Most of us have experienced times when we lose our mojo at work. We drag ourselves into work and battle through the day, waiting for the workday to end. Fortunately for most of us this doesn’t happen every day but some people stay in this motivational void for too long.
Here are some steps to help you get out of this unhelpful place:
What’s causing you to be demotivated? It is something at work like your boss or growing boredom with the job? Does it stem from problems at home? Or are the underlying reasons something else like a poor diet and lack of exercise?
Can you change the source of your demotivation and if so, what action will help you change things? Most of the time, we have a lot more influence and control over events than we realise, especially if we call on the help of others when we are struggling. Think broadly and creatively how you can take back control of the situation.
When we lose our mojo, we tend to generalise our dissatisfaction and forget all the positive stuff that’s happening. We get into a negative spiral of despair and unhappiness. Take time to remember what’s going well. What were your recent achievements and successes? What did you do well to achieve these results?
Find solutions to take back control of your situation and regain your mojo. Be courageous and decisive, don’t live with the demotivation. Call on the help of people at work and your friends and family to recover your mojo. Remember that the longer that you stick with a broken mojo, the harder it is to fix as you’ll start becoming consumed by a sense of helplessness. So act now and always remember that it’s your choice to change things for the better.
TalentPredix provides bespoke solutions to help you build a thriving place to work where your people show up motivated to succeed. Contact us for more: email@example.com
We hear a great deal from HR and top management clients about the need for greater self-management among employees and we strongly agree, it is indeed crucial for peak performance. By self-management we mean the willingness and skill to proactively manage yourself and your own performance. Effective self-management includes:
Self-awareness: building awareness of your aspirations, values, strengths and weaker areas/blockers through soliciting feedback, reflecting on progress and maintaining a growth mindset;
Self-motivation: taking ownership of one’s performance and working out the best pathways to goal accomplishment, including accountability for achieving high standards;
Self-regulation: understanding and managing your emotions effectively so they don’t become toxic and undermine relationships and your performance; and
Self-improvement: engaging in continuous learning and adaptation, including learning from mistakes and successes and stretching yourself to move outside your comfort zone to learn new, better ways of doing things.
Self-management is important for effective performance, however, is by itself insufficient to drive enduring peak performance. Great, self-managing people don’t just become great on their own; there are two other vital performance ingredients that need to be in place that are often overlooked by organizations:
Supportive team leadership
Team leaders who are supportive are encouragers and coaches who enable people to be at their best by believing in them and removing blockers and barriers to effective performance. Rather than managing by fear, they make people feel important and valued by listening to and empathizing with them, taking their opinions and any concerns into account. They also challenge them to set stretching goals and provide encouragement and recognition to help them progress. However, they also support them when inevitable mistakes and setbacks arise, helping them overcome and learn from these.
A great company culture
Even with highly self-managing people and great first line managers, companies can still lose their best people and fail to create a motivating performance culture if top management and the environment are toxic and drain people’s energy and motivation. Top management in the best performing companies sets an inspiring and meaningful purpose people can easily identify with, ideally one that goes beyond profits and products and inspires people to work hard to make a difference by positively impacting their customers and society.
Leaders in these companies invest in building a great company culture characterized by open communication and candour (including constructive criticism of top management), learning from mistakes, appreciation of diverse styles and opinions, regular updates on progress and recognition of outstanding accomplishments. Thriving cultures are human-centred, compassionate, and energizing. They create conditions for employees to build strong connections within and outside the team, collaborate regularly, develop their skills, progress their career and improve their overall sense of wellbeing.
If you want peak performance from people, don’t simply encourage them to self-manage and leave them to it. Ensure your team leaders are trained, equipped, and rewarded for providing excellent support and building a thriving, motivating culture that inspires and unlocks excellence.
Lead strong teams that have the motivation and capability to achieve sustainable success and thrive in their careers with TalentPredix coaching solutions. Contact us to learn more: firstname.lastname@example.org
Major changes like Covid, digital transformation and the growing environmental emergency are disrupting traditional business models and creating huge impetus for transformation and innovation. To succeed, today’s organizations need to be highly adaptive and constantly innovate to keep pace with disruptive forces and changing customer preferences.
Yet too many companies still stifle the ideas and creativity of their employees. They straitjacket people with directive leadership and rigid policies, processes, and procedures, smothering the voice and imagination of their people. The results are predictable. Motivation, teamwork, and innovation nosedive, followed by declines in customer loyalty and financial results.
To succeed and compete in this new era of disruption and innovation, organizations need to learn how to harness employees’ incredible creative potential, as innovation is a distinctly human endeavour. The world’s most innovative companies systematically devise ways to promote a culture of collaboration, creativity, and innovation. Here’s how you can do the same by putting these principles at the heart of your organization’s people strategy:
Creative and imaginative thinking involves intentionally expanding our thinking to find new and useful ideas and solutions to overcome problems, accelerate innovation and enable the organization to achieve its goals. Studies show that it is one of the most important competencies for leaders and teams to possess to be effective. In future, it is likely to become even more important because of growing rates of change and disruptive innovation. Just like emotional intelligence, it is also extremely difficult for AI and intelligent machines to perform creative problem-solving as effectively as humans.
But creative thinking is not natural for most employees, as it is not taught at school or even by most universities. Organizations seeking higher rates of innovation should therefore invest in training their staff in creative and collaborative thinking methods, ensuring people have the skills, tools, and techniques to unlock the power of cognitive diversity and people’s collective ideas. Through developing creative thinking skills like learner mindset, powerful questioning, reframing, divergent thinking and cognitive diversity, organizations will promote a culture that encourages curiosity, experimentation, and innovation.
At innovative companies like Google, LVMH, Apple, Unilever and Salesforce, employees are encouraged to express their individuality and apply their unique strengths, imagination, and know-how to achieve their own goals and those of the wider business. Employees in these companies are not expected to be well-rounded. They are empowered to optimize their strengths and work with diverse team members that complement them. By building highly inclusive and cognitively diverse teams, these companies unlock ideas, creative problem-solving and improved rates of innovation. They also become ‘talent magnets’ for the most talented people who seek organizations that provide opportunities for them to shape decisions and the future of the business.
Innovative organizations create opportunities for people from different parts of the business to connect and work together in mixed teams that span diverse functions and business areas. A growing number of innovative and dynamic businesses are organized into natural teams that assemble to deliver specific projects or products then disband once the project outcome or product is delivered. This way of organizing work is a natural evolution of the popular matrix structures found in many innovative organizations.
However, the big difference is that functional lines of reporting are looser or even non-existent. Work is organised by team leaders and highly empowered teams and people are assigned to teams based on their experience, performance track record, and strengths. Innovative organizations also promote informal and frequent connections among employees by enabling people to socialise and have fun together, both in physical and online environments. Enabling employees to spend such time together builds trust, improves collaboration, and accelerates knowledge flows. This provides more opportunities for employees to discuss and refine ideas, as well as a chance to share insights, and better practices.
Many organizations are now promoting psychological safety as a fundamental pillar or their people strategy. This is crucial as people need to feel they are in a safe and supportive environment that appreciates them and values their input and contribution.
However, there is another compelling business reason to pursue a culture where psychological safety becomes the norm. To succeed in today’s ever-changing environment, organizations are going to need to accelerate creative thinking and innovation. The only way to do this is to ensure everyone feels they can openly and honestly voice their ideas and opinions, no matter how controversial or challenging these are.
Employers often unintentionally cultivate risk averse and conservative cultures through centralising decision-making and stifling the creativity of people at lower levels in the organization. They create a fear culture by discouraging risk-taking, initiative, and direct challenge of top management. In innovative organizations like Gore, Meta and 3M, employees are actively encouraged to engage in creative problem-solving, hackathons and experiments to improve products, processes, and practices. Leaders in these companies recognise that tolerating mistakes is required to accelerate progress and achieve breakthrough innovation. They encourage and reward employees for coming up with great ideas to improve the business and its products, creating greater value for customers and other stakeholders. They also empower people to stretch themselves beyond their comfort zone and embrace curiosity, agility, and continuous learning.
Today’s organizations need to be able to adapt quickly and innovate in the face of fast-changing conditions. Leaders and teams who can anticipate, innovate, and adapt faster will enable the business to gain a clear competitive advantage over rivals. They will also be able to attract and retain the best talent, as the most talented people look for employers that value and leverage their ideas and full potential. By implementing these five principles organizations can accelerate creative thinking and unlock the extraordinary creative potential of their people.
Understanding Others is crucial at every level of the organization, particularly for leaders and managers seeking to enhance their own and their teams’ performance. When being used optimally (what we refer to as “In the Zone”), behaviours associated with this strength include taking the time to listen to colleagues to understand things from their point of view, giving emotional space to understand how your people are feeling and stepping in to help others when they are upset, overwhelmed or emotionally low.
However, when used too much or in the wrong way (what we refer to as “Overuse or In-excess”) excess, Understanding Others may result in some of the following behaviours:
However, there are a variety of techniques that highly empathetic leaders and employees can apply to avoid these risks, such as:
Separating emotions and personal life from work
This is not to say that leaders should embody indifference at work. Instead, they should take care to boundary their personal time and mental energy so that they do not get overinvolved in others’ problems. If they don’t do this, their tendency to identify too much with others’ emotions and provide support to others when they are in distress or experiencing challenges at work or in their personal life may end up being detrimental to their own work, mental health and personal happiness. In extreme cases, it can also result in an unhealthy relationship of dependency that can prevent people from becoming more self-sufficient, confident, and resilient.
Set clear guidelines and expectations – and enforce them
As mentioned earlier, some may take advantage of the leader’s/person’s warm and compassionate nature and inclination to help. This may result in them find opportunities to offload unwanted work inappropriately or abusing the leader’s warm-hearted and understanding nature. To avoid this, leaders should clearly communicate role responsibilities and ensure people are held accountable to what has been agreed and subsequently delegated. If it is apparent that a team member is struggling with their workload, the leader should show empathy and understanding in helping the person to improve, particularly where these challenges are caused by genuine personal challenges outside work (e.g., major illness in the family). However, while reasonable allowances can be made, the leader needs to remain firm about what needs to be delivered and offer only reasonable assistance to address any shortfalls.
Don’t constantly try to rescue others
Whilst compassionate and understand leaders typically have good intentions by stepping in to try and help others, they often end up doing more harm than good. Check in with your direct reports and colleagues whether they need help before stepping in to rescue them. If they do need help, provide advice and guidance of where to find the best support (e.g., through the HR function, GP practice, professional counselling services) rather than always trying to provide this yourself.
Understanding others is essential for leaders and managers to enhance performance and build strong, positive relationships at work. However, it should be balanced to avoid emotional exhaustion, dependency, and interference. By setting boundaries, establishing clear expectations, and providing support when truly needed, empathetic leaders can create a thriving work environment that fosters self-sufficiency, self-confidence, and success.
To find out how we can help your organization avoid using overused talents to help your employees to thrive in their career, contact us at email@example.com.
Disengaged employees can be detrimental to productivity, employee engagement and overall output. Our previous blog covered signs managers should look out for in employees to help nip this problem in the bud.
Spot and prevent low motivation and engagement
Of course, the best way to ward off quiet quitting is for managers to check in on the motivation of their people on a regular basis. There are different ways of doing this, including careful observation of behaviour, emotions and energy shifts, engagement surveys and asking questions that uncover people’s motivation during regular check-ins and quarterly performance review meetings. Some of the questions managers can consider asking are as follows:
Once managers identify a disengaged employees they can explore the root cause of their low engagement in a one-on-one conversation.
Amplify strengths, successes and progress
Managers, like most of us, are conditioned to focus more on the negatives we see rather than the positives. This is what psychologists call the “negativity bias”. It is therefore important for managers to consciously learn to spot and magnify strengths, successes and progress, even small wins and shifts in effort.
By giving positive feedback and praise, managers will promote progress, excellence, and employee engagement. When people feel they are valued and their progress and achievements are recognized regularly by their manager, they are more likely to feel motivated and exert higher levels of discretionary effort (i.e., effort over and above the required level).
Conduct retention/stay interviews
Retention interviews are a powerful tool to improve employee experience, build trust, and nip problems in the bud. RotaCloud recommends that retention interviews should be kept relatively informal, held in private, and be consistent as much as possible across different team members. Keeping consistency might be difficult, as everyone has their own sentiments and feelings, but managers can keep a set of key questions or discussion points handy and let the conversation flow from there. This can be done in both in-person and remote or hybrid workplaces. Responses should be collated and kept on record somewhere in order to refer to eventually.
It is important that managers self-reflect and be empathetic above all else. Try to picture themselves in the position of their employees and see their realities to understand where they are coming from. Reflect on how they would react if they were put in their employees’ position? Additionally, consider the employees themselves and the value they have brought to the team, and their strengths and their talents and how these can be further supported to allow them to thrive.
Act on employee feedback
Taking this into consideration, it is now time for the manager to act on the feedback given from their employees. It may be revealed that employees are frustrated with a lack of progression and/or development opportunities available to them, then the manager should explore options in upskilling and/or career development for their people. In virtual teams, managers may find that some employees feel disconnected from the broader workforce. This last one might be common among the younger workforce, who are likely dealing with proportionately more “Zoom fatigue” from the pandemic. If this is the case, the leader should find more creative ways to foster connectivity or, if possible, try to organize in-person events to enable the employees to connect with each other more.
Lastly, it should be ensured that this feedback loop is not a one-off occurrence. A communication line has been opened, and it should be kept this way. The manager should devise a plan to regularly collect feedback, comments, and suggestions from their team, and be flexible enough and willing to find ways to act on suggestions being made. Data can be collected either through formal measures like sending out employee engagement surveys or more informal measures such as sitting down and having a conversation or booking regular one-on-one meetings. Gallup finds that the best practice is for managers to have meaningful 15–30-minute conversations once a week with each employee.
By actively listening to the needs and wants of their people, managers foster a work environment that is inclusive and supportive, which can help their team members feel valued, motivate them to perform at their best and thus address the issue of employee disengagement.
TalentPredix has the strengths-based tools, resources, and skills to engage employees to help you build a thriving place to work so your people can reach their full potential. Contact us today to learn more.
The term ‘quiet quitting’ has made the rounds online, from starting conversations and debate on all corners of the internet, to even being named one of Collins Dictionary’s Word of the Year. Collins has defined it as “the practice of doing no more work than one is contractually obligated to do.”
RotaCloud, a staff management software company, has now identified a new workplace trend to succeed quiet quitting called “resenteeism.” They define it as staying in a job, despite being fundamentally unhappy and actively resenting it. Concerns over job security, cost of living, or a lack of alternative employment options are cited as reasons that employees stay. The main difference that resenteeism has from its predecessor is that the employee is more vocal about their dissatisfaction and may potentially influence the opinions and attitudes of others.
However, a common denominator between the two is that it all boils down to employee engagement, or a lack thereof. Indeed’s Work Happiness Score revealed that more than one third of U.K. employees are unhappy in their current job roles. Employee engagement is nothing new in the HR industry, but recent events like the pandemic and cost of living crisis have brought it front and center. But the question remains – what can managers do to engage their employees and prevent dissatisfaction?
Primarily, managers need to be engaged and present at work, so they can identify which employees are putting in less effort than before and seem disengaged from the wider workforce. In a hybrid or remote settings, being present could mean reaching out more to employees to be more visible and keep communication lines open. Being engaged as a remote manager could also mean giving your employees the autonomy and flexibility to do the work on their own time but ensuring that performance standards and deadlines are clearly communicated.
Some signs managers should look out for in employees:
In our next article, we will explore how managers can reengage a disengaged employee to achieve better outputs and productivity.
TalentPredix has the tools, resources, and skills to engage employees to help you build a thriving place to work so your people can reach their full potential. Contact us today to learn more.
It is widely acknowledged that teams will play an ever-greater role in the workplace of the future. To compete effective in a fast-changing and unpredictable world, organizations need more diverse, agile, and collaborative teams to tackle greater complexity and adaptive challenges created by disruptive changes and trends, including rapidly changing technologies, new ways of working and shifting employee expectations.
However, teams face a host of risks and blockers that impede their effectiveness. Many of these dysfunctions have been well covered in the literature and include things like poor trust, lack of clarity of goals and purpose, unclear accountabilities, and breakdowns in communication.
Perhaps one of the least known and biggest risks to team performance arises when team strengths are overused and this leads to negative, unintended results. Overused strengths occur when team members use their strengths excessively or carelessly and this unintentionally undermines performance, relationships, and results. For example, a team that has a high proportion of team members who are highly task-focused, driven, and decisive may end up driving results so hard that they overlook the importance of listening to others and exploring creative options that could generate better results. Because they are so focused on driving for short-term results, they may also fail to engage external stakeholders to support their plans, resulting in implementation challenges arising from a lack of commitment. Breakdowns in trust and teamwork with colleagues who are more creative, relationship-oriented, and considered in their approach can also arise, leaving these minority team members feeling excluded, ignored, and unvalued.
The biggest sources of this problem are as follows:
Failing to assess for personal strengths when hiring people and building teams often results in teams that are lopsided. For example, I once worked with a top team of a major Tech company who had plenty of leaders with strengths in Delivery and Problem Solving, but insufficient team members who were strong at building and maintaining positive relationships with others. This lack of softer power skills in areas like collaboration, empathy and consideration, undermined team effectiveness and results.
This problem can even spread to other parts of the business, as lopsided team behaviours at the top tend to trickle-down to other management levels. This happens because managers tend to demonstrate the behaviours that get recognised and rewarded by senior leadership. When some strengths are valued more than others in an organization, these feed through into the way new managers are hired, developed, and progressed, adding to the lopsidedness of the entire organization.
Lack of feedback
Feedback is crucial in order for team members to understand their ‘blind spots’ and overused strengths. Without regular, timely and balanced feedback, it is unlikely team members will recognise behaviours and unproductive habits associated with their overused strengths. In the absence of this awareness, team members are likely to continue to perform the role as they’ve always done, even when these behaviours don’t work anymore.
Stress and pressure
We see many teams, particularly leadership and executive teams, that overuse their strengths because of the huge pressures they are under from multiple stakeholders, including investors and the Board. This causes behaviours such as decisiveness, confidence, and more autocratic leadership approaches to be used excessively, leading to overhasty analysis and decision-making, groupthink (i.e., when teams start to think alike and make decisions that remain unchallenged) and careless risk taking.
Freedoms and constraints in the company culture can exacerbate overused behaviours. It is hard to forget the examples of Enron, Royal Bank of Scotland and more recently FTX, where rash decision making, and over-confidence were left unchecked because of a lack of company ethics, values and boundaries. This resulted in reckless and unethical behaviour that ultimately led to the well documented demise of these companies.
Teams can avoid risks arising from overused strengths in the following ways:
Teams should take steps to become more aware of their strengths and the behaviours that show up when they are used excessively or carelessly. By using a valid and reliable strengths assessment profiler like TalentPredix™, teams can build awareness of team member strengths and how these show up when they are overused, as well as when they are used effectively. By developing specific techniques to avoid overusing their strengths, team members can balance out one another’s excesses and avoid the downside of their strengths.
One of the great benefits of this strengths discovery and optimization workshop is that team members start to see their colleagues’ behaviours in a radically different way. Rather than automatically viewing problematic behaviours by colleagues as weaknesses that are difficult to change, they start realizing that some of these behaviours arise from their overused strengths. This provides them with a powerful new ‘lens’ and language to offer constructive and empowering feedback to their colleagues.
Problematic patters of overused strengths in teams often occur when a dominant strength or combination of strengths becomes the dominant way of thinking in the team – the ‘hammer’ the team uses to deal with every challenge it faces. In such cases, everything starts looking like a ‘nail’ and minority, dissenting team members’ views are steamrollered or ignored.
Teams can avoid this danger by hiring team members with diverse strengths. Studies show that more cognitively diverse teams made up of a broad mix of strengths, skills, experiences, and different backgrounds (including ethnic and gender differences) outperform those that lack such diversity.
Teams wanting to avoid overdrive risks should build an open culture of feedback where team members are able to provide constructive as well as positive feedback. It takes times and trust before such candid feedback conversations can occur which is why it is always a good idea to bring in an external facilitator to equip the team with the tools, skills, and confidence to shift to an open culture of feedback. Inviting employees and stakeholders outside the team to provide feedback on team behaviours as well as results can also help guard against excessive behaviours.
Teams that are naturally results-focused and ambitious are far more likely to trip themselves up by using their strengths excessively when they are over-stretched and in a vicious ‘do-do-do cycle’. This stress response means that these types of teams allow themselves little time for engaging diverse perspectives, planning and reviewing work and applying creative problem-solving. By helping these teams understand the dangers of this lopsided pattern and providing them with the support to prioritise their work, build resilience and apply creative problem-solving techniques, team effectiveness will improve and the company will minimize burnout, disengagement, and unwanted turnover of key talent.
We have highlighted the risks of overused strengths for individuals in a previous blog about this. Similarly, when used excessively or carelessly, team strengths can undermine results and damage relationships. Yet, the vast majority of teams remain totally unaware of the risks arising when they use their strengths excessively or in the wrong way. By implementing the steps outlined above, organizations can build greater awareness of collective strengths within their work teams, how these can be applied effectively, and potential risks associated with overuse. This approach provides teams with a way of optimizing their strengths while also mitigating and correcting excessive behaviours that may derail the team from achieving and sustaining high performance.
Getting high-quality, empowering feedback on your behaviour, performance and potential from your manager, colleagues and other key stakeholders is essential to improve your performance and successfully advance your career. It has significant benefits, including:
To get a comprehensive and balanced picture of how you are performing and ideas for improvement, it is important to invite feedback from key stakeholders beyond your manager, including colleagues within and outside your team, your customers, other superiors, suppliers, and other people you interact with regularly.
Below are three tips that will help you get better feedback that can accelerate your results, learning and career progression.
Avoid asking general questions such as “Can you give me some feedback?” or “How do you think I’m doing?”
Ask specific questions, ideally directly after the performance event. Effective questions include:
You probably already receive feedback from your manager. However, it if it is absent, too general, or not helpful, ask your manager for feedback and tell them the type of feedback that would be most helpful for you. Send them some of the questions above in advance of your next check-in and invite them to respond to these when you meet. Do the same with other stakeholders to ensure you receive higher-quality feedback.
Don’t take critical feedback too personally or get defensive. Instead, listen with an open mind. Ask questions to clarify anything you don’t understand. Remember that you are free to choose how you respond to the feedback. Your choices include acting on the feedback, taking time to reflect on it, or seeking additional feedback. See all feedback as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Remember that giving feedback (especially constructive feedback) is not easy, even for experienced managers. It is therefore important to thank people for their feedback, even when it’s hard to hear or isn’t communicated well. Tell people what you value most about their feedback. If you improve because of their feedback, share your progress with them. This will build trust and open opportunities for more feedback.
Employees I speak to are often disappointed by the amount and quality of feedback they receive. However, this is typically because they rely too much on one person – their manager – to provide regular and constructive feedback. If you want frequent and empowering feedback, you need to be more proactive. Take matters into your own hands and build into your flow of work a self-mastery habit of inviting feedback from multiple stakeholders, as well as your manager.
– Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft
Investing in employees’ growth and career progression is becoming increasingly important to retain and motivate high-quality talent. Studies consistently show that career and development opportunities are one of the most important reasons why talented people stay with an organization. Yet, career development is arguably the most overlooked HR and talent priority in business today.
Far too many managers don’t invest time and energy in high-quality career conversations. This leaves people feeling undervalued and undermines engagement, morale, and performance. Some managers even undermine career development and internal mobility with demotivating practices such as hoarding top talent, engaging in favouritism when it comes to filling vacancies and actively blocking the advancement of people they dislike or find threatening.
However, encouragingly, most managers we meet understand the importance of supporting the growth and development of their people. They just lack the framework, skills, and toolkit to provide meaningful and high-quality support. Time is also cited as a major problem by many managers, particularly when top leadership and HR don’t establish career development as a core HR priority. However, the time argument is paradoxical. Without investing time in career development, organizations end up spending a lot more money and time hiring replacements for top talent leaving the business.
So, as the New Year begins, show employees you are investing in their growth and development by applying the following six strategies:
Effective career conversations require time and focus. They should not be reserved for the annual review, as this typically leads to a meaningless tick-box exercise. Rather, you should plan a cadence of quarterly (or at least bi-annual) career conversations that are separate from regular performance dialogues. In addition to these structured sessions, it is important to provide ongoing guidance, coaching, and feedback during your informal check-ins and coaching sessions.
Mentoring involves the transfer of knowledge and wisdom from a more experienced person to a less experienced one. Unlike coaching, which typically focuses on near-term performance goals, mentoring provides professional guidance and insights beyond the person’s current role. As a manager, you play a crucial role in helping employees understand the value and benefits of mentoring. You are also in an ideal position to recommend mentors within and outside the business, who may not be known to the employee.
However, mentoring can be done within the team and doesn’t have to be one-on-one. Peer mentoring and coaching can be powerful ways to facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skills, and insights. For example, you can assign more experienced team members as “buddies” to help onboard new hires. This helps to fast-track their transition into the team and organization. You can also set up small peer coaching groups (groups of 4-6 are ideal) to encourage collaboration, shared learning, and fresh perspectives around priority topics, challenges, or opportunities. These can either be self-managing or facilitated by a skilled external or internal coach.
Many managers make the mistake of providing well-intentioned career advice that falls short of the mark, as it is based on what motivates them, not the personality and motivations of the employee they are typing to help. A vital part of providing effective career support is to understand the unique motivations, values, and strengths of your people. You can do this by asking some of the career coaching questions listed below during career conversations. However, it is also advisable to use an accurate and objective assessment of work-based strengths, motivations, and values such as TalentPredix. This will pinpoint the top strengths of each of your people, as well as what is most important to them at work. Once you have this clarity, you can provide support and stretch assignments that are closely matched with their strengths, potential and motivations. The aim of any great manager is to magnify an employee’s strengths so they can excel in areas where they are particularly talented and energized.
Stretch assignments are one of the most important ways for employees to grow new skills and build confidence to progress in line with their aspirations. But an assignment that is seen as positively stretching by one employee might demotivate or undermine the confidence of another. It is therefore important to pay attention to each employee’s strengths, appetite for challenge and self-confidence. You should also ask them what additional tasks and responsibilities they would like to take on, as well as the support they need from you to succeed. To avoid any confusion about priorities, you will need to highlight to employees that their priority is to perform their core job effectively and any stretch assignment should not interfere with this. Talented employees will rise to the challenge and with your support, work out how to shine in both.
Employees get frustrated and demotivated when they are kept in the dark about career pathways, skills needed to progress and how vacancies in the company are filled. Explain to your employees the skills and capabilities they will need to progress and coach them on how to develop those skills. Create opportunities for them to learn directly from others by connecting them with colleagues in the company doing the jobs they want to do in future. Inform employees about how to find out about upcoming vacancies they may be interested in. Insofar as possible, ensure your vacancies are posted internally before they are filled with external hires. Nothing crushes the motivation of talented people more than seeing roles they believe they can do filled by external hires without being given a fair opportunity to apply for the role.
A key part of your role as manager is to coach and guide your employees to help them progress their career and achieve their full potential. Coaching is a collaborative and supportive relationship involving mutual trust, reflection, and exploration. Through a process of discovery, goal setting, and focused action, it can facilitate better learning, career advancement and well-being. Coaching and supportive behaviours that promote effective career conversations include:
If you want to be a great leader who inspires, supports, and enables people to achieve exceptional results, you need to invest your time, energy, and expertise in helping people realize their full potential. This involves planning and undertaking high-quality career conversations; developing, and honing your coaching, feedback, delegation, and other key people skills; recognizing and magnifying strengths, progress and achievements and acting as a role model by prioritizing and progressing your own development. In today’s modern workplace, where unpredictable and disruptive change is the norm, there are few more pressing priorities than the growth, development and upskilling of the people you lead.
To be effective, feedback conversations should be empowering. They should provide useful, timely and constructive guidance to help the individual to change their mindset and behaviour. Yet, many managers struggle with feedback conversations, especially those that involve providing constructive or corrective guidance. They fear stirring up conflict and worry about undermining their relationship with the individual. They often end up falling into one of the following traps:
Avoidance – they avoid the conversation in the hope that the problem will resolve itself or won’t cause too many problems. However, avoidance often leads to problems becoming amplified and resentment arising from inaction growing among other team members.
Using the popular “sandwich approach” – they dilute constructive feedback by layering it between two ‘slices’ of positive feedback, at the outset and end of the conversation. This typically results in an ineffective performer selectively hearing only the positive messages and leaving the meeting believing they’ve got little or nothing to improve.
Over-criticism – they use an autocratic, critical tone. They generalize their critical feedback to the person’s performance, and even personality, rather than focusing it on the behaviour that needs to be modified. This is very risky, as it can leave people feeling angry, insulted, and demotivated. At worst, it can lead to a messy termination process involving claims of bullying and unfair dismissal.
Based on decades of experience helping managers and leaders deal with challenging feedback conversations, I recommend applying the following 6 steps:
1. Use a framework to guide your feedback – Follow a straightforward process like our AIM Feedback Framework™ (see below) to ensure your feedback is candid, concise and maximizes the likelihood of achieving lasting change.
2. Focus on the behaviour, not on the person – Ensure you don’t criticize or judge the person. Be specific and clear about the behaviour that you would like to see modified.
3. Keep it brief – Feedback receivers prefer crisp and clear messages so don’t overtalk, or provide lengthy, rambling justifications.
4. Give the person an opportunity to clarify – Ensure you check that the person understands the feedback. Invite them to summarize what they’ve heard and give them an opportunity to clarify anything they don’t understand.
5. Acknowledge the person’s concerns – Calmly allow the person to express their point of view and any feelings triggered by the feedback. Don’t react if they express anger or defensiveness; listen empathetically and acknowledge their concerns. If their anger persists, invite them to take a break to reflect on the feedback for 24 hours before reconvening.
6. Invite and provide suggestions – Invite the person to come up with options that will improve their performance. Explore these in an open, constructive way, without passing judgment or allowing your preferences to dictate the course of action agreed. Provide specific suggestions to help the person improve. To encourage ownership and commitment, ask the person how helpful these ideas are and whether they can think of any other options that might be better or build on the suggestions provided.
Most of us are conditioned to focus more on the negatives we see rather than the positives. This is what psychologists call the “negativity bias”. It is therefore important for managers to consciously learn to spot and magnify strengths and effective behaviours.
By giving positive feedback and praise, managers will promote progress, excellence, and employee engagement. When people feel they are valued and their progress and achievements are recognized regularly by their manager, they are more likely to feel motivated and exert higher levels of discretionary effort (i.e., effort over and above the required level).
What action did they take and in what situation did it happen?
“In the project meeting yesterday, I noticed you interrupted Joe several times.”
What was the impact of the person’s actions (on their RESULTS, RELATIONSHIPS, and REPUTATION)
People don’t intend to act in a way that undermines their results, relationships and/or reputation. Remember that their intentions are typically positive, even when their behaviour causes unintended negative consequences. Unless the evidence points strongly in favour of malicious or negative intentions, give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that they intended to act positively in the first place.
“I was frustrated that Joe couldn’t make his points fully and we missed out on his valuable input.”
What does the person need to modify/magnify to strengthen their effectiveness and results?
Thinking about what the person can magnify is especially important when giving positive feedback on how the person can build on their strengths and effective behavioural patterns.
Offer specific suggestions and guidance to help the person modify/magnify their behaviour.
“When we meet with the team in future, it would be great to see you give Joe an opportunity to make his points without interrupting. You could also encourage him to contribute his opinion from time to time as we both know he is an introvert.”