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The 3 Pillars of Hybrid Workplaces [Podcast]

It’s irrefutable: Hybrid workplaces are in, and inflexible employers are out.

The data is astounding. In some studies, 80 to 90 percent of employees report wanting to stay remote after the pandemic. And 84 percent of working parents with children under 18 find that the benefits of hybrid workplaces outweigh the cons.

We know now that overall job satisfaction is tied to flexible working models. And we’ve seen that many people are jumping off the “talent cliff” in search of greener pastures that offer full- or partially-remote work options.

The future of hybrid workplaces is now, especially as we all transition back to in-office roles. When it comes to developing a strong hybrid work culture, there’s no time to waste if employers want to stay competitive and prioritize employee satisfaction.

Our Guest: Rhiannon Staples, B2B Marketing Leader and CMO at Hibob

On the latest episode of #WorkTrends, I talked with Rhiannon Staples. She is a global marketing leader who has been architecting expert business strategies and leading start-up teams for over 15 years. Before taking on her current role as Hibob CMO, she was the Global VP of Marketing at NICE Actimize and Global Head of Brand Marketing at Sisense. She’s an expert in brand-to-market strategy, lead generation, and account-based marketing programs. She also specializes in spearheading global growth for companies.

Rhiannon had some great advice for harnessing hybrid work for global growth and business strategy. She said that there are three pillars of hybrid work that companies need to consider in order to design a successful hybrid work model.

“The first is productivity, the second is communication, and the third is culture and connection,” Rhiannon says. 

For the first pillar of productivity, employers need to show workers their willingness to be flexible. This will give employees the feeling that employers are dedicated to their success. For the second pillar, they need to adopt an inclusive business model that prioritizes employee communication–whether employees are working remotely or in person. Finally, employers need to empower their HR leaders to create a culture of connection with employees. They need to offer tools and resources that can make the employee experience better.

Leaders also need to approach hybrid work with the point of view that there may be different rules than with traditional remote work.

“Hybrid work is less about letting employees go remote as it is about the work model, type of employment, hours worked, and work location,” Rhiannon says. “So first and foremost, know that ‘hybrid’ is not ‘remote.’ It’s something new that we need to tackle.”

The Benefits of Hybrid Workplaces

I asked Rhiannon how important it is that companies take hybrid work models seriously. Her answer? VERY. Notably, only 13 percent of people said they wanted to go back to the office full-time, five days a week, according to a Hibob study.

“I don’t want to create an impression that employees don’t want to be in the office. Because that’s not the case at all. Basically, our data has shown that employees and managers aspire to have a flexible work environment,” Rhiannon says. “Companies that are bringing employees back full-stop, in-office, five days a week … they’re going to feel the backlash of this. Employees will leave for companies that are offering greater flexibility.”

Data shows that hybrid work is beneficial for everyone, including underrepresented populations. These groups include those with disabilities or those who are neurodivergent. Also, women across the world have greatly benefited from hybrid remote work options, particularly those caring for children or elders.

“We’ve proven over the course of the past year that those companies that have offered flexibility to working mothers have seen great success with that population,” says Rhiannon. “Women having access to flexible work hours and having the option to work from home will open the door for many women to get back to work.”

Embracing a hybrid work model can help organizations retain employees. Also, it can encourage a more diverse workforce. If you ask me, there’s really no downside.

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends, sponsored by Hibob. You can learn more useful information on adapting to a hybrid work style by connecting with Rhiannon Staples on LinkedIn.

For more information on this topic, read more here.

 

Lessons in Leadership Style: Empathy Works [Podcast]

While in a position of power in an organization, it can be difficult to gauge how effective a person’s leadership style may be. Oftentimes employees are nervous to address issues with their supervisors, especially if they think their managers won’t listen to their perspectives.

While there isn’t one right way to lead, more and more research reveals that leaders who practice empathy have better relationships with their teams

A person who can adapt their communication and leadership style to meet the needs of different individuals are liked more and seen as friendlier. This type of leader knows that there isn’t just one way to do things. They can change how they manage their employees based on context and situation. They welcome meaningful feedback and apply it effectively.

Our Guest: Gary DePaul, Ph.D., HR and Leadership Expert

 

The special guest on this week’s episode of #WorkTrends is entrepreneur, author, researcher, and performance consultant Gary DePaul, Ph. D. Books he’s written include Nine Practices of 21st Century Leadership, The Most Effective and Responsible Clinical Training Techniques in Medicine, and his most recent work, What the Heck Is Leadership and Why Should I Care?

When talking with Gary about effective leadership style, he said one of the major things to avoid as a leader is fake collaboration. This happens when a boss creates the illusion of collaborating with their team–but in reality, they’re not listening to others, making all the decisions themselves, and having a one-way conversation. 

Real collaboration, Gary says, can only occur when a supervisor listens and guides their team based on the exchange of ideas. There is no hidden ego or agenda on the boss’s part.

“If we’re going to have real collaboration, you have it so that one person is leading, and everyone else’s role is to inquire. The boss should consider: What is this person saying? Why is it important? Am I understanding it right?” Gary says. “That’s what real collaboration is. When you have that synergy, when you’re focused on what the other person is saying, and you sincerely are listening, using empathy.”

Empathy is Crucial (Whether You’re a Boss or Not)

 

A great way to make your team feel comfortable sharing ideas, Gary says, is to acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. Admitting to things you can improve on shows self-awareness. Also, it shows your team that you’re empathetic to any concerns they may have regarding your present leadership style.

For example, Gary says, “If you’re new to being a supervisor, acknowledge it. Recognize you’re going to make mistakes and ask for feedback, informally. Say, ‘How am I doing? I know I’m new at this. What can I do to do this better?’ Do things like thank people and acknowledge them for what they do. And then hold people accountable with the team and hold yourself accountable for what your team does.”

Of course, leaders aren’t the only ones who can benefit from practicing empathy. The best way to get good results at work, whether you’re a CEO or hourly employee,  is to outright ask people for feedback and provide it to others voluntarily. As an employee, you can improve relationships and overall output at work by taking the initiative to interact.

“If you’re not a leader, but you want to connect with your teammates, simply ask your peers how they’re doing!” Gary says. “Check in with them, especially if you’re working in a virtual, remote environment. And give your boss upward feedback!”

Developing a leadership style that works can be difficult. But if you’re empathetic and open to your employees, you’re setting everyone up to improve not just their work output, but their human experience at work!

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends. You can learn more useful information on how to develop an empathetic leadership style by connecting with our guest, Gary DePaul, on LinkedIn.

Reenfranchising Your Company’s Disenfranchised

If 2016 taught me anything, it’s that I may have overestimated how tuned in I am to large segments of the population. I would not call this group a silent majority (as they are neither “silent” nor a “majority”), but recent political events have reinforced my need to engage and find common ground with those who feel alienated.

In his recent movie, Imperium. Daniel Radcliffe plays a FBI agent who goes undercover in a white-supremacy group. According to Radcliffe, “…my biggest takeaway from this film is that, as much as we want to demonize these people and in a way demonize their views, we should try and find a way of getting them into this conversation, unfortunately as awful as that sounds, because the more you ostracize them and aggressively dismiss them, the more it just plays into their worldview that everything is a conspiracy against them.”

Before you send me your oppositional emails, let me be clear: I am not equating, comparing, or in any way associating those who feel disenfranchised with white supremacists or racists-at-large. What I am saying is that Radcliffe makes a valid point about demonizing people without engaging in a conversation to understand their point of view.

Imperium’s Director, Daniel Ragussis, added that characterizing those on the fringe with insults like “monster” is not helpful.—“They don’t give you any access as to the mechanism that’s going on there and why the people are behaving the way they are. I think if you’re going to try to dismantle that or change it, you have to understand what’s going on and what’s happening.”

A mutually beneficial workplace culture is not determined solely by the leaders; the employees ultimately decide what practices and habits they will adhere to… and this includes those who don’t feel welcomed to participate. Therefore, companies must focus their resources to involve these individuals.

To help us encourage those who believe they are estranged from the decision makers, we must be mindful of one important concept: Don’t confuse feeling disenfranchised with feeling disengaged. The disengaged are not willing to put in extra effort for success. They don’t like work and they aren’t afraid to show it. The disenfranchised, on the other hand, believe they are deprived of rights and/or privileges. They want to contribute, but either don’t know how to initiate, don’t think they are allowed, or don’t feel welcomed into the process.

To reenfranchise, start by listening to their concerns. Actually, that’s too easy. Your really need to start by withholding judgment. It’s easy to dismiss those who disagree with us, especially when they are not in a position of power. An effective leader, however, cannot disparage or ostracize these individuals. They are part of the organization, so either treat them like they are part of the organization or release them from your condemnatory sentencing.

Once you are able to withhold judgment, you can begin listening to their concerns. Schedule one-on-one’s to figure out what they need to feel embraced. Ask questions, focus on their concerns, and formulate an ongoing plan.

After you know their hindrances and have a plan in place, it is your responsibility as the leader to change how you manage. However you led before resulted in a disenfranchised populace, so figure out what you can do differently to be more inclusive. And follow up frequently to ensure that your efforts are effective.

If attitude is an indication of success (and it is) you will get more bang for your buck if you concentrate on reenfranchising the disenfranchised then engaging the disengagement. Since the disenfranchised crave involvement, involve them. If you don’t, they will find their voice, with or without you. Why wait for them to be an organized opposition? Make them allies and strengthen your team.

Photo Credit: maransa99 Flickr via Compfight cc

10 Tips on How To Empower and Engage Your Employees

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” Stephen R. Covey

The “my way of the highway” leadership style is no longer effective. Yes men and women who simply follow rules, policies, and procedures are not the kinds of employees who will produce results and generate growth. As a business owner or manager, you know that the more engaged and empowered your employees are, the more likely they are to feel a sense of ownership in your company. That sense of ownership leads employees to be innovative, customer service oriented, problem solvers who take pride in their work.

Of course, empowerment and engagement doesn’t just happen. It takes good leadership techniques to ensure that the people working under you feel as if they are free to make decisions and take actions with autonomy. Here are ten tips that you can use to increase engagement and empowerment among your underlings.

  1. Give Them Opportunities to Demonstrate And Strengthen Their Leadership Skills

In order for empowerment to be successful, it has to be accompanied by confidence. You can’t simply tell your employees that they have the power and autonomy to act in the best interests of the company and its customers. They need to find and develop confidence in their own leadership and decision making skills. As the leader, you can do this by finding ways in which employees at all levels can lead and make decisions. Eventually, you won’t need to direct them to take the lead.

  1. Tell Them

Make sure that the language that you use doesn’t contradict your goal of creating a culture of engagement and empowerment. If you are used to using an authoritarian leadership style that might reflect in the words that you use. Be mindful of the tone and words that you use when addressing your team. Your words should tell them that you are sincere about the work environment that you want to provide and remember that “Employees engage with employers and brands when they‘re treated as humans worthy of respect.” Meghan Biro

  1. Provide Regular State of The Company Updates

In order to act in the best interests of the company, employees need to be kept engaged with regular and candid updates on the current state of things, along with your vision of the future. This includes acknowledging areas of concern and struggle. Your team needs to know where things are going wrong in order to find ways to be proactive and improve areas of weakness. These regular updates will also keep everybody on the same page.

  1. Encourage And Enable Personal Development

The more support you give your employees regarding their pursuit of their career goals and skill development, the more that they will trust that you have their best interests in mind. One way to do this is to give them the time and resources to spend on personal development.

  1. Back Them up When They Use The Power You Give Them

If you pull the rug out from underneath employees when they act with autonomy, you will struggle to ever get them to believe your rhetoric on empowerment again. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can never step in and intervene if you believe a course of action is a mistake or redirect an employee who has overestimated the extent of their empowerment. It just means that care must be taken to ensure that the employee understands that the intervening action was taken in their and the company’s best interests.

  1. Reward Successful Results And Recognize Good Efforts

When employees show initiative and take action to solve problems, keep customers happy, improve processes, or create growth, your recognition is what will encourage them to do the same in the future. When their efforts really make a difference, rewarding them is an appropriate action to take.

  1. Give Them Space

Just like authoritarian language can undermine your message of empowerment, so can hovering and micromanaging. Give your team members space to do what they do best, and trust them to bring you in when you are needed.

  1. Review And Revise Policies That Could be Hindering Empowerment

If your written policies don’t reflect your goal of creating a more empowered workforce, your employees may be in an uncomfortable situation. It’s difficult to heed verbal encouragement to act with autonomy, when written policy is full of mandatory procedures and admonishments to follow chains of command.

  1. Help Them Pursue Career Tracks That Reflect Their Talents

It’s fairly easy to make employees who are doing well feel empowered, but what about employees who are struggling to find their footing. It is often these employees who need the most mentoring to make them feel empowered and engaged, while still directing them to improve their performance. In many cases, a lack of good performance is the result of an employee being placed in a position that doesn’t allow them to use their talents, and they feel stuck. Encourage employees to take on roles and responsibilities that reflect their skills, even if that means transferring to another area, or changing path they joined your company to pursue.

  1. Create an Environment Where The Possibility of Failure Doesn’t Create Fear

When people are given power to make decisions without checking in with their supervisors or running to a policy manual, great things happen. Sense of ownership increases, performance improves, and customers are happier. Unfortunately, another side effect of this is that people are going to make mistakes, and their efforts will occasionally result in failure. Failure in itself is painful enough for employees, make sure that you communicate that failure as the result of sincere effort isn’t going to be met with harsh criticism or penalty.

 

Photo Credit: Robots are Stupid via Compfight cc

The Leadership Style That Drives Innovation

Making the leap into management can be an exciting and challenging time. Switching roles from contributor to leader can be a confusing proposition. You’ve done so great with your job that now you’ve been asked to stop doing it, and instead to start using a different set of skills to supervise a team of people.

The kneejerk reaction to the added responsibilities and altogether new situation might be to get out in front of your new team, take on more of the work that you’re already comfortable with, and set up processes designed to your habits and personality. After all, that’s what got you the new promotion, right?

Unfortunately, in many cases, this may have a negative impact on your team. Most notably, doing more work suited for your direct reports and forcing your team to adjust to your style may actually stifle their ability to innovate.

Harnessing the Collective Genius

This is best explained by a theory popularized by Harvard Business School professor Linda Hill, who coined the idea of leading from behind. Building off of a famous quote from Nelson Mandela, Hill explains how the best way to harness a company’s “collective genius” is with leaders that operate as shepherds guiding a flock.

Essentially, once a leader has created the vision and determined the direction for his or her team, guidance and support are his or her best contributions for driving growth and encouraging employees to improve upon the existing way of doing business.

A main point to Hill’s theory is that innovation in today’s business world is increasingly coming from collaborative teams, rather than the sole champion innovator. Great ideas can come from anywhere in a company, and fostering an environment in which anyone can innovate is an important part of a high-performance culture.

Leverage Unique Experience

On the other side of the spectrum from leading from behind, a leader thinks up the idea, designs the execution plan and directs his or her team to execute by staying within a narrow lane. The employees don’t make many decisions and follow their leader toward the stated goal.

In this scenario, employees aren’t permitted to leverage their unique experience and personal perspectives to the advantage of the company. These can be valuable resources as you look to drive growth.

Collections of Small Innovations

The best ideas are often collections of small innovations. Think of a big idea like the iPod. The big idea is a handheld music player, but it is made possible through a number of smaller innovations such as the scroll wheel and single action button, the operating system, not to mention the electronic hardware itself. Coming up with the best product depended on teams of individuals thinking up original ideas for even the smallest details.

Creating an environment like that which fosters the type of employees who voice their opinions and collaborate to create original solutions requires leaders that empower. The truth is that the strongest ideas are those that stand the test of debate. Ideas that are challenged and enhanced by a team of individuals have a better chance of success than new ideas created by from an outspoken leader and delivered as an edict.

A Change in Mindset

Ultimately, becoming a manager of an innovative team might start with a change in mindset. While managers may typically measure their success through their own achievements, a push for innovation requires a manager who wants to be measured through the success of his or her team.

If you can be happy with driving achievement from behind the scenes, this leadership style might be for you, and the good news is that companies may now be looking for leaders like you.

Whether you’re a new manager or a longtime leader, how do you foster the collective genius on your team?

About the Author: John Scott is a Customer Success Manager for PerformYard, a web-based benefits, performance and HR software company.

photo credit: Alastair Rae via photopin cc

Open Leadership: Going Deep #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Are you looking to see all resources for this week’s topic? Read the #TChat Recap: Connecting With Collaborative Leadership.)

Think back for a moment on your career. Who’s been your favorite boss? How would you describe that person’s leadership style?

Is it a command-and-control approach, driven by business goals and results? Or does that leader win support, loyalty and cooperation by putting people first?

Hands down, I bet you picked someone from the second category — someone who embraces the social side of leadership. After all, studies reveal that your relationship with your manager is a key to engagement. And it’s natural to think favorably of professional experiences that engaged you.

You Had Me At “Hello”

This week’s #TChat guest, Dan Pontefract, calls this social-minded manager an “open leader.” And in his new book, Flat Army: Creating a Connected and Engaged Organization, Dan says it’s time for companies to move the open leader concept to a whole new level. As he explains in a recent TalentCulture post, the future of work depends upon army “open leaders,” where everyone in a company drives collaboration, regardless title or role.

For Dan, this is much more than a theory. As Senior Director of Learning & Collaboration at TELUS, he knows first-hand about the challenges and benefits of leadership development, workforce engagement and business performance. That’s why we’ve asked him to lead the way through #TChat discussions this week.

To give you a better taste of what the topic is all about, I spoke briefly with Dan in a G+ Hangout video. Check it out:

#TChat Events: How Open Leaders Win Hearts & Minds

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Tune-in to the #TChat Radio show

This topic touches on so many areas of interest and expertise across the TalentCulture community. I know many of you have related insights to add, so I hope you’ll join this week’s conversation!

#TChat Radio — Tue, June 11 at 7:30pmET/4:30pmPT – Dan joins our hosts, Meghan M. Biro and Kevin W. Grossman, for a LIVE 30-minute radio interview, where listeners are invited to call-in with questions.

#TChat Twitter — Wed, June 12 at 7pmET/4pmPT – Join the real-time community action, as we exchange ideas live on the #TChat stream, where Dan will moderate this week’s questions:

Q1: What does open leadership mean to you and why?

Q2: Can harmonious “soft skills” be developed in leaders at any age? Why or why not?

Q3: How does open leadership produce higher levels of performance and engagement within an organization?

Q4: What can business leaders do to encourage open self-leadership within all employee ecosystems?

Q5: What business technologies facilitate collaboration and open leadership?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image Credit: Stock.xchng