay at a different employer if the opportunity arose.
There’s something to be said about trusting your instincts and going with the flow.
There’s a time and place to allow the universe to manifest.
But when you’re committed to pursuing goals and improving your life, having a plan can be the difference between seeing it happen in just a couple of short years or finding yourself in the same situation after years of keeping your dream life as just that – a dream.
In this article, we take a look at what a personal development plan can do for you and how you can get started with creating one.
A personal development plan is exactly what it sounds like – having a structure that allows you to take control of achieving what you want both personally and professionally.
As with everything – from marketing to a 2-week holiday – things tend to flow more smoothly when there’s a well-thought-out plan in place.
Just as it’s easier to execute a marketing campaign, or enjoy a vacation when the steps are laid out and the big picture is always in view.
Having a personal development plan ensures that you always have a guide every step of the way.
We often have a good enough idea of what we want and how we would like to go about pursuing it, but without a plan, it’s easy to miss subtle, yet important details that can help us along the way.
A personal development plan outlines the following:
Big picture plans typically take time to achieve.
This means that a personal development plan will come in handy over a number of years.
Usually, they are used by people to plan for working their way up the career ladder. The plan allows them to lay out the training and experience they’ll need to progress to becoming line manager, then a manager, senior manager and on up through a corporate hierarchy.
As with every plan, it’s built upon what goals you want to achieve.
Going back to the marketing example, if you’re creating a plan for an email campaign, you first need to identify what you want to accomplish. Is it to increase sales, drive traffic to your website, or get more qualified leads?
When it comes to personal development, you need to look within yourself.
Reflect on your current situation – What are you happy about? What areas do you want to improve? What tools/skills do you have to improve those? What opportunities can be made available?
Are there factors that are beyond your control in pursuit of your goals?
Mindtools suggests using a couple of traditional business tools to help you get started: SWOT and PEST analysis.
You’ve probably heard of SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), and it’s a simple tool to help with your life audit.
It’s important to note that when performing a SWOT analysis, you don’t need to limit it to your professional skills.
As such, you can ask yourself the following questions to identify your strengths:
You can apply the same principle when trying to identify your weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Conversely, while a SWOT analysis helps you look within, PEST (Political, Economic, Socio-cultural, and Technological) analysis looks into external factors that can either help or hinder your personal development.
Performing a PEST analysis can make the difference between choosing an exciting career path, or struggling for survival in an industry that’s on the decline.
Let’s take political factors to give you an idea of how this works. For this, you can ponder the following questions:
The difference with a PEST analysis is that there are opportunities and threats for each area you’ll be analyzing.
List all of these down so you can have a macro look at the external factors you’ll need to face when trying to execute your plan. Then, pick your top opportunities and narrow them down into one or two that you think you can fully commit to.
By looking within and combining what you find with what’s beyond your control, you can have a big picture look at the challenges and possibilities, allowing you to craft a realistic plan that’s SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, time-bound).
Now, it might sound daunting but there’s a simple approach to creating your personal development plan. It’s also important to note that its elements need not be set in stone. Certain unforeseen factors will arise, and you’ll inevitably need to pivot at some point. The plan is a guide, it shouldn’t take away your flexibility and ability to adapt.
Your plan always begins and ends with what you want to accomplish.
Remember to segment your desires from your goals.
A new motorcycle might boost your zest for life, but it is probably not as important as enrolling in a course that could help you get promoted, exercising more or eating better.
As you did with the SWOT and PEST analysis, make a list of all your goals.
You will narrow them down later in the process so that you can focus only on what’s most important to you.
The next step is to prioritise.
What is most important? What will make other things on the list easier to complete or even totally redundant?
Perhaps that new bike will be easier to acquire once you finish that course and get a better paying job. Perhaps getting healthier will make finishing that course easier for you.
Prioritise you list ruthlessly so that you can focus on the most important and most impactful goals first.
As a professional, you probably know how effective deadlines are at making you move.
It’s the same with goals.
You can have a list of the most narrowed-down goals, but if you don’t know when you want to achieve it by, it is unlikely you will realise it.
Instead of saying “I’ll learn to code someday,” say, “I’ll finish that coding course in three months.”
Be realistic when setting deadlines. Don’t set yourself up to fail or set the bar so high that you give up before you even get started.
We all need a good support system.
Let’s say you want to switch careers.
Is there someone who’s experienced in that field you can go to for advice?
If not, you can even go online and find groups for virtually everything. You’ll be surprised at how accommodating people can be.
Your personal development plan isn’t set in stone.
As you go through the initial steps of your plan, take the time to review what seems to be working and what areas you’ll need to adjust.
The best laid out plans often require a level of adaptability, so be prepared to pivot whenever it’s called for.
Reviewing your plan regularly will allow you to be resilient as you persevere towards your goals.
Taking the time to create a plan is always better than lying around dreaming of a life you could have.
It takes time, effort, and perseverance to achieve any goal, but having a plan in your back pocket will make it all the easier for you.
What challenges have you encountered when chasing your goals and dreams?
Let us know in the comment section below.
The relationship you have with your line manager is critical.
It will influence your career advancement, your happiness at work and your salary.
These relationships don’t happen overnight. They take time, thought and consideration.
Let’s take a look at:
Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship.
Learn how to communicate with your boss effectively.
Keep them informed and let them know how you’re getting on regularly.
If you are having problems, communicate that to your boss and ask for advice. Don’t bury problems. Managers hate nasty surprises.
Don’t be afraid to express an opinion. Hopefully, they will value your views, even if you disagree.
The key to all these things is to learn to communicate the correct way.
For example, if you disagree with them, that’s fine. You just need to communicate it the right way.
Be respectful. Explain why you disagree and present sensible modifications to their idea.
Don’t do it in front of the whole team. Approach your line manager individually.
Line managers love team members who are proactive.
If you see a problem be proactive and try to solve it.
If you can’t solve it be sure to communicate the issue you have spotted to others and try to at least come up with ways that you could mitigate the problem.
This shows that you’re engaged and interested and looking for ways to improve.
Try to fix a regular catch-up with your line manager.
This could be weekly or monthly but it is a chance for your to update your boss on your projects.
This may seem unnecessary to you but remember your line manager has a number of responsbilities. The work that you carry out is probably only a small part of their overall role.
Take the initiative and schedule a regular meeting with your manager.
When you turn up make sure that you are prepared. Stick to the defined time limit and make sure that you know the points that you would like to discuss.
If they have a tendency to micromanage then checking in like this can be a good way to manage that.
Are you aware of your line manager’s goals and agenda for the team? Where do you fit in, and how can you help?
Understanding your boss’s goals for your team will help align your team’s goals with your own.
Make clear to your manager that you are team player by working to make sure that your team (and so your boss) hits team goals and not just narrowly focused on your personal goals.
Managers love team members who try to improve.
Ask for feedback often.
It shows that you care enough about your work to want to know how you can improve.
In turn that shows you’re invested in the company, and will opens up avenues for career advancement.
When asking for feedback, make sure that you listen attentively, take notes and make appropriate changes to how you work.
There is nothing more frustrating for a manager than taking the time to offer clear feedback and then the team member concerned not making any changes.
Your line manager hired you for a reason.
Demonstrate the value you add by making sure that you speak up in meetings.
Arm yourself with facts and be confident enough to present them.
Your manager is busy.
It is fantasy to believe that they will ‘just know’ what you are contributing, if nothing else it’s unfair to put the onus on them to find out.
You need to make it easy for them to see what you’re contributing.
Does your boss prefer one-sentence updates or detailed explanations ? Do they like email updates or short one-on-ones?
Learn the boss’s style and use it when communicating with them.
Line managers are human too.
They make mistakes; they have emotions; they have families and personal issues back at home.
They may still be training to be a line manager and new in their role.
While most put on a professional game face and attack their to-do lists, remember that they have their a personal life as well.
You don’t have to be best buddies with your line manager. But to make sure to get to know them personally and cut them some slack if they’re having a tough time.
Everyone likes someone that makes them look good. This applies to managers as well.
Find ways to make them shine and help them out and they will love you for it.
For example, anticipate obvious problems your boss might have and prepare solutions.
If they have to present at a meeting prepare answers to obvious questions. It makes them shine and demonstrates that they can count on you.
Your manager will have a to-do list a mile long. If you aren’t terribly busy ask if they need a hand with anything.
It demonstrates that you’re ready and willing to take on more responsibility and takes some work off them.
Both things that a manager will appreciate.
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book to build a great relationship with your line manager.
Doing this repeatedly will mean that your line manager can rely on you.
If you deliver on time regularly it shows that you can manage the workload.
It also means that your manager can relax confident that when they delegate a piece of work to you it will actually get done effectively and be delivered on time.
For more details of what line managers look for see – What Managers Want
The worst mistake you can make is never taking responsibility for mistakes.
Your manager will know that everyone makes mistakes.
The key is that you own up to them and work to correct them.
Some people always focus on the problem instead of the solutions.
This can be hugely frustrating for their managers. Their managers tend to feel that these people just come and give them problems.
Before you approach your supervisor with a problem, come up with practical ideas for a solution and be ready to implement them.
A 100% complete project is better than five half-done ones.
Don’t be the person that never completes projects. It will mean that your line manager will see you as unreliable.
Your line manager holds the keys to your career.
Building a good relationship with them is as much your responsibility as theirs.
Be proactive and cultivate the relationship, it will pay huge dividends.
Image Source: Pexels
What makes a great team member?
This is a question line managers deal with every time they are recruiting a new team member or carrying out a performance review.
Having a clear view on this is a key part of the role of line manager.
Let’s look at the eight qualities line managers look for:
Line managers look for employees who take proactive steps to learn and grow.
This applies to both hard professional skills, and soft skills like communication.
Willingness to learn makes that team member much more flexible and adaptable from the managers perspective.
When something new is required from the team they can learn how to do it and take it on forward.
Line managers want team members who can work well with others.
At heart, learning to be a line manager is learning how to take a group of individuals and get them to work together as a team.
All jobs need employees to work together.
The whole point of working in a team is to leverage the different skills and abilities of the people in a team.
If someone can’t work well with others they can’t be part of a team.
At best, this will reduce their ability to contribute.
At worst, this will create all sorts of conflict within the team.
Adding a really problematic team member to a team can actually reduce the team’s overall productivity rather than increase it. The last thing that a manager needs!
Communication is the cornerstone of a great relationship with your manager.
Without it, teams collapse into chaos and lose productivity. They become a collection of people rather than a team.
They are able to express themselves, engage with what other people are saying and discuss any differences.
Managers need team members who will work carefully and work hard.
Without motivation, a team member isn’t going to get much done, and the work that they do complete is probably going to be low quality.
No manager ever wants to follow up with team members for progress updates constantly.
Managers prefer team members who can self-direct. People who get things done with minimal supervision, for obvious reasons.
Line managers need employees who are straightforward and honest.
If you can’t trust what someone says you need to check everything that they say.
This creates a huge drag for a manager as it requires lots of time, something that they won’t have to spare, and something that having you on their team is supposed to save them.
As famed investor Warren Buffett says,
“We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.”
Managers value reliable, dependable team members.
Team members who are organised and keep to deadlines and commitments are people that require far less supervision. They free up a manager’s time.
An added bonus is that good organisation and dependability are also usually the hallmarks of people that produce good quality work.
Managers hate it when team members just come to them with problems.
Team members who do this a lot risk being seen as a problem.
If all they ever do is present their manager with problems the manager will start to dread seeing them.
Great team members take 5 minutes to work through the problem and come up with potential solutions BEFORE they go to discuss the problem with their manager.
They take ownership of the problem and think through potential solutions.
Managers love team members with high emotional intelligence, they reduce the likelihood of conflict in a team hugely.
Emotional intelligence allows team members to communicate clearly, empathise with others and avoid or resolve conflict.
Emotions can run high at work, especially in high-functioning teams. This can often lead to disputes in teams that have low emotional intelligence.
Managers value people who can manage their emotions as they help keep teams working cohesively despite pressure and stress.
Photo Credit: Unsplash
Great managers adapt their management style to fit their company’s goals and values.
However, in practice, this isn’t straightforward as your workforce will all have different personalities and values, and these differences will be heavily influenced by their age.
In this article, you will learn how to manage a team made up of different generations.
We’ll look at the different generations currently in the workforce, their defining traits, and provide you will tips on how best to manage a multigenerational workforce.
A multigenerational workforce is one that is made up of employees from different generations.
This is the reality for most medium to large businesses. Most teams and departments will contain people from at least two different generations.
Today, the bulk of the workforce comes from four predominant generations:
If people find it difficult to interact with people from different generations, team management becomes that much more difficult.
Let’s look at some of the differences quickly:
Different generations communicate very differently.
Baby Boomers and Gen Xers communication style leans towards face-to-face and phone calls.
Millennials and Gen Z think that if it’s really important, you should text and ask when the best time is to call, and only in real emergencies should you cold call.
Each generation has different expectations for their careers.
Baby Boomers are renowned for their loyalty, work ethic, “live to work” mentality, and focus on financial stability.
Gen X, meanwhile, are much more open to switching companies (and even careers), with an average tenure of just five years (compared to 15 for Boomers).
Millennials are known for being an ambitious bunch, with a focus on career growth.
Managers need to take these kinds of differences into consideration to make sure that every employee can be motivated accordingly.
Similarly, different generations are motivated by different things, and different things can motivate people at different ages.
Delegating and setting appropriate goals for your team is crucial.
As Millennials age (the oldest of them turned 40 in 2020) and they’ve become more prominent in the workplace, some of them have seen their priorities shift from ladder-climbing and job-hopping, to valuing things like stability, core benefits, and job satisfaction.
Conversely, Gen Xers are now slowly exiting the workforce and they tended to be more motivated by work-life balance, and personal-professional interests.
According to Pew Research Center, for the first time in history, as many as five generations can be found in the workforce.
Traditionalists: Born 1925-1945
Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964
Generation X: Born 1965-1980
Millennials: Born 1981-2000
Generation Z: Born 2001-2012
But for the purposes of this article, we have focused on the last four, as they make up the majority of the workforce.
Baby boomers were shaped by the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement.
The predominant worldview for baby boomers is that achievement comes after paying one’s dues. They accept that sacrifice is necessary to achieve success.
However, despite their “live to work” mindset, not every boomer expects to retire at the traditional age of 65.
A significant number of people from this generation have little saved for retirement, and 10% of boomers have accepted the fact that they may never retire.
Organizations with baby boomers working for them can expect them to stick around for longer, and will probably find that they find a stable job highly motivating.
Generation X can be the forgotten generation. The media tend to focus on Baby Boomers leaving the workforce and Millennials rising through the ranks.
According to the Harvard Business Review, during a five-year period, 66% of Gen X leaders received only one promotion (or none at all). Boomers and millennials were much more likely to have received two or more during the same timespan.
As a consequence, Gen X have become increasingly disillusioned and increasingly likely to move jobs.
As a manager, this is something you need to address.
Gen Xers have the ability to adapt to new technologies and have developed lots of valuable experience.
To retain them it is crucial to engage them and give them a sense of development and progress.
Millennials now make up the largest segment of the workforce.
They were much maligned in the early 2000’s as they were starting to understand who they were both personally and professionally.
However, as they’ve aged and become increasingly prominent in the workplace, the view of them as being self-centered and annoying has evolved.
They are now vieweded as valuing working for a company that sets its employees up to be their best both in and out of work.
Often confused by older generations as “millennials,” Gen Z is quite different to its predecessors.
For example, Millennials were generally adherent to structured learning.
By contrast, Gen Z is focused on learning with a purpose. They need to see how the things being taught to them are aligned with the ultimate objective – otherwise, they don’t show interest.
Gen Z also have a very multicultural mindset. They are the last generation in the US to be a Caucasian majority.
As such, companies will need to go beyond the usual lip service and standard PR expressions of diversity and inclusivity as it will be crucial in attracting and retaining Gen Z employees as they increasingly become more prominent members of the workforce.
Managing a multigenerational workforce might seem daunting when you look at the striking differences between them. But there will always be a unifying force, an aspiration, or motivation that you can tap into to bridge the gap.
Here are a few tips.
1. Take note of preferred management styles
Different generations have different ideas on what a great manager should be.
Make sure that you keep this in mind when building and managing your team.
For example, boomers typically believe leadership should be consensual and collegial. Conversely, Gen Xers believe that competence is key and that everyone should be treated as equals. They also believe in the ability to challenge others and ask the important “whys.”
Meanwhile, Millennials are different again. They are great at taking on challenging tasks but also welcome being coached and mentored so that they continue to grow both as people and employees.
It’s also important to note that while the traits mentioned above are broadly correct, you’ll still need to communicate with your specific employees and find out what their view of good leadership is. They will have their own ideas, although be heavily influenced by their generational experiences.
2. Offer Personalised Learning & Development
A study from PayScale showed that offering learning and development opportunities reduces employee turnover by 17%.
As a manager the learning and development of your team is a core part of your role.
As we’ve established that there are differences between generations, but they all value learning and development.This means that you can use personalized learning and development to help your team members develop their skills and realize growth opportunities within the organization.
You can achieve this by:
People may have different goals, but when executed appropriately, everyone values learning and development.
3. Individual Goals
Working with employees to set individual goals allows managers to support and encourage a multigenerational workforce.
Because regardless of age, experience, or demographic, there’s always a goal you can help them work towards.
To amplify this concept further, you can identify individual strengths and focus on those by adding supporting skills.
For example, if an employee in publishing has shown an eye for design, you can train them to use basic design software, and slowly delegate simple design tasks to them as they develop their skills. If they enjoy this you could continue to provide more testing and additional training and tasks to stretch them further.
A few other notes:
4. Choose The Right Tools
It used to be that simply providing technological solutions to allow employees to do their jobs was enough. With a multigenerational workforce, a significant number of which are younger and more tech-inclined, they expect management to go beyond that.
They thrive with a company tech stack that is in the cloud, highly integrated, and collaborative. For example, while being able to work with a combination of Slack, email, and Google Workspace might function well enough, if you can find a tool to consolidate them into a single communications platform that would be valuable.
This positive digital employee experience is becoming increasingly valued by employees across different generations, so you should get started with improving yours as soon as you can.
5. Build collaborative relationships
Different generations and people are good at different things.
Don’t expect everyone to have the same skills and capabilities, let them play to their strengths.
For example, social media marketing may not be a strong suit of baby boomers, so they may not be suited for conceptualizing content. However, they might be better at organizational stuff, so you can assign the conceptualisation to Gen Z and scheduling management to Boomers, allowing both to do what they are best at.
As you can see, managing a multigenerational workforce need not be as complicated as it might seem on the surface. There are practical and simple ways to merge your current management philosophy with the tips and concepts provided above.
As a manager, you’ve always had to balance personalities and egos to have them work toward a common goal. Handling a multigenerational workforce just adds another layer to this. As every the key is taking the time to understand your people and identify their strengths and opportunities for healthy collaboration.
Whether it’s upskilling through taking courses or providing them with the right tools, being a manager is about understanding people and putting them in a position to perform at their best.