Leadership – Ultimate Software's Blog http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com Thoughts on Putting People First in the Workplace Tue, 23 May 2017 19:20:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Trivia Crack and the Power of “First Guessing” http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-first-guessing/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/leadership-and-the-power-of-first-guessing/#respond Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:20:08 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=318 By Colin McLetchie Colin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and […]

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By Colin McLetchie

Colin Mc Letchie, President of Five Ways Forward LLC, on Getting at the Heart of Employee EngagementColin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and organizations move forward to success at work and in life. Find out more at www.fivewaysforward.com  or  colin@fivewaysforward.com.

So there I was, taking a break from, well, whatever I should have been working on, and playing some Trivia Crack, as one does (Trivia Crack is the phone app version of Trivial Pursuit). I had yet to beat my friend Laura in a game, and I was oh — sooooo —  close. A question comes up…this is for the win, mind you…Entertainment, a category I’m pretty solid in:

How old were Jimi Hendrix & Janis Joplin when they died?

Ok, a bit before my time, but not outside the realm of my knowledge. Immediately, my finger – driven by my gut instinct – flies to “27.” “Press it,” my gut and finger tell me, “do it. DO IT. DOOOOOO IT!!!”

But no. Suddenly my brain kicks in with doubt, uncertainty and a different answer. “It’s 26, not 27. You can’t be right on the first guess. Think about it… THINK ABOUT IT! C’mon.”

Time’s running out. I can feel the pressure. My heart is beating faster: “You want to win! Get it right!!!”

So in a panic I go with my brain and press “26″ – final answer… and… Waaahhh wahhhh… wrong. Bust. Loser. Nooooooooooooooo! Sigh.

If I had I just stuck with my first guess…

And this of course takes me back to all those questions I changed and got wrong on various multiple choice tests over the years in school. How often did I second guess myself and get it wrong – so very wrong! The prevailing accepted wisdom is that we should go with our first instinct when answering multiple choice questions. Except research shows that when students have the time to go back and review their work on these tests, any answers they change are predominantly changed to the correct answer!  Whoa! What?!?!

The challenge is this: life and leadership are rarely multiple choice moments with one correct answer. Sure, we have multiple options in any given moment of how we could show up, what decision we could make, etc. But there’s no answer key available later on to check our answers definitively: “oh, yeah, choice C would have been the correct choice!” There’s rarely one “right” answer, and we are trying to choose from a myriad of possible courses of action – many of which might be good.

The key to getting more answers correct on a multiple choice test then is to leave time to review your work. What would happen to our leadership presence if we took more time to review our work? And how might we do that?

We have available to us, all the time, these three ways of knowing things. As leaders, as people, we have access to them in any given moment. But how do we use them?I would offer that within us there are three primary intelligences or ways of knowing things:

The Brain: the seat of thinking, logic, reason, facts, etc. It’s processing and deciding things for us all the time.

The Heart: where our emotions and feelings seem to live. Our desire to connect with others, our passions and purpose and spirit.

The Gut: the realm of intuition; “I can’t tell you why, but my gut tells me…”

We have available to us, all the time, these three ways of knowing things. As leaders, as people, we have access to them in any given moment. But how do we use them?

With purpose. With conscious choice.

The next time you are faced with a difficult leadership or life choice, try this 10 minute exercise:

  • Get a pen and open to a fresh page in your journal or notebook (don’t keyboard this – you won’t access the body nearly as well)
  • Take a minute to just sit and be quiet, focus on your breathing, get present with your journal; focus on the blank page of possibilities
  • Then, frame the question or situation: Today, I seek wisdom on… or… I want to find my best course of action on…
  • Send your awareness to your mind. And ask it the question you wrote. Do 2 minutes of free writing. No editing, no revising, just write whatever comes out in response to what you asked.
  • Take a few clearing breaths and send your awareness to your heart, and do the same thing.
  • Breathe some and then ask your gut the question and write.
  • Let it all sit for a few minutes. Get up and walk around. Talk to a friend or colleague. Work on something else for a bit. Eat.
  • Come back later and read what you’ve written.

Look for alignments, differences, themes, and pay attention to what you notice in your body as you do this. What feels good inside, and where do you feel it? What seems like the “most right” decision? If body parts aren’t in alignment, what shifts might you make in your action plan to bring everyone on board or closer?

Then take action.

Don’t forget to “review your work” though! Set a calendar item for a week, a month, three months, even a year later (depending on size/scope/impact of the issue) and reflect on the decision you made, the actions you took, the impacts and outcomes. Go back to what you wrote. How well did you create what you’d hoped? Which of your intelligences was helpful? Which are more familiar/unfamiliar?  Which got in the way? How might you balance them? What would you do differently next time?

Use this framework over time and you will tune in and become more adept at discerning what combination of brain, heart, and gut will work in a given situation and build the muscle of bringing them into fuller alignment.

So remember, sometimes your first guess is the right one. Sometimes it’s not. Trivia Crack doesn’t give you the time to go back and review your work. Life most often does, if we take the time. Take it!

 

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The Characteristics of Great Leaders http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/the-characteristics-of-great-leaders/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/the-characteristics-of-great-leaders/#respond Fri, 12 Jun 2015 11:47:08 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=304 We at Ultimate Software are proud to announce that our Founder, President, and CEO, Scott Scherr, is among the Highest-Rated CEOs on Glassdoor for 2015! Each year, the online jobs and careers marketplace lists the top leaders from companies across North America and Europe. Results are based solely on candid feedback from current and former […]

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We at Ultimate Software are proud to announce that our Founder, President, and CEO, Scott Scherr, is among the Highest-Rated CEOs on Glassdoor for 2015!Highest Rated CEOs

Each year, the online jobs and careers marketplace lists the top leaders from companies across North America and Europe. Results are based solely on candid feedback from current and former employees, who report on topics such as job satisfaction, work environment, and company culture.

Scott founded Ultimate 25 years ago on a simple, but vital, principle: People First. This is far more than a catchy company slogan or tagline. At Ultimate Software, it’s our way of life. It’s an unconditional belief instilled in all of us.

If great leaders lead by example, how does a leader exemplify putting people first?

They listen to people. It’s no secret that successful leaders are knowledgeable and have great ideas. But they also recognize the value in listening to others. They understand—and will admit—that, sometimes, the best ideas are the ones they never thought of.

At Ultimate, each and every employee is allowed to speak up and share new ideas. No suggestion is bothersome. We aren’t told we must follow the same tried-and-true formula because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Instead, we’re challenged to find innovative ways of improving that very formula.

They empower people. Great leaders realize a suggestion box left unopened is just a box. They not only listen to others’ ideas, they evaluate suggestions and implement the concepts capable of benefiting the company’s people—employees and customers alike.

A tangible example of this at Ultimate is our 48 Hours event, where members of the Development Team can spend two straight days working and collaborating on their own special projects, so long as the work relates to company goals. The event culminates in a showcase, where participants present and vote on their favorite concepts. Many of UltiPro®’s existing features were inspired by 48 Hours.

Ultimate also empowers our customers, who are welcomed and encouraged to submit UltiPro feedback. This feedback has led to numerous UltiPro enhancements. In fact, of the over 400 new features added to UltiPro in 2014, more than 150 incorporated customer ideas.

They know success takes a team. Leaders who put people first know that success comes from the dedicated efforts of people, not a single person. These leaders treat every member of the team as their equal. That doesn’t mean there’s no hierarchy or chain of command within the organization. It means that no matter their spot on the org chart, each person plays an indispensable role in the company’s success. Each team member feels valued and respected. And they are.

At the SHRM 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition—while accepting Ultimate’s award for Best Medium-Size Company to Work For in America—Scott said, “The measure of a company is how they treat their lowest-paid employee.” This quote is displayed in the main lobby of our Weston headquarters, above our recreational basketball court.

But no matter how thoughtful or inspiring, a quote is just a collection of words. Much like slogans or taglines, few quotes are as impactful as action. Scott knows you can’t just say, “people first.” To be successful, you have to put people first.

Because great leaders walk the talk.

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Making Teleworking Work: The Magic Wand for Ensuring Success with Remote Team Members http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/making-teleworking-work-the-magic-wand-for-ensuring-success-with-remote-team-members/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/making-teleworking-work-the-magic-wand-for-ensuring-success-with-remote-team-members/#respond Tue, 10 Feb 2015 11:00:38 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=193 By Colin McLetchie Colin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and […]

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By Colin McLetchie

Making Teleworking WorkColin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and organizations move forward to success at work and in life. Find out more at www.fivewaysforward.com  or  colin@fivewaysforward.com.

Time and again during my 20+ years in Human Resources, I heard the same plea from managers at all levels: “Colin, tell me the secret to managing remote employees effectively.” With varying levels of anxiety, fear, trepidation, confusion, and even whining, this was among the top 5 questions I encountered. The good news is, there is a secret. There is a magic wand, and it’s gonna blow you away.

Do everything you would do for/with people in the office; just do it with greater discipline and purposefulness.

Ta da! That’s really all it takes. Use the effective management techniques already in your toolkit and do them more frequently, with more thought, more planning and more purpose. Treat your remote employees BETTER than your in office employees. This may sound crazy at first, and yet deep down there’s a little voice inside of you saying, “I think he might be onto something here.”

The big difference between in-office and remote employees is one key thing: convenience. It’s easy to catch up with an in-office colleague spur of the moment, to pop your head into their office to ask a quick question, to call them into an impromptu meeting or brainstorming session. In-office employees will naturally feel more connected and in tune because it will organically happen just by being there. Therefore, you are called to up your game with the remote employees. How can you do this? Seven Simple Steps:

  1. Stick to your scheduled meetings. If you have to inconvenience anyone on your team with schedule changes, pick the in-office staff first. Don’t cancel or move your remote staff’s one on one time. Barring emergencies (real emergencies), just don’t. If you’re going to be a few minutes late, send a quick IM, text or email to let them know when to expect the meeting to start.
  2. Connect personally. It’s easy with remote staff to get away from this; don’t let it happen. Get to know your employees, make connecting part of your one on ones, figure out what interests them or what worries they have, and connect with them as people.
  3. Use technology to support the connection.Skype, FaceTime, something. Put a face to the person. Find common technology tools you can use with each individual and with the team overall so everyone is using the same tools.
  4. Turn off distractions. Shut down email, turn off your cell phone, close your door, do what it takes to be fully focused on the remote team member. Being present is harder and more important.
  5. Meet in person periodically. Budget for and get the team together once or twice a year for connection and growth. Even better, have the manager get on the road to meet with individual team members where they work; go see their home office and spend a day with them there. Visit remote offices on a periodic basis. This is especially important for new team members.
  6. Ask. Check in occasionally with remote staff during one on ones: How are we doing in terms of helping you feel connected? What can I and the team do to increase your sense of connection?
  7. Trust. Most of us have a good sense as to whether someone is getting the work done and at a high quality. If someone doesn’t answer your IM immediately, it may be for a very good reason. If you find that you’re losing trust with a remote employee, have a conversation about that and seek to understand what’s going on. Then partner with the employee on what you both can do to increase the level of trust.

All of this is assuming that the employee has the temperament and skills to be an effective remote worker. Some people just aren’t good at or wired to be successful when sitting in a home office day after day.

By doing these Seven Simple Steps, your relationship with your remote staff will improve, and you will see better results.

And here’s a bonus for you. We’ve all had occasion to be the lone wolf on the end of a phone when everyone else is in the same room together. It is almost impossible to not feel at a huge disadvantage. How do you level the playing field? Four things will make all the difference:

  1. If anyone is going to be remote, make everyone remote .Particularly for on-going standing meetings, this can be hugely effective. If one person is on the phone, have everyone be on the phone. Or on video conference. Everyone will then be having the same experience and side conversations and other distractions are eliminated.
  2. Remember time zones.Occasionally move the meeting time to make it easier for remote staff, even if it means 10 out of 12 people have to get up an hour earlier. Doing this once or twice is a huge deposit for the remote staff and reinforces the sense of team.
  3. Intentionally solicit opinions from remote staff by calling on them by name and using good “what/how” questions to draw them out:    – Tanika, what would you add or reinforce in the discussion?- Manuel, what haven’t we thought about?
        – Tanika, what would you add or reinforce in the discussion?
        – Manuel, what haven’t we thought about?
        – Henry, what would make this even more successful?
        – Tonya, how might we be more effective in implementing our idea?
          – Jeanetta, what’s running through your head as you’re listening to us?
  4. Assign someone in the room to be the remote shepherd. Make this a rotational assignment for folks in the office to take ownership for ensuring the remote staff are in the conversation and having a good experience. It’s this person’s role to pay attention to whose voice isn’t being heard, to make sure technology is up and running, to call out “we’re on page 23 of the deck now” when someone doesn’t have access to technology, etc.

See, it’s simple really. Implement these practices in your workgroups and you will feel as if you’ve found the magic wand. Abracadabra!

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Live from #UltiConnect 2013: 4 Ways Today’s Business Leaders Can Embrace Millennials http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/live-from-ulticonnect-2013-the-one-quality-of-a-winning-team/ http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/live-from-ulticonnect-2013-the-one-quality-of-a-winning-team/#respond Fri, 15 Mar 2013 16:21:54 +0000 http://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=140 Millennials. Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them. But some business leaders would like to think that they could. Or at least that’s what some business leaders think. Words like lazy, entitled, impatient, spoiled and naive are tossed in the general direction of the Millennials coming into the workforce. But thinking that way is […]

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Millennials. Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them. But some business leaders would like to think that they could. Or at least that’s what some business leaders think. Words like lazy, entitled, impatient, spoiled and naive are tossed in the general direction of the Millennials coming into the workforce.

But thinking that way is so 2010. The Millennial generation is the future of business! Literally.

Today, there are approximately 80 million Millennials in the US, and by the year 2020, they’ll comprise roughly 50% of the workforce. So it’s imperative that we, as business leaders, rethink our “World of Work”, because the Millennial generation’s expectations are definitely different.

This week, at Ultimate Software’s Connections Conference in Las Vegas, Lisa Sterling – Senior Director of People Engagement at Ultimate Software, provided some practical tips and insights for embracing Millennials in the workplace, including:

Understand what motivates the Millennial generation. Salaries and benefits are still important, but when it comes to Millennials, they’re very focused on work and workplaces with a compelling purpose. Does your company support the environment, provide opportunities to volunteer in the community or support philanthropic initiatives? Can employees see a connection to the Company’s results with their own efforts? If so, your organization may be more attractive to Millennials in terms of both recruiting and retention than your industry counterparts.

Rethink the “HOW” of communicating. Millennials are hyper-connected. They prefer texting or instant messaging to talking on the phone. They’ve grown up in a world where answers are available in seconds just by texting or tweeting someone, or asking Google or Wikipedia. They thrive in a world of instant feedback and information – and on their own terms. Leading organizations are figuring out ways to embrace this need for constant communication through the use of online social collaboration tools like Yammer, Chatter, Jive, in-house systems, etc. Harnessing the opportunity to share ideas and connect with others throughout the company can produce extremely positive and creative results.

Rethink development programs and training. In general, Millennials view their careers differently than past generations. They’re not looking for a company to join and commit to for the rest of their working life. They’re interested in “portfolio careers” and are seeking opportunities where they can grow and develop – both personally and professionally – and have a wide variety of experiences. Sitting through a multi-day training class is uninteresting to them. They’re more interested in experiential learning opportunities and on demand or self-paced learning. Effective delivery of training and development programs of the future (and today) might include podcasts, YouTube videos or Google Hangouts. The Millennial workforce may prefer to consume this content on a Saturday afternoon while taking a hike or during their commute to work. They’re interested in career opportunities that work with their lifestyle, so why not create ways to allow them to blend their work and life as a part of growing their careers?

Provide more feedback/increase frequency. According to a recent MTV study, over half of Millennials want feedback on their work performance at least once per week. Traditional annual Performance Reviews? Not appealing. If this is where your organization is at currently, consider a small step such as moving annual Performance Reviews to semi-annual, or quarterly, and focus discussions on the employee’s “Journey” towards achieving Goals, not solely on the Goals themselves. Track what they’re working on as well as how they’re getting there and provide continuous feedback. Millennials don’t want to wait for a performance review once per year. They’d prefer to have continuous feedback from managers and peers – because they want to be able to make changes and perform better.

To embrace the Millennial generation in today’s workplace, not every company has to have unique spaces and activities for their employees. It’s more about evolving our current workplace policies and practices to meet the needs and expectations of the incoming generations.

In the future, they’ll be the generation trying to figure out how to deal with their successors. So teach them well!

 

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