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6 Critical Leadership Skills That Will Take Your Career To The Next Level

All these skills apply regardless of your current job status, role, title, or position. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting an entry-level position, a manager, or the Vice President of your company. All levels can benefit from these 6 leadership skills.

  1. Embracing Politics
    I know what you may be thinking… Yes, politics in an office can have a negative connotation associated with it, but it can be used for good too. At it’s core, it’s about building relationships with the people you work with. There are many different types of power and influence that exists in an organization, but there are three that stand out when talking about politics in an organization.

      1. Role Power
        This is also referred to as “legitimate power” and is very hard to change in a company. It refers to where you sit in an organizational chart. It asks the questions; who reports to you, who do you report to, and who does your yearly performance evaluation?
      2. Expertise Power
        This refers to who perceives you to be knowledgeable about a certain subject they care about. The key word here is, “perception.” You could be really knowledgeable about a subject but if people don’t perceive you to be knowledgeable in that subject, then you do not have “expertise power.” There may be times when you wonder why a certain individual received a promotion or how that person got into that position. This happens all too often. At some point, someone who had the “role power” to make that decision, perceived these people to be experts, even though they might not be. A lot of times this happens because the person had a relationship with the decision maker, which brings me to the third power,
      3. Relationship Power
        This is the most important power for you to develop, because it transcends the organizational chart. You can develop relationship power with anyone, at anytime. The first step to get them to follow you is to get them to like you. Take the time to get to know other people even outside your own department. Use the people you get to know, but don’t “use” them so that the relationship is one-sided. The relationship should be a reciprocal relationship. Think about yourself as being a service to others. The goal is to fundamentally lift them up to help them succeed. The energy you put out, will come back to you. When you adopt that kind of service mentality, that’s embracing the good kind of office politics.
  2. Picking Your Battles
    This skill goes hand-in-hand with office politics. You have to know when to hold them and when to fold them. You can gain political capital by building relationships, but you can just as easily blow it all by choosing to fight too many battles. Save the political capital up for the times that really matter and those times are when they directly contribute to advancing your priorities. Don’t sweat the small things, instead focus on the things that allow you to get you where you want to go.
  3. Crafting Your Vision
    Battles you choose to fight all depend on what you’re trying to achieve. Great leaders have a plan and need to establish a clear set of goals. It’s important to have a sense of purpose, know what it’s going to take and how to articulate it simply to your team. If you can’t articulate it correctly, they may not jump on board. Remember, just because it makes sense to you, doesn’t mean it will make sense to them. Be Bold. Leaders are meant to inspire people and if you accomplish that, they will be more likely to show up and do their best work.
  4. Build Alignment
    Great leaders bring other people along with them. Companies gain buy-in from different levels of people within the organization. That means communicating the big picture to everyone who needs to be involved. This ensures that everyone who wants to be involved has that chance to be included and anyone who doesn’t, can opt out. Include the reasoning behind your methods and really encourage questions. A lot of people are going to have a lot of ideas and make good points and so it’s important for you to remain open-minded. This is also a chance to look for opportunities to collaborate with them or refine your vision.
  5. Inspiring Execution
    At this point, you know where you’re going, you have your group of people, and now it’s time to see your vision through and to do that, you have to create a tactical execution plan that illustrates what’s expected from each person. Make sure to give feedback along the way and set the example through your own behavior.
  6. Learn To Give Up Control
    How you execute a vision or a plan is critical, but don’t mistake it for micro-managing. Leaders set goals and empower the people around them with the resources and support they need to get the job done. Even if you see them doing something different then what you would do, it doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong and it doesn’t mean it won’t work. Don’t control them into doing it your way. Instead, ask questions and try to see it from their point of view.

If you don’t achieve your goal or see it through like you thought, you have the opportunity to learn from it and make improvements for the next time around. The only failure that really happens is the one we don’t learn from. Even if you let your people execute it the way they wanted, bring them along with you. They will learn something they didn’t know before. That’s going to set them up for future success. That, at the core, is what being a leader is really about.

Borysenko, Karlyn. “Human Strategies Podcast #11: Six Critical Leadership Skills That Will Take Your Career to the next Level.” Audio blog post. Zen Workplace. N.p., 3 Jan. 2016. Web. 9 Aug. 2016.
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Negative Social Media Comments by Employees

Employers have a myriad of questions and concerns about employees use of Social Media, especially when it comes to limiting what an employee may say about the company. No employer wants negative comments about their product, or their employment policies and procedures, put out for the world to see. However, as our world has become more entrenched with social media, disgruntled employees are able to easily reach a wide audience through various avenues of not only their own posting, but their followers/friends then re-posting any thoughts that they may have.

It is important that employers know the rules regarding social media and their employees use of such, and there are plenty of laws that surround an employees rights when it comes to social media.

A recent blog post by Eric B. Meyer, on The Employer Handbook blog, discussed a concluding opinion of a NLRB Administrative Law Judge that addressed negative tweets about employment matters by an employee, and whether or not the Employer could make the employee delete the tweets. The answer is No. “Section 7 protects employees’ right to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of mutual aid or protection”….The tweets concerned wages and working conditions and are protected matters. The issues raised were not purely individual concerns, but  issues common to many employees. “Concerted activities include individual activity where “individual employees seek to initiate or to induce or to prepare for group action, as well as individual employees bringing truly group complaints to the attention of management.”

“How can employers avoid this problem? Look, employees are going to talk about work. Count on it. And a blanket ban on social media discussions about work would violate the National Labor Relations Act. But, you can — and should — encourage your employees to address work issues directly with co-workers, supervisors, HR, other decisionmakers. In most situations, this direct communication is a more effective way to address workplace issues and resolve problems, than venting on social media.”

Source: Can you force an employee to delete critical tweets about the company? NLRB says no.

It’s Employee Appreciation Day!

So often employees rate their performance on whether or not they are given a pay raise or a promotion. While an employer handing out pay raises and promotions does in fact indicate that the employee is doing a good job, employers must not forget that employees need to be recognized more often than a raise or promotion can be given. To be recognized and rewarded is to value your employees, to realize that they are human beings, and to provide them with appreciation by listening to what they really need. Putting aside the wanting of a raise or a higher title, here are five things your employees need:

  1. A pleasant work environment.
    • A hostile work environment is just not healthy. If co-workers aren’t being respected, no one is going to feel of value. HR Strategies provides the HR consulting that is often needed to balance complex professional working relationships.
  2. Recognition
    • How about an employee of the month award? Or a company-wide email about the latest accomplishment of your employee?
  3. Perks
    • Do you have discounts that your employees can utilize? All worksite employees of HR Strategies have access to perks program discounts for a variety of establishments including the GA Aquarium, Six Flags, the Braves, Stone Mountain Park, and many more.
  4. Help/Personal Assistance
    • Is your company culture that of genuine sincerity for a co-worker/employees personal problems? An employee’s life outside of the office can greatly affect their productivity on the job. All HR Strategies worksite employees have access to our EAP program, which provides a variety of services to help ensure their overall wellbeing.
  5. Mentoring
    • Do managers listen to their employee’s professional goals, and give them the coaching they need to move toward those goals? Thus showing the employee value? Do you provide your employees the training they need to accomplish their work tasks?

Employees are not just a time clock badge ID number. They are human and have emotional needs to be met. Taking the time to provide for these needs you may find that they become more productive and better representatives of your business.

Employee Appreciation

The month of November is often thought of as the month to Give Thanks. As an employer, are you remembering to thank your employees and recognizing their achievements? Showing your employees appreciation for all they do can help boost productivity and morale, and that is always good for business! Here are just a few ways to Give Thanks to your employees this Thanksgiving season…

Treat your employee(s) to lunch

Hand written thank you notes for a personal touch

Awards: maybe a traveling trophy, a nice clock, any type of award that the employee can display in their office space.

Notice In Employee’s File: If an employer wishes to recognize an employee in this way, he should add the note, but also tell the employee he is doing so, so the employee knows he is appreciated.

Kudos Column: If your workplace has a newsletter, add a column where employees are recognized for outstanding efforts and achievements

Simple spoken words of Thanks can go a long way.

Gift Certificates

Implement an employee of the week program

Vacation – yes even a few hours of extra paid vacation time is a big reward for most employees

Ice Cream Sundae Party at the office

Night out at the ballpark for a team of employees

Give the employee a membership or subscription to a journal that relates to their work

Happy-Thanksgiving

Wear Red Day

1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke each year. Celebrate National Wear Red Day with Go Red For Women on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015 to help save women’s lives. Join the movement nationwide and learn how you can honor women like you on this important day by clicking the words below. “

wear red day

Employer Policies & Handbooks

This month, as 2014 comes to a close,  we are taking a look back at some of the most important blog topics we have covered both in case you missed them, and to help you prepare for 2015!

How’s Your Handbook?

Employment doesn’t just mean the hiring, paying, and perhaps the eventual termination of an employee. Employment means everything in the life cycle of an employee with your company.

As an employer you rely on your employees to get the job done, and to get it done well in an efficient and profitable manner. Just as you rely on them, they rely on you to manage them well, and to meet their needs. The relationship between employer and employee is a complex one, with both needing things from the other. On top of that an employer must make sure that they are meeting government guidelines on employment practices. These are just a few of the many complex issues that are a part of Human Resources.

A good employee handbook is an important tool in documenting your company policies, benefit programs, and expectations of the company – including acceptable and inacceptable behaviors and disciplinary measures.  Businesses need to make sure that the policies, procedures, and other material listed within their employee handbooks are not only consistent, but also in line with the many Federal and State rules and regulations regarding employment.

Employment laws are continuously evolving and becoming more complex, and the many agencies that oversee them are continuing to crack down on employers who are in violation of the laws. Not only are the agencies continually cracking down on the employers, litigation is also on the rise by employee’s, and their representing layers, who feel they have been “wronged” by an employer for a myriad of employment law related issues. It is imperative that employers continue to review their employee handbooks for policies that need to be revised or added.

HR Strategies human resources department is here to assist with all of the employee lifecycle. We are able to not only aide you in developing customized employee handbooks, but in developing the employee policies and procedures that go into the handbook. We are proud to act as your partner in the human resource of your business.

What is Diversity?

October is Diversity Awareness Month, but what exactly is Diversity in regards to the workplace?

Closeup of business people standing with hands togetherAccording to the DOL, “Although the term is often used to refer to differences among individuals such as ethnicity, gender, age and religion, diversity actually encompasses the infinite range of individuals’ unique attributes and experiences.” Dimensions of diversity can also include physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, parental status, work experience, job classification, and so much more.

Many of the attributes that make a workforce diverse are covered by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in regards to fair employment practices and procedures. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older) disability or genetic information. Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by the EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). The laws apply to all types of work situations including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

While equal opportunity employment focuses on employment practices, the concept of diversity in the work place is much broader and extends to the work environment. In the context of the workplace, valuing diversity means creating a workplace that respects and includes differences, recognizing the unique contributions that individuals make. Workplace diversity values everyone’s differences. It is about learning from each other regardless of our cultural background, and bringing those differences and experiences to broaden our knowledge. Managing diversity focuses on maximizing the ability of all employees to contribute to organizational goals. Affirmative action focuses on specific groups because of historical discrimination, such as people of color and women. Affirmative action emphasizes legal necessity and social responsibility; managing diversity emphasizes business necessity. In short, while managing diversity is also concerned with underrepresentation of women and people of color in the workforce, it is much more inclusive and acknowledges that diversity must work for everyone.

Do you believe in the golden rule: treat others as you want to be treated? This assumes that how you want to be treated is how others want to be treated. But what if we consider the diversity in different cultures, etc.? What does respect look like? It may not be the same for everyone. While making eye contact may be the respectful thing to do in one culture, it may be a sign of disrespect in another.

Maybe instead of using the golden rule, we should use the platinum rule which states: “treat others as they want to be treated.” But how do we know what different groups or individuals need? Having a workplace culture of inclusivity allows for those questions to be asked and answered in a respectful atmosphere.

Many people think that “fairness” means “treating everyone the same.” How well does treating everyone the same work for a diverse staff? For example, when employees have limited English language skills or reading proficiency, even though that limit might not affect their ability to do their jobs, transmitting important information through complicated memos might not be an effective way of communicating with them. While distributing such memos to all staff is “treating everyone the same,” this approach may not communicate essential information to everyone. A staff member who missed out on essential information might feel that the communication process was “unfair.” A process that takes account of the diverse levels of English language and reading proficiency among the staff might include taking extra time to be sure that information in an important memorandum is understood. Such efforts on the part of supervisors and managers should be supported and rewarded as good management practices for working with a diverse staff. (University of California at Berkeley)

As this suggests, workplace diversity can provide tremendous benefits in terms of improved morale, outside-the-box thinking, greater teamwork, and an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect.

How Well Do You Manage Diversity?

  • Do you test your assumptions before acting on them?
  • Do you believe there is only one right way of doing things, or that there are a number of valid ways that accomplish the same goal? Do you convey that to staff?
  • Do you have honest relationships with each staff member you supervise? Are you comfortable with each of them? Do you know what motivates them, what their goals are, how they like to be recognized?
  • Are you able to give negative feedback to someone who is culturally different from you?
  • When you hire a new employee, do you not only explain job responsibilities and expectations clearly, but orient the person to the department culture and unwritten rules?
  • Do you rigorously examine your existing policies, practices, and procedures to ensure that they do not differentially impact different groups? When they do, do you change them?
  • Are you willing to listen to constructive feedback from your staff about ways to improve the work environment? Do you implement staff suggestions and acknowledge their contribution?
  • Do you take immediate action with people you supervise when they behave in ways that show disrespect for others in the workplace, such as inappropriate jokes and offensive terms?
  • Do you have a good understanding of isms such as racism and sexism and how they manifest themselves in the workplace?
  • Do you ensure that assignments and opportunities for advancement are accessible to everyone?

If you were able to answer yes to more than half the questions, you are on the right track to managing diversity well. (University of California, San Francisco)

If you have questions or concerns regarding either Diversity or the laws and regulations in regards to affirmative action or the EEOC, please contact our HR/Client Service Reps at 770-339-0000.

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