Investing In Your Team: Driving Professional Development

Professional development is one of those things that we all say we want from an employer, but few companies seem to actually deliver. For marketers, in particular, staying ahead of the curve by honing your professional skill set is critical, as the media and cultural landscapes are constantly evolving, and “best practices” are never static.

But even for the best managers, making the time for professional development can feel like a daunting challenge. At best, it feels amorphous and uncertain. And at worst, it can feel like you’re in over your head and forced to make promises you might not be able to keep.

Professional development shouldn’t just be about money and titles. Great professional development is all about understanding an employee’s ambitions and crafting a plan together that helps them work toward that goal. It’s also an essential step in ensuring wider success across the business and establishing a team that will succeed in the long term, as employees with professional development opportunities are 34% more likely to stay at their jobs than those without.

So how can you structure these conversations to be mutually beneficial for both you and your team?

Plan ahead, and get out of the office.

Trying to tackle professional development topics during a regularly scheduled one-to-one meeting seldom works because it’s all too easy to get sucked into day-to-day tasks instead of talking about the real meat of the conversation. That’s why it’s helpful to schedule separate times for professional development apart from your regular meetings. This dedicated time provides an opportunity for you and your employee to develop an open-door relationship around career-path conversations. I recommend doing this about once per quarter, depending on the size of your team.

It’s also useful to get out of the office for these discussions. If it’s a nice day out, take a walk outside or grab a seat in a nearby park. Or even grab a coffee somewhere in the neighborhood. It seems like a small thing, but conversation flows so much more openly when you’re not in a conference room in the office. The change of scenery can inspire candor and openness that’s not always easy to achieve elsewhere in order to continue to build trust in the working relationship.

Ask questions, and then really listen to the answers.

A good professional development conversation should involve managers listening more than speaking. This should really be the employee’s time to share with you what’s on their mind. Not all employees will immediately open up, so here are some questions you can use to get the ball rolling:

• What do you like most about your current role?

• What are some skills that you’d like to improve on?

• What do you see as the next career step for yourself?

• What’s most frustrating about your current role?

• What would make you better at your job?

Aim to deliver actionable feedback.

It’s only natural in these conversations for employees to ask about what it will take to move up to the next level and when they’ll get there. After all, everyone wants to know what the path forward looks like. Instead of driving toward specific dates, which tend to be arbitrary, it’s more effective to focus the conversation around the skills, competencies or behaviors that the employee needs to demonstrate in order to advance their position.

It’s best if you can come to the conversation prepared with some thoughts on this topic, but if you’re not prepared for that, just be honest about the fact that you need to give it more thought. It’s much better to follow up with specifics a week later than to make something up off the top of your head that the employee takes as gospel. Just remember: It’s OK if you don’t have answers on the spot, but you must follow up, or else you’ll risk seriously demotivating the employee.

Don’t miss the opportunity to ask for feedback, too.

While the bulk of the conversation should be focused on helping the employee achieve their goals, these candid conversations are also a great opportunity to ask for direct feedback about how you’re performing as a manager.

A good way to jump-start this conversation is by asking about what you should keep doing, what you should stop doing and what you should start doing. Be open, and listen — don’t be defensive — and you’re likely to uncover some important nuggets that can help you retain and motivate your team.

Practice makes the professional.

Professional development conversations may seem daunting at first, but they do get easier in time. And if you’re ever not sure how to proceed, just think about the conversations you wish your manager would have with you. After all, being recognized and knowing there is a path forward is something we all strive for.

Forbes Communications Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?

Vice President of Marketing at AppNeta, and writes about leadership, marketing, and creating high-performing teams. Read Amanda Bohne’s full executive profile here

Source: Investing In Your Team: Driving Professional Development

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Get a free coaching session with Stephen Goldberg for leaders and managers https://mailchi.mp/4966f7407de6/freec… Sgn up to receive my bi-monthly newsletter http://eepurl.com/gChMb Download free worksheets, forms and templates from https://www.eloquens.com/channel/step… Get access to forms worksheets and templates from my website http://eepurl.com/ccGNlX Read articles on my blog http://www.optimusperformance.ca/blog/ Support the making of these videos by becoming a Patreon https://www.patreon.com/StephenGoldberg The old expression, “failing to plan is planning to fail” also applies to employee development. In my recent article (http://www.optimusperformance.ca/mana…) about a leaders’ struggle to deal with employees being resistant to change, I wrote that strategic planning for employee development is a practice that a leader must undertake to avoid this dilemma. Developing a human resource or employee development plan is often the responsibility of the human resource department if there is one. From my perspective, it’s the leader’s responsibility because the leader is accountable for the performance of the department and each employee. Here is my list of things for the leader or manager to do to develop a strategic plan for employee development….. Read full article here: A Leadership Job Description :http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt… How to set and achieve any goal using a goal planning worksheet: http://www.optimusperformance.ca/how-… Learn How to Write a Job Description including a downloadable template https://curious.com/stephengoldberg/j… Learn How to Set & Achieve Goals including Goal Setting Form for download https://curious.com/stephengoldberg/g… Take my lessons +20,000 more @Curious on anything from tennis, to test prep, to tango. As my student, get 20% OFF! http://curious.com?coupon=curiousteac

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:

  • Engagement increases: Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves. Employees come back feeling inspired, rejuvenated, and more engaged at work.
  • Employee retention improves: Schedule flexibility and work from home opportunities play a major role in the decision to take or leave a job, especially for Millennials who are seeking more rewarding and unconventional lifestyles.
  • Networking happens on another level. One of my favorite things to do is wander a city, any city, and find a spot to eat a meal at a bar and chat it up with my waiter, my taxi driver, the local merchant. I’ve met amazing people and connections have had unexpected benefits to my business.
  • The work still gets done! Gallup reports that workers who spent 60-80% of their time away from the office had the highest rates of engagement. They become more productive in unlikely places. Working at a desk under florescent lights isn’t always the most inspiring or motivating environment. I am most productive and creative while flying on planes. Most of my ideas, writings, or reading happens in the air. And I make it a goal of mine to always come back with an outline of a project or the start of a new idea for our company.

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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5 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring Remote Employees – Jessica Thiefels

remote

Remote employees are no longer an anomaly. In a recent survey by Gallup, 43 percent of surveyed Americans said that they spent some time working remotely, a 4 percent increase from 2012. What’s more, the benefits of hiring remote workers are difficult to ignore, including decreased overhead costs and increased productivity.

Benefits aside, remote workers need to have a different set of skills than office employees, where there’s regular interaction with managers and leadership can see more clearly what everyone is doing.

If you’re ready to dip your toes into the remote workforce waters, keep these tips in mind to make sure you hire the best people for the job.

  1. They must be self-starters

Remote employees need to take initiative and keep themselves motivated without the chance for a manager to “pop by” to keep them working throughout the day. Monica Zent, founder and CEO of Foxwordy, suggests:

“You’re looking for a self-starter because people who are looking to be told what to do won’t do well in a work-from-home situation. Given the many temptations of a home office, a high level of motivation is imperative. This is where figuring out how the person thinks is important. I prefer to get at what makes a person tick, and have had great success with good hires the more I do this.”

How do you find out if your potential employee is a self-starter?Mark Murphy, Forbes contributor, suggests asking questions like:

This should provide insight into what what your remote workers need to stay motivated, which is key.

  1. Asking candidates to complete a task is important

Asking interviewees to complete a task during the interview, which is presumably remote, gives you great insight into their skillset, as well as how they work. Sara Sutton Fell, Fast Company contributor, said:

“When people work remotely, the managerial focus shifts from how much time they spend in the office to what they’re getting done every day. During the hiring process, it’s smart to focus on skills and the candidate’s approach to the job by having candidates do small a test or a trial project, to see how well—or not—they follow instructions, ask questions and generally perform in a remote environment.”

Try to mimic their work environment as much as possible with this task. This may mean that you’re only available for questions via a messenger system or that they need to access resources via Google Docs that have previously been shared.

  1. The interview should be a little different

There’s a big difference between being down the hall from someone and being across the country (and for many, the world). A highly qualified candidate may work efficiently if they’re in the office with a team to keep them on track, but not well by themselves.

Thankfully, you can get ahead of this by asking the right questions in the interview. Focus your questions on organizational skills, career motivation and self-direction.

Josh Tolan, CEO of Spark Hire, recommends that managers, “ask for candidates to explain scenarios in which they worked independently and managed their own time. Look for more than canned answers, and seek out specific examples of organizational skills and internal motivation. Don’t focus wholly on productivity to the exclusion of everything else, though; it’s also important to make sure your top-notch candidates can work as a valuable member of your team.”  

  1. The right candidate values results

Micromanaging isn’t effective in any work environment. Not to mention, in a remote work environment, it’s next to impossible. When hiring, look for someone who values results.

“You as a manager have to be comfortable setting goals and then holding people accountable for those goals. They could be putting in long nights or they could be doing their laundry all day—but if you are managing correctly and getting the people who understand that results come first, you should be happy either way,” John Rood, author and Forbes contributor, said.

  1. Get crafty to retain and reward top talent 

Once you’ve hired your remote workforce, it’s time to focus on how you can keep them engaged and excited. Sarah Aboulhosn, marketing specialist and Pagely contributor, explains how to get creative in this regard:

“(Little benefits) can solidify an employer’s relationship with their staff and make the team feel appreciated, no matter where they are. If you’re working with a partially distributed team, take a look at what in-office perks your employees receive and figure out a few ways to provide them to your remote workers, ensuring that everyone has equal access to company perks.”

Make the right hire

Hiring the right remote staff is critical to ensuring work is getting done. Use these ideas to find the best people for your out-of-office staff and then keep them on board once they’re doing a great job.

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