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Be PRESENT This Holiday Season

Family having conversation homeAs the holiday season approaches, most of us busy our minds by planning for future events, like shopping trips, traveling, and meals, and we forget to be present and enjoy the little moments in between everything else. In pursuit of our own priorities, we may forget to pause, acknowledge, and show appreciation to others and ourselves. Your heart-felt presence is the best gift you can give this holiday season. Here are five ways to be mindful and fully present:

1. Pause and appreciate the positives in your life.

Take time every day to think about the things you’re thankful for, such as your health, your home, your job, and your network of caring friends, family, and coworkers. Even if things aren’t perfect in your career or your relationships, it’s always possible to find the positive embedded in the negative.

When it comes to the people in your life, let them know you’re grateful for their presence in your life through a card, a call, or even a text message. Recount a memory or story that shows them the importance of your relationship.

2. Make yourself fully present to others.

In this busy, demanding world, it’s easy to feel like you have to do a million things at once. However, multi-tasking only divides your attention and prevents you from experiencing truly meaningful interactions with others. Instead of only lending half your attention, make an effort to listen fully and keep the other person at the center of your focus. Whether you’re talking with someone face-to-face or over the phone, remove elements that might distract you and prevent you from giving that person the attention they deserve. Listen to what they’re saying, ask insightful questions, and create a meaningful dialogue.

3. Plan activities that involve togetherness.

Research events in your area that you can participate in with your family, friends, or community. Organize outdoor group activities, cook together, set up a game night, or volunteer. Snap a few photos to capture the fun, but remember to be a part of the action as well.

4. Pay attention to others’ needs.

There are probably people within your circle that are going through a hard time this year, whether they’re coping with the loss of a loved one, health concerns, or financial strife. Offer help any way that you can: cook them a meal, babysit their children, or run some errands for them. If you are the person who needs a little more help this year, pay attention to that need. Make yourself vulnerable and ask your friends or family for help when you need it.

5. Take time for yourself.

In order to look out for and help others, you must first take care of yourself. Whether it’s five minutes or an hour, set aside time for yourself every day. Go for a walk, read, meditate, call a friend, dance around your kitchen—anything that brings you joy. Practice being present for yourself and attending to your unique needs. When you practice self-care, you better equip yourself to be fully present for those around you.

 

It’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters during the holiday season. Sometimes, it feels that meals, gifts, and decorations need to be perfect in order for the holiday to be a happy one, but your presence, both physical and emotional, will be what people remember when they look back. The garlands can wait and the cards can be stamped tomorrow: participate and be present in the holiday season!

What is Conscious Complaining?

conscious-complaining-bear

No one likes to be around a complainer. People who chronically complain can help create a toxic work or home environment with their constant negativity and glass-half-empty attitude. The problem is, it’s easy to do! Complaining gives us something to talk about (“Boy, traffic was terrible today” or “Can it get any colder out there?”) and allows us to vent our feelings.

But, at what cost?

As I discussed in last month’s newsletter on the science of gratitude, a constant negative attitude can lead to myriad health issues, including obesity, heart and circulatory complications, and mental health problems.

Complaining can also lead to confirmation bias, which Science Daily defines as “a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.” In other words, if you view the world as a terrible place, you will likely ignore the good parts of it and focus on the bad.

A constant barrage of complaining in the workplace can promote a lack of productivity and innovation, downtrodden attitudes, and unhealthy relationships.[1] But, what is the alternative? Are we supposed to bottle our emotions and pretend that everything is fine?

Not at all. Letting out our feelings can be healthy, if it is done in a mindful way that is considerate of others. In her book, The Language of Emotion, author Karla McLaren encourages us to practice conscious complaining. She advises that we occasionally take time for ourselves to find a private space and speak our frustrations out loud. She even encourages setting up a “complaining shrine,” which can be as simple as some photos on a bulletin board that we can talk to about the things that are bothering us.

But not every negative thought has to come out as a complaint. Some frustrations can be turned around and viewed in a different light. When we do our best to see the good in every situation, complaining becomes less necessary. Author and professional speaker, Kevin Clayson, advises us to search for and think about the positive parts of bad situations. He says, “find the good within the bad. Find the blessing embedded in the hardship, the joy embedded in the despair, the success embedded in the failure. After a while, this search will become increasingly fruitful, as you begin to notice more and more things that you can consider amazing.”

Start building a positive mindset that you can carry into your office, your home, the bank, the grocery store. You have the power to search for the good buried within the bad. And if you must complain, do it consciously.

 

[1] Kjerulf, A. Top 10 Reasons Why Constant Complaining is so Toxic in the Workplace. The Chief Happiness Officer Blog. http://positivesharing.com/2007/08/top-10-reasons-why-constant-complaining-is-so-toxic-in-the-workplace/ (accessed 11.10.2016).

Analyze This: Is your company taking advantage of big data?

“Each of us is now a walking data generator.” –Andrew McAfee, Harvard Business Review

 

The term “big data” isn’t exactly a friendly one. It conjures up images of numbers ticking across a screen or servers churning away as they process terabytes of information. But the application of big data is incredibly personal. Data—and how it’s used—can help improve customer relations, streamline operations, or develop new products to meet market demands. Big data can give companies valuable information about internal operations (processes, employee engagement, communication efficiency). Or, it can boost external operations by streamlining advertising, enhancing customer experiences, or identifying inefficiencies. In short, big data can be converted to business intelligence.

No matter the size of your company or your operating budget, it is possible to put data at the center of your decision-making. A data-driven workplace reduces costs and operates more efficiently by putting an end to decision-making based on hunches and anecdotal evidence.

The solution, however, is NOT to throw money at big data systems and hope your company sees improvements. In order to take full advantage of data, your business will have to restructure itself to accommodate a new data-driven philosophy. Start by focusing on these three key areas:

1. Leadership

If a company is going to successfully put data at the core of its operations, the leadership has to be on board. In some cases, managerial teams will have to be trained to think about decision-making in a different way. In a data-driven company, the loudest voice or the highest paid person in the room isn’t the default decision maker. Instead, the process is more neutral and reliable, as it depends on collected data and analysis. As Andrew McAfee of the Harvard Business Review says in a recent article, “Smart leaders across industries will see using big data for what it is: a management revolution.”

What does a data-driven leader look like? This is a person who supports thoughtful, in-depth analysis and encourages decision-making based on findings. This is a person who is humble enough to realize that she may not have all the answers, or that her initial hunches may be proven incorrect by data analysis. Such a leader does not feel threatened by data-backed decisions, but embraces them as useful strategies that will potentially help the company.

2. A Robust IT Team

A company can purchase an expensive, top-of-the-line data analysis program, but if they do not also invest in a quality data analysis team, the investment will be almost worthless. Take the time to assemble an IT team that is well-versed in collecting, managing and analyzing data. These team members are essential to the decision-making process and have the potential to provide the keys to positive change.

Make sure these team members are supported in their roles. Check in with them frequently to see if they have the resources—tools, time, and support—to provide useful, in-depth analysis.

Above all, it is important to respect the findings of your data analysis team. Encourage honest, complete reports, not reports that are catered to highlight what the leadership wants to hear.

3. Incorporate data into the culture

A data-focused company integrates its philosophies into the workplace culture. Such a company encourages thoughtful decision-making at all levels, driven by evidence. Team meetings revolve around sharing data and developing ideas that stem from that data. Instead of relying on opinions and hearsay, team members who know the value of data will begin to ask “What do we know?” and “How can we apply that knowledge to our organization?”

To encourage this data-centric culture, it is useful to give employees the language and background they need to talk intelligently about data. Programs such as the Baldrige Excellence Framework can help company leadership understand the potential for data to improve customer relations and satisfaction, streamline systems, and encourage purposeful innovation.

 

Dive into data! The companies that focus on incorporating data-driven decision-making into their leadership, their IT department, and their company culture will begin making mindful decisions that can lead to huge successes. The potential for big data is huge. How will you begin to integrate data collection and analysis into your organization?


 

Want to talk data? I have experience in research, data collection, data management, and data analysis. I am also involved in conducting organizational evaluations against the Baldrige Excellence Framework. Contact me and let’s talk about how data can make a different in your organization.

The Day-to-Day: 5 Ways to Remind Your Employees of Their Worth Every Day

employee-worth

As the culture of the workforce evolves, employees search for and stay at companies that both compensate them adequately and recognize their worth as a member of the team.

To let your employees know that you value their work, it may sound easy to dole out bonuses; however, your budget may not allow for that and waiting for a potential payout in the distant future does not speak to the work your employees perform every day. There are easier and more cost-effective ways to acknowledge your staff’s worth:

Make it personal.

Just as each employee brings different skills and experiences to your business, individuals will have varying preferences in regards to acknowledgement. Some employees may appreciate a brief check-in from the boss during the day, while others may prefer to be a part of an email group that receives a daily motivational quote or industry-relevant book or article recommendations. Take time to learn what your employees need from you; this consideration lets them know that you are interested and invested in your communication with them. Giving time and attention is one of the best and easiest gifts you can give to help others feel important.

Pass on the praise.

When you hear praise about an employee from a leader or peer, let them know right away with an email, a note, or a visit to their desk. Include your own praise as well; your employee will know that you not only hear the compliment, but that you also agree. The instant recognition can feel very rewarding to your employees, and knowing that their work is appreciated by you and others can maintain high morale around the office.

Leave the door open.

Though you may not be able to do this every day, set aside time at least a few days each week for employees to communicate with you in person. Block off this time on your calendar and let them know this is their opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, communicate ideas, or praise their co-worker. When staff bring you ideas, make sure your open-door policy is truly open. Your employees will know that you value their voice and welcome their opinions.

 Set goals and incentives.

Meet with your employees, in groups if necessary, to create goals for the upcoming quarter or year. Agree on an incentive, whether it be a catered meal from a favorite restaurant or a group outing for a fun activity. Check status periodically (shows you are paying attention). Congratulate them on their progress, or give words of encouragement if they fall behind. Employees will know you value their work when you cheer them on, rather than just demand results.

 See the human side.

The people on your team are multidimensional individuals who have complex lives that extend beyond the office walls. Get to know them by engaging them in conversation and taking the time to truly listen to what they have to say. Ask about their weekend or their family; get them talking about their interests. To foster a little more engagement in the office, set up a corkboard for employees to post fliers about their book clubs, quilting circles, or bowling leagues. Hopefully, when people see that they are valued as multifaceted human beings, they will feel more comfortable being their authentic selves and will open up to you when a problem arises or when they have an out-of-the-box idea.

 

In all of these examples, good communication is key.  When you make time and space for employees to communicate with you, and truly listen and engage, they know that you respect their ideas and acknowledge their worth.

Three Steps for Mediating a Clashing Team

mediating teams in conflict

As a conflict mediator, I’ve helped others work through a wide variety of interpersonal struggles, both personal and professional. But what if your entire team is having issues? How do you deal with building understanding between many people, as opposed to just two? Help your team resolve (or embrace!) their differences with these 3 steps:

1. Get to the root of the problem

Teams clash for a variety of reasons. Conflict can be caused by personality differences, ethical disagreements, unclear expectations, or even simple miscommunications. According to research discussed in Psych Press,[1] conflicts arise in teams in three different key areas:

  • Relationship conflict (personality differences or differences in values)
  • Task conflict (content and outcomes of the task being performed)
  • Process conflict (logistics of completing the task)

To unearth the cause of conflict, it’s important to talk to each team member to get a full picture of what is going on, according to each person’s unique perspective. Allow yourself sufficient time to meet with individuals one-on-one and ask open-ended questions. This process alone may reveal simple misunderstandings or more problematic fundamental issues. However, if the root of the problem is unclear, you may want to bring in a professional conflict mediator or turn to a team-building assessment test, such as Insights® Discovery (which I’ve discussed in past blog posts).

2. Start a dialogue

Once you’ve identified the key factors that are contributing to your team’s issues, open a safe space for dialogue. An assessment tool, like Insights®, can help get a conversation going, especially if you’re dealing with personality clashes.

It can be useful to have a sit-down meeting involving the entire team, in which the framework of the team is discussed, rather than the project at hand. Use this meeting (and any subsequent meetings) to talk about dividing up group responsibilities, sharing the workload, and working out an approach that is collaborative and respectful of all opinions.

If you uncovered work misalignments during your meetings (for instance, a creative-minded person has been saddled with data-crunching), address those misalignments and brainstorm how to fix them.

If you discovered a miscommunication between two parties, bring that up and talk about where you think the communication went wrong.

Don’t forget to listen. Aim for collaboration when solving your team’s conflict and make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

And if disagreements still exist? Do your best to negotiate with both sides and find some middle ground. Let your team know that healthy conflict is just fine and conflict is just a sign that something needs to change. If everyone agreed all the time or, if everyone had the same personality, there would be little room for innovation or creative problem-solving.

3. Teamwork maintenance

After you’ve opened up a dialogue and worked through differences, be sure to maintain that open line of communication. Check in with teammates from time to time and ask how the project is going. As a CBS News article[2] aptly put it: “It is important to maintain the momentum by agreeing to continue to talk about the issue as much as appropriate, and use the language of your discussion and other agreed [upon] signals to keep things on track.” Be sure to welcome conversation and let your team know that they can approach you with any issues, no matter how small.

Another way to maintain team harmony is to focus on the project goals and create opportunities for your team to get together to strategize how to work toward those goals. When everyone has a common purpose, minor differences tend to diminish in importance.

Don’t forget to honor team differences in approach and capabilities. When your team is feeling pulled between two (or more) different directions, point out how each way is valid before striving to reach a compromise.

 

Is your team clashing? Contact me today to develop a strategy for pulling yourselves out of conflict.

[1] Psych Press (2014). 5 steps to handling clashing team members. http://www.psychpress.com.au/newsletter/files/NWS-JUN2014/Jun2014_5-Steps-to-Handling-Clashing-Team-Members.pdf.* Accessed 9/12/16. *Updated Link: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:lWKoIynBeDAJ:www.psychpress.com.au/newsletter/files/NWS-JUN2014/Jun2014_5-Steps-to-Handling-Clashing-Team-Members.pdf+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

[2] CBS Money Watch (2007). Working around personality clashes. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/working-around-personality-clashes/. Accessed 9/12/16.

How to Communicate Bad News

how to deliver bad news

Whether in your personal or professional life, you’ve likely had to deliver bad news to another person. How did the task make you feel? Did you try to avoid the conversation at all costs? Did the thought of the person’s reaction (or even retaliation) fill you with dread?

Communicating negative news to someone else is never fun, but it doesn’t have to be anxiety-inducing! It is possible to approach a delicate topic with sensitivity, poise, and an action plan.

As a business consult, I often go into companies and help them organize and improve their operations. Although that sounds impersonal, sometimes it involves pinpointing inefficiencies in certain departments or even certain people. And that’s very personal! A negative report can lead to the restructuring of a department or shuffling of personnel. In the process, some people might be let go or put on ultimatum.

As someone who has had many first-hand experiences with tough conversations, here are my five crucial steps to effectively communicating bad news:

1. Employ an appropriate delivery method

You’ll want to properly set the stage for communicating your bad news. Oftentimes, that means meeting face-to-face in a quiet location, preferably in a private office or conference room. It’s rarely appropriate to send bad news via email or even over the phone—the only exception is if you’re working with a long-distance client or staff member who cannot easily come into the office. Even in those circumstances you can still create a positive atmosphere by purposely setting aside time for the phone call and placing the call in a quiet space which won’t be disturbed.

2. Review the approach

Don’t go into your meeting without thinking over your approach. Consider how best to frame the news. I have found that candidly laying out a roadmap for the meeting can be effective for setting the tone. It’s also a good idea to encourage the other person to enter into a dialogue, so that they don’t close themselves off or disengage from what you’re trying to tell them. For instance:

“Thank you for meeting me today, Jane. I would like to go over some of the struggles your team is having with XYZ project and some of the ways we might be able to solve these issues. But first, I’d like to hear your take on this. Have you noticed any areas of difficulty with your team lately?”

Of course, not every conversation will warrant feedback from the other person. In those cases, your approach will be adjusted to be more of a delivery than a dialogue.

3. Cite external sources, when possible

If you have statistics or studies to back up your bad news, use them! Evidence will help the other person understand the reasoning behind the negative news. Citing external sources also helps to take the focus off of you and redirect it to the bigger picture. It makes a decision seem less personal and more evidence-driven (which it should be!).

4. Craft your message with sensitivity

Before you have your meeting, take a few minutes to step inside the other person’s shoes and think about how they might receive the news. What can you say to soften the blow? What positive messages can you work into an unfortunate situation? Consider how you can show the recipient that you truly care about them and their success, no matter how difficult the situation may be. Make sure that whatever you say is heartfelt and sincere.

Be sure to explain the reasons behind an action. If you do not, you’ll be doing the other person a disservice and they will likely leave the meeting confused and angry.

5. Prepare recommended courses of action

If you have to fire someone or downsize their department or cut the yearly budget, be sure to have an action plan that can help that individual (or team) move forward in a positive, productive way. Recommend specific resources and next-steps that will help ease the blow.

This step is the true focus of the meeting. Deliver the news as sensitively as possibly, then discuss how to move forward. If you don’t, the recipient of the news will likely be left reeling and wondering where to go next. Show that you genuinely care about their wellbeing by providing thoughtful, detailed courses of action.

 

Delivering bad news is an unfortunate part of leadership, but it doesn’t have to debilitate or overwhelm you. Tough decisions have to be made for the good of the company and occasionally that means certain individuals or departments will take a blow. Put your empathetic skills to work and ease the sting of a difficult conversation.

Need further guidance? Contact me today.

Winter is Coming…So What?

 

winter

The leaves are on the trees, the sun is shining and the kids are barely back to school. Yet, the agony of winter looms large. Anyone who lives in a four season climate knows all too well the constant chatter surrounding the weather, especially winter. But I have an idea: How about we enjoy the rest of summer and fall first?

There is something to be said about being in the present instead of constantly worrying about the future. A present mindset can help ease anxiety and keep us more focused. “Ordinary thoughts course through our mind like a deafening waterfall,” writes Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, a biomedical scientist who introduced meditation into mainstream medicine. He says we need to “rest in stillness—to stop doing and focus on just being.”

Of course this can be difficult to manage when we are surrounded by the future. The stores are already stocking the shelves with Christmas décor and your family can’t stop talking about how much snow to expect this year. But you can cut through the noise with some of these helpful tips on mindfulness and being present.

1. Start each day with a relaxing ritual that you enjoy.

A cup of tea, a bike ride, yoga, or even 15 minutes of meditation can help focus your mind so you are ready to face the day. A great app to get started on simple meditation techniques is Headspace.

2. Breathe.

Just the simple of act of taking a few breaths can help ease fears and scattering thoughts by bringing you back to the present moment. Dr. Andrew Weil offers an easy breathing exercise that is helpful for calming both the mind and body.

3. Take a digital break.

We get so wrapped up in distracting ourselves with smartphones and television that we forget to listen to our bodies. This causes us to think of anything but the present state of things. When you have a little break in between tasks, instead of filling it with Facebook, try just sitting and observing your thoughts and how your body feels in the moment.

4. End your day in a peaceful way.

Playing on your phone or working until bedtime can make good sleep hard to come by. This can throw you off balance for the day ahead and make it difficult to keep stressful thoughts at bay. Take an Epsom salt bath with a few drops of lavender essential oil. Read a good book. Journal about your day. Anything to keep your mind calm and ready for a good night’s sleep.

While it is good practice to dream and look down the road of the future, it is also important to enjoy the present. Bring on the snow, I say. Until then, I’ll be busy taking breaks to sip my tea and watch the leaves change color.

 

If you would like to talk more about how to be present in both your career and your life, contact me.

5 Tips for Effective Communication Across Generations

Two generations working together

If we’re to believe the common generational stereotypes in the workplace, we’d assume Baby Boomers are team-oriented workaholics, Gen-Xers are stubbornly independent, and Millennials focus more on their smart phones than their jobs.

But a number of studies have shown that a majority of these stereotypes are unfounded.[1] While there are certainly significant differences among generations, there’s a lot more that we have in common, particularly when it comes to communication.

Communicating across generations is therefore much more effective when we direct our focus not on how we’re different from our coworkers, but on how we’re the same. Below are five methods your organization can use to facilitate effective communication in the workplace, regardless of age difference.

1. Meet Face-to-Face

Though we may assume Millennials prefer communicating through social media and text message, 80% of Millennials in a recent survey expressed a preference for face-to-face communication in the workplace.[2] In fact, this was the overwhelmingly preferred mode of communication by Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials.

2. Instill a Sense of Purpose

Nobody wants to feel like an interchangeable cog in a machine; everyone wants to know that they’re serving a meaningful role within their organization. When employees recognize each other’s shared commitment toward a common goal, generational barriers to communication come crashing down. Clearly defining a team’s purpose and each employee’s role in achieving that purpose is critical to fostering productive workplace relationships.

 3. Avoid Business Jargon

 Using organization-specific terminology may seem efficient, but it can easily become a major detriment to effective communication. This is particularly an issue for Millennials, who will likely make up a significant portion of your organization’s newer employees. If you explain your company’s processes using business jargon that they’ve never heard before, they naturally won’t understand what you’re talking about. To ensure that your entire workforce is on the same page, use language that everyone can understand, and take an extra second to clarify potentially confusing terms or concepts.

 4. Encourage Assertive Communication

Everyone has different communication styles. Generally speaking, Baby Boomers prefer group-oriented communication, Gen-Xers tend to be more self-reliant, and Millennials thrive on frequent interaction with supervisors.[3] The best way to ensure these styles don’t clash is to encourage assertive communication. Your organization should facilitate an environment where people feel comfortable openly sharing their ideas and concerns with each other. Otherwise, resentment can easily build between coworkers who feel their needs and wants aren’t respected.

5. Give Positive Feedback

Older generations often have a more negative perspective on constructive criticism. While Baby Boomers may feel disrespected by feedback, Gen-Xers and Millennials expect consistent performance appraisals. But when it comes to positive feedback, generational attitudes are largely the same. Giving your fellow coworkers recognition for a job well-done is a great way to communicate their value to your organization, and a critical step towards forging stronger workplace relationships.

 

 As our workplaces diversify, it is crucial to connect all generations of workers through effective communication. Mindful, well-structured messaging and interactions can bridge gaps and ensure that people of all ages feel welcomed and nurtured in the workplace. Despite differences, a good deal of common ground exists between generations and smart communication can help people at all stages of life work together harmoniously and effectively.


 

[1] Tolbize, Anick. “Generational differences in the workplace.” Research and training center of community living. University of Minnesota, 2008: 10-13.

 

[2] Schawbel, David. “Even Millennials Want Face Time at Work.” Time. Time, 2 Sept. 2014. Web.

 

[3] Schawbel, David. “Even Millennials Want Face Time at Work.” Time. Time, 2 Sept. 2014. Web.

 

Stop the Micromanaging Madness

Micromanage

Have you ever worked with a manager whose main approach to leadership was “my way or the highway?” Every decision you made, every project you worked on was carefully scrutinized. And there was the constant feeling of someone looking over your shoulder, waiting for you to make a mistake.

I know I’ve experienced leadership like that! When I was leading a fundraising team for a major organization, one of my managers constantly held me under his thumb, sometimes forcing me to make decisions regarding my team that I didn’t want to make. He didn’t trust me—or anyone, for that matter—to take action without his input. This atmosphere of distrust and restriction made it difficult to go to work every day. How can anyone do their job when they are immersed in such a toxic and demeaning environment?

I realize, of course, that not every micro-manager is a power-hungry bully that likes to exert dominance over his staff. Many micro-managers are well-intentioned and take great pride in every detail of their work. After all, it’s their name on the line, right?

No matter the intention, the outcome is the same. Micro-managing causes more harm than good. According to an article by Christina Bielaszka-DuVernay of the Harvard Business Review, “A consistent pattern of micromanagement tells an employee you don’t trust his work or his judgment; it is a major factor in triggering disengagement.” The article goes on to cite evidence from Gallup Press that “absenteeism caused by disengagement costs a typical 10,000-person company $600,000 a year in salary for days where no work was performed, and that ‘disengagement-driven turnover costs most sizable businesses millions every year.’”

Do you want to avoid alienating your team and causing so much dread that they scatter like flies every time you come around the corner? Stop micromanaging with these tips:

 

Put down the hover board.

No one wants to be checked up on every hour of the day. Think about what a time waster you are being—and time does equal money. Learn to trust your employees with the tasks you give them and set clear expectations. Encourage them to communicate with you on their progress—at their own discretion.

Listen.

Get to know what makes your employees tick. Set up individual meetings to understand their working preferences and match them to projects well suited to their interests and strengths. It will keep them engaged while also helping to ease your mind.

Learn to delegate.

It’s impossible to control every little detail of your department; trust your team to help you get the work done. Your job is to see the big picture and set the vision for success. If your staff has been appropriately trained, chances are they will be able to handle the work independently and will appreciate you giving them opportunities to shine. If something goes wrong, that will be a far better learning ground than if you micro-manage and constantly tell staff what may go wrong with any of their planned approaches. By delegating, you have more time to accomplish your own tasks and your staff will become more proficient—a win/win situation!

Appreciate diversity of thought.

Be aware that your team might approach a project differently than you would or produce different results. That’s okay! There is often more than one correct way to complete a project or task and it’s helpful—not harmful—to have a diverse set of perspectives.

Provide feedback and praise.

If you are always on the lookout for mistakes, your team will quickly feel stifled and defeated, and productivity will likely cease. See the positives in each of your employees and let them know when they are doing a solid job. If there is a situation where an employee is not meeting expectations, sit down with them and take the time to figure out what is going on.

 

Micromanaging is no way to build a great team and work environment. Refocus your management style by utilizing these tips and start building trust and confidence in your leadership.

 

Have you manifested into a micromanager? Contact me for help on turning you into a manager that leads!

Bright, Brief, & Blunt: Working with a “Red Energy” Leader

Two serious women in a business meeting

A typical workplace always has a few people that lead with red energy.

These are the natural leaders, the people who are unafraid to speak their minds, the highly focused individuals who prefer to get straight to the point. Someone who embraces red energy is oftentimes bold, determined, and goal-oriented. Sound like someone in your workplace? Or do these characteristics, perhaps, describe you?

Red energy is a term coined by a self-evaluation program called Insights® Discovery. Insights® is a science-based assessment tool that helps individuals gain self-awareness and facilitates improved team dynamics and communication. I discuss Insights® Discovery in more detail in a past blog post.

According to the Insights® color model, every person is comprised of four different color energies, but we tend to exhibit one or two colors more than the others. In the case of someone who leads with red, that means a no-nonsense approach to both work and life. Oftentimes, “reds” have trouble understanding the point of small talk or don’t think about others’ feelings when making a decision or a making a statement.

Given these tendencies, what is the best way to effectively work with a red energy leader?

First of all, it’s useful to understand the way red energy people think. To them, small talk wastes time and feelings should not interfere with decision-making. They like honest, straight-forward communication, quick decisions, and action. Although these traits can help make someone an excellent leader, they can also make that person come across as cold, brusque, or hasty.

As a “non-red,” be aware that those who lead with red energy are not typically trying to be bullies. They are driven and vocal, which can be intimidating, but they typically care about what’s best for the company and which path will lead to success (in the quickest, most direct way possible!).  When you know you’re about to meet with a leader who favors red energy, come prepared with bullet points and concise explanations. If, for instance, you’re outlining a new project strategy, keep your explanation brief and bright. Don’t add too many analytical details that will bog down your presentation and make sure you relay your information with confidence.

In a team meeting, attempt to be a bridge-maker. If your red energy leader is rubbing people the wrong way with her bluntness, attempt to mediate the situation. You might say something like, “What I think Mary Leader means to say is X, Y, and Z. Is that correct, Mary?” A simple empathetic statement can help turn a tense meeting into an open dialogue.

On the flip side, if you are a red energy leader, be mindful of your tendencies. Think about how you might channel your natural inclinations in a positive manner when it comes to leadership and decision-making. For instance, it’s great to be assertive, but not aggressive; bold, but mindful of others’ opinions; action-oriented, but not hasty.

Keep in mind that others may not operate or think the same way as you do. What you view as efficient, others might view as cold or uncaring. Instead of focusing solely on results and productivity, shift your lens to the people around you. Ask them questions, attempt to understand their perspective, and begin to get to know them. Spare a few minutes at the start of every meeting for some small talk and get-to-know-you time. Such acts of compassion are anything but time-wasters. These are the tiny gestures that lead to higher overall employee satisfaction and retention. It’s much better to hang on to the employees you have then to constantly recruit, hire, and train new ones.

Those who favor red energy can be excellent leaders. With a little conscious effort to slow down, practice empathy, and engage in an open discussion, red energy leaders can be both well-loved and effective.

 

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