Keep Your Employees Focused During the Summer Months

July 13th, 2012

The long days, warm sun, and blue skies of the summer season may bring in a tide of relaxed attitudes and an atmosphere of general well-being. But this season, as all experienced managers know, can be very hard on productivity. Happy workers are not always as diligent and focused as we’d like. This doesn’t mean we need to stem the tide of positive energy and crack down on wandering minds and “mental health days.” We just need to find a way to turn this lazy hazy vibe to our advantage. Here are a few tips that can help managers keep project goals on track when vacation season sets in.

Maintaining Productivity During the Summer: Considerations

1. Stay on top of vacation scheduling. The vast majority of vacation, leave time, and PTO hours are requested between the months of May and September. So make sure that you implement policies requiring plenty of notice when employees schedule multi-day vacations, and make sure you avoid excessive overlap.

2. Don’t crack down. Find a way to keep the dress code in effect and keep vacation requests organized without coming off as frantic or over-aggressive. If you need to issue a reprimand for Monday morning lateness or inappropriate footwear, do so privately, and don’t send out an angry, company-wide reminder. Keep your memos and messages restrained and respectful.

3.  Acknowledge the pull of human nature. If employees are taking excessive lunches, rein in the offenders (again, privately), and offer an extended lunch break once a week for a group powerwalk or pizza delivery. 

4. Show appreciation for the employees who stay noticeably focused. If you have a few steady team members who are never late and always judicious with leave time and project deadlines, reward them with gift certificates or choice parking. Engage competitive instincts by launching contests with prizes. Even a little extra verbal praise for your hardest workers can go a long way.

5. Instead of fighting the season, celebrate it with predetermined concessions to summer brain drain. Schedule a session of Friday afternoon mini golf, for example. Or offer a surprise Wednesday ice cream-run lasting no longer than an hour. Implement casual Fridays if you don’t offer them already. Organize themes like Hawaiian shirt day or funny hat day. This will help you acknowledge the need for summer fun while containing the potential fallout.

Still need help corralling wandering minds this season? The Des Moines, IA staffing experts at the Palmer Group have plenty of ideas. Reach out today and let us answer your HR and management questions.

Shaping Your Talent Management Strategy: Stop Bossing, Start Teaching!

May 11th, 2012

Just like cultures and attitudes, broad approaches to staffing and retention tend to evolve over time. Regardless of the industry, employees’ personal values tend to shift in accordance with the shifting values of a larger culture. And the classic characteristics of an effective manager twenty years ago are unlikely to lead to success in today’s workplace.

So if you’re an HR pro or a department manager, what does this mean for your staffing and retention methods? Are you holding on to outdated management approaches and missing opportunities to make the most of your talented team? Consider the following differences between modern and outdated management styles.

Effective Management Styles: The End of No and the Beginning of Yes

In today’s fast-paced, global, relationship-and-technology-driven world, companies are more likely to find success if their employees are innovators, risk takers, and collaborators. In the old model, bosses did well when their employees were obedient and followed orders quietly, and rigid hierarchies kept things moving while maintaining the status quo. But companies who still cling to those ideals and those fearful workplace cultures are stalling out and falling behind. They’re being surpassed by teams of engaged workers who aren’t afraid to speak up. When employees contribute and invest in the big picture, everybody wins. But they only tend to do this when they feel comfortable taking risks. Think about this the next time you close your office door, say no, or find yourself freezing out an employee to keep him or her in line.

Effective Management Styles: From Bossing To Teaching

Retention and talent management are no longer about giving and receiving orders. They’re about giving and receiving information and sharing the wisdom of experience. Employees thrive when they learn from the things you know. They don’t thrive as much when they’re simply executing your instructions.

Effective Management Styles: From Know-It-All to Fellow Learner

Instead of answering the next question from one of your talented employees, trying offering another question. Encourage the employee to work her way toward a solution on her own. For example, if an employee asks you if she should choose this course of action or another one, help her account for the pros and cons of both, but allow her to arrive at a decision—and accept responsibility for the decision—by herself.

If you encourage employees to take risks and propose solutions on their own, you’ll have to be prepared to back them up when they make mistakes. This may come at a small cost, but the benefits will far outweigh these costs as your employees learn to understand and contribute to the business as a whole. As a general trend, agency, ownership and engagement are replacing obedience and risk-aversion. Make the most of this trend and you’ll get more out of your most valuable form of capital.

Do you need help moving your talent strategy into the modern world? Find the answers you’re looking for by r

eaching out to the experts at The Palmer Group.