Does Your Manager ENABLE or DISABLE Your Career?

I’d imagine that the person you settled down with in your personal life took the time to get to know you before making any jumps in your relationship such as moving in together or buying your first home.

You asked questions to understand if the person was right for you to determine if you had the same values and had a similar outlook for the future.

If this typically works to grow fruitful relationships in our personal life than why don’t we do it in our professional life?

To be successful in our roles and contribute to the success of our organizations, our team members need to be aligned with their managers.

Simple, right? Maybe not. Many people are still rushing to accept offers before truly evaluating the relationship.

In my career, I have been managed and have managed people over the past decade. I believe there are some questions that we should and shouldn’t ask our managers to learn about their management style before we start working together.

Create a Manager Muse Document

A few years ago I read a Business Insider article describing Lululemon’s customer muse. This tactic helps the organization understand who they are targeting and who they are building products for. As described in the article, Ocean is their female muse. She is a 32-year-old-professional woman who earns $100,0000 per year. She is engaged, has her own condo, travels, is fashionable and has an hour and a half to work out a day.

After reading this in 2015 I was inspired to do this for employees. I now have an employee muse that describes the type of employees I want to work with. 

Today, I am recommending that employees design a manager muse before they start interviewing with companies.

For example, a sample of your manager muse could read like this.

My ideal manager has 10+ years of experience in leading diverse teams. She has worked for a recognizable company that the market admires and has been voted as the best workplace. Because of this, she knows how company culture is the foundation of every great company.

While she is demanding, she is benevolent. I thrive when my manager is demanding of my work because it ensures that I put my best foot forward. Having her be benevolent gives me peace of mind that I will always be respected.

When putting a manager muse together start by writing down traits and behaviours you want in your manager then start crafting sentences together.

Build Your Interview Questions

Now that you have an outline for your ideal manager I’m recommending that you put together questions related to the behaviours you want your leader to exhibit.

If you care about their experience, benevolence and diversity experience you could ask the following questions:

  • Experience: “I see that you’ve worked at [name of company], what were three great lessons of leadership you learned?”
  • Benevolence: “What recognizable business leader would you compare your leadership style to?” It would be great if they said, Richard Branson or Oprah.
  • Diversity: “Can you describe the most diverse team you’ve led in your career?”

Do Reference Checks

If the company is going to do reference checks on you, shouldn’t you be allowed to do the same? I think so.

As you get further into the interview process I’d recommend asking the hiring manager to meet your future manager. Once you’ve built rapport and are considering taking the role, politely ask if you can speak to one person the manager has managed in the past and one person they are currently managing.

Position the request this way: “Hi Stephanie, may I ask to speak with someone you’ve managed in the past and one person on your team today? The reason I ask is that I want to ensure that we’re going to make a great team and I believe having this insight would be valuable for both of us.”

Some may not have the courage to ask but I believe it’s paramount in finding a great manager to help grow your career. I can tell you first hand as a manager of people, I would be impressed by the confidence and diligence if someone asked me to speak to past and current employees.

If you’re able to speak to members of their past and current team, I’d recommend asking the following questions:

  • Can you share three things that [name of manager] does well to motivate you to bring your whole self to work every day?
  • What new skill sets have you learned because of [name of manager] leadership?
  • What do you believe makes [name of manager] tick? What ticks them off?

I’d recommend putting together six questions to ensure that you’re gathering a vast amount of information not only from the hiring manager but also from past and current employees.

Ask Them Their Definition of Success

For me, the most important question to ask is,

“What’s your definition of success?”

You want to get very clear on how your manager is measuring success. This isn’t just for KPI’s but also for other intangible things. If I was hiring a marketing manager KPI’s like email collection and website traffic would be a measure of success. But, there would be some other things that make me happy as a leader, such as:

  • Be on time for meetings
  • One business day response time for emails
  • I don’t want to have to follow up with my team when we’ve already discussed what needs to be done and when

After the manager has described their measures of success it’s important to write them down and reflect on them regularly. After all, that’s the bullseye you need to review the key measures of success regularly.

I spend a considerable amount of time helping people find great managers so that they can have assistance in growing the career of their dreams. One thing that I’ve recognized is that they are spending too much time selling themselves and not enough time evaluating who they may be working with in the future.

The examples I’ve provided in this blog post are tried, tested and true. If you are a team member looking for your next great manager, try it out! If you’re a manager, prepare yourself to be asked questions similar to what I’ve outlined.

Are you interested in improving your company culture, employee engagement, and customer experience? If so, my online course, Team Operating System, may be your solution.

Click this link to book a call with me directly to learn if the course is right for you and your company.

This Empathy Tip Made Me A Better Leader

Welcome to another People First Monday.

You’re going to crush this week. Click the hashtag because I’ve been creating these short videos since the beginning of the year, follow along, learn about the topics that I’ve been speaking about. This week I want to share an empathy trick that I use in my career to become a better leader.

That trick is when an employee comes to you with a challenge or something that they’re struggling with, before you form an opinion or say a single word, I want you to reflect for a moment and ask yourself have I also experienced that in my career or in my personal life?

Being able to have a connection to something that you also have experienced will provide you the ability to authentically experience empathy for your team members. Use this trick, it’s working fantastic for me in my career, have a fantastic week and I’ll see you next week.

What Employees Want You To Tell Them When They Hit Their Goals

Hey everyone, another People First Monday video this week. I’m sharing some things that I believe you need to communicate with your employees after they’ve achieved their goals.

The first is helping them understand how they accomplished those goals without telling them. You need to help them come to those conclusions on their own so that they can have extreme clarity so that they can do it again and again and again.

Often we only coach our employees after they’ve performed poorly. We need to allocate time to ensure that they understand why they were able to achieve those goals.

The second thing is peer to peer learning. Set up an environment for them so that they can coach their peers and share best practices that they are using to accomplish those goals.

And the third is asking them, “Do you prefer public or private praise?” When I was starting my career as a manger, I was … I had an individual named Antonia reporting in to me. And she accomplished her goals and I stook up in front of the entire company and recognized her efforts. And she didn’t like that because she prefers private praise. So that was a hard lesson for me to understand that some people don’t want public praise, they would prefer the praise to be one on one.

5 Employee Management Tips to Boost Employee Morale

Managing employees isn’t hard!

I’m not saying this to shock and awe you.

I believe managing employees isn’t as hard as we make it out to be. We simply need to adhere to some sound employee management tips and strategies to become great companies.

As leaders, we generally make it hard on ourselves to manage our employees and the outcome is a poor experience for our team members which negatively impacts their perception of you as their leader and paralyzes their morale and performance.

I’ve come a long way in my leadership ability to manage a team. I’ve recognized that my management style is different than yours and different than those of my business partners and peers.

I don’t believe I’m any better or worse than the next person, I just know, full heartedly, that my management style is right for me.

Dating back to my time at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? I was groomed by people like Brian Scudamore and Patrick Louis. I took some of what Brian and Patrick taught me and found my own style.

More recently, I’ve taken advice from Danny Meyers, Howard Behar and Patty McCord. I now define my leadership style as being a benevolent and servant leader to the 150 employees we have today at my businesses in Toronto.

For the last decade, from afar, I’ve studied great leaders like Kat Cole, Jimmy Iovine and many others to share five employee management tips to boost employee morale.

I hope you enjoy this post, consider leaving a comment below and share it with your colleagues.

Understand Their Purpose (as an individual, not employee)

My book is titled, People-First Culture: Build a Lasting Business By Shifting Your Focus From Profits to People. I define People-First Culture by building a business that your employees and customers will admire.

Simple, right?

On the surface you may think, “Yes, it’s simple enough.” But, I beg to ask you, “If it’s so simple then why isn’t every company admired?”

To become “People-First” I’ve created something I call the 3P Strategy: Purpose, Process then Profit.

Within purpose, I advocate that a benevolent and servant leader must intimately understand the purpose of each team member who directly reports into them…with or without the company. Let me explain…

employee moral

Take Christina Parihar as an example. Christina is a star! She has risen the ranks of our company remarkably. She went from a server, to a shift leader and now she’s a Manager at one of our venues. But, management of our restaurant isn’t her true career purpose. It’s to become the Director, Learning & Development for our company.

This is her career purpose and as one of her leaders it’s my job to get her there. This is an example of helping someone achieve their purpose with the company.

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Meet Riley. He’s one of the top bartenders at our venues. He’s going to leave my company very soon and I’m happy about this.

I’m happy because we, as a company, are going to facilitate his exit so he can pursue his career purpose.

You see, Riley has been studying hard for years to graduate from university. He will graduate and pursue a career in biotech on the business development side of the industry.

Once Riley graduates I will personally take ownership, exhaust energy and connect him with people in my network who will interview him and hopefully hire him. This is an example of understanding a team member’s purpose and helping them reach their goals.

I once read this quote and it really resonated with me:

“Be a great company to be from.”

When I work with my management teams I share that a great employee management tip is to understand their team’s purpose and share in their success.

Clear (I mean, VERY clear) Definition and Visibility of Goals

This is where we make it hard on ourselves when it comes to managing employees and developing them during our meetings and review.

How on earth are we suppose to manage our team if goals aren’t clear and visible?

My partners use a weekly dashboard meeting to review their goals with their direct reports.

I use something called weekly GS&R’s (Goal Setting & Review).

Maybe you use something else. But, whatever, you do…use something! If you’re hiring high performers and want to manage their performance and morale, goals need to be clearly defined and visible.

Great! We have the framework in place but how are we adhering to the framework? Are we cancelling these weekly meetings? Is it a time where we passively review recent performances or do we dig deep and put everything under a microscope.

Cameron Herold once said, “Meetings don’t suck…we just suck at running meetings.” Managing your team during their reviews (which should be done regularly, not yearly) must happen often and with a clear definition of success and visibility.

Gather Employee Intelligence (EI) to Create Never-Seen-Before Experiences

I refer to employee intelligence as things you learn about your team members throughout their tenure with your company (the same can be done for customers). The most admired companies use this intelligence to create experiences for their team (and customers) that they have never seen before. These experiences build admired, People-First Culture companies.

RELATED: 3 Employee Engagement Training Strategies (video)  

Our employees have intimate conversations with us, their leaders, on a daily basis. And at times, these conversations may be falling on deaf ears, or equally as bad, are being acknowledged with unenthusiastic responses.

Let’s put this into action by way of a real-world example.

An employee tells me they have a big exam coming up. I ask for the date of the exam and record it in my phone to remind me three days before. The same day that I get the notification reminding me of the exam, I think to myself, “What would one need to help them prepare for this exam?”

One of the first things that comes to mind was one of those Sage scented vaporizers to use the evening before the exam to relax my team member before the big day.

Not all employee intelligence gestures need to be delivered with a high monetary value. For example, if your team member tells you their mother’s name or their favourite sports team, you can simply…

  • Ask how Rosa’s doing
  • Text them when their team wins a big game

One trick here is to use your phone to capture the data. Don’t leave it up to memory to remember these moments of employee intelligence.

When I host my Breakfast N’ Jam sessions I often find myself excusing myself to the bathroom so I can write things in my phone so I don’t appear rude by doing so at the table.

Find Them Another Leader to Learn From

You can’t be the only person that your employee learns from. After all, you’re not an expert in everything and neither am I. I’m constantly trying to find other professionals that my team can learn from.

These teachings can come from a book, podcast or in-person and virtual coaching. Here are a few examples of when I’ve found members of my team other people to learn from.

  • Jordan Lopez: his marketing prowess exceeded my skill set so we purchased Brian Dean’s YouTube online course for him.
  • Melissa Smilie: someone who has a tremendous future ahead of her, I recommended she read Patty McCord’s ‘Powerful: Build a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility” book as she’s going to need to learn how to develop high performing teams.
  • Max Romer: a team member who will be leaving my company to pursue a career in finance, I connected him with someone I know working within the finance department at Microsoft Canada.

Did I  already possess some of these skill sets? Yes, but, like I mentioned, your team needs to learn from people other than you to help continuously manage their morale.

Take action: This week, ask each of your direct reports one thing they want to learn within the next 90 days then go out and find an external subject matter expert for them.

Tell Them to Invest in Themselves

In 2014, I wrote a Linkedin article that received some great traction. I titled it, “Employees Need to Be Responsible For Their Own Development.”

You, as a leader at your company, can only develop so many people. Your bandwidth eventually will reach its limit. There needs to be a mutual understanding between you and your direct reports and it goes like this…

“I will give myself to you BUT you must give yourself to your own development.”

As my Linkedin post above suggests, Michael Jordan didn’t become Michael Jordan by only shooting free throws during designated practice time. He became great by putting in work on his own time.

Beyonce became Beyonce by singing, singing and singing some more at home, not just in church.

Building a high performing team is a counter balance between the leader and the team member. The leader must provide stewardship but ultimately it’s up to the employee to grow themselves.

When I was growing my career in my early 20’s I invested time to reading, watching YouTube videos and reaching out to professionals on Linkedin to ask if I could ask them a few questions. Today, in a way, I’m still an employee. We have investors that count on us to pay them a return. To do so, I must continuously invest in my education. I invest in paying 5-figures to attend retreats and workshops. I read books and listen to podcasts to level-up my game.

Take these employee management tips and apply them within your business. I’m not suggesting doing all five tactics immediately. Start with one or two, build some momentum then add another.

Leave a comment below: which employee management tip resonates with you the most and why?