1. How Do We Acquire Contagious Leaders?

    August 9, 2015 by ahmed


    Originally posted on Work Force by Alan Preston


    How do we recruit (or groom) “contagious” leaders – people who spread their skills and develop more leaders? I know it won’t be easy, but give me some idea how to go about establishing this type of leadership culture.


    Recruiting and grooming people who will perpetuate a contagious leadership culture must start with support from the C-suite. First and foremost, senior leadership will need to prioritize this effort and supply the financial resources necessary. But money isn’t the only driving factor: What’s most important is providing leadership by example.

    To spread the types of leadership behaviors you desire, there must be a visible demonstration of this commitment at all levels. A mentoring program, for example, is a great way to demonstrate what you value, so that’s where you should begin.

    Start by selecting a small group of leaders who exemplify the behaviors you want to replicate, along with a member of your senior management team to serve as the sponsor. Generally speaking, you’re looking for extroverts with strong communication skills and genuine enthusiasm for leadership development in themselves and others.

    Be specific when you tell this team what their mission is, how they can contribute, and what the payoff will be. Everyone is doing more with less these days, so it’s important to remember that even the most dedicated among us are not likely to carve out time for activities that bring no reward. But for many, the reward is simply the recognition for doing something important and the opportunity to contribute at a higher level.

    Mentoring can be formal and structured or informal and loose, but it must happen with regularity. Leaders who volunteer to be mentors should be responsible for making it happen and for talking up their efforts around the company. Additionally, your corporate communications team or HR should publicize your mentoring program and include supportive comments from senior leadership. What’s important to the C-suite will become important to everyone else.

    Mentoring that fits your company culture and is publicized properly will go a long way toward demonstrating what you value. But even a strong program is not enough by itself to transform your organizational culture. In addition, you’ll want to build leadership performance, evangelism and the development of others into performance appraisals. Nothing gets attention more than objectives that have an impact on salary at review time.

    After institutionalizing expectations around contagious leadership, you’ll want to recognize and reward it. It can be quite inspiring for leaders and individual contributors alike to see others get recognized for their successful contributions to company culture. We tend to emulate those who are successful, and often people will look to those who are recognized as the examples they should follow.

    As we know, actions speak louder than words. By dedicating time, resources, recognition and senior leadership involvement, you will create a contagious leadership culture and propel your organization toward higher performance all around.

  2. Talking to Their Generation

    July 22, 2015 by ahmed


    Originally posted on Talent Management by Halley Bock

    Generation Y, or those born roughly between 1980 and 2000, has earned a strident reputation in recent years in corporate America.

    These smartphone touting, hoodie-wearing workers, also known as millennials, don’t like the traditional formal dress code, prefer collaborative open-plan offices and have more than one way to message their thoughts on a project — regardless of rank or pecking order — through a number of technology devices they maintain.

    Indeed, communicating with this generation of workers, projected to make up nearly half the workforce by 2020, is no easy feat. This effort is made more complicated as millennials today represent just one of four generations still in the workforce.

    Here are three strategies talent managers should keep in mind when communicating with millennials.


    As Dianna Kokoszka, CEO of Keller Williams MAPS coaching, a division of Keller Williams Realty Inc., said, “Millennials grew up with the microwave and the Internet. In their world, whoever implements the fastest wins.” In other words, this generation is used to instant gratification in every facet of their lives — and their jobs are no exception.

    This is illustrated as video clips become shorter, and learning and development content is now expected to come in “bite-size” chunks.

    And while there will always be endeavors that remain worthy of a deep dive, organizations can find plenty of opportunities to shorten or quicken the communication cycles, no matter the forum.

    For Keller Williams, the challenge was particularly important as it recognized that while it needed to adjust its classroom timelines, it wasn’t willing to sacrifice the integrity of its training. The company’s fix was to shift courses that previously required multiple days of immersive classroom time to a once-a-week shorter day over the course of seven weeks.

    Employees are now able to learn a new skill and incorporate it into their day-to-day and come back to add another layer to their learning, while still maintaining the depth and breadth of the training.

    Kokoszka said she also offers staff daily “power ups” in the form of a two- to three-minute video delivered over Keller Williams’ own internal app. Employees receive a tip, a new idea or motivational message that they can apply to their business.


    In an ever-changing world, it only makes sense that adaptability is a crucial skill for any organization. Many millennials aren’t content simply climbing the corporate ladder. Instead, they want to explore the entire lattice, participating in a company’s growth by extending their skill sets beyond a single discipline.

    This can be frustrating for some employees that value structure and the historical way of doing things. Extra training around understanding new ways of thinking is essential when generations begin to butt heads.

    Law firm Perkins Coie offers a 90-minute presentation on generations that specifically focuses on how many generational values actually align with one another so as to create unity among differing age groups.

    And when viewpoints may be at odds with one another, Traci Laurie, director of staff training and development at the firm, said she offers tools on how to navigate those situations.

    “When an idea is presented and someone from another generation doesn’t like the idea, we have to ask ourselves ‘Why does this idea upset me?’ ” Laurie said. “If the answer isn’t good, the reason is only around protocol or because our pride is hurt, then we need to challenge ourselves.”

    As a result of giving their employees the communication tools to tackle these issues, Perkins Coie has been able to open up new career tracks for employees who aren’t interested in the traditional partner track, equating to longer tenured employees and higher engagement stats.


    Studies show that communication is a top need for millennials. Whether it’s receiving immediate feedback, having regular one-on-ones or learning from others across an organization, millennials would prefer a constant, ongoing dialogue between themselves and their employers.

    Keller Williams encourages its millennials to take part in its “Young Professionals Group,” a leadership program designed for its younger workforce.

    Some of the most influential components of the program are the video interviews done with those of the older generation and, therefore, likely to be in higher leadership positions.

    The members of YP place incredible value on learning from those that have been in the industry and understand its intricacies.

    Laurie said she has found that while some may view millennials as wanting to short circuit process for the mere sake of advancing quickly, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In her organization, she said she has seen a marked increase in requests for more supervision, as millennials desire constant feedback and more frequent performance conversations.

    Constant communication is essential to ensure they feel connected with not only their own career growth and trajectory, but also feeling deeply connected to their organization and its impact on the world around them.

    The influx of millennials into the workforce is no doubt presenting new challenges for talent managers as the style, frequency and delivery of any and all communication begin to shift in very specific ways.

    Organizations that can respond in meaningful ways that speak to this generation will find that these needs aren’t requiring large overhauls or new groundbreaking strategies to what already exists.

    Rather, with a few simple tweaks, companies can seamlessly slip into the new cadence of corporate conversations.

  3. The One Interview Question Most People Are Not Prepared For!

    June 24, 2015 by ahmed


    Originally posted on Linkedin by Bernard Marr

    Any job hunter would be wise to seek out common interview questions and think about his answers beforehand, but what about the questions that haven’t made it onto the lists yet?

    One question I’ve heard asked is some variation of, “Tell me something I wouldn’t know from looking at your CV,” or “Tell me something no one else knows about you.”

    This question seems to be becoming increasingly common, but it’s still not one that job applicants are routinely preparing for. That means it’s a good place for you to shine.

    What is the recruiter looking for?

    Of course, I can’t say exactly what any specific recruiter is looking for when she asks a question like this, but I can give you some possible ideas. She might be looking to see:

    1. How do you organize your thoughts? If you’re telling an anecdote or story, is it well thought out and well told? Do you connect topics and events linearly, or jump all around?
    2. Can you think on your feet? Because this is a less common question, the interviewer may be trying to get you away from canned, rehearsed answers and see if they can get a glimpse of the real you.
    3. What do you consider most important for the interviewer to know? What comes out as an answer to this question could say a lot about you. Do you tell a story about your philanthropy and charity work, or about your many awards and accolades, or about family and hobbies?
    4. Are you able to relate the story back to the job? It’s a nice indication of higher-level thinking if you can tell a personal story but relate the points about you back to why you would be a good candidate for the job.
    5. Are you saying anything you shouldn’t? This isn’t to say that interviewers are trying to trip you up, but they will always be listening for things you shouldn’t reveal about current or former employers, or anything personal that might make them question your qualifications for the job.

    Remember, their job is to find the best candidate, so it makes sense that they want to move you away from more rehearsed speeches into more authentic territory – even if that authentic territory doesn’t put you in the best light.

    How to prepare for this question.

    As with all interview questions, it’s important to think about how you might answer, but don’t compose your answer and memorize it word for word – any savvy interviewer will be able to tell.

    Since this is an open-ended question, your answer is an opportunity for you to highlight aspects of your qualifications, history, or skills that might not be immediately noticeable in your resume.

      • Keep your core strengths in mind. Go into every interview with a good idea of the core strengths you would bring to the job, and then take the chance to highlight those skills with your answer. For example, if you want to emphasize your organizational skills in a particular interview, you might tell a story of how you organized an elaborate fundraiser at your child’s school, or how you were the president of a particular club at university.
      • Think about intangible strengths and soft skills. Your resume should highlight achievements and metrics, but this is your opportunity to highlight your best soft skills. If, for example, your resume says you exceeded your sales goals by a certain percent, you could elaborate by explaining that you were able to do that because of your excellent people skills or your dedication to following up with your leads.
      • Share something personal. If the question comes towards the end of the interview, and you feel you’ve already been able to make your case for your job skills, you might choose to highlight something from your personal life that reflects well on your character. Consider sharing only personal things that are universally accepted as positive, like being an avid chess player or enjoying mountain climbing, rather than anything that could be considered controversial, like volunteering with a political cause or being involved in a counterculture.
      • Explain why you want the job. This is a great place in the interview to explain why you are particularly passionate about the job. If something in the job description excited you or any personal connection for the field. For example, I knew a young woman who was practically falling out of her chair to apply for a marketing position with a Parkinson’s charity because of the work they had done to help her father. This kind of personal connection can demonstrate that you would bring extra passion and energy to the position.

    Figuring out how to answer these more open-ended and personal questions is like solving a riddle; the answer should show how you fit into this new job opportunity. As important as it is to think about these questions before you go into the interview, it’s equally important that your answers sound friendly and conversational, not memorized and rehearsed.

    In the end, you should feel glad if you get one of these questions in an interview, because they afford you the opportunity to be your real self and highlight any of your best qualities that don’t fit into the resume template.

    Have you had this question put to you in an interview? How did you respond? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

  4. Want a Loyal Team? Choose Kindness Over Toughness

    June 11, 2015 by ahmed


    Originally posted on Linkedin by Daniel Goleman

    Say one of your direct reports “blows it” in some way – maybe does something dumb that loses a sale, or alienates a client or colleague – and you get upset.

    How you handle that moment makes a huge difference for you, your employee – and your very ability to manage.

    You can either come down hard, reprimanding or punishing the person. Or you can use the mistake as a learning opportunity. This doesn’t mean you accept or condone the screw-up. You can say what was wrong and why it matters for the business, and add how that might have been handled differently.

    If you do this without losing it yourself, it boosts an employee’s loyalty to you enormously – and he or she just might learn something about doing better next time around. It’s even better if you can deliver your reaction with a supportive tone, not a judgmental one.

    Bonus: any other employees who see you react with understanding rather than out of anger or frustration also become more loyal to you. A feeling of positivity toward your boss turns out to be a bigger factor in loyalty than the size of a paycheck.

    Manage with Compassion

    Call it managing with compassion. And despite its soft ring, research finds that compassion has better results than a tough-guy stance. For starters, people like and trust bosses who show kindness – and that in turn boosts their performance.

    This may not come easily. After all, there’s a certain self-satisfaction that comes from venting your anger, plus the hope that a reprimand will teach that employee not to repeat the mistake. And maybe it will keep everyone on their toes.

    But that is not what the data tells us. Research on how employees feel about bosses who are often angry reveals that they see that manager as less effective.

    Besides, being able to suspend your negative judgments and show how to better handle the situation creates a more positive atmosphere, one where employees feel safe to take smart risks. If employees are fearful it kills creative thinking and the innovations that can keep a company competitive.

    But frustration naturally moves us to react with anger. How can we change that knee-jerk response?

    • Pause before you react. Taking a mindful moment – or a longer pause to cool down – when you notice you’re getting angry can give you the window you need to calm down before you respond. And a calmer state makes you more clear, so you can be more reasonable. Better self-awareness gives you more emotional self-control.
    • Take the bigger view, beyond this particular moment. Remember everyone has the potential to improve. If you simply dismiss a person as faulty because they screwed up, you destroy a chance for them to learn and grow more effective.
    • Empathize. Try to see the situation from your employee’s perspective. You might see reasons he or she acted as they did – things you would not notice if you just had your knee-jerk reaction. This allows you to nod to their viewpoint, even as you offer your own alternative.

  5. Workplace Stress as a Trigger for Addiction

    May 6, 2015 by ahmed


    Originally posted on Steps to Recovery

    Workplace Stress as a Trigger for Addiction

    For many people the stereotypical image they have of an addict is someone who is unemployed and homeless. However, Government figures show that this is far from the case. Indeed, a recent report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that while the incidence of substance abuse is higher among people who are not in employment, overall the majority of people abusing alcohol or drugs are working(1).

    Which Sectors Are Most Prone to Addiction in the Workplace?

    Their data shows that of the 19.6 million adults of working age with a substance misuse disorder 72% are employed compared to 11% who are seeking work and 17% who are not in the labor market. Although many factors can trigger substance abuse and dependency, stress is a known contributor to heavy drinking and drug taking, so work related stress may help to explain why so many employees suffer from addictions to ecstasy. While reliance on alcohol abuse and drugs can have serious implications for workers and their employers, learning to manage stress and the availability of workplace interventions can reduce the risks of substance abuse.

    Workplace strees

    Although the reasons behind substance dependency are multi-factorial, it is plausible that in some of the industries above there is a link between stress and substance abuse in the workplace, as work related stress is highly prevalent with the CDC reporting that 40% of workers feel very or extremely stressed(3). For instance, heavy workloads and long hours are known to contribute to job stress, which are potentially applicable in any sector, particularly when staff shortages and poor management are an issue. Shift work is also a recognized stressor, which is often a requirement when working in hospitality, support services and heavy industries. Job security and concerns about career progression is additionally a widespread problem, but this is sometimes felt most among the creative industries, and can add to work stress. Employment that doesn’t utilize someone’s range of skills can lead to frustration and in an administrative position with little chance for flexibility or self-initiative this can result in a different type of stress.

    Even though substance abuse is less prevalent among other industries, it is still an issue, even among those that you might least expect. For example, around 6% of those working in health and social care take drugs for recreational purposes and 4% abuse alcohol. Understanding of the dangers of substance abuse among these employees is high, but is not sufficient to deter them from these destructive behaviors when under pressure at work, and the nature of their work means they are more likely to misuse prescription drugs. This is possible via self-prescription by physicians and for those nurses involved in administering drugs to patients(4). Professionals working in the legal sector are also at risk of substance dependency, with extensive hours and intensive work contributing to stress and its associated drinking and drug taking(5).

    Work Stress Symptoms and Substance Abuse

    Any form of stress induces an immediate reaction within the body, which subside once the issue resolves. However, long-term occupational stress can impact on your physical and mental health(6), which may lead to a long battle with heroin addiction. Among the initial physical effects of stress are headaches, muscle pain, fatigue, digestive upset, insomnia and increased susceptibility to infections, as well as an increased risk of chronic health problems such as raised blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Taking over-the-counter painkillers to relieve aches and pains may prove ineffective to manage discomfort when the underlying trigger is not managed and may lead to pursuit of stronger prescription painkillers, opening the door to possible opiate dependence. Similarly, stress and alcohol abuse may be connected when drink is used as a muscle relaxant to relieve pain from tense muscles. However, the psychological impact of workplace stress has an even greater link with substance misuse. Anxiety and depression commonly accompany occupational stress, and when using alcohol and drugs to self-medicate and escape from work-related problems, it is easy to understand how with stressaddiction to meth can arise.

    Effects of Substance Abuse in the Workplace

    Besides the risk that substance misuse poses to health, when employees attend work after drinking or drug taking, they risk their own safety in other ways, as well as that of other workers. For instance, staff members are more likely to be involved in a traffic accident on their way to work when under the influence, as well as in adverse events related to use of equipment or machinery(7). This can result in greater absence, medical care and worker compensation costs. Besides the costs related to injury, critical errors are more likely when concentration is impaired, which can have serious implications for business, as can reduced productivity of employees suffering from substance dependency. As work stress also increases absenteeism, while reducing productivity, when stress and addiction co-occur the impact for employers is even greater.

    Workplace Stress Management for Employees

    If you find yourself taking drugs or drinking to relieve stress related to your employment, it is a clear sign that you are struggling to manage the pressures related to work. While your employer has a role to play in ensuring that your working conditions are not contributing to stress and adjusting the nature of your work if it is adversely affecting your health, there are effective steps you can take yourself for managing stress at work. Among the measures you can take are(8):

    • Learning to manage your time and prioritize your work. Make a list of all the tasks you need to do, phone calls you need to make and emails you need to send at the start of every day, prioritizing those that are essential, identifying those that you want to do and the remainder that can wait. When timetabling these in, remain realistic about what you can achieve and always factor in time for those inevitable interruptions.
    • Only taking on as much work as you can physically handle. Learn to politely turn down extra work when your current workload doesn’t allow for it. If persistently heavy workloads are an issue, this is an issue you will need to raise with your manager.
    • Checking you are not adding to your own stress. Examine the situation and ask yourself whether you are being realistic about the importance you are placing on it and its outcome.
    • Taking up new opportunities. If concerns about promotion are an issue for you or the mundane nature of your work is contributing to the way you feel, discussing opportunities for additional training or adapting your role may help as long as this does not add to any other pressure you might be under.
    • Taking a mini break. Each hour let yourself stretch out your back, neck and shoulders to relieve physical tension, which can itself improve mental stress. However, you must also make sure that you take your full entitlement to lunch and any other breaks you are allowed.
    • Discussing your worries with family and friends. Their distance from work may help to place your concerns into perspective, but they are ideally placed to encourage you to speak to your employer about issues that only your workplace can address, such as unmanageable workloads.
    • Learning breathing, relaxation and visualization exercises can all help.
    • Adopting a healthy diet that is rich in unprocessed foods and limits sugar and caffeine places you in a better position to manage stress, as does taking regular exercise. If you are a shift worker these healthy practices may slip, particularly if you find yourself reaching for a coffee or sugary snack bar to help you keep awake, but these habits will only see your stress levels rise as hydrocodone addiction is on the rise as well.

    When alcohol or drug abuse in the workplace have arisen as a result of stress, it is essential that you seek professional help to overcome your reliance on these substances and learn less destructive coping mechanisms. While you may have concerns about the disruption this may cause for your employment, flexible outpatient programs can fit around your working commitments.

    How to Reduce Stress at Work for Your Employees

    As an employer you have a duty of care to protect the health of your workers, which includes protecting them from stress that can adversely affect their physical and mental well-being. Assessing the risks that stress poses to your workers and acting on this assessment is therefore vital(9). This involves a five step process:

    • Identifying possible stress and the risk that these pose
    • Developing an action plan to minimize the risks of stress in the workplace
    • Implementing this action plan
    • Evaluating the success of the intervention
    • Taking further action as informed by the results of the audit

    Although the specific measures you will need to take to prevent work stress among your employees will depend on the sector in which you operate, there are key aspects relevant to all industries that can help to protect staff from stress. These include:

    • Ensuring the organization and management are well structured
    • Providing a safe and comfortable working environment
    • Employees’ skills and knowledge should match the needs of their role as closely as possible and additional training provided wherever necessary, with supervision and guidance also available
    • All employees should have a clear job description that is adhered to
    • Managers need to talk to employees, listen to their concerns and act on these, providing clear communication throughout
    • Adopting an environment that promotes teamworking and socialization
    • Providing occupational health services for employees

    How Employers Can Help an Addict

    If you use drug testing in the workplace and it identifies an employee is abusing illegal (such as being effected by bath salts or prescription drugs, or an employee’s behavior indicates they are misusing alcohol or drugs, terminating their contract is not your only option. When you help your employees with substance misuse disorders to get treatment, you both benefit. While your workers achieve better health, a lower risk of work related accidents and a better employment record, you benefit from lower healthcare costs, worker compensation, corporate liability and absentee rates, as well as improved work performance. Your business may already offer a comprehensive health program that can help employees suffering from stress and drug abuse for instance. However, Employee Assistance Programs are also available that screen for substance abuse, refer workers for treatment, allow employees to access help themselves and make sure that they receive ongoing support. While most employers have these programs in place, data shows that just 23% of admissions for treatment are for employees and only 2.4% of referrals come from employers or their assistance programs(10). Improving awareness of the EAP programs you provide your employees in relation to drug abuse and alcohol abuse is essential, along with information about how your employees can access these services and that their use is completely confidential.

    1. “10.8 million full time workers have a substance use disorder,” SAMHSA, accessed September 22 2014
    2. “Worker substance use by industry category,” SAMHSA, accessed September 22 2014
    3. “Stress at work,” CDC, accessed September 22 2014
    4. “Physicians and nurses with substance use disorders,” Dartmouth College, accessed September 22 2014
    5. “Substance abuse within the legal profession: a symptom of a greater malaise,” University of Notre Dame, accessed September 22 2014
    6. “Occupational stress fact-sheet,” University of West Florida, accessed September 22 2014
    7. “Opioid prescription painkillers‘ impact on employers and their employees,” Kentucky Personnel Cabinet, accessed September 22 2014
    8. “Managing workplace stress,” University of Rochester, accessed September 22 2014
    9. “Work organization and stress,” WHO, accessed September 22 2014
    10. “Few substance abuse treatment admissions are referred by employers,” SAMHSA, accessed September 22 2014
    Is Job Stress Eroding Your Health? by Judith Albright