2 Ways You Can Keep Your Employees on Your Side

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Managing Your Workforce|2 Ways You Can Keep Your Employees on Your SideYour employees are your business’s main asset. Without them, the work that you need to get done day in, day out won’t be complete, the money that you need to make in order to turn over a profit won’t get made, and your job will be made ten times harder as you seek to carry your company’s burden alone. Without your workforce, your business is nothing.

For this reason, keeping your employees on your side should be one of your top priorities. Lose your workforce’s trust and loyalty, and you’ll find it increasingly difficult to continue trading.

Here are two surefire ways to keep your employees on your side.

Stick by them when things get tough

Life is not all plain sailing. Everybody comes across hurdles and bumps in the road as they grow and progress further, especially when it comes to their profession.

Unfortunately, this means that even the most skilled and hard working of your employees will, at some point, face some sort of trouble in their career. If you want to keep them on your side, you need to stick by every one of your staff members when things do, in fact, get tough for them. Doing so will showcase just how dedicated you are to them and their ongoing progress in your business. Safe in the knowledge that you have their best interests at heart, your employees will instantly feel more appreciative of you and, thus, more inclined to work harder for you.

One way to stick by your employees is to get them legal assistance whenever they are need of it. Even if they have suffered an injury at work and they are claiming against your negligence, standing by your employees and making sure they get what they deserve will no doubt prove how dedicated you are to them. Bare them no ill-will, get them partnered up with a personal injury lawyer NYC, and make sure that they get is owed to them. If you play ball in this instance, you might even be lucky enough to settle the case out of court.

Be transparent at all times

Transparency is key when seeking to keep your employees on your side. How could you expect anything less? Why would anybody trust you if you’re not straight or truthful with them?

When it comes to establishing transparency in your business, you should:

  • Establish a set of core values
  • Never make selling an end goal
  • Keep your door metaphorically open at all times
  • Be an open book
  • Always seek to respond to your employees in a timely manner
  • Remain open to the opinions and suggestion of others at all times
  • Create a community feel in your workspace (and in your online space, too)

Your employees are the lifeblood of your business. Without them, as comprehensively stated, you have no business. It is essential, then, that you keep them on your side at all times and at all costs. To do this, you should stick by them when things get tough, and you should always be transparent with them.

The Failures A Leader Should Never Tolerate

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership|The Failures A Leader Should Never TolerateAs a leader, being understanding of mistakes and even merciful when possible is often the right strategy to take. Your team needs room to grow and if you come down too hard on all problems, you create a culture where people simply aren’t willing to bring your attention to those problems, so they fester.

However, you also have to show courageous leadership and even be confrontational when it comes to the serious issues. Otherwise, you have no authority and you create an environment where everything is permissible. With that in mind, here are some failures that you cannot tolerate as a leader, and how you should combat them.

Preferential treatment

This is a problem that you’re going to see in almost every workplace. Exceptional team leadership means being able to delegate, to discipline, and to praise evenly across the board, regardless of personal chemistry or whether you and a colleague don’t see eye-to-eye. However, your discipline isn’t always the problem. The other managers and team leaders can fall prey to the temptations of preferential leadership. You have to be able to spot the signs of it and to ensure that the leaders beneath you know that is simply is not permitted. Otherwise, you may have to find other leaders who won’t fall into the same trap.

Passing the buck

As mentioned, a culture where your team feels free to communicate and report misconduct in the workplace is important. You have to create that culture of accountability yourself. The best way to do that is to hold yourself responsible when possible. If your team fails to meet a business goal, rather than blaming them, apologize for your role in making that failure happen. Be forgiving with small mistakes, as mentioned, so your team is more willing to take accountability. There will be those who try to pass the buck onto others, and you may have to make an example by reprimanding them for doing that rather than simply taking the blame, themselves.


Employee theft comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes, and it’s not always targeting you directly. However, whether it’s a stapler, a filing cabinet, or cash, you cannot tolerate an employee who rips you off, rips a client off, rips a supplier off, or rips one of their colleagues off. Implement different approaches to prevent theft as best as you can but be willing to address the problem and nip it in the bud as soon as it happens. People who are willing to steal from those they work with cannot be trusted in any capacity and should be let go. It doesn’t matter if they’re working in the mail room or if they’re with you for the daily briefing in the executive team every day.

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership|The Failures A Leader Should Never TolerateDrug use

Alcohol and drug abuse are a sad fact of modern life. It’s a disease that’s spreading through society, affecting countless individuals, families and, yes, even workplaces. Effective, empathetic leaders will provide pathways or help in finding treatment for substance abuse, but that doesn’t mean that they will tolerate it in their workplace. Addiction is a dangerous condition, one that can endanger the safety of the others in the workplace. Finding the right method to test for it and removing the affected individual, if found, from the workplace is the first priority. How you choose to help them or not comes after that. However, it is important to show empathy to the stresses and troubles of your team where and when that’s possible.

Digital misconduct

Nowadays, a business is often most vulnerable in its digital spaces. Most businesses that suffer a major data breach do not survive past two years. For that reason, you have to make it as clear as possible to your team that digital security protocols simply must be followed. Those who neglect their duties or who willingly allow unauthorized access to sensitive data cannot be tolerated. Working with an IT security provider can help you close the vulnerabilities that they open and, furthermore, can help you realize when employees have been tricked or negligent or when they have intentionally contributed to the vulnerability that comes with a data breach.


Workplace bullying, discrimination, or harassment of any kind is a noxious weed that takes root deeply and spreads fast if allowed. It creates a culture of intimidation, fear, and coercion that can irreversibly impact the sense of trust and team identity that you work hard to build. As such, you must act to stamp it out as hard as possible, with no reprieve for the culprits no matter their position or personal/working relationship with you. The best way to combat harassment is as a team. Provide safe, anonymous ways of start HR reports, provide tips on how to identify and report it, make sure that it’s clear you have a zero-tolerance approach to harassment. If you fail your duties to provide an environment where harassment is treated seriously, your business is liable for the damage suffered.

Safety snafus

Every workplace has its safety issues. Even in an easy-going, secure office, slips, trips and falls and fire hazards still exist. It’s important to make sure your team is aware of the workplace safety policies and practices that you have in place. It’s just as important to make sure that they never cut corners when it comes to worksafe practices. If they undertake any actions that endanger themselves or others in the workplace, they need to be trained in safe practices from the beginning. In the case of a breach that could cause serious harm, you may want to consider further punishment. The consequences of allowing someone to be seriously injured on your watch are too great to simply let it slide.

As a leader, there are going to be situations that test your resolve and demand hard decisions. It’s important that you be aware of the risks and have strategies in place to deal with them so that you’re able to effectively show that authority when you need to.

7 Skills Required For Exceptional Team Teadership

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article |Leadership Skills|7 Skills Required for Exceptional Team LeadershipThere are many types of managers but it takes a certain skill set for a manager to consistently lead their team to long-term success. While skills can definitely be taught (growth mindset), exceptional team leadership requires abilities and characteristics that do not come naturally to everyone.

Why are leadership skills so important? Quite simply, they set the mold for ‘the way we do things around here’, which has a huge impact on the culture and success of an organisation.

Think you have what it takes? Want to know what distinguishes great team leaders from mediocre ones? Here are 7 skills all exceptional team leaders naturally possess.

Effective communication

To be an effective team leader, communication is key. Good communication is an essential component of achieving goals and contributes hugely to positive working relationships. Conflict at some point in any team is inevitable, but an exceptional leader has the expertise to ensure everybody has a voice and feels heard. They are able to quickly diffuse any conflict.

Good communication skills involve really listening, keeping it short, asking questions, noticing body language and repeating back a summary of what has been discussed. Active listening is often seen as a soft skill, but it is fundamental to being a great leader and drives employee engagement.

Communication is becoming increasingly difficult when it comes to managing remote workers in the digital age. But great leaders always make time for small talk with everyone and use video technology to communicate with the remote members of their team.

Transparent and trustworthy

Good leadership is built on a foundation of trust, which requires a certain level of transparency. Being transparent doesn’t mean sharing everything on the google drive or divulging everyone’s salary (though some businesses operate with more openness than others).
Broadly speaking, good leaders will share information and not keep facts secret to build up their own sense of power. There are many good reasons team leaders should practise transparency, but most importantly it helps to foster better relationships with staff. Along with effective communication it encourages employees to share their ideas too and this is essential for innovation.
Ultimately, the sharing of information is essential for employees to make better informed decisions.

Knowledgeable and confident

To be a credible leader you have to be able to support your team and problem-solve. Knowledge and confidence are just two of the attributes required to foster respect from your employees. People like to work with leaders who are confident and know what they are talking about.

Effective delegating

Great leaders know they need to delegate in order to get work done, but also understand the importance of delegation in relation to improving opportunities and staff development. Delegating isn’t about dumping the work you don’t fancy doing onto someone else.
To be an effective leader you’ll need to demonstrate your ability to roll up your sleeves and pitch in with the workload. You also need to be mindful not to hold onto your work. Motivating and inspiring team members relies on effective delegation and this means delegating authority, as well as tasks.

Exceptional team leaders aren’t afraid of succession planning and will delegate responsibilities to help build the careers of their team members. Great managers surround themselves with highly successful people.

Energise employees to achieve

One of the key skills and competencies requested by those recruiting for team leaders is the ability to motivate themselves and members of their team. Employees can have all the expertise in the world, but if they’re not motivated, then productivity and business success won’t come easily and employees won’t achieve their potential.

Every team member will have different motivators. A great team leader knows this and works with individuals to understand what these are and successfully motivate them.

Give continuous feedback

Giving and receiving feedback on a continuous basis is key to engaging people and keeping them on track. The annual appraisal is an outdated management tool and by its nature is often an event dreaded by employees who feel a whole year of ‘constructive criticism’ is about to be dumped upon them.

Great leaders give feedback on a continuous basis to address issues and guide employees, as well as to give positive feedback which helps to boost confidence and ability. Good leaders are able to deliver difficult feedback constructively and effectively with the right intention (to help employees improve what they aren’t doing so well). For employees to be receptive to feedback it needs to be delivered frequently with care.

Fair, ethical and honest

Being honest, fair and ethical are crucial character traits of an exceptional team leader. Acting with integrity and not engaging in behaviour in the workplace that is toxic will impact positively on how you are regarded by employees in your team and across the entire organisation.

Being fair, you don’t have favourites and you abide by the same rules you impose upon your team. Importantly, exceptional leaders will always question whether they have personal bias to ensure that they don’t subconsciously develop any.
While these are all management skills that can be learned, the truly best leaders will find all of this comes naturally.

Engagement in the Implementation of Strategic Intent

The Opportunity

Every day, I see businesses struggling to achieve high levels of long-term performance. Upon scrutiny I often find that they have – on paper – excellent and well thought out strategic plans. Their shortcomings are normally in the applications of the strategic plan and I find they usually fall into one of three areas; I call them gaps:

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | Engagement in the Implementation of Strategic Intent

As they seek to improve on their year to year performance, I find many firms ardently working on the focus and alignment gap. Yet the improvement in their results do not seem to mirror their efforts – not at all. First, since the advent of Hoshin Kanri (HK) planning firms have found an excellent model to achieve focus and alignment both vertically and horizontally, throughout their entire firm. HK planning can be a very effective technique, even if not practiced fully as taught by Yoji Akao. Second, by any objective measure, the greatest opportunity to improve results is achieved by closing the Engagement Gap. Typical engagement levels across the US are in the 30% range and for manufacturing they are even lower, around 25%. Since most firms are in the 25-30% range and world class is 75% engagement, the gulf between what is typical and what is attainable is huge. The engagement gap is the target rich environment for improvement that firms need to exploit if they wish to attain long-term, strong performance.

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | Engagement in the Implementation of Strategic Intent | Sustaining Workforce EngagementWhat Is The Engagement Profile?

Gallup has defined 3 categories of engagement: the “engaged”; the “not-engaged”; and the “actively disengaged”. The engaged are those people who are moving & shaking, making improvements, and genuinely care about what goes on at the business. This is around 30% of the entire work population. The “not-engaged” are doing what is necessary, they follow all the rules – but not much else. They are often working in a fog and seem to be sleep-walking their way through the day. They comprise around 52% of the work population. Then there are the “actively disengaged”. These are the people who might be fighting to stay on the payroll – or not. Regardless they are resistive, contrary and fighting the system at every turn in the road. They comprise 18% of the workforce.

Just What Is Engagement?

There are two commonly held management paradigms about engagement which are widely held, but unfortunately, they are both wrong:

  • Engagement is equal to hard working and
  • Engagement is a “worker thing”

Engaged workers have three very salient qualities. First, they are physically committed, so they are hard working. They have body commitment. Second, they are intellectually committed so they are actively working to make improvements to the process and the product. They have head commitment. Third, they are interested in the business and care that it succeeds. They have heart commitment. Being engaged in the workplace encompasses hard work but it goes well beyond that.

As for engagement being only a worker thing – as if the supervisors, managers and denizens of the C-suite were naturally engaged – is a myth. Although management engagement is somewhat higher, at 35% it is nowhere near world class levels. In most firms, there is ample improvement room for everyone.

What’s The Appropriate Response?

With your business in need of an infusion of “whatever it takes to succeed” you need look no further than improving your engagement. With 70% either not-engaged or actively disengaged, you clearly have a target rich environment. And just how do you capture that? The answer is technically simple but operationally has proven to be a major problem to many. To get employees engaged it is as simple as management making sure that all people:

1. Know what to do
2. Know how to do it
3. Have the resources to do it
And 4, that management focus on creating an environment where it is possible for people to perform.

Sounds Simple? Think You Are Already Doing This?

If you believe you and your firm are accomplishing this simple list of 4 items above, then why is your firm not attaining long-term, strong performance? If you take a cold, hard, dispassionate and introspective look at that deficiency, it is virtually impossible to not find needed improvement in one or more of the categories above.
Give the 4 items above your management attention and you’ll have not only a healthy, happy and productive workforce, but strong long-term performance as well.

About the Author

Lonnie Wilson is the author of Sustaining Workforce Engagement: How To Ensure Your Employees Are Healthy, Happy, And Productive and founder of Quality Consultants where clients include firms in manufacturing as well as the fields of education, healthcare and other service sectors. Quality Consultants serves small firms as well as Fortune 500 firms in North, South, Central America, and China.

For more information, please visit www.qc-ep.com.

Following Leadership’s Qs

StrategyDriven Management and Leadership Article | Following Leadership’s Qs | Business Leadership | Steve CoughranWhat makes a good leader? If tasked with answering this question, some might devise a 10-page list of traits. Leaders need to be visionaries. They must be genuine, hardworking, respectful, and pragmatic. They should connect with employees. They should be story-tellers.

We hold leaders to a high standard, attaching a lengthy list of prerequisites to any governing role. Before starting as CFO, I repeatedly scanned through my leadership qualities, considering how I would present myself to my new colleagues. The night before my first day, a jumble of questions raced around my sleepless mind: “How will I balance openness with authority?” “How do I provide the appropriate amount of guidance to my team?” “How will I know if I am being effective?”

After serving in a variety of leadership roles over the last two decades, I still have a lot to learn. I have, however, worked to chip away at the long list of leadership traits by understanding the key areas where leaders must succeed. In my experience, the myriad of leadership characteristics can be boiled down to the Qs.

IQ (Intellectual Quotient): The first focus area is the most straight-forward. Of course, ascending the organizational ladder requires intellectual horsepower. Most leadership positions demand foresight, complex problem solving, and creativity, that of which requires sharp mental faculty.

Most leaders fulfill this first criterion. Unsurprisingly, cognitive ability is directly linked to job performance. Those with high IQs have dazzled their superiors with high-quality work and valuable insights, using brainpower as jet fuel to soar into top leadership spots. IQ is the first Q of leadership, as it gets your foot in the door.

EQ (Emotional Quotient): While earning my Master of Accounting, one of my colleagues shined as the star of our cohort. She was incredibly gifted with numbers. Following graduation, we both eagerly accepted offers to work in public accounting for Ernst and Young. After a short six months, however, she had moved on to another opportunity. Apparently, after bouncing around due to team conflicts, she had been asked to leave. Neither expertise nor credentials could outweigh the importance of EQ in a team environment.

IQ in isolation does not indicate strong leadership potential. In recent years, the power of EQ, the ability to read others’ emotions (including your own), has been exalted as a key trait in successful leaders. A study of UC Berkeley PhDs discovered that EQ was 40 times more powerful in predicting who achieved success in their fields than IQ (Developing Management Skills). Emotional competencies combined with strong cognitive abilities lays the foundation for an effective leader.

FQ (Financial Quotient): One of the most frequently overlooked requirements of a strong leader is financial intelligence. In a national Harvard study of U.S. managers, the average score on a simple financial literacy test was 38% (Harvard Business Review).

When elevated into leadership positions, it’s often assumed that people understand finance. However, I have encountered even senior leaders who have muddled along with very little knowledge of how to enact and measure value creation activities.

A company is a financial machine created to produce profit and cash flow, therefore leaders with decision-authority (and especially those with P&L responsibility) must understand how they make an impact on the bottom line. For today’s leaders, financial literacy is not an option. Strategy without finance is dead.

SQ (Strategy Quotient): Finally, even the brightest, most emotionally and financially-gifted leaders flounder without strategic direction. SQ is the bow that ties all the other leadership skills together. It puts the other Qs to work. Strategic leaders carve out structure without being rigid. They extend the abilities of the team and lead them into new, unpredictable territories by taking calculated risks. They’re aware of internal and external happenings. Overall, they see the big picture, and guide their team by sharing an inspired vision.

Follow the Qs of leadership to unlock the potential of your talent, maximize the impact of your organization, and escalate your bottom line.

About the Author

Steve Coughran is author of Outsizing: Strategies to Grow your Business, Profits, and Potential, CFO of an international billion-dollar company, and a management consultant. Steve has over two decades of experience driving business excellence. Known for his extensive research and writing on strategic growth and corporate financial management, he challenges conventional wisdom, earning the reputation of an “energetic trailblazer.” He is an expert on strategy and an acclaimed keynote speaker with over twenty years of experience driving corporate excellence.

For more information, please visit www.SteveCoughran.com.