Month: August 2014

Why You Should Help Your Employees Save for Retirement

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Why It Helps You to Help Your Employees Save for Retirement

It seems like employers have stopped caring about their employees after they leave. Not only do employers generally provide the bare minimum when it comes to benefits, but the inclusion in contracts of pensions or other retirement benefits have been declining sharply for years. On the surface, it makes sense; employers don’t gain profits from employees who aren’t working for them anymore, and the extra expenditure — either for a retired employee receiving a pension or a current employee with a matching 401k — looks like a loss in the accounting books.

However, there are many real and positive reasons employers should start seriously looking back into those old retirement benefits plans. From bringing in the best employees and keeping the best teams to lowering expenditures and directly benefiting you, helping your employees with their eventual retirement is a win for everyone involved — especially the company. Here’s why you should rethink your benefits package to include better retirement plans.

Help Employees Save for RetirementYou’ll Attract Top Talent

More and more, potential job candidates aren’t signing contracts with companies that offer the highest salaries. Though a fair salary is a strong pull, what really seals the deal is a company’s benefits package. In a recent poll among MetLife employees, 49 percent said that they took the position with MetLife because of the amazing benefits.

Benefits packages may seem daunting to organize, but once you’ve selected the major components, it’s simple and comparatively inexpensive to include the popular programs your current and prospective employees are clamoring for, like retirement savings plans. The most talented and desirable job candidates know they can afford to shop around, so make sure you’re at the top of their lists with a realistic and useful retirement savings plan.

You’ll Retain Employees Longer

The disadvantages to losing any employee, let alone good ones, are almost uncountable. Though it might not seem like a big deal to replace a team member who leaves, especially when you consider that employee will likely be requiring untold raises and bonuses in the future, you really aren’t looking at the big picture. When you allow a high employee turnover rate to continue unchecked, you are adding these problems to your company:

  • Increased costs
  • Low productivity
  • Low morale
  • Ineffective workers
  • Inability to compete in the market

Recruiting employees drains valuable resources from your company. You are spending inordinate amounts of time monitoring your job ads and interviewing candidates, and you are wasting money by training those employees to become adequate at a job they will likely leave in just a few months.

High staff turnover is a major problem in a company of any size and in any industry, but there are ways to stem the flow and keep the team you love — namely, better benefits. In that same MetLife survey, 60 percent of current employees said that their amazing benefits package was the only reason they continued at their current company. Employees are always looking for the employer that can give them the best offer, and you can keep your current employees happy by offering a benefit not many other companies offer today: retirement savings plans.

Why It Helps You to Help Your Employees You’ll Get Tax Advantages

The government wants companies to look after their employees, even when those employees are old and gray. Pensions and sufficient 401k plans make sure senior citizens have enough resources to maintain their lifestyles without relying on government aid. However, tax deductions only come with certain retirement plans. Here are a few options and their accompanying tax benefits should you choose to select them:

 

  • Simplified Employee Pensions (SEPs). A flexible and simple plan that requires contributions into an IRA by the business.
  • Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE). Employees make contributions to their own account (up to a cumulative $12,000 over the course of a year) and the business contributes matching amounts.

If you are a small business — one with fewer than 100 full-time employees — you may be eligible to receive even more tax benefits in the form of credits for 50 percent of the start-up costs of the plans for new employees.

You Can Take Advantage of the Retirement Benefits

When you’re selecting the benefits your company provides employees, you must realize that you yourself are in fact one of your company’s employees. This means you are selecting the options that the company is making available to you. Utilize your company’s status as a business to find better options for your own retirement savings, and keep your employees working happily and efficiently.

Organizing a company-wide retirement savings plan may seem daunting, but in today’s competitive hiring market, you need everything you can get to entice the best workers out there and keep them around for years. What you spend matching 401k contributions or filling pension accounts isn’t just lost money; it’s an investment in a strong future — both for your company and for your hardworking employees.

What to Do After Hiring the Wrong Employee

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So You Hired the Wrong Employee — Here’s How to Stay Safe

Firing a Bad EmployeeIt happens all the time. The stellar candidate you interviewed turned into a lazy employee or worse. You need to get rid of your bad employee as fast as possible so you can get someone new and more productive, but before you tell your employee to pack up his or her desk, you should review the labor laws to make sure your failed employee doesn’t come back with a nasty lawsuit.

Before You Start

Instead of outright firing your employee, it’s a good idea to take some steps to try to correct his or her actions (or lack thereof). Constant feedback is a good idea in general for any occasion; it not only improves the moral of the good employees you want to keep around, but it lets the bad employees know they’re not doing so well or on thin ice.

Plus, feedback is free, and employee reactions to feedback are incredibly valuable. Even if you were fairly certain you want to fire an employee, if they fail to take your feedback into account, you’ll have more evidence of the employee’s unsuitability with the company.

Making the Decision

If your constructive feedback and various steps of disciplinary action have not had an effect on the employee’s behavior, you still can’t stand up and simply command an employee to leave the office. Instead, double check that the reasons you have for desiring a split between employee and employer are valid. Ask yourself a few questions about the nature of the employee’s behavior and your responses to that behavior.

You want to make sure the punishment fits the crime, so to speak, and you want to make sure that firing this employee is in-line with your company’s previous action. Additionally, you don’t want the employee to assume that you are firing him or her for any reason other than their inappropriate work behavior; be especially careful about discrimination of any kind.

While you mull all of these things over, be aware that many companies wait far too long to terminate problem employees. If you know a working relationship is going sour, make sure to take the appropriate time and steps, but know that every week you don’t act, your company is losing money.

The Actual Event

You must hold a meeting with appropriate supervisors and human resources representatives to make sure you use appropriate language. Generally, if you have more people in the room when you break the employee the news, the more subdued the employee’s response. You want to avoid any extreme emotional response in both employer and employee.

The Clean-Up

Employee TerminationBefore you can celebrate in your office over your new freedom from your terrible employee, you do have a bit more work to do to ensure your company’s safety. Here’s a list of some of the most important and most often neglected after-termination requirements.

  • Notify the network administrator to revoke employee’s network access.
  • Receive any company property held by employee. This may include identification cards, technology or more.
  • Ascertain the status of the employee’s benefits. Let the employee know how long his or her benefits like health or life insurance will remain in effect.
  • Review any agreements made with the employee. Confidentiality and non-compete agreements may have been forgotten during the employee’s tenure at your company.

State Variations

One perpetual point of confusion regarding terminating an employee is the varying laws in different states. There are three types of exemption from federal law regarding employment (and termination), and it’s important to speak with professionals and learn what protocols you should follow during the termination process to make sure you stay well within both state and federal laws.

Overseas Stipulations

If you are a multi-national corporation, there are additional considerations to make before you kick an employee to the curb. Different companies have different labor laws regarding hiring and firing employees. For example, many Latin American countries do not require employers or employees to provide cause or notice of a split, but before a company initiates a termination, they must attempt disciplinary action to rectify any possible employee wrongdoing. Without this action, it is assumed that the company lacks any reason to fire the employee, and the employee must be compensated.

Many countries do not have such stringent laws as the United States, so most U.S. companies don’t need to worry about adjusting their protocols. However, you should still have your PEO or human resources team — and maybe even a lawyer or two — review the applicable laws and regulations to preclude you from any possible litigation.

In all, no matter where your business operates, it’s the best idea to treat him or her with the utmost respect. Even if he or she neglected to adequately complete his or her job under contract, he or she is a person struggling to get by like anyone else, and incurring legal troubles by terminating him or her irresponsibly will only hurt you both.

Asking Your Employer About Child Life Insurance

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Why You Should Ask Your Employer About Child Life Insurance

Why You Should Ask Your Employer About Child Life InsuranceCongratulations! You just became a parent. If you are lucky, you will get to be a proud and loving parent for the rest of your life, receiving all the benefits that parenthood awards those worthy enough to seek it. However, there still looms that possibility that no new parent likes to dwell on — what if the worst happens and you lose your child, forever?

It’s a hard issue to grapple with; no one wants to consider the possible death of a child. Still, because it is so unexpected and heartbreaking, it is one of the most important life events to be prepared for. Life insurance may seem like an adult’s concern, but more and more parents are looking into life insurance for their children. Despite the arguments of detractors, life insurance for your children is a wise investment, and something you should see if your employer offers.

Life Insurance Replaces Wages

Since child labor laws were enacted toward the middle of the last century, it has become extremely difficult for children to generate any substantial income. Sure, there are the lemonade stands and craft sales, and maybe your kid has a particular talent at decorating cupcakes, but for most families, these endeavors cost more than they rake in.

For the most part, life insurance in adults is used to replace a lost income. For example, if both spouses of a married couple work for wages, both spouses might have life insurance so that in the event of one of their deaths, the death does not affect the survivor’s stable living situation (at least financially, that is). Many detractors of child life insurance argue that because children do not provide any income to the family, the death of a child would not destabilize the family’s finances.

However, what critics fail to realize is that a child’s death does, in fact, generate a loss in income. Many parents expect that their children will care for them when they are older. The grown children will be utilizing their income to provide for their ailing parents. Thus, though the children at their time of death may not have any real income to speak of, it is their potential wages and care that the parents lose. Life insurance on a child will be able to pay back those wages to help grieving parents continue to save for their retirement and old age.

Life Insurance Expects the Unexpected

Many attackers claim that life insurance needs more than 20 years to really pay off and that when it comes to children, putting that money into some kind of long-term savings or investments would be more useful over time. Stocks and investments can be risky, but choosing the right ones may allow you to be more flexible and earn more over long periods of time.

Why You Should Ask Your Employer About Child Life InsuranceHowever, your child may be healthy now, but health crises and accidents can happen to anyone at any time. There is no guarantee that within a couple months your child won’t develop fast-acting cancer or be involved in a vehicle collision.

In this event, you need the financial boost of life insurance to help pay for funeral costs and provide an income during your grieving period. Because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to go to work during this trying time, the payout on your child’s life insurance policy will keep your finances stable despite this unexpected upset.

If you choose to invest that money into some kind of savings, you might not have generated a sufficient amount if tragedy strikes. Death occurs without any warning, and you want to feel secure in your finances come what may.

Life Insurance Grows With Kids

Children’s life insurance policies are generally rather inexpensive, from $2.50 to $6.25 per month, because the death of a child is such an unlikely event in this day and age. This is a miniscule amount to pay for peace of mind about your child’s life; plus, most plans are scalable and can be converted to an adult policy once the child comes of age.

Another slightly more expensive option allows children to retain the same $50,000 policy for the entirety of their lives, meaning they don’t have to worry about organizing their own policies when they’re starting a family and really digging into their work. Plus, the sooner you purchase life insurance for your child, the better; many firms offer locked-in prices on premium plans, so your child will never have to worry about keeping up with increasing rates, even well into the future.

Life Insurance Is Worth Considering

With ever-changing workforce, employees are clamoring for new and different benefits than the generation past. More men want more paternity leave, and flexible hours are becoming the norm for most employees. Employers have long offered employees health insurance that extends to their dependent family members, and life insurance options are often available through good PEOs.

If you are serious about the health (both financial and otherwise) of your family, consider researching whether your employer offers child life insurance; you might be glad that you did.

Avoiding the possibility of your child’s death will not guarantee that it won’t happen. When you are faced with any possible obstacle, the best course of action is to make a concrete and viable plan to overcome it. Life insurance for your child is a weighty decision, but you might find that it is the best option for your family’s health and future.

7 Qualities of an Outstanding Boss

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The 7 Qualities of Outstanding Bosses

Qualities of a Good BossBeing a good boss means different things to different people. To some, it’s about productivity and the bottom line — so long as they company is improving its profits, they’re doing a good job. Still others are concerned with morale and the work environment. As long as employees enjoy their work, perform it with vigor and find it meaningful, they must be doing something right. Every boss or manager will have different tactics, emphases and tricks of the trade, but regardless of the ways in which they measure their success, some qualities overlap. Here are seven of the best qualities that the best bosses share, whether they’re an airline executive or the front-of-house manager at a roadside steakhouse.

They Understand Accountability

It isn’t just your employees who need their feet held to the fire when it comes to keeping their end of a bargain or admitting mistakes. Good bosses have to be willing to pay the piper, too. No one is perfect, and even when you make a sincere commitment and valiant effort, sometimes failure occurs. Be a positive role model for your staff and always accept responsibility when you drop the ball. It will make holding your employees accountable for their faltering mistakes, absenteeism, shoddy reporting and the like much easier when they know you demand the same level of commitment and follow-through from yourself.

They Pay People What They’re Worth

All bosses have a budget they’re trying to mind and stay within, but the best bosses don’t scrimp on paying their employees what they’re worth. While the federal minimum wage remains stalled at $7.25 an hour, a good boss knows that good employees have to be compensated or they’ll walk. To that end, a good boss will cut budgetary corners elsewhere in order to ensure that the people who make her money are making enough of their own to stay loyal and keep working.

They’re Fixers

It seems like a CEO can’t go five minutes in one workday without encountering yet another issue, but running a business involves a lot of troubleshooting. From products and customers to supply chains and hiring, a good boss is able to think on his feet and work to resolve problems quickly and fairly. Not only does it keep the business running smoothly, but having a boss who handles problems instills confidence in his staff.

They Set Clear Expectations

Good bosses never require an employee to perform well without a clear identification of the expectations and workload. To that end, they are excellent and frequent communicators who let everyone working for them know what their vision of “excellent work” looks like. Without dictating how an employee should do a job, a good boss discusses expected outcomes and results so that the employee can perform the details of the jobs as she sees fit, and if expectations ever shift, a good boss lets everyone know immediately. Outlining clear expectations gives employees a sense of security and allows them to focus on their jobs, which will inevitably yield better results.

They Recognize Effort and Good Work

Your employees need to feel that the work they do is essential to the company’s overall goals and mission. In fact, a recent study shows that being recognized for their effort and hard work is more valuable to your workers than money is. A good boss never lets an opportunity to express gratitude at someone’s effort pass. Not only does the recognition make the employee feel good and know that her work is important, but it also functions as feedback, making the employee more likely to continue that type of effort in the future.

They’re Trustworthy

Being trustworthy is an essential quality in a good boss. Not only does it mean that your employees know you’re being fair with them and with your customers, but it also means that they can trust you to have their best interest at heart. When your team knows that it’s your own personal integrity that keeps you motivated to be direct, honest, ethical, forthright, hard-working and sincere, it creates an atmosphere of openness and trust that will lead to better communication among all your team members. Qualities of Good BossesBosses who cut corners or treat people inconsistently will cause wear and tear in the work environment. Trustworthy bosses, on the other hand, will be a source of inspiration and stability.

They’re Good Decision-Makers

Being the boss means you’re the one who has to make decisions, and even if you don’t always make the right one, it’s essential that you avoid being wishy-washy if you want to instill confidence in your employees and customers. Good bosses usually make good decisions because they’ve spent plenty of time listening to their team’s opinions about what should be done, so that when push comes to shove, they have all the information they need to steer the business effectively.

Good bosses don’t all look the same or act according to the same principles, but there are some traits that they share in common. From a willingness to hold themselves accountable to a practice of regularly recognizing the people around them who do good work, being a good boss makes a workplace a better place and a good business a great one.

 

How to Encourage Millennials to Apply

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Why You Need to Get Millennials Working for You — And How to Do It

Why You Should Hire MillennialsMillennials, or generation Y as they’ve also been called, are the generation of young people born between 1980 and 2000. At almost 95 million, they are the largest generation ever born in the United States, handily conquering the baby boomer generation’s 80 million strong, and if they aren’t currently working for you, they will be soon. But millennials are a workforce unlike the generations who came before them. Digital natives who seek out meaning in all their endeavors, their job turnover is remarkably high, and since they’ll comprise the majority of the workforce in about 10 years, your business needs to figure out how to get them — and keep them — if you hope to compete in the coming years. From providing work that is meaningful to running a company that gives back, here are some aspects of your workplace culture that may need to shift if you want to have Generation Y on your side.

Engaging Work Environment

Millenials are used to experiencing and engaging in an overly personalized technological lifestyle where they and everyone around them is getting and giving almost constant feedback about their lives, work, interests and more. Keeping their attention will require a workplace that engages these characteristics, and also participates in the running commentary. At least once a year, survey your employees about your company’s culture, practices, policies and values. Ask your team how they like to be engaged. Find out if flex time would appeal. See if they need more or fewer performance reviews. Are meetings helpful, or do they find them less than beneficial? While it may seem like a radical break with more traditional work culture where employees do as their told, generation Y wants to be a part of crafting the world they inhabit. Your best bet is to help them do just that.

More Collaboration, Less Competition

The days of intense competition between employees may be numbered. The Wall Street Journal recently profiled an Intelligence Group study that found the majority of millennials want a collaborative work environment rather than a competitive one. In fact, most of them would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they loved than $100,000 at a job they hated. Those sorts of values represent an impressive shift away from a competitive work environment. If you’re still expecting employees to battle it out for promotions, clients and cases, you’ll have a hard time appealing to generation Y.

Meaningful Work

Millennials aren’t as motivated by money or material possessions as the generations of workers who preceded them. Instead, they want to work at a place they believe is positively impacting the world. While it’s impossible to dial all busy work and tedium out of most jobs, it’s still necessary to impart to millennials how that minutiae contributes to the business’s overall success and the greater good. Because not all companies provide products and services that save the rainforest, free Tibet or otherwise promote a cause that your millennial employees may feel strongly about, it’s necessary that your company give back in some way generation Y will find meaningful, believable and adequate. Responsible purchasing, ethical customer service, philanthropic giving, volunteering — all these practices and those like them will help your millennial team feel that the work they do is crafting a better world.

Unusual Benefits

Generation Y already expects benefits and a decent salary when they come to work for you, which means those things won’t give you any sort of edge over another company who is wooing the talent you’re hoping to land. Invest inGetting Millennials Interested in Your Company more unusual benefits to tip the scales in your favor. Offer a game room, a gym membership, completely covered health care, flex time, a casual dress code, a cafe that features fresh, local, farm-raised food. Whatever you can do to stand out in your efforts to cater to them, millennials will notice and appreciate.

Fun

Millennials will quit a job they don’t look forward to doing each and every day, which means the more fun and creative you can make your work environment, the better you’ll do at keeping them around. Whether you host regular company picnics, pub crawls or Scrabble tournaments, treat your employees a little bit like they’re college students new to campus and you’re the Student Activities Director. Host interesting and engaging events on a regular basis that enable your employees to really get to know you and one another as people, it will build stronger interpersonal ties that will lead to better retention and increased productivity.

Innovation

In a recent Deloitte Millennial Survey, researchers found that almost 80 percent of the millennials surveyed were seeking work at companies that made innovation a priority. Interestingly, most also reported that their current jobs didn’t allow them to think as creatively as they wanted to — a disconnect that may somewhat explain why millennials change jobs so frequently. If you want to attract generation Y to your company, you’ll need to emphasize innovation, but if you want to keep them, you’ll have to put your money where your mouth is by letting them be innovative.

Millennials are unlike any group of workers who has come before them, and whether you and your company are ready for the changes they demand, it’s high time to make room for them, and why not? From collaborative work environments to giving back, doing things the millennial way might actually make the world of work a better place.

How to Become a Better Boss

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Increase Your Emotional Intelligence and Become a Better Boss

Become a Better BossEmotional intelligence (EQ) has been a buzzword in and around the business scene since the mid-90s, but unlike “Friends, Stone Temple Pilots” and Susan Powter, emotional intelligence has maintained its weighty importance well beyond the end of the 20th century. Defined as the ability to be aware of, control and express emotions, while also being able to enter into relationships with fairness and empathy, emotional intelligence is often seen as being as important a predictor of success as IQ, and while most people who experience success in their careers and personal lives tend to have a healthy measure of it, gaining a little more has certainly never done anyone any harm, and it will improve your work life and personal life, too.

Especially if you’re in charge of other people, emotional intelligence is essential, and according to Travis Bradbury, the best-selling author of “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” — emotional intelligence can be increased and developed, leading to greater personal and business-centered success. If you want to be a better boss or manager, emotional intelligence is a trustworthy ring to throw your hat into.

Care About the People Who Work For You

Unless you’re a sociopath or genuinely holed up in your office without any team interaction, the chances are good that you care about the people who work with and for you. That being said, a feeling of care and affection isn’t enough to boost your EQ in a way that will positively affect your employees or work environment. Caring about others is only as good as the actions you undertake. To that end, try practicing the following:

  • Show compassion. Your employees aren’t robots. They get tired. Their children get sick. They feel overwhelmed. While you and your team have legitimate deadlines, don’t stick to protocol and productivity so much that the human spirit suffers.
  • Always say, “Thank you.” Every time one of your employees completes a project, performs well or goes the extra mile, verbally express your gratitude. Every time.
  • Mentor. You know you’re busy. Your employees know you’re busy. So when you take the extra time to mentor those who work for you, they’ll know you care about their performance, prospects and person.

Embrace, Affirm and Celebrate Difference

The world is full of remarkably different people, and your workplace is probably no exception. Your employees want very much to be seen clearly for who they are, and they want who they are to be accepted without qualifications or reservations. From race and sexual orientation to gender and lifestyle choices, practice a celebration of the differences among your team as the opportunities to grow in understanding that they are. It will help your employees feel that their unique abilities, stories and experiences all contribute to the business’s overall success.

Help Employees Cultivate Significance

Your employees are probably motivated by desires that are both similar and dissimilar to yours. Because of that, there’s no reason to try and convert them into becoming carbon copies of you. Instead, encourage your employees to seek out the reasons why their job is a benefit to their own well-being — not just the business’s profit model. Guide your employees in finding the ways that their work assists their families and life away from the office. People want to feel as though the work they do is meaningful. Help them to see that it is.

Be Self-Aware…and Self-Regulating

Understanding how you’re feeling, what your preferences and expectations are for yourself and others, the limits of your own intelligence and skills and the like all contribute mightily to how you interact with those in your employ, but self-awareness is only valuable if it’s properly regulated. Managing your limits, your emotions and your expectations can be an even trickier undertaking, but it can be effectively practiced by carrying out the following:

  • Be self-controlled. Keep your disruptive emotions and impulses in check.
  • Be trustworthy. Always adhere to high standards of honesty and integrity.
  • Take responsibility. Be accountable for your personal performance and the performance of your team.
  • Be flexible. When change happens, adapt.

Remember Your Employees’ Needs

Becoming a Better BossYour business’ and customers’ needs are never the only needs in the room. Pay attention and be mindful of the quality and quantity of work going on around you. If someone begins to work below their usual capacity, investigate. They may be bored. They may need skills training. They may simply need more feedback regarding their performance. Whatever it is that’s holding your employees back, the only way you can properly address it is if you know about it. Address the needs of your workers, and your productivity will soar.

Regardless of how high your emotional intelligence is, increasing it will undoubtedly make you a better boss or manager. Caring attention that is put to practical and intentional use in a work environment can’t help but yield happier and more productive employees, and you’ll find that you enjoy that kind of environment, too.

Creating Leaders in the Workplace

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4 Sure-Fire Ways to Develop Leaders Among Your Employees

Develop Leaders Among Your EmployeesLeadership is often assumed to be a quality that a person has or doesn’t have at birth — just ask Nigel Nicholson, the author of “Executive Instinct” — and while there is a certain underlying charisma that great leaders often exude, the overarching truth is decidedly less romantic and less fatalistic. Good leadership qualities develop in much the same way that other good qualities are developed: over time with patience, attention and practice. Nowhere is this reality more true than in the 21st century workplace. Regardless of whether you work in finance, insurance, hospitality or the non-profit sector, you need to be working to develop leaders from among the employees who currently work for you. Not only is it easier to groom someone from within your organization for leadership, but doing so will yield better retention and loyalty, too. If you’d like to see your diamonds in the rough really start to shine, here are four sure-fire ways you can develop leaders from among your current employees.

Be a Role Model

Who you are, what you say and what you do can contribute more to developing — and undermining — good leadership qualities among your employees than just about anything else. By communicating your own need and desire to keep learning and developing in your job — and sharing that process and what you learn with your team — you create a culture of effort and openness toward new ideas. Allow yourself to be vulnerable by speaking honestly with those in your charge about difficulties you and the company are facing. Leaders are created by positively traversing pressuring situations and failures, and it’s only by modeling to your employees how to handle those kinds of unavoidable difficulties that you set the stage and culture for their own development.

Frame Problems as Opportunities

Failure comes with the territory of being in leadership and learning to lead. It’s a product of doing more and more challenging work. As you give your employees more opportunities to stretch themselves, problems will inevitably emerge. When they do, there are some research-backed ways to respond that will help your employees bounce back and learn from their mistakes. Let the employee know that you accept the failure and that you expect her to do the same. As you talk through what went wrong, be sure to frame the discussion as being much more than only a failed attempt; let her know that you see this setback as an opportunity to grow, learn and reassess, and as you walk her through what went wrong, be sure to use humor when appropriate. Because the reality of developing leadership qualities is that it’s only through difficulty that your employees grow, difficulty is essential, and those difficulties will sometimes lead to failure. When that happens, your employee needs to be encouraged, or their burgeoning leadership qualities may falter and perish. Let your employee know that frustration, embarrassment and disappointment can all be positive learning tools. Help her dust herself off, have a good laugh about it, and when you and she are ready, call her up to bat, again.

Mentor

Mentoring Leaders in the WorkplaceMentoring actually doesn’t happen as often as it should. Executives are often short on time, and while the idea of mentoring sounds like a good idea, it can get passed over when more pressing matters arise. Because it can be hard to make it a priority, companies would do well to set up a mentoring program that pairs employees with upper level staff. Whether the two meet weekly or twice a month isn’t as important as what they discuss when they do. After spending time getting to know one another, a mentoring relationship can be greatly enhanced by the following:

  • Occasionally swapping roles.
  • Listening to one another.
  • Exercising patience.
  • Tackling the real world, specific issues that mentor and mentee are each working on.

Provide Cross-Training

Just because you hired someone to do online marketing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have him dip his toes into the pool over at HR. Cross-training is the practice of having employees learn and do multiple jobs — even those outside their wheelhouse and educational background — in order to give them an opportunity to grow, change, learn and develop further skill sets that may aid them and the company. While it isn’t likely that someone in sales is going to realize she has a deep, just-discovered love for desktop publishing, the perspective gained on the other work happening within your organization is invaluable. Especially as that employee rises in the ranks, her time in various departments and with different people will help inform her overall view of the company, its employees, its values and its customers. That broad perspective will enable her to lead with greater empathy and awareness — both skills that great leaders possess and skills that will keep a company in fighting shape far into the future.

Developing good leaders among your own employees makes good business sense, but it won’t happen overnight or without effort. From starting a mentorship program to being sure to frame failure as an opportunity for growth, it’s a process that requires patience, guidance and time.