3 Reasons Why You Should Regularly Evaluate Your Employees

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Evaluating and assessing your employees is a common task for most leaders. However, sometimes, we fall prey to not making it a frequent part of our routine.

With Millennials now entering the workforce, it has become more important than ever to evaluate your employees–evaluations and substantive feedback rate as a top concern/value among the Millennial generation when it comes to their professional career.

Because evaluation is such an important part of leadership, we thought we would dedicate a few posts to evaluations as a manager or leader. For today, we gathered three reasons why you should start regularly evaluating your employees. Take a look below:

  • It maintains and increases the quality of work. Checking up on your employees can do a lot to maintain and increase the quality of their work. More often than not, those who strive to do well are always looking for ways to improve their work. Having regular evaluations is a great way to help guide them through that process so they can hone their skills and expertise in the field.
  • It maintains and increases employee satisfaction. Likewise, assessments are great for gauging employee satisfaction. We usually think of evaluations and assessments as a time for critiquing our employees’ work, and in turn, we often ignore the most important part of evaluations: rating employee satisfaction. Believe it or not, employee satisfaction plays a huge role in the quality of their work, so take a moment to assess how they feel about their job and give them time to air their grievances in order to ensure they’re happy enough to do their work.
  • It helps to reduce mistakes. Last but not least, use regular evaluations as a way to tease out any little errors that may arise in their work. Whether it has to do with something you see, or something an employee is unsure about, checking up on them regularly can help to reduce mistakes as well as prevent any big disasters from happening. Neglecting to check in and evaluate employees often perpetuates a lack of awareness about the workplace environment, allowing more mistakes.

Evaluating your employees regularly can do wonders for your team, so try your best do it as often as possible. To find out how, check back tomorrow when we’ll give some great tips on how to regularly evaluate your employees. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, connect with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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Leaders: 4 Ways to Gain Your Employees’ Trust

Peering down a hallway at Intel

You’ve created the perfect team, and you know that when push comes to shove that they’ll deliver the goods because they’re efficient, skilled, and smart.

They’re a dependable and trustworthy team to have, to say the least, giving you the peace of the mind that you need in order to lead them. But the employer-to-employee relationship is a two-way road. As such, what your employees think of you is just as essential as what you think of them.

One of the most important things people look for is whether or not they can trust you, so to help you make sure that you have the confidence of your employees, we thought we’d go over four ways you can gain their trust. Take a look below:

  • Be open. First and foremost, you need to be honest with your team. Set an example for your team members by showing them that honesty is your top priority. The next time someone asks, “How am I doing, boss?” you need to be ready to answer that question truthfully. You should also make sure you are responding in a sensible manner if you actually want your opinion to be taken positively. 
  • Be available. As a leader, you always need to be available. For the most part, you are the one who makes the big decisions, so it only makes sense that people will come to you when they have something big on their plate. As such, it is important that you act as inviting as possible, because nothing is worse than a leader who gives their team the cold shoulder.
  • Follow through. That old saying, “don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk,” is one that certainly applies to leadership. As a leader, you need to be able to back up what you say, because empty promises make you look very bad.
  • Stop commanding. Though this sounds counter-intuitive to leading, it’s actually what makes the best leaders so successful. Re-think the way you’ve been defining leadership. Rather than being someone who directs others, consider yourself as an advisor who is behind the scenes, helping the team when they need it.

As we said above, the employer-to-employee relationship is a two-way road, so don’t skimp out on your end of the deal. If you really want your team to go that extra mile for you, then you need to be sure you can do the same for them.

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Employees: How to Have a Successful Exit Interview

two suits walking down a street

Over the past few days, we’ve gone over the much debated exit interview, focusing on employer’s side of things and helping folks decide whether or not the exit interview is the right tool for them.

Since the employee’s perspective is just as important in the exit interview as the employer’s–they are, after all, the ones being interviewed–we thought it would only make sense to talk about how you can successfully “exit” your job as you move on to the next step in your career.

Take a look below:

  • Be honest, but not brutal. Honesty is essential when it comes to having a successful exit interview. However, try to keep your level of honesty in check. There may be plenty of things you’d like to say about a colleague or supervisor, but it is better to stick to the facts and leave the colorful complaints out if you want your criticism to be taken seriously.
  • Keep it professional. You may be leaving your job, but that doesn’t mean your former employer will go away for good. Avoid going too over the top with negative criticism. There is no need to beat down on your former employer and let them know everything you hate about them, especially if you still want a recommendation from them. Keep things professional unless you want to kiss that recommendation goodbye.
  • Explain the good and the bad. When it comes to being criticized, employers are no different from you. Try to mix things up when giving them feedback. Mixing in the good and bad can help to soften the blow of your criticisms, as well as prevent your employer from thinking you are just jaded and bitter about them. In turn, they will be more likely to accept what you’re saying rather than shrugging it off as pointless banter.

Exit interviews may not be the highlight of your career, but going into one with a positive outlook and a sense of professionalism is a great way to tie up any loose ends and ensure that you are ready to move on to the next step in your career

Have you ever had an exit interview? What advice would you add to our list? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!

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Soft Skills: What Are They and Why Do Your Employees Need Them? (Part III)

man working on his cell phone

Over the past few days, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of soft skills. In part one, we explained what soft skills entailed and why your employees need them. And in part two, we gave you a few tips on how to screen candidates so you can find those great employees with exceptional soft skills.

To round off our series, we thought it would only be fair to talk about soft skills from the employee’s perspective. So without further adieu, here are a few ways to improve your soft skills, as well as how to properly showcase them during the interview process:

How to improve your soft skills 

Keep your attitude in check. People who possess exceptional soft skills do very well under pressure, so you always need to maintain your composure. Taking a few minutes each day to sit back and reflect on the day, your actions, and others’ responses to your actions help you become more self-aware, making it much easier for you to prevent any unwanted breakdowns.

Network. Networking is also another a great way to hone in on your communication skills. Take the time to branch out and talk with others; having that kind of exposure can help broaden your thinking skills and sense of perspective–an important asset to have when working/leading with a diverse group of peers.

Put yourself out there. Putting yourself out there can help give you a significant confidence boost that is necessary for great decision-making, innovation, and leadership skills. We’re not saying you should take unnecessary risks, but when coupled with a sense self-awareness that allows you to know your limits, you can really push your career in the right direction.

How to showcase your soft skills in an interview

Communicate. Interviews are all about effectively communicating why you’re qualified for the position, so it should come as no surprise that you need to show that you can communicate well.

As such, you need to make sure you come to the interview prepared to answer any questions thrown at you. The best approach is to use concrete examples, and when you do, to make sure they’re concise and to the point. Just because you can ramble on about a subject doesn’t make you an effective communicator, so keep it short and sweet.

Focus on values/work ethic. Though it might not seem obvious, employers do take cultural fit into consideration. Make sure you take the time to emphasize how your values match that of the company you are interviewing for. Showing them how well your work ethic meshes with their own is a great way to stand out amongst your competitors. 

Be confident, positive and focused. Provide specific examples of how you’ve proved yourself to be a leader and decision-maker in your jobs past. Showing that you’re confident can go a long way when it comes to making an impression on employers.

That wraps up our series on soft skills! Are there any tips you’d like to add to our list? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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Soft Skills: What Are They and Why Do Your Employees Need Them? (Part I)

communicating on a project together

When it comes to assessing the qualities and skills of candidates, we tend to usually focus mainly on the technical side of things. Are they proficient in the software we use? Does their education match up? Are they skilled in using/learning new technology/programs?

Once we square those facts away, only then do we start to consider qualities like personality, communication skills, work ethic, and the ability to work with others–though more often than not, this part of the interview is pretty brief and seems more like an afterthought.

In turn, we end up losing out on learning about some pretty important, if not essential, skills that can differentiate between a good employee and a great one.

We are, of course, talking about soft skills. And despite their unassuming name, they happen to make a pretty big impact when it comes to a business’ success.

To get you better acquainted with these skills, we thought we do a little series on them. For today, we’ll be focusing on what soft skills entail.

So, what exactly are soft skills?

“Soft skills” is an all-encompassing term that deals specifically with a person’s personality traits, and soft skills are meant to complement a person’s hard skills (i.e. technical skills). When broken down, soft skills refer to a person’s attitude, communication skills, ability to work with others, critical thinking skills, and work ethic.

Why do my employees need great soft skills? 

Basically, the reason why employers should look into a candidate’s soft skills is so they can judge whether or not that person is a good fit into the company culture. On one hand, while we want our employees to be infinitely qualified for the job on the technical end, we also want them to be able to work with others and be able to perform the tasks that they were hired for efficiently and effectively. 

All in all, soft skills will make your employees better–better communicators, better teammates, better decision makers, and better thinkers. Those who possess soft skills tend to have the ability to manage themselves, making for a more productive work team, and allowing you as a leader to have more time to concentrate on the bigger issues in the company.

Check back with us on Monday when we give you some tips on how to find candidates with exceptional soft skills. In the meantime, how much emphasis do you put on soft skills and why? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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3 Ways to Successfully Manage Potential Leaders

Leaders in a room international monetary fund

Yesterday, we gave you three reasons why you should hire more potential leaders than followers. As we mentioned, employees with great leadership skills are important assets to any business, regardless of whether or not they’re hired for leadership roles.

One fear most employers have is the potential to have “too many cooks in the kitchen” spoiling the “broth,” which can end up disrupting workplace productivity.

Fortunately, this can be avoided by taking the proper steps. To get your potential leaders in order and productivity running smoothly, here are a few ways to successfully manage your potential leaders. Take a look below: 

  • Don’t micromanage. All in all, micromanaging is something you should avoid doing with all of your employees. As for those with great leadership skills, just leave them alone and let them do exactly what you hired them to do. There is no doubt that they’ll take initiative to work hard and get things done. 

    Allowing them the ability to work on their own gives them the opportunity to be creative, push the limits on innovation, and feel in control of their own projects. This helps in preventing them from wanting to branch out to other companies who they believe will offer them more freedom to lead, as well as from feeling under-qualified and unappreciated for what they do.

  • Allow them room for progress. Those who are always looking to improve themselves and move up need to actually have room to do so. Always make sure that you are doing your best to make things personal for them, whether that means re-recruiting, giving them a little thanks, or allowing them to take the lead on certain projects to build/enhance their leadership skills. 

    We’re not saying you need to promote them right off the bat—but you should always be checking in on them and making sure they’re satisfied. Employee satisfaction is, after all, one of the most important ways to retain top talent.

  • Keep communication open. Make sure communication is always open on all levels. With so many potential leaders, there is always a chance that one or two might stray off the path you want, leading to some disastrous results. Avoid this by ensuring that everyone is in the know of what the team is doing. Collaboration is essential for success, and in case you find a stray, you can prevent things from going awry.

With these tips, you can manage your potential leaders the right way, giving you more time to be productive and run the company effectively and efficiently. Plus, you never know—when it comes time for your company to expand, having a talent pool already in your company can be a great benefit to your business.

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Leaders: 3 Reasons Why You Need to Follow Through

Following through is an important skill that all leaders need to have, whether they’re the team supervisor, department manager, or CEO.

Believe or not, there are leaders out there who don’t follow through on their promises. This greatly affects their credibility as a leader, from how their employees view them, to the productivity of the company, and even to how employees view themselves.

To help you avoid going back on your word, we’re going to talk about three reasons why you need to follow through with your promises. Take a look below:

  • Not following through ruins your reliability. When an employee says they’ll get something done, you expect them to get it done, right? Well, the same goes for you as a leader. Don’t promise that you will do something and then fall through.

    The consequences are the same. When an employee goes back on their word, then it seems as if they aren’t fit for the task—and this goes for the leader, as well. The next time you promise that bonus for an employee referral, or that you would solve an issue in the workplace, make sure you go through with it.

  • Not following through ruins productivity. That brings us to our next point: not keeping your word can put a damper on productivity. If employees see that you can’t keep your promises, then it might lead them to believe that they don’t need to either. As a leader, you set the tone for the rest of your team, so make sure you do everything in your power to keep your promises.
  • Not following through negatively affects employee satisfaction. Above all, you need to keep in mind how going back on your word can affect employee satisfaction. Employees rely heavily on their leaders for a lot of things; you are, after all, the one who makes the big decisions in regards to them, as well as their connection to the higher-ups. When you don’t follow through on a promise, chances are that your employees won’t feel like they matter too much to you or the company, which can really change their perspective on things.

Not following through can have some serious consequences. And as a leader, all eyes are on you, which makes it even more important to go through with your promises.

Make sure that you can stand behind what you say. The alternative can lead to some pretty undesirable results, and really, keeping to your word is just the right thing to do.

Dealing with Difficult Clients (Part I)

“The customer is always right” is a mantra that we hear tossed around a lot.

There is no doubt that great customer service is an essential part of running a business. Clients and customers are, after all, a necessary element to our success, so it only makes sense that we treat them right.

But what happens when we find ourselves in a situation where a client ends up being more than a handful?

As you know, employee satisfaction is an important of your business as well, so dealing with these kinds of situations requires diligence and finesse on the part of the leader or employer. If not handled properly on the company’s side of things, difficult clients can cause a lot of grief for our employees (and us), affecting employee satisfaction and in turn, overall productivity, possibly leading to the dissatisfaction of other customers.

To help you prevent any dissatisfaction among your employees, we’re going to talk about several different ways to help you deal with difficult clients. For today, we’ll talk about the kinds of clients who often present us with trouble. Take a look below:

Types of difficult clients 

There are a number of reasons why you might find a client to be especially difficult. Understanding how to deal with these clients begins with understanding exactly what kind of client they are, and what you need to look out for when you come across them in order to prevent further difficulties.

Here are a few brief descriptions of some of difficult clients you might run across:

The micromanaging client. This client often requires an exceptional amount of attention and has little trust in your work.

It can be hard for some clients to not want to be involved in the work you are doing for them. This is certainly understandable seeing as the finished product has to be exactly what they want. However, this can end up being a problem when the client tries to be involved in everything, preventing you from finishing the product you were hired for, which can put a lot of undue stress on you.

The client who is vague about what they want. This client usually doesn’t give much feedback or explanation as to what they want. 

Other times, a client might not know exactly what they want, leaving it up to you to make those decisions. While the freedom is nice, there is the likelihood that you might not give them what they actually want, meaning that you end up putting in a lot of work into something that will never be used—a big waste of time for you and your employee.

The client who changes their mind frequently. This client will often change their opinion on the vision of the project either during, or even worse, after the work has been completed.

Sometimes, we do projects that end up not being what the client envisioned, and that is perfectly normal. However, when you have a client who constantly goes back and forth on your work, you could end up doubling the workload of your employees, which can cause a lot of stress on them and also make them feel like they are bad at their job.

Check back tomorrow to see the rest of our posts when we discuss how to deal with these clients. In the meantime, do you have any stories of a difficult client? How did you handle it? Let us know by connecting with us on Facebook or Twitter!

3 Reasons You Run Into Trouble When Hiring Expectations Are Too High

Having an excellent team of employees is an important part of running a business, which is why at AIM Careerlink, we are committed to helping you find the top talent you need to keep your company successful.

But when employers or hiring managers set out to find the perfect candidate–with hopes of creating the best team possible–there seems to be a common problem: they end up coming up short.

That’s because sometimes, searching for the best of the best isn’t really the best idea. That isn’t because there isn’t any great talent out there, it’s just that at times we tend to have too high of expectations.

So today, we’re going to help you cut back on those expectations by giving you three reasons why you shouldn’t always go searching for the unattainable. Take a look below:

It narrows your talent pool

First and foremost, extreme expectations can really narrow your talent pool, which ends up meaning that you lose a big chunk of potential candidates who are most likely very qualified for the position you are hiring for.

Don’t excuse potentially great candidates simply because they don’t exactly fit the mold of the ideal candidate in mind. In the end, you’ll just end doing the opposite of what you wanted (i.e. not hiring someone) because you’ll most likely never find that more-than-perfect employee.

It’s a waste of time.

Finding top talent requires time and money. However, using up your resources when you just end up empty handed can cause you some trouble. Consider all of the resumes you passed up or the interviews you had that never went anywhere. All of these things required time and money, but if you have nothing to show for it, then all you’ve done is wasted valuable resources. 

It can put a damper on your hiring outlook.

Finally, coming up empty handed will most likely leave you dissatisfied. That can lead to burnout, which leaves you in a worse position than you were before. Not only do you not have that perfect employee, but you might not even have the get-up-and-go to look for them.

We think that having high expectations for who you hire is very important for finding top talent. However, it’s when those expectations are too high that things become troublesome. Always step back and reflect on who and what kind of candidate you are looking to hire. If your ideal sounds too good to be true, then chance are, it probably is.

What Do Your Employees Think of Themselves?

Here on the AIM Careerlink blog, we talk quite a bit about the importance of employee recognition and how much it can boost employee satisfaction.

Giving credit where credit is due is an important part of distinguishing your best employees for all of the hard work they do. But believe or not, some of your employees might not actually think that they’re the best (or even that they’re good at all).

According to a recent article on Psyblog, a blog that “covers psychological studies that are relevant to everyday life,” psychologist and founder, Dr. Jeremy Dean, discusses what he calls the “worst-than-average effect”.

Opposite of the Dunning-Kruger effect, the worst-than-average effect occurs when we assume that others posses the same skills we do when in fact, quite the opposite is true. In turn, we underestimate our ability at doing certain tasks compared to others, despite doing exceptionally well, if not better, at those tasks than most.

Apply this idea to the work environment, and, as TLNT contributor Derek Irvine points out, “It’s quite possible that your top performers are so good, they don’t realize just how good they are.”

In a work environment, this can lead you into some trouble. Not only does it lower employee satisfaction among those who are especially hard workers, it may lead others to believe that the exceptionally hard work these people put in to the company is just average—so why push themselves any more than they already do?

Another thing to consider is how you are going to retain your top talent if they don’t realize that what they do matters to the company. What we wouldn’t suggest is skirting the issue, which will definitely put you at risk of losing top talent if they think they can do better at another company.

Fortunately, it can be pretty easy to solve a problem like this. Simply put, make an effort to recognize your employees, especially the ones who are doing a stellar job. As a leader, you need to give your team support, and that means showing them how important they are to the company, and how what they do makes a huge impact.

While arrogance isn’t something we approve of, we do admire when employees are able to give themselves a nice pat on the back for all the hard work they’ve done. One way to ensure that they know why they’re so great is by recognizing them, so take a moment and let them know. A little positive reinforcement never hurt.