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Retaining Women Leaders

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Gender Equality, Leadership, Talent Retention, Training | No Comments

We’ve been writing and sharing data that continuously supports that when organizations have more women in senior leadership positions and on corporate boards, performance increases.  Yet, as organizations are initiating women’s groups, diversity officers, and inclusion initiatives, the numbers of women at the top continue to stagnate.  In my research for our new book, ONE:  How Men Partner with Women for Gender Equality, I found that strong women leaders often have access to sponsors and mentors, and many of them are men.  These women leaders believe strongly in the purpose of their work, and the positive impact it has.  We also found another pillar focused on coaching.  Managers of strong women leaders coach them, provide real-time feedback and help her be her best possible self.  They do not solve her problem for her, they help her self-discover her own plan forward.

To increase gender equality at the highest levels of organizations, we must engage women in other ways.  In this post, you will learn proven strategies from our research that outlines these three pillars.  To retain top female talent, leaders focus on:

  • Improving access to sponsors and mentors
  • Aligning their value and purpose with their work
  • Coaching women to success

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Leading Across Generations

By | Coaching, Communication, Diversity, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Pivot Point, Team Building, Training | No Comments

Research indicates that Millennials will be 75% of our workforce by 2025, and with this, organizations are struggling to engage top talent across generations.  Often, with leaders I coach, they ask, “how can we change the millennials to be more motivated, and less entitled?” to which I respond, “they are far less likely to change for us; they are far more likely to change us.”  There are so many wonderful traits this next generation brings to the workforce:  a genuine passion for making a positive impact on the world, a desire to work to live rather than live to work, and an uncanny ability to find solutions to complex problems.  Yet, there are some distinct behaviors and expectations that do not always align with organizational values and processes.

The Pew Research Center outlines generations by birth year range as follows:

  • Millennials: 1981-1997
  • Generation X: 1965 to 1980
  • Baby Boomers: 1946 to 1964

Much attention has been placed on Baby Boomer and Millennial alignment, as they represent two ends of the spectrum, and have the most differences between them.  However, Generation X is the next generation of leaders, and represents the majority of small business owners.  They are a force to be reckoned with as well, yet often blend in with the Baby Boomers or identify with the Millennials as the pendulum swings.  Humorously, at a conference I was at recently, the speaker talked about Generation X being overwhelmed by the Baby Boomers.  Due to their sheer size, Baby Boomers made Generation X into mini Baby Boomers.  Partially true, Generation X seems to be amicable and the most flexible to each of the other larger generations.

In order to effectively lead an organization today, leaders must inspire and engage across all generations.  In this post, you will learn:

  • Understanding how “coming of age” experiences shape generations
  • Learning how to “flex” your leadership style to meet the needs of each generation
  • Aligning cultural values consistent with generational expectations

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Model the Change You Want to See

By | Coaching, Communication, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Team Building, Training | No Comments

In my collaboration with women in leadership, I find that we wrestle with our own tough expectations, and projecting those expectations on others.  We often ask the rhetorical question – why can’t this person just change?  It could be an attitude tweak, an adjustment in initiative, or improving communication skills.  It doesn’t matter.  But the change needs to start with us.

Change is hard.  People do not change for us.  We can only change ourselves.  We cannot want it for the other person, even if we see that just a few small tweaks would improve their happiness and job performance significantly.  Instead of asking or expecting someone to miraculously change – improve their attitude, take more initiative, or listen more to our ideas.  Instead, ask “what could I do differently?”  As leaders, we have to show the team what good looks like.

It Starts With the Leader

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Women’s Wellness Strategies

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Confidence, Leadership, Pivot Point, Training | No Comments

At Pivot Point, we believe that wellness is defined as our ability to make conscious choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.  Based on our research with every day women leaders and women in business, we have summarized our findings for women looking for ideas for their own personal wellness plans.

After copious research, and dozens of workshops with women leaders focused on their personal wellness, we believe that there are three key areas to improving your personal wellness plan, and it all starts with your purpose.  First, start with:

1) Knowing your why (and saying no to things not aligned with your why)

2) Then, giving to others through compassion (giving to give)

3) Followed by, prioritizing sleep (yes, sleep)

Let’s start with your WHY by asking yourself these questions…

  • What are the tasks/goals that get you most excited?
  • What are the tasks/goals that you are doing on your very best days?
  • What are the tasks/goals that people continuously praise you for?
  • What are the tasks/goals that you seem to be most effective at?
  • Who are the people that are most important to you in your life?

You may be asking, what does this have to do with wellness?  I have found in my work with women, that our choices must be aligned with our personal wellness.  We cannot be happy if we are busy trying to make everyone else happy around us.

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Recognize What You Want to See Again

By | Coaching, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Pivot Point, Team Building, Training | No Comments

 One of the most important tasks as a leader is to motivate their team.  Different team members are motivated by different things.  Some like public recognition, others prefer private praise, and some need it more, and some need it less.  As humans, I would argue that nearly all of us enjoy some form of recognition.  And, it’s one of the least expensive forms of motivation.  It does not even need to cost us a dime when tailored to the individual and done genuinely.

Leaders I coach often question, “I am supposed to recognize someone for doing their job?  I do my job every day and no one recognizes me.”  The answers is yes.  As leaders, we have to take the high road.  This means that we need to prioritize the time to give people positive feedback.  And, if we invest the time, studies show that team member performance increases.

What we choose to focus on matters.  When recognized, team members are more likely to repeat these behaviors, leading to better business results associated with these positive behaviors like increased client satisfaction, productivity, and/or quality of work.

Some tangible strategies to improve your culture of recognition as a leader are:

  • Kudos boards
  • Start meetings with “tell me something good”
  • Real time recognition

Kudos boards

A simple tool to build team morale – a visual display of all the great things the team is doing as a reminder of what good looks like.  This can be done in a variety of ways – a bulletin board in a break room or common area with post-it notes to recognize freely in the moment, a recognition box where team members can privately share their praise and leaders can display with employee approval later, or a client appreciation area with testimonials showcasing great client service.  I have seen it done well in various formats.  The key is getting buy-in from the team on how they want to be recognized, and tailoring the kudos board to their preferred format of recognition.  If they are a part of the idea to start, team members are far more likely to engage with the program and participate.

Each team is different, and their recognition needs are different too.

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Replace Feedback with Guidance, and You Will Get Better Results

By | Coaching, Conflict Resolution, Leadership, Positive Thinking, Talent Retention, Team Building, Training | No Comments

The word feedback creates fear.  It creates a feeling in the pit of our stomachs, followed by an overly emotional anxiety.  Merely hearing the word makes it hard to hear the words that follow.

Imagine this scenario, someone pulls you aside, and asks, “Can I give you some feedback?”  Fear takes over, you assume it to be negative, and you instantly imagine the worst case scenario.  That is because the word feedback has been framed so poorly in the past.  It has created negative perceptions based on the experiences that our brain remembers.  Our brain recalls the pattern of negative feedback, and prepares our body with fight or flight mode to take cover or run away.  Our emotions take over.  That doesn’t bode well for solid decision making and behavior.

The words we use matter.  So, let’s try a different word – guidance.  I have been searching for a better word than feedback for years – words like feed-forward, insight, coaching – have been floated out there in the coaching community, yet none have felt genuine or appropriate.  Then, a mentor of mine shared an article with me about a concept called “radical candor.”  What struck me most about the concept was the use of the word guidance over feedback.

Consider this, rather than saying “Can I give you some feedback,” why not open with, “I’ve got some guidance for you…”  It’s softer, it frames the moment appropriately, and emphasizes positive intent.  The word guidance ensures that the audience is still listening, and not emotionally hijacked and paralyzed with fear.  Furthermore, effective guidance requires leaders to:

  • Deliver it real-time
  • Assume positive intent
  • Be clear about the behaviors rather than the person

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Delegating to Empower Others

By | Coaching, Delegation, Leadership, Positive Thinking, Team Building, Training | No Comments

Delegation, a skill that seems insurmountable as a leader, yet is essential for a leader to manage time effectively.  I often remind leaders in my workshops that the leader’s labor costs are likely the highest of the team.  As a leader, we are paid higher wages for doing the tough stuff, and so doing lower skilled work that someone else on our team could do is a problem.  We’re incurring more costs than we should.  And, even if it is not actual dollars in costs, it certainly is an opportunity cost.

Time is Money

You might be thinking, well I will just work more hours then.  As we learned in our time management blog, time is finite.  If you choose to say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else.  We only have so much time, and how we choose to spend it sends major signals to our team on what is important.  They pick up on the tasks, projects, and meetings that we prioritize or choose to do ourselves.  It alerts them that these things must be important for a leader to do themself.  They may even feel less engaged as a result of you not asking or trusting them to do it instead.

One of very first blogs, The Discipline of Delegation blog, highlights one key fear of delegation – the loss of control.  Knowing what is holding you back from delegating more is pivotal.  Ask yourself the question, what prevents me from delegating more?  What comes to mind?  Perhaps it is amongst the top ten I hear from leaders in workshops..

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How to Retain Top Talent

By | Coaching, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Talent Retention, Training | 3 Comments

The Facts

The struggle is real.  With unemployment hovering nationwide around 5%, employees are back in the driver seat with where they choose to work.  Employers have found themselves with less control in finding, hiring, and retaining top talent.  Recent studies from Manpower Group has shown that there is an excess supply of skilled jobs, with a shortage of labor interested in those jobs.  Couple this study with the fact that employees, now more than ever, are looking for value and purpose in their work, more of a balance with their personal life, and the feeling that their work is aligned with their own career long-term goals.

And, with a growing millennial generation that is expected to be 75% of our workforce by 2025, this trend is very likely to continue.  What we know about millennials is true, they are self-driven, demand value and purpose in their work, and transition jobs at a rate much higher than previous generations, averaging 4 job changes by the time they are age 32.  We are not going to change them, they are going to change our workforce, and in many ways, for the better.  They saw their parents live to work, lose their retirements due to corporate greed, and have been shown very little loyalty by organizations they work for with pensions eliminated, benefit reductions, and inappropriate vesting schedules of their 401k plans.  I can completely understand why this generation has chosen to respond with choosing to work to live.  It’s refreshing.

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How to Increase Your Chances of Career Success by 80%

By | Career Game Plan, Coaching, Pivot Point, Training | One Comment

The Facts

In my primary and secondary research for Pivot Point, I learned that when you have a plan, your chances of achieving career success is 80% higher.  I scoured the country interviewing dozens of leaders in various industries, functional areas, and stages of career, and I found one common ingredient to career success – a plan.  From these interviews, I learned that knowing what you want, and having a plan to get there is pivotal.  Whether it’s taking your career to an even higher level, pivoting industries or functional areas, or advancing to a leadership role, high potential leaders in transition wrestle with having a solid game plan to take their careers to the next level.

I just cannot handle having problems without a solution, so through a lot of collaboration with these leaders, I developed and tested a concept:  The Career Game Plan.  It is a simple four-step process.  It is unique to you, and defines what success looks like.  It fits on one-page and is easily shared with your managers, mentors, and coaches.  It paints the picture of what good looks like, with a clear road map to get there.  First, you must be able to articulate what you want, and what you are uniquely skilled to do – your purpose statement.  Then, you build the goals to support your purpose coming to fruition.  Finally, you brainstorm the competencies and action steps to achieve your goals.

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Organizations that Invest in Managers, Win

By | Coaching, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Training | One Comment

Simply put, managers drive employee engagement, which drives business results.

The Facts

Being a leadership and career development enthusiast, I naturally find myself drawn to research and strategies to improve employee engagement.  I have seen first-hand that it drives business results by lowering turnover, boosting productivity, and enhancing quality.  In fact, a recent study shared by Bluebridge, a technology company focused on tools to improve employee engagement, indicates higher engagement drives 22% higher productivity, 50% lower turnover rates, and 3x more in profit margin.  Another organization, FirstPerson, who helps organizations design meaningful employment experiences, recently shared this video to illustrate this clear need.  Other smart organizations like Gallup have been measuring engagement for years.  And, it remains stagnant in the U.S., hovering around 32% according in the most recent Gallup study.  In this report, Gallup recommends that “organizations approach employee engagement as an ongoing human capital strategy and consider all of the elements that matter in performance management – from leadership accountability and manager education to clear role expectations and employee development opportunities.”

Further research indicates similar strategies.  If you search the term “employee engagement,” you will likely get articles with a titles such as – “7 ways to engage your employees” – with similar recipes.  The ingredients go something like this:  create a team culture, require individual development plans, foster work/life balance with telecommute opportunities, provide real time feedback, hire talented managers, etc.  The list goes on.  While all of these approaches have significant merit, these one-size fits all strategies do not work.  Why?  At the risk of stating the obvious, all organizations and teams are not created equal.

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