5 Tips from Jean Zimmerman

On job descriptions

What a job description should really do is give someone a sense of what their zones of responsibilities are going to be. Focus more on how the person will fit within the organization and how they’ll connect to everyone else. Don’t make a job description pages and pages of details.

On interviewing

When you ask someone to give an example of a time they had to resolve a conflict with a coworker, for instance, don’t just have them stop at listing an example. Dig in. Have them get specific. But make it really safe for people to be honest and not think they have to be perfect because none of us are. Really try to learn about how they react and respond to a situation, which during this pandemic is probably more important than ever.

On getting someone started on the right foot

Studies show that employee engagement is highest during the first year at an organization. People are excited to start a new job, and you really want to capture that. Make sure everyone on the team is ready for a new person to come in. Have a plan so they feel secure and safe and they’re not left trying to figure things out on their own. Shared accountability starts right away. Making someone feel welcome is really important, too. You want to make someone think they made the right decision to work there.

On trust

Instead of trust being the object, think about trust being the result or the outcome of everything we do. When we think about our communication practices, we’re all the same. If we don’t have enough information, we make it up. We start thinking, ‘What does this mean?’, and we start talking to each other. Again, particularly during a pandemic. During the pandemic, our lizard brain has been in overdrive. We make up what makes sense to us if we don’t have enough information, and unfortunately almost all of the time we’re wrong.

On the value of checking in

I love having huddles. Whether it’s daily or weekly, don’t underestimate them. Make sure everyone feels like they’re in the know. What’s going on? Is someone out on PTO? Is someone sick? Are we having visitors? What is this particular person doing this week? Also don’t forget about one-on-ones. Schedule time to meet with your team individually, with the door closed, in a private area, where they can talk freely about what’s important to them individually.

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