Is Patience a Virtue?

We live in a world where the pace is constantly increasing.  An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense ‘intuitive linear’ view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate), according to Wikipedia. Accelerating change – Wikipedia

90% of the world’s data was generated in the last 2 years How Fast Is Technology Growing Statistics [Updated 2021] (leftronic.com).  The adoption of mobile devices has led to the mass adoption of mobile banking technologies.  5G network technology is expected to be 100 times faster than the 4G standard, delivering 10 gigabits per second. The technological progress of mobile broadband networks will enhance IoT, bringing faster wireless internet to cars, refrigerators, and other innovations.

Workers in technology companies and other high-growth industries, routinely work 60+ hour weeks just trying to keep up.   In the last 40 years, Americans, just on average, have been working longer hours for more weeks a year. The average worker in 1980 put in 38.1 hours for 43 weeks a year. Today, the average employee works 46.8 weeks a year for a total of 38.7 hours a week.  Small increase but hey add up!

So, does patience Four Reasons to Cultivate Patience (berkeley.edu)have a place any longer in our amped-up society?  It does when it comes to human interaction.  You can be impatient with the process, focus on meeting deadlines and project plans and strive to deliver ahead of schedule.  However, there is an inverse relationship between being able to achieve the above and the amount of patience you show to the individuals on your team.  Give your employees time to finish their thoughts before jumping in.  Make sure you listen more than you speak.  It can be tempting to jump in right away with your own ideas but resist that urge and just listen and ask probing, not leading, questions. For many people, silence is uncomfortable. A break in a conversation for too long can feel awkward. Rather than succumbing to it. Use it to your advantage. Next time you feel like jumping right in to say something, pause and count to 10 in your head. You’re likely to find the other person in the conversation will step in to fill the silence. If you’re a manager, this is a powerful tool. It gives your people an opportunity to fully share what’s on their minds. How Managers can be more Effective Listeners to Better Lead their Teams (getlighthouse.com)

Different people process information at different speeds.  Giving your team members the freedom and opportunity to process all of the information and then revert back with questions will likely yield superior results in the end.  They will usually be more receptive to whatever change you are bringing forth as they will have had the time to adjust.  Not everyone can move at the same pace and human nature is to resist something until you have had time to think it through.

Start with the strongly held belief that everyone comes to work wanting to do their best.  Giving your employees the space they need and being patient with those who move at a different pace is the key to successful leadership!

Our Attitude is our Altitude

I have to admit that this Is not my witty saying.  It is a reference from a beautifully written piece by Korn Ferry Korn Ferry | Organizational Consulting CEO, and published author, Gary Burnison. Gary Burnison (kornferry.com) He explained it this way:

When one person says thank you, it can set off a positive chain reaction. The reason lies in emotional intelligence (EI). Daniel Goleman, who has done extensive research and writing on EI and who works closely with our firm, has explained that when we develop and express our EI, we transmit more positive feelings such as gratitude than negative ones. It’s like a spark that ignites as others respond. Moods shift and positivity elevates everyone. Then our attitudes truly become our altitude.

As I read it, it reminded me of one of our own Guiding Principles at Tricon Residential. Tricon Residential – Rental Living Reimagined To elevate each other so together we leave an enduring legacy.  Similar to the ripples in the pond, each of our actions every day has a consequence.  Some purposefully intended and some not. But each of has choice to positively impact those around us or to think only of ourselves.  We have such a broader impact when we choose the former. By choosing to spread positivity, there is a ripple effect that spreads out likes rays from the sun, finally reaching earth some 90+ million miles away.  Gestures do not have to be large to make an impact.  Simply remembering to be grateful and to share thankfulness and appreciation is enough.

Appreciation is a cornerstone of the culture at Southwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines | Book Flights, Make Reservations & Plan a Trip named by Forbes as America’s #13 Best Employer of 2018. One way the company appreciates employees is by paying attention to special events in their personal lives—from kids’ graduations to marriages to family illnesses—and recognizing those with small gestures like flowers and cards. “We’re all encountering different obstacles in our life, we’re all celebrating different things in our life,” says Cheryl Hughey, managing director of culture at Southwest.

Studies show that grateful employees How to Exude Gratitude at the Office and Bring Value (dawnstebbing.com)are more concerned about social responsibility, for example. Grateful employees—as well as employees who receive more gratitude—also perform more “organizational citizenship” behaviors: kind acts that aren’t part of their job description, like welcoming new employees and filling in for coworkers.

In fact, gratitude and kindness seem to form a positive loop in the workplace. Just as gratitude leads to altruistic behavior, research suggests that the opportunity to help others and serve a cause is one of the major sources of gratitude at the office.

So, remember to say thank you often, go out of your way to show appreciation, and check in on each other regularly!

Reimagining Recruitment

Being unable to hire qualified workers is the most critical and widespread challenge businesses face today in the post-pandemic world.  Businesses that don’t have enough employees are forced to reduce their hours, scale down operations, and in some cases, permanently close, all leading to a less than rosy economic recovery.  

In a recent Committee to Unleash Prosperity paper CTUP_BonusUnemploymentBenefitsLaborShortage.pdf (committeetounleashprosperity.com) by Casey Mulligan, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, who served as chief economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, the latest monthly jobs report from the Department of Labor for April and May have shown disappointing employment increases, flat job participation rates, and a slight increase in the number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits.  Two weeks before the May jobs survey, the BLS counted 9.3 million unfilled jobs in America, even with more than nine million Americans “unemployed.” The 9.3 million unfilled jobs is almost 2 million beyond the pre-pandemic record for the U.S., and the policy riddle is why more unemployed workers are not getting back in jobs. Small business owners around the country—construction firms, restaurants, bars, retailers, hospitals, and factories—are complaining that workers they want to rehire are less likely to work now. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, some nine of 10 small employers are citing a shortage of workers as a top concern. 

Back in March, Congress and President Biden enacted the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. H.R.1319 – 117th Congress (2021-2022): American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress

Because of the $300-a-week bonus unemployment benefits enacted in March 2021, along with other expansions of welfare benefits and cash payments unrelated to work:

  • In 21 states and DC, households can receive a wage equivalent of $25 an hour in benefits 
    • with no one working. 
  • In 19 states, benefits are equivalent to $100,000 a year in salary for a family of four with 
  • two unemployed parents.
  • In all but two of the blue states, $300 Supplemental Unemployment Insurance benefits 

plus other welfare pay more than the wage equivalent of a $15 minimum wage

There are 1.4 available workers per job opening in the US. This rate is just half the average of the past 20 years

Clearly, corporations are going to need to woo these workers back to work.  According to Jennifer Shappley,  Jennifer Shappley | LinkedIn the vice president of global talent acquisition at LinkedIn, the key to success in fighting the war for talent, is for corporations to offer flexibility to their employees. 

Forward-thinking companies recognize that employees, just like consumers, are attracted to different types of flexibility.  The below are some ways you might consider enticing your prospective employees and current workforce back to the office

  • Offer a hybrid model where they work 2-3 days in the office and the remaining days in an alternate location
  • Create more inclusive job advertisements. Job listings referring to “responsibilities” rather than “requirements “. LinkedIn finds a 14% increase in candidates when job posts mention responsibilities, but not requirements
  • Consider whether a 4- year bachelor’s degree is necessary.  LinkedIn reports a 20% increase in managers hired who didn’t possess a traditional four-year degree.
  • Be empathetic and concerned about your employee’s mental health- allow sick days to be used for “wellness days”
  • Re-imagine the workplace to be warm and inviting
  • Create informal areas where employees can collaborate with each other
  • Sponsor afternoon events where employees can enjoy a glass of wine and each other’s company

At the end of the day, monetary compensation is only one reason why employees work.   Help your employees to balance their work and personal lives, provide a comfortable and relaxing work environment and allow them responsibilities where they feel fulfilled at the end of the day and you will attract the candidates you need!

The Performance Improvement Process

sherrie suski-employee performanceThere are many philosophies and lines of thought on carrying out a performance improvement process with your employees. Probably as many as there are in terms of how to discipline your kids and, honestly, there is probably some overlap.  The root of a consistent, equitable, defensible performance improvement process is communication and documentation.

Document and communicate what you are trying to achieve

It starts with ensuring that you know what behavior and goals you are trying to achieve and that those are DOCUMENTED and then COMMUNICATED to your employees.  It would surprise you to know how often I hear that Susie is not following the rules or that Tom is not meeting his goals, when, in fact, the manager has never sat down with Susie or Tom to explain the rules to them, help them to understand the goals and ask if they have any questions.

Catch infractions early

The next part that always catches me off guard is when the manager comes into my office and is ready to terminate someone that day.  All of these offenses and infractions have been building up for months and now the manager simply cannot go another minute with this employee.  My first question is always “Have you COMMUNICATED these issues to the employee and DOCUMENTED them in writing.  Nine times out of 10, the answer is “no”.  Conflict is uncomfortable, but a necessary part of managerial life and especially necessary in a performance improvement process.  It doesn’t have to be exceptionally unpleasant or result in a screaming match; in fact it can be very matter of fact and held in a normal tone of voice.  If your employee is not doing what you need them to do, you have to let them know and the sooner the better.  Do yourself a favor and get into the habit of documenting your conversations so you will have notes to look back on.

Stay consistent

Most performance improvement processes consist of some combination of friendly reminders, verbal warnings, first written warnings, final or second written warning and terminations.  Exactly what your process is, is less important than two points 1) that you fully communicate the policy and 2) that you remain consistent.  Inconsistent application of your policy is the easiest way to lose in front of the EEOC or in litigation.  You may not mean to be discriminatory, but if you are not consistent, you run the risk of treating a certain protected class unfairly.

Follow up

Lastly, follow up. Similar to the first time you tell your child to pick up their clothes, unless you have the world’s most remarkable child, it isn’t going to happen the first time you ask and remain consistent for the rest of their life.  Just because you ask your employee to change their behavior, it is going to be necessary for you to remind them.  Compliment them if they are improving and bring to their attention when they start to backslide.

Performance Improvement is all about helping your employees to succeed and become valued members of your team!