HR Prose Newsletter
Selecting Leaders in Today's Economy
By: Ron Hamilton - Practical HR Solutions
The demands of leadership change based on the environment and circumstances a leader faces. There can be no doubt that the current economic climate is unique. Businesses are facing more competition, a greater pace of change and more uncertainty than ever. As a result the requirements for our leaders have changed as well. Certainly there are some skills and traits that leaders need regardless of the economic environment. The ability to attract, choose and retain top talent is a skill that transcends time and circumstances.
It is impossible to maintain a successful organization without great talent filling the halls. Talent certainly cures a lot of ills in other facets of a company. The one sustainable competitive advantage in this or any market is the quality of the people in the organization.
A leader who doesn’t attract, choose, and retain top talent will not be a leader for long.
However, current economic conditions have dictated a change in emphasis to a new set of skills and traits for leaders. The new economy is characterized by an escalating pace of change, and the surge in competition from more diverse sources. As a result, there are three “core skills” that an effective leader needs to exhibit. The three skills are Flexibility, Ability To Learn and Strategic Thinking.
In today’s marketplace, a leader needs to be able to change direction based on an ever-changing analysis of the situation. The rapid pace of change in the market and arrival of new and unique competitors forces flexibility.
The dogged Type “A” leader who refuses to vary from the plan has a much harder time being successful in today’s market. This doesn’t mean the new leader changes for the sake of change. It does mean that planning is on-going and fluid enough to meet rapidly changing conditions. Today’s leader must constantly compare and analyze new information and take the appropriate action.
Ability To Learn
The ability to learn is defined as quickly absorbing new information and putting it into use. Interestingly, we usually assign this requirement to entry-level employees. In today’s market, this skill is a must for the effective leader. The changing market has caused many of the “traditional” solutions to problems to be rendered useless. A leader who relies on past solutions may be doomed to failure. Today’s leader needs to constantly upgrade their knowledge and skill set if they are to identify new and unique solutions to problems and challenges.
The best leaders I know all view learning as a continuous process that needs to keep pace with the pace of change around them. They are great students and constantly invest in their own education.
Strategic thinking is the process of blending both short-term and long-term thinking and actions. The knee-jerk reaction when the environment is rapidly changing is to focus strictly on tactical issues. Putting out today’s fires. The strategic leader always weighs short-term actions against long-term consequences.
Selling out for either short or long-term is not the act of real leader in the new economy. Careful consideration is given to both and decisions made accordingly. There are certainly other traits and characteristics of leaders but these three because more prominent in this market. The question now becomes how to select leaders in these challenging times.
The good news is the process of choosing leaders remains consistent. It is always best to rely on the Behavioral Model. This tells us that: Past Behavior Predicts Future Behavior. Putting this into practice is as easy identifying the behaviors necessary for success in your environment and choosing people who behave that way.
When interviewing for flexibility, get specific examples from candidates of plans they adjusted on the fly. Question them about how the decision was made. Learn what options were considered and how the final decision was made.
Don’t just get one example. Multiple examples lead to more consistent behavioral patterns. Using the behavioral model, it is possible to project the behavior to your environment with great accuracy. For the ability to learn, get multiples examples of how the candidate has improved their skill set. Explore all the investments they made in their own education. Get specific examples of how they put the new information or skill into practice. Never settle for generalities. Get specific examples with results attached. For strategic thinking, get examples of decisions the candidate made that considered both short and long-term consequences. Go into great detail about everything that was considered. Get examples of decisions made that sacrificed either the short or long-term. Once again, get all the details and have the candidate walk through everything that was considered in making the decisions. For every example get as much detail as possible. Your goal is to learn all of the circumstances of the situation and all of the actions the candidate took. The more data collected, the better the hiring decision.
The traditional profile of a leader needs to be modified as a result of the current market conditions. New times call for new leadership models.
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The Tax Man Cometh – or What to do with the Tax Refund This Year?
By: Deb Sutton, MS, SPHR, SHRM-SCP – HR PROs, LLC
It's tax season, and if you are like me you have probably been daydreaming about how you might spend your tax refund. It seems like every year my husband and I have the same conversation that goes something like this:
Me: "Honey let’s use our refund to take that trip to the Islands we’ve been dreaming about.”
Hub: "I think we need to take our tax refund and pay down our debt with it and then maybe put the remainder in savings.”
Argh!! I am glad I married a logical and financially sound man who keeps us from drowning in debt but I wish he was a little more open to spending on some fun stuff.
So, in the spirit of both my wonderful husband Rick and myself, here are some ideas on how to get the best use from your refund.
Rick’s favorite: Pay down your debt: Of course this solution helps alleviate all kinds of stress that comes along with a heavy debt load. Many of us have student loans, mortgages, credit card debt and car payments that weigh us down emotionally each month when those bills arrive. Good financial Planners will advise you to use your tax refund to alleviate much of your debt. According to recent survey, the average household has a $17,000 in credit card debt which amounts to close to $1400 in interest per year.
Gen X and Gen Y favorite: Pay down or off your school loan: Many 20 and 30ty year olds are stuck in the college load debt debacle. They often are in so deep that they cannot qualify for a home loan thus forcing them to rent and often may have to work 2 jobs for a while to get the loan paid off.
Another of Rick’s favorites: Use the tax refund to save for retirement. Baby boomers have not been the best at savings for retirement and most of us are going to have to work well into our 70ies. By taking a fraction of our refunds each year and putting the funds into a retirement account, we can benefit a great deal.
Deb’s fun ideas to use tax refund for: Use to do something fun from my bucket list - hot air balloon ride, safari vacation, start my dream business, begin a new hobby, join a gym, get weekly massages, cleaning service etc. etc.
Yes there tons of ideas out there to use your tax refund. My advice is to be mindful of those areas that are creating stress in your life because of debt and use the formula: pay off debt 1/3, use for fun 1/3, and save for rainy day 1/3 and you can’t go wrong.
Examples of Strengths in the Workplace
By: Luanne Kelchner
(article originally found here: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/examples-strengths-workplace-18568.html)
Employers evaluate the strengths of employees when making decisions for promotions, pay raises and participation on special projects. Exhibiting the strengths an employer values can help workers advance in their careers. Workers seeking a new position should highlight activities that illustrate the strengths, such as leading a group or work on team projects.
Flexibility is the ability to transition between tasks and learn new duties. The ability to learn new skills is an important characteristic of a flexible employee, but workers must also have a willingness to learn and try new tasks. Flexible workers can change priorities quickly as work conditions demand as well. Employers will consider those with flexibility for new and challenging projects for their ability to adapt quickly to new work conditions.
Working well with others is a strength in a team environment, such as a place of employment. Workers who are team players have the ability to relate to others, moderate conflicts and motivate team members. Team players promote the success of the team or organization above their own personal success. A strong team player will promote the ideas of his teammates if it is in the best interest of the organization.
The employee with communication skills has the ability to convey a message to others through verbal and written communication. Communication skills also include the ability to listen and relate to others. Employers value workers with the ability to communicate effectively, and require it from those seeking management or supervisory positions.
Employers look for workers who are dependable and responsibility. The dependable worker shows up to work every day and on time. In addition to showing up to work, a dependable employee is one the employer can turn to for a new task or project. With responsible employees, the manager or supervisor can rest assured the worker will complete the project on time.
Leadership skills are a strength employers look for when promoting workers to a manager or supervisor position. Employees with leadership skills can motivate others to work at their highest level to reach the goals of the organization. Strong leaders coach and mentor other workers, identify strengths and weaknesses in others and manage employees to reach goals in an efficient manner.