How to Be Compassionate Without Destroying Consistency

By Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders

The other day, “Joe” reached out with a genuine dilemma. Throughout this crisis, he’s encouraged his supervisors to be compassionate.  Because, like you, he knows that everyone is dealing with their own set of challenging circumstances.

Like you, he’s focused on doing the right thing for the human beings on the team. Which, of course, means an extra dose of flexibility.

This compassionate, flexible approach worked great—at first. But, now, half a year into this work-at-home reality, with no end in sight, people are complaining about consistency.

And frankly, a few folks are taking advantage of the loosened expectations. The results could be better. The supervisors who try to reign things in look like the bad guys.  Frustration abounds.

How to Calibrate Compassionate Consistency

So what should Joe (and you) do? How do you reset expectations without being a jerk? How do you create compassionate consistency within and across teams?

It starts with setting parameters and calibrating with specific examples.

We find it helpful to think about decisions in three buckets: hard lines, soft lines, and your lines.

Hard Lines

These are areas where employees don’t have much discretion. Think compliance, ethics issues, or even brand standards. Your people can’t bend a rule like that without coming to you.

And, you’re not likely to budge either. Being really clear about your hard line parameters saves time and frustration—for everyone.

Soft Lines

Soft lines are decisions that have more discretion.  People are free to make the call, within certain boundaries. This is where calibration is vital.

For example, suppose you will bend your attendance policy, giving people an extra chance for extraordinary family circumstances during this time. What does that actually mean? It’s likely that your managers will have different interpretations of what constitutes “extraordinary.”

Start by identifying what decisions fall into your “soft lines” bucket, and then play with some imaginary “what if” scenarios, and help the team collaborate and discuss what they would do. It’s far easier (and way less emotional) to calibrate on what compassion looks like in “pretend” situations. And, having already had a similar discussion makes it easier when the time comes to make the tough call.

Your Lines

And if there are areas where your team truly has discretion, be very clear about what those are.   For example, if you only need people in “the office” (working synchronously) during certain hours, say so. And give them the flexibility to manage the rest of their schedule around their life. Or, perhaps you’re requiring every manager to hold a weekly one-on-one with each member of their team, but exactly what that looks like is up to them.

It’s surprising how often people feel overly constrained in areas where they actually have discretion.

The antidote to uncertainty is clarity. The more clear you can be about who owns the decision, and calibrate on what a compassionate response actually looks like, the easier it will be for your managers to make the right, and more consistent, call.

Making the Case for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion During Disruption

Gartner, July 14, 2020 Contributor: Jackie Wiles

Learn seven ways HR leaders can keep diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) top of mind amid economic and business disruption. 

What seems like a watershed moment for DEI could be lost as senior leaders tackle the coincident pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial tensions and an economic downturn. But HR leaders can keep DEI efforts at the forefront.

While recent, widespread protests against racism prompted countless organizations to make public commitments to diversity and equitable treatment for all employees, the pandemic only highlights glaring inequities that organizations must still acknowledge and address. 

Workplace equity isn’t only the right thing to do; it’s a strategic and financial advantage 

“Underrepresented groups — racial/ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and women — have been disproportionately affected by the health and economic impacts of COVID-19,” says Lauren Romansky, Managing Vice President, Gartner. “And yet, in a recent Gartner survey, only 2% of HR leaders identified DEI, by itself, their No. 1 priority in light of the pandemic.” 

Learn more: Drive Results Through Workforce Diversity

And now, many organizations may be tempted to reexamine and potentially roll back commitments to DEI programs or initiatives, especially as cost-conscious leaders weigh or implement hiring freezes, furloughs and layoffs to combat the economic fallout from the pandemic. 

Hesitation would come at the very moment that leaders have committed to do more — and employees and other stakeholders increasingly expect them to make good on their promises.

Keep DEI top of mind

In the U.S., at least, early studies show that people of color are experiencing higher COVID-19 infection and mortality rates than their white counterparts, and economically, women and people of color are experiencing the greatest proportion of job losses.

This partly reflects the fact that women and minorities are overrepresented in the types of jobs most affected by social distancing measures — notably, positions in hospitality, travel, recreation and retail industries. Women and minorities are also more likely to be less tenured and hold marginal or low-authority positions, increasing their risk of suffering job losses during layoffs. 

 Help managers and leaders understand the link between DEI and business outcomes 

But as organizations navigate the pandemic and its effects, HR leaders can help limit the disproportionate impact on marginalized groups and ensure that DEI remains top of mind for leaders and managers. 

To do so, they must emphasize company culture and branding during and after the crisis, and help managers and leaders understand the link between DEI and business outcomes (including crisis resilience).

Employees, customers and other stakeholders are already paying close attention to how companies are responding to this crisis. They are likely to remember how different companies responded and which issues were stressed, acknowledged and communicated, as well as those that were sacrificed or went unaddressed. 

Companies that appear to practice their values will likely be viewed favorably, while those whose actions don’t align with expressed values may lose out — whether in terms of lower levels of trust, branding appeal, customer satisfaction, or employee engagement or retention.

The suggested actions for HR leaders reflect the reality surfacing in a growing body of research: Workplace equity isn’t just the right thing to do; it is a strategic and financial advantage. 

7 ways to rally support for DEI initiatives

  1. Identify highly affected employee segments and provide additional support. Consider how COVID-19-related disruptions affect different workforce segments, such as parents, certain demographics (younger or older), different gender groups, races and ethnicities, or those with disabilities (visible and invisible, e.g., those without technology skills).
  2. Leverage employee resource groups (ERGs) to communicate and connect with a wider network of employees throughout the organization and create social connections that might be missing in a remote work environment.
  3. Identify “volunteer” or expanded opportunities for HR and DEI teamsto partner more closely and support critical engagement and employee experience projects — especially in developing emotional well-being resources and remote work best-practices.
  4. Ensure that rapid response teams are diverse. Make sure these teams represent different parts of the business and geographies, as well as varied demographic groups.
  5. Partner with internal communications to embed DEI messaging. Advocate for communications that emphasize unity and shared sacrifice. Ensure that changes and strategies, including the DEI strategy, are positioned in an intentional and inclusive manner.
  6. Support and coach managers to incorporate inclusion in a remote and high-stress work environment. Ensure managers know what inclusive behaviors look like in a remote environment, are modeling them properly, are prepared for how they will be tested in a stressed environment and know how they can help all employees to be inclusive.
  7. Develop a working draft of your response to this question, “What did you do for your customers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic?” Partner with DEI teams and other organizational stakeholders to clearly articulate the ways in which the organization practiced its values and commitments.

Are you looking to pivot your career? Consider the field of community association management!

Community association management remains a strong career path, both in the U.S. and abroad. As you probably know, many service sectors jobs, particularly those in the hospitality industries, were hit hard by COVID-19. And while America’s job market added back 2.5 million jobs in May of this year, these industries are not putting as many people back to work as other industries are. 

As hiring starts to climb back up, there’s no denying a long job road lies ahead. But even in these difficult times, there are bright spots and opportunities for those who formerly worked in the service industries. The field of community association management is growing and offers great potential for professionals who want to continue in a people-facing career. 

The Community Associations Institute (CAI) estimates that as of 2018, there are approximately 347,000 community associations in the United States housing over 73 million residents. That’s 11 million more residents than just a decade ago. In fact, one in four people in the U.S. lives in a community association. There are approximately 8,000 community association management companies and up to 55,000 off and on-site community association managers in the U.S. alone.

As the number of people living in community associations increases, so too does the number of jobs for community association managers. If you’re a people person who’s skilled in multi-tasking, community management can be a great next career choice.

Career Outlook

Job prospects are excellent, especially for community association managers who hold both a college degree and a professional designation. It’s estimated that up to 26 percent of all ownership housing is in one of the three basic types of community associations. Many new job opportunities will open up for those interested in the field, while others will arise from the need to replace community association managers who transfer, retire, or leave the field. As of May 2019, the median annual wage for community association managers was just over $58,760.  Employment in the industry is projected to grow seven percent from 2018 to 2028.

As job prospects and wages vary from state to state, it’s a good idea to check out your area’s particulars

CMCA – The Essential Credential

The Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) credential is key to building a successful career in community association management. It signifies to employers you’re competent in specific management practices and are committed to professional excellence, ethical business standards, and continuing education. Employers are always on the lookout for dedicated professionals, and the CMCA credential after your name often makes the difference between whether or not you land the all-important first interview.

The CMCA credential is highly accessible:

  • It can be achieved with a limited investment of time and money on your part.
  • It takes a few days of prerequisite course work, some time for study, and one day for the exam. 
  • Its relatively low cost is a great investment in your future.

Earning the CMCA credential opens the door to higher earnings—on average 20 percent more—than non-credentialed community association managers. It is also a great way to build your professional expertise and image.

Is a Certified Manager of Community Associations Career Right for You?

If you were previously employed in a service sector position but were furloughed or had your job eliminated due to COVID-19, a career in community association management could be an excellent pivot for you. The work is varied, interesting, and satisfying as you work closely with residents and Board members, make site visits to the community, hire and supervise vendors, interact with community leaders, and so much more.

As a certified manager, you should have a thorough knowledge of the policies of the community association you hope to work for. Attention to detail, flexibility, and good organizational skills are essential characteristics that good community association managers possess. The best community association managers also have excellent interpersonal skills, are able to effectively communicate with a diverse range of people and thrive on multi-tasking. 

An Interactive and Rewarding Career Opportunity

The best parts of life as a community association manager are also built into the job itself. Not only do you earn a decent living, but you’re constantly learning new things and meeting interesting people from all walks of life. The odds of becoming bored on the job are slim—there are just too many different and interesting things to do!

Community association management is not for everyone, though. If you prefer a more laid-back work life with fixed hours and minimal or no job-related stress, you might want to pursue another career. But if you’re a real people-person who gets excited about staying up-to-date on things like frequent community management regulatory changes, possess a positive and enthusiastic attitude towards life, and can keep your wits about you when others are stressed, you can’t ask for a more engaging and stimulating career!

Becoming a Certified Manager of Community Associations is not merely a designation; it can lead to the journey of a lifetime. It elevates your credibility as a community association manager and makes employers more confident in hiring you. Finally, it offers you a wealth of opportunity, stability, and growth in an exciting career that still, even through COVID-19, shows no sign of slowing down.

How to think differently about leading and managing

Art Petty  August 27, 2020  

It wasn’t long ago when the phrase “think differently” evoked images of an Apple advertising campaign or the call to action from the cool kids in our corporate and startup playgrounds telling us how to innovate, to cope with the change that was going to disrupt everything.

Oh, for the good old days when all we had to do was think and talk about thinking differently. It’s incredible how a crisis turns squishy, abstract concepts into quick-setting concrete.

Few will argue that the pandemic’s stressors, shifting global and local tensions, and the ubiquitous sprint of technology demand new approaches to leading, managing and innovating. Unfortunately, there’s no real guide or GPS to reorient our brains and push us out of those well-honed grooves that represent the status quo. And when it comes to our approach to leading and all the ingrained habits and systems of managing, it becomes apparent that thinking and acting differently is extraordinarily difficult for biological and political reasons.

Here are some ideas to help jumpstart your level-up activities when it comes to solving new problems in new ways. 

Maybe George Costanza had it right: Do the opposite

One of my favorite cultural examples of thinking and acting differently comes from the classic sitcom, “Seinfeld,” where the hapless and chronic underperformer George Costanza decides to change things up and do the opposite of what he would typically do. Suddenly, George starts succeeding at everything, proving his theory. Unfortunately, success is short-lived, as he quickly reverts to his nature.  

While, in my opinion, much of life and work can be explained in “Seinfeld” episodes, a slightly more rigorous approach to thinking and acting differently is to challenge your assumptions on key activities rigorously.

Think differently about what it means to lead

When I talk with leaders at senior levels and ask them what their real job is, their answers end up in the neighborhood of painting a vision or pointing to a direction. Some suggest their role is about defining strategy. And others throw in some variation of getting the right people in the right seats.

While I have no qualms about the “right people” issue, the longstanding dogma on defining vision and strategy is questionable.

The underlying assumption is that the senior leader is in the role because they know where the organization needs to go and what to do to get there. While top leaders still have a voice for vision and strategy, it’s a big mistake not to accept help from the gray matter around them.

The right answers are somewhere below the C-suite and in the minds of the contributors and managers, at all levels. The challenge for senior leaders is to create the environment and systems to enable emergent and adaptive strategies and flexible execution, all fueled by rapid learning.

That’s a mouthful, so let’s break it down into some digestible questions:

  • What if the real job of senior leaders — and frankly, everyone involved in managing — was all about creating the right environment? What would this mean for goals, key performance indicators, reward system and daily calendars? 
  • What would you do differently if your daily obsession was about reducing the friction slowing down people and teams across the organization? 
  • What if you woke up every morning and found ways to help people experiment and learn faster, as well as accelerate decisions that moved initiatives forward?
  • What if you served the people in the firm instead of the other way around?

In organizations where I see leaders focused on the above questions, the environment has a different feel than the typical hierarchical and bureaucratic organizations so many of us know intimately. There’s a sense of urgency and an underlying optimism that everyone brings to their challenges. People feel respected, and the political environment is about deciding what needs to get done and who’s best for the work.

It feels healthy and right in this world, and it starts with thinking differently about the role and priorities of leaders. 

Think differently about talent acquisition

The leadership model described above only works if the organization is great at securing the right people with the right skills and giving them room to run. While there’s a lot of talk about winning the war for talent, in most organizations, the acquisition and development processes are mired somewhere in the late Industrial Revolution. 

It’s time to put a stake in models built on the premise that “Prior performance in a role is the best indicator of future success.” In a world where so many of the roles are new, and the challenges people are facing are novel and wickedly complex, there’s no reasonable basis for evaluation of prior performance in a traditional sense. 

Instead, it’s time to think differently and look for individuals who exhibit the characteristics of great video game players. These people embrace novel challenges and ever-shifting terrain filled with new adversaries and unique traps as they strive to level up. It’s this level-up mentality and skill set in the face of the unexpected that is critically needed now and forever. 

Think differently about talent development and retention

Individuals with the cognitive abilities and confidence to find ways to level up in the face of novel challenges don’t want traditional training, and they don’t want to be constrained by arcane evaluation and advancement processes and nonsensical job-leveling schemes.

These individuals hunger for an ever-changing set of experiences and opportunities to learn that make their brains boil with ideas. They want coaching to smooth the rough spots and fine-tune their skills for communicating, persuading and collaborating. And, they want and need opportunities to keep exploring. 

The idea of retaining or hoarding these people in your organization is anachronistic. It’s essential to let people explore and gain new experiences. A better approach for this era is a hybrid alumni model where you expect talented individuals to take on new opportunities.

Instead of restraining them, you help them land that external role or find a way to let them remain with you and work with the other party. If they leave, pave the way for their eventual return. And if they opt to play two games at once, as long as the competitive issues aren’t in the way, adjust their roles to enable this exploration. 

One CEO was excited to bring a talented professional into her organization. She believed this individual was perfect for the level-up challenges the firm was facing. Her counterpart at this employee’s previous firm reached out and asked for the opportunity to “share” the individual for six months to complete a critical project. Both parties agreed, and the individual loved the idea and delivered great results for both organizations. 

Bottom line

Much of the work of thinking differently feels counterintuitive. It is, because much like George fighting his nature, the ideas fly in the face of the patterns and approaches we’ve grown conditioned to in our lives. 

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the areas in our organizations where thinking differently is essential for survival and success. Teaming, strategy and problem-solving all loom large and merit this treatment.

However, starting with the role and work of leaders, adding talent and supporting development are perfect entry points. Expect resistance. Look for similarly motivated individuals and build coalitions dedicated to leveling up. And then keep moving, or the past is likely to catch you. 

Art Petty is an executive and emerging leader coach and a popular leadership and management author, speaker and workshop presenter. His experience guiding multiple software firms to positions of market leadership comes through in his books, articles, and live and online programs. Visit Petty’s Management Excellence blog and Leadership Caffeine articles.

How to Reimagine the Second Half of Your Career

by Jeff Gothelf Harvard Business Review

When I graduated from college in 1995, the last thing I imagined being was a manager in UX design, which was a relatively young field where we ensured the customers and users of our websites, apps, and software could easily use and enjoy these services. My dream was to be a professional musician — a rock star — and I pursued that goal for several years.

I landed a six-month internship at Soundtrack Studios in New York City, and I quickly found out that interns basically did whatever everyone else didn’t want to do. I was working 50 hours a week and getting paid $150 a week for my time. As I learned more about the music production business, I found out that the career path was brutal, job opportunities were scarce, and the pay was miniscule. Assistant engineers — who had been in the business for years — were making only $6 an hour at the time. That felt unsustainable to me. So, I decided to leave my professional music dream behind and find a new career path.

I got a job with a company called iXL doing front-end development and graphic design. Front-end development in 1999, at the height of the dot-com craze, was basically being able to spell “HTML.” As that job evolved, I started reading some very transformational books. One book in particular, Information Architecture for the World Wide Web by Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville, absolutely changed my life. I’m grateful to have met and gotten to know both of the book’s authors over the years. This book put me on track to become a UX designer and an interaction designer, and my career began to move forward in this new direction.

I bounced around several jobs during the dotcom bubble — they were turbulent times, but I was very lucky. I came from a middle-class home in the New Jersey suburbs, had supportive parents and a good education. I always managed to land the next gig. I worked at AOL for a few years, and I learned a lot there about being a designer. I progressed to building a design team with a company on the West Coast called Webtrends, which at the time was the leader of web analytics providers. And then I found my way to New York City where I landed a job leading and building a design team at TheLadders, an online executive job search firm.

But as I faced my 35th birthday, I found myself panicking. I was struggling to envision what the second half of my career would look like when it came to seniority, salary, fulfillment, you name it. Where do I go from here? After all, the farther up the ladder you go, the fewer positions there are — it’s just the nature of the corporate beast. There are very few C-level, chief design officer jobs.

This got me thinking about how we ensure that our efforts, career paths, and viability as valuable members of organizations, communities and disciplines continues throughout our career. The answer I found was relatively simple. The work to get there, less so. It’s a concept I call forever employable (also the name of my new book) and it is the continuous sharing and re-purposing of your experience, passion, and expertise to create a platform of thought leadership around yourself. By becoming a recognized expert in your chosen domain or discipline you reverse the flow of jobs leads and opportunities. Instead of you having to chase them down, they come to you.

Becoming forever employable doesn’t mean quitting your job necessarily. It is equally applicable for those of you intent on staying employed in-house for the long-term as it is for those with the desire to consult or become self-employed.

There are five core concepts I see as crucial to keep in mind as you think about the second half of your career and building this platform:

Entrepreneurialism. I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. You probably don’t think of yourself that way either. But eventually I had to make a transition that required me to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and proactively put myself and my ideas out in the open in an effort to attract opportunities, land them, and turn them into successful ventures. This is your life, your business, your employment. And so, you’ve got to think about this challenge like an entrepreneur. Who is my target audience? What problems can I help them solve? What’s the most effective way for me to provide my service to them? These questions start you down the path of building a “startup” centered around yourself.

Self-confidence. Sharing your expertise can be daunting. Hasn’t everything already been said about management, marketing, sales, digital transformation? It can feel like it but there’s one story that hasn’t been told yet: yours. Your unique life experiences, diverse paths to your current position and obstacles overcome are the core of your newfound expertise platform. No one else has that. Remember to tap into the deep vein of skills and expertise that is unique to you. When you’re standing at a crossroads in your life, know that you bring something unique to the table — something that no one else has. Embrace it, own it, be it. Your experience has value, your knowledge has value, and you have something valuable to add to the conversation. No one has your story. Be confident in what you know and build on that knowledge as you take on new projects.

Continuous learning. Everything is changing all the time. The only way to keep up — or even better, stay ahead — is to keep learning. You learn continuously by reading blog posts and books, and listening to podcasts and audiobooks, created by people who can help illuminate your path forward. You do this by talking with people who can explain what they did to achieve the success they wanted in their lives. You do this by building communities of expertise and practice around yourself. You do this by constantly experimenting and trying new things. Sometimes your experiments will succeed, and sometimes they won’t. But as long as you learn something from every experiment, you haven’t truly failed. Stay curious. Keep your mind open to the possibilities laid out before you. Experiment constantly, learn from your results, and try again. Like my old ski instructor used to say, “If you’re not falling, you’re not learning.”

Continuous improvement. If you’re learning continuously, and you’re applying the outcomes of your experiments to your platform, then you’re always going to improve and get better at whatever it is that you have chosen to do to become forever employable. In his popular TED Talk, Astro Teller, captain of Moonshots at X (Google’s innovation laboratory), explains that you should be enthusiastically skeptical of everything that you’re doing. In other words, you should always want to figure out a better way to do something. “Enthusiastic skepticism is not the enemy of boundless optimism,” he says. In fact, it’s the perfect partner. No matter how good you believe you are at your chosen profession, being enthusiastically skeptical means you’re always searching for a better way to do your job. In fact, you’re excited to find it. What can you learn from others in your field who have been successful? What about leaders in other fields? What did they do to build their platforms and what can you apply to yours?

Reinvention. Ultimately, becoming forever employable is all about reinventing yourself. I was a designer, and then I was a design manager, and I was going be a super duper design manager — or at least that’s where I was headed. But, because of the expertise I was sharing, other opportunities walked into my life. With the help and support of my family I was ready to seize them. Since then, I’ve reinvented myself on an ongoing basis. Nothing stands still, and the pace of change today is faster than ever. Almost a decade ago, Amazon was updating its codebase every 11.6 seconds — they were essentially reinventing the way that they serve their customers five times a minute. By 2015, Amazon got faster — way faster — pushing code to production every second. Imagine what that figure is today. In 2018, Google revealed that it runs over 500 million tests a day, equating to more than 4 million relaunches of existing and new systems each and every day. That’s the modern pace of change. If you want to stay forever employable, then you’ve got to be ready to reinvent yourself with the times. And that is coming in shorter and shorter cycles.

Re-orgs happen regularly. So do layoffs. Covid-19 has laid waste to entire industries. Technological disruptions automate us out of jobs annually. This doesn’t mean we’re done being useful, successful and viable in the job marketplace. However, being forever employable means you’ve got to be intentional about where you’re going, and you’ve got to be prepared to act — immediately and without hesitation — when the right opportunity presents itself. With a foundation in your expertise, a thorough and current understanding of your domain and an ever-growing network to lean on you can guarantee the next job will find you.

This was lightly adapted from my book Forever Employable.

Jeff Gothelf helps organizations build better products and executives build the cultures that build better products. He is the co-author of the award-winning book Lean UX and the Harvard Business Review Press book Sense & Respond. He works as a coach, consultant and keynote speaker helping companies bridge the gaps between business agility, digital transformation, product management and human-centered design. His latest book, Forever Employable, was  published in June 2020.

Why Motivation Doesn’t Last

TUESDAY, AUGUST 18TH, 2020 |

By David Burkus

No matter how long your tenure as a team leader has been, you’ve probably seen it.

Motivation can fade.

Individual employees who seemed so full of life and so engaged in the job eventually settle into rhythms and patterns and might even burn out. Teams that were formed with an inspiring mission eventually fall into those regular old habits of teamwork and can become demotivated and disengaged.

It happens.

It happens in organizations of all sizes. It happens in teams from a variety of different ranges of work. But as a leader, there are a few things you can do to diagnose why motivation doesn’t last, and help turn it around and reengage and reinspire your people.

In this article, we’re going examine four specific reasons why motivation doesn’t last, and what you can do to turn it around, and it’s all based on decades of social science and organizational psychology research, some of which has gotten some attention in the professional world, and a lot of which is overlooked.

Don’t Believe They Can

The first reason people get demotivated is the belief that they just can’t do it. They were excited about the job, they stayed engaged through the primary training and as they started to put in the effort, they just started failing. And now they don’t believe that putting in any more effort will mean that they can do the job any better.

This could be a training issue or a resources issue. It could be that they didn’t get sufficient training. It could be that they know what they need to do and every time they try and collaborate with other people on your team or elsewhere in the organization, they end up not being able to get what they need to do the job. And gradually they become demotivated because their effort doesn’t matter if it’s in this larger pool of mediocrity.

But a lot of the reasons people become demotivated in this regard is actually the result of what we could call a fixed mindset. Carol Dweck is a brilliant researcher who has emphasized the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset person believes that knowledge, skills, and abilities are relatively fixed. A growth mindset person believes those things aren’t fixed and can grow with effort and learning. So, if you threw demands at a fixed mindset people and they felt in over their heads with no ability to grow in any of the areas, it becomes your job to help move them from a fixed to a growth mindset.

The best way to do this would be to just calmly ask them questions about other areas of their life where they were frustrated or didn’t feel like they could succeed, and gradually grew to overcome those challenges. As you do this, you start shifting some of those mindsets from fixed to growth. You start instilling in them a belief that they can do the job. And you start turning around that de-motivating belief that they can no longer do it, or that it doesn’t matter how much effort that they put in. And not only does this decrease the de-motivation, it increases the motivation they have for the task.

Don’t Believe It Works

The second reason people can become demotivated is that they don’t believe it will work. It’s not that they don’t believe if they put in the effort, they can increase performance. (We covered that in the previous section). Rather, it’s that they don’t believe that the thing they are called upon to do is actually solving any problems or helping the larger organization. They don’t believe that it’s creating any value for the organization.

Their work lacks a certain element of task significance. It lacks the ability to see how their job fits into the larger whole. As organizations grow, they increase in specialization. That means that jobs become much less of a diverse bundle of tasks and much more focused on one individual task or skill repeated over and over again. That’s great for efficiency. But bad for motivation because it’s very easy to lose sight of the larger whole. People start to feel the work is repetitive and start to feel it is meaningless.

And as a leader, if you feel like your team or an individual on your team is suffering from this, then you need to show them that larger whole. Teams often know how their work helps each other but become disconnected from how their efforts help the broader organization. So, a good way to remedy this is to share success stories, whether that’s customer stories or internal stories that demonstrate the way in which their tasks get iterated in the next round. It varies a lot by the industry that you’re in and the team that you’re on, but there’s a good chance that one of the reasons motivation is fading on your team is that people don’t see how the work that they’re doing fits into that larger puzzle piece of the organization, and hence, solves actual problems or creates any real value.

Don’t Believe They’re Progressing

The third reason that your team or an individual on your team might become demotivated is that they don’t believe they’re progressing. There’s a disconnect between what actually motivates humans and what a lot of managers say motivates their people. We’ve known for decades that progress is a potent human motivator. That can be making progress towards a goal. It can be the feeling that we’re making progress in our career. And it can even be working for an organization that’s making progress towards some larger cause. But when managers are surveyed and asked what motivates their people, they’re more likely to point to bonuses, incentive compensation plans, awards, or goals.

Goals are great.

But goals apart from progress are really just random statements on a piece of paper. They don’t actually have any motivating effect apart from progress. Even incentive compensation schemes don’t really have a motivating effect if people don’t believe they can they make any progress towards the objective that triggers the payout.

What is amazing about this disconnect is that it’s actually pretty easy and relatively inexpensive to demonstrate progress. You just have to go back to the team and show wins that they might have forgotten about. You just have to remind them just how far back they were when they started. Or you just have to look ahead six months or a year and then figure out what the milestones are that you could use as markers or indicators of progress down the road.

But often we’re so focused on doing the work that we forget to celebrate those small wins and mark progress in the work as well. But if we do that, we can turn around one of the most demotivating things for individuals and teams, which is that feeling of stagnation. Progress is a potent human motivator. We just need to make sure that we’re demonstrating that progress early and often as a team works together.

Don’t Believe It Matters

The final reason people can become demotivated is that they don’t believe it matters. Even in 2020, after decades of talking about purpose and the need to be a mission-focused organization, there’s still a lot of jobs and whole organizations that lack a sense of purpose in the work. This could be because the mission statement is so bland that it doesn’t motivate anyone. Or it could be because they never even established a compelling purpose to begin with.

But people don’t want to join a company; they want to join a crusade.

They don’t want to work for an organization; they want to work for a cause.

If you’re a small business owner or an entrepreneur, you can change that today. You can declare what it is we’re fighting for. You can point out that cause to everyone, and capture stories about how the work they do makes the larger world better. But if you’re leading inside of a large organization, you probably can’t just pull out last year’s 10K and rewrite the mission statement.

But you can still demonstrate purpose.

Just make sure people are aware of the “who” in that vague organizational mission statement. (Hint: The “who” can’t be shareholders and their shareholder value). Instead, find out who benefits most from the work that your company does. Find an answer to the question “Who are we fighting for?” And once you identify that “who,” find a way to connect your people to them so your people can see how their work helps.

The reason this works is that it leverages pro-social motivation—the motivation to do a task because you believe it’s helping other people. It doesn’t need to be a big elaborate world-changing mission statement. Even if it’s something as small as how it makes the everyday life of somebody else in the organization or outside the organization better, it can have a massively motivating effect.

One of the biggest things that demotivates people is that lack of feeling purpose in their work, and this might be one of the easiest things to change. Make sure your people know who their work helps—make sure they know who they are fighting for.

There are a number of different reasons that motivation fades, but there are just as many ways to turn that around. So, whether it’s because your people don’t believe they can, don’t believe it will work, don’t believe they’re progressing, or don’t believe it matters, you as a leader have options to reverse the demotivation. Find out who your team serves, how they serve them, and how to track their progress toward that service and you will find that you’ve not only reversed all of those de-motivators, but you’ve taken your team’s motivation to a whole new level.

How Communities Can Encourage Responses to the 2020 Census

By Kiara Candelaria

Roughly 64% of U.S. households have responded to the 2020 census as of August 14, according to the Census Bureau. As the agency follows up with nonrespondents until September 30, homeowners associations can play an important role by allowing access to census takers to make sure all residents are counted.

Census takers started going door to door to collect responses in mid-July and were instructed to wear protective gear, practice social distancing, and follow public health guidelines to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Board members and community managers can encourage residents to fill out the 2020 census questionnaire online, by phone, or by mail to reduce the likelihood of in-person follow-up.

Associations must allow census takers access to their gated community or condominium to avoid fines. Field workers will have a valid identification badge and may carry bags and other items with the Census Bureau’s logo visible at all times. If no one is home, the census taker will leave information about how to respond to the census or may leave a paper questionnaire in a water-resistant bag.

Data collected in the 2020 census will drive decision-making, political representation, and economic development across the U.S. The results give a detailed statistical view of the demographic makeup of the country and are used to determine the changing needs of communities—making it paramount that an accurate count of each household is achieved.

“Whether or not the data is accurate, real estate developers and policymakers will continue to use census data,” says Olivia Snarski, program manager for local democracy at the National League of Cities, a membership association that advocates for the interests of over 19,000 cities, towns, and villages nationwide. “If they’re basing their decisions on how to develop land and how to build their cities on inaccurate data, that’s going to be poor decision-making for the population that lives there.”

Census data also can be used by community associations to decide whether to build or expand amenities and understand the demographic makeup of residents. Jan Porter, general manager at Peccole Ranch Community Master Association in Las Vegas, says that the statistics collected by the decennial census help the community determine which amenities will be the main draw, coordinate activities, and establish programs that maintain residents’ interests and engagement.

“Successful social events build a sense of community, and the census helps us get right to that community spirit,” she says.

Find information on how to respond to the 2020 census, why answers matter, privacy, and security by visiting www.2020census.gov.

HOAresources.com explores questions and comments from community association members living in condominiums, homeowners associations, and housing cooperatives. We then assemble trusted experts to provide practical solutions to your most commonly asked, timely questions. We never use real names, but we always tackle real issues. 

LONGING FOR THE DAYS OF HALLWAY CONVERSATIONS

Aleassa Schambers on August 10, 2020 for Root

I miss hallway conversations. This has been a recurring theme that I’ve been hearing a lot lately. While no one has actually said, “I miss hallway conversations,” they have said things like:

  • I had no idea that was happening.
  • What is this request I just got in an email? Do you know anything about this?
  • What? Wait a minute, I’m working on something just like that.

Relatable?

As we’re all navigating this strange new world, where many of us are working from home and those who are in the office are maintaining a safe “social distance,” the importance and value of those hallway conversations, catch-ups over lunch, or drive-bys at the coffee machine are becoming so much more obvious.

I pride myself on being what Gallup calls an “Arranger.” I’m able to take a bunch of information and organize it to figure out how the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity. (Gallup’s words, not mine). That doesn’t come easily for others. But this capability is highly dependent on being given those pieces and parts. So, whether you’re good at arranging or not, none of us can be successful if we aren’t getting the information we need to connect the dots.

The Value of the Hallway Conversation

“What’s up? How are things? What is your team working on? Oh, did you hear about that project so-and-so is doing? My team just got asked to do this new project, but I’m still trying to figure out how we’re going to pull it together.”

Any one of these questions can open the door to a treasure trove of information and insights. How your colleague is feeling. What’s important to them right now. And of course, they might actually know something different about the project your team has been tasked with, because their team is working on something tangential, yet connected.

As head of marketing, I work closely with the head of sales enablement, and not only do we collaborate on projects frequently, but our desks are also next to each other. When I’m puzzling things out, my first step is to swivel around in my desk chair and ask him if he knows anything about the project or has more context on an “ask” I was emailed about. (Oh, those joyful days of in-person interactions!) And usually he does, mainly due to his very active office ping-pong game interactions (another type of hallway conversation).

The New Virtual Hallway Conversation

In this new COVID world, I can’t tell you the number of times I wished I could just swivel around in my chair. Connecting the dots has had to become much more deliberate both for me and for the marketing team. In the past, the team sat in the same area. We have an open floor plan, so it was very easy to overhear a conversation and say, hey – I know something about that. Today, that looks like a bi-weekly 30-minute online meeting to give updates on different projects. I’m 100% sure that we’re still not fully connecting dots because on those 

calls we’re likely only focusing on a current project or something that happened that day. It’s better than nothing, but there’s still opportunity for me to improve ways to connect the dots.

For me personally, the new hallway conversation looks like this:

  • I get a random email from someone who says, “Hey, I was asked to send you this thing.”
  • Me: “Great, thanks for looping marketing in. What is this thing?”
  • Email sender: “It’s for this project this senior leader asked us to work on. Here’s my part.”
  • Me: Go outside for a walk, bring my cell phone, dial my colleague who used to sit next to me back in the pre-COVID days. “Hey, I got this email, do you know anything about this?”
  • Colleague: “I heard something about this project a few weeks ago. I got something like it from our other colleague, but it was for a different part of the project.”
  • Me: “Okay, that helps some. I’m calling Gary (our boss). I’ll come back when I know more.”
  • Me: Dialing the phone, while walking and talking (but not chewing gum). “Gary, what is this thing and do you know anything about it?”
  • Gary: “I heard something about it, but I thought it was only three projects. We need to get people together.”
  • Me: “I’ll set up a meeting with you, me, colleague, and two other colleagues.”
  • We all get together, sort out all of the dots, connect them together, and determine where marketing and sales enablement need to support, and we’re off to the races.
All Points Lead to a Deliberate and Purposeful Communication

As evidenced by the above scenario, even a company like Root that is fantastic at communicating and keeping people in the loop (this is our business, after all) is challenged right now. Everyone must find new ways to deliberately keep the dots connected, the loops closed, provide the big picture, or put two and two together – whatever metaphor you want to apply here. As leaders of organizations, functions, or teams, it’s critical to your performance, your team’s emotional health, and your own sanity to make sure you’re not overlooking the importance of the new virtual hallway conversation.

We’ve Got the Tips!

What approaches can you start to take? Here are a few ideas. I’m sure you have others, and I’d love to hear them.

  • Set up regular connects. They can be just 15 minutes with your team every other day, and they don’t have to be a heavy lift. Plus, you should already be connecting with your direct reports on the regular. Don’t forget to turn on video cameras occasionally if you’re not face-to-face.
  • IM. Call. Cookie bouquets. Whatever your jam, take time each week to reach out to those people you used to run into in the hallway to ask how they and their family are doing. I mean those people you don’t typically work with or interact with in meetings. Like Corey in accounting or Jamie in marketing or Tamara in engineering.
  • Get outside. There’s nothing to say you can’t gather a few of your colleagues at a park and go for a walk and catch up (even better than that stale hallway air). My team meets once a month or so for lunch in the park in front of our office building. We bring our lawn chairs, spread them six feet apart, and just shoot the breeze while we consume our takeout meals. Not required, just those who are comfortable hanging out.
  • Sewing circles. Back in the day, ladies got together to catch up on each other’s lives and share the local gossip while they pieced together quilts. Create your own modern-day sewing circle. Bring together a group that doesn’t normally meet to enjoy virtual cocktails or lunch in the park (see tip 3) and ask what’s happening with everyone, what they’re working on, or where they might need help. You get the picture (and it’s a lot less work than creating a quilt).
  • Overshare, overshare, overshare. People always perform better when they can see the big picture and have all the information. Even if it doesn’t pertain to their day-to-day tasks, you might be surprised at the connections they’re able to make that you weren’t even aware of.

At Root, we’re huge fans of using visuals, metaphors, dialogue, and meaningful discussion to create connections and help paint that big picture for people. It’s proven to work. Those old hallway conversations were never one-way tells – your new virtual hallway conversations shouldn’t be either.This is a tough time for everyone, even if your organization’s performance is still strong. Making everyone’s life a little easier by giving them all of the pieces could be the lifeline they need.

Four Skills That Revolutionize Team Communication

By Randy Conley for Lead Change

In my last two articles, I’ve explored the concept of a team’s Conversational Capacity®. Conversational capacity is the ability to have open, balanced, non-defensive dialogue about tough subjects and in challenging circumstances. Teams that have a high conversational capacity know how to stay in the “sweet spot.” The sweet spot is where candor and curiosity are in balance. Dialogue flows freely, people share their input willingly and listen to the feedback of others without judgment. Good work happens in the sweet spot.

The challenge, of course, is getting and keeping your team’s conversations in the sweet spot. There are two primary factors that pull us away from the sweet spot and lower our conversational capacity: fight and flight. The fight reaction shows itself in team communication when people engage in “win” behavior. They argue, try to dominate the conversation, discount the input of others, or even refuse to listen to alternative viewpoints. The flight reaction is manifested when team members “minimize” their contributions. They shut down, don’t offer their ideas, discount their own opinions, avoid conflict, or offer half-hearted, wishy-washy viewpoints to avoid upsetting others. Both tendencies, win and minimize, pull a team away from the communication sweet spot and lower the team’s overall capacity to have productive conversations. Fortunately, there are four skills we can learn and develop to counteract our tendencies to win or minimize.

Testing and Inquiring

Let’s look at how to tame our desire to win. Since winning behavior results from a drop in curiosity, we need to learn how to become more curious about the perspectives of others. We do that by learning and using the skills of testing and inquiring. We test our perspective and inquire into the perspective of others.

What does it look like to test our perspective? It looks like holding our viewpoint as a hypothesis to be tested, rather than a truth to be proven. A simple way to do this is to ask questions that invite others to examine our viewpoint: What’s your take on this issue? How do you feel about what I’m suggesting? How do you see this from your angle? Is there a better way to make sense of this? I know I don’t have it all figured out, so what am I missing?

The skill of inquiring involves drawing the thinking of others into the conversation. It’s not just asking a few questions to invite their input, but rather delving into the rationale and thinking other people bring to the topic at hand. It’s the process of asking as many questions as necessary to get the other person’s view into the pool of information being considered. The goal of inquiry isn’t agreement, it’s understanding. Sample inquiries include: Tell me more about why you believe that? Can you provide a couple examples that illustrate your point? Help me understand how you reached that conclusion. Testing and inquiring raise your level of curiosity and combat your tendency to win.

Stating a Clear Position and Explaining Your Thinking

Let’s look at our tendency to minimize. Minimizing results from a drop in candor; we aren’t openly and confidently sharing our viewpoints with the team. To increase our candor, we can use the skills of stating our clear position and explaining our thinking.

Stating our position is like a clear topic sentence in a paragraph. It’s clear, candid, and concise, and can be communicated in one sentence, or no more than two. I think we should invest the funds in project X. Option 2 gives us the best chance for success. We should disband the team and use the resources elsewhere. It sounds simple, but just think about how often you fail you exercise this skill. Too often we beat around the bush, inadvertently hide our point in a convoluted story, or soften our opinion to prevent disagreement with others. When we fail to state a clear position, we open the door to misunderstanding and muddled dialogue.

However, it’s not enough to just state a clear position. You must also explain your thinking. This is the why behind your position. Explaining your thinking means you need to share the data that informs your position and how you’re interpreting that data. W. Edwards Deming’s famous quote, “In God we trust, all others must bring data,” illustrates this concept. For example: We should disband the team and use the resources elsewhere (clear position). They have missed their quota by an average of 34% the last 5 quarters (data), and we know from previous experience that teams who aren’t hitting quota by quarter 3 usually don’t improve (interpretation). Stating a clear position and explaining your thinking increases the level of candor and combats the tendency to minimize.

Communication is the engine that drives team performance. Honest and open communication fosters teamwork, innovation, trust, and just about every other positive organizational dynamic. The best teams have learned how to balance candor and curiosity to remain in the communication sweet spot. The skills of testing and inquiring help to boost curiosity and temper the need to win, while the skills of stating clear positions and explaining our thinking allows us to increase the level of candor within team communications. Team members using these four skills will keep their team dialogue in the sweet spot where their best work happens.

Randy Conley is Vice President of Client Services & Trust Practice Leader for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He oversees Blanchard’s client delivery operations and works with clients around the globe helping them design and deliver training and consulting solutions that build trust in the workplace. Trust Across America named him a Top 100 Thought Leader in trustworthy business behavior and he is a founding member of the Alliance of Trustworthy Business Experts. Inc.com named Randy a Top 100 Leadership Speaker & Thinker and American Management Association included him in their Leaders to Watch in 2015 list. He holds a Masters Degree in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego and enjoys spending time with his family, cycling, and playing golf. You can follow Randy on Twitter @RandyConley.

6 Things Recruiters Can Learn From Past Recessions

By Kate Reilly for LinkedIN Talent Blog August 6, 2020

Most experts agree we’re in a recession. COVID-19 has slowed the economy just like the mortgage crisis did in 2007 and the dot-com bust did in 2001. During those times, like today, many organizations laid off workers, cut salaries, and froze hiring — whatever it took to weather the financial storm. 

For recruiters, these times can be unsettling. Slower hiring can make you feel less secure in your job. So what can you do to weather a downturn? While there’s no playbook, we can look to past recessions for lessons and to the recruiting leaders who’ve survived them

Here’s what history can teach us:

1. Keep working your recruiting muscle

Research shows that companies that cut too deep and fast during a recession don’t fare as well as those that move at a more calculated pace. Teams will be forced to better prioritize reqs, says founder of Recruiting Toolbox, John Vlastica, so this is the time to think more critically and more frequently with your business partners. 

Keep your contacts warm even without jobs to fill. Make those calls, write those InMails, have those virtual meet-ups. “Keep building a deep network in a niche area,” advises industry expert, Lou Adler. “People are always willing to give referrals in downturns, so it’s a great time to be proactive.” Lou adds that being a subject-matter expert is key, since people are more willing to help recruiters who are credible and know their stuff.

2. Scoop the ‘new’ top talent

In a recession, you’ll likely have more choice of top applicants. Many businesses have had to part with great talent, so this may be your chance to bring them on. That was the case in 2008, when companies that invested most heavily in A-talent fared better. 

Remember that the pandemic is affecting industries very differently. Find out if and where transferable skills from harder-hit industries could apply to yours. Tourism, for example, has had to let go of many talented professionals. That former cruise director could be your food store’s next sales manager. That newly laid-off travel agent may have just the right skills for your hospital receptionist role.

Also prepare for new dynamics when the economy recovers. Some jobs may no longer exist, and some jobs may but skilled workers may not be as available. Consider the construction industry in 2009. During that recession top-skilled workers left construction, so there weren’t enough skilled workers when the industry started rebounding. Recruiters played a critical role in matching talent in this new landscape. Whole new categories of jobs and skills may be needed, along with recruiters to guide them. One example already? Contact tracers.

3. Go for the gig workers

Over the last decade, the gig economy has grown mostly in areas like food delivery and personal tasks. But knowledge-based work (e.g., engineering, accounting) hasn’t played as big a role, largely due to cultural and organizational barriers. 

The recent surge in remote work, however, has removed many of those barriers, making it much more feasible for an organization to hire a software engineer for a three-month gig, for example. In fact, Google now employs more gig workers than full-time employees. The flexibility and cost-savings that come with contractors and temps is a real advantage, and with the uncertainty around the pandemic, professionals may be especially open to gig opportunities.

4. Show your agility

If you can quickly and easily pivot your skills to work elsewhere in HR or another function, you’re that much more valuable. John Vlastica says that during these times especially, “You need to make yourself visibly valuable. Align directly to business-facing, critical work — not just projects that only benefit HR.”

Consider how you could use your skills to improve things like retention or employer brand. Offer a plan for treating laid-off workers, for example, harnessing what you know about emotions and how they directly impact your reputation and value as a company. Don’t forget to invest in your own development too. Consult these 7 skills that will help recruiters.

5. Recruit in another industry

Like past recessions, this downturn isn’t affecting all recruiters the same way. Some in healthcare, for example, have never been busier as the demand for frontline workers is up. Historically, the most economically resilient industries have been healthcare, education, government, food manufacturing, food stores, and discount stores. Our recent analysis shows similar top jobs in demand, and the companies with the most openings. 

If you can hire in these categories, you’ll boost your job security. You likely already have the technical and hard skills needed to be successful, but building relationships and becoming a subject-matter expert in a different area will take time. If you’re thinking long-term about your career, pivoting to a more recession-proof industry now may make sense.

6. Count on positive change, eventually

The 2007-09 recession ignited the gig economy, making employers more accepting of job-hopping and resume gaps. It fueled people analytics and recruiting technology innovation, moving teams away from post-and-pray job boards. It also sparked the Candidate Experience movement, says HR Pro, Tim Sackett. “In prior recessions,” he recalls, “organizations tended to treat candidates poorly. But after 2009, we saw the rise of Candidate Experience. Organizations truly caring about how they treat candidates seems normal now, but it wasn’t back then.”

While it’s too early to say, the rise of remote work could lead to at least one positive change for recruiting — more hiring managers engaging candidates early in the process. Lou Adler, who’s always advocated that hiring managers conduct exploratory phone screens, has seen much more willingness to do so now given social distancing guidelines. While the real benefits of hiring manager phone screens are time-savings, less first-impression bias, and a more high-touch candidate experience, it may be these extreme circumstances that actually change behavior for the better.

The takeaway

As difficult as this time may be, one thing is certain — it will pass. As Lou Adler likes to say about hiring: “What goes down, must go up.” We’ve endured 11 recessions since WWII and every one has passed. Follow these tips for recruiting success now and for when the world recovers.