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The Importance of Communication May Not Be the Same to All

There is not a day goes by that I don’t hear issues with workplace situations, or even with interpersonal relationships. We all know that communication is not the same to everyone, and much as been written and trained on this topic. But, honestly, how often do we truly pay attention to this topic?

I recently had a client whose organization is planning to undergo some changes, at least that’s what the rumor mill says. This person’s manager admits that there is ‘something’ going on but they have not been forthcoming with exactly what ‘something’ is. I admit that when I was in a leadership role, I was not at liberty to divulge a lot of information but being vague and withholding is not doing your workers, or the work environment, any good.

Communication, especially in layered organizations, will stop somewhere; typically, this is dependent on the manager and his or her determination of the importance and necessity for their workers to know. The importance for one is not as important for another. Why might this be?

There can many reasons to speculate but some I’ve identified include (taken from real situations):

  • they are not at liberty to divulge any information
  • the plans for change are not clear yet
  • they don’t want to upset their workers until the change happens (so short-sighted)
  • they don’t know how to deliver the news
  • they don’t know how/lack the confidence to lead the change\
  • they are waiting for someone else to deliver the news

Do any of these sound familiar? Dealing with change is not easy, if we perceive the change in a negative manner; there will be reactions to change, some which may be positive, but if a leader is anticipating negative responses then they will stop that flow of communicating with those who deserve to know. What a leader needs to know is that by not giving workers any information, it creates an environment that opens the door to anxiety, worry, gossip, irritability, and overall, a very negative workplace.

As a coachable moment, work on being more open and transparent, as well as observant and empathetic, with those who report to you; while you may not be at liberty to give them details until given the ‘okay,’ you can let your workers know that. Talk to your workers individually to assess how they feel about potential changes and how you will be leading them through this – walking with them. Have meetings as a group to bring out and, hopefully, dispel any rumors so that everyone is hearing the same thing; have teambuilding exercises to relieve any stress or negativity and to bring members together – afterall, they are going through this together.

The biggest take-away is to be in a higher awareness that we all hear things differently; when we keep this in mind, then it helps in looking at our own communication patterns and to make any changes necessary; we can become more empathetic and try to look at situations from another’s perspective which can lead to less conflict, more understanding, more bonding, and better interactions.

If you’re looking to be a better leader, or improve your communication patterns and interactions, let’s talk! Contact us today at http://www.cyscoaching.com

Making the Case for Leaders to Focus on the Strengths of their Workers

A new study out by Gallop (Rigoni & Asplund, 2016) makes the case for managers to focus on their employees strengths that will get the work done and achieve organizational goals. According to the study, 67% of workers are engaged when their managers use a strength-based approach by recognizing and honoring their strengths. Workers value being recognized for what they’ve brought into the organization and being allowed to use their skills and talents – this is what keeps them involved in the work they do, as well as the organization overall.

A strength-based approach focuses on what an employee is doing well, versus only tending to them when something goes wrong. This reminds me of how a Transformational Leader works, as well as the practice of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) (Cooperrider, 2005). When focusing on what is going well, it creates a positive feeling that makes one want to keep doing the positive actions they’ve been doing. The negatives tend to come out but not in a confrontive way; they will come naturally, becoming less threatening which can allow the worker to feel less fearful or defensive, and more open to any suggestions for improvement. Also, when positives are recognized it leads to a worker wanting to do more, ala self-empowerment and self-efficacy.

If focusing on strengths will increase not only engagement levels but also openness and positivity towards the leader and the organization, why aren’t more using these practices? I am not sure how many in leadership role, or potential role, really think about the types of leadership models they can adopt, nor am I sure if the average person actually takes to determine the type of leader they want to be. Knowing the various options available will make for a better leader and a better organization. Focusing on strengths is one to model after.

Should Leaders Listen to Current Trends and/or Follow What They Say?

As one who trends current practices, tendencies and even fads that impact the world of work, I am often amazed at not just how these trends get started but how they catch on and followed by the masses. The recent Pokeman craze is a bit beyond me – I never played it when I was younger; however, it does have its pros and cons as we can see the downsides, such as accidents and even a few deaths. But it certainly has its pros as it is helping bring people together as well as bringing in business for those who capitalize on this craze.

I often wonder, though, as I’m following workplace trends, if leaders within an organization are listening to them and doing something about them. I hear daily in my work with clients and in my graduate classes of problems that are continuing to occur within organizations and leading to a continuing unhappy workforce. Recent Gallop numbers (July, 2016) indicate that disengagement levels are back up around 70%, and are even higher for governmental workers. Is this a trend that is paid attention to in order to turn this around and create a new trend of happier workplaces?

If newer leadership studies and practices are indicating that heartfelt and transformational leadership is needed to increase more engagement, why is it that the old traditional ways of leading people are still going on, which is based on production and output? This is not to say that these are not needed or should not be the focus of an organization; but when the focus is only on them it can lead to decreased performance, dissatisfaction, and even burnout.

Effective leaders know this – they are aware of what is trending in their field as well as in their organizations. They survey and test these trends to determine their validity and applicability and get to the needs of their workers. Good leaders read, study, and look at how they can apply positive trends, while reducing those that are negative. For instance, boredom is becoming common among workers and reasons can vary from routine tasks to no skill variety; if a leader was aware that boredom can cost organizations money in term of lost productivity and work not being produced, they can look at job redesign to increase knowledge and skill use, or get workers involved in creative problem-solving activities for how they would make their work more appealing.

Good leaders are not afraid to release the reigns to their workers as newer trends show that worker engagement goes up 71% when leaders recognize strengths and give empowerment to workers (Gallop, July 2016). So, my advice to those of you in a leader position, or if you are aspiring to be, is to research and follow current trends in your industry and become more involved in your organization to determine if these are occurring and how you can either overturn them or capitalize on them. Don’t be afraid to take some risks and talk to your employees to get their opinions, or just get to know them – when workers know you care about them they will follow you anywhere, which is one of the biggest trends today.

Leaders Set the Tone for the Culture – What’s Yours?

Have you ever walked into an establishment, no matter what type, and you instantly felt welcomed and comfortable? Likewise, have you ever walked into an establishment but felt turned off or that there was negative energy going on and couldn’t wait to get out of there fast enough? I have on both counts.

When I look at the environments that are created, or the culture of a business, it leads me back to the person in charge – the leader and how they set the tone for how that business is run as well as the tone they want to convey to not just their workers, but to customers as well. The feeling of the overall organization will trickle down to the departmental level, which then keeps trickling to the end-user. This then lends itself to the brand and how perceived by those entities.

A leader, through their ‘style’ and way they view their role, can be open, welcoming, and believe in their worker’s abilities to do to their job, thus empowering them; or, they can have a style that is punitive and looks at employees as ‘workers,’ who much achieve their numbers and goals, not really caring how or when. It all depends on how one’s perception of what a leader is and traits they possess and want to emulate. Yes, one who assumes a leader role actually gets to decide the type of leader they want to be.

Surprised? I don’t think most people who assume a leader role realize they get to decide what leadership style they want to use to get workers embracing the vision and mission set by the organization. There are many styles to choose from (most based off of research): skills approach, style approach, situational approach, contingency theory, path-goal theory, leader-member exchange, transactional, transformational, authentic, and the newest – servant leader style. Each of these view lead from a different frame which sets the tone for how systems and process are set up and how workers are embraced.

For example, situational leaders will vary their approaches based on the situation at hand, as different approaches are needed in differing situations. An authentic leader is based on a leader being real and genuine, working off of high values. A transformational leader works to know their people and focus on their emotions, values, ethics, motivations, and long-term goals and moving them to using those fully.

It is reliant on anyone in a leadership role, or who wants to move into one, to determine the type of leader they want to be: what are the specific traits you possess and want to convey; the values you want to pass on; how you want to be known for/as by followers; what type of overall tone you want to convey for your workers, i.e. open, relaxed, fun, inclusive, bureaucratic, and the like. Being a leader also applies whether you own your own business, as well as for yourself personally, as we are all leaders in some way, mainly the leaders of our lives.

If you are in a leader role, or desire to, I encourage you to evaluate your leader style and the tone you are setting in your environment. A nice caveat is that you can always amend any behaviors and skills needed to step into those leader shoes you desire and be the leader you envisioned.

Do Leaders Really Know How Much Their Employees are Actually Working?

In a post for one of my online classes I teach, the subject of multitasking came up to which I responded to a comment about the ‘myth’ of multitasking and what happens to our brains when we do too much forced and sustained work. It gets depleted, leading to the perils of errors and low performance.

I was quite surprised when another student commented that, while he recognized this himself, he did not believe his company understood as workers are expected to multitask – doing several projects at once, moving from one area to another, while working an 8 hour-shift. He indicated that this was a norm in his industry (IT) and that they have adapted to these intense shifts.

This got me thinking about his leadership and if they really know how much their employees are actually working and spending time in their work tasks. I think of his upline and their awareness, as well as conveyance, that employees need to do multiple tasks at the same time if they want to keep their job. This speaks of the old way, back in the day, when we were caught in the recession and employers having a plethora of applicants to choose from, so the motto became “do or perish.”  But, now?

I also wonder if the up-line talks to employees or observes what is going on and how work is being done. Is this a product of a customer who has high demands, or is this due to the perception that work needs to be done faster in order to get and retain customers by satisfying them with quick turn-around? Could it be that workers put pressure on themselves to show their worth so they get noticed, or even still worry if they will have their jobs? Or is this an ego-fed result from the boss who wants a promotion or is driven by his own interpretation of directions he or she has been given?

As a leader, it is your job to be aware of the daily work-life of those you oversee and ensure they have appropriate systems and resources to do the work, to understand with clarity the work goals needing to be accomplished, and to give them support while they are working to get them completed. These are very easy responsibilities to handle. It means being the silent observer, the listening ear, and the motivator to your people. Having conversations with them is the way to get to know them, their needs, and help them to be more inclusive into daily work life.

It’s being aware of the effects the workplace has on workers, both positively or negatively, as well as the long-term impacts that too much sustained work can have on both the mind and the body. And it’s about doing as much as you can to make it one that employees are happy to go to their jobs and do work involved – it starts by being aware to how, and how much, your workers are doing daily.

How the Mood of a Leader Attributes to Workplace Behaviors and Culture

If you’re like most people, you have probably worked in an environment that was less than positive, perhaps even toxic. Workplace environment and culture are critical elements for workplace happiness. One can love the work they do but, if there is misalignment with the environment, then dissatisfaction will result.

The mood of a leader attributes to the environment and for how employees behave; they set the tone for the type of culture overall of the organization. Since they are the one in charge, how they think and act will not only set the tone but model behaviors of their workers. If John comes in to work in a bad mood because he didn’t sleep well, then that negative mood will set the tone for the day: employees begin to spread the word that ‘the boss is in a bad mood so keep on the down-low.’ Now the office mood starts out with fear and dread. Not a good way to get the day going.

As is our natural tendency, we do take on emotions and energy from others – some individuals are more affected than others, i.e. empaths. A leader’s mood and behaviors can either have an adverse or a positive effect on how and when the work gets done. It can also be a predictor for absenteeism, turnover and high levels of disengagement which all affect the bottom line of the organization.

If you are a leader, it’s time to check your mood before you walk in the door:

  • is there anything bothering or stressing you out (deadlines, bills, family, etc.)?
  • can you resolve the situation prior to the workday or after (solutions)?
  • what is the tone you want to set for the day and for your workers (calm, energized, fun, etc.)?

Being aware of how your own mood and behaviors is the biggest step to take in creating a workplace culture of happy and high-performing workers. We are not always aware of how we come across to others so self-awareness is critical to creating happy workplaces. Wake up and determine it will be a great day and you will be walking in the door with a smile on your face; watch as the mood and behavior of workers follows.

If you’d like help in developing your leadership skills, or in your organization, contact us today for a free Discovery Session to learn more: http://www.cyscoaching.com. Be the leader you’re meant to be!

Ending Employee Coaching Sessions To Get Better Results

In today’s workplace, getting results is the end-goal of any organization; this begins with high performance from workers within. While setting goals and accountability are two ways to get higher performance, companies that coach their employees gain this performance at a faster rate; in fact, 86% of companies reported the benefits of using coaching and getting their return on investment (ROI) (ICF.com).

While a lot of companies often bring in external coaches, there are benefits to having internal coaches, which include: accessibility and cost. The best person for this role are the leaders in the organization, which often begins with the Manager. As they are the ones who are leading their team on a daily basis, they have the best opportunity to coach their employees to a higher-level of performance as well as when issues arise and are there on a day-to-day basis.

Using coaching skills has been tossed around by a lot of people in the industry, which may not be indicative of how coaching works and the process around it.  Coaching comes from not having an agenda and is focused more on the person being coached, bringing out their critical thinking skills regarding identifying their goals/agenda and then developing the steps to get them, ala problem resolution. All of these are accomplished through questions, which are focused to get the client thinking deeper and finding the answers within. It is also about accountability.

One area to concentrate on is how you end your employee coaching sessions so that the analysis and next steps become apparent and accountability is given. Three questions to get your employee there are:

  1. What did you gain from this session (or take-away)? This helps the employee to identify key points from the session which can be a focus for future sessions which are client-focused. It also helps the leader to see how their employee thinks and what their priorities are, which can lead to strengthening them and gaining higher self-efficacy and performance
  2. What are your next steps? You don’t want to end a session without having actionable steps as this is where growth and accountability come in. Have them write at least one, but preferably three goals to bring back for the next session. This gets them goal-directed and motivated, gives them empowerment, and increases confidence and self-esteem – satisfaction and engagement then result
  3. What do you need from me? This shows support and involvement to the employee: support for their ideas and the goals they set, and involvement in the process and to their growth. This may include: understanding, being a cheerleader or problem-solver, and resources they may need. Positive relationships, trust and satisfaction levels will come

A suggestion would be to have written notes of your sessions to reflect back on, especially for accountability; another suggestion would be to send the employee a ‘coach session prep sheet,’ which essentially has them identify what they got done, what didn’t they get done, any challenges or problems they are facing or are standing in their way, and then what they want to focus on in their next coaching session. This can help with any preparation and gets that employee taking responsibility for their actions.

Coaching by the leader will move employees to work at their highest level and in a faster manner; how those sessions end can ensure future success and better results.

If you would like help in developing your coaching skills or to use coaching services for better performance, contact us today for your free Discovery Session: http://www.cyscoaching.com

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