Cultivating Open Communication

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Many companies tout an “open-door” policy, claiming to welcome feedback and criticism from employees. More often than not, this policy is completely disregarded by employees who don’t feel that the environment is truly accepting of their opinions or observations. There are other feelings or other factors at play that prevent your employees from speaking freely. This can range from the employee feeling that you will take the commentary personally, or that they’ll come off as smug know-it-alls. While many executives put initiatives into place to open the flow of communication, they often fall short of expectations. There are two major factors preventing employees from speaking their minds: a fear of the potential consequences, and a pessimistic sense of uselessness. If you’re truly looking to create a culture of open communication in your workplace, you may need to step back and develop new tactics.

If communication practices aren’t updated to make personal expression welcome, then employees can become disinterested in contributing their feedback. Allowing employees to respond anonymously can backfire, it can heighten fears and send a subliminal message about the danger of openly expressing your opinions. It can also spark a witch hunt, wherein executives demand to know who said what. Most importantly, pursuing real problems can be difficult, especially when it comes to protecting the identities of those who raise legitimate concerns. If there is a serious accusation then a serious collection of data will follow. You will have to conduct interviews, stories will need to corroborated, and gather any other relevant information. This process will undoubtedly expose the people involved. Extending a general invitation to come forward doesn’t make it any less intimidating for you employees; they may be nervous about approaching you. To prevent this, make an effort to level your influence with that of your employees. Avoid establishing yourself as the one “in-charge,” because power dynamics can be intimidating. While all of these practices are put into place with good intentions, the results can be telling about the process.

Executives are, by default, the representative of their employees. This means that if leaders aren’t vocal, then employees will follow this behavior. If you want to engage employees in open communication, then you, too, will need to participate. Be clear with the feedback you are seeking. Make feedback a clear and regular priority. If you communicate with your employees often, sharing opinions and observations becomes natural and loses its tense nature. Be transparent, let your employees know what you’re doing and what will come of it. Providing your employees with guidelines and expectations will make them feel more in the know, and more willing to contribute. Go out of your way to eliminate power dynamics, or at least decrease them. Make your employees feel comfortable by creating a welcoming environment. Most importantly, you need to be the example for your employees. Employees will be open to speaking with you if you advocate for them. They will provide feedback if they feel that their words are creating actions. Completing the connection between their feedback, and policy changes will demonstrate the value of their efforts. To read more about easing the flow of communication, see the Harvard Business Review.


Upcoming Trends In Human Resources

startup-594090_1920 As technology and digital media infiltrate nearly every facet of our lives, the Human Resources realm will not be left behind. In 2015 we saw many organizations gather their social and digital resources to advance recruitment, development, and engagement. This will continue in the new year, but focus will shift to the consumerization of human resources. What this entails is the creation of social, mobile, consumer-like experiences for employees within a company. We have all become digital citizens conditioned to having apps readily available on our desktops and mobile devices. Now, the HR realm will have to adapt to meet these needs and provide current and potential employees with a seamless experience.

First, your workplace will need to become an experience in itself. The job market is full of talented individuals seeking more than just benefits. Major companies like AirBnB and Pandora are innovating their employee’s experiences to provide them with an environment where the physical, emotional, intellectual, virtual and aspirational components of work are all carefully considered. Pandora for example, allows and provides funding for Pandora Employee Resource Groups (PERGs), wherein employees can use up to $1,000 a year to explore professional development topics (like leadership or time management) or even fun shared interests like baking, or feng shui. The purpose of these groups is to give Pandora employees the opportunity to bond with one another while learning about a mutual interest. The benefits are dual. There is personal development happening, along with team building conducive to future collaborations.

Your employees will take on a new role in the coming year, they will be your new brand advocates. As digital citizens, we are able to share our personal and professional experiences within our own networks. Companies are learning that this is good for business, and have started forming employee advocacy programs to encourage teams to share business updates to their own social media accounts. According to Forbes, content shared by employees earns eight times more engagement than content shared by the company’s own channel. Employee content is also re-shared 25 times more frequently. Additionally, 52% of the individuals surveyed by Edelman Trust Barometer trust an employee more than the CEO.

In Cisco’s Connected World Technology Report, we learned that employees value flexibility over almost anything else. It is the second most important factor (after salary) that potential employees consider. More than half of American Millennials surveyed (66%) said companies that offer flexible, mobile and remote work models have an advantage over companies with the standard 9-to-5 model. A company’s success can be driven by finding and keeping the best talent, and adapting to these new work models can foster an increase in productivity. In a study commissioned by Polycom, 90% of American business reported offering or expanding remote options. These options are undoubtedly changing the way we work, as demonstrated in a ConnectedSolutions survey. According to 39% of remote employees, productivity increased 77% when working off site. While working remotely can create a sense of disconnection, 42% of the same survey group reported they felt just as connected to colleagues on site.

Rapid changes are taking place in many realms of modern life, many of which are in response to developments in technology. In order to continue driving your company’s success, it is imperative you stay ahead of the game. The time has come to account for all the needs of your employees, and provide them with the tools for success.

To learn more about trends in Human Resources, see Forbes.

The Benefits Of A Positive Work Culture

A high amount of stress and pressure can push employees to work hard, and produce great results. But ultimately, we may be forcing employees to make sacrifices that affect the whole of the company. Success can be bred without high amounts of stress and cut-throat competition. Positive work cultures encourage employees to work their best without the stress of failure and disappointment.

Research shows that when employees work under large amount of stress, their health is negatively affected. High-pressure companies spend almost 50% more on health care expenditures than others. Stress associated with the workplace contributes to health problems like metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. It’s estimated that 60-80% of workplace accidents are due to stress, and nearly 80% of doctors visits are because of stress. The basic hierarchies we establish within our organizations also contribute to stress. Studies show that an employee’s designation within a hierarchy contributes to health. If your rank is lower, you are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and die from a heart attack. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute studied more than 3,000 employees and demonstrated an undeniable link between leadership behavior and heart disease in their employees. Your stressful boss is literally bad for your heart and health.

In addition to the health costs, you could be cutting employee engagement. High stress environments of fear and intense competition can keep employees engaged for some time. Valuable engagement, the sense of being appreciated, supported and respected is frowned upon in high-stress cut-throat cultures. Research of these environments suggests that engagement within these environments is short-lived and the constant stress spawns disengagement over time. Disengagement will not only create negative attitudes, but it will also cost your company in other ways. Disengaged employees experienced 49% more accidents, 60% errors and defects and had 37% higher absenteeism than others.

A high amount of stress can also cost you loyalty. A study by the American Institute of Stress demonstrated that stress in the workplace contributes to an increase in voluntary turnover of nearly 50%. Your employees will decline promotions and join the job market to seek a more enjoyable environment. Loss of employees and expertise, low productivity is then added to the cost of recruiting and training new employees. While benefits like work from home days and office gyms can reconcile some disengagement, employees prefer workplace wellbeing over these aforementioned perks.

Your key to maintaining happy and engaged employees is cultivating a positive work culture. Show your employees they are valued and cared for. Offer them support, compassion and kindness. They will see their value when their work is appreciated and respected. Your employees are your greatest resource.

Click here to learn more about positive work culture.

5 Personalities to Grow Your Team

If you consider yourself successful, take a step back and consider how you arrived at this point. What decisions did you make to bring you one step closer? And who helped you? Many successful leaders thrive on autonomy and independence, but is it feasible that you would have reached this point of success without the help of others? Leadership is a skill, and you would not be able to develop your leadership skills without of a supportive team to help you attain your goal. Your team, and their development, is crucial for overall success. Below is a list of five personality types you should consider recruiting.


  1. Contrary – This type of character will be confident in himself. He or she will not hesitate to question the status quo, and while they may come off stubborn and head-strong, they will challenge your thinking and condition you to think in new ways.
  2. Curious – While feeding a curious appetite can be time-consuming, it shows deep self-reflection and endless thirst for more knowledge. Curious individuals aren’t attempted to learn it all, they are attempting to understand more.
  3. Critical – Nobody likes to feel like they are constantly under a microscope, and oftentimes that is not the intention of a critical person. Those who are critical will challenge your standards of work and development. This may not be the most nurturing characteristic, but a healthy dose of constructive criticism can lead to your own development.
  4. Candid – Honestly speaking your mind takes courage. Appreciate those who approach you with their sincere thoughts and opinion. These people are speaking to you in a genuine way, and are often offering help.
  5. Confidant – You will need somebody to provide honest advice you can depend on. Find someone who you trust, and who has demonstrated their value. This person will be vital, they will listen to your insights and have honest discourse with you.

As a leader, you will need confidence in your team to reach your endgame. The members of your team should reflect qualities you admire in yourself. A memorable leader trains others to develop their own leadership qualities. To see the full list of personalities to recruit, check out Entrepreneur magazine online.

“Are You in the List?” – Retaining Your Best Talent

Recognizing and nurturing your best talent always pays off. Executives take pride in having outstanding individuals on their teams. This helps them retain their talent and become great employers which breeds an aspirational brand for future talent.


Angel Rodriguez Frito Lay HR VPThese past few years there has been major to talk about women and feminism, and with so much discussion, you would think there would be nothing left to talk about, but there is. Everyone has been throwing around the word “feminism” and vocally defining it, and though women’s rights and roles have grown and improved, there is still a lack of women at the top. Fortune 500 companies including MacGraw-Hill, Sysco, and Walmart severely lack women in their leadership roles. In 2013, a Catalyst survey showed that only 16.9% of corporate board member seats were held by women by these major companies, marking little progress since 2000. It also showed that 10% had no women at all on their boards.

President and CEO of catalyst, Ilene H. Lang commented, “There are plenty of qualified women ready for board and top executive positions, as some companies have proven. It’s important (to hire women into these positions) and it’s not hard.”

Today, the complaints carry on as the numbers have not improved enough.

According to the Windsor Star, there is a new program aimed to help improve women’s roles. It’s called Positioning Women for Success-Windsor-Essex, and it centers around supporting women’s “confidence” and training their leadership skills.

To start the program is going to identify and address the barriers women have in obtaining senior management positions. Both companies who have male-and female-dominated environments are being included to receive the most accurate data from the process.

Enwin Utilities will be the first company to begin the program starting this January. They will select three or four women to participate for a period of three to four months.

The reception of the new program has been mixed. Some seem hopeful that this will aid in solidifying women’s positions at the top while others are doubtful. Enwin human resources generalist, Rosanna Kemsley has said that time and time again she has seen women pass up positions because of lacking confidence and fearing failure. Hopefully, early next year the program will be able to change that, and women will be on their way to making a large impact on the highest levels of the corporate world.

Info courtesy of the huffingtonpost and blogs.windsorstar

Leadership Skills Slideshow

Leadership in Business

The Essence of a Leader

Angel Rodriguez Frito Lay

Change is the only constant in our world. A leader is someone who creates change, hopefully for the benefit of the whole.

In business, having good leadership could mean the difference between a heathy company and an incompetent one. The leader must think ten steps ahead and plan accordingly. Fact of the matter is, change is going to happen whether plans have been set or not. A leader’s role is to account for those changes, be responsible for creating a solution, and assign everyone a role that helps build the outcome.

Being a leader in a growing company means seeing the potential in others. A good leader will find the best way to utilize valuable skills that are already present. Leaders influence others to be leaders within their own realm. A great leader will help another person get to where they are.

It’s important to have great leaders in the education system. This way, kids have someone and something to look up to for their futures. Education is of utmost importance and having great leaders teach children can make a huge difference in their lives. Motivating, inspiring and instilling a sense of responsibility in students could be one of the most important lessons they learn.

Good leaders don’t just tell people what they should do – they advise and listen to concerns, and offer suggestions. A good leader will plant the seed of their idea into the mind of the pupil and wait for that seed to grow – even if it takes some time.

People look up to leaders for guidance and tasks, however, this is a reaction from the initial job of a leader. Eventually, people start to look up to they leaders with great respect and follow them in any direction. A great leader will encourage people to think for themselves and cultivate their own moral compass. It goes without saying that great leaders see the beauty and invaluable asset in diversity.

Leaders talk about ideas – Not people or events. They only talk ideas. This shows something very important: that leaders are very mature in terms of looking past petty things and focusing on the bigger picture.

The most important thing to remember if you are a leader is to rely on your inner wisdom. This is something that is cultivated over time and takes practice – becoming a great leader does not happen over night. It could take years to get to a point where you trust your every move and decision.
The important thing to act on is embracing your role, inspiring your people, and adapting to change.

Leadership in Business

Angel Rodriguez Frito LayTo some, a leadership role can be daunting. Being in control of yourself and others is a responsibility many would prefer to do without. However, with a few helpful tips, you can seize the opportunity to lead. Whether in your work or personal life, taking a leadership role can bring about clarity of judgement, focus in direction, and self-confidence.

Though leaders are primarily seen as the head of their organizations, you cannot effectively guide from the front. Effective leadership comes from operating with your team, aiding and supporting them from within. By standing apart from those you lead, a line is drawn in the sand between both parties. A successful leader cannot function without the trust of their organization, and that trust is born out of mutual respect.

While it’s important to stay connected to those you lead, keep the relationship professional. Far too many working relationships have been tarnished by the formation of friendships. No boss wants to harshly judge their friends, and oftentimes poor work performance is the result of employees who take too many liberties with a leader who they view as a friend.

When opportunity knocks, don’t hesitate to answer the call. As a leader, critical decisions will often rest solely on your shoulders. Don’t allow pressure to keep you from the adventurous spirit that carried you so far. A leadership role affords you the chance to take these leaps, don’t squander your hard-earned freedom.

Don’t fall victim to your own ego. The power afforded to you can oftentimes inflate self-perception, avoid this at all costs. Remember, you worked hard to reach the stage in which you currently reside. Forgetting the struggle it took to get there will invalidate all you learned during your upward climb. Value every rung in your ladder to success. No one ever said being a leader was easy, but by following these simples steps it will keep from being difficult.