Hire Right! What to Look for in your Next Rock Star Employee!

Hiring is a skill that doesn’t come easy. But like any skill, it can be learned and improved if we are aware. Most of us don’t want to admit what we’re not good at it. Because acknowledging that we’ve made some bad hires forces us to wake up and realize (i) we screwed up and, (ii) we definitely need to fire someone. Maybe ourselves, lol.

Most companies hold onto employees that aren’t the right fit for far too long. And that’s costing your business big time! Not just financially either. Having the wrong employees on your staff hurts your productivity, erodes engagement and trust and your company culture, and ultimately inhibits results.

There is good news!   You can avoid all that if you learn how to hire the RIGHT PEOPLE in the first place. And we do that by asking GREAT QUESTIONS during the interview.

What Type of Person Are They?

I’ve had the privilege of working with companies like Qualcomm, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Inuit and let me tell you, it doesn’t matter how good the candidate looks on paper or what credentials they have. If they’re not the right type of person for your company or team, they’re not the right fit period.

During the interview process, you need to figure out what type of person they are, what their strengths are, and what their whys are. We have a great PDF below with all the questions you should be asking to help you figure these things out, but two of my favorite questions are:

-What’s the biggest misconception others have about you and why?

-What three words would you use to describe yourself and why?

Both of these questions will help you confirm or deny your initial assumptions about what sort of person they are and also help you understand their level of self-awareness. It also lets you get into the “real” authentic person not the rehearsed interviewee.  To see how powerful these questions can be, try them out with yourself and with the people that you know well – you will be surprised at the results!

Are They Positive and Optimistic?

As quickly as our lives move these days and as quickly as the world of work is changing, there is NO room for negativity. You need to be hiring positive, optimistic people who have a can-do attitude. People who are positive and optimistic are more likely to seek solutions to challenges, rather than allowing themselves to become stumped or stuck. And that’s exactly who you need in your company – people who are going to just figure it out on their own and find the help they need to get it done.

To evaluate a candidate’s pre-disposition towards turning lemons into lemonade, a few of the questions I love to ask are:

-What do you think about failure?

-When you’d have obstacles in your life, what have you done to overcome them?

-What characteristics or behaviors do you believe have contributed to failure around the positions you’ve held in the past and why?

After you ask these questions, listen closely. Sometimes you have to read between the lines of the candidate’s responses so make sure you listen for clues that indicate whether they respond more positively or negatively to being challenged.  And, also ask targeted follow up questions.

To conclude, when you’re hiring you’re primarily looking to answer just two questions about every candidate: what type of person are they and are they positive/optimistic. It’s not rocket science and yet we get so caught up in fact-checking their resume and making sure they have all the technical skills, we forget to ask the questions that will help us figure out who the person sitting across from us actually is!

So, before you make your next hire, make sure you download our free PDF with the kinds of questions you should be asking every candidate. Just fill out the form below to get it. And if you still need help, please reach out to us for coaching!

Want to save your company time, money, and frustration by hiring the right candidate? Fill out the form below to grab our free download with all the questions you need to be asking during the interview process to ensure you're making a great hire.



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How to Hire the Right Person for Any Position

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that a bad hire costs the employer, on average, 30% or more of the individual’s first year salary with the company. So if their salary is $100,000, the cost of one poor hiring decision is $130,000 or more!

Do you have that much time and money to be wasted on the wrong employee? Heck no!!

How do you HIRE RIGHT, NOW!!! The Worker of the Future who will crush it in their role and grow with your company for years to come is who you want, but HOW?

It starts by asking GREAT QUESTIONS!

To do so, download our free handout that will get you asking the right questions to ensure you’re hiring the right employee to crush it for your organization.

Want to save your company time, money, and frustration by hiring the right candidate? Fill out the form below to grab our free download with all the questions you need to be asking during the interview process to ensure you're making a great hire.



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Become the Leader of the Future By Doing These 6 Things

In our last blog we looked at how the worker of the future will need to grow and adapt to succeed in the new world of work. But what about their leaders? Doesn’t it make sense that their managers will need to grow and adapt right along with them and become leaders?

Yet in my experience managers, who all should be leaders of one sort or another, are often the slowest to respond to changes in employee behavior and culture! That’s why so much of my work is focused on helping the generations connect in the workplace – because many of the older generations still don’t “get” their millennial and Gen Z coworkers and employees!

But the younger generation isn’t going away and taking their new ideas about work with them – in fact, more than 35% and even closer to 50% of Americans in the workplace are millennials! So if you are a manager or boss with millennial and Gen Z employees, it is critical that you get this right with your team! You must master the following new leadership traits and immediately start putting them into practice so you can continue to crush the competition in the years to come:

 

Create Trust and Eradicate Mistrust

Bill Simmons, formerly of ESPN, famously remarked, “Leaders thrive when they feel creatively empowered, when they trust the people around them, when their confidence is swelling. Leaders make mistakes when they lose that same confidence, when they’re fretting about their power base, when they’re reacting instead of acting.” And while Simmons was talking about basketball, the point remains: great teams are built on trust. Period.

While trust is a two-way street, as a manager and leader it’s up to you to set the tone in the company. You need to consciously work to create trust so you can build authentic relationships with your people. If they don’t trust you, you’re going to have a hard time connecting. And if you can’t connect with them, you’re going to have a hard time trusting them in turn!

Employees, and especially younger employees, want to work where they feel valued and where they can trust the leadership of the people in charge. And leaders in turn want to feel like they have a solid team backing them up. Just as Bill Simmons has a great team of writers backing him up at the Bill Simmons Media Group, including many who followed him from ESPN.

Are you unknowingly breeding a culture of mistrust among your direct reports? Check out this list of The 25 Behaviors That Contribute to Mistrust and eradicate any that you’re guilty of. TODAY.

 

Give Real-Time, Real Deal Feedback

Your employees want to know you care. So ditch the annual review and make time to invest in them right in the moment and give them the feedback they crave. They want to know they’re doing a good job, but they also want to know if something needs to change.

Just be cautious of putting too much emphasis on the negative. Instead take a page from Tony Nicely, former CEO of Geico’s book: focus on your employee’s strengths and help build them up. In a 1992 article about Nicely, William Snyder, then the chairman and chief executive of Geico Corp, commented that, “He has a marvelous talent for dealing with people…he’s empathetic and he builds on people’s strengths rather than picking out their weaknesses.”

Always assume positive intent (API) when interacting with your people and help them be the best they can be! They have all have a story to share and they all want to connect, they just need you to show them how – remember there’s no school for becoming the worker of the future! And if you do need to have a tough conversation with them, use these tips:

  • Identify the problem
  • Attack the problem, not each other
  • Listen to, and acknowledge, others’ points of view
  • Focus on organizational goals and objectives
  • Listen as an ally to strategize for success

Focus on the Right Things

In the old world of work, an employee would be at their desk at 8:30am and stay until it was time to go home at 5pm. It didn’t matter if they finished all their work in an hour or it took them all day to do it. It also didn’t matter if the employee did their best work after 3pm. The work day was the work day and employees were expecting to be at their desk and “working”.

But as technology has evolved and allowed us to be increasingly connected, the idea that employees need to sit at their desk for a specified period of time has become less and less practical. So as managers, we need to shift our thinking to focus on the right things. Instead of worry about “how” things get done, we need to be looking at “what” is getting done. After all, an employee can sit down at their desk at 8:30am, turn in a mediocre report, and spend the rest of the day playing solitaire. Or they can spend all day doing the things they’re passionate about and turn in a rockstar report at 11pm when their creativity is at its peak.

In a memo to his team at Slack shortly before the preview release of the product, Stewart Butterfield said, “Life is too short to do mediocre work and it is definitely too short to build shitty things.” Don’t allow your employees and your company to fall into mediocrity by focusing on the wrong things. Make sure that what you’re measuring actually MATTERS!

 

Foster Open and Transparent Communication

Indra Nooyi, the former CEO of PepsiCo, has often talked about the importance of communication in the workplace. She believes you “cannot over-invest in communication skills.” And of her own communication style, she had said, “I’m brutally honest. I always look at things from their point of view as well as mine.” But Nooyi’s not all talk: during her twelve-year tenure at Pepsi, the company’s sales grew by 80%!

The worker of the future needs you to communicate with them openly and authentically. To be brutally honest! The days of org charts and companies saying one thing to their customers and another thing to their employees is over. We are now too connected to ever treat our employees with anything other than radical honesty and to force them to follow a hierarchical structure of communication. And with our increased access to knowledge and learning through the Internet, we are ALL capable of coming up with and presenting new ideas that can change the direction of the company for the better.

 

Encourage Learning and Experimentation

Which brings me to my next point: as a manager in the new world of work you need to encourage your employees to learn and experiment and actually lead. ABL: Always Be Learning! With as much access as we have to information, if you as a manager rely only on your individual knowledge to make decisions for the team and company, you will be crushed by your competition.

You need to encourage your employees to learn and grow so that they can bring their ideas back to the company. We’ve previously written about Google, but it bears repeating again: Google has famously allowed its employees to devote 20% of their work time to passion projects related to the company. Whether or not 20% time is still practiced is up for debate, but what can’t be ignored is that 20% time brought two of Google’s best-loved products to life: Gmail and Adsense.

You must encourage your employees to learn and grow. With the world changing as fast as it is, to not allow space for new ideas to develop and emerge is a mistake. The fact is, your employees are often spending more face time with your customers than you are! They know exactly what your clients want so it’s time you listened to them!

 

Stop Trying to Control Everything and Everyone

Most managers love control. They want to control the company, its projects, and its people. They believe that if they can manage to hang onto everything, they will win in the long run.

But that just isn’t true. One, it’s incredibly exhausting. Two, it’s one of the behaviors that fosters mistrust in a team. And three, it doesn’t do the company any favors to have everything flow through such a narrow channel.

Instead, invest the time to train your people well and then trust them to do the job you’ve hired them to do. Yes, they’ll make mistakes and fall flat on their face occasionally. But you are not perfect either!

Just take a look at this story about Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors. In a previous leadership role in the Human Resources department, she dramatically scaled-down the dress code policy to just two words: Dress Appropriately. When she got pushback from a manager, she suggested he talk with his team to work out a solution. And wouldn’t you know it, but the team came up with a great solution that didn’t involve needing to expand the dress code policy.

Trust your people. You hired them, you trained them, now go let them do their job!

 

If you’re struggling with any of the managerial behaviors on this list, please reach out to us at launchbox. Your company needs you to grow and adapt. So invest in yourself and become the manager of the future!

The 25 Behaviors That Contribute to Mistrust

Want to build a business that wins in the future?

Figure out how to get the worker of the future to come work for you, KEEP working for you, and excel!

To do that, you need to start by creating trust and eradicating the causes of mistrust in your organization. Want to know what the 25 most common causes of mistrust are? Keep reading:

The 25 Behaviors That Foster Mistrust

  1. You fail to keep your promises, agreements and commitments.
  2. You serve your self first, and others only when it is convenient.
  3. You micromanage and resist delegating.
  4. You demonstrate an inconsistency between what you say and how you behave.
  5. You fail to share critical information with your colleagues.
  6. You choose to not tell the truth.
  7. You resort to blaming and scapegoating others rather than own your mistakes.
  8. You judge blame and criticize rather than offer constructive feedback.
  9. You betray confidences, gossip and talk about others behind their backs.
  10. You choose to not allow others to contribute or make decisions.
  11. You downplay others’ talents, knowledge and skills.
  12. You refuse to support others with their professional development.
  13. You resist creating shared values, expectations and intentions in favor of your own agenda; you refuse to compromise and instead foster win-lose arguments.
  14. You refuse to be held accountable by your colleagues.
  15. You resist discussing your personal life, allowing your vulnerability, disclosing your weaknesses and admitting your relationship challenges.
  16. You rationalize sarcasm, put-down humor and off-putting remarks as “good for the group.”
  17. You fail to admit you need support and don’t ask colleagues for help.
  18. You take others’ suggestions and critiques as personal attacks.
  19. You fail to speak up in team meetings and avoid contributing constructively.
  20. You refuse to consider the idea of constructive conflict and avoid conflict at all costs.
  21. You consistently hijack team meetings and move them off topic.
  22. You refuse to follow through on decisions agreed upon at team meetings.
  23. You secretly collude in back-door negotiations with other team members to create your own alliances.
  24. You refuse to give others the benefit of the doubt and prefer to judge them without asking them to explain their position or actions.
  25. You refuse to apologize for mistakes, misunderstandings and inappropriate behavior and dig your heels in to defend yourself and protect your reputation.

(This list was written by Dr. Peter Vajda and originally appeared on the Management-Issues website)

If you need help creating trust with your employees and getting rid of the behaviors that cause mistrust, reach out to us at launchbox for coaching! We’ll help get you on the right track so you can build a business that wins now and in the future.

Employer Brand: What is it and How Do You Cultivate It?

Want to know the secret to not only attracting talented millennial employees to your company, but retaining them? Hint: it doesn’t involve installing a pool table, adding an on-site gym, or allowing them to bring their dogs to work.

No, if you want to attract the very best employees for your company and keep them for the long haul, you need to get serious about creating an employer brand.

An employer brand is the brand that speaks to your employees. It’s not aimed at the customer, but rather the people who work for you. It should definitely be aligned with your customer brand, but they serve different purposes. The employer brand is meant to both attract AND retain talented millennial employees.

So how do you go about cultivating your employer brand? Start by making sure you fulfill on the four things millennials want from their employers. Millennials want what we all want: to learn and grow, to work for an organization that is real and transparent, to have their managers and bosses offer great feedback so they can improve, and to do fulfilling work that gives them a sense of purpose and contribution. But what makes millennials different than other generations is that if these needs aren’t being met, they are much more willing to change jobs and go someplace else.

To illustrate how you can incorporate the things millennials want most from their workplace into your employer brand, take a look at how four top companies are getting it right with their employees:

 

How Google Provides Space for its Employees to Learn and Grow

You’ve probably heard of Google’s “20 Percent Time” policy. Google allows their employees one full day a week, or 20% of their paid work time, to work on a project of their own choosing that they’re passionate about. Now the project still has to be Google-related, but Google deliberately allows space for its employees to learn and grow. And what’s more, the 20 Percent Time policy isn’t just hollow words on a mission statement: it’s been embedded into their company culture and employer brand since 2004.

Now a 20 Percent Time policy might not be feasible for your company, but there are others ways you can create space for your employees to learn and improve. You can offer a mentorship program, have them take some online courses, or send them to a conference or workshop like Strengths & Story which teaches them about themselves and articulating and creating value for others. When you take an interest in your employees and their career development, you make it about others. And when you make it about others, you will win.

 

How Amazon Takes Authenticity Seriously

It’s hard to go a day without seeing Amazon in the news. The global giant has found a way to impact nearly every aspect of our lives by changing the way we shop for books, music, products, and even groceries. But Amazon isn’t quite the looming Big Brother figure it’s often made out to be. A 2017 study from Cohn & Wolfe named Amazon the most authentic brand in the US. And while that study was comprised of consumer feedback, a recent two-year study of Amazon employees from Kununu found that “Amazon’s employee satisfaction rate exceeds the national average in 12 categories”. Which is a big deal because some of the categories they were scored on include things like company culture, gender equality, and diversity. What this suggests is that the authentic consumer brand Amazon is putting out to the world is also consistent with their internal employer brand.

The fact is, millennials want to work for a company that walks the talk. They want you to be real with them. They want to know your plans for the company and what your vision is for their role within it. And they want to know that your public stance on gender equality, employee development, diversity, etc, isn’t just a sound bite. They want to know that their bosses and managers take that public stance into every interaction with their employees.

 

 

How Patagonia Uses Feedback to Drive Employee Performance Goals

Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and supplies giant, has over 1,500 employees at stores across the US. But to ensure they keep all of their stores working towards the same common objectives, they use a program called HighGround, which allows employees to set goals within the system and receive feedback from their managers on their workplace performance. The program is not required, employees opt-in to using it, but it has more than an 80% adoption rate among the company’s employees and of those, most report that they prefer this more streamlined system to the old ways of receiving feedback. And what has installing this system of feedback done for the company as a whole? Well, for the last three years, Patagonia has taken top 100 spots in the annual lists put together by Great Place to Work, was ranked #6 on the 2018 World’s Most Innovative Companies List, and continues to post annual revenue growth.

Having a system in place for your employees to set goals, receive guidance on reaching those goals, and get feedback from their managers and bosses is vitally important to your company’s overall success. After all, a company is only as good as the people within it – so invest in your people by providing a way for them to communicate and receive feedback! Make use of a program like HighGround. Have schedule quarterly performance reviews. And train your employees how to give and receive constructive feedback on a daily basis.

 

How GoFundMe Gives its Employees Purpose and Contribution

Since 2010, GoFundMe has grown to become one of the world’s most trusted fundraising platforms. Over 10,000 people start a GoFundMe on the site every day to raise money for everything from emergency medical bills to travel expenses to non-profit causes. To hear the transformative stories of real people who have been helped by these fundraisers, you need only listen to an episode or two of their new podcast, True Stories of Good People. So to say that the employees of GoFundMe get a sense of purpose and contribution from their work, isn’t a stretch. For a company like GoFundMe, it’s in their DNA and part of their employer brand.

While your company may not be directly transforming people’s lives the way GoFundMe does, you can still find a way to make purpose and contribution part of your employer brand. Regularly share your client testimonials with your employees. Encourage them to ask for immediate feedback from the consumers they help to experience the real-time effects of their work. Make giving part of your company culture by donating a portion of your profits to a non-profit. Set aside a day to volunteer as a company. Or encourage your employees to use their technical skills to give back to the community. Giving your employees a sense of purpose and contribution isn’t just reserved for social good companies like GoFundMe – you can and should make it part of your employer brand!

 

Need more help developing your employer brand? On March 27th, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into the employer brand during our webinar with Steven Bellach from Bottomline Marketing. Click here to register for the free webinar.

To Crush 2019, Build a Relationship with Yourself

Over the winter holiday, in a snow-covered house in the mountain town of Deer Valley, Utah, my family gathered for a week of skiing, eating delicious food, and spending time with great company. But it wouldn’t be a Negroni holiday if there wasn’t at least one spirited discussion about how to succeed at work and in life.

One evening, I had the pleasure of defending my position that building relationships is the most important life/work skill any employee or person could have. My host had a different viewpoint, firmly believing that technical skills were more important for success.

“Technical/schmecnical” I said, “Anyone who gets hired should have those basic skills, otherwise the company or hiring manager would be a moron.” To further back my stance, I pulled out my phone, and pulled up this Ted Talk on what makes a good life, by Harvard psychiatrist Robert Waldinger.

In my book, Chasing Relevance, I quoted key insights from the longest-running study on adult development. Directed by Waldinger, the study tracked the lives 700+ men over a period of seventy-five years. Every year, researchers checked in to ask about their work, home lives, health, and happiness.

What they discovered supported the idea that relationships are the most important thing in life: when you have better relationships with yourself and also with others, you’re happier, you live longer, and you even become more successful monetarily.

After we viewed the video clip, I continued to argue my point like only an ex-New York lawyer can and eventually my host capitulated.  He did have one additional question for me though: what relationship would I prioritize over all others on in 2019?

My real-deal, no-BS answer on how to achieve business success is simple. If you want to crush it (yes, that is a technical term) in 2019 then you need to learn how to build a relationship with yourself.

Yes, you. Really!

Your relationship with yourself is the primary relationship you need to focus on in 2019 and always.

Want to know why? Check out the rest of this article that was featured on GLG’s website. And if you need help building a better relationship with yourself, shoot us an e-mail at dan@launchbox365.com or call us at 858.314.9867.

It’s Not About You, Or Is it?

“The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware…When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, All the people say, ‘We ourselves have achieved it!'”
– The Tao te Ching

A Culture of Greatness

The San Antonio Spurs are an anomaly in the professional sports world. They have consistently finished their seasons at or near the top of the Western Conference in the NBA. Since the latest restructuring of the conferences in the NBA, 9 of 13 champions have come from the Western Conference. Until the current reign of the Golden State Warriors, the sort of success the San Antonio Spurs have had was unprecedented in the NBA [especially in the ultra-competitive Western Conference]. Coach Gregg Popovich has been a pillar of their success. Popovich is known for being silent and a bit aloof, often shying from media attention, preferring to give it to his players instead. After veteran Tim Duncan, a member of some of their most successful teams retired in 2016, Popovich said, “I would not be standing here if it were not for Tim Duncan.” While there are other elements to the Spurs success, Popovich’s desire to bestow praise on his followers [players] and challenge and empower his players to be their best are two great examples of giver leadership.

While giver leadership is an ancient philosophy, its inclusion into modern organizational structures is a revolutionary practice. Consider the rise of modern tech giants who create and foster a sense of collaboration, innovation, and have revolutionized the workplace (can link to an article on the site here). Many of them are celebrated for their open and non-hierarchical organizational structures which openly encourage followers to offer and execute on their ideas.

Giver leadership subverts the traditional model of leadership. Followers do not seek to serve the leader; the leader seeks to serve her or his followers. Through serving others, rather than having followers serve the leader, the followers, or employees, are empowered to create, work, and think with increased ingenuity and are given a sense of purpose and meaning. Purpose and meaning, both important aspects of work aligned with Millennial values, arises from the sense of freedom and empowerment given to employees to guide their own actions.

So, it’s obvious: giver leadership is all about others, right?

Wrong.

Giver leadership is all about you.

At least at first.

Because giver leadership starts with you.

Leading Others: It Starts with You

“To lead others, first lead yourself.”
– John Maxwell

When asked what his greatest challenge as a leader was, legendary leadership coach John Maxwell enthusiastically replied, “Leading me!” Self-management is often the most difficult job a leader is tasked with. However, effective self-management is essential to be an effective leader. If you effectively manage yourself, set a good example, others will line up to follow you. If you do not, others will hesitate to follow you.

Where does effective self-management begin?

With self-awareness.

What is Self-Awareness and how do we cultivate it?

Self-awareness is defined as “conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.” While knowing yourself seems like an easy enough thing to do – “I’m myself every day!” – deeply understanding your own motivations and desires, and where they arise from, can be very difficult. Despite its difficulty, self-awareness is an essential element of being an effective giver leader.

Self-awareness begins with identifying your strengths, your weaknesses, and understanding how those align with your team. To help you develop a deeper self-awareness, we created a tool to encourage self-inquiry. Once you begin to understand your strengths and how those empower your team to perform at its highest, you can begin to understand and articulate what’s in it for them, your followers.

A New Paradigm of Self-Awareness: The Rise of the Giver Leader

Giver leadership is, you guessed it, about giving. That’s why we call it giver leadership because it puts the focus on what we believe leadership is truly about: giving, providing value to others. Giver leadership transcends the selfishness and dictatorial nature of the old model of leadership.

The old model of leadership placed the leader at the top of the hierarchy. This causes followers to seek to appease the leader. Followers are not empowered as they act in the best interest of the leader in the hope that they please them. This behavior and organizational structure fosters an atmosphere and culture of distrust and selfishness. It asks, “What’s in it for me?” Instead, we should flip that and as an effective leader seek to ask, “What’s in it for them?”

WIFThem (What’s In it For Them?) articulates your values in a way that provides solutions and benefits for others. As a leader, understanding that it’s really about others, WIFThem, is the first step to empowering your followers. Though giver leadership may start with self-awareness, it ends with others.

Ends with Others: The Rise of the Giver Leader

In my book, Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage, and Maximize Next-Generation Leaders in the Workplace, I discuss how reframing your mindset from it being about you to how you can serve others through developing self-awareness is crucial for effective giver leadership. For example, I discuss how “We are good at solving client’s problems” – I-focused – becomes “We are curious and ask tough, insightful questions that push our clients” – other-focused. Through making this shift, we articulate the value that we can give to others. We create a culture of success, focused on constant innovation, collaboration, and improvement. These are essential to cultivating quality, meaningful relationships where everyone wins and, as we know from the Harvard study of happiness, that is the most important part of leading a happy, healthy life.

And, ultimately: Isn’t that what we’re all after?

Conclusion:

Giver leadership is about subverting the traditional, and now outdated, model of leadership. It places the leader at the bottom of the hierarchy and asks WIFThem – a model that seeks to empower followers to create, innovate, and function at their best. To understand what’s in it for others, we must seek to understand ourselves. To serve others, we must know ourselves.

We’ve created a tool to help.

Go to our site to find resources that will help you develop self-awareness and empower you and your team to win. https://launchbox365.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/WIFThemG%C3%87%C3%B6Whats-in-it-for-Them.pdf

How to Become a True Leader of People

The meme below has been circulating on the internet for a while now and for good reason. In a single image, it illustrates the stark contrast between a boss and a leader.

leader vs. boss meme

The “boss” will look familiar to most people. Like a general in the army, a boss maintains order, doles out instructions, and punishes poor performance. A boss’ relationship with their people is colder; their staff function only out of a sense of duty, following the commands of someone else with more power.

But thanks to Millennials and their need for professional development and authentic relationships, the boss approach to management is slowly dying. In offices around the world, bosses are being replaced by leaders.

Leaders take a my-door-is-always-open to teach, help, guide, and learn approach to management. Being a leader is not about authority, but instead about support, empathy, and maybe even vulnerability. Mistakes and even failure are used as catalysts to teach and learn, staff receive consistent coaching and mentoring ala intentional feedback from their superiors on how they can improve, and workplace relationships are personal and genuine.

The difference between a boss and a leader is crucial. Being a boss may make some feel important, but young talent responds quickly by walking out of the door or giving only the minimal effort required to appease the boss in charge. Both are costly to organizations.

More motivated young talent, greater respect from colleagues, and improved performance for everyone comes with real leadership. I am sure that all sounds great. But how do you actually make the transition from being a boss to a leader?

Making the Transition from Boss to Leader

One of the most important things that we focus on in our workshops at launchbox is teaching people how to become their best self, focused on impacting others, or in other words, an awesome leader that everyone wants to work with. This is an intensive learning process, but there are a few things you can do right now to start making the transition yourself.

Become Self Aware and Realize Authoritarian Management is Temporary

In terms of management style, being an authoritarian hard-ass is the easy way out. It is all emotion, no thought, and it doesn’t require you to come up with any actual solutions or impact.

And that is why the leaders who are most effective, not just with Millennials but as managers in general, present themselves as supportive mentors and coaches to their younger staff instead.

Rather than yell, a leader walks their people through their mistakes, identifies ways they can improve, and helps support others while they try to turn their advice into tools for others’ actions. These are not moments for the leader to exercise power, they are teaching, learning and growing opportunities.

This approach is critical when working with Millennials. Millennials enter the workforce lacking key professional skills, but they are also incredibly eager to learn. The best leaders use that eagerness to their advantage, coaching and mentoring their young talent at every opportunity.

Provide Constant Feedback

The days of solely relying on a yearly performance review are over. In fact, even increasing to quarterly reviews will leave your younger talent feeling forgotten. To truly satisfy their need for feedback, leaders should be providing their Millennials feedback, on average, about once per day/month depending what is needed.  We call it “on-demand.”

That may sound like a lot, but keep in mind, Millennials are also not expecting full-blown official performance review meetings either, they just want I got your back “drive-bys” pardon the politically incorrect reference.

Instead, Millennials want regular, flash-feedback on their performance so they can be sure they are always working towards improving as professionals and are aligned with their leaders. Whether it is a 10-minute exchange on Slack or a cup of coffee on Monday morning, Millennials don’t need an official meeting. They just want to pick the brain of their leader to understand how they can improve and re-establish that both parties are humans trying to do the best job they can. And attain madass skills.

Inspire Through Authenticity

Why are Millennials more interested in what influencers on Instagram are wearing than what massive corporation is pushing via million dollar ad campaigns?

The answer is authenticity.

And authenticity is as critical for effectively leading Millennials as it is for getting them to buy your product.

Authentic leaders create real relationships with their staff. They share their personal story and they listen to the stories of their people. They develop relationships that go beyond the workplace. And they aren’t above letting their people know they appreciate their hard work.

The result is that authentic leaders and their followers begin to understand each other as people with a genuine connection. Their staff wants to do a good job not out of a sense of duty, but because they care about how their actions affect their colleagues and leaders. It becomes about helping people and working together to achieve goals as a team or contribution. And that intrinsic motivation is how you truly get the best out of people.

Becoming a true leader and leaving the boss behind is no easy task: it demands far higher emotional IQ, more depth of thought, learning, vulnerability, other focused disciplines, and more daily effort than being an authoritarian boss. However, those who can achieve the status of a true leader reap benefits that make all the extra effort worth it.

How to Prepare Your Workplace to Attract Gen Z Talent

Have you worked tirelessly to establish a workplace environment and policies perfectly tailored for attracting Millennial talent?

If so, great work! It’s time to do it again.  

Gen Z, a generation of 60 million young Americans born between 1996 and 2011, is now only a few years away from entering the workforce.

And if you assume Gen Z will be similar to Millennials with the hopes that your Millennial workplace will satisfy the Gen Z workforce, you may be sorely disappointed.

Here is what you need to know about Gen Z to prepare your workplace for their arrival and to avoid missing out on the wave of young talent they are sure to bring.

Who is Gen Z?

Born after 9/11, knowing nothing of the dark pre-social-media age, and raised in a recession while playing videogames with their unemployed Millennial siblings, Gen Zers are a distinct generation all their own.

Coming of age amidst the Great Recession and wars in the Middle East, their place in history has molded the traits that define Gen Z.  Traits which, as Alex Williams notes in the New York Times, more closely resemble the Baby Boomers than any other recent generation.

They are a generation that wants stability. They want to make an impact on the world. They value authenticity. They are socially accepting. And they also show signs of being fairly nice compared to other generations.

And that is all well and good. Many employers will be excited about welcoming any generation other than Millennials. But how do employers cater to this young and massive generation?

Loyalty and Stability are Critical For Attracting Gen Z

During the last 10 years, Millennials and employers have developed an unfortunate understanding: both see the other as replaceable, and neither expects any long-term loyalty from the other.

With Gen Z, employers may be able to bank on more long-term loyalty. As Jeremy Finch reports on FastCompany, “We found that while Gen Z like the idea of working for themselves, the majority are risk-averse, practical, and pragmatic” and that Gen Z is shying away from the flashiness of developing the next great app and instead “…are biased in favor of financial stability.”

They show their pragmatism through their desire to be trained and invested in by traditional employers. In fact, “84% of new grads expect to receive formal, on-the-job training.”  

The reward for employers willing to invest in Gen Z appears to be loyalty. According to members of Gen Z studied, “62% [saying] they expect to stay at their first job for at least three years,” a far cry from the job hopping Millennials.

This presents a big shift in how employers and employees relate to one another. If you are an employer who does not want to miss out on the talent coming from Gen Z’s, the message is clear: invest in them. Provide them the professional development opportunities they crave and in return for your investment you will receive the loyalty you may not have ever received from Millennials.

They Want You To Help Them Save the World

Gen Zers have made it clear to retailers during their teen years that if retailers want their money, they need to actively demonstrate social responsibility. Think Tom’s shoes or Warby Parker. These are socially conscious companies whose brands are closely tied with their effort to make the world a better place.

And when they hit the workforce, they are going to expect the same from employers.

Though still in college now, employers can expect job interviews with Gen Z to be peppered with questions about your company’s values, its efforts to support the local community, its CSR policy and what volunteer opportunities you offer your employees.

And employers damn well better have a genuine, authentic answer.

Because Gen Z doesn’t just talk the talk: 26% of Gen Zers are already volunteering and 76% are concerned with man’s impact on the planet. They have a genuine belief that they can change the world and they are going to expect their employers to help them in their mission to do so.

Flexibility and Openness for Employers is Big

Though Gen Z is more cautious and willing to succeed within “the system,” they will also be expecting the continuation of progressive workplace policies that emphasize multiculturalism, acceptance of all people, and work-life balance.

Employers need to keep in mind Gen Z’s historical context: they come on the heels of social changes that have seen a 400% increase in multiracial marriages, a 50% increase in multiracial youth, and less emphasis on gender roles. Gen Z has also grown up with a black president, legal gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana in several states.

What does all of this mean?  If employers want the loyalty that Gen Z potentially offers, they need to make sure that their workplace environments and policies reflect the world that Gen Z has been raised in. That includes everything from the obvious (equal pay for men and women) to more creative flexible schedules, telecommuting opportunities, and other work-life balance benefits.

The good news about adjusting your workplace for the incoming Gen Zers is that those adjustments will result in a better workplace environment overall. What workplace couldn’t benefit from more professional development opportunities for staff, starting social conscious and CSR initiatives or making workplace policies more in line with the times?

As I always like to remind people, each generation has its own quirks, but they are all share more similarities than they have differences. It is universal human nature to want to have a meaningful experience at work, have the opportunity to learn, and be accepted by their colleagues. It will be the employers who understand these foundational human values that will be able to evolve fast enough to harness the young talent that sits on the horizon.

 

Know Your Strengths And Lead With Them

“Everybody is a Genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid.” – Albert Einstein

This classic quote from Einstein reveals an important lesson in both business and life: everybody has different strengths, and in order for all of us to perform our best and excel, we must recognize and utilize our strengths. Gary Vaynerchuk, serial entrepreneur and host of the Daily Vee on YouTube, is also known for his forthright comments on the importance of understanding strengths:

“Bet on your strengths and don’t give a fuck about your weaknesses. You have to understand your own personal DNA. Don’t do things because I do them or Steve Jobs or Mark Cuban tried it. You need to know your personal brand and stay true to it.”

At Launchbox, we tell all our clients: “In order to know how to build, sustain, and maintain great relationships, we must understand the strengths of ourselves and others and how to leverage them effectively. Focus on your strengths—not weaknesses!”

Ok, so you get it now: knowing your strengths is super important. But the reality is most people don’t stop and take a moment to identify their best strengths. Do you know yours? If so, take a moment and write down your top five strengths. There are great online assessments that can help you identify your strengths. (Gallup’s groundbreaking Clifton Strengthsfinder is one that I’ve used and highly recommend. Based on decades of research and experience, Strengthsfinder is an inexpensive yet highly evolved tool for helping people discover their unique combination of strengths.)

If you don’t feel like taking the online test, a great way to find out is to ask the five people closest to you. Text or call them and ask if they’ll tell you what your top five strengths are. Make sure to ask them individually, so they aren’t influenced by each other’s answers.

While my strengths have evolved over the years, when I recently took the Strengths finder assessment, these were my top strengths:

  1. Activator: I make things happen by turning thoughts into action.
  2. Communication: I find it easy to put thoughts into words and am a good conversationalist and presenter.
  3. Strategic: I create alternate ways to succeed and find relevant patterns and issues in any scenario.
  4. Significance: I want to be very important and recognized in the eyes of others as making a difference.
  5. Command: I have presence and want to take control and make decisions.

Once you understand your strengths, you can be conscious of them and make the choice to lead with them. This is how you kick ass. This is how you deliver value to yourself and others in a way that makes a real, quantifiable difference to everyone you interact with. Here are three questions you can ask yourself to leverage your strengths as much as possible:

  1. Where do I kick ass?
  2. I could kick more ass if . . .
  3. Where do I wish I kicked ass?

It’s important to get comfortable with your strengths so you are not going against your true nature. If you kick ass at filming and editing and love it, but you feel like you “should” be good at engineering because that’s what “everyone else is doing,” stop and do some self-reflection. Remember what Einstein said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” You are more valuable to your peers, a company, and the marketplace doing video and editing. Why? Because you excel at it and enjoy doing it.

Naturally, people prosper in areas they enjoy (a.k.a their strengths.) Don’t judge yourself based on anyone else’s Instagram or Snapchat or what seems cool. If you are a fish, stick to swimming. If you are a squirrel, stick to climbing trees. Look within yourself, identify what you enjoy and excel at, and lead with those strengths. Not only will your peers benefit, but you will feel much more passionate and motivated about work you enjoy doing.

Curious to know more about discovering and leading from your strengths? Stay tuned for the next article in this series, geared to help you kick ass in work and life. In the meantime, you can check out Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage, and Maximize Next-Generation Leaders in the Workplace