Why You Should Consider a Participative Leadership Style

Throughout my years in the working world, I’ve come into contact with many different leadership styles. Some were extremely open, some were a little more autocratic, and then some where just a complete mess of different styles mixed into one. Throughout all my different experiences, I felt that participative leadership style was one of my favorites, mainly because this leadership style seems to present a lot of benefits not only for the leader but for the employees, as well.

Participative leadership style involves many other people in the decision making process. This style opens up discussion for other participants to voice opinions, suggestions, and concerns. Most importantly, it keeps everyone in the loop. Some noteworthy benefits of this style are:

  • Everyone is given a voice: This style of leadership allows all employees (no matter what role or title) to have a voice and participate in the decision making process. Because they are involved, they will be more accepting of the decisions made because they contributed to it and were also involved in the process so they will not be blindsided by the end result.
  • It gives employees a sense of accountability: employees will know that what they say will matter and could be a vital contribution. With this in mind, employees can make suggestions or voice ideas that will be more results oriented.
  • It increases morale: employees will appreciate the fact that you are not only keeping them in-the-know about a decision or organizational change, but they’ll also be appreciative of the fact that you are including them. This appreciation and gratitude could increase employee morale and create a positive work environment.
  • It can help you learn more about your business: including employees who work in different roles, titles, or business units can allow you to get insight about some of the successes and woes of each area of your business. It can help you ensure that the decision you make will be the best because you will have a better understanding on how it will affect each business unit.

If you don’t currently use this style, I challenge you to try this out with a few of the decisions you need to make in the near future. I’m sure you will be surprised at the feedback you receive from employees. Additionally, it may help you make better choices.
Some Additional Reading:

The Advantages of Participative Leadership

5 Benefits of Participative Leadership

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What Your Online Presence Can Do for Your Job Hunt

When I thought about the ideal job hunt, I always had believed that to be the most professional and proactive hunter, it was best to update your resume often and simply upload them to career websites. In addition to this, I was led to believe that the best way to get my resume in front of a recruiter was to apply to jobs online through job boards and applicant tracking systems. After all, these systems were put in place to help our resume be re-routed to the appropriate person, right? That used to work just fine until everyone else started to resort to this option. Now I realize that job seekers need to do something more to really set themselves apart. Over the course of the last few months, it became apparent that creating a personal brand via online can really help you during your job hunt.

I always assumed that doing anything online or on social media was typically considered something personal. I also heard the stories about how companies Google candidates to find these sites to do a quick “background” check before considering them for an interview. When I was in college, many teachers and guidance counselors told us to keep our online presence private or to delete anything that can potentially cause us to lose a job. With all these warnings, I never felt that having an online presence would help me land the job that I wanted. But after months of searching and being unsuccessful, I decided to give it a try.

To play it safe, I decided to keep my personal social media accounts private but then decided to create separate accounts strictly for business and maintaining a professional appearance. Of course, I decided to focus on LinkedIn first because that site is all about networking business professionals. It didn’t really pick up steam, though, until I invested more time into it. Putting up a profile with your experience isn’t enough to catch the attention of recruiters. You really need to participate. Here are some things I did on LinkedIn that helped me get more job interviews:

  • Update profile content and headline. Use keywords relevant to what you’re searching for so recruiters can find you easier.
  • Join groups. Joining groups are great but you must make sure you take time to participate in order to really allow yourself to get exposure. Comment on members’ discussion posts in a way that can show you are knowledgeable about a subject. Even post your own discussion questions on there to welcome interaction.
  • Keep the conversation flowing. In order to network effectively and build relationships, you must invest in time to keep the conversation going. If you comment on something or post a discussion question, make sure you respond to those who are also commenting. This flow of communication can help people get to know you better and open up an opportunity to connect.
  • Post interesting articles. Spark up some further conversation by posting online articles, publications, blogs, etc. This could grasp people’s attention and also display the fact that you keep up with industry trends.
  • Get personal. If you plan on sending a message or an invite, be sure to add something personal in the message. If you’re adding a recruiter, you could even mention that you’ve applied to a specific position at their company and wanted to talk more about it. This could help them pull your resume from the pile of hundreds they get regularly.

After I got LinkedIn up and running, I decided to take it a step further and see what Twitter had to offer. I used to use Twitter sporadically since 2009 and never really thought it could be useful for anything more than personal use. I was SO wrong. After using Twitter in a professional capacity, I ended up receiving more job offers, interviews, and assistance to find a job than I ever did when I used to just apply to online job boards. I couldn’t believe it. Here are some ways I effectively used Twitter during my job hunt:

  • Add people that are relevant to the industry you’re trying to get a job in.
  • Add recruiters that work at the companies you are interested in working at.
  • Write thoughtful responses to their tweets to help open up communication.
  • Tweet links to relevant online articles, publications, blogs, etc.
  • And most IMPORTANTLY, join Twitter chats(this was the easiest way I was able to get interviews.) Twitter chats are amazing. It opens up real-time communication and could help you get exposure to the right people. Some TweetChats I’ve joined that were really great for my job hunt were:
    • #JobHuntChat – Mondays @ 10PM EST
    • #TalentNet – Tuesdays @ 7PM EST
    • #TChat – Wednesday  @ 7PM EST
    • #GenYChat- Wednesday @ 9PM EST
    • #HFChat – Friday @ 12PM EST

These chats are either geared towards connecting job seekers with recruiters or the chats are HR related which means you can easily connect with HR and recruiters. Of course, these are just a few chats of the many that are out there. I would suggest researching chats that are relevant to the industry or job type you are looking for.

After a while, I really started to enjoy the results I was getting from this and decided to take it even another step further. I created a blog that was relevant to the industry I was targeting (Human Resources) and started to write on a regular basis to help extend my online presence even more. I promoted it via LinkedIn and Twitter. This blog has helped recruiters to see my competency, knowledge, and even get to know a little more about me. They were able to see how I could fit in with their company. If you are able to do something virtually that is relevant to the industry you want to work in, give it a try. It could really help you stand out even more and add something extra to your candidate profile.

Having an online presence can really help you if you do it right. Keep it professional but also keep it YOU. Your online presence can help hiring managers, recruiters, and companies really get an idea of who you are and what you could potentially do for them. I was happy to see that investing time in this has paid off. After committing time to this, I was able to get job interviews, internship offers, and guest blog post offers. I felt that I made more progress doing it this way than the months I spent just dedicating time to job boards and online applications. Give it a try, it could make a huge difference.

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Managing Gen Y in the Workplace

One of the topics that I’m interested in and passionate about is Gen Y (Millennials) in the workplace. Being a Gen Yer myself, it is interesting to read about some of the qualities that I possess that seem to be the norm. It’s also been interesting to see how my fellow Gen Yers are challenging the current practices and procedures that workplaces have been doing for years. Many companies are starting to realize that Gen Y will be dominating the workplace and have started to restructure in a way that will work well with this generation.  Therefore, today’s post will discuss how to manage Gen Y.

Last month, I wrote a post about what Gen Y wants from an employer. As a refresher, the main points I made were as follows:

  • Gen Y values company culture.
  • Gen Y strives to grow professionally and wants feedback.
  • Gen Y wants workplace options.
  • Gen Y wants an employer that has integrity and makes a social impact.

Although those are only a few off of the long list of qualities that this generation hopes that their employer has, these seem to be the most common. In order for a company to know how to properly manage this generation of workers, they must know and understand these. Additionally, they must find a way to tie them into their restructured management style. Here are some tips on how to manage Gen Y effectively:

  • Show them a connection: Gen Yers know that more often than not, they are bound to leave their employers within the first few years of employment. One of the main reasons they leave is because they do not feel that the company culture (something they value) is aligned with their own personal values. To ensure you are hiring and retaining quality talent, be sure to discuss the culture and what the company has to offer. Ask the candidate what they highly regard and what would be a deal breaker down the line. Determining the connection of company offerings against candidate values can help reduce turn-over in the long run and increase employee engagement if the candidate is hired.
  • Set clear rules and expectations: Gen Yers can be extremely self-sufficient and driven; however, gray areas can hinder some of their performance. The best thing a manager can do is to let the employees know what the rules, expectations, and goals are straight out of the gate. Additionally, they should place this information in an area that is easily accessible for employees’ reference.  Having these clearly defined can help the employees know exactly what they can and cannot do, and go from there without second guessing themselves.
  • Provide useful feedback on a regular-basis: Receiving regular feedback is not just expected by Gen Y, but it is demanded. This generation of workers is focused on finding solutions and making improvements. In order to get valuable insight and discover resources to do so, they rely heavily on the feedback from their peers, clients, and managers. Making this a routine task of management can prove to have significant benefits for the organization.
  • Get your scheduling done ASAP: Gen Y is an expert at multi-tasking. They grew up in the technology era, which makes doing three things simultaneously a breeze. However, they are only able to take on this much work by learning how to schedule things properly. In order to ensure that your employees are keeping up with their abundant workload, be sure to stay on a set schedule for meetings, quotas, goals, and so on. Also, if you need to schedule something that isn’t part of the norm, try to give them a time and date as soon as possible so they can reschedule and plan accordingly.
  • Track their performance: This generation wants to know that their efforts and contributions are making a difference. They want work to be meaningful and feel like they’re doing something for a reason. One way to make them feel that way is by keeping track of their performance and incorporating those details into the regular feedback you provide. Gen Y is also goal-driven so be sure to show them how their performance ties in to their career path and goals. If necessary, give them additional mentoring in areas they need to improve. Showing that you are invested in their professional growth will help gain their commitment and trust.

Gen Y can be tricky to manage if you don’t take the time to understand how they think and why they do the things they do. In order to manage this generation effectively, managers must create an open, two-way communication with employees. Participative leadership style may be key in keeping up with them. This can help managers learn what the employees need from them in order to get the best response and performance. Lastly, please listen and try to follow through with any promises you make. Trust me; they’ll hold you to it.

More links on the subject:

Manage Gen Y and Interns.

Managing Gen Y Infograph.

NBC- Managing Gen Y Effectively.

Leadership Development for Gen Y.

The Importance of Keeping your Company Real

Today’s topic is going to be about keeping your company authentic. For those of you who have read my previous blog postings, you know that I value companies that welcome individuality and are open to innovative ideas. Also, I enjoy companies that seem to be a little more human and a little less business. Although I’ve mentioned these values a few times throughout my writing, I haven’t fully given you an explanation of why I feel this way. This posting will let me shed some light on the subject.

Allowing your employees to be more like themselves can increase productivity. Have you ever worked at a company that had strict criteria on how the employees were to represent themselves? You need to say the right things, write e-mails with a certain professional tone, and make sure your shirt doesn’t have a single wrinkle. Of course, some organizations need this level of professionalism to gain trust from their clients but too much of it can hinder performance. If your employees don’t naturally do these things, then they have to use their mental capacity to train themselves to do it. Training yourself to be something against your nature for 40+ hours a week can be exhausting. Not to mention, the effort you’re putting towards doing that is taking away from your work.

Your employees will be happier. I’m not perfect, but neither is anyone else. To work for an organization that requires constant perfection can be extremely stressful. Life happens, we’re human, and people make honest mistakes. To work for a company that leaves no room for mistakes can cause employees to worry and doubt every little thing they do. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend a good portion of my day scared that the next thing I say or do will be my last at the company. That’s just a miserable way to go about life and eventually it will wear on them, both inside and outside of the workplace. Their unhappiness may start to reflect in the quality of their work.

Employees will feel more comfortable about offering ideas and suggestions. If your company was a little more open, a little less stuffy, and a little less strict, your employees may feel more comfortable offering contributing proposals during meetings. Creating an open and welcoming atmosphere can make employees feel better about freely expressing opinions, new ideas, and suggestions. If you don’t create this environment, employees could feel less inclined to speak up and you could potentially miss something of value.

Individualism can produce original solutions. I think some of the best companies I worked for are the ones that celebrate the individual and encouraged them to produce inventive ideas to demonstrate to the company. Employees loved the fact that they could use their personal experience and knowledge to present these suggestions. They gained a sense of accountability and became more engaged in the company’s well-being. Additionally, they found the company’s willingness to listen, consider, and offer feedback about these ideas to be motivating. They appreciated a company that offered this participative communication structure rather than companies dictating how things would be and expecting employees to follow without question.

You’ll gain trust from your employees. We aren’t robots, so it’s hard to trust someone who only communicates in an overly-formal, overly-professional, mechanical way. It’s hard to know what truly is going through that person’s mind and it’s hard to understand the meaning behind it all. Communication like that just seems closed and does not engage the other party in a useful way. Think about how you came to the point of trusting your friends, significant others, and family members. I highly doubt it was because of the “stimulating”, calculated conversations. You don’t get to know people from conversations masked with perfection. If you don’t get to know them, you also may not be able to trust them. To have an organization that employees don’t trust really isn’t going to do anyone any good. Try to keep it as real as possible.

You could reduce turn-over. If senior management is too-tight lipped about the organization, it could create a cause of concern for employees. As an employee, nothing is worse than being kept in the dark or out-of-the-loop…except being kept that way during the recession we’ve been experiencing. With layoffs, terminations, and failing businesses, it’s best to offer some honest information to your employees. This will help employees know where they stand in the company. It will also allow them to know where the company stands in the business world. Additionally, it can ease minds and lower turn-over caused by employees’ mentality of “getting out before it goes under.”

You’ll pique interest from outsiders. Think of some of the most interesting companies in business: Google, Apple, Zappos, and LinkedIn come to mind. These companies are notorious for their company culture. They celebrate and own their uniqueness and won’t conform to oppressive corporate structures other companies have had in the past. Because of the “realness” they bring to their company, candidates want to work there, employees are rating it the best place to work, and other companies want to adopt their corporate style.

I understand that business is business. I also know certain companies and jobs need to have an extreme level of professionalism. However, sometimes it can be too much and cause companies’ to be hindered rather than grow. Your employees are your biggest assets and you need to treat them as such. As I’ve said before, the companies that will dominate will be the ones that can find a way to keep the workforce working towards a collective goal but still welcome individualism and authenticity. Consider some of these points and even test them out. You may find that employee morale and productivity will increase.

Links:

Why Should Organizations be Authentic?

Companies Mentioned:

Google
Apple
Zappos
LinkedIn