Talent Management Strategies

Talent Management Strategies

Want to recruit and retain the best talent for your company? Make sure you have a plan in place. If you really want to take your talent sourcing to the next level, you’ll have to look beyond quick fixes like swapping around interview questions.

In this article, we will discuss how to create a successful, comprehensive talent management strategy that will elevate your recruitment and retention processes.

 

What is a Talent Management Strategy?

Recruitment, selection, onboarding, retention… what do these aspects all have in common? They’re all dictated by the talent management strategy. This area of the business is dedicated to sourcing and empowering a company’s talent. From the moment you find a new hire to the moment they become part of your company, your talent management strategy is in effect. When the strategy is clearly defined, loyal employees become easier to find and develop.

 

Why is a talent management strategy important?

Talent management is vital to the success and longevity of a company. Here are a few reasons why it’s always a good idea to revisit your talent management strategy:

  • Organizational alignment – Without a strategy in place, your HR professionals might work on conflicting initiatives. For example, one HR manager may believe that recruiting C-level executives should be the priority, while another may focus on promoting employees from within. An unaligned team leads to inefficient allocation of time and resources. In one study, 85% of CEOs said talent management is as important or more important than other business initiatives.
  • Better candidate selection – Talent management strategy is concerned with how you find and select employees. Based on one Recruiterbox statistic, 60% of candidates have quit an application because it took too long. With a strategy, hiring managers have a clearer understanding of how to carry out their recruitment according to the company goals.
  • Greater employee engagement – Talent management strategy is crucial to an engaged and connected workforce. That involves ensuring your employees’ voices are heard, that their feedback is taken into account, and that they can continue to do their best work. In one study from TalentNow, 56% of marketers reported using data to improve employee retention, the top use for data in recruitment.
  • Brighter career outcomes – Talent management isn’t only reserved for new hires— a strong strategy considers existing employees as well. Talent management ensures that your current team has the necessary resources to progress in their career path, such as salaries, benefits, equipment, etc.

 

What are the key components of a talent management strategy?

We covered the key components of talent management strategy in last week’s post, so this section will focus on the elements of each segment.

 

1. Attracting talent

Recruitment and hiring practices are some of the primary concerns for any business. For businesses to launch successfully, they need to select the right employees. Attracting talent involves:

  • Scouting and recruiting talent – How will your company find new talent? Which channels will you use? What criteria will you require?
  • Interviews – Which questions will you ask? How will the interview be structured?
  • Candidate selection – Out of all the viable candidates, how will you select the best fit?
  • Onboarding processes – How will you ensure that new hires are seamlessly integrated into the team?

 

2. Developing leadership

Identify the leaders in your team. These sharp problem-solvers understand how to best allocate the talent to the most important projects, without ever losing sight of the bigger picture. Developing leadership involves:

  • Training talent – How can employees be empowered to work more effectively?
  • Promotions – Which employees have grown in their position and have the potential to be promoted to a higher position?
  • Performance management – How will you track the efforts and output of each employee?

 

3. Motivating the team

Motivation fuels the work of your team. Without it, they may be left feeling drained and uninspired. Motivation involves:

  • Creating incentives – Besides pay, how will you reward your top-performing employees?
  • Communicating culture – What aspects of the company culture will inspire employees to improve? How will you convey this to them?

 

4. Retaining talent

Even the best recruitment strategy would be for nothing if your company is unable to retain its best talent. Talent retention includes:

  • Providing benefits – What kinds of benefits packages will you offer? How will you stay competitive?
  • Pay increases – When should you give your employees a raise? By how much?
  • Strategy reviews – How often do you revisit your strategy? How will you attempt to change it?
  • Feedback – How will you collect feedback from your team? How will you implement their feedback?

 

What are the types of talent management strategies?

As we’ve seen, talent management encompasses various aspects of the business. It should come as no surprise that there are different types of talent management strategy, each with a unique focus. Let’s explore a few:

 

Cultural

Cultural strategy is concerned with defining the character of a business. It’s how your hiring managers know which candidates to choose (cultural fit), how your current employees treat each other, and how your customers perceive your brand. A positive company culture creates a welcoming community, encourages diversity and inclusion, and offers wellness programs that protect employees.

Your culture is often defined by three parts: vision, mission statement, and core values:

  • The vision is what your company aspires to be or where it wants to go.
  • The mission statement defines what it does right now.
  • Finally, the core values state the principles and philosophy of your brand. Every business should know, be able to answer, and clearly communicate these three pieces to the organization and to your customers.

 

Performance

In relation to the key components of talent management strategy, performance management is most closely linked to motivation and leadership development. In other words, performance management tracks and analyzes the efforts of each individual. This type of management makes sure that the business continues to operate at its highest potential.

Performance may measure the financial aspects of a business, but in relation to each individual, it also tracks productivity, such as the number of tasks they completed on a given day, week, or month.

 

Organizational

Organizational management is centered around how the company is structured. In other words, what are the various departments of the business, and who are the leaders and subordinates?

Organizational management also concerns itself with the professional development and progression of each individual. When an employee has stayed with your company for several years, it’s important that they are rewarded with some sort of promotion for their hard work. Organizational management is also important in succession planning, which involves lining up an immediate replacement in the event a high-level leader leaves the company.

 

Examples of talent management strategies

Interested in learning from companies with successful and robust talent management strategies? Let’s take a look at a few case studies.

 

University of California

Talent management is crucial in academic studies. The University of California’s human resources division prepared a comprehensive presentation that outlines the scope of their talent management strategy between 2015 and 2019. In it, they start by defining a value continuum from the high-priority, time-sensitive tasks to their tactical goals, to their overall vision for their future. For each category (employee relations, benefits packages, etc.), the University of California defines a strategic theme, mission, the objective of each strategy, and future implications.

 

Peterborough County

The Southern Ontario-based county starts its talent management strategy deck with an executive summary, followed by a definition of a talent management strategy. Peterborough County goes as far as including various statistics and chart data to demonstrate the importance of talent management. Their strategy is similar to University of California’s. It starts with the strategic objectives which inform the strategy. It then informs recruitment selection, workforce planning, organizational design, and more.

Looking for other examples of effective strategies? SkillsHub lists five examples along with their strategic decks so you can have a better idea of how to formulate your own business’s strategy.

 

Talent management tools

 

Recruiting software

While it’s perfectly acceptable to recruit without software, using a reputable recruitment platform can make the process easier, particularly if you have an organization with over 100 people. These tools can assist with tracking applications, video interviews, human capital management, or general recruitment. Here are a few examples:

 

Employee engagement platforms

The other side of talent management tools is focused on keeping employees connected to the company. These other tools are known as employee engagement platforms and feedback assessment software. These use data to analyze the performance of your teams, collect feedback, and deliver you real-time insights on improving your business.

These options only scratch the surface when it comes to available technology. Other, more advanced options can use artificial intelligence to give you insights on the best candidate, but you have to be careful not to rely too heavily on AI, which can be just as biased as a human being. For other options on talent management tools, check out Ideal’s helpful infographic.

 

Tools for internal branding

Your company may also need software to brand your documents with your logo, design newsletters or blogs, or create flyers for networking events. We won’t go in-depth about your options (there are far too many to mention), but we highly recommend Adobe Photoshop and InDesign, as well as Canva.

You would be surprised how even the biggest and best companies fail to have a robust talent management strategy. They believe that they can cruise by without one, making important decisions on the fly. Yet foregoing a strategy can only result in a directionless company with high turnover and low employee engagement.

Talent management strategy is a large concept to tackle, especially in a single post. There are several moving parts that can be difficult to address, particularly if your business only has a handful of individuals. But by analyzing the various parts of a strategy, you can begin to understand how your business may adapt and create its own strategy. The more you work at it, the more you’ll start to see a change in professionalism and productivity of your own team. That alone will put your talent management ahead of some of the world’s leading brands.

Looking to read more blog posts about talent management and running a business? Check out Novel Coworking’s blog.

Talent Management: How Companies Can Attract and Retain Talent

Talent Management: How Companies Can Attract and Retain Talent

Why is talent management increasingly important for companies?

If you want to run a successful business, start with your talent. Capital investments can help you pay for licenses, software, and equipment, but it’s the people you work with who will really get things done. Implementing a solid talent management strategy ensures that your best people stick around, saving you money and further developing the brand culture around your team.

 

What is talent management?

How do you keep skilled talent around? Incentivizing employees with high pay is one thing; building an inviting culture that makes them want to stay is another. Talent management involves the recruitment, management, and development of your business’s most important asset: your employees.

Maintaining a talented workforce is no easy feat, but formulating strong recruitment and retention strategies can help you keep your best employees for a long time. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the various concepts, steps, and best practices for ensuring your team is set up for success.

 

What are the main benefits of talent management?

  • Stronger sense of community – The more you invest in your employees, the more they’ll give back to you. Proper training and team building activities can solidify the bonds between your workers, leading to more engaged employees, efficient processes and a happier workforce.
  • Lower turnover – Losing employees can be costly- in terms of time, money, and morale. Work Institute’s 2017 Retention Report estimated that replacing a departing worker earning a salary of $45,000 can cost $15,000. These costs include recruitment, interviews, and onboarding. Why not just retain your best employees?
  • Developing careers – The most effective managers the best out of your team. They don’t just get things done, they ensure your employees are growing towards their career goals. When employees have an opportunity to learn and develop, they can work more productively and creatively.
  • Higher client satisfaction – Talent management indirectly affects your end-user or customer. These individuals all have an impact on the public, whether they’re developing the very products that they will enjoy.
    Positive reputation – Who doesn’t love a company that treats its employees well? Take care of your team, and they’ll be sure to let their closest friends and family know. Neglect your team and it’ll come back to hurt your reputation.

 

The 4 Key Components to a Talent Management System

Each company’s Talent Management System, whether a small startup or a medium-sized enterprise, has four main components:

 

1. Attracting

Talent management begins with the talent you find and attract. Whether it’s through a recruitment website, a job fair, or a referral, recruitment processes are always worth thinking about. Attracting the right talent means more than the right job experience or skills; it also means finding the right personality to fit your company’s culture.

 

2. Developing

As a leader, you have the responsibility of growing your team. Teach them new skills, introduce them to experts, and cultivate a passion for their work. A well-developed worker can bring more dynamic solutions to the table. Additionally, they’re less likely to leave since they have the constant opportunity to improve on their abilities.

 

3. Motivating

Finding skilled workers is only one part of the equation. You also have to ensure they stay motivated and happy so they come into work every morning feeling energized. Develop a culture of inclusivity and empowerment, then reinforce it with team building and motivational activities. This might involve getting the company together for a team lunch, or recognizing an employee’s exceptional work in a public manner. Motivated workers have no reason to leave their company.

 

4. Retaining

Employee retention involves more than relevant training and a strong culture. It means tracking the professional development of each person, providing regular feedback, and constantly empowering them to do their best work.

 

Talent management strategies

What are the main types of talent management strategies?

Let’s walk through the main types of talent management strategies:

1) Talent acquisition – This aspect of talent management centers around sourcing new hires— either as fresh graduates, or previous workers looking for a new opportunity. Job descriptions, interviews, and onboarding all fall under this category.
2) Talent development – This type of talent management focuses on building workforce skills and experience. What are the key success metrics you’ll use to track an individual’s progression? How will you encourage them to keep developing?
3) Talent empowerment – How do you plan to keep your employees happy and inspired? It’s important for your company to track the overall sentiment of an individual towards the brand.
4) Talent retention – Finally, we have a whole area of talent management dedicated to retaining existing employees. For example, what rewards can you provide more senior members? As they stay with a company, they’ll have more reasons to leave— what can you do to convince them to stay?

 

What are some talent management initiatives?

Align your recruitment objectives with your brand mission and culture

Create a plan. First, outline your company’s mission, cultural values, and objectives. Many skills are teachable, but it’s fundamentally important to find people who align culturally with your business. You can always train people to develop technical skills, but you can’t train a mindset.

On a more tactical level, spend some time to fully understand everything about the open position — not just the requirements, but also how the person will ultimately fit in the organization.

Once you have a solid grasp of how the recruitment syncs up with your organizational goals, you can start on the next step— reaching out to potential applicants.

 

Focus on recruitment messaging

Making a strategy is just the beginning. The next challenge is to make sure that applicants are on the same page. Though it might be clear to the company, the applicant may have a different perspective.

For example, a job description might suggest the need for someone that excels in communication skills and client relationships, but in reality, the client might find themselves working exclusively on spreadsheets and documents. As much as you may be tempted to augment the job description, transparency and accuracy should always take precedence.

“Every company wants to portray itself in the best light and use euphemistic words and at the same time capture their company’s strengths and challenges,” says Elizabeth Laukka, a recruiter specializing in placing advertising, public relations, and digital professionals. “So when writing a description I make sure candidates know what they are applying for and that our descriptions are attracting the right culture fit which is so important when hiring.”

Looking for some podcasts on all things recruitment? Take a look at the Recruitment On The Go podcast by Harver. Each episode is only about 10 – 15 minutes long but will give you plenty of insights on improving your recruitment messaging.

 

Developing a retention plan

First, calculate your retention rate. While you should always work on improving retention, you won’t know how serious of an issue it is until you start doing the math. Calculate turnover rate by taking the average number of employees, dividing it by the number of employees leaving, and multiplying it by 100. You can calculate this monthly or yearly. Learning your retention rate is always a good practice, especially if have a larger team, just so you can understand your retention relative to your competition or industry.

You may also want to conduct exit interviews with employees that leave. Recruiting interviews are typically thought of as the most important, but exit interviews are just as necessary. These interviews can provide valuable insights into why employees leave. You may discover new places for improvement within your organizational structure, workplace culture, or expectations. Additionally, exit interviews allow you to terminate the professional relationship on a positive note. Keep in mind that not all employees may be willing to share their thoughts upon leaving, but it is always valuable to ask.

Want to learn more about crafting exit interviews? We recommend reading Harvard Business Review’s article, Making Exit Interviews Count.

Check out this TEDx Talk by Stefanie Stanislawski about taking your recruitment to the next level.

 

 

 

The importance of culture

Culture is a collection of your company’s attitudes, mindsets, and values that create a unique brand personality. With a solid and motivating culture in place, employees will flock to your company and feel more connected to the entire organization.

But even today, some of the biggest brands neglect the importance of cultivating team culture. They fail to realize how culture positively affects retention, workforce satisfaction, productivity, and countless other aspects of a business. Culture is more than writing core values on a wall— your team should see those values in action every single day.

 

Why is culture important?

Even outside of work, culture is a positive motivating force in people’s lives. Culture influences how we work, how we interact with others, and how we see ourselves. But without a proper understanding of a company’s beliefs or intentions, also known as core values, the brand becomes faceless, the work meaningless. Let’s explore the ways culture impacts our daily work.

 

Employee empowerment

Culture gives your team something to believe in beyond the work they do. The people over at Starbucks know that their business centers around selling coffee, but their core values are built around “a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome,” and “acting with courage.” Without these values, employees may not be aware of the greater impact their work has on the world at large.

 

Brand identity

Think about your favorite brands: companies like Zappos aren’t always groundbreaking with their products and services, but they have a firm understanding of the “how” and “why” behind their work. Their culture is based on mutual respect and trust for one another. As a result, their logos and brand names have become iconic in the pantheon of marketers. And it’s not just how they market externally— these companies have also mastered the art of internal branding. As a result, everyone throughout the business lives out the core values each day. That’s the difference between a promised brand culture and brand culture lived out.

 

Loyalty

Want to keep your employees around? Convince them! Often, culture will answer the questions, “Why should I stay” and “why am I doing this?” when the work starts to become overwhelming. Culture also builds employee loyalty, and creates a more collaborative community, reminding people they have friends and people to turn to in the office.

 

Recruiting top talent

Recruitment is often used interchangeably with hiring. The difference is that hiring focuses on finding the next employee, while recruitment is about finding the right employee. How can a company recruit successfully? Let’s explore.

 

Define your culture

We’ve covered the importance of culture, but defining your own culture is individual to each company. What makes your team unique? What are your ultimate goals? How do your mission and core values influence the type of people you hire? Once you have a firm understanding of your company’s differentiators, you’ll have a clearer view of the type of candidate you’ll want to recruit.

 

Define your audience (ideal candidate)

Just as you have specific customer audiences in mind, you should also define a specific candidate that will best fit your brand. If your candidate has impressive experience but is not a cultural fit, then you’re not likely to see them stick around for too long.

 

Position your brand

Brand positioning refers to the strategic act of creating and controlling the customer’s perception of a brand. For example, Aldi positions itself as an eco-friendly, cost-effective alternative to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, while Apple positions itself as the luxury lifestyle brand compared to HP or Windows.

Positioning also affects your potential employees’ perception. Websites like Glassdoor can help you understand how your company is seen compared to competitors in the industry. You won’t be able to go after all the talent, but by carefully positioning your brand to your target employees, you can better understand the best channels and messaging to use to reach them. We recommend checking out this blog post by HubSpot on brand positioning.

 

Leverage your employees’ connections

Job sites are great, but if you really want to be selective with your recruitment process, start with your employees’ connections. Your internal network can be highly effective at selecting culturally-aligned candidates because they already have the insight into what kind of person fits within the company. And since they’re responsible for the person they’re onboarding, they’ll make extra sure to mentor and develop them throughout their stay.

 

Hire different types of workers

Full-time employees are invaluable but don’t forget about finding remote workers, contractors, and partners as well. Top talent can take shape in many ways. Some of the most effective workers have limited schedules or live abroad. Looking for tips to hire freelancers? Check out Workable’s in-depth blog post on the topic.

 

Tips for interviewing potential employees

Preparations

You’ve successfully posted the job listing and received a solid pool of applications. Now it’s time to narrow it down— here’s where the interview comes in.

At this point, it may be wise to review your recruitment strategy and your job description. Understand what the team is looking for and remind yourself of exactly what the applicant read when they applied.

Check out the image below from TalentLyft that shows a few best practices for job ad optimization.

TalentLyft- Best practices for optimizing your job advertisements

 

Asking the right questions

Most phone interviews are about 15 minutes long, while others can run up to an hour. Make sure you spend each minute trying to find out as much as you can about the applicant’s motivation and experience. In other words, ask the right questions, and ask a wide range of questions.

Below are a few questions that will keep the conversation more dynamic than the typical “Tell me about yourself”:

  • What kind of work excites you and motivates you to get out of bed on Monday morning?
  • How do you deal with different personalities in the workplace?
  • What personal or professional mistakes have you’ve learned the most from?
  • If you were our CEO, what’s the first thing you would do?
  • If you get the job, what do you hope to accomplish in your first week, month and year?

For more powerful job interview questions, check out this recruiterbox article.

 

Interview techniques

How can you make an interview more effective? According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it is best to ask a combination of interview techniques.

The importance of structure while doing an interview can have a major impact on the responses you hear, so tailor it to match the type of work you do.

  • Structured interviews follow an established list of questions. These are the most common types of interviews you’ll see where the interviewer (or interviewers) asks the applicant about previous job experience.
  • Nondirective interviews are more impromptu and open-ended. They’re more conversation and involve subjective responses. For example, one question might be “Tell me what you know about this company.”
  • Situational interviews pose hypotheticals for the applicant to consider, such as “what would you do if you had a conflict with a coworker?” This interview technique forces the applicant to be creative in their problem-solving approaches.

Structured interviews are typically best for entry-level retail or hospitality positions. Nondirective interviews allow managers and leaders to share their feedback and speak their mind freely. Situational interviews are recommended for creative or problem-solving oriented roles. Interview structure can have a major impact on the responses you hear, so make sure it matches the type of work they’ll be doing.

 

Ongoing ways to build employee loyalty and advocacy

The turnover problem

The turnover rate in the United States hit an all-time high last year at 19.3%, up almost a full percentage point from the year prior. It’s no secret that companies have a hard time keeping talent around, but the issue has become even more salient in the past five years.

So, what’s behind the rise?

  • Better opportunities – other businesses are luring talent away with higher pay, more inclusive cultures, and stronger benefits.
  • Burnout – traditional business models, particularly those used in hospitality and manufacturing industries, is quickly exhausting its workforce for little pay.
  • Lack of advancement – some individuals would like to move up in the career ladder, but feel stuck in their position or constantly get ignored.

Turnover can be costly. Turnover can also affect morale within the team and even with customers and clients. Why stick around a team that loses so many of its great employees? In turn, low morale can negatively impact worker productivity. That’s why the importance of talent retention cannot be understated.

 

What factors affect retention?

A guide by SHRM indicates 7 best practices to increase employee retention. They are as follows:

1) Recruitment
2) Selection
3) Socialization
4) Training and development
5) Compensation and rewards
6) Supervision
7) Employee Engagement

Let’s dive into how each one can affect your company.

 

1) Recruitment

Your hiring practices directly affect your retention plan. Make sure your new hires know what they’re getting themselves into when they sign on. The more accurately the position is represented, the faster they can decide whether the job is suitable for them.

 

2) Selection

The selection process in your recruitment can be pivotal in determining turnover. Previous work and leadership experience can predict an individual’s loyalty to a company. For example, who are you more likely to hire— the applicant who has worked a decade with one company, or someone who has changed companies each year for a decade?

 

3) Socialization

Do you know what can make an impact on a person’s decision to stay with a company? The people! Socialization and team-building practices can make new hires feel like they’re part of a strong community, in turn making them more likely to stay. Activities like company outings, team lunches, and mentorship programs build a sense of community that is imperative to any positive office environment. Consider an office design that fosters collaboration, instead of division. Ditch those outdated cubicles for a more open space, either a coworking space or a shared suite.

 

4) Training and Development

Invest in your employees’ future, and they’ll repay you with loyalty. From the moment you recruit a new employee, make each day a learning opportunity. Help them to develop new skills, attain certifications, and meet industry leaders. When you combine that with cultural education and team building, turnover becomes less and less of a problem.

 

Culturally Fit Candidate Infographic

 

5. Compensation and rewards.

Money isn’t everything, but it can certainly influence recruitment. All things equal, people will tend to go with a higher paying position. And why wouldn’t they? Money leads to options. However, getting a salary just right can be difficult. A low paying salary means your talent may be swayed by more lucrative options. However, a higher paying salary may not guarantee an employee that’s happy to stay.

One solution is to reward your employees for seniority. That may take shape in the form of additional vacation hours, opportunities to work from home, or even stock options. These incentives make staying at your company even more attractive with time.

 

6. Supervision

Recruited individuals need some sort of leadership support when they have questions or suggestions. Since supervisors are the ones that manage teams, their effective communication is key. Watch out for abusive supervisors— those that tend to argue or blame. Needless to say, abusive supervisors can lead to higher turnover.

 

7. Employee Engagement

Show your employees how important they are to you! When you do the same thing day in and day out, it can feel like a meaningless and monotonous routine. Everyone needs a purpose to feel inspired–help your employees find theirs and guide them to become their most productive selves. Change your team’s perspective on work and empower them to see the impact they are capable of.

 

Five Employee Retention Best Practices

  1. Track retention rate – Measuring retention is the best way to determine the severity of the problem. Without tracking the data, you won’t be able to even answer why your recruits are leaving. Tracking is the first step to improving retention rates.
  2. Promote a healthy work-life balance – Your employees’ personal lives affect their work lives, so empower them to get enough sleep, eat healthily, and have time to spend alone or with their families. By taking care of themselves mentally and physically, your employees will be better equipped to focus and put in hard work in the office.
  3. Train the best supervisors – Supervisors will be the ones managing your recruits. So, find and train ones that care about their job, that inspire and empower instead of blaming others.
  4. Develop an effective hiring process – The best recruits don’t just appear, they’re carefully selected after a long and thorough process. Make sure you know your reasons for recruiting and take the necessary steps to perfect it from start to finish.
  5. Reward your employees – Whether it’s through additional benefits or higher pay, show your employees that you care. Reward them for a job well done whenever you can and continue providing feedback for their work, and you’ll only see better results over time.

Retaining employees takes work and commitment. It involves collaboration with people from different departments and investing in changes that may not have immediate effects. But a company is only as good as the people that help run it. By focusing on recruiting the best of the best, you can set your company on the path for growth.

Think long and hard about how you will find your ideal worker, and how you intend to keep him or her around. The answer won’t be immediately clear— it may take years and countless conversations to get there. But the health and future of your whole company depend on those who invest their time into it. Even in a business with over a thousand employees, one individual’s diligence and ingenuity can ripple throughout the whole organization.

 

Looking for more guidance on attracting and retaining talent? Visit Novel Coworking’s blog for weekly content on entrepreneurship, productivity, and much more.

Mentoring in the Workplace

Mentoring in the Workplace

Employee training forms the foundation of a strong company. Without it, employees would fail their responsibilities or never do anything on time. Yet so many companies make training an afterthought in their plans. For example, interns are often taught to “shadow” employees, with little explanation or context. The result: they end up copying the employee exactly but do not understand why their work is important or how they can improve.

Mentors help to solve this issue. Instead of asking employees to shadow, set them up with a mentor. A thoughtful mentorship program is sure to produce stronger work and inspire more leaders.

 

What does it mean to be a mentor at work?

Mentors are individuals that use their experience to train and develop someone less experienced. Within the workplace, a mentor has two levels of responsibility. The first is to ensure that mentees are accomplishing tasks and growing professionally. The second involves a much deeper understanding of their personal goals and career aspirations. Ultimately the mentor acts as a guide to newer employees to become the best version of themselves, personally and professionally.

 

Who can be a mentor at work?

It’s a common misconception that mentors need to be older or more senior to carry out their role. Mentors need only have enough experience to properly train and develop someone. In these cases, mentors are often people who have been in a certain position for a few years. Some may reach C-level status, others may be ordinary managers with two years of seniority. What matters is that the mentor is willing to guide a mentee (such as an intern) through an otherwise complicated process and development journey.

 

Types of Mentors

  1. Traditional Mentor – The most common type, this mentor is a few positions higher than the trainee and acts as a guide to the workplace.
  2. Peer Mentor – Mentors that have roughly the same experience and seniority. For example, two interns starting the job together.
  3. Reverse Mentor – When a younger person trains a more senior professional.For example, somebody who is helping a more senior professional with new technology.
  4. Senior Mentor – Someone with over a decade of experience walking you through the strategy.

For more in-depth explanations for each one (and a fifth mentor relationship), check out this Medium article.

 

Benefits of Mentorship Programs

  1. Stronger employee retention and engagement – Employees need to have someone to turn to when they have questions. When they feel more supported and guided, they are more willing to stick around and actively contribute. One study of 5,000 newly hired professionals found that being part of a mentor relationship correlated with higher organizational commitment.
  2. Salary increases and promotions – In a five-year, 1000 employee study by Gartner, one-fourth of respondents said that those enrolled in a mentoring program had a salary grade change, compared to the 5% that did not participate. Trainees were also five times more likely to be promoted than those not in a program.
  3. Mentor benefits – Mentors also gain from the relationship. They learn to become more helpful leaders with more direct impact on the organization’s goals. This leads to a greater sense of control and importance within the workplace.

 

Tips to Implement a Mentorship Program

  • Focus on the mentor-mentee match. Finding the right chemistry between mentor and mentee can be tricky, but it’s also the most important part. Some companies use algorithms. others make it the mentor’s choice. Ideally, you’ll want to find a mentor that has been through similar roles and responsibilities of the mentee. However, it really depends on your company.
  • Create an atmosphere of curiosity and open-mindedness. Being a mentee can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re new. Mentors should always encourage the mentee to ask questions and try new approaches.
  • Outline the nature of the mentorship. Mentors are teachers, not micromanagers. They can point you towards the right path and give you best practices, but they can’t hold your hand while you do it. The objective of mentorship is to set the mentee up to be autonomous.
  • Schedule regular check-ins. Sometimes a one-on-one meeting is the most effective way to gauge how the mentorship program is implemented. This gives the mentee the space and time to voice any concerns while allowing the mentor to track their overall progress.

 

Mentorship programs can completely transform the entire nature of a business. It can make all the difference between a solid hire and a deadweight. Concentrate on finding the common pain points of the mentee and leverage the mentor’s experience to help guide their way. Your company will be stronger and happier for it.

Mentorship programs can be tricky business, especially without an understanding of office politics. Read our guide to office politics here.

Looking for other guides that can help build a more productive workplace? Visit Novel Coworking’s blog today for more articles.

How to give constructive feedback to your manager

How to give constructive feedback to your manager

For better or worse, employees are all too familiar with performance reviews by their superiors. It’s helpful to be reminded about punctuality and productivity every now and then. But what do you do when you need to give feedback to your boss or your manager? The task sounds daunting at first, after all, what happens if they get mad or if you come across as insensitive?

We’ll cover the best way to give constructive feedback to your manager in the best way, why you should provide feedback, and how it can lead to a healthier work environment.

 

First, start with writing down your reasons

Feedback is crucial for managers to grow. Without it, they’re prone to making the same mistakes. Ask yourself: “why should I give feedback?” Is it because nobody else on the team will say anything? Has a process been inefficient in yielding the right results? Or is it personal (in which case, you might consider keeping it to yourself)?

Whether it’s positive or negative, formulate the feedback you intend to give, as well as the intended response you’re looking for. You may despise being micromanaged, or perhaps you lack guidance in the workplace.

 

Evaluate your professional relationship

If you’re an intern or a new hire, your feedback will likely fall on deaf ears. Nobody wants to hear the new team member spout off about how the company can run better. But if you’ve developed a rapport with your manager, and you’ve built a sense of trust with one another, you’re in a better position to speak your mind.

Review your relationship with your manager. Do you have enough experience with the company to share honest feedback yet? If not, consider holding off for a better opportunity. Timing is everything.

 

Schedule a one-on-one meeting

You know what to say and you have had significant experience working with your manager. Now you need to find time during the day away from the rest of the team when there is some downtime. That way, you’ll have the full attention of your manager. You’ll also discourage other team members from joining the conversation and avoid putting your manager on the spot in front of others.

There’s no need to make it an hour long or have it in a conference room. Just schedule a quick 15-minute conversation. Keep it short and simple.

 

Be specific and honest

When the time comes to actually share your feedback, choose your words carefully. Understand that feedback can easily be taken as a personal attack if you don’t frame it in the right way. Harvard Business Review makes a great point: stick to your perspective. By framing it as “I noticed that you…” or something similar, you limit the feedback to your own personal experience.

Above all, come from a place of honesty and sincerity. Don’t embellish or exaggerate. Make it a point that you only care about each other’s growth, and your manager will be more receptive whether it’s a compliment or a criticism.

 

Prepare for backlash

Not everything may go your way. It’s possible that your boss may take criticism personally. If this happens, it’s vital that you bring the conversation back to the business and restate that it is not a personal issue. Focus on how the manager’s improved behavior can better benefit the business as a whole.

In any case, thank your manager for their time and end the conversation professionally and amicably. The more you remove yourself personally, the more credible you’ll sound and the less likely the manager will take it negatively.

So let’s review the 5 tips for tactfully giving feedback to your managers.

  1. Plan your response by writing it down
  2. Evaluate your relationship with your manager beforehand
  3. Schedule a one-on-one meeting
  4. Be specific and honest
  5. Stay professional

Giving honest feedback to someone you work with isn’t always easy, especially if it’s a person you work for. But for any successful company to grow and thrive, there needs to be a foundation of trust and honesty. Of course, there are times when criticism can feel personal and difficult to hear. But as long as it comes from a place of sincerity and positivity, constructive criticism can also be inspiring.

 

Read more weekly articles about business and entrepreneurship, whether you’re running a startup or work for an established corporation, at Novel Coworking.

Advice & Tips for Working Remotely

Advice & Tips for Working Remotely

There are many benefits to instigating remote working within your organization, however, remote working requires certain other considerations. A great leader can adapt and change their style in order to maximize the benefits of remote working for the company. In this article, we will examine some of the different strategies and methods you can use to inspire, engage, and empower remote workers to make them feel like a valuable part of the team.

PROVIDE REMOTE EMPLOYEES WITH EVERYTHING THEY NEED TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION

 

Remote working saves your company a lot of money, but in order for this not to be a false economy, it is essential that you don’t skimp on the tools and resources you supply to your staff. Your aim is to make communication as quick and easy as it would be if all parties were in the same office. Email is a poor form of communication, particularly internal email, so invest in tools such as Asana, Wrike, or Slack, so that communication becomes seamless and second nature to all employees. Excellent communication improves teamwork, sparks ideas, and motivates everyone to become more productive. As a leader, ensure you are actively using all of these tools and setting an example. The key is not only supplying the correct tools, but ensuring everyone is using them to their full potential.

 

BE MORE THAN A VOICE ON THE END OF A CONFERENCE CALL

If you actually want team leaders to feel valued and included, then it is essential that every remote worker gets to visit the head office at least once a year. This will allow everyone to put names to faces, to interact closely, and to feel properly included and ultimately more valued and committed to the company. Plan the visit carefully, and build in a social aspect to the visit in order to build that team spirit.

It is also just as important for leaders to make trips, the other way, to demonstrate that they are willing to travel to meet their employees and to experience remote working properly. When you engage in remote visits, consider adding fun and rewarding things to the visit, such as an employee of the month, or maybe even just birthday wishes. The key point here is not to make your remote workers feel that the only time they see you is for an inspection, or for other negative reasons.

 

DEMONSTRATE AN INCLUSIVE POLICY FROM THE HEAD OF THE COMPANY DOWN

It is very easy for a remote worker to feel less important than an office-based employee. A good leader will establish an inclusive policy that values everyone equally. As a leader, this might mean regularly connecting with your remote workers on an individual basis or even just remembering and celebrating birthdays with them, in the same way you would in the office. Other staff members will be watching to see how you conduct yourself, so by setting a good example, others will follow.

One great idea, if your remote workers work exclusively from home, could be to send them a gift voucher for their local coffee shop. This demonstrates that not only do you value them as an employee but also that you have been thinking of them. Sometimes it is the little gestures that have the biggest impact.

 

ORGANIZE CORPORATE RETREATS

Working away from the rest of the team can create a sense of isolation, which in turn can create apathy and inhibit collaboration. Remote workers may work most effectively on their own, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t benefit from a corporate retreat.

Something as simple as a company dinner, a birthday party, a summer picnic, or a similar outing not related to work can do wonders for the brand culture. For one, retreats help remind your employees that the company isn’t solely focused on work, but on the wellbeing and happiness of its team. Second, meeting in-person is the only way to humanize work that is mostly done digitally.

 

BE MINDFUL OF TIME ZONES AND WORKING HOURS

It’s easy to forget that remote workers may not just be a few miles, but whole continents away. Just as one developer in Chicago might be getting up for work, a designer the Philippines might be getting ready for bed.

Take advantage of a collaborative calendar to sync your team members’ schedules across the board. This will be helpful even for the domestic/local team, as not all team members work the standard 9-5 routine. Establishing time zones and work hours is crucial when moving as a single unit.

 

LEVERAGE SOFTWARE AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT PLATFORMS

From Asana to Zoho Projects, there’s no shortage of project management platforms in the age of the Internet. Each one offers a unique take on organization and collaboration, so it’s important to take the time to research and find the best one for your business.

Looking for a Kanban-board style system suited for agile workflow? Trello is the right one for you. Want something clean and similar to a to-do list? Check out Asana. Or maybe you want something you can use on your smartphone. In that case, Basecamp 2 might be what you’re looking for. No matter which platform you end up choosing, just make sure it’s one that is suited to your workflow and empowers your team.

Although software and technology are essential for making remote working even a possibility, the underlying priority is your leadership skills. Not every leader has the techniques or capacity to lead effectively from a distance, but every good leader should always be looking to push the barriers, and transform any weaknesses into a strength. Managing a team remotely provides tremendous opportunities for development and once mastered, will greatly assist your future career development.

 

At Novel Coworking, we fully embrace the benefits of remote workers and are at the forefront of developing ideas and strategies to maximize the benefits. Visit our website regularly for concepts and ideas on how to benefit from working remotely.

Flat vs. Hierarchal Organizational Structures: Which Should You Choose?

Flat vs. Hierarchal Organizational Structures: Which Should You Choose?

There’s been a dramatic shift in how modern businesses are organized. While certain structures made sense in the past, today, we’re witnessing new management structures born out of changing cultures and advancements in technology. Most notably, flat organizational structures have become popular alternatives for startups and other entrepreneurial ventures.

 

What is a flat organizational structure?

If hierarchal organizational structures resemble a pyramid, with the power concentrated at the top, flat organizational structures have fewer levels between the managers and the workers. Titles become less important while contributions are accepted from all roles within the company. Here are a few examples of companies with a flat organizational structure.

 

Benefits of a flat organization

Feedback and input from everyone. Instead of limiting the creativity and strategy to managers, everyone in a flat organization is encouraged to contribute and find ways of improving the business.
A shared sense of responsibility. Hierarchal structures sometimes push people to deflect blame to someone else (“It’s a management problem” or “the intern messed up”). Flat organizations force people to be accountable.
Greater communication and cost-effectiveness. When an employee doesn’t have to relay a single message through several middlemen, the company can work more efficiently, saving money and time.

 

Drawbacks of a flat organization

Harder for larger businesses to adopt. In companies of hundreds or even thousands of employees, establishing a flat organization can be chaotic.
Lack of specialization. Flat organizations (particularly startups) may have employees working multiple roles instead of focusing on a single discipline.
Confusing chain of command. Without a direct leader or boss to report to, it may be difficult to know who delivers assignments, and may even cause internal struggles and disputes.

 

What is a hierarchal organization?

Unlike a flat organization, a hierarchal organization has multiple levels, with the CEO sitting at the top. After the CEO, there is usually a secondary group of C-level executives (such as the Chief Financial Officer or the Chief Marketing Officer), who lead a group of managers. The managers can then lead another set of managers, and so on, until reaching the operational workers. Examples of a hierarchal organization: Apple, GE, Sony.

 

Benefits of a hierarchal organization

Clearly assigned roles. Everyone in a hierarchal organization knows what their title is, and what they’re supposed to do. There’s never any confusion about the roles and responsibilities of each person, leading to greater specialization.

An incentive to succeed. Hierarchal organizations are designed to encourage employees to work harder and move up the organizational ladder.

 

Drawbacks to a hierarchal organization

Imbalanced cost distribution. Some managers may earn significantly more than their peers, leading to inequity and a greater cost for the company.
Bureaucracy and inefficiency. With so many levels and different departments, companies with hierarchal organizations may be slow to adopt changes or even grow. Consider implementing a new cultural program- it must first be taught to the C-level executives, then the managers, then supervisors, and finally to the operational employees.
Replaceable employees. Typically, hierarchal organizations are designed so that anyone can be replaced. Managers can be let go and subordinates promoted, while the lower level employees can easily be interchanged with new hires.

 

Should you have a flat or hierarchal organizational structure?

Since both structures have their own pros and cons, the question becomes: which one is right for your business?

First, consider your business’s size. Larger companies and corporations, particularly those with hundreds of employees, will not be efficient with a flat structure. In fact, there are very few corporations with a flat structure. Startups will almost always start out with a flat structure by design- with so few people, everyone will need to pitch in.

It’s also important to think about the nature or industry of the business. Flat organizations make more sense for certain businesses, such as a law firm, than others, like a major tech company. Hierarchal organizations are better for ensuring everyone specializes and has a role to play.

Think deeply about the kind of business you’d like to lead. Is it more traditional, centered around growth and efficiency? Or perhaps more informal, with more direct communication? At the end of the day, the choice is yours to make.

 

To receive more strategic tips and guides to running a business, visit Novel Coworking’s blog today.