All Articles Leadership If You Can Only Go to One: SHRM’s annual conference

If You Can Only Go to One: SHRM’s annual conference

3 min read


Today’s guest poster is Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO of Herrmann International in Lake Lure, N.C. She is one of the presenters at the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual conference in New Orleans June 28-July 1, which is our featured event this month.

Managing performance begins with managing your own style and approach.  Mood is contagious. Associates and workers are observing every move managers make right now, reading into all decisions and behaviors, and trying to figure out what these signs mean for them. Bosses need to reassess how they’re managing their own style, mindset and behaviors and then seek out input from their employees for fresh thinking. As former Visa International Chairman Dee Hock once said: ”If you seek to lead, first lead yourself.”

First, managers need to pay more attention to the impact their leadership style has on others. If the leader’s style doesn’t connect effectively with the employee, critical communications can be misunderstood and performance suffers. This is even more important now because workers yearn for communication and a sense of connection. The onus is on the manager: Being an effective leader means being able to stretch your personal style to meet the needs of your employees and ensure your intentions are clearly communicated.

Additionally, the organizations that succeed in this downturn will be the ones that can leverage new ideas and innovative thinking. This requires managers to engage their teams and get insights from them, particularly from employees who have a different perspective.  Leaders should actively listen and, if necessary, quiet their internal voice to avoid discounting ideas that are too different or may not immediately seem viable. Taking notes helps managers capture what they’re hearing and easily check for understanding afterward.

Finally, recognize that stress is at an all-time high for managers right now, and brain research shows that stress creates mental noise, making it even harder to think and focus. Managers are expected to take on more and do it faster in the midst of new challenges and increased distractions. While it may seem counterintuitive, to go faster, they’ll need to start by slowing down. Here are some techniques for slowing down to improve performance:

  • Before the busiest part of the day, take 5-10 minutes to think about the tone you want to set. Pick a key word or phrase (e.g., calm, interested, receptive to new thinking). Some might say, ”I have too much to do already to stop and think and plan—my focus should be on doing.” But how hard is it to take 5-10 minutes to be more effective? Just try it.
  • Plan communication based on the style of the individuals you interact with. How will they need to receive the message in order to really “get it”?
  • Be sure to ask employees questions. Write their answers down and avoid judging them. Ask clarifying questions if necessary. Try asking:
    • “What ideas do you have that would help us more effectively address…?”
    • “Is anything getting in the way of your ability to perform and achieve your objectives?”
    • “What can I do to help remove those barriers?”

Managers who plan their approaches and stretch their perspectives should see fewer misunderstandings, improved communication and greater performance, as well more new ideas. They’ll become more mindful, so they can shift from racing through the day with their minds full of noise to gaining more perspective and better performance from their team.

Image credit, iStock