Monday, September 20, 2021

How to Set Boundaries When Working From Home



 For many employees, working from home is becoming a new reality of their career -- although how much they work remotely can depend on their job, their company and their boss.

Yet, no matter how much an employee works from home, there is always the dilemma of how to set boundaries so that work doesn't encroach on family time and vice versa.

If you're going to work from home and need some parameters:

1. Stick to a schedule. Some days this won't be possible -- a kid gets sick or the Internet at your house goes on hiatus. But as much as possible, set a schedule just like you did at work: you have a specific start time, a lunch break and end your day at a certain time. This can be tough at first since you don't really have a bus to catch at a certain time in order to get home, for example. But set these times in your mind, and even ask a family member or friend to hold you accountable in the beginning.

2. Dress the part. No one is saying that you have to dress in a suit to work from home, but if that puts you in the right mindset, go ahead. Do change out of your pajamas and take care of your daily hygiene before starting work -- this has the ability to click your brain over into "work" mode. 

3. Communicate on all channels. Make sure your schedule is clearly posted for everyone at work to see: your scheduled meetings; when you plan to be at the gym or taking a kid to school; and when you plan to quit for the day. You need to post this where everyone can see it such as on a company online calendar, on Slack, etc. If your routine schedule changes, then send additional emails or leave voice mails to alert everyone to the alterations.

4. Be dependable. If you set a schedule, stick to it. Nothing is more frustrating to colleagues or bosses than not getting a response when you're supposed to be available. This doesn't mean you have to respond within 10 minutes to their inquiries, but it does mean that you can't be out-of-pocket for hours with no explanation. 


Monday, September 13, 2021

Why You Need to Let Your Top Performer Go

 



As a manager, would you let your top performer go to another department without a fight? Probably not. Most managers aren't going to let their best employee waltz off to work for another manager.

But this "talent hoarding" is exactly what low-performing, non-agile, slow-to-change companies do, writes Kevin Oakes in Harvard Business Review.

This practice of hoarding superstars is natural, of course. Oakes, the CEO of the Institute for Corporate Productivity, says that research shows half of companies (and 74% of low performers) say that managers are often the No. 1 impediment to encouraging mobility of top performers.

It make sense, of course. Losing top performers can certainly adversely impact a department's performance -- and can then hurt a manager's ability to rise in the ranks. 

If companies want to become more agile and innovative -- and better able to deal with unprecedented events like a pandemic -- then they've got to change their thinking and how they move personnel. At the same time, managers have got to quit hoarding their top talent or risk these people leaving anyway because they are looking for more challenges and opportunities.

Oakes says that the best ways to ensure that top talent is used in a way that helps their own career and the company:

1. Don't hide the talent. Call out the contributions these people bring to other departments, and reward managers for sharing them with others. Managers who help their people succeed and move around within a company become "talent magnets" and attract others who want to have a manager than helps with career development.

2. Celebrate lateral moves. Organizations need to make clear that lateral moves are just as valuable as upward trajectories to a career. When employees feel "stuck" and don't have as many options, lateral moves can be a way to continue to grow their talents and value to the organization. Move all employees laterally from time-to-time to avoid "insider verses outsider feelings," he says.

3. Normalize change. If there's one thing that the pandemic has shown workers, it's that change happens to every workplace. If a company culture normalizes change and treats it as a chance for opportunity, then employees will be less stressed and afraid of it. Mobility for workers within a company will be seen simply as part of a healthy business culture and something that makes a company stronger.




Monday, September 6, 2021

What New Managers Must Know to Succeed




Sometimes new bosses are groomed for the role within the company or during their time with another employer. They receive advice and training and are even mentored by more experienced managers. They learn what works and what doesn't.

But other times, new bosses get thrown into the deep end with little training and little support. That's when problems occur, because if they're given little support in the beginning, you can bet they aren't going to get much support as they go along in their jobs. Sometimes these managers find their own footing and everything works out. But many other times, they end up miserable and so does their team.

That's been amplified during the pandemic. Managers who struggled before remote work options have also struggled -- sometimes even more --  during the shutdown because they don't have good management skills necessary to navigate these tough times.

Rachel Pacheco, author of "Bring Up the Boss," says that one of the best ways for managers to learn is to have great role models. That usually happens when they can watch a more experienced manager in action. That means more seasoned bosses need to take the time to help new managers learn complex skills like how to motivate workers, how to give feedback, how to have difficult conversations and how to set fair compensation.

Pacheco, who is also an instructor at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, says that it's also critical that new managers understand that just being a great engineer, for example, won't make them a great manager. The skills they used to rise through the ranks aren't necessarily the ones that will make them good bosses.

One of the key lessons she says new managers need to learn is about communicating as much as possible. Communicate important messages or complex ideas repeatedly and in different ways -- through email, texts, personal conversations or Zoom calls, she advises.

Never believe that you've communicated enough, she says. Always keep honing your message and making sure everyone gets it, she says.