December 2008 Newsletter

Buckle your seatbelts. We're in for a bumpy ride.

That's the message these days — from both our outgoing and incoming presidents.

As businesspeople, we already knew this, of course. Over the last year or so, we've found that managing a company in economic turbulence is like piloting an airplane through a windstorm. Buffeted up and down, we've experienced, and are experiencing, a wild, bumpy ride.

Riding out the storm has become the main priority for many organizations. Some are simply holding on for dear life, doing whatever they can to survive.

The fact is, this economy has forced companies to make quick changes, just like pilots negotiating a storm. Some do it successfully; others do not. What makes the difference?

The answer, in part, is in staffing. 

To negotiate these troubled times successfully, companies must have well-trained employees and strong leaders to carry them through.

Employees who come to work each day with enthusiasm, focus and creativity make strong copilots during economic turbulence. They can help navigate above, below or around obstacles, and offer solutions to help calm everyone aboard.

At the same time, they need leaders to keep them on course. 

Time and again, I've seen leaders ask their key players to do more with less manpower and fewer resources and then walk away. They hope, of course, that their employees will figure out what to do.

Truly strong leaders, on the other hand, realize that keeping a company steady through tough times requires commitment from the top to stay on plan. These leaders jump right in to help their people work harder than ever to achieve goals, attack problems and work together. And that's not all.

They also make sure their employees have the talent,
skills and knowledge to make it through a storm.
 

To prepare your employees for tough times, what should you do? 

The answer is twofold:
  1. Hire competent people, and
  2. Help them develop the skills necessary to pilot your plan

Hire competent people
If you are not operating under a hiring freeze, count your blessings. So many companies these days are. 
But with a multitude of candidates seeking jobs in this economy, you must take extra care to recruit only those whose competencies and priorities best fit your position and your company. 

How? Why not try tools that will help you make decisions based on science instead of guesswork?

There are tools, for example, that can help your recruiters ask the right questions during job interviews. On-the-mark questions can help isolate those candidates best fit for your company and the position you are trying to fill.

Help them develop the skills necessary to pilot the plan
To begin –

So what do you do?  Get to know your employees better than they know themselves.

This, again, is where new tools come into play. Appropriate tools will help you

  1. Discover your employees' competencies, weaknesses and goals, and
  2. Learn what skills they are capable of acquiring and what it takes to keep them motivated

Even in a good economy, new employees need training, but now it's more important than ever. And with new employees, include your stalwarts – those employees who stick with you even when the going gets rough. Training will make them even more loyal. 

I know there's a temptation in a down economy to covet a training budget with an eye toward making the bottom line look healthier. But understand what happens when you cut training: You trade long-term gain for alleviating short-term pain. 

A recent study revealed that more than half of senior executives possess "less-than-ideal emotional connection and alignment" to their organizations.
 
Could these be your co-pilots?

If you answer yes, or even suspect you should answer yes, consider re-coaching and shuffling employees to help assure your organization's future.

Have a plan and use it
Having a team of willing and able employees who are ready to make in-flight changes will help keep your company "steady as you go."

But there's one more piece of advice you should consider: have a plan and work your plan.

Mapping out your flight plan before you proceed will smooth out travel through turbulence. You'll have to tweak it as needed, certainly, but a plan will help keep you and your workforce on course. 


Pop Quiz: Test Your Knowledge About Workday Attitudes  

Employers, how much do you know about your employees? Circle an answer for each question below then compare your answers with the correct ones at the end of this newsletter section.

1) What is the most important factor keeping your employees in their jobs right now? 

a. Pay and health insurance
b. Satisfaction with work
c. Job security
d. Satisfaction with co-workers

2) What do employees want most from their jobs? 

a. Feeling valued
b. Less stress
c. Being part of a team
d. Shared vision and values

3) What percentage of employees say they plan to stay in their job for the next year? 

a. 50 percent
b. 20 percent
c. 80 percent
d. 60 percent

4) Half of employees are satisfied with the number of hours they work. 

True
False

5) More than half of employees believe this is a good time to take on extra work on the job. 

True
False

Answers (courtesy of Randstad's World of Work Survey 2008):
1. c, 2. a, 3. d, 4. True, 5. True (In fact, 68 percent of employees believe this.)
 


Employees, how well do you know your manager? Test your knowledge here by circling an answer for each question:

1) What percentage of employers say they plan to remain in their jobs the next 12 months?

a. 65 percent
b. 75 percent
c. 60 percent
d. 45 percent

2) Which one of these things are employers most satisfied with at work?

a. Compensation
b. Flexible hours
c. Amount of work
d. Opportunity to learn new things

3) Employers believe fair compensation of employees is more important to employees than surveys indicate.

True
False

4) Employees and employers are equally satisfied with the number of hours they work.

True
False

Answers (for 1, 2 and 4, courtesy of Randstad's World of Work Survey 2008; answers for 3, courtesy of salary.com):
1. a, 2. d, 3. True, 4. True


Your Solution Toolbox: Smoothing Out Work Relationships  

Do your supervisors and their direct reports know each other's work styles?  Studies show that such managers and employees are highly productive and engaged.

But the reverse is also true: Managers who are out of step with employees often cause low productivity, low morale and high turnover.

In fact, more people leave bosses than leave jobs. 

Profiles WorkForce Compatibility™ takes on this issue. It combines insight into the characteristics that affect the boss-employee relationship with information on how unique individuals can best work together. Here's how it works:

WorkForce Compatibility™ measures seven important characteristics that define the relationship between an employee and a manager: self-assurance, self-reliance, conformity, optimism, decisiveness, objectivity and approach to learning.

After these characteristics are measured and analyzed for boss and worker, each receives a report.  The manager's report provides a detailed description of the differences between the two for each characteristic. It also describes a "best-practice" working style for manager and employee.

Further, a "working together" section gives ideas for managing this unique employee and a "next steps" section offers detailed instructions on how to proceed.

The employee's report shows the worker how he differs from or resembles his boss and includes ideas for making the work relationship more amicable.

In short, Profiles WorkForce Compatibility™ helps manager and employee to

  • Communicate better
  • Spot conflicts before they occur
  • Successfully resolve problems that arise

When used religiously, Profiles WorkForce Compatibility™ will rid your workplace of a one-size-fits-all approach to management.  See for yourself how Profiles WorkForce Compatibility™ can help you develop more equable leaders and a pleasanter workplace. Contact me at 952-322-3330 or mgorski@mgassessments.com.  



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