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Compensation Conversation – Talking to Employees About Pay

Talking to employees about pay can be uncomfortable, even when the news is good. In a survey given by West Virginia University, 70% of managers admitted feeling uncomfortable when talking to employees about pay. Assigning a dollar value to an employee’s work can be tricky, but it’s a meaningful conversation to have for the sake of bolstering trust, increasing engagement, and improving retention.

What is an employee compensation conversation?

An employee compensation conversation, or a salary review, is an employer’s evaluation process to determine if employees’ salaries fairly and accurately reflect their performance at work.

How often should you review employee compensation?

It depends on your company policies. Some companies review employee compensation every six months, and others review it once a year. At the least, reviewing employee compensation once a year should be appropriate for most organizations.

How should employers determine compensation for a salary review?

There are several factors to take into consideration when determining an employee’s pay:

  • Analyze market pay for the position: Assess internal data by looking at employee salaries to understand your company’s current state of wages. Then, get an update on current market pay data for the specific employee role from resources such as Glassdoor, the Indeed Salary Tool, or the Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S.)
  • Evaluate employee performance: Employees often connect their worth in the company to their salary. However, you don’t want employees only to see their worth in terms of a dollar amount. Offer recognition for what your employees are doing well and have regular one-to-one talks. These factor into employee performance, as 86% of highly functioning organizations hold such discussions with employees and see productivity rise.
  • Decide on factors you feel are most important: While performance is essential in determining employee compensation, there are other factors to consider. These can be a combination of employee and company factors, such as:
    • Company structure
    • Company budget and size
    • Living costs and location
    • Employee retention goals
    • Historical employee performance
    • Length of service

It’s important to ask questions and discuss among leadership what items are most important to the company when it comes to employee compensation.

How do I talk to my employees about compensation?

  • Show appreciation: First and foremost, you want to show employees your appreciation for the work they do. Point out and give examples of their specific contributions to your business.
  • Provide background: Review the employee’s role. Talk about their current pay and where they currently stand.
  • Mention other value points: In addition to reviewing salary, you should also mention what else factors into their compensation, such as a 401(k), Paid Time Off (PTO), insurance, monthly reimbursements, or volunteer days.
  • Listen to concerns: Be sure to listen to any concerns employees have about their compensation or position. Listen to what the real ask is behind their concerns and find what they deem the most valuable. For example, pay may not be the most critical concern—they may want the opportunity to work on more challenging projects.
  • Communicate well: Be very clear and direct when explaining pay decisions. If the employee asks, offer suggestions and goals on how to improve their performance by the following salary review.

Handle compensation situations

You can’t anticipate how every salary review will go. But you can be as prepared as possible. Here are some possible scenarios and how to handle them:

  • Performance doesn’t merit a compensation increase: Talk about their current salary, why they’re not eligible for a salary increase, and give specific goals to work on, along with a time frame to complete those goals.
  • Performance is high but doesn’t merit a compensation increase: Share their current salary and why they will not receive an increase. Determine if something else can be offered (flexibility or opportunity to work on a specific project) and discuss how they can continue to advance within the organization.
  • Compensation increases, but employee feels like it isn’t enough: Share their current salary and how it compares to the current market for their role. If another co-worker’s pay is brought up, direct the conversation back to the specific employee’s compensation. Point out their key accomplishments and how those influence their pay. Finally, listen to what’s behind the concerns. It’s possible there are other things that could satisfy your employee’s needs.
  • When an employee’s performance and experience result in a compensation increase: Recognize the work that they have done and what they bring to the role. Discuss their compensation and how they can continue to advance within the company.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it

Talking to employees about pay is tough, but you don’t just want to tell them that you’re giving them a raise (or not) and send them on their way. By preparing for these talks and recognizing your employee’s contributions, you’ll enter these conversations with less dread and more ease.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by fizkes

 

Protect Your Small Business from Cybersecurity Threats

Is your business doing enough to protect itself from cyberattacks?

Cyber-attacks on small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have seen a sharp rise in the last few years. A 2019 report by the Ponemon Institute found that cyberattacks increased by over 20% between 2016 and 2019.

Data breaches cost not only time but also money. The FBI’s Internet 2020 Internet Crime Report found that the total cost of cybercrimes in the US in 2020 reached 2.7 billion, and with an average cost of a data breach for an SBM being $149,000 (2019), small business leaders must take the necessary steps to improve their risk mitigation for cyberattacks.

The first step is to familiarize yourself with the many different types of cyber threats that exist.

What are the most common forms of cyber-attacks on SBMs?

  • Phishing: Phishing attacks come in the form of communications disguised as coming from a reliable source. They can be emails that look like correspondence from company leaders or departments like the CEO, CFO, or Payroll. They can also be made to look like they come from a legitimate organization and prompt you to download a file, open a link, or provide sensitive information which will allow attackers access to your device.
  • Man-in-the-middle (MitM): MitM attackers intercept a two-party transaction. This usually happens when someone uses their device on an unsecured network such as public Wi-Fi. Attackers intercept the connection and steal information from the vulnerable computer, such as credit card numbers, bank account information, or passwords.
  • Malware: Malware is an umbrella term for many different attacks such as viruses, trojans, and spyware. Malware can be downloaded on a device by clicking a link that will install software onto the device. This “software” is designed to steal information or data, control the device, or otherwise impede the device’s functioning. Here are a few common types of malware:
    • Ransomware will gain access to sensitive files or data and deny the victim access unless a ransom is paid, often threatening to expose it, sell it, or delete it entirely.
    • Trojans are an attack using software that plants itself within an app or a program—often used to give attackers access to the device.
    • Spyware is software designed to track users on their devices and send the sensitive information it collects to a third-party attacker.
  • Denial of service: Denial of Service (DoS) cyberattacks target and overload a server’s capacity and bandwidth, resulting in a server crash that takes it offline from actual customers who want to visit the website or purchase something from it. This is done by overloading the server with requests so it can’t process legitimate requests.

How can you protect your business?

There are multiple cybersecurity platforms available for businesses that are easily found with a quick Google search. There are also many options for free cybersecurity software that can be upgraded with subscription services. Aside from implementing company-wide cybersecurity software on all company-linked devices, there are some standard practices that any business should be using, whether or not they have access to protective software.

1. Create a password policy

According to the
Ponemon report, 54% of SMBs have no insight into their employees’ password practices. Terrible password habits equate to seriously increased vulnerability to cyberattacks. Consider implementing
1Password or other password protection software programs that can be downloaded on every computer associated with your organization.

Ensure your employees aren’t saving their passwords in easily accessed folders. Have employees use password-generating programs to increase their passwords’ strength and ensure they don’t use the same password twice. A common way for cyberattacks to find saved passwords on devices is to do a device-wide search for words that are 8, 12, 16, and 24 characters long, meaning that even if employees save their passwords in a nondescript file, it’s easy enough to identify them. This is where secure folders and password protection programs come in handy.

2. Create a software update policy

Another common issue that causes device vulnerability is outdated software. Create a policy that requires employees to update their software as soon as a new update is released. Software updates are often released to fix security issues and vulnerabilities, so it’s critical employees don’t wait to update their devices.

3. Education and training

Finally, organizations must educate and train their employees to identify and protect themselves from potential cyberattacks. Start with including a training session during onboarding to ensure employees start with good practices from the beginning. Hold company-wide training sessions, and ensure you revisit the topic throughout the year.

 

Take a proactive approach

You may not be able to stop cyberattacks from targeting your business, but there’s a lot you can do to thwart them. By taking a proactive approach, educating your employees, and developing up-to-date risk management policies, you can save your business from dealing with damaging costs, harm to your reputation, and potential lawsuits. Take action early, and rest easy knowing you are protected.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by thodonal

Why Your Team Needs a Boost in Emotional Intelligence

When talking about intelligence, most people think of intelligence quotient, or IQ. But what if another type of intelligence could push your team to extraordinary results?

The Institute for Health Human Potential states that over 80 percent of competencies that differentiate top performers from others are in the domain of emotional intelligence (EI), which refers to the ability to identify, understand, and manage our own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.

There is debate whether people are born with natural emotional intelligence or not, but you can lead your team to extraordinary results by teaching and developing EI awareness in your organization. An excellent example of seeing this in practice is a Motorola manufacturing facility that provided training in stress management and emotional intelligence. A stunning 93 percent of employees had an increase in productivity.

Build your business by taking the first steps in cultivating emotional intelligence within your team. First, reflect on your own EI, and then consider teaching emotional intelligence principles to the people in your organization.

Are you emotionally intelligent?

Let’s play a game! Put your hand up and put a finger down for every statement you identify with.

  1. You see patterns in your motives and behaviors and understand how your emotions and actions impact those around you.
  2. You can self-regulate your emotions in proportion to the given circumstances. Perhaps, you know how to ease tension, manage conflict, cope with challenging scenarios, and adapt to changes in your environment.
  3. You are intrinsically motivated and strive for personal development.
  4. When trying to understand where someone is coming from, you can draw on your life experiences and be compassionate about what they are going through.
  5. You are a team player. You understand others and their needs in a conversation or conflict.

Suppose you put all five fingers down. Great! You align with the five components of EI—self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. But don’t stress if you still have some fingers up because these are skills you can learn and develop.

Prioritize emotional intelligence training in business

Keeping emotions in check is vital for the whole team. When emotions run high, they change how our brains function by diminishing cognitive abilities, interpersonal skills, and decision-making powers. However, recognizing and managing emotions can elevate team performance and the company’s success.

The Institute of Health Human Potential reported that people with higher EIs:

  • Manage emotions when stressed or feeling overwhelmed
  • Resolve conflicts 
  • Coach and motivate others
  • Create a culture of collaboration
  • Build psychological safety within teams
  • Give and receive feedback
  • Meet tight deadlines
  • Deal with challenging relationships
  • Navigate change
  • Work through setbacks and failure

Teach others EI

Although some individuals are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, EI is a skill that can be developed. EI training programs are abundant, and there are terrific tips for boosting your emotional intelligence and teaching your staff to increase theirs as well.

Become more self-aware

  1. Pay attention to how you feel throughout the day and recognize how your emotions influence your decisions and actions.
  2. Identify and understand your emotional strengths and weaknesses. How well do you communicate with others under stress?
  3. Understand that emotions can be fleeting and easily changed because rash decisions based on intense emotions can be detrimental to your success.

Practice self-regulation

  1. Find techniques that help you deal with your work-related stress, like exercise, hobbies, and family time.
  2. Keep your cool! You cannot control everything. Look for helpful ways to deal with stress.
  3. Give yourself time to think and plan before letting your emotions rule your decisions.

Improve your social skills

  1. Listen actively and attentively to your team members, peers, and employers. It shows passion and willingness to work with others.
  2. Keep an eye out for non-verbal communication.
  3. Avoid office drama! Conflict is inevitable, but you can focus on listening to others and seeing solutions to solve problems and minimize tension.

Become more empathetic

  1. Put yourself in others’ shoes.
  2. Pay attention to how you respond to others. Do you give others a chance to share their ideas? Do you acknowledge input, even in disagreement?

Work on your motivation

  1. Focus on what you enjoy about your job rather than what you dislike.
  2. Work to maintain a positive, optimistic attitude. Optimistic people tend to inspire and motivate others; be that person!

Imagine a more intelligent world

The simple act of drawing attention to the EI principles and having a brief conversation with the team will help elevate awareness of their behaviors and responses. Imagine what your team could achieve if everyone practiced the five components of emotional intelligence – self-awareness, self-regulation, social skills, empathy, and motivation.

You would notice your team working together rather than against one another. You would see your people not only handling stressful situations and conflict but persevering to reach company goals. You would recognize a genuine and authentic team built on empathy and understanding one another. Most importantly, you will be a company that thrives together!

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by seventyfour74

Launching a Powerful Employer Brand

Whether you know it or not, your organization has an employer brand. Every company that has employees has one whether they spend time developing it or not. Essentially, an employer brand is the ‘personality’ your organization projects to its employees and prospective talent. It’s the reputation your organization has as a workplace, as opposed to the overall reputation your organization has to its customers and general audience.

And it’s important. Really important.

For one thing, having a strong employer brand can save you a lot of money. Harvard Business Review found that companies overspend on salaries by 10% when they have to compensate for a poor reputation. That’s not to mention the loss in prospective talent, which they found reduced by nearly half when organizations had a reputation for lack of job stability, dysfunctional teams, and faulty leadership.

According to Randstad, 96% agree that a crucial component influencing employee satisfaction is how well company values are aligned with employees’ personal values. And prospective employees seem to know that since 50% of job seekers would pass over a job with a pay increase if it was at an organization with a poor reputation.

The benefits of actively creating and managing your employer brand are well worth the effort—not to mention the value in avoiding the drawbacks of not doing so.

So, how do you develop a good employer brand?


1. Review your current brand.

Start by talking to your team and taking an internal temperature reading of how your current employees view your organization. Look at employee reviews of your company on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. Check out our company’s social media and see what language you use around your employees: how you recognize them, engage them, and motivate them.

Take the time to go through your current employee-facing documents like your employee handbook to get a feel for how your organization is already communicating with employees. Finally, look at your competitors and get a feel for how they present their employer brand to identify how you stand apart from them. See what prospective talent is navigating when looking for a job in your industry.

2. Develop a message

While you may have heard of a regular value proposition, an employee value proposition (EVP) might be an unfamiliar term for you. Essentially, it’s a concise explanation of why your organization is desirable to work at, what sets you apart, and what it’s like to be a part of your culture.

Creating an employee value proposition can be a fairly involved process, but it’s definitely worth the time it takes to develop. Creating a strong EVP requires serious introspection about your company values, research into your employees’ needs and desires, and thoughtfulness about the future of your company. It will become the foundation of your employer brand, creating language for your recruiters to center their message around, and offering a guiding light for your company culture, priorities, and leadership style. And it will play a crucial role in helping prospective employees determine if they are interested in working at your company.

3. Create employee ownership

Before releasing your new EVP and clarified company values and culture into the world at large, it’s crucial that you create a foundation for it to take root and grow within your organization. Make sure that you’re projecting an accurate message that reflects what it’s like to work for you.

To ensure you’re communicating from a place of honesty, work with key employees (leaders, managers, and individual employees) to help execute and implement your vision. Review and update your policies, benefits plan, and managerial approach to find ways to align them to your EVP. Create ways for employees to take ownership of it so they can act as stewards, ushering the values and culture throughout the organization.

Ask if it’s reflected in:

  • New employee onboarding process
  • Employee benefits and perks
  • PTO policies
  • Employee development opportunities

4. Launch externally

Once you’ve created an employee value proposition that reflects the clarified values, culture, and priorities of your organization, you’re ready to begin sharing your employer brand with the world! Offer your EVP to your hiring manager, add it to your careers page, and use it as a guide for how you interact with potential talent.

Begin telling your story as an organization on social media, through how you interact with and promote your employees online. Team up with your marketing team to determine how best to communicate your message and start telling the story of your organization from within. It’s crucial to keep returning to your employer brand to determine if it needs to be updated as your organization changes and grows. Remember, since your employer brand exists with or without your effort, it’s so much better to actively maintain your employer brand than it is to let it exist on its own, without your guidance and ownership.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by nenetus

Support Employees During National Disability Employment Awareness Month

A good indicator of a strong workplace culture is its commitment to diversity and inclusion, where your employees feel comfortable coming to you to voice their opinions and concerns. When employees work in an environment where they feel valued, productivity increases.

Employees with disabilities contribute to the workplace in many ways, and National Disability Employment Awareness Month recognizes this.

What is National Disability Employment Awareness Month?

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) was established in 1988 by the United States Congress to take place during October of every year. It commemorates the contributions of people with disabilities to the US economy and workplaces and reaffirms their commitment to providing equal opportunities for all citizens.

Disability statistics to keep in mind

To create a clear understanding of the relevant challenges people with disabilities in the workplace face daily, here are some vital statistics to keep in mind:

Use NDEAM as a catalyst to support employees with disabilities all year

Review your company policies

NDEAM is an excellent time to review company policies to make sure they display a commitment to having an inclusive company culture.

Establish an employee resource group (ERG)

You can launch a disability Employee Resource Group, or ERG. ERGs offer employees an opportunity to connect and receive support from others with similar backgrounds or interests. If your company has an established ERG, use NDEAM to remind employees of the resource.

Create a display

Make a display on your breakroom bulletin boards or in other places that employees frequently visit. Post positive messages about how your company provides an inclusive workforce on all levels.

Train supervisors and educate employees

Both supervisors and employees have an impact on company culture and inclusion. During NDEAM, conduct training such as:

Publish content

You can publish content such as blogs, videos, or a website page that is related to topics like:

  • Your company’s commitment to inclusivity
  • The process to request reasonable accommodations
  • Recognizing the contributions of important leaders in the disability rights movement

Drive a social media campaign

NDEAM provides resources, such as posts and images, to use on your company’s preferred social media platforms. Use the provided posts and tweets with the suggested hashtag #NDEAM to spread awareness.

Issue a press release

Employers can issue a press release to announce their involvement in NDEAM. A “fill-in-the-blank” template is available for your marketing team to use, courtesy of the Department of Labor.

Volunteer to participate in Disability Mentoring Day

Disability Mentoring Day promotes career development for youth with disabilities through:

  • Hands-on programs
  • Job shadowing
  • Ongoing mentoring

Disability Mentoring Day is observed on the third Wednesday of each October, but you can host your own event any day of October or during any month of the year.

 

Strive toward an inclusive workplace

 

Even though NDEAM takes place during the month of October, inclusivity and recognizing the contributions of your employees with disabilities is important every month and every day of the year. A workplace where everyone feels like a valued team member contributes to a strong, healthy company culture and empowers employees to go above and beyond for you, their team members, and the company.

 

And a workplace where all employees feel valued and empowered is something every employer should strive toward!

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

 

A Positive Company Culture Offers Far More than Just the Soft Stuff

Company culture is often labeled as the “soft stuff” in business, yet companies that take their cultures seriously see it as an investment.

The hard truth is that cultivating culture pays off. For example, in a 2018 report, Forbes found that companies with strong cultures saw a 4x increase in revenue growth. And job turnover was a mere 13.9 percent, compared to their counterparts at 48.4 percent turnover.

Why is this, though? A positive company culture impacts company success and client experience because it encourages and fosters employee motivation, engagement, commitment, and ultimately, productivity.

Employee motivation

Many people choose the companies they want to work for based on culture. Perhaps they identify with the company values and see a good fit for themselves in that environment. That can be a strong motivating factor for taking the role and wanting to continue being a part of the team.

Motivation only goes upward from there!

When a company culture is truly embedded into the organization, employees will identify with it. Culture-focused organizations will help their employees see the impact their individual work has on the larger purpose of the organization. And when people have a sense of purpose in their work, they are more driven than their zero culture counterparts.

Employee engagement

Engaged workplaces are 21% more profitable. And who doesn’t want that?! Employee engagement stems from culture, and when culture is strong and people feel a sense of belonging, they are more collaborative and productive. When a culture encourages people to express themselves, voice their ideas, and actively listen, they can help but feel more engaged and comfortable.

And if that wasn’t enough, a company culture that values employees naturally produces employees who value their clients. They care about the company and its clients because engagement translates into an employee’s emotional commitment. They will engage authentically and go above and beyond to deliver a better client experience when they are emotionally invested in their roles.

Employee Commitment

A strong company culture leads to employee commitment and retention. If a company fosters a culture of continuous learning and personal growth, employees are able to view their career as a long-term investment and take pride in it. When the culture encourages and practices personal development, employees are much less likely to be out looking for other job opportunities.

On the other hand, when companies have a poor culture, 48% of employees will start looking for a job. And while job hunting, they’re not thinking about your company or your clients as their top priority. So not only do you lose the productivity when the job-hunting employee leaves, but you’ve started losing productivity from them long before they walk out the door for that next job.

The ultimate impact

Once a positive company culture achieves employee motivation, engagement, and commitment, the culture can then begin fostering high-performance teams and productivity. Motivated employees are committed to the organization’s goals and perform their tasks full-heartedly.

Spend a few minutes reflecting on your company culture. How healthy is it? How engaged are your employees? How committed are they to the work your company does and the clients you serve?

If you’re feeling at all uncomfortable with your answers or you simply don’t know the answers, then spend some time planning.

  • Get started by writing a description of your culture today – being completely honest about the ups and downs.
  • And then write a description of your ideal culture and how you would like it to be.
  • Bring your team together and get honest with them about what you see today and what you’d like to see the culture move to.

When people see and feel your vision, they are much more likely to participate in making it a reality. As a team, start looking for ways to turn it around. Don’t try to tackle it all at once. Make small changes and let them become “normal.” Then make more small changes. Then a few more.

Soon, you’ll find yourself with a strong culture where people want to come to work and want to refer their friends to come and join them – the ultimate compliment to a strong company culture!

Companies who make the investment into a culture-first work environment have seen a staggering 682% increase in revenue growth! How would you like to see that added to your bottom line?

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by nd3000

Pet-Friendly Workplace: The Benefits and Pitfalls

Pets are a person’s best friend and an important part of people’s lives—67% of American households, or about 85 million families, own a pet of some kind, whether it’s feathery, furry, or has scales. Besides offering a pet insurance benefit, being in a pet-friendly workplace can improve team morale and company culture, along with other benefits.

What is a pet-friendly workplace?


A pet-friendly workplace means pets are allowed to join your employees at the office. Pet-friendly workplaces usually have policies to include dogs or cats only. Regardless of whether your workplace is pet-friendly or not, some employees may require a service animal. A service animal is defined as an animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Service animals are seen as providing a “reasonable accommodation” to your employees and is compliant with the ADA.

What are the benefits of a pet-friendly workplace?

  • Reduces stress: Studies show pets help lower cortisol (a stress hormone), lower blood pressure, increase feelings and improve overall job satisfaction. Dogs and cats are cute, cuddly, and fluffy, so it only makes sense that having them around would be a mood booster.
  • Boosts office morale and promotes productivity: An office with happy, stress-free employees increases productivity. While it might be distracting to have an office full of dogs and cats, the benefits of being able to take short breaks to pet your dog or cat are worth it.
  • Improves workplace communication: Poor communication between employees blocks productivity. Pets help create bonds and connections between employees and facilitate conversation, which are great for enhancing communication.
  • Improves work-life balance: Employees’ pets get socialized with other pets, and instead of your employees paying for expensive pet sitters or worrying about leaving their pets at home, they can bring their pets to work and lavish them with affection—a win-win for everyone.
  • Improves employee retention and company loyalty: Because pets help improve work-life balance, employees will have fewer stress issues and fewer health issues, leading to higher job satisfaction and fewer work-related absences.
  • Makes your workplace appear more attractive to prospective employees: When your workplace is pet-friendly, it is an incentive that might encourage like-minded employees to apply for positions at your business. 

What are the pitfalls of a pet-friendly workplace?

  • Compliance considerations: You will need to understand your local and industry rules and regulations when it comes to a pet-friendly workplace. Also, you will want to have insurance coverage before launching your pet-friendly workplace program to cover issues like:
    • Pets damaging something at your workplace
    • Pets being injured from something at your workplace
    • Pets potentially hurting other employees/pets
    • Pets potentially hurting visitors to your workplace
  • Potential source of distraction: Yes, pets are cute. But they can have the potential to be a little too distracting to employees that need to focus on work.
  • Potential tension: If you allow pets to roam around freely, there’s the potential of causing tension in employee relations if someone’s pet bothers another employee or pet.
  • Allergies and phobias: Some employees may have allergies to pet dander, which will lead you to have to install a new HVAC system at your workplace to filter this dander. Some employees may also have phobias of dogs or cats, and in this instance, pet-free zones will need to be established.
  • Cleanliness issues: Pets can, and do, have accidents. It’s unavoidable. Pet-friendly cleaning supplies and poop bags need to be made available to employees to clean up after their pets.

Make pet-friendly workplaces work for all employees

Even with the pitfalls, the benefits of a pet-friendly workplace will make a happy and healthy working environment for all. Create a policy that protects your workplace and enables safe, work-appropriate pet fun. Carefully review both the benefits and the pitfalls, and talk to your leadership board, advisors, and legal counsel for help in implementing your pet-friendly workplace.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by fabianponceg

Lead Your Team Through Four Stages of Team Development

Sometimes leading a small, growing company is like working as a rollercoaster attendant. You are constantly watching the twists and turns and the ups and downs. Through all this turbulence and volatility – and motion sickness – you will see teams make or break it, and people come and go faster than business cards can be printed.

 

Turnover and change make it difficult to form cohesive teams that are able to perform effectively. What if there was a model of team development that could help you lead a team to achieve, grow, face challenges, tackle problems, find solutions, and deliver results?

 

Apply the Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing model of team development and give your team a path to follow on their way to high-performance.

 

After applying, enjoy the benefits of identifying and understanding why team behavior changes so you can maximize team processes and productivity.

 

Forming

 

When teams form, people come together with excitement and positive expectations for the team experience. You will see people on their best behavior while they seek out similar people with shared needs.

 

At the same time, members may feel anxiety, confusion, and ambiguity since they are a group of strangers with little agreement or team purpose. They may question their “fit” in the team or if their performance will measure up.

 

Everyone at one point in their life experiences this excitement and anxiety when forming a new team, making it critical for the leader to provide guidance and direction. Use this time to guide the team to create clear structures, goals, direction, and roles so members begin to build trust and confidence.

 

Storming

 

Conflict and friction are inevitable when relationship styles, work ethics, and communication patterns arise and clash. For example, people may challenge each other for power or clash over team processes.

 

Lead your team to persevere through this phase because it can make or break a team! Lead your team through storming and learn the skills necessary to push through. If this phase is skipped, the group will keep revisiting until the skills are gained, such as task-related skills, group process, and conflict management skills.

 

Fortunately, storming is not always “glass half empty.” A little friction can be good. For example, conflict can reveal issues to solve innovatively and collaboratively and spur thought-provoking and challenging conversations. This respectful disagreement can increase a team’s open-mindedness and consideration of others’ thoughts and ideas. 

 

Norming

 

If you are norming, you will most likely notice team members solving personal clashes between their expectations and the reality of the team’s experience. But the storm passing over does not mean your work is over yet.

 

Encourage your team to set more flexible and inclusive norms and expectations, making the team stronger and more comfortable voicing their concerns and exchanging constructive criticism.

 

Once team members have established these norms and ground rules, they can re-focus on the team’s tasks as they persevere in becoming a high-performance team.

 

Finally, the team is performing!

 

You will know when your team reaches the performing stage when everyone feels satisfied with their team’s progress and comes together to be “greater than the sum of its parts.” They will share insights into personal and group processes and have a visible “can do” attitude. Roles will become more fluid as members take on various responsibilities as needed, and differences among the members are celebrated and used to enhance the team’s performance. For example, people will balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

 

Do not stop there, though. Team commitment and competence are strong, but there is always more opportunity to deepen individual skills and abilities, including continuously improving team development.

 

Celebrate

 

You cannot switch on teamwork. It takes time and team building for a team to move from strangers to collaborative co-workers. The progression through these phases is essential in ensuring that a group becomes a cohesive, functional unit. 

 

Imagine the positive impact it will make on your company. You can lead your team to perform optimally and manage crises, and you can foster an inclusive and equitable environment that celebrates difference, collaboration, and accountability.

 

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

 

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The Truth About Reactive Management

If you’re a business owner or manager of a team, you likely wear many different hats. Especially for small businesses, owners often find themselves going in different directions every day. If this sounds familiar, ask yourself when was the last time you were able to sit down and think ahead? What about actually plan ahead?

All too often, leaders get wrapped up in moment-to-moment tasks, allowing their time to get sucked down the drain of immediate crises. Working in a constantly reactive state can feel good, though. You may be thinking:

I’m a fast and efficient problem-solver!
I’m a doer. I get s**t done!
I don’t let problems bring me down—I face them head-on!

Yes. You probably are all those things. But when you spend 100% of your time being all those things, you miss out on time spent being a strategist, a planner, a thinker, and a visionary! How do you expect your business to grow if you can’t think farther ahead than the next problem brought to you?

Reacting to every little thing that comes across your path can make you feel like you’re getting a lot done. But while you’re focusing on what’s right in front of you, more significant problems will grow in the background, and you may not even notice them developing. And when they catch up to you, you won’t have the time or energy to manage them.

Rewiring your approach

Although reacting to urgent problems is part of every leader’s job, it’s critical they also make time to manage for the future, not just the current moment. Get a handle on your reactive managing style and start building a foundation for the future by:

1. Sharing responsibility

One of the major issues with reactionary managing is allowing unimportant but urgent tasks to eat up your time. Start practicing the art of delegation and hand off some of these tasks to your team. It can feel scary to delegate, but hopefully, you’ll soon find that your team is more than capable of answering phone calls and emails, calling that cranky client, or fixing a botched order. Save your time for issues that need your attention specifically—not just attention in general.

2. Re-imagining your schedule

If you’re wondering where you’re supposed to find the time to plan, look at your calendar and pinpoint areas that can be re-prioritized.

But I don’t have the time!” isn’t an excuse.

Yes, you do have the time. You’ve just decided it’s better spent elsewhere. But is it? Really?

It’s a safe bet that you’ve got 30 minutes, or even an hour, every day you could re-allocate to a different activity. If you’re not sure where to start, try tracking your time throughout the week, detailing exactly how you spent each moment at work. Chances are, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised by how much time you ended up spending on unnecessary tasks that don’t require your energy.

Block out designated time on your calendar to spend looking at the big picture of your business. Allow yourself to identify those background problems that are much more easily dealt with before they grow, rather than after they’ve boiled over. Hold boundaries around this time. Tell your team you are unavailable during these blocked-out times and give them time to develop their independence with your newfound delegation.

Treat this time like it’s sacred—because it is! You need that time to make sure your company grows smoothly and efficiently.

3. Creating, refining, and implementing processes

A common issue among businesses that are run reactively is a lack of clear processes for employees to follow. If your management style is running around putting out fires, you probably haven’t had time to build an organized system for solving problems and dealing with spontaneous change.

Every leader, team, and organization will face roadblocks, speed bumps, and detours. But if you don’t have a map for your team to follow to their destination, the efficiency with which they’ll arrive at a solution will take a big hit.

It is time well spent to work out and document processes for your team to follow when issues arise. Proactively planning for potential challenges that your team may face will save you a lot of time and energy for when they do appear.

Be proactive

Being quick on your feet and always moving to the next shiny new challenge may be fun at times, but it’ll eventually burn you out and leave you with larger problems. If you want to grow your team or business in a sustainable direction, prioritize strategy and proactively plan for your future. It’s the only way to win.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

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Facing Challenges as a High-Performance Team

Imagine your team works on a project or goal, and they need to get from point A to point B. Do you believe the bridge between the two points provides the necessary support to carry your team over? What if an obstacle is thrown their way?

Perhaps an essential team member calls out sick, and the team depends on them to reach a deadline. This is when your team will show whether they are a high-performing team or merely highly productive.

You can have intelligent, capable, and productive individuals on your team, but if they cannot persevere through challenges, it is time to foster a high-performance team. This is possible by establishing the primary components of a high-performance team: a positive work environment, collaborative problem-solving, and leadership.

Positive work environment

The first component of a high-performance team is having a positive work environment. Start by creating ground rules to establish the values of the group. The ground rules communicate personal behavior expectations that reflect the team’s values.

And how your team handles emerging challenges depends on your team culture!

For example, if a team values learning and openness to new approaches, they would expect others to ask questions and offer guidance while promoting curiosity.

Foster a team identity built on a commitment to a shared goal or vision. Strong team identities are built on listening, trust, respect, and understanding strengths and diversity. These values are critical for working interdependently because they enable people to rely on one another.

Collaborative problem-solving

By fostering listening skills, trust, and team identity, a team can problem-solve collaboratively. Problem-solving demands an exchange of ideas, which is possible only if team members work hard to listen to perspectives that are different from their own. An excellent way to approach collaborative problem-solving is by using divergent and convergent thinking strategies.

Divergent thinking helps high-performing teams identify many solutions to
a potential problem. The spirit of the activity is to defer judgment and encourage contributions in a free-flowing and creative way. There are
many exercises you can use to promote divergent thinking:

  • Letting your team have time to think about the problem
  • Making lists of the potential solutions to the problem
  • Doing verbal brainstorming or mind-mapping

Once you have a solid set of potential solutions, the team moves into the convergent thinking stage, where they work together to:

  • Narrow down options
  • Decide on the best solution
  • Reach a consensus based on a benefit and risk analysis

When you have fostered a healthy team environment, the inevitable conflict will be manageable through your ground rules of mutual respect. Create a positive work environment with strong listening skills and team identity and you will see your teams making decisions and action plans to face challenges head-on in a collaborative way.

Leadership

Leadership helps provide the bridge’s strength and support to push a team to persevere when faced with a challenge. The leader creates a positive work environment and encourages collaborative problem-solving while nurturing their team’s capabilities. Remember that leaders are not always the boss; you can have a de-facto leader on your team too!

Leaders contribute to high-performance teams by attending to the team’s health, maintaining the strategic vision, supporting team members individually, demonstrating and encouraging accountability, and modeling the way through behavior and action.

Be the three-legged stool

Although the three primary components of a high-performance team are fostered separately, they all depend on each other like the three legs of a stool. If one leg is not stable, the others will not be either. Nurture all three components and embrace challenges head-on!

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

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