Archive for the ‘leadership tips’ Category
When you think about your workplace, how would you describe it? Would you call it warm and inviting? Supportive? Encouraging? Does the atmosphere make it easy for your employees to grow their career? Perhaps your workplace is very accommodating to those staff members with families, like children and elderly parents, to work and take care of their loved ones at the same time. What you are describing is your workplace culture. Workplace culture is what your leaders believe in, what their management subscribes to, and the values that permeate throughout the entire staff. When an office’s workplace culture is good – that is, when it matches up with your own values as a leader – it can help your team work together seamlessly. Employees might think the work itself may be ho-hum, but they’d think twice before leaving, because the management and environment is great.
They feel safe and supported there, and they want to do the best for their boss. Because they know they’re working hard for the good of the company. Employees are at their best, and are productive, creative and innovative.
But when the workplace culture is bad – they dread going in to work, because frankly, they find the behavior there disruptive and frankly, tiring. They look for other jobs in their spare time. Whether you accept it or not, they’re not giving their job 100 percent.
How Does a Manager Create a Better Workplace Culture?
As a manager or a leader, your job is to make the workplace culture as positive and as inspiring as possible for your employees. Creating that culture takes time and energy, and it will take even more time for employees to get on board and get used to the new mentality.
But the rewards will be great. With a better workplace culture comes better engagement, better workplace attendance, greater productivity, and at the end, larger profits.
There are five degrees of workplace health. Read on to find out where you and your company rank:
- The first degree – and the lowest level – is dysfunction. Here, employees don’t trust each other or the boss, and work rarely gets done. When it does, the job is mediocre. The employees frequently call in sick and there will be high turnover. There is low morale here.
- The second degree is tension. There are disagreements between employees and the managers, and people talk about each other behind their backs. Attendance is slightly better than the dysfunctional level, but employees are actively searching for new jobs, and will jump ship at the first opportunity.
- The third degree is civility. Employees and managers get along, but they only barely tolerate each other. They treat each other with respect, and act professional, but don’t really like each other. They get by enough to get the job done, but employees would be hard pressed to say that they actually love their jobs.
- The fourth degree is acknowledgement. Employees and managers are thankful for each other and acknowledge each other on a job well done. Staff like each other and everyone is comfortable in their roles.
- The fifth degree – and this one is the highest – is validation. Leaders and managers acknowledge the hard work of staff, and give them challenges and responsibilities, which they love. There is a great deal of trust here, and employees are genuinely able to say that they love their jobs. There is room for growth and professional development, and rewards are far more than just monetary.
Which level does your workplace culture fall under?
Author Michelle Riklan: Michelle Riklan is an instructor specializing in workplace development. Call us at (800) 872-7830 to set up an appointment to consult with her.
“It is better to be alone, than to be in bad company.” – George Washington
Although this quote is attributed to George Washington, it is actually one of 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation that George Washington copied by hand at the age of sixteen. (This link will take you to an article with all 110 rules listed.) Although, many people attribute the 110 rules to Washington, because the rules were found written by his hand, Scholars today believe that the rules were likely copied by Washington as a penmanship exercise.
The actual quote is #56 of 110 rules and reads…
Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for ‘is better to be alone than in bad Company.
The 110 rules are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595, and they were first translated into English in 1640.
We all make mistakes – even leaders. And when that happens, a leader should just apologize, right?
No, not necessarily.
Saying sorry isn’t as simple as all that. As a society, we are sometimes a little too polite. When you miss something that someone said to you, you say sorry. You bump someone in your way, and you say sorry whether or not it’s your fault. You sneeze while someone is talking and you say sorry. Sometimes, our society says it a little too much. So when should a leader apologize for a mistake? When something is genuinely your error, and it has caused someone pain or inconvenience, an apology might be in order. Even if you’re the boss. Remember, finely tuning your social and leadership skills are part of your job.
Acknowledging that you’re only human goes a long way. When does proper leadership and management dictate it’s appropriate for a manager, a supervisor, or a CEO to humbly admit he made a mistake? And when is it wrong to apologize?
When Should a Leader Apologize: What They Probably Didn’t Teach You in Business School
When You’ve Made a Mistake
OK, so you screwed up. You wrote down the wrong deadline in a calendar, misfiled an email, or gave your staff member the wrong lead, and it’s caused him to make a mistake too. It all snowballed from something that you’ve done.
As the boss, the right thing to do is to own up to your error and take the blame from the higher ups, from peers and publicly acknowledge that it was your fault. The keyword here is publicly. Your employee will commend your leadership skills if you don’t throw him or her under the bus, even if you could’ve just as easily passed the blame to him.
When a Wrong Decision You Made Affects Others
Your prediction about the last quarter, or how a new product would fare, was wrong. As a result, the company took a loss and your whole team suffered. Again, as the CEO, it was your responsibility to make the final call. Own up to your mistake.
When You are Wrong, Don’t Delay the Apology
If it’s your fault, and you know you need to say sorry, don’t stall for time. Delaying the apology will only make you look worse. Say it soon, and say it sincerely. Learn from your mistake and let bygones be bygones.
Don’t Defend Yourself
If that apology is warranted, again, don’t get defensive. It will only make you look insecure and weak, and set a bad example for your staff. Admit that you were wrong, and move on – your employees will admire you more for it.
Look Inside Yourself
Examine your week. Is there anything you should apologize for? If there is, man up and do it now. It’s never too late to demonstrate your strong ethic and leadership skills.
A Situation When Apologizing Will Undermine Your Leadership and Management Position
When You didn’t Meet Unreasonable Expectations
Let’s say for example that you are the head of communications at your company. Your boss wants you to get three new advertising leads – by Friday. It is now Wednesday night. He doesn’t know that these leads take weeks and sometimes months to cultivate. When Friday rolls around, and you don’t have anything to produce, he flips his lid.
If you’ve already communicated that it’s almost impossible to get this done, you don’t owe him an apology. After all, you’re only human, and you can’t work miracles. Apologizing in this case will only make you look worse, because it looks like you’re admitting that you did something wrong, which you didn’t.
When You’re Standing Your Ground for Something You Believe in
Scenario: Your boss asks you to do something slightly unethical. Perhaps he’s asking you to alter some data, or do something risky. You believe it’s wrong. You know doing it will negatively impact the company and your reputation in the long run, so you refuse to do it.
Don’t apologize. You need to explain what your beliefs are and why you stand by them.
Demonstrate Leadership and Management Skills Worthy of Your Position when Apologizing
Office gossip can ruin careers. Years ago, I worked with a woman named Susan (not her real name). Susan is a lovely lady who kept her nose to the grindstone, and went home straight to her family after work. She did well at the office, and people always thought that she was going places. She was the next to be promoted. One day, a rumor started going around about Susan. She had started wearing nicer clothes around the office, and had lost some weight, which was part of her New Year’s resolution. One of our colleagues said she was having a fling with our boss. In all likelihood, this rumor couldn’t possibly be true – she and the manager worked closely together, yes, but they were happily married to their respective spouses, and each had children.
Susan started calling in sick. The quality of her work was slipping. She kept her head low and her attitude changed. She started dropping the ball on projects, and when she was skipped over for a promotion that should have been hers, she left the company.
Should Preventing and Minimizing Office Gossip be Part of Your Leadership Skills?
Sure, preventing office gossip isn’t as important as coaching employees or personal reviews, but office gossip can ruin careers-especially if it gets out of hand. A small rumor can grow to be a malicious virus. It can ruin lives, as it did Susan’s. It likely hurt the boss’s reputation as well.
Institute an Open Policy about Communication
Gossip starts when there’s misinformation, or change. When there’s trouble in the finance department, people who don’t know what’s happening might start spreading speculations about the company’s stability. A game of ‘telephone’ starts, the message changes slightly with every whisper, and soon enough, one of the executives in the leadership and management team hears a funny rumor about a layoff.
Gossip prevention is easy, if you keep an open door policy about what’s happening in the office.
Nip Gossiping in the Bud
Refuse to be a part of the office gossiping. Next time Nosy Nancy asks you if you’ve heard something about ‘that girl from marketing’, change the subject.
Your reaction might disappoint some people, but they’ll get the message soon enough. But if they keep talking, look at them and say, “I don’t think that’s any of our business.” And immediately direct the conversation into neutral grounds.
Replace False Information with Truths
In most cases, entry and non-management level employees don’t have the guts to talk directly to anyone from the leadership and management team. So your best bet for getting a feel of the office gossip are the supervisors — their team members talk to them, and you in turn can find out what they’re talking about. You’re not going to do this to gossip, but just to find out what people are saying, so you can then quell bad rumors about the company and policy changes, among other things.
Ask Other Leaders to Play Mediator When Personal Gossip Runs Amok
Business-related gossip is easier to stop, compared to gossips of a more personal nature. What can you do in case a gossip like Susan’s infects your team? Are your leadership skills and communication know-how enough to stop the gossip from ruining someone’s career and personal life? Is it even your responsibility?
In cases like Susan’s, the best possible thing you can do is to give the victim a chance to air their voice. Talk to the employee in concern, tell him or her about the rumors going around, and offer a chance to clear his or her name.
Crush Office Gossip
Office gossip seems petty and harmless on the surface. But I’m sure that’s not the case for the rumor’s subjects. Rumors can affect people’s productivity and teamwork, so you have to act before it gets worse and someone resigns. Put your leadership skills to use.
You’ve got your company goals set on paper, in digital formats, and on signature lines of internal communication. Your team knows there is a destination but do they also know how to get there? Are you all moving toward a common direction or tugging on opposite sides? Sometimes, an effective leader has to provide a map (or at least a compass) in order to effectively direct their teams. Here are ways of merging objectives and directing individuals to arrive at your destination of living the goal. Effective leaders color a vivid end-scenario, connect each role to the goal, establish clear landmarks, and check-in regularly and re-collaborate.
How Effective Leaders Direct Their Teams
Color a Vivid End-Scenario
If your goal is to be among the top 3 consulting agencies in the city, your team needs to recognize what that will look like when achieved. Describe the scene.
The consultants are all well-trained, certified, and prompt in responding to client concerns. Your reception and admin is operating like a well-oiled machine, so that follow-ups aren’t really necessary.
The consultants are buzzing with ideas for clients, and they know how to execute these ideas.
Target figures should always form part of the measure. But painting vivid, relatable imagery provides a clear indication and powerful visualization target.
Connect each Role to the Goal
The Sales and Marketing Department knows it’s responsible for tapping new markets and optimizing existing accounts to fill consulting slots. But other back-of-the-house sections may not be aware of how their tasks keep clients returning. Demonstrate “If this, then that” situations with pre-recorded or actual role-playing to show how their actions influence client behavior.
If a researcher in your team doesn’t promptly release the required information, then that will slow down the team, delay the deadline, and spill over to other projects set up for the next months.
A single misstep results in multiple complaints from two clients.
Establish Clear Landmarks
Are we there yet? Excitement is the reason children repeatedly ask that question. But if your direct reports are wondering or are indifferent about their progress, then you, as leader, may have failed to provide milestones.
Creating a clear signal shows when they’ve passed a landmark, which is both an accomplishment and proof that they’re on the right track. Monthly revenue, new business, and sales figures are objective milestones. Client comments and industry awards are subjective pats on the back. Announce milestone accomplishments in a big way and acknowledge or connect individual contributions toward reaching those landmarks.
It is necessary to meet with the team when they are drifting away from the goal but conduct the meeting in atmosphere of exploring solutions together. There’s no room here for fault-finding or reprimands.
Check In Regularly and Re-calibrate
Shouldn’t we be there by now? That’s a very good question. Set a time-frame to forecast the time you expect to pass landmarks and arrive at destination so everyone can pace themselves.
Time-frames facilitate your leadership role of checking in regularly to direct the process. Scheduled pit stops are opportunities for celebration or for re-calibration. Like Waze, you can shift paths when unforeseen obstacles show up and use these audits like effective leaders do, to save their teams from aimlessly moving in an opposite direction from the goal. They also serve as criteria for individual performance appraisals.
Any traveler knows a smooth journey is the exception rather than the rule. Reaching your departmental goals are exactly the same. Expect surprises, accept changes, and understand there’s a whole lot more to learn from the journey. The destination is a bonus.
Daily Leadership Tip #5
For Day #5 of our daily Leadership Challenge, this is the fifth leadership principle in the Building Trust and Rapport Series, “Avoid Placing the Burden of Your Problems onto Other People“. We encourage you to apply each of the 28 daily leadership principles in this series by focusing on just a single principle every single day of the four-week challenge. This is the fifth leadership tip in the series and is one of the foundation principles in building trust and rapport with others. This series will also help you build more of a team culture within your workplace.
Avoid placing the burden of your problems on other people.
“A prudent man will think more important what fate has conceded to him, than what it has denied him.” –Baltasar Gracian
Have you ever known someone who, after any setback, had an excuse and typically laid the blame elsewhere? I’m ashamed to say that at one point in my life, I was one of those people. The economy is down. My sales manger is not distributing the “good” leads. Joe was responsible for that. I had one for any occasion. Luckily, at one point in my career, I had a good friend that sat me down and said, “You can continue to come up with more excuses, or you can solve the problem.”
It hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn’t the economy, it wasn’t my sales manager, and it wasn’t Joe who was causing me to fail. I realized that every mistake or problem that had ever occurred in my life had one common variable. ME!
At that point, I took a really good look at myself. I looked at some of the mistakes I had made and asked myself, how can I avoid making the same mistake again? I used every obstacle as a learning experience. Don’t get me wrong, I still make excuses on occasion, but they are few and far between, and they no longer define me. Since I made that conscious decision, my career has really taken off.
There are actually some people out there who make themselves feel better by bringing other people down. They revel in their ability to know who had a heart attack, who is getting divorced, who is stealing office supplies, and more. The more they can bring other people down, the better that they feel.
Unfortunately, when the gossip starts, it’s easy to get caught up in it. My fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Lofton used to say, “Misery loves company.” So just one person in your office with this type of mentality can cause the morale and team atmosphere in your office to drop like a stone.
Good leaders are the ones who stop this type of behavior in its tracks by just refusing to participate and standing up for coworkers who aren’t their to defend themselves. If you want to be a great leader, avoid placing the burden of your problems onto other people.
Principle #5: Avoid placing the burden of your problems on other people.
Week #1: Seven Ways to Build Trust and Rapport
Daily Leadership Tip #2
For Day #2 of our daily Leadership Challenge, this is the second leadership principle in the Building Trust and Rapport Series, “Look at Things from the Other Person’s Point of View“. We encourage you to apply each of the 28 daily leadership principles in this series by focusing on just a single principle every single day of the four-week challenge. This is the second leadership tip in the series and is one of the foundation principles in communication skills and building trust. This series will also help you build more of a team culture within your workplace.
Look at things from the other person’s point of view.
“It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others.” –Alfred Adler
One of the most primary desires of human beings is to be understood and esteemed by others. We want people to see things from our point of view. Sometimes we want this so badly, that we disagree with and argue with points of view that are also valid.
A business owner I know hired a young man who, in his first year, broke all of the sales records for the company. This young man had fantastic ideas that would revolutionize the way the company sold its services. The owner was very cautious about implementing these ideas, though. He had spent years building his company and was very careful about making changes. The salesman debated and eventually argued with his boss, and the boss, after being backed into a corner, argued back. Neither had the courage or the foresight to take a step back and try to see things from the other person’s point of view.
The frustrated salesman finally gave up a promising career and quit. The boss lost a great salesperson, because neither took the time to understand the other.
This very thing happens day after day in businesses and families all across the country. Human nature is that we always believe that we are right. Guess what? The other guy thinks the same thing, and if we dig in our heels, he will dig in his heels as well. All that we have to do is take a step back and say, “Why is this person thinking the way that he is thinking? Why is he acting the way that he is acting?”
That little moment of clarity can add a tremendous amount of understanding on our part and will help us build rapport with the other person very quickly. We don’t necessarily have to agree with the person, but just looking at things from the other person’s point of view is a big step forward.
If we want people to like and respect us, do the opposite of what comes natural and see things from other’s point of view. When we understand others, we are much more likely to be understood by them.
Week #1: Build Trust and Rapport Quickly
Principle #2: Look at Things from the Other Person’s Point of View
Daily Leadership Tip Series – Introduction
This is the introductory video for our daily Leadership Tip Challenge. This series is based on the book 28 Ways to Influence People & Gain Buy-In by Doug Staneart (The guy in the video. 😉 ) We encourage you to apply each of the 28 daily leadership principles in this series by focusing on just a single principle every single day of the four-week challenge. This introductory video explains how the series of videos are organized and “best practices” for getting the best application of the leadership skills.
Why this Leadership Tip Series was Created
Since 1992, The Leader’s Institute® instructors have developed and refined processes that help people communicate with, lead, and motivate others more effectively. At the beginning of each High Impact Leaders program, class members are given a desktop card file with 28 Leadership Principles and are asked to purposefully apply one principle a day for the next 28 days.
This daily leadership tip series was created to offer real life examples of each principle. If you purposefully apply these leadership principles in your life, I think you will be surprised at the number of people you will influence in a positive way. To get the best results, look for ways to apply one principle per day for 28 consecutive days.
How to Get the Most Out of these Leadership Skills
- Go through the entire series in order from start to finish.
- Highlight any important points that could help you personally.
- Re-watch one principle per day for 28 straight days and look for ways to consciously apply that principle during that day.
- At the end of 28 days, review any principles that were particularly difficult for you to apply.
- Begin the process again as often as you like.
To view all of the 28 leadership principles at once, you can access the High Impact Leaders online leadership seminar by clicking here.
Daily Leadership Tip #21
For Day #21 of our daily Leadership Challenge, look for some time today to practice leadership principle #21, “Give Strength Centered Compliments“. We encourage you to apply each of the 28 daily leadership principles in this series by focusing on just a single principle every single day of the four-week challenge. This is the last of the seven principles that are designed to help you gain enthusiastic cooperation from others, so this is the last principle of this week. Next week, we will show you seven ways to build your next generation of strong leaders.
Give Strength Centered Compliments
“The life of many a person could probably be changed if someone would only make him feel important.” — Dale Carnegie
In our modern society, the art of giving people a sincere compliment has gone the way of the vinyl record or the Model T. You come across them every once in a while, but they are few and far between. I have asked hundreds of different audiences across the country why they think that we don’t give as many compliments as we probably should (or receive the number of compliments that we probably deserve), and I have heard every answer under the sun. But what I find most often is that we are mainly too self-centered and too busy to take the time to give a sincere compliment to our fellow man.
There is also a negative connotation about giving compliments to people. We think of people who give compliments as brown-nosers or kiss-asses. In the modern era, we have confused a sincere compliment with flattery. To most people they are one and the same.
Men are also less inclined to give compliments to female coworkers out of fear of being accused of harassment.
With all of these challenges to overcome, most people just don’t bother to compliment other people now. It’s easier just to keep to ourselves. However, a good leader who gives solid strength-centered compliments can really set herself apart from the crowd.
You can compliment people on what they have. A compliment like this would be something like “Nice tie.”
You can compliment people on what they do. “Thanks for turning in the report early,” is an example.
However, each of these types of compliments has a chance of being seen as insincere.
If you give the people around you a compliment based on who they are or a strength of character that you notice in them, the compliment will always be seen as sincere. Give them a strength-centered compliment and their confidence will grow. You will also be well thought of by that person. To do this, instead of complimenting them on what they do, look for the strength or the character trait that allowed them to DO the thing that you are admiring. For instance, what allowed the person to get the report completed early? It could be that the person has a great work ethic or is detail oriented or is a great time manager. If you compliment her on one of these characteristics, then the compliment will mean a whole lot more to the person.
“I may not mention this enough, but I just wanted to tell you how much I admire your work ethic. You are one of the few people who consistently turns in the reports before the deadline every time. I really appreciate that about you.”
Strength centered compliments will boost the confidence of your coworkers faster than anything else that you can do.
Any CEO or manager knows brainstorming is a major collaboration tool that elicits a slew of creative ideas from enthusiastic participants. But because it can often turn combative when ideas get shot down with criticism from other participants, some managers settle for its tamer version, soliciting ideas in writing. How can effective leaders optimize brainstorming exercises and practice the excellent facilitation skills of leaders that encourage animated discussions and minimize the hostility? Have a clear purpose for your meeting and stick to that purpose. Set clear guidelines prior to the brainstorming meeting. Finally, a few distinct facilitation skills (leadership and communication skills) can avoid the heated discussions.
Facilitation Skills of Leaders
Have a Clear Purpose and Limit
Emphasize the time limit when sending notices to your team and they’ll show up eager to contribute. Why? They’ll appreciate that your meeting promises to be different from the meandering kind that goes every which way and extends on and on.
Open the meeting by stating what you expect to accomplish by the end of the set limit. Better yet, make finishing the brainstorming session on or before the agreed time a part of your goal. I’ve been in a meeting that opened with everyone energized and the manager so enthusiastic that’s he forgot the time. The meeting ran close to 5 hours! It ended with everyone exhausted and thinking up an excuse to avoid the next meeting. You don’t want that, right?
Set Clear Guidelines
Rules are accepted by children as a fun part of any game to mark progress toward winning, but your team may view rules as burdensome constraints. Instead of rules, introduce meeting guidelines as tools to accomplish the goal within the time period. Few will object to a meeting with a time limit.
After stating the goal and time limit, distribute the brief written guidelines. Let each read in turn, one guideline at a time, repeating if needed until everyone has taken a turn. By reading aloud, they declare understanding and agreement. The use of “we” and “our” gives a sense of ownership to all present.
Facilitation Skills of Leaders – Examples and Guidelines
- We remember our Purpose.
Example: Our purpose is to gather 15 to 20 ideas for an advertising/PR campaign to promote product X. We will do this within 3 hours.
- We will not monopolize the group’s time and attention. We will yield the floor to others.
- We will not interrupt when someone is talking. We will give them our attention. We will not engage in cross talk.
- When giving feedback about another’s idea, we will make “I” statements, not “You” statements.
Example: “I feel our clients may misinterpret that change of refund rules” instead of “Your refund rules stink.”
- If we feel the group is going “off-track” we will ask for a pause so the group can re-align with the purpose and the guidelines.
Heated Debate or Lackluster Response
While avoiding a hostile atmosphere where people’s ideas get blown to bits, you don’t want to end up in the other extreme where everyone’s being diplomatic and always concurring. Implement these steps to maintain everyone’s creative sparks while brainstorming.
- Dedicate the main part only to getting 15 to 20 ideas. Assign one person to list them. No remarks are allowed at this time. This avoids negative, knee jerk reactions.
- Ask the assigned person to read what’s on the list and another to re-state the idea. This catches misunderstanding of ideas.
- Spend the rest of the meeting to discuss the suggestions, eliminating the non-workable ones and ranking the best ones. This encourages lively debate while remembering the guidelines.
- Be quick to acknowledge merits of ideas. If tempers flare, pause. Then ask protagonist A to state how he understood protagonist B’s case, and vice versa. Disagreement can often be traced to semantics.
Your team may be suffering from brainstorm aversion or fatigue. When you succeed in activating their enthusiasm for this valuable exercise, it’ll be a rewarding leadership experience, on several levels.
Michelle Riklan is president of Riklan Resources and an instructor for The Leader’s Institute® in the Northeast region. She is based in Trenton, NJ but she also teaches in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and other Northeast cities.