Tag Archives: Employees

Employee Engagement - Leadership - Performance Management

Remote Work – How Fair is Your Organization?

I recently had three discussions about remote work in the same one-week period.

The first instance came up with a close friend. Yohan moved to the DC area during the pandemic because his wife got a new job here and his Charlotte-based company was allowing, and even encouraging, everyone to work remotely. Since relocating, Yohan has been promoted to the role of manager, and now his organization is calling all managers back to the office for a minimum of three days per week. Yohan has to decide if he will: 1) Get a new job; 2) Move back to Charlotte; or 3) Apply for a non-managerial position within his existing company.

The second person facing a remote-work predicament is a coaching client, Kathy, whose husband has accepted a job in another state. Kathy has been with the same university for the past 15 years where she has held a variety of administrative positions. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has worked remotely 100% of the time, and her performance appraisals reflect that her work and work ethic are exemplary. Kathy plans to move to the other state with her husband, but the university has a requirement that employees must live within a 90-minute commute so that there will be no overnight expenses associated with in-person staff meetings. While this requirement exists, there have not been any in-person meetings during the past three years.

And finally, I am working with a biotech firm trying to fill a niche position that has been open for months since the need for this particular skill set is so great and the pool of qualified personnel is so small. While the organization has primarily an in-person work environment, their organization does have a few exceptions; however, everyone agrees that this position would work best if the incumbent were in-person. According to the recruiter, they now have three highly-qualified candidates, but none are willing to relocate for the position.

How should companies manage these situations which are no longer unique, and in fact, are now quite commonplace? While each organization and industry must decide what is best based on their own business needs, I was most impressed with the process one of clients uses to designate a position as fully or partially remote. It starts by asking a number of important questions, like: 

  • How specifically will the individual continue to meet the organization’s business needs?
  • How will the proposed remote work benefit the organization?
  • How will the individual contribute to mentoring colleagues and to creating the culture of the organization?
  • If the position has direct reports, what processes will the manager use to manage remotely?

Do you agree that these are valid concerns? Can you think of other questions that need to be answered in order to start or continue remote work in a post-pandemic world? 

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Communication - Employee Engagement

Who Cares What’s In Your Head?

When I arrived at my destination to conduct a recent in-person training, Sui was in the parking spot next to me. She greeted me warmly and stood at my hatchback while I unloaded my cart, lunch, flip chart, and other materials. 

As I was checking to make sure that I had removed all the right things – and left my workout clothes, grocery bags, and other personal items in the car – Sui was overloaded holding all of my aforementioned items. When I said strongly, “Sui, thank you, but you can’t carry all of that! Please give some of it back to me!” Sui graciously said, “I want to make your morning easier because your class is so helpful to me.”
What a way to start my morning! I mean, the assistance in getting from my car to the building was truly a help, and the compliment gave me even more energy and validation. I went from “happy to be here” to “THRILLED to be here!” Sui acted as though she didn’t have her own pressing assignments, and she stayed with me and assisted by setting up the room for all the participants.

As we were chatting, I said, “Sui, what in particular have you found valuable. What has stuck with you?” I was curious since we were about to start module four of a 12-module leadership program. Sui was quick to answer. She said, “Oh, when you said that we are paid not for the information and knowledge in our brain, but for how we act on that information.”  

I had told the managers, as I tell many groups, that while it’s critical for employees at all levels to have knowledge, education, and training – that alone is not enough. If managers have deep knowledge in their field of expertise, but they don’t use that knowledge to impact projects, ask insightful questions, and suggest alternatives, then truly that knowledge is of little value to the organization. I continued by saying that some of the time employees are included in a meeting to gain useful information, but most of the time when an employee or leader is included it is because the organization is hopeful that the person can and will contribute in a meaningful way.

Sui said she had never considered that and now, as a result, she is contributing more. She also said that she can see how her contributions are actually making a difference. This is a “win” for Sui, and a “win” for her organization as well!  

And what I found most interesting about this whole encounter with Sui is that this key takeaway for her may not have been as significant for all of the other participants. But hopefully each one of them experiences their own aha moments, and I hope they will share them with me!

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Feedback and Recognition - Performance Management

Have You Listened to Yourself Lately?

While reviewing a 360 degree feedback assessment with a senior leader a few days ago, I was showing him the section where he rates himself and then his manager, his colleagues, and his direct reports all assess him on the same quality.

Whether the rating criteria was “Organizes work thoughtfully in a way that achieves maximum efficiency,” or “Creates an inclusive work environment where everyone’s thoughts are valued,” the senior leader consistently rated himself significantly lower than all, not several, but ALL of the other raters. His CEO rated him higher, his peers rated him higher, and his direct reports rated him higher. When I pointed this out to him, in his usual humble way he asked, “Why does that matter?”

The reason it matters is because he is incredibly instrumental in the organization, a mentor to many, and respected by even more. He is ready to expand his reach and to develop additional projects and everyone knows this but him. As a result, he is actually holding himself back, and in turn, holding back his own organization.

We all know leaders who are difficult to work with and who don’t see their own blind spots. These folks truly need to learn from their raters and work to build essential skills. Similarly, when we are doing a great job, it is just as important to recognize our achievements and to build on our positive attributes. 

If you would like to learn more about 360 degree feedback, you can do so here.

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