Challenging Top Performers to Keep Them – Yes, You Read That Correctly
“Challenging” isn’t usually considered a positive descriptor. When a person, situation, or environment are flagged as challenging, it usually means they’re a problem. They’re an obstacle to be navigated around or an issue that needs to be overcome.
When employees face challenges at work, for example, that usually means one of two things: 1.) they feel enough personal motivation and love for the company that they work to resolve the challenge, or 2.) they don’t. Challenges push engaged employees to excel, but they also push unengaged employees out the door.
So if you have a top performer on your team who seems disengaged, bored, or ready to look for work elsewhere, it may seem counterintuitive to deliberately place obstacles in the person’s path. But think twice. This may be just the thing that he or she needs to buckle down and face the job with fresh eyes. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Challenges help us learn, and learning feels good
Your employee wants to learn new things; she doesn’t just want this because learning feels positive and meaningful. She also wants to build out her resume and achieve her career goals. Difficult projects, new skills, and exposure to new aspects of the industry can all be considered challenges…but facing them can build an employee’s sense of accomplishment and rekindle a fading sense of ambition. Giving a glazed-over employee a difficult project can spark a transformation.
Challenges make us feel alive
We don’t always love adventures while we’re having them. And there are some activities we enjoy having done, even if we really don’t enjoy doing them. There’s something magical about looking back on a harrowing ride after it’s over. And when you offer this feeling to a checked-out employee or disengaged team, there’s a strong chance they’ll want to get back on the ride and go through it again.
Challenges should be appropriate; choose them wisely
Push your employees toward challenges that make use of their rarest and most valuable skills, not toward busy work or manufactured hassles. Just because a task is awkward, miserable or tedious doesn’t mean it will make your employee feel engaged and connected. Before you overextend an employee or push them into the deep end, make sure you’re choosing the right employee, for the right task, for the right reasons.
Again, the wrong task and the wrong reasons may push a detached employee further out the door, so be careful. Before you move forward, sit down for a conversation about what your employee wants to accomplish or learn while they occupy this role.
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Retention Strategies: Talk to Your Employees Every Few Months
In a rapidly evolving job marketplace, the best way to protect your company’s bottom line starts with one word – stability. Lower churn can help you save money on hiring, training and onboarding costs, and the longer you keep your employees within your walls, the more you benefit from their growing store of institutional knowledge. So, stability matters and stability starts with careful selection and high effort dedicated to retention.
Hire the right people in the first place, then keep them on board if possible by cultivating management strategies that build loyalty and commitment. Start by meeting with each employee on an individual basis each month and discussing topics like these.
What’s working and what isn’t?
Is your new hire comfortable with the processes and procedures related to her work? Do your software systems and workflows support their productivity or stand in their way? Think about how you phrase your question and don’t imply that it’s their responsibility to adapt to the system (not the other way around). Make it clear that you’re listening, willing to consider their suggestions, and willing to change or fix elements of the process that don’t work for them. If they feel heard and they see the path toward success and productivity as a mutual goal, they’re more likely to stay for the long haul.
Are you happy with your current jobs/responsibilities?
Ask the employee to assess his general comfort levels with the job and their specific responsibilities. Does the job resemble what they expected? This question doesn’t just apply to their first weeks and months; it should be asked again, and again, year after year. When employees lose patience or burn out due to misaligned expectations, it doesn’t always happen right away. Sometimes this drift can take years.
How can the company improve?
Encourage the employee to be open and generous with her constructive criticism. Most employees – especially recent hires – won’t answer this question honestly unless they feel safe and respected, so make it clear that their insights have value and you genuinely want to hear and implement them. Clearly explain the purpose of your monthly chat sessions (improving retention) and explain that the company puts concerted effort into making employees feel valued and deploying their skills and talents in the most expedient way.
You want your employees to thrive, find meaning in their work, and stay if possible. So, make this clear. Encourage them to help you with these goals. As always, company success will result from a team effort between employees and managers.
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For more on how to use simple moves and cost-effective tools to retain your talented workers, turn to the management experts at the ACCENT Hiring Group.
Diversity and Culture Support Innovation
Countless management guidelines and tips emphasize one word over and over again: culture. A strong culture, we’re told repeatedly, means a strong staffing strategy and a strong and thriving business. If employees feel engaged with their work and they feel a sense of pride and confidence in each other, this positive attitude will spread, and if they don’t, negativity and distrust will pervade the atmosphere, with detrimental results.
But too often, “shape your culture” is misheard and misinterpreted to mean “hire people who make you feel comfortable.” If hiring managers don’t examine their feelings and they respond to candidates based on “a sense of connection” alone, they tend to unconsciously hire people who look, speak, and act like they do. The result isn’t a great culture; it’s a mess. Diversity is what makes a culture strong, and building a diverse workplace requires effort, thought, and strategy. Keep these considerations in mind as you move forward.
Gut Responses and Warm Feelings Won’t Get You There
People are often wired to behave in ways that run counter to their best interests. We want to stay healthy, but we eat donuts because they taste good. We want a thriving, functional, innovative company culture, but we choose the candidate who looks like us because there’s “just something about him” that puts us at ease. Look past the easy impulse and aggressively seek candidates that DON’T fit prevailing patterns and demographics in your office. The path to growth starts with an assessment (What is our age distribution? How many people with disabilities work here? How are our employee backgrounds similar and different? Where are the missing voices?) and a conscious effort to depart from homogeneity.
Act on Opportunities to Learn and Grow
A candidate who represents a minority in your company has registered a complaint about the culture. They feel unwelcome, unappreciated, or maybe even threatened by some aspect of the workplace. Do you coach, soothe, and silence the employee so the workplace won’t have to change? Or do you change the workplace and solve the problem? The second path is often more difficult, but it’s the path to success. The first option brings only toxicity and stagnation.
A Rainbow of Faces Isn’t Enough
For diversity to actually have an impact on your bottom line, you’ll need to embrace and cultivate it, not just tolerate it. If you look out over your workforce and see different faces, ages, and backgrounds, that’s great, and it’s a meaningful accomplishment. But not if you encourage your workers to leave their differences at the door and behave like robots from nine to five. Celebrate and leverage the different perspectives employees bring to the table—don’t downplay or encourage employees to hide them. That helps no one.
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For more on how to attract, hire, and make the most of a wide variety of voices and perspectives, reach out to the top recruiters in Scottsdale at the ACCENT Hiring Group.
Do You Know If You Are Becoming the Micromanager You Don’t Want to Be?
If you’re interested in improving your skills as a manager, then you’re probably no stranger to the common advice doled out by mentors, seminar leaders, blogs, and books written by experts. And if you’ve been reading and listening throughout your career, you’re probably familiar with the key differences between effective managers and ineffective micromanagers. A few examples: Strong managers give positive feedback and encouragement; weak ones are distrustful and critical. Strong managers recognize that mistakes teach us and help us grow; weak ones fear and avoid any form of failure, no matter how insignificant.
This list goes on, and most of these differences come as no surprise. Strong leaders are transparent, kind, resilient, and respectful. Weak ones are cagey, competitive, and overbearing. But in all these comparisons, one important detail may be getting lost: action. Just because you’ve heard these things before doesn’t mean you’re effectively working them into your daily routine. Despite a barrage of advice, we still sometimes slip into weak patterns when these patterns happen to be easier and our energy and attention are at a low ebb. Here are four considerations that can keep you from becoming the micromanager you really don’t want to be.
Actually track your feedback.
You might believe that you walk through the halls of your workplace doling out positivity like a radiant rainbow. But is this true? Are your positive thoughts taking the form of words and gestures? Keep an actual written list of the compliments and encouragement you give voice to each day and see if it measures up to your assumptions.
Reduce your constant contact.
Instead of asking to be looped into every meeting and getting a CC on every email, schedule weekly or monthly update meetings with each of your teams. Make the updates a regular expectation and you can cut yourself out of the daily information flow.
Alter your response to disappointments.
When your employee doesn’t get the desired results on a project, stop thinking of this as a failure or a problem. Instead, think of it as a growth opportunity — for both of you. Encourage your employee to practice resilience and experiential learning while you work on your positive coaching skills.
Letting go of control can be easier said than done, but making this happen can be the first step toward better and more effective leadership. Take two steps back, and your employees will grow into the space you create for them. For more on how to turn tips like these into meaningful action, contact the team at the ACCENT Hiring Group.
Google for Jobs – How Will It Affect Your Recruitment Strategies?
Late last year, Google introduced a new platform based on a perceived need among both job seekers and employers. In the face of a job market that’s been booming since the recession ended in 2011, a growing number of candidates are leaving the marketplace quickly, sometimes within days or weeks after launching a search for new work. Employers are scooping them up, which leaves candidates in greater control of the hiring balance and employers scrambling to claim talented workers before they become unavailable.
That’s great news for candidates, and the arrival of Google For Jobs makes the search even easier on the applicant’s side of the table. This new tool consolidates job posts from all over the internet, much like already established sites that have been doing this for decades. But Google makes use of sophisticated algorithms that can filter posts and target job seekers with only the most likely position matches. With these new resources, job seekers can adjust the filters for details like geographic area, industry, job level, salary, and the date when the job was initially posted.
But not all benefits are targeted at job seekers only; Google designed the tool with both sides of the equation in mind, so it’s easy for employers and hiring managers to zero in on candidates with appropriate skill sets and search filters. Using this platform will help you position your post in front of those who are most likely to respond, and if you’re using Google for Jobs to staff a position, the more information you provide (including salary details), the faster you’ll gain the attention and interest of candidates who are poised to thrive in the role.
Another benefit for both job seekers and hiring managers: submitting an application is easy. Once your post has landed on the desk or screen of a talented, appropriate, interested job seeker, Google for Jobs will allow you — the employer — to determine how and where the candidate submits a resume or online application. You provide the details and the platform sends the candidate to your chosen submission page with a single click.
Finding the right candidate can seem like an exhausting process, but keep in mind that your best new hires are out there somewhere, searching for you just as hard as you’re searching for them. New tools like this one can simplify the process and make it easier for the two of you to find each other and put the search behind you.
To bring the best talent in the Scottsdale and Phoenix areas to your team, turn to the ACCENT Hiring Group today!
Artificial Intelligence Won’t Replace Recruiters but It Will Make Their Job More Efficient
AI, apps, algorithms, and database management platforms won’t replace human recruiters any time soon. But these useful tools can (and already are) making the recruiting process much easier and more efficient. As a team of skilled recruiters and staffing pros with decades of collective experience and a wide network of strong industry connections — something no algorithm can duplicate — we often hear that the mainstream recruiting process is rapidly becoming digitized. And to some extent this is true, especially regarding four essential elements of the staffing and recruiting process: Sourcing, job descriptions, candidate matching and appointment scheduling. Here are a few insights into each of these important links that hold together a successful staffing effort.
When employers launch an applicant search for a welder, an account associate, a dental hygienist, a sales manager or a marketing pro, where do they start? Simply stapling posters to telephone poles won’t do the job, and neither will posting an old-fashioned classified ad in the local paper. In order to attract the best candidates and filter out those who aren’t likely to excel in the role, employers need to target their audience. This means they’ll have to go to the places where the best candidates go to seek work. A placement office in a specific university or a well-respected industry-specific job board might get the job done. But so will a series of algorithms targeting the screens of only those who hold the right qualifications, are actively seeking work, and live in the right geographic area. The first part of that equation requires a human touch; the second relies on sophisticated digital tools.
Job descriptions involve careful messaging and nuanced writing, which still lies in the realm of human tasks. But elements of every description, like lists of required qualifications, can be drawn from managed databases.
Once a job description has been assembled and a target audience identified, applicant profiles will need to be measured against the needs of the job. This falls within the category of human tasks…but not if the initial pool of resume submissions measures in the hundreds or thousands. In order to find the right candidates in such a large pool, keyword search functions and digital tools can be used to prioritize each required qualification and draw out the best resume matches.
Like candidate matching, interview scheduling involving one interviewer and five candidates or fewer isn’t an impossible task. But that story changes with a list of ten interviewers and 50 candidates, especially if those candidates will need to be flown to the venue and will need to share the room with multiple additional candidates (and interviewers). Scheduling can quickly become a hassle with a high price to pay for simple errors.
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STUDY: Top 3 Cities for Job Growth Are in Arizona
According to a recent study conducted by Wallethub, national unemployment numbers are low and strong job growth appears to be making a mark in 10 U.S. cities above all others. These 10 were chosen based a range of metrics that include population size (small but growing), socioeconomic factors, livability, and the strength of promising industries like healthcare and social assistance.
Unsurprisingly, three of the top 10 cities are in one amazing state: Arizona! Gilbert, AZ clocked in at number three, and the top two positions are tied and include Chandler, AZ (population 247,477) and Peoria, AZ.
We all know that Arizona wins the race for beautiful scenery, friendly people, a warm climate, and a rich culture and history. But not everyone knows about Arizona’s booming economic growth and central position in the tech industry. Most economists agree that the future of the US job market lies in the service sector, and Arizona cities are ahead of the curve on this point.
Employers searching for the best candidates in this corner of the marketplace are wise to center their staffing strategies in our beautiful state. And Arizona also represents a great career launch site for candidates looking for great opportunities with growing companies in healthcare, tech, media, and hospitality. Arizona is certainly having its day in the sun, and we’re excited to be located at the center of the action.
Turn to our staffing and job search experts here at the ACCENT Hiring Group if you’re ready to take your candidate search to the next level. We have the resources you need and all the cutting-edge tools that can help you find and identify the best workers in a market filled with excellent prospects. Contact our office today and find out what a top recruiter in Arizona can do for you!
Why Won’t Your Team Talk to You? They Want Predictability
Following the advice of countless management pros and business mentors (including this blog), you’ve decided to enact a small change to your management style— You’ve decided to open your office door and open your ears, to all comers. You’ve made your office into a welcoming space with a friendly atmosphere and two comfortable chairs in addition to your own. You never close the door unless you’re having a private conversation, and you constantly encourage your teams to initiate talks with you.
So why haven’t they done this? So far, all you hear is crickets, and the line outside your door is non-existent. Your teams don’t even call you on the phone—they prefer to get your attention using texts and email. Even though we haven’t met you personally, we may know why this is happening: Your teams need predictability, and they aren’t getting it from you. At least not yet.
Social Energy and an Unpredictable Boss
If you aren’t sure how your boss will respond to a surprise knock on the door or some unexpected news, you’d probably do what your teams do: stay at your desk and send a message. If you have to gauge your boss’s mood or mindset before you approach, you’re more likely to send a text. If you don’t know whether you’ll be welcomed, validated, rejected, brushed off, or yelled at, why take the risk?
Social energy is a limited commodity for almost everyone, even the most extroverted among us. And if you behave unpredictably, you drain the energy of everyone around you, especially those who report to you and depend on you for their jobs. Keeping your employees on eggshells will keep them away.
How to be Predictable
Unfortunately, just recognizing the value of a predictable demeanor won’t make adopting such a demeanor any easier. Your mood and mindset change throughout the day, and since you’re only human and you have a right to express yourself, pretending to be a robot won’t help anyone. Instead, start by exercising emotional control and equanimity, and when that doesn’t work, be honest with those around you. Use your words to describe your sense of anger or frustration instead of volume, facial expression, or unexpected actions and decisions. Try saying, “That’s upsetting news,” instead of swearing, hyperventilating, or launching into a shoot-from-hip reaction. While you’re at it, hold all of your conversations in confidence unless you have a good reason not to.
When you take a position, stand behind it. And pause for two full seconds and two full breaths in and out before you respond to comments, news, or questions that surprise or upset you. This simple courtesy of a measured reaction can yield big dividends in employee trust.
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The Equifax Data Breach Reinforces an Important Workplace Mindset about Security
According to cybersecurity experts and HR pros across a wide range of industries, the Equifax data breach that occurred early last year contains some critical lessons for employers everywhere. Specifically, one: employee cybersecurity training represents an important aspect of company stability.
The data breach at Equifax could have been prevented by a host of factors, presumably, and the resulting PR fallout could have been mitigated by a stronger and quicker response from the company CEO. But when traced back to its original source, the entire scandal and the exposure of millions of volumes of personal data can be linked to simple human error. And simple human error—while impossible to completely control—can be reduced dramatically with proper training.
Lesson for HR: Train Employees with Cybersecurity in Mind
While IT teams work to keep sensitive data restricted, encrypted, and isolated from other files, company directors should keep their attention focused well beyond the IT landscape. As it happens, data security isn’t just an IT issue. Training and security policies should be a part of daily life for board members, C-suite personnel, and every employee of the company all the way down to the newest entry-level hire. And while every member of the team will play a different role in the organization and will handle data in very different ways, there are three recommendations that should apply across the board:
- Employees should work every day to limit information access only to those who need the information. This simple reminder should be worked into the fabric of the company culture.
- Multifactor authentication should also become part of everyday life in the workplace. When properly maintained, two-factor authentication (like passwords combined with fingerprint or face recognition) can prevent unauthorized data access. Just as important, it can provide a trail that reveals who accessed specific information and when. This can be applied to files as well as restricted areas of the building.
- Administrative passwords should be changed on a regular basis. At first, employees may resent the hassle of needing to change their passwords more often, but in the long run, this simple routine can add an inexpensive and meaningful layer of protection.
Establish training sessions early for new employees so they can quickly become familiar with company policies and processes. And keep in mind that it’s never too late to implement regular security training for existing employees who need a refresher course.