Situation: A company recently hired two employees. In their first weeks of work, they were observed using company computers, on company time, to do personal work – in one case to monitor a personal web-based business. What is the best way to communicate company policy to these individuals?
Advice from the CEOs:
Everything starts with the orientation on the first day of employment and the atmosphere established in the first weeks of work.
Particularly in a small company, new employees should meet with the CEO whose job it is to describe the culture of the company, the vision for the future and broad expectations of the role and contributions expected from employees.
Matters concerning personal work on company time and with company equipment should be clearly addressed in the employee handbook. Key points should be reviewed by a representative of upper level management, along with a conversation to assure that these key points are clearly understood.
Particularly during the initial weeks of work, new employees should have frequent meetings with their immediate supervisors to assure that they have the resources they need, that any questions they have about their work are addressed, and that they are performing to company and role expectations.
Given what has been observed, you, as CEO, should definitely speak to them about the behavior observed, and give them the opportunity to explain what is happening.
Clarify expectations of all employees, and ask whether these individuals understand these expectations.
Document the meeting. If the behavior continues, take action.
What is being done by other employees, and is there a broader issue to be addressed? Are other employees behaving similarly? If so, the new employees may just be responding to what they perceive as allowable behavior within the company.
Start with a company meeting or a letter to all employees. Highlight relevant passages from the employee handbook, and speak in terms not only of company culture but of the destructive impact that this behavior has on company performance and viability. The future of everyone in the company is tied to company performance and success.
Key Words: Leadership, Team, Expectations, Personal Work, Company Time, Policy, Orientation, Culture, Expectations, Employee, Handbook, Evaluation Period, Supervision, Documentation
Situation: Employee pools are now multi-generational, with Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y and Echo-Boomers. Each group may have different expectations for work environments and careers. How do you connect with different generations? How have you set up mentoring programs?
Advice from the CEOs:
People may be of different generations, but they are still individuals. Ask what drives or motivates them, and what they would consider an ideal reward for hard work.
Some companies offer a sabbatical after several years of employment – the opportunity to work on hobbies, go on an adventure or use the time as they wish. This attracts employees and encourages retention.
Some employees don’t seek promotion but are good contributors. They may prefer an extra week of vacation over a promotion.
One company gives employees budgets to spruce up their work space – allowing them some control over their work environment.
What are good tips on working with younger employees?
Coach them to communicate thoughtfully and carefully – instead of shooting from the hip without considering impact or consequences. Younger managers may find that they need more patience communicating expectations to older staff.
Establish individualized performance metrics and enable them to monitor progress on their computers.
Bring them into the process; don’t tell them to wait. Let them start as an observer. Listen when they have questions or suggestions. Ask their opinion.
Break down job tiers into additional levels with more achievement incentives. Allow them to reset expectations frequently.
Key Words: Multi-generational, Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y, Echo-Boomer, Expectations, Environment, Career, Mentor, Motivation, Reward, Sabbatical, Incentive, Communication, Performance, Expectations
Situation: As they have grown, the Company has used Bay Area talent to seed new locations around the country. Leadership is now short at headquarters. What have others done to fill leadership gaps?
Advice from the CEOs:
Develop a formal Leadership Development Program.
Identify the top leadership candidates with the company – the top 10%.
Identify their individual goals and determine whether these are consistent with company values.
Clearly communicate the roles and expectations that you have for future company leaders – both the upsides and the sacrifices that you anticipate that they will have to make.
Team the leadership candidates 1/1 with mentors to guide them.
Consider an “internal” Board of Directors for developing leaders. Members are considered advisors to the true Board of Directors, understand company strategy, are coached on company values, and are involved in an advisory capacity in key company decisions.
Consider a leadership “boot camp” program to groom potential leaders and weed out those who like the idea of leadership more than the reality.
From the standpoint of a very hierarchical company, the following items are involved:
Defining the traits for key positions
Identifying candidates who appear to possess these traits
Assigning leadership roles to these individuals in executing the annual strategic plan – with senior managers mentoring leaders-in-training
Include training and development in professional development plans
Investigate employee assessment tools, for example the Myers-Briggs tools.
Situation: An early stage company will staff-up over the next year. In the past the CEO has recruited individuals with big company experience and solid resumes, only to find that they had difficulty transitioning to the hands-on responsibility of a small company. How do you find candidates who are highly experienced but who can also excel in a small company environment?
Advice from the CEOs:
The best candidates are not in the job-search pool. They are currently working but open to a change. Some will wish to return to a more hands-on situation.
Let people know that you are looking for “the best” and have a great opportunity. Create some buzz.
Go to your network ask “who do you know?” Don’t be shy!
Look for achievers – with proven performance in companies of the size that you plan to be in 12-18 months. Check their references carefully.
What can we do now, while we seek the right people?
Use contractors and consultants. These people are more entrepreneurial, self-starting, and self-accountable. Monitor their work. If they are good, add them to your team as permanent employees.
Develop a milestone-based personnel plan as part of your business plan:
When we hit Milestone A, we will need an operations manager.
When we hit Milestone B, we will need channel or market development expertise.
Conduct case studies of how other companies in your or similar spaces have facilitated their scale-ups. What worked? What didn’t? Why?
Situation: I recently hired a new high level manager. To integrate the individual into the company the original set of assignments was limited in scope – to help the manager get to know others within the company. This manager seems to over-analyze things. Long hours are spent carefully drafting plans but there is little action. Did I select the right person, and how do I manage them without micromanaging?
Advice from the CEOs:
It looks like this person is working long hours but not necessarily productive hours. This is costing you time and money – both yours and your employees. The question is whether the root cause is the individual’s behavior or your own expectations and behavior.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Have you clearly outlined your expectations in terms of what is to be delivered, the time in which it is to be delivered, and any constraints around the projects for which this person is responsible?
Have you provided necessary resources, and empowered the individual to make the decisions necessary to bring projects to completion?
Have you scheduled regular update meetings with this individual and openly discussed project progress and obstacles to completion?
Have you set appropriate expectations with your other staff as to the authority of the new individual, and are you honoring those expectations in your own behavior?
If you have done these things, and the individual is not performing, then it is time to ask whether you hired the right person.
Key Words: Manager Performance, Objectives, Expectations, Delegation, Planning and Review