Various versions of the mantra, “To be unclear is to be unkind” have been stated by leadership gurus like Brene Brown and Dave Ramsey, and I can identify with their perspective. As leaders, we can’t ignore issues, and it doesn’t serve anyone to dance around the elephant in the room in hopes that it will magically go away. Caring about your team members means having the courage to deliver difficult feedback. They say the best friends, true friends, are the ones that care enough to tell you something you don’t want to hear…but need to hear. We all know that we need to do the right thing in addressing employee issues, but it’s a tricky recipe of timing, empathy, attitude, and the list goes on. Here are three reminders I strive to incorporate as I prepare to address an employee issue.
1. Check your attitude and assumptions.
It’s so easy to go down the path of making assumptions and weaving a storyline in our heads about the motivations (or lack of motivation) of a team member. Harboring resentment is completely unproductive when it comes to handling an issue with an employee. The key is realizing the minute we start down this path. I personally find it helps to write those negative thoughts out…literally get all of my assumptions out of my head and down on paper. That way, I have the opportunity to move all my opinions to the side and focus on the facts and desired outcomes. I love how Henry Cloud positions how we should focus feedback: “hard on the issue, soft on the person”.
Voluntary turnover is the number one factor influencing workforce planning needs according to the most recent AgCareers.com HR Review report. Industry employers cited voluntary turnover as most significant at 74.26%, well above things like retirements (38.61%) and recruitment difficulties (48.51%). It has always been a best practice to focus on retaining your A player employees, but it sounds like our industry human resource leaders are emphasizing the challenges they face there. Let’s dive into three common reasons good employees make the decision to leave their employer, along with potential safeguards to hopefully reduce departures.
When we keep someone who is unproductive and underperforming on a high performing team, we are rewarding (paying) for mediocre. Our A players can quickly become frustrated by the lack of results and dead weight, and they’ll begin looking elsewhere. Safeguard against this scenario by ensuring performance metrics are clearly outlined and measured, regardless of the role. This simple (but often surprisingly overlooked) action can serve to place accountability on the manager and team member, so performance and team dynamics can be addressed before good employees get fed up and leave.
Hiring great talent that truly fits within your organization isn’t easy, and the hiring process can be rather extensive. In fact, competition for talent is the top challenge in recruiting new grads in our industry, per AgCareers.com’s 2018 Intern and New Grad Hiring & Compensation Report. We may go through a lot of effort to “woo” top candidates, and it’s tempting to say our job is done once they accept the offer, but it’s crucial to ensure your new hire is still on the priority list once they arrive. So how do we stay close to the onboarding process and motivate our new hire to succeed in the organization? I’ve included six suggestions below to consider.
Utilize the time between offer acceptance and your new hire’s first day. Send a packet of local area brochures and important contacts if they are relocating. Ensure they have a main point of contact at your company they can depend on as they tie up loose ends at their current job and prepare to start from scratch with your organization. Arming them with information to help them through the transition can give them assurance they made the right decision, and clear the way for excitement about getting started.
Our world at work is changing, and more people are working remotely than ever before. AgCareers.com has been no exception in embracing this trend, and we’ve grown to include more offsite employees in recent years. If I reflect on my own personal experiences, I would say managing remote team members is probably one of the hardest aspects of my role. This has nothing to do with the people who are offsite. It has everything to do with the level of intentionality required to successfully create a winning environment…and the journey is never really over in that regard.
We have to strive to keep learning from experiences, and continuously manage expectations from both perspectives. It’s very important to consider individual personalities and work styles. I’ve asked for feedback from remote team members here at AgCareers.com in order to compile three quick tips to keep in mind when you have a remote team.
The subject of delegation makes me think of the two distinct reactions that tend to occur in people who are delegating work. The delegator is either ready to shove something off of their plate as quickly as they can, because they can’t get to it (or simply don’t want to), or they are completely blocking any progress in the true transition of the work, because they don’t want to let go. So, before we can dive into the six steps of delegating, I think it’s important to understand the “why” of successful delegation. Check out these two loosely translated definitions of Delegation for a better illustration:
Wikipedia: Delegation is the assignment of any responsibility or authority to another person to carry out specific activities.
Leadership Training Course: Delegation is giving staff the freedom and authority to handle certain specific matters on their own initiative – with the confidence that they can do the job successfully.
Ouch, did that second portion of the leadership definition strike a chord? There is a big difference between true successful delegation and simple task allocation. If we want to successfully delegate, creating an enriching experience all around, we should focus on that second definition. So let’s dive in:
Recruitment seems like such an easy thing on the surface. It’s as simple as Jim Collins writes in his book Good to Great, right? “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” Well anyone who’s been responsible for hiring the right talent into the right roles for any length of time will tell you it’s certainly not as easy as it sounds. Here are a few deadly hiring sins to be conscious of.
Hiring Sin #1: Don’t just find a warm body.
We’ve all been there; your department is running so lean you can barely keep up, and then your most reliable team member puts in their notice or goes out on an unexpected medical leave. The urge to get your team some relief by just filling that hole with the first willing person that comes along can be overwhelming, but DON’T do that. The wrong hire will cost you triple in time and effort, and it won’t be long before you feel more buried than you were to start with.
If I asked people in the agricultural industry to name two current events that are impacting recruitment these days, I would likely hear mergers and acquisitions right off the bat. It seems there are merger talks or acquisitions being announced every few weeks, and while that may be an exaggeration, there is no doubt our industry is currently experiencing quite a bit of consolidation. Our Organizing Committee of industry professionals for this year’s Ag & Food HR Roundtable Conference felt mergers and acquisitions were an important topic for the event, so we created a panel to dive into “Communicating through Mergers and Acquisitions” (Angie Scott, Lori Herrstrom, and Holly Bergman provided their insights). Great advice was shared on both sides of the merger/acquisition situation. That discussion focused on open and honest communications, as well as building resiliency through change.
AgCareers.com recently gathered a group of agribusiness HR leaders in Indianapolis, Indiana to discuss current challenges in talent acquisition. A nice mix of companies were represented, and the organizations varied in size, which contributed to well-rounded conversation (JBS United, Equipment Technologies, Tom Farms, Dow AgroSciences, Total Seed Production, Inc., Elanco, and Beck’s Hybrids). Despite the difference in size of company and the nature of their businesses, the group seemed to echo similar challenges.
Talent Attraction emerged as a key discussion theme, as we began exploring challenges as a group. The group indicated four areas of importance to focus on when examining talent attraction strategies.
If you’ve been a manager for any length of time, chances are you’ve had to face situations that call for disciplinary action. Unfortunately, there’s no step by step playbook for what to do when unhealthy behavior starts to surface, as people are unique individuals, and every situation seems to have its own complexities. There are however, a few important considerations to keep in mind as you navigate. When it comes to making a decision as to whether the actions of the employee warrant warning or fire, the severity of the offense matters. Immediate termination would be appropriate if the employee has acted in an unethical manner. Examples of this would include things like stealing money, falsifying reports, abusing an expense account, etc. Other situations aren’t so black and white. Things like under performance, negative attitudes/behavior, or not following certain safety protocols can describe almost anyone when they’re having a bad day. It’s the repeated offenses that tend to start the downward spiral, which means it’s really important to address concerns before they build up.
Managing remote employees is much more prevalent these days. In fact, regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103% since 2005 (GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com). You can find a lot of data, webinars, and articles circulating around the pros and cons of being a telecommuter and the impact for companies that provide telecommuting options. Achieving the right balance of engagement is a tall order, and there are personalities that are a solid fit for being home-based, while others are not. I personally feel that managing remote employees is one of the hardest parts of my job, and I am continually trying to find ways to enhance the level of connectedness. Here are just a few tips that may help if you are headed on the journey of managing remote employees.
1. Utilize Technology.
Skype video is a great tool to help give communications with your telecommuter a more personal feel. It gives you a chance to still get “face to face” as you interact with them. I like to connect in this manner once a week at a minimum. Instant messenger can help telecommuters feel more connected to their teammates as well. It is the equivalent of stopping by someone’s office to ask a question.