Empower Your Employees for Success

June 8th, 2018

In order to succeed at their jobs and make meaningful contributions to the company, your employees need one thing that you may or may not be adequately providing: personal agency. Some inexperienced managers believe the opposite. They assume that the more they ride herd over their teams, the “better” these teams will do. In other words, if they spend their days telling their employees exactly what to do and how to do it, watching closely as they follow through, correcting every mistake in real time, forbidding risks, preventing failure, and scolding anything less than perfect obedience, then every project will end in victory. Employees are like oranges; the more you squeeze them, the more you’ll get out of them.

But this simply isn’t true. Studies and empirical evidence show that success lies in giving employees breathing room, so they can make decisions, solve problems on their own, and (gasp) fail. Leadership means backing off by a step a two and allowing your employees to learn and grow. Here’s how.

Stay focused on the long term.

It’s hard to watch an employee attempt something risky and fail. When we see such a failure looming, our natural instinct is to reach out and steady the bicycle so the crash doesn’t happen. But to avoid acting on this impulse, focus on the future. The quicker and harder the crash, the more the employee will learn, and the sooner you’ll see the day that she pedals confidently on her own. Keep thinking about that day.

Recognize that their real value comes from who they are, not what they do each day.

Your employee might toil along on a Monday afternoon, filing files and processing projects. But as the day and the year go by, you aren’t paying her for each of those little projects. You’re paying her for the knowledge she’s accumulating, the judgement she’s exercising, and the competence she’s gaining in her role. You’ve a hired a person, not a robot. So value the contributions she makes that only a person can make. Give her enough room to exercise her ever-growing critical thinking skills.

Trust is magical.

An employee who feels trusted will rise, as if by magic, to a higher level of trustworthiness. Before taking a risk, the trusted employee will put everything she has into making the smartest possible decision. The employee who doesn’t feel trusted, on the other hand, will accept less responsibility for the results, will not feel as confident, and will probably make a poorer decision. But it won’t matter, because if you hover over her, both the decision and the responsibility for the outcome will be yours, not hers.

Trust brings personal connection.

The simplest reason to trust your employees: If you do this, they will like and respect you more. Employees tend to work harder and stay with the company longer if they genuinely like their bosses. Step back and watch your relationship flourish. For more on how to do this, turn to the team at PSU.

Managing a Team with Varying Personalities

December 9th, 2016

In a perfect world, our jobs are easy. Employees skip into the office on day one knowing exactly what to do and how to do it perfectly, and mangers earn the love and respect of their teams simply by showing up and smiling. Teams are easy to manage; they all respond to the same rewards and pressures, and the coaching tips that motivate Employee X also work for Employee Y. And of course, X and Y get along beautifully and work together in perfect harmony every single day.

But in the real world, things don’t always fall into place so easily. Employees respond to very different coaching styles, and they don’t always get along. Sometimes, the gestures that support one actually undermine another. So what’s a manager to do? Here are few simple guidelines for managing diverse personalities.

There are no simple answers.

Keep in mind that great managers never really “get it all figured out”. There are no secret keys to successful motivation and training. If you find a secret key, recognize that your key only applies to one person—or personality type—and as soon as the next one appears, you’ll be back to square one. Stay humble and flexible, and be ready to disregard what you’ve learned when your circumstances change.

Be kind.

This simple rule applies to a multitude of management scenarios. If your employee appears to be squaring off with you, misunderstanding you, not following your directions, or willfully creating problems for you and your team, back up. Something is wrong, and escalating the conflict won’t help. Listen and strive to understand what’s happening on the employee’s side of the table. A small amount of patience and empathy on your part can go a long way.

Personalities don’t change, but behaviors do.

If an employee happens to be a narcissist, or excessively shy, or a terrible listener, you can’t change any of those things. And dismissing all employees who fall short of personal perfection will leave you with an empty office pretty quick. Don’t attempt to change core personalities; instead, attempt to understand and work with them as they are. Unlike personalities, behavior and words can be modified. Start there, and work toward an achievable goal: employees who get along well enough to get the job done (without compromising their mental health).

Draw the line when necessary.

Again, you can’t regulate personalities, but you can—and should—recognize and regulate appropriate behavior. A bully will always be a bully, but bullying behavior in the workplace should mean firm disciplinary action and eventual termination. A shy employee will always be shy, but if public speaking is essential to the job, make sure your shy employee gets the coaching, training, and/or eventual transfer that he needs.

Learn more about the coaching and management of the unique personalities that populate your office; turn to the Cleveland County staffing experts at PSU.

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Job Failure: What have You Learned?

September 23rd, 2016

During your interview session, your employer may ask you to directly address some of the stumbles and setbacks from your professional past. In some cases, your interviewer may ask you to explain a resume gap (which can be tough to do if you were fired). In another common scenario, you may be asked to describe the “greatest failure” in your working life, or simply discuss a time in which you let your team down, missed a deadline, lost a client, or otherwise fell short of the expectations placed upon you. What should you do when these questions come your way? Start by keeping these tips in mind.

Go all in.

When you answer this question, don’t hedge. Jump in with both feet. Instead of timidly choosing an event from your past that doesn’t qualify as a “failure” (“I was almost five minutes late to work once!”), choose a serious disaster. Going all in will help you achieve two key goals: it will demonstrate the depth and breadth of your experience, and it will also get your interviewer’s attention. The bigger the failure, the better the story.

Stay positive.

Your darkest moments and biggest failures felt truly terrible… at the time. Five minutes after they happened, you may have wanted to go home, crawl back into your bed, and never come out. But no matter how bad they felt, those dark moments are long in the past now, and your story has arrived at a happy ending. So focus on the rain that followed the rainbow. Before you even begin telling your tale, recognize that this is a tale of triumph, not tragedy.

Emphasize the personal qualities that turned your ship around.

When the worst happened (you lost, failed, crashed, etc), you had nowhere to go but up. And you climbed back to victory by relying on your rigorous training. Or your hard-earned experience. Or your tenacious nature. Or your special talents. Or your innate courage and determination. Let this quality—whatever it may be—become the hero of your story. Explain how the better elements of your nature came to your rescue.

Share the credit.

Of course you’re great (that’s why your story ends happily), but you’re also aware that you couldn’t have pulled
out of your spin without the help, knowledge, generosity, kindness or competence of those around you. Whatever you do, don’t throw anyone else under the bus or blame another person for your shortcomings and problems.

Describe what you learned.

No matter how your story plays out, make sure your take-home message is clear: your failure provided you with valuable lessons that you won’t ever forget. Explain what the entire experience taught you about the nature of your industry, the keys to success, or what you might have done differently and will surely do differently the next time the situation arises.

For more on how to grab the spotlight and ace your interview, reach out to the Cleveland County staffing team at PSU.

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Welcoming Generation Z into the Workforce

September 9th, 2016

On the heels of the baby boomers, Gen X, and Generation Y — also known as Millennials — a new generational cohort is about to step into the professional workplace. Get ready for Generation Z! These are the entry-level employees of the not-too-distant future, and since they fall between the ages of 16 and 22, they’re working their way through high school and college right now. Their sights are set, and the first wave of them will likely be submitting applications for internships and lower level positions within the next year or two. Are you ready to welcome them onto the team? Here are a few moves that can help you and your young employees get to know each other.

These are the real digital natives.

Members of Generation Z were born after the year 2000, so if you thought millennials were comfortable with technology, you haven’t seen anything yet. Generation Z, by contrast, will be uncomfortable without it. They played with smartphones and tablets in their cribs, and they can’t imagine a world before the internet. Leverage this to your advantage, and allow them to connect and communicate using their preferred resources.

Generation Z will be anxious.

These young people grew up in the early 2000’s, an era of economic uncertainty, stagnating wages, college debt, and an unreliable job market. They’re been pressured to “succeed” at all costs or face a life of dismal prospects, so their worldview may be slightly anxious and negative. If you encourage optimism and make them feel secure and appreciated, they’ll be more willing to take risks, grow, thrive, and contribute.

Let them make mistakes.

All young people and entry level employees should be encouraged to learn and bounce back from their mistakes, but for Generation Z, encouragement and coaching will have an extra impact. If you crack down on them for small mistakes, prepare to lose them quickly. But if you help and guide them with an eye on the long term future, you’ll benefit and so will they.

Help them make decisions.

Generation Z will face an unprecedented variety of options as they map out their careers, so if you can help them assess their strengths, choose a path, or pursue a certain branch of the industry, they’ll appreciate your input. If they stay with your company for several years, your investment and interest will pay off.

Be patient, generous, and optimistic.

If you treat members of Generation Z as the valuable future assets that they are, they’ll be far more likely to treat you and your company with the respect you deserve. Help them make the transition into the adult working world and they’ll apply the full force of their youth, energy, and enthusiasm to your enterprise.

For more on how to cultivate and retain the youngest members of the workforce, contact the Cleveland County staffing experts at PSU.

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Reasons Your New Employee Will Fail

August 19th, 2016

After years in the business, experienced managers have had plenty of opportunities to watch promising candidates make the transition from hopeful applicant to full-fledged employee. And as these seasoned managers know, some applicants make the transition better than others. Even with the best screening techniques available, most candidates are still wild cards; once you bring them on board, their ability to thrive may be partially based on skill, but it may also be influenced by luck, cultural alignment, outside events, communication, and personal chemistry. Here are a few of the reasons why seemingly perfect candidates might struggle after they step in the door.

They misunderstood the job and its expectations.

Some candidates happily accept a position because they believe (and have been told) that the position will leverage their interests and skill sets. But sometimes this expectation just doesn’t pan out. Marketing pros, for example, may expect to spend their days analyzing customer data and planning product rollouts. But if the company is on the smaller side and the positon requires many hats, some of the hats may not fit. As a result, a marketing expert may have to spend her days engaged in sales, or clerical tasks, or leadership and administrative responsibilities that don’t suit her talents or career goals.

The onboarding process was a flop.

The first five days of a new position can make or break a candidate’s success. If things don’t go well, it can be hard to recover that lost footing. For example, if the candidate isn’t welcomed, supported, or trained properly, a sour first impression on both sides can leave a lasting impact.

The candidate overreached.

Some candidates have a natural talent for selling themselves, or convincingly demonstrating skills and abilities they don’t actually have. Usually this works out for both parties in the end; the overconfident candidate falls into deep water, but learns to swim quickly. On the other hand, this scenario can also lead to disaster. Underqualified candidates who can’t swim tend to sink, and they can take teams and projects down with them in a whirlpool of miscommunication and unrealistic expectations.

The candidate wasn’t provided with essential information.

Talented, highly skilled experts can still struggle if they aren’t provided with all the information and training the need. Before you let a “failed” hire walk out the door, make sure you’ve done everything you can to help them find their footing and gain the tools they need for success. Don’t give up on a seemingly excellent candidate for at least one year. Use that time to straighten out communication kinks and connect the candidate with appropriate resources and mentors.

For more on how to remove expensive errors and missteps from your hiring process, contact the Cleveland County staffing experts at PSU.

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Preparedness: A Candidate’s Secret Weapon on the Job Hunt

July 8th, 2016

You’ve shoehorned hours of job search time into your already busy day. And you’ve been fielding calls with recruiters and network contacts all day long. Now it’s time to check out and leave the job search alone for another day—maybe a couple of days—while you redirect your focus to other responsibilities. Nothing can go off the rails while your attention is diverted for a little while, right?

Wrong. Once you start your job search, you flip a switch that stays on all day, every day, until you land your next position. Even when you’re asleep, your online profiles are still visible, and your voicemail message, email address, and public persona are still awake and active. The job search process is an adventure, and as with any adventure, from the moment you sign on, anything can happen at any time. Here are a few ways to make sure you’re ready.

Keep your messages tight.

You can’t control when potential leads, employers, recruiters and network contacts will reach out to you. So record a professional, friendly voice message that tells callers who you are and what you’re about, no matter why they’re calling. While you’re at it, adjust your phone habits. Instead of ignoring numbers you don’t recognize, train yourself to answer. And never answer the phone with a rude, sleepy, inarticulate single syllable. Practice these words: “Hello, (insert your name) speaking.”

Check your email.

Make sure your email address looks professional and serious, and if it doesn’t, get a new one. Check your messages at least two or three times per day during your search, and review your spam folder as well. If you check your spam folder very rarely—or not at all—don’t be surprised to discover that your dream employer tried to contact you six months ago.

Keep your schedule flexible.

Prioritize your job search, even if it means putting some other aspects of your busy life on a temporary hold. If an employer can only meet with you during a time slot in which you’ve scheduled a dental cleaning, a date with your spouse, or a casual get together with friends, don’t hem and haw. Just reschedule your date. Your spouse, friends and dentist will still be there later. Your potential employer probably won’t.

Keep your resume updated and on hand.

Once you’ve edited and polished your resume, be ready to send it off at a moment’s notice. This may mean buying an app that can help you send documents on the go, or it may mean creating business cards that direct readers to the blog or website where your resume is posted and available.
For more on how to keep your job search active, even when you’re not, reach out to the Charlotte career management team at PSU.

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Generation Y in Today’s Workplace

May 19th, 2016

There’s no getting around it: Millennials are integral to the modern workplace, and with each year that passes, more members of the generation born after 1980 flood into the offices and factories of the adult world. This much-maligned and much-celebrated generation is getting older, for sure; the first are now entering their late 30s. But new arrivals are constantly appearing, and “digital natives” and the children of helicopter parents are now the new normal in most workplaces.

So if you’re managing a team of millennials, what can you do to keep them happy and productive? Keep these considerations in mind.

Know what they want and need.

In order to keep your employees onboard and reward your top performers, you’ll have to provide the basic compensation they need and the special bonuses they’re willing to reach for. Which means you’ll have to find out what these things are. The best method is to ask them. But if you’re managing a large team, some broad strokes and general assumptions can help. For example, members of this generation tend to value time as much as (or even more than) money. So consider providing schedule flexibility and more time off for high performers.

Let them connect to the company network.

Millennials typically come with devices, since they were born with cell phones and tablets in their hands. Allow them to connect their devices to the company network, and set clear boundaries and rules regarding connectivity and response times. For example, do you expect them to close down or stay connected during weekends and vacations?

Push them a little.

Millennial employees are not known for their willingness to step outside of their comfort zones. Since the dawn of time, workers in their 20s have always been optimistic, ambitious, long on idealism and short on experience. In earlier generations, this often made them bold (sometimes even foolish) risk takers and cheerful mistake makers. But modern millennials are historically concerned about messing up and incurring the disapproval of their supervisors, so take this into account. Give them room to stumble, fail and grow. If you crowd them too much, they’re not likely to push back. But if you nudge them toward independence, they may astonish you with their youthful and innovative decisions and ideas.

For more on how to work with millennials and encourage them to thrive under your supervision, reach out to the Belmont staffing team at PSU.

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Five Benefits of Temporary Employment

March 25th, 2016

If you’re looking for work and your job search is starting to tax your patience and overstay its welcome, it might be time to make some adjustments to your strategy. While you lean on your network, scour job boards, and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, consider adding a new angle to your approach: temporary employment. Taking on a temp job while you search for a permanent position can provide some benefits you may not have considered.

A temp job pays the bills…and more.

A temp job might seem like a distraction or diversion from your long term career path, but take a closer look. If you’re able to pay the bills while you search, you’ll gain a little more freedom and flexibility, and you’ll put some distance between yourself and the kind of desperation that pushes us to accept compromise. Holding a temp job means you aren’t forced or rushed and you can say no to any offer that doesn’t meet your standards.

Temp jobs aren’t what they used to be.

If the phrase “temp” makes you think of college kids filing papers for minimum wage or filling out a typing pool, think again. Modern temp jobs often involve very specific skill sets related to coding, programming, design, engineering, management, and a host of other complex credentials that may be a match for your profile. Temporary paychecks may also exceed your expectations.

Temp jobs often become full time.

When you accept a temporary position, you expose yourself to new relationships, new experiences, new business models and new skill sets. And you never know where these new experiences may take you. If you and your employer decide to advance your relationship to the next level, you can move into a full time role as soon as your contract period ends.

Temp jobs bring low commitment and low risk.

If you step into a temporary role and you decide that this gig isn’t for you, have a conversation with your staffing agency contact and we’ll shift you to a new employer. It’s just that easy. The agency will provide the company with a replacement and transfer you to a new assignment.

Temp jobs bring knowledge and growth.

No matter who you meet or what responsibilities you take on during your temporary assignment, you’ll come away from the experience knowing more about your industry than you did when you began. You’ll have new personal connections in your network and you’ll have new details to add to your resume. Close the gap between the end of your last position and the beginning of your next full time job, and you’ll be more likely to earn the trust of potential employers.

For more on how to keep your career in motion with a temporary position, contact the experienced Belmont staffing team at PSU.

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Want to Cut Your Hiring Costs? Streamline the Process with a Staffing Partner

March 18th, 2016

Hiring is expensive; there’s not much argument on this point. Even if your workflows are tightly streamlined and your sourcing and selection practices are lean and perfectly coordinated, and even if you never experience a single HR bottleneck, you still take on a certain degree of risk every time you staff an open position. Meeting with a pool of candidates can take time, and there are a few things more expensive and heartbreaking then finding the candidate of your dreams and watching them walk out the door a few months later.

But if you partner with a trusted staffing agency, you can reduce your risk and cut your hiring costs at the same time. Here’s how.

Sourcing

Here at PSU, our staffing experts have a long track record of hiring success and a wide network of contacts in your industry. So we know where to find the best candidates, and we know how to attract and recruit the highest level of talent. In fact, your ideal candidate may be sitting in our office right now. We go right to the source when we search for talented experts in IT, healthcare, finance, hospitality, retail, and manufacturing.

Screening

When we present you with a candidate for a full-time, part-time, or temporary position, you can trust that we’ve done some homework first. Our screening process allows us to narrow the focus and target only the most likely contenders with backgrounds that match your specifications.

Risk Management

When you launch a relationship with a temporary employee, you don’t have to worry about long term commitment; if the two of you form a thriving connection and decide to make things permanent, you can hire the employee as soon as his or her contract period ends. If the match doesn’t work, that’s fine. We’ll provide a replacement right away. We employ the candidate during the contract period, so we take on both the paperwork and the risk.

Listening Skills

Put your trust in our team and we’ll listen carefully to every detail regarding your needs, your business model, your target clients, your growth plans, and—most important—your staffing expectations. We’ll find the candidates you’re looking for and we’ll stay alert to your concerns and red flags. We’ll incorporate every detail into our sourcing and prescreening process.

Hiring Costs

When it comes to tax reporting, insurance, and HR details, we take care of the nuts and bolts so you don’t have to. This can help you cut costs and save time. Let us handle the staffing details while you keep your attention focused on running your business.

To find out more about the benefits of a staffing partnership, turn to the experts at PSU. Contact our experienced Charlotte recruiters today!

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Is Friendly Competition Good for the Workplace?

March 4th, 2016

As manager, you’re constantly looking for ways to get more out of your employees without taxing your bottom line or pushing your teams past the limits of a healthy work-life balance. You want your teams to strive for excellence, and you want them to give 110 percent. But at the same time, you’ve been in this game long enough to recognize a point of diminishing returns; if you demand too much, your teams will push back, morale will suffer, turnover will increase, relationships and teamwork will fray, and ultimately the company will pay the price.

So when it comes to healthy competition, where do you draw the line? Should you encourage your teams to compete with each other for your approval? Or should you encourage collaboration? Use these guidelines to make your decision.

Situations vary.

Sometimes it’s better to push your employees into a cage match, and sometimes it’s better to discourage competition altogether. As with most workplace guidelines, success lies somewhere in the balance. Learn to distinguish the nuances that call for one approach or the other; and above all, stay fluid. Don’t let your approach– or your attitude toward competition– become entirely predictable.

Lean toward collaboration.

If you encourage too much collaboration in one scenario, you may have to make some difficult adjustments later on to bring out the competitive side in your teams. But the reverse scenario is generally harder. Turning friends against each other is easier then mending friendships that have been tarnished.

Push for external, not internal competition.

Build a culture of teamwork and collaboration, and if you feel like your employees need to hone their killer instincts, pit them against a competitor company, a competing market, a sales headwind, or a specific external challenge. Try not to turn them against each other unless you feel that you have to, or you’re certain that the cost and risk will be worth the long term reward. Again, it’s easy to bounce back from too much congeniality. It’s not easy to bounce back from too little.

Watch the line.

There are very few situations in which genuine distrust, backstabbing, upstaging, undermining, solitary all-nighters, and idea stealing are good for business. If you want your employees to outcompete each other, make sure they know the difference between healthy and unhealthy maneuvering. If they don’t, use your leadership skills to help them hit reset.

Choose team over individual competition.

If you’d like to encourage internal jockeying, consider dividing your employees into teams instead of individual players. Teamwork tends to bring out the best of both collaboration and competition.

For more on how to build productivity, confidence, trust and morale, turn to the Shelby management and staffing experts at PSU.

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