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Want More Productive Employees? Research Reveals that Managers Matter Most

Gallup has released compelling evidence that the most important factor for employee engagement and productivity can be summed up in one simple word: managers.

In fact, writes Sam Walker in The Wall Street Journal, after a decade of data from nearly 2 million employees, Gallup has proven that managers don’t just have a small influence on productivity; “they explained a full 70% of the variance. In other words, if it’s a superior team you’re after, hiring the right manager is nearly three-fourths of the battle.”

Good news, maybe, unless your organization has spent the last decade or so making it more difficult for managers to succeed–eliminating managers’ positions, making managers responsible for producing more work (instead of just leading people), cutting back on learning and/or promoting based on people’s expertise instead of their ability to lead team members.

There is so much you can do to address these issues; for example, read Justin Bariso’s piece on how Google identified core people-leading behaviors and then trained managers on how to develop those behaviors.

But I suggest you start by helping managers develop one core competency: the ability to communicate effectively with team members. In fact, out of the 10 attributes Google targets, seven are based on communication skills: is a good coach, empowers people, creates an inclusive team environment, listens and shares information, supports career development by discussing performance, has a clear/vision strategy for the team and collaborates across the company.

Despite the importance of communication, managers are often poorly prepared for their role as key communicator. They may not have the skills, the knowledge or the confidence to communicate effectively. And many managers think of communication as “something else I have to do” rather than an integral part of their job.

What should companies do to set managers up for success? Take these 5 steps:

1. Make sure you clearly articulate communication roles. Be specific about what and how leaders communicate–and what you expect managers to share. Ask your HR manager to include communication into managers’ job descriptions so the expectation is baked into their role.

Of all the skills managers need, effective communication is perhaps the hardest to improve. This is because communication isn’t a single skill. It’s actually a complex set of skills that build upon one another. Through my firm’s work with managers, we’ve identified these skills–25 in total–and organized them into a hierarchy of skill groups, starting with foundational skills and building to more advanced skills.

2. Hold managers accountable for engaging their team members by providing reinforcement in performance management and pay.  You know the problem: Unless communication is part of the formula to give managers raises or bonuses, it won’t be a priority. So make communicating essential to managers’ success.

3. Invest time in making sure managers understand content. Especially if the topic is complex, a 20-minute presentation is not enough to make managers comfortable. To design sessions that give managers the confidence they need to present, try the following:

  • When planning to brief managers, allocate at least 90 minutes for the meeting.
  • If possible, get everyone together face to face. If your office is too distracting, consider taking managers off site.
  • Of course you’ll present content, but presentations should be the shortest part of the meeting. Allow at least 50 percent of the time for questions and dialogue.

4. Create tools to help managers share information. You might consider:

  • A very short PowerPoint presentation. Managers won’t give a detailed presentation, but they will use a short (5-8 slides) PPT to share highlights at staff meetings and during one-on-one discussions.
  • A one-page guide that makes it easy for managers to have everything they need. This guide that contains all essential information: what is changing, when, why and how.
  • FAQs. Compile Frequently Asked Questions in a document that provides the questions employees are likely to ask, along with the answers managers need. The key is to include the toughest questions so managers are ready any time team members approach them with a question.

5. Develop a microsite or a social network group
It’s the perfect place to house resources and build skills. Make it social by including discussion threads, so colleagues can share challenges and solutions. Provide access to on-demand learning that can be accessed quickly when faced with a challenge.

Once you start providing managers with support, ask for feedback to determine which methods have the greatest impact.

By: Alison Davis

Source: Want More Productive Employees? Research Reveals that Managers Matter Most

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Why Companies Should Let Employees Work Remotely And Travel More

Caroline Pinal is the Cofounder of Giveback Homes.

“While working remotely and employee volunteer programs are both on the rise, there are still many companies and leaders that haven’t realized the value of letting your employees commute less and travel more, especially for social good,” says Caroline Pinal, the cofounder of Giveback Homes. The social good real estate company has built hundreds of homes for people in need across the U.S., in Puerto Rico, Nicaragua and Mexico.

Through Giveback Homes, Pinal works with real estate agents and brokerages across the country to provide them with impactful volunteer opportunities and projects to donate to and support. The company also offers its community with marketing and communication tools to help share their philanthropic endeavors with their clients, friends and family. “My favorite part of the gig is leading a group of realtors to Nicaragua to help build homes for families in need,” Pinal says. “We do it once or twice a year and it’s always so cool to see people experience that for the first time.”

Like many people, Pinal always had it in her heart to travel abroad and do good in the world, but she didn’t have the resources, funds, or time off to make it happen. It was just something she dreamed of doing “someday” when she was older and more established. And then she found a job at TOMS. The company, which pioneered the “buy one, give one” business model with its shoes, sent Pinal on a giving trip to El Salvador where she helped distribute shoes to children in need. “I look back on that experience and think how incredible that my job not just encouraged, but provided that opportunity to travel and give back to me and every employee? And why is that so still rare?”

During that time, Pinal also met her now best friend, Blake Andrews, who worked at TOMS with her. A few years later, the two had the idea of applying the TOMS model to the real estate world, and together they founded Giveback Homes. Part of their business model involves giving employees the opportunity to work remotely and travel, which she feels is her life purpose. “We take realtors from all over the country on social impact experiences. We’re building homes, getting people out of their comfort zones, and connecting them with people from other countries in a way that will impact them forever and inspire them to do more,” Pinal explains.

“It’s obviously standard for companies to give vacation days or paid time off, but most people (understandably) use that time for vacation,” Pinal says. “What if in addition to vacation, companies offered paid opportunities to travel and volunteer abroad? Salesforce, Timberland, Patagonia, and IBM are among the companies that currently offer paid volunteer abroad opportunities to their employees. What if every Fortune 500 company – and even smaller companies like TOMS – did the same? Imagine the impact that would have on the countries and people they’d be helping around the world and in the lives of the employees.”

Pinal offers these reasons why more companies should offer their employees paid opportunities to volunteer and more flexibility in their everyday work:

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

MeiMei Fox is a New York Times bestselling author, coauthor and ghostwriter of over a dozen non-fiction books and hundreds of articles for publications including Huffington Post, Self, Stanford magazine, and MindBodyGreen. She specializes in health, psychology, self-help and finding your life purpose. Fox graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors and distinction from Stanford University with an MA and BA in psychology. She has worked as a life coach since 2009, assisting clients in developing careers that have meaning and impact. At present, she lives in Paris, France with her twin boys and the love of her life, husband Kiran Ramchandran. Follow @MeiMeiFox

Source: Why Companies Should Let Employees Work Remotely And Travel More

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Making Your Voice Heard at Work – Caroline Fairchild

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Last Thursday while I was sitting at my desk in downtown San Francisco, the sounds of protest filled my ears. Down the street in multiple directions, Marriott employees staged protests to fight for a living wage. And closer to the water at the Ferry Building, Bay Area Google employees joined their colleagues around the globe in walkouts over the company’s alleged protection of sexual harassers. Walkouts and demonstrations by both Google and Marriott employees come down to one central goal: Making your voice heard. Whether it’s over something big like executive action ……….

Read more: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/making-your-voice-heard-work-caroline-fairchild/

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