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Leadership Archives - Moellering

The Importance of Authenticity and Respect in the Workplace

W hen it comes to putting together a top-flight organization, two questions immediately surface. How do I get great employees to join my organization? And, how do I get those employees to stay?

In a job market where unemployment is low and people have an abundance of choices, it has become much easier for workers to hop from job to job in order to find greener pastures. Those pastures may not always turn out to be so green, but simply the potential of a job change improving one’s outlook makes people take action.

Few metrics better illustrate a company’s culture than the loyalty of an employee.

According to blogger Nick Kasik, “Few metrics better illustrate a company’s culture than the loyalty of an employee.” So then, what are some of the underlying reasons people are drawn to a company and choose to stay when there are so many other options available to them? Two components need to be in place for employees to truly connect with the company for which they work. The company needs to be authentic, and it needs to be respectful of its employees by putting people first.

 

Authenticity

For a company to be successful, and for its employees to stay engaged, it’s extremely important for that company to be authentic. Be who you say you are. The company needs to define a mission, tie that mission to a few important core values, and then live those values every single day. Any successful company will lead through its actions. If a company takes on a “do as I say but not as I do” attitude, it shows through very quickly and can be a culture killer.

Everyone makes mistakes, from the lowest levels to the CEO. The key to overcoming the occasional mistake or bad decision is to own up to those mistakes, learn from them and move forward. That’s a two-way street.

Title shouldn’t give anyone a free pass when it comes to owning up to a mistake, but it can be very powerful when a leader says “I was wrong.”

Title shouldn’t give anyone a free pass when it comes to owning up to a mistake, but it can be very powerful when a leader says “I was wrong.” Doing so shows the human element behind the leader and can help increase authenticity as well as respect from the rest of the workforce.

There are times when an organization needs all its employees to step up and work as hard as they can to achieve a certain outcome. The workforce will rise to the task if they see that the leaders are stepping up and working equally as hard. This creates a dynamic of working together for a common goal, regardless of position or title.

 

Respect

At the end of the day, every employee wants to have the respect of his/her coworkers, managers and leaders. Regardless of how much work needs to get done, the employee wants to feel that in times of need, the organization puts the person above the work.

Good employees want to voice their opinions and have those opinions be heard.

Good employees want to voice their opinions and have those opinions be heard. These opinions may sometimes be in opposition with those of leadership, but any good organization will openly listen to the feedback and give it honest consideration. The employee will remain engaged for only as long as he/she feels heard and, ultimately, respected. Without respect, there can be no foundation upon which to build a company culture, and engagement can turn into disengagement overnight.

 

Final thoughts

The workplace can be a place where one thrives or just survives, depending on perspective. If the organization puts people first and truly respects them for what they contribute as people as well as their work production, the likelihood of that employee staying engaged (and employed) at that organization increases tremendously. And if the organization consistently practices its core values that rally around the company’s mission, those employees will not only want to stay, they’ll encourage their friends to join the organization too.

Article written by Dave Clark, Staff Writer and Editor at TTI Success Insights.

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Why People Quit Their Boss, Not Their Company

T hink about previous jobs you’ve had. For one reason or another, you decided that a particular job was not for you and you moved on. Now that you’ve had time to think back and reflect, why, exactly, did you leave that company? Was it money related? Did your core values not align with the company’s values? Or, did your relationship with your manager simply run its course? So many times, workers don’t quit organizations, they quit their boss.

 

Purpose and relationships

Former Pearson COO and leadership expert Ziggy Liaquat believes two things need to happen for workers to remain happy and stay with an organization. They need to connect their personal purpose to the purpose of the organization and workers need to be inspired by the management to really succeed and to stay. In other words, there needs to be a people-connection.

If, as a leader, you can connect your purpose in the world to your purpose at work, then your passion for what you do will course through your veins.

Liaquat’s hypothesis states, “If, as a leader, you can connect your purpose in the world to your purpose at work, then your passion for what you do will course through your veins. You will inspire and motivate people with ease and you will make tough decisions with courage. Why? Because you are being authentic and true to your purpose.

So it’s something of a two-way street. Workers need to be inspired by management and management needs to be authentic and true to their purpose. What happens when one of these things do not align?

Who you work with matters

Eric Reed of thestreet.com received some sage advice during his school years. “Pick the people you want to work with, not the position. How much you like your coworkers will determine 90% of your happiness at the office.” Reed’s article went on to state that according to Accenture, research showed that of the top four reasons people gave for leaving a firm, all four had to do with management and the personnel environment. The four reasons were: they don’t like their boss (31%), a lack of empowerment (31%), internal politics (35%) and lack of recognition (43%).

This ties back to a study conducted by Harris Interactive that states 74% of people today would consider finding a new job, with 32% of those actively looking. In a supposedly stable job market, that’s a lot of potential movement. And so much of that movement could be avoided if the worker/boss relationship was given a little more attention.

What can be done?

When it comes to aligning a person’s purpose with the company’s, that’s something that should be well researched and established during the interview process and, at worst, cemented by the end of the onboarding process. If it’s apparent that the two are not a fit, moving forward is not beneficial for either party.

When it comes to the boss/worker dynamic, the responsibility lies on both sides of the desk. However, the human element should always reign supreme above the work details. Not every project will make the deadline, go as planned or be of the utmost quality originally envisioned.

The key is to learn from mistakes and move forward a little smarter from the experience, but always preserving the two-way relationship.

The key is to learn from mistakes and move forward a little smarter from the experience, but always preserving the two-way relationship.

It’s easy to be a great manager, or employee, when things are going good. When stress hits and the work seems insurmountable, that’s when the true test of a leader’s ability to keep people-first will be tested.

While some projects will succeed and others will fail, a manager will thrive when he or she treats workers as human beings first and, as employees, second. Learning from mistakes is easy, but it’s not nearly as easy to recover from a personal condemnation when something goes awry. Treating people with respect at all times is paramount for leaders to retain the interest and dedication of those who report to them.

 

Conclusion

Does your manager understand and respect what is truly important to you? Do you connect on a human level? Is your manager someone you would willingly have a beer with after work? If you answered yes to these questions, you’re probably working for someone that understands and embraces the human element of the boss/worker relationship. If you answered no, it might be time to dust off that resume.

Article written by Dave Clark, Staff Writer and Editor at TTI Success Insights

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When It Comes to Developing Your Organization, Do Your Numbers Add Up? [Infographic]

W hen it comes to training your current workforce, including your next generation of leaders, having a first-rate training plan that employs assessment solutions is key. Assessments can be used to uncover the how and why behind behaviors, soft skills, and EQ, producing results and increasing engagement.

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The New Super Hero Team – Business, IT and HR

T he ongoing disconnect between business, HR, and IT is legendary and many managers and even some executives may believe this thrilling threesome has nothing in common. Business can no longer operate without good talent management and HR can no longer be effective without IT. Why do these three bickering siblings need to get along for a more successful future?

One might say that business is the hero that built America.

The Business of Business

America, unlike many believe, was not founded for political or religious reasons. When Queen Elizabeth I of England sent people to explore the New World, it was in pursuit of riches. Business helped grow those riches for England and America. Business has spawned many other heroes in the building of America. The United States is still one of the few places on the planet where anyone can build their own empire.  One might say that business is the hero that built America.

The business of business is all about another hero, its people. There will be no numbers to crunch, no products to sell, and no services to deliver without people. While there are giant heroes in America’s past, these are the everyday heroes who continue to build organizations. Boards and CEOs are staying awake at night worrying about recruiting and hiring good talent. This is particularly troublesome for organizations that are not born digital. Many an article has been written about the need for in-depth recruiting, good hiring processes, and fitting the right people to the right job. Oftentimes, an organization will get all that right but fall short once their valuable heroes are on board.

“The workforce continues to change, and people today need different requirements for recognition, communication, engagement, and motivation. A more individual approach is necessary to address these needs and ensure that every worker realizes his or her hero value. The other side of this coin is that organizations need talent that can adapt, be agile, and embrace changes brought about by the market, the economy, customer demands, and of course, technology.

IT is It

Years ago, I remember the sales department arguing that nothing would happen in business without them. They thought they were the business hero. HR would argue that if it wasn’t for them, there wouldn’t be any jobs because there would be no one to fill them. They thought they were the business hero. Today, IT may very well be the hero because neither sales nor HR can function efficiently without them. Technology touches every part of our lives and is now recognized for making valuable contributions to business success, customer service, including making life easier for HR. Indeed, technology touches every part of business playing a significant role in keeping every department operating smoothly. That’s a heroic feat if ever I heard one.

Many of the jobs available today didn’t exist just a few years ago and many new jobs are not too far away on the horizon.

While everyone is smart to keep abreast of trends, IT must do it on steroids. While change is rampant, changes in technology come at blinding speed. Technology not only changes how we work, but the jobs we do, as well. Many of the jobs available today didn’t exist just a few years ago and many new jobs are not too far away on the horizon.

 

HR The Caped Crusader

Having been in HR, I can appreciate the effort it takes to walk the fine line between the dictates of business and keeping up morale. Or, between dishing out discipline and building a friendly culture. And finally, between building diversity and being fair to everyone. Any manager who has forgotten to dot an “i” and cross a “t” who has had HR swoop in, bail them out and, magically make all the distress go away, will call HR a hero. However, HR must now enfold business and IT under its collaborative cape as “friendlies.”

Now HR must become a business partner. It’s not enough to know the organization sells stuff, money comes in and everyone gets paid. Now HR must understand business strategy, marketing, sales, and profit margins. Now HR must understand a lot of technology and partner with IT to operate efficiently, attract hero talent, and use technology to help the business grow and prosper. Technology is changing every aspect of business including HR. It’s changing the way jobs are posted, the way people apply, and employee development.

 

Stay in Your Own Lane

Recently I was at an international conference and the audience had the opportunity to ask questions to a panel of executives. I asked for their thoughts on the CEO, the CHRO, and the CFO becoming business partners. I was told that everyone should stay in their own lane.

Business heroes who might not have thought about being collaborative in the past must change their thinking pattern must solve problems together.

Business heroes who might not have thought about being collaborative in the past must change their thinking pattern must solve problems together. The same can be said for business, HR, and IT.

Article written by Diane Bogino, President of Performance Strategies, Inc.

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3 Easy Steps to Building a Solid Company Culture

I t’s readily accepted that having a positive company culture provides advantages in the marketplace. If developing a company culture that attracts and retains employees is the goal, then how does a company go about making that happen? It all starts with appreciating the value a company’s employees bring to the organization.

Loyalty is a two-way street. When your employees feel that they are a part of the process, the building of the culture, and the business as a whole, they will feel they are a part of the success.

According to a recent article from blogger Nick Kasik, he states, “Loyalty is a two-way street. When your employees feel that they are a part of the process, the building of the culture, and the business as a whole, they will feel they are a part of the success… As they should. Because they are. As simplistic as that sounds, it is a radical departure of the cultures of past.”

Kasik cites three components that are integral to building a solid company culture. And, it’s hard to disagree with his assessment.

Be relevant and meaningful

Employees want their employer to understand them as human beings, having a firm grasp of what is important to them. They want a relationship where they feel as if they are a part of something meaningful, playing an important part within the organization. Treating all employees the same simply doesn’t work because different employees value different things.

Regardless if an employee values money, time, recognition, or otherwise, there is something that makes every employee tick. Think of how you feel if you take part in an event and win, and then come to find that everyone who participated got a trophy. It makes winning kind of pointless, right? The same thing holds true at work.

“If everyone gets the same bonus, pay, or treatment for different outcomes, then it’s not personal. And if it is not personal, it’s not meaningful. Companies should instead explore ways to create flexibility in their rewards programs that allows employees to apply them in ways that are personally fulfilling.”

Looking at it from a personal perspective, nothing is more valuable to me than time. Sure, I value money highly, but I understand that time is the most valuable asset in the universe. Once time runs out, the money really doesn’t mean much, does it?

For me, the way a company can appeal to me personally is by understanding how much I value time and reward me for a job well done with time off. Some people may prefer a bonus check while others may prefer to be publicly recognized in front of their peers. We are all different. I couldn’t care less if someone gets up in front of the room to tell me I did a good job, but I would be ecstatic if I could earn an extra day off here and there because I applied myself and produced quality work. That’s what is relevant to me. Companies need to think in these terms to truly make a long-lasting connection with their employees.

Appeal to the individual

I am unique. So is every other employee. Companies would be wise to get to know their employees on a personal level and find out what is truly important to each and every one of them. Then, create a unique plan for each person that helps the employee achieve what he or she strives to achieve.

Maybe one employee desires a four-day work week, while another one wants to make more money. The third employee may crave professional development in hopes of a better job title. Why can’t each employee have their own pay scale, work hours, ability to work from where they work best and under conditions that are ideal for maximum production?

Companies need to reimagine how they attract – and retain – employees by giving them what they desire, resulting in keeping them happier and more engaged.

Companies need to reimagine how they attract - and retain - employees by giving them what they desire, resulting in keeping them happier and more engaged.

Invest in fun

I’ve met a lot of people in my life and almost all of them have jobs. The funny thing is, I never met anyone who works because they want to; they work because they need to. While working may be a necessary way of life for those not born into a fortune or gifted with the ability to regularly hit a baseball 400 feet, employees will eventually lose interest if their interests don’t align with the company’s way of operating. Eventually, without alignment, employees will lose interest and look elsewhere for employment opportunities. Who wants to work at a place where they are miserable most of the time?

Kasik made another notable point when he said, “Any culture that integrates having fun as equally important as getting things done, is set up for a culture of employee productivity, engagement, and loyalty. Who would ever do anything to leave a job that they absolutely love coming to every day? Don’t just make time for fun, but invest in having fun. Make it a priority.”

Don’t just make time for fun, but invest in having fun. Make it a priority.

When work is fun, it really doesn’t feel like work at all, and that’s the difference between creating a culture that attracts versus having a culture that repels.

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5 Reasons Why Training is Important

T  here was a time in my previous life when I worked in the beer world. Being on the craft side of the industry, knowledge and training were vital to the success of our brands. My job took me inside hundreds of food and drink establishments every year and I was simply amazed at the absolute dearth of training in the industry, as a whole. Not only was finding a well-trained bar or restaurant staff the exception instead of the rule, it was truly like finding a diamond-in-the-rough when I did encounter one. I often wondered why it was this way and what could be done about it.

This real-life experience left a lasting impression on me, but by no means was a lack of training confined to the beer industry. Have you ever called a major corporate entity and suffered through a painful conversation with a robotic call center employee? Or maybe, you’ve had a less-than-stellar experience at your local post office or DMV?

Have you ever called a major corporate entity and suffered through a painful conversation with a robotic call center employee?

Some companies find success in spite of their training techniques (or lack thereof). Can you imagine a world where training was deemed as important as the products the companies were selling; where training was considered part of the very DNA of a business’ modus operandi? Here are five good reasons to make sure your employees have the best training possible, and what happens when they do.

Employees work harder

When an organization takes a genuine interest in an employee, the employee feels the need for reciprocation and tends to put forth a better effort. Work becomes more meaningful and a the employee feels a certain responsibility to execute the job tasks to the best of his or her ability. It’s human nature to want to work for someone that respects us and shows that respect.

Company loyalty increases

When a person feels as if they are a meaningful part of an organization, they become and stay more engaged. Employees who are engaged will outperform those who aren’t. Companies that support its employees build loyalty, resulting in deeper dedication, better efforts, less sick days used and other ancillary benefits.

When a person feels as if they are a meaningful part of an organization, they become and stay more engaged.

Untrained workers equal lost customers

Who wants to do business with a company that appears to be inept? A negative first impression is hard to overcome and if you have a negative experience the first time you deal with a company, chances are you won’t be inclined to give them a second chance. The opposite of that is also true.

If you have a consistently good experience with a company, then run into an isolated incident where something isn’t right, you are much more likely to forgive that company and overlook the indiscretion.

Untrained workers are inefficient and mistake prone

When a worker is going through the motions, their heart and mind are not on the job they are performing. Because of this, they are more likely to make careless mistakes by losing their focus. Mistakes cost companies money, especially if it means lost customers.

These non- or disengaged employees feel much less inclined to work hard since they are, effectively, just going through the motions to collect a paycheck. They might be marginally useful and still perform to some degree, but there is still a level of loss for the company since that position could be filled by someone who engaged who would work harder.

Workers want to advance

Talented employees take an interest in a company and want to grow within that organization. These employees are good contributors and they typically want to stay onboard longer since they feel like they are a part of something exciting.

Talented employees take an interest in a company and want to grow within that organization.

It’s important to distinguish between training and developing employees. Training usually focuses on the acquisition of new skills, according to lessonly.com, while development is concerned with the improvement or extension of existing skills. Once a person is trained, they need to be regularly developed in order for them to continue to grow.

Conclusion

Going back to the beer industry reference earlier, I challenge you to pay special attention to the staff’s training next time you go into your favorite establishment. Does your bartender put your beer mug into the spigot when they pour your beer? (They shouldn’t!) Can they ably explain the differences between the beer styles that are currently on tap? (This should be a prerequisite before hiring.) If they don’t know, do they at least find the answer and get right back to you? (Let’s hope so.)

Think about how much happier you are when you go into an establishment that seems well run by an engaged and knowledgeable staff. Sometimes the service can leave more of a lasting impression than the food or drink itself. Now take that thought process and apply it to your business. If everyone who does business with your company can feel that same sense of satisfaction when they do business with you, then you know you are doing things right.

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Practice Rescue: 3 Tips to Hiring the Right Candidate

T he unemployment rate is at an all-time low, and the war for amazing talent is at an all-time high. What can employers do to find the best fit for the position they seek to fill?

A dentist client recently told me that she was so desperate to fill an open dental assistant position in her practice that she hired the first candidate that applied, despite the “yellow flags” she sensed when she was interviewing the candidate. These same warning signs resurfaced during the employee’s 90-day onboarding/contingency period.

What are yellow flags?

Yellow flags are indicators that a candidate or new hire may not meet all our requirements from either a skills, personality or cultural fit level. The applicant does not quite give us the obvious red flag that would disqualify that person from consideration, but rather shows elements that cause some sort of underlying concern that he or she may not be the ideal fit.

Yellow flags are indicators that a candidate or new hire may not meet all our requirements from either a skills, personality or cultural fit level.

Often, we feel in our gut that something just isn’t right, but not being able to pinpoint exactly what it is, we may be inclined to hire anyway. Dismissing those gut feelings can come back to haunt us, especially if we overvalue the candidate’s potential due to an urgency to fill the open position.

Three examples of yellow flags during the interview process may include the following:

  1. Workplace timelines do not add up on the candidate’s resume.
  2. The candidate is very eager, or even aggressive, about securing employment with your practice.
  3. The candidate offers openly negative discussions regarding a previous employer and that employer’s work environment.

3 tips

How do we avoid getting sucked into a yellow-flag employee?

  • Use words in your job posting to describe your practice and the position that would attract the type of candidate you are looking for, such as “growth-minded” or “fast-paced.” You want to sell the position. Great candidates are not just looking for a job, they are also looking for a great fit. You want a candidate that is as particular about where they work as you are about hiring the right person.

You want a candidate that is as particular about where they work as you are about hiring the right person.

  • Ask yourself if the candidates applying for the position are hungry for more. Are they teachable and passionate for growth in your business? Initiative cannot be taught.
  • Ensure you have a system in place for true references, background checks and interview processes with several current members of the staff prior to making an official job offer.

Green, yellow, red

In some cases, you just know when you’ve stumbled upon a great candidate. The signs point to green from the beginning and nothing throughout the process gives any indication to doubt those signs. Yellow flags are more common when you find someone that has some, but not all, of what you are looking for in an ideal candidate.

In some cases, you just know when you’ve stumbled upon a great candidate. The signs point to green from the beginning.

These yellow flags are not to be confused with red flags that come with candidates who have a criminal or drug history, are not a cultural fit with your organization or simply possess an incapacity to do the job. On the racetrack, yellow indicates caution. If your candidate is causing you to raise the yellow flag, I suggest you proceed with caution before offering that person a position.

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5 Characteristics of Great Leaders

T  he hope of every employee is to work for a leader they like and respect. While each person may have their own definition of what constitutes a “great leader,” we can agree there are certain traits that appeal to the masses.

If you are a leader and you possess these five traits, you are probably quite successful. If you don’t think these traits describe your leadership style, working on one or more of these areas would be a great place to start in order to build a better rapport with your teams.

Humility

We may often think a successful leader needs to be a commanding or charismatic presence, yet often it’s exactly the opposite type of leader that appeals more so to a workforce. A leader who shows humility steps out of the spotlight and lets that light shine upon the team. While having a fiery or attention-grabbing personality may be great for a leader doing a public speaking engagement, that approach can wear thin with workers on a day-to-day basis.

We may often think a successful leader needs to be a commanding or charismatic presence, yet often it’s exactly the opposite type of leader that appeals more so to a workforce.

Sue Shellenbarger of The Wall Street Journal said, “Humility is a core quality of leaders who inspire close teamwork, rapid learning and high performance in their teams, according to several studies in the past three years. Humble people tend to be aware of their own weaknesses, eager to improve themselves, appreciative of others’ strengths and focused on goals beyond their own self-interest.”

She ascertains that humility leads to lower turnover and absenteeism, because these leaders tend to let their teams get the majority of the attention and the accolades, making them feel more engaged.

Conviction

Author Nishant Bhajaria wrote an article entitled, Four Mistakes That Made Me a Better Manager. In this article, Bhajaria cites four key attributes that any leader needs to have to empower them for success: conviction, courage, good listening skills and the ability to mentor.

“Believing in the mission is at the foundation of everything a manager does. All plans and strategies are built from that mission. You can’t build a sound structure without a solid foundation, and it works exactly the same way in business. As the leader, you are responsible not only for yourself, but for every member of your team. You have to believe in them to be able to support them in times of need. The bottom line is simple: employees want to follow a leader they believe in and a leader in whom they trust.”

Courage

Put more than one person in a room and disagreements are bound to occur. When there is a disagreement, a great leader needs to be able to stand their ground believing in their position, while still being receptive to the opposition’s point of view. Conversely, they have to understand that there are occasions when their beliefs may not be best for the organization and they must be willing to be flexible. The key is to win others over through a sound and calm fact-base case rather than by becoming emotional or argumentative.

Part of having courage is trusting your people to do the job without a lot of interference.

Part of having courage is trusting your people to do the job without a lot of interference. Constantly being involved with minutiae can become more of a distraction than a help, and it impedes an employee from wanting to take chances and expand their comfort zone. An employee that is constantly challenged becomes tentative, and eventually, complacent. A great leader will provide instruction and direction, then trust that the employee is capable enough of carrying out the duties out in a meaningful way.

Great listener

A great leader certainly needs to be a support system for the team, but the leader must also let the workers grow. With growth comes the occasional failure, which is perfectly acceptable since it leads to expanding comfort zones and learning new skills.

Workers typically want to know that when they have a need or a concern, their manager will be there to listen to them and lend support, if needed. Sometimes, just letting an employee verbally brainstorm or even vent is all that is needed. Being a good listener can be as powerful, if not more powerful, than a “fix it” manager who always feels the need to try to fix problems that may not actually exist.

Mentoring

Very few people are “born leaders.” Most leaders need to learn their skills somewhere and from someone. Virtually every great leader can immediately recall someone who helped them over the years, especially when they needed help the most. Even if the mentor’s involvement seemed insignificant at the time, it can often leave a long-lasting positive impact on the person who was helped.

A great manager understands that the more they listen, the more they can learn, and let’s the employees do the majority of the talking.

Virtually every great leader can immediately recall someone who helped them over the years, especially when they needed help the most.

Mentoring can be done in a structured, formal capacity or very casually. Mentoring is simply helping others get to where they want to go. It can be a full-fledged training program or a properly timed pep talk.

When I was a young sales executive, I didn’t have an official mentor or a predesigned career path to get into management. I did, however, have a high-ranking division leader that I went to when I needed words of wisdom. That leader came through every time, no matter how seemingly insignificant the issue. While he may not have even realized he was being a mentor at the time, I credit him with a key role in my eventual move into sales management because of his words of wisdom and the things I learned from him, including the example he set as a leader.

Conclusion

There are many people who hold positions of authority, but there is a shortage of great leaders. When I think back to the leaders who made the greatest positive impact in my life, there were a few consistencies. These were the leaders that respected me as a person and a worker, supported me in good times and bad, and gave me the space to do what I did best – produce results.

At times, a week could go by without more than casual conversation with these great managers. This was perfectly ok with me because I knew what I needed to do and the manager knew I was getting the work done at a high level. Micromanaging simply wasn’t necessary. But when I needed the manager, they made themselves available. The mutual respect led to a great working relationship and the results spoke for themselves.

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Mentoring Using DISC

L eading a successful team can be compared to a directing a musical performance, such as a classical orchestra or choral concert. Individuals who bear little resemblance to each other often need to learn how to harmonize and respect the differences they bring to the team. Their diversity in style and substance, when properly harmonized, makes beautiful music.

It is rather easy for a conductor to identify who plays what instrument. It is no less important for managers to know the behavioral or work styles of the individuals they manage and how they can best contribute to the organization.

Behavioral styles, such as DISC, can tell a lot about how a person will typically behave a majority of the time. The DISC indicators can be considered predictors of how a peer or colleague might approach a challenge or influence others to their way of thinking.

Being able to adapt to people who possess different behavioral styles is the key to success in both business and in life.

Being able to adapt to people who possess different behavioral styles is the key to success in both business and in life. Since behavioral styles are observable, it’s easy to determine someone’s style and react accordingly.

As someone who specializes in mentoring, I often discuss ways a mentor can best work with a mentoree, even with very different behavioral styles. While the examples below illustrate the mentor/mentoree relationship, these skills can be applied between any two people communicating in any setting.

DISC Defined

DISC is an acronym that stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. The science of DISC explains the “how” a person does what they do, and can be a strong predictor of future behavior.

When someone scores higher in one particular area of DISC compared to the others, they are considered “high” in that particular factor. High-D’s are all about results. High-I’s are about interaction. High-S’s seek stability while the high-C is all about following rules. This basic understanding helps to illustrate how to identify various behavior styles when entering a room with other people.

Working with an opposing behavioral style in a mentoring partnership

Sometimes, you might be paired with someone because of their career trajectory or technical expertise but find that you do not share much else in common. Here are some ideas for working with a partner whose DISC style feels in opposition to your own:

A high-D and a low-D — For the high-D adapting to the low D: Slow down. Drop the intensity. Create a safe learning environment.  If the low D feels calm and comfortable, they are more likely to admit “I don’t know” or “This is where I need help.” Low Ds like lessons to follow and a forum to discuss problem-solving options.

A high-I and low-I — Outwardly, these two styles share very little in common — one is people-oriented and the other is task-oriented. One tends to trust indiscriminately while the other tends to remain guarded and untrusting. The high-I will have to respect the low-I’s low-trust level and will need to seek to build trust gradually. Ask the low-I for their input while planning development activities and for their impressions on how comfortable they are with stretch assignments.

A high-S and a low-S – In this relationship, the calculated decision maker must adjust to a high-risk taker. In other words, someone who prefers a slower pace (high-S) needs to work with someone who moves quickly. The high-S will need to pick up the pace when communicating with the low-S: cover only the high points and strive for directness.

A high-C and a low-C – Because the high C and the low C are both task-oriented, the area of potential conflict lies within the scope of compliance and risk taking. The risk-averse high-C competes with the low-C’s need for independence which can many times cause a considerable amount of tension. The high-C will need to give the low-C honest feedback if they are tackling problems with little regard for the possible ramifications of a quick decision.

Using DISC to design developmental activities

No matter which style each partner brings to the relationship, savvy mentors will look for opportunities to move the mentoring meetings beyond philosophical chats and/or venting sessions. In other words, to maximize learning, mentors should engage the mentoree in a variety of situations and developmental experiences.

To maximize learning, mentors should engage the mentoree in a variety of situations and developmental experiences.

To keep your mentoree engaged, consider their DISC style (both highs and lows) when designing development activities.  For example:

High-D’s, high-C’s or low-I’s – Tend to put tasks before people, so they struggle with interpersonal skills. If the goal is to enhance people skills — ask your mentoree to consider investing one day each month listening to the concerns and needs of his/her employees or peers.  Encourage them to look for opportunities to help someone talk through a project with which they are struggling.

High-I’s or high-S’s — These two behavioral styles have trouble setting clear standards and holding others accountable – particularly people over whom they do not have authority. In this case, perhaps the goal would be to work with your mentoree to create a project management system for following up on outstanding tasks and action items.

Low-S’s or high-D’s —These two styles tend to struggle with maintaining emotional intelligence during difficult times/situations. The ideal developmental activity would be to identify someone for the mentoree to shadow who is going to lead a team through a difficult conversation about a failed project.

Low-D’s, high-S’s or high-C’s — These styles need time to think things through before making a decision or taking a risk. To help build confidence in decision-making and risk-taking, encourage your mentoree to journal about what holds them back from making a decision. At your next mentoring meeting, discuss the pros and cons of the decision and an action plan for moving forward.

DISC as a guide for mentoring meetings

When meeting with a high-D or high-C: Expect these meetings to be brief and to the point.  Be sure to show up on time and prepared to dive into business.

When meeting with a high-I: Provide a friendly and fun environment. Give them plenty of time to talk. Remember they get pretty excited about things – lots of things – so you might need to ground them a little.

When meeting with a high-S: Just like the High-I’s, they need a friendly environment. Don’t rush headlong into business, give them a chance to break the ice and warm up to you. Always give them time to think things through. Be sure to send an agenda ahead of the meeting so they know what topics you would like to discuss.

When meeting with a high-C: Be sure to show up on time and stick to business. Don’t expect the meeting to run a full hour if they run out of things to discuss. Be careful of appearing too lighthearted, casual or showy and be sure to follow through on your promises. Just like the High-S’s, they will appreciate an agenda sent ahead of time.

Conclusion

Whether you are in a mentor/mentoree relationship or simply communicating with a friend or co-worker, understanding and being able to adapt to differing behavioral styles is the key to great communication and success in work and in life.

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3 Tips For Keeping Employees Engaged Using DISC [Infographic]

B ehavioral assessments, such as DISC, are an excellent tool helping leaders worldwide better understand and connect more effectively with their workforce, raising engagement and productivity.

Dominanace

  1. Be direct and prepared in communications
  2. Motivate them with challenges
  3. Eliminate small talk and get to the point

Influence

  1. Casually ease into conversations; avoid directness
  2. Provide opportunities to work with other people
  3. Create an open workspace where interaction is encouraged

Steadiness

  1. Communicate at a steady pace
  2. Let them ask questions
  3. Avoid asking them to act or react immediately

Compliance

  1. Provide as many facts and details as possible, preferably in writing
  2. Be patient; the C can be a meticulous perfectionist
  3. Clearly communicate expectations and deadlines

Using a tool as powerful as DISC eliminates much of the guesswork for leaders while providing a game plan from which to best communicate with employees.

Download Our Free Hiring Guide.

In this guide, you’ll get access to the seven most important questions to ask when hiring someone. And yes, they go way beyond a basic job description.