Friday, August 19, 2016

Quick plan to start getting to know your employees

If you know nothing about your staff other than their job description, if you have trouble having a non-work meaningful conversation with them, and if you do not know their first names, then you have work to do.

Here is a quick plan to correct this:

1.      Monday. Ask them how their weekend was and actually pay attention. If you have a lot of employees alternate the weeks
2.      Tuesday. Ask how their week is set up and what projects they are working on. Inquire if they need help with any of them. This shows you are paying attention to what they are doing and are available if they need you
3.      Wednesday. Send a mid-week pep talk or check in to everyone, make the message about them and their efforts (avoid sarcasm)
4.      Thursday. Week is almost ended, check on their projects but most importantly ask what fun plans they have and listen
5.      Friday. People slow down on the last day of the week, so this is not the day to be a hard case (but they still owe you an honest day’s work). Do you have a casual Friday dress code or some kind of fun Friday activity? Make sure you say goodbye to everyone before you leave or they leave (you should be last out)

Simple enough right? Then why isn’t this happening regularly?

Lesson from an MBA course.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I did not write this but I am going to share it

5 Signs You're Going To Fail As a Leader

1. Squashing the talents and strengths of team members.

Not recognizing their unique strengths and talents beyond a job description, and how that translates to high performance, is certainly an engagement killer. People love to use their unique gifts. The best leaders will leverage close relationships with employees by finding out what their strengths are, and bringing out the best in their employees.

2. Hoarding information.

Here's the real reason leaders hoard and withhold information: It's about power and control. And control is one of the most effective ways to kill trust. A leader hoarding information to control his environment and the people in it cannot be trusted. The reverse of this is a leader who acts responsibly by sharing information and being transparent with their team.

3. Micromanaging.

Micro-managers operate their way because, again, it's about power, and power is about control; don't let them fool you by making you believe it's to keep from things going bad, or because they want to ensure things are done "the right way" as the "experts". So how do you avoid a micro-managed environment? Three ways:
  • First, pay attention to your hiring process. Are you asking the right questions to assess and measure culture fit, and the work behaviors you desire on top of your technical and other hard skills?
  • Secondly, are team members being trained properly? And do you have an engaging onboarding process that puts the emphasis on developing the team?
  • Lastly, are you listening to feedback (and doing something about it) that will further support staff needs, and improve yourself (and your business, I might add) as a leader? When you hire bright people that reflect your and your company's values, equip them to succeed, and share power with them, you have extended trust their way, and are on your way to building a great team.

4. Getting the last word

Are you an employee reporting to a manager who is always right, and has the final say on everything? In leadership literature, this is a person with low EQ (Emotional Intelligence).
When this leader doesn't solicit the opinions of others, get buy-in from team members (especially when change is on the horizon, because change is often scary), trust erodes and morale goes in the tank.
When this leader doesn't lay out a vision and listen to the collective voice of the team in pursuing the vision, chances are team members will not feel cared for, respected, or valued.
As a result, team members will become increasingly passive and resentfully compliant. Does that resonate?

5. Not making themselves available.

Some (but not all) meetings are important and necessary. We all get that. But when leaders are booking unnecessary meetings while spending less one-on-one time with team members, that leader is sending a message that they don't care about them.
This may not be a reflection of character, but it's what is coming across to team members. If you want to avoid your schedule being a reflection of your priorities and showing that you don't care, create margin and build in time (15-20 minutes at the most will do the trick) for one-on-ones.
Or you can block off time for team members to drop by and ask questions, address concerns, get mentored, and just "check-in."
Read the whole thing here: 5 Signs You're Going To Fail As a Leader

These are common mistakes we all experience and the leaders doing this often do not know (or sometimes do not care) that they are doing it. In my experience numbers one and four are the deadliest.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III
The ETeam

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Keeping bridges intact in today’s digital age

We have a tendency to pour a lot of ourselves into our work, especially in the education industry. We spend countless hours of unpaid overtime, answering student emails, working on projects that will benefit the institution, grading, etc, etc. Our spouses get mad at us, our children get mad at us, and we promise ourselves we are going to slow down and take that vacation. We spend so much time at our job that our social lives can be completely wrapped up in it.

So what happens when for some reason or another you lose that job? How do you cope, but more importantly, how do your coworkers behave with your loss?

Job loss is nothing new, but in this day and age of instant information, it is not uncommon to find yourself being interviewed by someone you laid off, or competing with someone you know from an old job. How did you treat that person when they left? How did you treat that person before they left? Crucial questions on how future events might play out.

I personally find that I get the most LinkedIn requests, or requests for recommendation when people separate from their job and they need something, and those people quickly disappear once they get what they needed; until the next time.

While most people are believers in paying it forward, we are all human. We remember the slights, the broken promises, and the fact that the only time we hear from you is when you need something. Was your relationship genuine in the first place?

This is not saying you have to be everyone’s friend, but I am suggesting that the level of authenticity you displayed with past coworkers will determine how they view you in the future (professionally).
Try not to burn bridges, and this goes as much for the former employers as the former employee because, technology is creating a long memory. A business that is known to be unstable and have a revolving door is going to attract only temporary employees, and that business will become a way-stop for those looking for something else. Do not get it twisted, businesses can become desperate for good talent as well.

Treat your employees well while they are with you and when they leave you, because you are likely to see them again, and they can affect your future as a company. 

Lessons from an MBA program.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Monday, August 8, 2016

Listen to your employees: lessons from an MBA program

Active listening is a skill that must be practiced regularly when you supervise people because it is skill that can easily rust as one gets complacent. It should be said that there are many supervisors out there who have never possessed this skill at all.

When an employee comes to you with a problem, to vent, or just to talk, it is all about that employee; your personal anecdotes and stories have no place in that conversations unless you were asked to share. It is amazing how often this mistake occurs.

Trust and confidentiality is an important factor here as well; a private conversation told to you by an employee should stay private (unless a life is involved). It is amazing how rumors get spread by the people who are supposed to look out for your best interests.

Seems simple correct? Then why is this not actively practiced in so many organizations?

Retain your most valuable assets, your staff; and it starts by being engaged in their lives.

It is not about you; today’s lesson

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Good email communication: a simple tip

There are so many modalities of communication nowadays, and in business you can get plugged into so many of them to the point that it is overwhelming.

But what good are all those modalities if you never get back to people, or if people can never reach you in a timely manner? The answer is that they are useless.

Here is a useful tip for emails specifically, which seem to have the most volume:

·         Answer back immediately (or set up an automatic message to answer for yourself) just to acknowledge you received the message and will get back to them as quickly as possible; and make sure you do.

The person who sent the message will appreciate the acknowledgment, and it buys you more time. It is amazing how some emails never get returned, or get returned so late that you wonder if the person is joking.

Lesson from an MBA class….

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Change is needed: the case for the creation of higher educational leadership certificates

I have worked in education for more than 20 years now, the last 10 of them in higher education. One is not better than the other because we need strong K12 education in order to have successful higher education candidates. Something I will say K12 does do better than Higher Ed is certifications.

While I am not especially fond of the current K12 teacher certification process, I do like that for every type of educational position, whether it is academic, counselling, or leadership, you must acquire training.

Higher education has no such training requirement. If you are an instructor you must obviously show subject matter competency, usually through your degree and sometimes through work experience, and for an academic leader, there is no specific training. Why is that?

A PhD does not necessarily give you the skills needed to be a competent academic leader; plus, more and more, especially in the non-traditional market, a doctorate is not required for a leadership positions anyway. Traditionally, leaders in Higher Ed are chosen by seniority, sometimes they are even chosen by drawing the short straw (true story).

Is this in the best interest of students?

Unless the school that you are working for has a formal leadership training program (most do not), or you are lucky to have good mentors (no guarantee), you are almost on your own in learning how to become an academic leader. There are a few certifications in the process of being created, but it is my belief that there are not enough of them out there; especially in the non-traditional career focused schools (with high veteran populations).

Currently, the ETeam has proposed and is putting together a certification program that will help fill this existing gap. It takes existing tools and materials, makes them accessible, understandable, and applicable to the 21st century challenges faced by leaders in this specialized arena. Most importantly, we are striving to offer this at cost. It is uniquely designed for those working the front lines of this arena of leadership, so it is our belief that all should benefit from it.

Is there truly a need you ask? Ask yourself this instead: what is the turnover for academic leaders in this arena (answer it is high)? Are students being best served by maintaining the status quo? Are employees being best served by maintaining the status quo?

The faculty that are involved in shaping this program are top notch professionals, experienced in military and civilian populations, and have seen the result of the status quo in this arena and are passionate enough to put forth some solutions.
It is time to get off the sidelines and produce solutions where possible!

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III
The ETeam

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

There is nothing peaceful about the sound of crickets if you are an employee

The definition of “hearing crickets” is: It means it is so quiet you can hear the crickets. This phrase is often used after someone tells a joke or story to signify that that either no one got it or they just don't care”.

In today’s job market, it is not uncommon it seems, for professionals to hear crickets during the application process or even after an interview: I mean not hearing anything at all until it is obvious they did not get the job. Rude, but it seems more commonplace.

What should never happen though, is an employee of a company, asks a question or three, and all they hear are crickets. While those questions might not seem important to the person being asked, they might be very important to the "asker"; and not to mention that not answering shows a lack of caring and empathy, which leads to employee retention issues.

As a boss, you might not have the answer right away, especially if it is above your pay grade; but you should always take the time to acknowledge that you heard that employee and that you will get back to them as soon as possible. Make sure you do get back to them as well, because false promises add up in all kinds of negative currency.

Recognition of a question, especially a good one, recognition of a consistent job well done, and letting your employees know from time to time that they are appreciated, goes a long way for achieving employee buy in.

Simple tips from an MBA program or leadership certificate,

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam