Let’s Celebrate Donna Byrd!

Let’s Celebrate Donna Byrd!

Celebrate Donna Byrd Today!  Please join Gallman Consulting and GPS in wishing a very Happy Birthday to a wonderful and inspiring colleague!  Your birthday is a promise that life has more to offer you, more plans to make, more goals to reach and more dreams to see come true.  It’s a pleasure to wish you a happy birthday!

Photo Donna

Let’s all celebrate Donna!

Donna is a Director of Placement at Gallman Consulting.

Happy 29th GPS Anniversary Nanci Fields!

Happy 29th GPS Anniversary Nanci Fields!

Nanci Client Crush 2014

Nanci,

On your 29th anniversary with GPS, we want you to know what a pleasure it is to work with someone so driven and dedicated as you are.  You are such an important asset to our team!  Thank you for many wonderful years of service. 

Happy anniversary!

Enjoy your day!

#nancifields #gallmantalent #gpsassociatesrock

How to Be a Pet-Friendly Employer

How to Be a Pet-Friendly Employer

For many employees, their dogs and cats are beloved family members. Here are seven ways your company can show it cares.

By: Lisa Rabasca Roepe

February 22, 2017

Office life isn’t for everyone. It certainly didn’t suit Beasley. After his first foray into the work world, he found himself feeling skittish and overwhelmed. He got carsick on the commute, and some of the employees made him uncomfortable.
It soon became clear this wasn’t going to be a good fit. He wasn’t let go so much as left at home—by his owner, Cheryl DeSantis, vice president of people and organization for Mars Petcare North America in Franklin, Tenn.
You see, Beasley is a 3-year-old goldendoodle. And while he didn’t have the right personality to accompany DeSantis to work, he remains a very good boy. DeSantis found a better office mate with her mini-goldendoodle puppy, Riggins, who enjoys the daily routine and meeting new people.
“It’s looking promising for Riggins,” DeSantis says.
Beasley and Riggins are members of the more than 54 million U.S. households that include a dog and the nearly 80 million families with a pet of any kind, according to the 2015-2016 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. And Mars Petcare is among a growing number of companies that allow dogs to come to work with their owners.
As organizations look to provide perks that will attract and retain key talent, many are coming to realize that offering pet-friendly benefits—whether that means take-your-dog-to-work days, pet insurance or animal-related volunteer excursions—can be an effective tool for improving recruitment, morale and even wellness.
“Dogs have become a bigger part of everyone’s life, especially as Millennials delay having children,” says Jennifer Joyce, vice president of marketing for Kurgo, a company based in Salisbury, Mass., that makes travel accessories and outdoor products for dogs. “For many, their dog is often their first child.”
Indeed, when Kurgo recently surveyed 1,242 dog owners across the country, 65 percent said their dog is part of their family, while only 8 percent referred to Fido as a pet.

The Benefits of Furry Friends

Mars Petcare, which owns the Banfield brand, has been allowing its employees to bring their dogs to work five days a week since 2007, DeSantis says. On a typical day, there are 900 employees and 30 to 40 dogs in the headquarters office.

Copack
Copack scheduler Lee Wilson greets Mackenzie at the Mars Petcare office in Franklin, Tenn. Photograph courtesy of Mars Petcare.

From an employer’s perspective, one of the biggest benefits of allowing pets in the workplace is related to retention. A 2016 study by Banfield Pet Hospital found that 83 percent of employees feel a greater sense of loyalty to companies with pet-friendly policies.

Moreover, more than half of workers at companies without such policies said they would be more likely to stay at their organization if it were to offer pet-related perks. The same survey found that 88 percent of the 1,006 employees surveyed, and 91 percent of 200 HR decision-makers, agreed that having pets at work improves morale.

​“What we hear is people will pick Mars over another employer because they can bring their dogs to work,” DeSantis says. “We also hear that it is hard for associates to leave Mars because not every business allows pets in the office.”

Dogs and cats can also bring people closer together. “They create unity among staff and opportunities for interaction among departments that might not otherwise have interacted,” says Bill Page, HR director for Arkansas Business Publishing Group in Little Rock, Ark., which has 72 employees and four to five dogs at the office each day.

Shaping Pet Policies

Before creating any policy that involves bringing pets to the office, it’s critical to get employees’ input, says Patti Perez, an employment attorney with Ogletree Deakins.

“Everyone’s opinion must be heard,” she says. Are you willing to lose good employees because some don’t want to work in a pet-friendly office? If the feedback is mixed, one way to gauge the potential impact on your culture is to try allowing pets one day per week or month.

“Bringing a dog to work is a privilege, not a right,” says Robbie Eddison, a service desk manager at Softchoice Corp., an IT consulting firm based in Toronto. Eddison oversees her office’s Dog Committee. Softchoice has allowed dogs on the premises for at least 20 years. More than 700 employees work in the Toronto office, and they share the space with about 115 dogs each day.

Sometimes smaller companies become pet-friendly by accident after one or two people start bringing their dogs to work and other employees follow suit. That’s what happened at Arkansas Business Publishing Group five years ago, when CEO Olivia Farrell started bringing her Labrador retriever to the office every day, Page says.

“The generally tacit agreement [was] that your dog is friendly, housebroken, well-mannered and gets along well with others,” Farrell says. The organization recently developed a short policy laying out the ground rules in writing.

Kurgo
The office at Kurgo, a pet-accessory company in Salisbury, Mass., was designed with dogs in mind. It has easy-to-clean floors, dog-level water fountains and synthetic grass for playing. Photograph courtesy of Kurgo.

Initially, TINYpulse in Seattle—which creates employee engagement surveys—also lacked a written policy. Company leaders wanted to embrace the flexible, informal feel of a small startup. However, as the organization grew from 20 employees and two to three dogs to 60 workers with six to nine canines, the senior team realized it needed to provide clear guidelines and expectations. “It felt important, especially for non-dog owners,” HR Director Eliza Polly says.

As Polly and her colleagues delved into the issues, they realized there was a lot more to consider than they initially thought. “The leadership team still laughs about how much time it spent on this policy,” she says, noting that the topic was discussed at the group’s regularly scheduled meetings for three consecutive weeks. “When you get senior leaders talking about how much a dog should weigh to be allowed to roam free, it feels like a silly detail,” she says.

Actually, it’s not. “We had a big Irish setter puppy coming in that liked to knock over garbage cans and get into everything,” Polly says. “It was the sweetest dog, but he wanted to play and get attention. Not every dog is workplace-ready.”

That’s why TINYpulse’s policy explicitly states that dogs weighing more than 25 pounds can’t roam the building unattended and that dogs must not disturb any employees.

Each of Softchoice’s 21 U.S. and eight Canadian offices sets its own rules and guidelines for its dogs-at-work program, including negotiating agreements with local landlords.

In the Toronto location, employees are required to have worked at the company for three months before they can apply to bring their dog in. When workers make the request, Eddison says, they need to note their department; the location of their desk; their dog’s name, age, breed and gender; whether the dog has been fixed; whether it has had obedience training; and how often the pooch would come to work.

Employees must also get their manager’s written permission and confirm that they have asked nearby co-workers if having a dog around would be OK. A manager can revoke an agreement at any time if he or she thinks the situation isn’t working out, and people who aren’t dog lovers or who are allergic can request to work in a dog-free zone that has its own entrance and exit and a separate HVAC system, Eddison says.

Many company policies also stipulate that pets need to be healthy, clean, and up-to-date on vaccinations and heartworm and flea treatments.

[SHRM members-only resource: ADA Reasonable Accommodation Policy: Service Animals]

Accommodating Service Animals

There are approximately 20,000 U.S. service dogs, according to the American Humane Association. These animals are trained to perform tasks to help people with disabilities, such as guiding employees who are blind or deaf.

Regardless of whether an office allows pets, service animals must be allowed to accompany a person with a disability, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). That said, animals whose sole function is to provide comfort do not qualify as service animals under the ADA, although some state and local laws allow emotional support animals in the workplace.

Deciding whether to allow an employee to bring in a so-called comfort animal is not that different from making a reasonable accommodation, says Patti Perez, an employment attorney with Ogletree Deakins. Ask yourself these three questions to make the determination.

Is it reasonable?

A monkey or snake is unlikely to be considered a reasonable companion, but a small trained dog may be. Ask the employee to provide medical documentation that having a comfort animal is a valid accommodation for his or her condition.

​Would it be an effective solution?

Will the animal keep the employee from performing his or her essential functions? Perez knows of a case where a woman who pierced ears at a mall kiosk asked if she could do her work while holding a comfort dog. In this instance, the employer could make the case that the animal was interfering with the worker’s effectiveness because many people likely wouldn’t want their ears pierced by someone clutching a canine.

Is it an undue burden?

If an employee needs a comfort animal but the building lease won’t allow it, for instance, it is probably not reasonable to expect the employer to move to make the accommodation.

Once Bitten

Dogs have bitten employees at Softchoice’s Toronto office twice, Eddison says. “Biting is cause for an immediate expulsion for us,” she says, adding that there is a three-strike policy for lesser complaints, which any employee can submit anonymously; most are related to barking, whimpering or playing with a squeaky toy.

The owner gets a warning when someone complains. A pup that accrues three strikes is not welcome in the office for six months to a year, although it may return on a trial basis if the owner can show a change in behavior, Eddison says.

TINYpulse’s policy relies heavily on self-reporting. If an employee knows her dog barks too much or has had an accident, she is expected to report it, Polly says. The company has a three-strike rule for accidents and no tolerance for biting. “If a dog even bites someone once, they are not welcome back in the office,” she says.

Trupanion
Seattle-based pet medical insurance provider Trupanion is one of the few companies that allow employees to bring cats to work. Photograph courtesy of Trupanion.

Employers can’t assume that workers’ compensation would cover a bite from a dog visiting the workplace, Perez says. That’s because, to submit a claim, the employer must show that an injury was caused by the scope of the employee’s work.

However, workers may be able to sue an employer for allowing dogs in the office, Perez says, although she isn’t aware of any such cases. Employees might also have a case if two or more dogs get into a fight and one is injured.

Another tip: Make it very clear who is responsible for the dog at all times. Perez worked at a law firm where an attorney who brought her dog to work asked a co-worker to dog-sit on the days she needed to be in court—which made the co-worker less productive. Your policy should address what happens when someone has to go to meetings. Consider stipulating that workers can’t bring their pets in on the days they have other scheduled events, Perez suggests.

Other Options

If allowing workers to bring their pets to work doesn’t seem like a good option for your company, you’re not alone. Although office animals are making headlines, most organizations don’t allow them. According to the SHRM 2016 Employee Benefits research report, only 7 percent of employers permit pets in the workplace (compared with 8 percent in 2015 and 4 percent in 2014).

Fortunately, there are many other creative ways to show your support for furry friends, including the following:

Foster puppy (or kitty) love online. Because so many employees at Genentech, a San Francisco-based pharmaceutical company with 11,000 employees, were sharing dog photos and advice through e-mail, the company set up gDOGs, an employee resource group for dog owners, in 2014. More than 200 of Genentech’s employees are members, says Andrew Villani, senior manager of corporate relations and co-founder of gDOGs. The group created an online community and schedules events to encourage members to socialize with their dogs after hours and on weekends.

Allow occasional visits. The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance company based in St. Petersburg, Fla., invites employees to bring their dogs into the office for occasional photo shoots, says Erin O’Neill, the organization’s people and culture manager. It’s important to communicate with staff ahead of time that dogs will be at the office, she says. “We have one staffer who is allergic, and she is super gracious about it and just stays out of the area,” O’Neill says.

Motley Fool
Once a quarter, The Motley Fool in Alexandria, Va., hosts an animal therapy day for staff, featuring either puppies or ducklings. Here, Kristine Harjes is visited by a pup from the Operation Paws for Homes rescue. Photograph courtesy of The Motley Fool.

Schedule animal therapy days. Once a quarter, investment media business The Motley Fool in Alexandria, Va., sponsors an “animal therapy day.” A staff member who lives on a farm brings in puppies or ducklings, says Chief Wellness Officer Samantha Whiteside. “I try to schedule them when the staff seems stressed-out,” she says.

Other building tenants are also invited to participate, she says, because “it’s a good way to create intentional collision points to build relationships.” And the company sponsors an occasional “yappy hour”—a social event in which pets are welcome—at a nearby restaurant with an outdoor patio.

Arrange volunteer opportunities. Mars Petcare offers employee volunteer opportunities with the Nashville Humane Society, and staff deliver lunches and pet food to homebound seniors with pets.

Provide bereavement leave. San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is one of a few employers to provide three days of bereavement leave following the death of a pet. Mars Petcare gives one day.

Offer pet insurance. Pet-related coverage was offered by 36 percent of companies in 2015, and that number is expected to surge to 60 percent by 2018, according to a 2016 survey by Willis Towers Watson. The Motley Fool added pet insurance to its benefits package after an employee survey indicated demand.

Consider offering a coverage discount, says Chris Middleton, president of Pets Best Insurance. The typical markdown is 5 percent, he says, and even organizations with only 20 employees can offer this benefit affordably. Keep in mind, though, that each employee’s premium will be different based on where he or she lives and the pet’s species, breed and age, Middleton says.

Genentech offers a plan that covers dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets, Villani says. Employees can pay premiums through payroll deductions, and owners of multiple pets receive additional discounts. The company has also negotiated with several local doggie day care providers to offer employees a discount on the daily rate.

No matter which options you pursue, showing employees you care about their lives outside of work—including their pets—can give you an edge when it comes to recruiting, wellness and morale. And who doesn’t want to be top dog?

Lisa Rabasca Roepe is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va. 

Opening photograph courtesy of Trupanion.

Pet-Friendly Office Checklist

Experts at Trupanion, a Seattle-based pet medical insurance provider with a 1:2 pet-to-employee ratio (233 cats and dogs to 434 employees) offer this framework for creating a pet-friendly office.

Get executive buy-in. The CEO and senior management must agree to any pet-friendly policies.

Secure landlord approval. The Motley Fool can’t permit daily visits from animals at its offices because the property owner says the ventilation system won’t filter out all the dander and allergens, says Chief Wellness Officer Samantha Whiteside.

Create a policy. Clearly outline expectations, beginning by defining “pet-friendly,” says Patti Perez, an employment attorney with Ogletree Deakins. Do you mean just dogs and cats? What about boa constrictors and ferrets?
Pet-proof your space. This may include incorporating baby gates or tethers and hiding electrical cords. When Trupanion redesigned its offices, it included gated cubicles so office dogs and cats could enjoy being off-leash while sitting near their owner, says Erich Wuhrman, the company’s vice president of HR.
Communicate with employees. Let employees know if and when they can bring their pets to work. Some companies require employees to sign a written acknowledgment of the pet policy.
Was this article useful? SHRM offers thousands of tools, templates and other exclusive member benefits, including compliance updates, sample policies, HR expert advice, education discounts, a growing online member community and much more. Join/Renew Now and let SHRM help you work smarter. 

Happy 29th GPS Anniversary MJ Sorrell!

Happy 29th GPS Anniversary MJ Sorrell!

An anniversary is a good occasion to look back on what you have accomplished.  MJ, for 29 years you have been and are…terrifically tireless, exceptionally excellent, abundantly appreciated and…magnificent beyond words! 

 We wish you much more success in the years ahead.  Happy Anniversary!  Enjoy your day!

#gpsassociatesrock #gpsfun #gallmantalent

Are You Playing Offense or Defense?

Are You Playing Offense or Defense?

Are you Playing Offense or Defense?

I recently read this question somewhere, and it stuck with me. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I was that it is a valid question for us to ask as individuals and as leaders.

Are you playing offense or defense?

Like in sports, where you can have a strength in offense or defense and be successful, but can’t be successful with a complete lack of either one; this question isn’t an “either/or black or white” question as much as it is a “relative balance” question.

It is a question that can be asked strategically (what will our focus be for the year?) or tactically (how will handle this situation?). In either case, it is a question worth considering, because if you don’t consider it and challenge yourself with it, you will in the short- or long-term operate from your habits – which might not give you the results you most desire.

Are you playing offense or defense?

What do I mean when I suggest this question to you?

Your own definitions for the two words matter, and so my urging you to ask yourself might really be all that is needed (and would make for a short article). But if you want to hear the definitions and descriptions I have been using as I have considered the question, here is a sampling.

table {
font-family: arial, sans-serif;
border-collapse: collapse;
width: 100%;
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td, th {
border: 1px solid #dddddd;
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Offense means . . . Defense means . . .
• Being proactive • Being reactive
• Improving processes • Solving problems
• Playing to win • Playing it safe
• Maximizing return • Minimizing risk
• Trying something new • Maintaining what you have
• Creating new Customers • Focusing on the competition

As you can see, what appears to be a black and white question is far from it. As just one example: there is a time to improve processes, and a time to solve problems – and there is value in knowing which will be your overall focus too.

The question has helped clarify my thinking for our team in the coming year and I hope it will do the same for you. It has also come in handy in regards to some specific situations and decisions since I have been considering the question.

So, I ask you to consider this question for yourself from three perspectives.

Which is my subconscious habit, to play offense or defense?

Which will serve me best, most often in reaching my goals for year, playing offense or defense?

Which will serve me best for the situation or decision I face right now, playing offense or defense?

Whatever your answers, make sure you don’t ignore what you didn’t choose. If you choose to focus on offense, there will be a time when defense is needed and vice versa. Asking the question will however make you more intentional and likely more successful in whatever context you use it.

Ten Employee Training Tips

Ten Employee Training Tips

By AllBusiness.com

Well-trained employees are the key to your small business success. Studies have shown that the most successful, productive employees are those who have received extensive training. They’re the cream of the crop, and often have the strongest stake in the company’s future.

In an ideal world, you would be able to hire people who already possess the exact skills your business needs. But in today’s competitive labor market, demand for skilled workers far exceeds supply.

That’s where training comes in. Not only does instruction arm your employees with needed professional or technical skills, but it also shows that you are invested in them and interested in bringing them with you into the company’s future. This helps keep workers motivated and involved.

To successfully launch an employee-training program in your own company, follow these 10 helpful tips:

  1. Stress training as investment. The reason training is often considered optional at many companies is because it is thought of as an expense rather than an investment. While it’s true that training can be costly up front, it’s a long-term investment in the growth and development of your human resources.
  2. Determine your needs. As you probably don’t have unlimited time or funds to execute an employee training program, you should decide early on what the focus of your training program should be. Determine what skills are most pertinent to address current or future company needs or ones that will provide the biggest payback. Ask yourself, “How will this training eventually prove beneficial to the company?” Repeat this process as your business needs change.
  3. Promote a culture of learning. In today’s fast-paced economy, if a business isn’t learning, it’s going to fall behind. A business learns as its people learn. Communicate your expectations that all employees should take the necessary steps to hone their skills and stay on top of their professions or fields of work. Make sure you support those efforts by providing the resources needed to accomplish this goal.
  4. Get management on board. Once you have developed a prioritized list of training topics that address key needs within your company, you need to convince management to rally behind the initiative.
  5. Start out small. Before rolling out your training program to the masses, rehearse with a small group of users and gather their feedback. This sort of informal benchmarking exposes weaknesses in your training plans and helps you fine-tune the training process.
  6. Choose quality instructors and materials. Who you select to conduct the training will make a major difference in the success of your efforts, whether it’s a professional educator or simply a knowledgeable staff member. Having the right training materials is also important — after the training is over, these materials become valuable resources for trainees.
  7. Find the right space. Select a training location that’s conducive to learning. Choose an environment that’s quiet and roomy enough to spread out materials. Make sure the space is equipped with a computer and projector, so you can present a visually stimulating training session.
  8. Clarify connections. Some employees may feel that the training they’re receiving isn’t relevant to their job. It’s important to help them understand the connection early on, so they don’t view the training sessions as a waste of valuable time. Employees should see the training as an important addition to their professional portfolios. Award people with completion certificates at the end of the program.
  9. Make it ongoing. Don’t limit training solely to new employees. Organized, ongoing training programs will maintain all employees’ skill levels, and continually motivate them to grow and improve professionally.
  10. Measure results. Without measurable results, it’s almost impossible to view training as anything but an expense. Decide how you’re going to obtain an acceptable rate of return on your investment. Determine what kind of growth or other measure is a reasonable result of the training you provide. You’ll have an easier time budgeting funds for future training if you can demonstrate concrete results.

AllBusiness.com provides resources to help small and growing businesses start, manage, finance, and expand their business. The site contains forms & agreements, business guides, business directories, thousands of articles, expert advice, and business blogs. Material copyrighted by AllBusiness.com.

How To Create Your Own Opportunities At Work

How To Create Your Own Opportunities At Work

When your job isn’t giving you room to grow, make some.

How To Create Your Own Opportunities At Work
[Photo: distelpics via Pixabay]

You’re a hard worker, just like you said at your job interview. In all your time at your company, you’ve done consistently good work. You’re reliable. But for some reason, you just aren’t shining as much as you’d like. Maybe there’s a sexy new project at work that you were hoping to be assigned, but it went to someone else. Perhaps you’re holding out for a promotion but haven’t seen it yet.

You’re starting to wonder if your hard work doesn’t cut it. You’re doing some great things, but your boss doesn’t seem to notice. You aren’t getting bigger or better projects, which means you aren’t really growing in your position. Is there something else you should be doing?

Executing Isn’t Enough

The solution here isn’t necessarily to approach your boss and ask point-blank what gives. Before you charge into your boss’s office demanding a change, stop for a minute and ask yourself: How proactive am I in my career? Do I take on more than is required of me? Do I go out of my way to take on projects that benefit teams other than my own? Do I regularly help my teammates? And do I do these things without permission, or only when I’m asked to? In other words, am I fearless?

If the answers here are mostly “no,” it’s time to be more proactive. Don’t wait for your boss to create opportunities for you—create them yourself.No matter what stage of your career you’re at, simply “doing” the work is never enough. In order to take charge of your own career, you often have to take the initiative.

The most successful people are proactive. They provide value beyond what’s asked of them, and in the process, they showcase their talents and show everybody else how much they can contribute. Over time, teams learn to come to them with bigger and better projects. It’s a virtuous circle that benefits both the company and their careers.

Depending on your personality, this might not feel so natural. It may also come more easily to people at senior levels who typically don’t have to wait for a supervisor to approve every decision they make. People earlier in their careers might hesitate to be so proactive, fearing that if they do, they’ll be scolded for overstepping.

In reality, this fear is typically unfounded. What it really boils down to is your confidence and how much you know about the company and industry you’re in, not the current stage of your career. Here are a few tips for being more proactive at every level.

Take An Inventory Of Your Strengths And Weaknesses

Just as you would while preparing for a job interview, sit down and log your strengths and weaknesses. Has your team actually seen the full breadth of your skills? Do they know what you’re capable of? Are you actively utilizing your strongest skills, or are they being underleveraged?

Sometimes assets are hidden inside what appear to be disadvantages. Maybe you’ve been harping on the fact that you’re the youngest on your team—does that also make you the most social-media-savvy? Consider your strengths and weaknesses from all angles. You need to understand them better before stepping up to show your team more of what you’ve got.

Pick The Right Project

Being proactive isn’t about picking any extra project and adding it to your to-do list. It’s about identifying strategic opportunities for the good of the company—not just for yourself.

Which opportunities are those? Ask yourself these questions to pinpoint where you can help your company or team—and your career in the process:

  • What do you know about the business, company, or industry that only you can see?
  • What are some possibilities your company or team haven’t explored yet, and why not?
  • What gaps do you see?
  • What business objectives are you most passionate about at your company, and which of those are you uniquely qualified to help with?

Note that the answers to these questions may mean working with your current team, or not! Embrace the opportunity to meet teams other than your own if that’s where you can best contribute. Going out on a limb to forge those relationships is another sign that you’re interested in growing beyond what you already do.

Once You Seize It, Sell It

Now it’s time to sell your boss on the value of you taking on this project. Boil it down to a one-liner summarizing what you hope to achieve, and why it’s important to the company or team. Practice explaining that in the mirror if it helps.

While it can be scary to work on a project with no obvious stakeholders, if it’s a truly valuable undertaking, it’ll prove itself. Other people will see its value as it develops, and you yourself will become more certain of it.

Keep in mind, however, that it’s essential that you believe in the value of the undertaking. If you’re not sure it’s worth pursuing, get a second opinion from someone you trust (a close colleague, a mentor), or table it until you find another opportunity that makes your heart beat faster with conviction.

Keep Up Your Existing Responsibilities

The only way you can get away with working on something only you see the value in (at first) is if you’re keeping on top of all your current duties. As you start to stretch into self-initiated projects, it can be tempting to focus on those alone, but that’s a mistake.

Being proactive only to drop the basics isn’t a sign of leadership potential—it’s a sign of poor time management, a reason why you might not be progressing in your career as quickly as you thought yourself capable. That can be tough to recognize, but it’s useful intel.

Don’t Wait For Permission To Do More

This is crucial, whether you’re an intern for the season or a seasoned manager. If you find yourself waiting for someone else to signal or approve the next step, check yourself: It’s up to you to keep the ball rolling. Rather than waiting for a new assignment or task, ask yourself what else could be done, and do it.

Of course, be sure to use your best judgment here. There’s a category of things that you may in fact need approval for; sending a mass email to the whole company or expensing some unapproved dinners might create some challenges. But for a more run-of-the-mill project, it may not be necessary. Default toward asking for forgiveness, not permission.

Manage Up

You’re ultimately the best (and only) person to represent your own interests to your boss. Tell her what you want out of your career, and ask her to keep an eye out for opportunities for you. A good manager will keep you top of mind for upcoming projects that match your interest and skill set—or they’ll tell you why they think you’re not ready for those opportunities just yet. (If it’s the latter, don’t despair; this kind of feedback can be helpful, as now you have something tangible to work toward.)

But asking for your manager’s support isn’t the same as sitting on your hands and waiting for it. After all, it’s easy to wait for approval. It’s a lot harder to take initiative. But when you’re proactive, it often pays off—for you as well as your employer.

If Your Boss Could Do Your Job, You’re More Likely to Be Happy at Work

Managing people

If Your Boss Could Do Your Job, You’re More Likely to Be Happy at Work

December 29, 2016

“People don’t quit bad jobs, they quit bad bosses,” according to an old saw. Our research suggests there’s truth behind this saying: bosses matter far more for employee job satisfaction than any other factor we measured. But what makes someone a great boss?

Studies of leaders often focus on their style or charisma, but we wanted to look at how workers are affected by their boss’s technical competence. That is, is the boss is a real expert in the core business of the organization? How much expertise does he or she have? Boss competence is, admittedly, a multifaceted concept. Hence we measured it in three different ways:

  • Whether the supervisor could, if necessary, do the employee’s job.
  • Whether the supervisor worked his or her way up inside the company.
  • The supervisor’s level of technical competence as assessed by a worker.

Using these three measures of supervisor competence, we found that employees are far happier when they are led by people with deep expertise in the core activity of the business. This suggests that received wisdom about what makes a good boss may need some rethinking. It’s not uncommon to hear people assert that it’s a bad idea to promote an engineer to lead other engineers, or an editor to lead other editors. A good manager doesn’t need technical expertise, this argument goes, but rather, a mix of qualities like charisma, organizational skills, and emotional intelligence. Those qualities do matter, but what our research suggests is that the oft-overlooked quality of having technical expertise also matters enormously.

Research into the topic of expert leadership is recent but burgeoning. Modern evidence demonstrates, for example, that hospitals may do better if led by doctors rather than by general managers, that U.S. basketball teams do better when led by a former All Star basketball player, that Formula One racing teams do better if led by successful former racing drivers, and that universities do better when led by top researchers rather than talented administrators.

In our project, we studied 35,000 randomly selected employees and workplaces. The samples are from both the U.S. and Britain. We use traditional ways of measuring the job satisfaction of employees, like the survey question we asked in the U.S.: “How do you feel about the job you have now?” 1 = “dislike very much”, 2 = “dislike somewhat”, 3 = “like fairly well”, 4 = “like very much”.  People’s answer on average was 3.2.  In Britain, we asked: “Please answer on a 7-point scale from “I am completely satisfied with my job,….I am completely dissatisfied with my job.” We found the answer in Britain was, on average, approximately 5.3. Overall, these ratings seem to us to be good, but perhaps not great, news. Workers are fairly happy.

When we look closely at the data, a striking pattern emerges. The benefit of having a highly competent boss is easily the largest positive influence on a typical worker’s level of job satisfaction. Even we were surprised by the size of the measured effect. For instance, among American workers, having a technically competent boss is considerably more important for employee job satisfaction than their salary (even when pay is really high).

Although we found that many factors can matter for happiness at work – type of occupation, level of education, tenure, and industry are also significant, for instance – they don’t even come close to mattering as much as the boss’s technical competence. Moreover, we saw that when employees stayed in the same job but got a new boss, if the new boss was technically competent, the employees’ job satisfaction subsequently rose.

The bottom line is that employees are happiest when the boss knows what she or he is talking about, and that drives performance: there is growing evidence, from randomized trials done under laboratory conditions, that when you make workers happier they become more productive. One study found that quite small boosts in happiness went on to produce a reliable 12% extra in labor productivity. Moreover, employees who are happy at work are less prone to quit, and it is well known that a high level of quits is expensive for a company. Lastly, it has recently been demonstrated that firms with happy employees go on to have better stock-price growth in the future.

The boss casts a very long shadow. Your job satisfaction is profoundly molded by your boss’s competence; and your own team’s job satisfaction levels depend on your competence.