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Addressing anti-social high performing employees

Last week, we touched on how to deal with high performing employees who lack social skills. Here is an in depth look at the strategies employed.

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high performance employees

high performing employees

High performing employees come with challenges

How do you instill social skills in an adult? How do you balance protecting your company culture and retaining your high performers? When is a lack of interpersonal skills a fireable offense? These questions and many more were at the core of my proposal put forth to my client caught in the crux of dealing with interpersonal skills lacking high performers, as outlined here last week. The most successful of implemented strategies are documented below.

Strategy one: displaying company culture

As stated in part one of this series on high performance employees that lack social skills, “First, their lack of interpersonal skills displayed as rudeness was unintentional. They had no idea their colleagues and manager felt that way. Nor did they realize how they were being perceived.

The first step here was to have these high performers meet one on one with their manager. Said manager outlined what was going well, what wasn’t going well, and offered steps to improve. The “sandwich method” (or good news – bad news – good news, as I’ve also heard it called) proved beneficial; although it did bring one high performer to tears.  

It became evident almost immediately that a fear of failure coupled by a sense of invincibility led these high performers to believe they had done no wrong because the measurable metrics were met. Once the manager explained how the high performer had missed the mark (by citing clearly documented incidents) and re-emphasized the culture in which they worked, the high performers had a better framework to work within.  

One tangible thing I had this business owner do was display posters and other constant reminders made of what the company stood for. He had badge tags made that stated the company valued teamwork, respect for others and collaboration, among other things. Once these high performers knew they were expected to uphold all of the core tenets, there was a noticeable change in employee interaction. Over the next fiscal year, this employer will work to include a soft skills metric in the employee evaluations offered each year.

Strategy two: get team members on the same page

“Second, there was a communication problem. Clear and precise roles and responsibilities were never developed and disseminated. So the toes stepped on was due to a result of a lack of structure.”

Of all the steps taken, this one by far had the most impact. Once it became clear that roles and responsibilities were never outlined (properly, or at all in most cases), I suggested leadership take a few days to draft process flows of key workflows. You don’t need Visio to draft a workflow – a dry erase board will suffice. Once the key people were in place, each functional unit outlined the proper sequential steps of the workflow, even documenting service delivery times, ideal scenarios, and stopgap measures to ensure efficiency during this transition from lack of structure to structure.

Once these workflows were vetted, they were published on the company’s intranet site and disseminated to all employees. This not only ensured everyone was on the same page, but also helped make all the team members feel included. Getting buy-in is a surefire way to enlist your employees to follow the vision you cast.

Strategy three: quarterly planning sessions

“Lastly, these high performing employees exist because of their ability to reach goals and exceed expectations, however, most of them are inflexible and rigidly hold to ideas or methods that don’t suit the workplace culture. As such, they stick out like uncooperative oddballs. Once we had a framework around where the problem areas were, we were able to move ahead in a mutually beneficial way.”

With this particular client, there was a disconnect between how truly agile and flexible leadership was and how the teams executed the vision. As unconventional as it may seem, I encouraged management to include the other levels of the hierarchy in quarterly planning sessions. Instilling a sense of cooperation and teamwork was key, but more than that it is important that the worker bees saw how flexibility and innovation in the brainstorming and execution phases could garner success. This method works only if your company culture values flexibility and transparency. As of publication, there has been one such planning session conducted and so far, the response is positive.

The takeaway

Company culture has to be taught. In many cases, leading by example is one way to transfer that culture from management to employee. It’s important to balance your needs and wants as a leader. Set realistic goals and be transparent when it comes to your desired outcomes.

Monica Moffitt, founder and Principal Cultural Consultant at Tianfen Consulting, Inc., has traveled the world and enjoys linguistics and all things culture. Having split her career between project management and business analytics, Monica merges logic, fluency in Chinese and creativity in her new role as cultural consultant. She received a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies/Chinese from Vanderbilt University and a Master of Business Administration (International Management and Marketing) from University of Texas at Dallas.

Business Entrepreneur

15 tips to spot a toxic work environment when interviewing

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Interviewing can be tricky, but this new infographic will help you look for signs of toxicity before, during, and after the interview.

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Person in an interview

When we’re in the process of job hunting, we’re typically looking because we need a change, for multiple reasons. Any interview sparks hope. Because we’re sometimes so willing to make that change, we often put our blinders on in the hopes that whatever comes is the perfect opportunity for us.

With those blinders, however, it can be common to miss some red flags that tell you what you really need to know about the job you may be applying or interviewing for. Luckily, Resume.io is here to help.

They have developed 15 warning signs in their infographic: How to Spot a Toxic Work Environment Before You Take the Job. Let’s dive in and take a look at these.

First, the preparation before the interview. Red flags can shop up from the get-go. Here’s what to look out for before you even meet face-to-face (or over the phone/Zoom).

  1. Vague job description: If there is nothing substantial about the description of the job itself and only buzzwords like “team player,” be on alert.
  2. Negative Glassdoor reviews: These reviews on company culture are worth taking into account. If multiple people have a recurring issue, it’s something to be aware of.
  3. Arranging an interview is taking forever: If they keep you waiting, it’s typically a sign of disorganization. This may not always be the case, but pay attention to how they’re respecting you and your time.
  4. Your arrival comes as a surprise to them: Again, disorganization. This is also displaying a lack of communication in the company.
  5. The interview starts late: See the last sentence of #3. Not only are they disrespecting your time, but they’re displaying a lack of time management.

Now, for the high-pressure situation: During the interview. Here’s what you need to be keeping an eye on (while simultaneously listing your strengths and weaknesses, of course)

  1. Unpreparedness: If the interviewer is scattered and not prepared for your conversation, this may be a sign that they don’t fully understand the tasks and expectations for the job.
  2. Doesn’t get into your skill set: If they don’t ask about your skills, how can they know what you’re bringing to the table?
  3. Rudeness: If the interviewer is rude throughout the interview or is authoritative (either to you or to a panel who may be present,) be on alert. This is just a sign of what’s to come.
  4. Uncommunicative about company values: If it’s different from what’s on their website or they seem spacey about company values, this is a red flag.
  5. Your questions aren’t being answered: If they’re avoiding answering your questions, they may be hiding an aspect of the job – or the company – that they don’t want to reveal.

Finally, the waiting game. Once the interview is complete, here are some less-than-good things to be on the lookout for. Keep in mind that some of these may be hard to gauge seeing that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and many companies haven’t returned to their offices yet:

  1. Brief interview: If the interview was too short, they are either desperate or have already filled the position. Either way, bad.
  2. Quiet workplace: This may be a sign of a lack of teamwork or a tense environment.
  3. No tour: If you don’t get to see the office, again, they may be hiding something.
  4. Offer on the day of interview: Not giving you time to think may be a sign of desperation.
  5. Leaving you waiting: Again, if they leave you waiting on an answer like they did with scheduling, it’s a sign of disorganization and disrespect.

While one of these 15 things happening doesn’t necessarily mean the job is a bust, a few of these things happening may be an indicator to look elsewhere.

 

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Business Entrepreneur

This startup makes managing remote internships easier for all

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Internships during COVID are tough to manage for many employers, but Symba aims to present a unique solution.

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Internships could be becoming easier to facilitate remotely, wherever you are.

Internships are among the innumerable practices disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some might argue that the loss of the corporate version of hazing that defines many internships is not something to be mourned. But the fact remains that internships are crucial for both employers and employees. Fortunately, a company called Symba might have a solution: Remote internships.

It’s a simple, intuitive solution for the times. That’s why big-name industries like Robinhood and Genentech are turning to Symba for help in constructing their own digital internship platforms.

Symba is, in and of itself, akin to any employee management system. Prospective employees sign into their Symba account via the landing page of the company for whom they are interning, after which point they are able to review their workload for the day. They can also see communications, feedback, other profiles, group projects, and more; they can even access onboarding resources and tutorials for the company in case they get lost along the way.

The key difference between Symba and other management tools—such as Slack—is that Symba was built from the ground up to facilitate actionable experience for interns at little to no detriment to the company in question. This means that interns have a consistent onboarding, collaborative, and working experience across the board—regardless of which company they’re representing at the time.

Symba even has a five-star ranking system that allows employers to create and quantify areas of proficiency at their discretion. For example, if an intern’s roles include following up with clients via email or scheduling meetings, an employer could quickly create categories for these tasks and rate the intern’s work on the aforementioned scale. Interns are also able to ask for feedback if they aren’t receiving it.

While Symba doesn’t facilitate communications between interns, it does include Slack integration for the purposes of collaboration and correspondence as needed.

On the managerial side, employers can do everything from the previously mentioned rating to delegating tasks and reviewing reports. All data is saved in Symba’s interface so that employers have equal access to information that might inspire a hiring.

While it’s possible that Symba will struggle to maintain relevance during non-internship months, the fact remains that it is an exceptionally viable solution to an otherwise finicky problem during these trying times—and some employers may even find it viable enough to continue using it post-pandemic.

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Business Entrepreneur

Zen, please: Demand for mental health services surges during pandemic

(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) 2020 has been an exceptionally hard year for many on a mental front. How has COVID-19 changed the mental health landscape?

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Man leaning against tree, affected by mental health.

As the pandemic stretches on, it continues to affect everything from jobs to plastic bags, but one major shift has come with mental health. According to the National Council for Mental Health, while demand for mental health services is up 52%, the capacity of mental health organizations have actually diminished. So…what does this mean?

Mental health startups get a boost

From tele-health to mindfulness apps, venture capital investments for mental health startups have already surpassed what was earned in 2019. And it makes sense; as more people are isolated for long stretches of time, there has become a greater demand for digital mental wellness services.

With COVID-19 predicted to spike again in the coming months, combined with shorter spans of daylight and less welcoming weather, the desire for these sorts of businesses isn’t likely to fade. If you have an idea for a neat app or website to help with mental well-being in some way, now is prime time to release it.

Companies increase mental health options

As the pandemic rages on, many companies have started to partner with mental health solutions for their employees. For instance, Starbucks has started offering free therapy sessions to employees through the mental wellness provider Lyra, and Zoom began to offer mental health seminars.

Of course, while smaller companies might not have the means to provide specific therapy, many companies have gotten creative with how they’re looking out for employees’ mental and emotional well-being. From providing virtual meditation sessions, to increasing self-managed leave, to connecting employees through book clubs or happy hours, there are a variety of ways that any company can help employees manage their psyche during these difficult times.

Resources are more accessible

Although therapy and similar apps do cost money (many apps include a monthly fee for the services provided), there are plenty of low cost alternatives available for those having a hard time. For example, many sites are offering free trials to services. There are also plenty of free or low-cost apps available to help you do anything from track your moods to manage your breathing. Or check out YouTube for videos to help with yoga or meditation.

While these resources are not a replacement for medication or talk therapy, they can help mediate some of the increased strain on our mental state that many of us are feeling right now.

In case of an emergency, there is also the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available by phone call or chat 24 hours a day. If you or someone you know is struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

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