Month: February 2016

Personal Communication is Critical to Deterring Rumors and Soothing Employee Concerns

If you want to dispel the anxiety growing in your workplace, build a foundation of trust built on communication. When times are tough, the workplace rumor mill swings into action act quickly. Therefore, managers need to communicate openly and honestly with employees to stop rumors in their tracks. Here are five tips to help managers ease employee anxiety.

1. Be Accessible

As a senior leader, you need to be accessible and visible to your employees. When there is a problem, don’t wait until all the details of the solution have been fleshed out before informing your workers. Instead, inform them of your progress along the way as the decisions are being made. In uncertain times, it is more important than ever to be accessible. You’re not just there to share information with the workforce, but to build trust with them along the way, and dispel rumors as they spring up.

2. Don’t Hide From Bad News

Your workforce knows times are rough and that the company will need to make changes to adapt, so there is no reason to keep bad news from them. Trying to pretend that all is well will only result in a distrustful workforce, and communicating with them will become even more tough. The best course of action to stop rumors and gossip is to communicate openly with your employees about the changes that are planned. If they trust that you will give them the updates and information they seek, your employees will stop gossiping and wait to hear the truth from you.

3. Emphasize Personal Communication

A majority of bad news is communicated through memos and e-mails. While it may seem more time effective when every second counts, workplace productivity is effected by such impersonal communication. Studies prove that in-person communication develops confidence and is understood better than a less personal approach. True, you may be faced with questions you aren’t prepared for, but that is okay. Employees don’t expect you to know all the answers, but have real appreciation for your effort at keeping them part of the process by talking directly to them.

4. Listen

It is a massive advantage of face-to-face conversations that the communication is two-way. Your employees may be able to suggest solutions that will help the situation, but this is not the only advantage of listening. Knowing that their thoughts and reactions have value to you will inspire your workforce, and will help them to feel a part of the company and with you as their manager.

5. Recognize There Are Still Unanswered Questions

It is important to be honest when talking to your employees, both about what you know and about what is still unknown. Because people understand that no-one can know everything, it will build conviction and understanding if you can detail what is still unclear. If you are unsure about the future, it is better to discuss the prospects for the company and probabilities for success rather than making promises that might not be kept.

Communication is the bedrock of good management practice, and the only way to get the best out of your workforce. Make sure you communicate openly, honestly, and readily.

Seven Tips to Bring You and Your Staff to Their Full Potential

Possibly, the greatest untapped resource in any organization lies in its employees. These days, “giving 100 percent” is not enough to get ahead; you need to become more effective in unlocking your staff’s potential strengths, creativity, and resourcefulness. The best companies have the best people, and the top people are those who think and act faster and better than others. According to Gallup Research, organizations make use of less than 20% of their employee’s potential.

The following seven tips are what I believe are the specific ingredients in bringing the leader and his or her staff to their full potential:

1. Leadership – Being an effective leader helps you and your staff as they look to you for all of the specifics in getting their work done, as with items that follow and more. Allow your staff to think on their own, have trust in them for accomplishing the tasks assigned to them, and in return you will find that managing your employees will help them perform at their optimum level. The job of the leader is to help increase their staff’s effectiveness and to recognize and work to improve whatever limitations affect individual’s performance.

2. Communication – As a leader, talk to your staff and share with them how best to get the task or project done. In doing so, use optimism to motivate and inspire your staff and most importantly, ask your staff for suggestions on how they would get the task accomplished. Having clear expectations and direction from the leader is important so the staff can understand what they are expected to do. The leader is then able to give support to their team to get the job done more efficiently and with less stress and strain on the leader or their staff.

3. Empowering Employees – Allowing your staff to take responsibility and make decisions on their own is what many consider as a boost of self-confidence to employees. Getting your staff more involved in the work they do gives them a sense of accomplishment and helps them build up their self-esteem. Recognize their limitations and assign them tasks where they can use their strengths.

4. Talented Employees – Attracting and retaining talented people with exceptional skills is necessary for any organization and is a problem for many. The demand of hiring talented employees is extremely competitive. In finding new employees, or even in keeping the employees you already have, evaluate each person to see if it is worth your while and theirs in training them for challenging tasks that they will be required do. Developing untapped employee potential is a key competitive advantage for any organization. As a return-on-investment, developing your staff’s skills motivates them toward job satisfaction, as they prefer job challenges to performing the same functions week after week and year after year.

5. Emotional Intelligence – You can easily stick with the way you have done things in the past. But having your staff members shift gears in using their “emotional intelligence” skills assists them when it comes to excelling in their job or being “star performers.” Emotional Intelligence is defined as each staff member and leader having a set of competencies to develop and apply their “people skills” effectively. There are several emotional intelligence skills that affect all aspects of work, and they include: self-confidence, self-control, conscientiousness, adaptability, innovativeness, commitment, initiative, optimism, understanding others, conflict management skills, team capabilities, communication, and the ability to initiate or manage change. Team members clearly understand reactions and how to channel their energy into more productive results.

6. Recognition – Give your staff praise and positive feedback when it is appropriate. Through genuine appreciation, recognize the positive behaviors and achievements of your employees. Look for ways to increase employee motivation by recognizing excellence in the workplace. Celebrate the successes with your team members when they complete a job “well done”.

7. Team Work – Creating an effective team is a challenge to many leaders. Besides the fact that a team player is valued, your staff contributes to the success of the whole team as well as to the project or task, and even to the success of the organization as a whole. For the team to accomplish what they need to, the leader must get the right resources to the team. This goes along with your team members communicating with each other, problem solving on their own, being flexible and adaptive, and most importantly, working together.

7 Steps to Improve Collaboration on Your Team

Effective collaboration achieves what no single team member can on her own. As business magnate Richard Branson said, “A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” The best collaborations do this-optimize each person’s skills by utilizing suggestions from around the table, inspiring cooperation and creative buy-in from all involved.

Here are seven effective ways to create stronger team collaboration.

1. Aggregate and adapt: Any good project manager will bring ideas and plans to the table. The most collaborative will be highly skilled at weaving in the suggestions, ideas and goals of their team for a best-of fusion. Complex, multidisciplinary projects need to employ agile methodologies, involving innovation from all stakeholders and parties to succeed. The use of real-time data to help participants understand what is and isn’t working allows adjustments to be made on the fly. Successful collaboration is an aggregate of the best ideas while remaining adaptive and flexible.

2. Listen first: An effective collaborator knows how to bridge differing ideas into workable solutions. Getting to the root of any new concept or suggestion involves active listening, and listening actively to everyone with a stake in the outcome before mapping a course. Active listening includes giving feedback to confirm and clarify the information that was shared, and having a discussion in real time. A great collaborator will be able to respond most effectively once all parties have been heard. Team members want to feel valued, and being heard is where being valued begins.

3. Energize: The best collaborators assume that others are working smart and working hard. An effective and collaborative leader can bring inspiration and energy into a meeting room or conversation by helping team members feel valued. They sincerely express appreciation for a job well done. When criticism is offered thoughtfully and in the spirit of “your work is important to this project’s success,” effective collaboration becomes second nature. Talking about issues that need to be addressed can be done in a way that gets the team motivated about what’s possible. A motivated, energized team is a project’s strongest asset.

4. Remain open: Great collaborators always keep an open mind and know that brilliant ideas come from the unexpected. Openness is also crucial in building an atmosphere of trust. Workplace relationships are successful when employees are comfortable enough to voice concerns and make suggestions. Satisfied employees comfortably voice concerns and ask questions, and they know where to find the answers. Remaining open to new ideas, accomplishments and thoughtful critique empowers the entire team. The result: Faster problem-solving, healthier teamwork, greater trust and ultimately improved performance.

5. Be transparent: The most effective collaborators are less concerned with titles and roles than they are with solutions. If a fantastic suggestion is made they give credit where credit is due, regardless of source. Furthermore, effective collaborators clearly define expectations and share information across the board. Clear and inclusive communication allows team members to know that they matter enough to be told the truth. Sharing details with the team increases a sense of workplace community, and adds to the spirit of collaboration. Teams thrive in environments that encourage trial and error and encourage participation.

6. Have fun! Plato is credited with saying that you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. An organization or project is more successful when morale, motivation and trust are high. Having fun together-from Tuesday lunches to a bowling night to meetings where humor and optimism have their place-make a positive difference in helping team members from different parts of any project feel connected. Healthy environments incorporate appropriate camaraderie-building events and attitudes, fostering a sense of connectedness and accountability that goes beyond schedules and deadlines.

7. Transcend insularity: The most effective collaborators will know that the strongest parts make up the strongest whole. Workgroups have a tendency to silo. But the workplace of today is best served by operating without boundaries. So instead, make collaboration the goal and hold each member of the team accountable for their participation.

7 Tips For Improving Communication in the Workplace

Good managers understand the benefits of effective communication with their employees. They appreciate that it is not simply the benefits of passing on information that adds value, but the rapport that is built when people feel fully involved.

To ensure that communication is effective, there are some simple actions a manager can take, the benefits of which will far outweigh the effort required.

Here are 7 simple ideas that will help:

1. Use Listening as Your First Priority

Before you even think of what you want to say, in one-to-one situations be prepared to listen. Think of it like this – you have two ears and one mouth, so use them in that proportion!

2. Be Clear

Appreciating that the message you are trying to get across is not always what others hear is very valuable. It’s vital that you use language that is plain and simple enough for everyone to understand and, where you can, avoid jargon.

3. Embrace Everyone

Every one of your audience is different. Each of them will hear what you say in a slightly different way and sometimes, this can create some challenging consequences. So, by tailoring your messages so they are understood by everyone, you will bring more people along with you.

4. Check for Understanding

By ensuring that you check that what you say is what is heard – really heard – you will not only get your message across, but you will also build the relationship with others too. By asking each one of your team what they heard – and ensuring it’s what you wanted them to hear – you will be more likely to get buy-in and support for the message.

5. Support General Communications with Personal

Often, it will be necessary to provide general communication to a group of people. This may need to be personalised with individuals one-to-one, because everyone interprets what they hear through their own mental filters, leaving it open to misunderstanding.

6. Ask for Input

Sometimes, communication will benefit from the input of others as well as from you, so ask for it! Accepting their contributions as well as providing your own builds relationships; develops confidence and, at the end of the day, introduces new ideas too.

7. Be Focused and Flexible

Getting the message across needs concentration and focus. If you get distracted, it will only serve to confuse any message you are giving. That said, the ability to use varied ways to communicate is quite an asset, enabling you to reach more people with a compelling message in more ways.

Communication may be better received by some in verbal form, by others in hard-copy writing or by email, so despite your own preferences, appreciate those of your audience as individuals too.

Just trying to offer alternatives is a great way to show you understand the importance of engaging with others in a medium that suits them, and not just you.

Believing that the recipient is at fault if the message is misunderstood simply will not work. To ensure effective communication a manager needs to fully appreciate that responsibility lies with them.

Then the improvements in communication, in all directions, really will add value to your team, improving effectiveness, morale and relationships across the board