Developing Your Response to the Bully Boss

I’m going to share an amazing secret with you: you may not have control over every situation in life, but you have control over how you approach and respond to it.

Read that again. You have the ability to control yourself in every situation you encounter. You get to decide how you show up. You get to decide what the next moment will be like. This is an incredibly important thing to note.

And when it comes to dealing with a Bully Boss or some other toxic workplace situation, this can take you far.

I previously wrote about why adopting a “grin and bear it” mentality just doesn’t work when you’re working for a Bully Boss. And this can be particularly challenging when some people find themselves in a situation where finding new employment isn’t an option (or might be taking longer than you want).

But it’s possible to develop an effective response to a Bully Boss, even when it seems like it takes a lot of energy from you.

Here’s my guidance to help you consider how to stay true to yourself when you work for a Bully Boss and feel like you’ve lost control of the situation.

  1. Stop and Notice. Maybe the Bully Boss just yelled at you in front of everyone in a big meeting. Maybe they teased you in a very mean and unprofessional way. Maybe they encourage toxic gossip behavior with others. Whatever their behavior, take a breath and analyze the situation. Stop and notice what you’re thinking and feeling. Maybe you feel insulted or embarrassed. Maybe you are frustrated and annoyed. Maybe you feel pressured to answer an unwelcome invitation for fear of retaliation. Whatever you’re thinking or feeling, don’t judge it, just notice it.
  2. Figure out what inspires those thoughts and feelings. Recognize the feelings you have when you encounter a challenging moment with the Bully Boss and ask yourself why you’re feeling those big emotions. Frequently, we have big feelings and emotions when our values are called into question or if they are challenged. If you take great pride in your work and the Bully Boss constantly berates you for a poor job, you’ll have very powerful feelings around that. If you feel threatened in your job security because of an answer your Bully Boss doesn’t like, you’ll feel very strong feelings around this (and possibly conflicted thoughts that challenge your values). Notice when your feelings are the direct result of a value or belief you hold that you know is core to who you are. This also comes from gaining greater self-awareness.
  3. Choose your next action. You’ve intentionally recognized an event that is out of your control, why it inspires certain feelings and why those feelings come up. The next step is to decide what to do. Now, it doesn’t necessarily mean show up fighting or quit with no notice; there are options in between these extremes. What it means is that you can choose your attitude about this situation and the thoughts and actions it inspires. As you decide who you are (and will be) regardless of what others say and do, you create the internal strength to control your thoughts and actions. You stay in control of you.

Think of it this way: if you know you work for a Bully Boss, chances are that those around you know it too. If you’re yelled at in front of others or if you’re invited to join in a toxic gossip conversation, and you control your response to the situation, you’ll find it’s easier to always pick an action that is aligned to you. And a bonus: you just might become the inspiration for others to find their voice, as well.

You’ve figured out the Bully Boss is the issue, so what can you do about it? If you have control over the situation, go change it. If you don’t have control, figure out who and how you want to be in the situation. Remember, as you control your feelings and attitude about the situation, you will control your thoughts and actions. You will be who you want and believe yourself to be in any situation.

Take Action
This approach most definitely takes practice and a bit of resilience, as well, especially if the Bully Boss has been a presence in your life for any extended period of time. So practice it. Start to recognize when events in life inspire strong feelings, and notice when those feelings are positive and productive, too. This will help you build up your stamina to build your confidence to know that when confronted by a tough situation or a Bully Boss, you will be the person you choose to be.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading Create Your Stopper

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“Grin and Bear It” Doesn’t Work with a Bully Boss

Working for a Bully Boss is hard and, unfortunately, so relatable. We’ve seen the Bully Boss portrayed in movies and shows as the incompetent idiot to the raging lunatic. And you know why those movies and shows are so popular? Because everyone can relate to the Bully Boss experience to some degree.

I certainly am one of them. For some reason, I’ve had more than my fair share of Bully Bosses (both men and women), from the manager who didn’t know how to speak at a normal volume (read: I was always yelled at) to the one who changed department goals overnight without communicating them to the team. It can feel like you’re being pulled in 20 different directions with no clear direction to find your way out.

It’s exhausting. It challenges your self-esteem. It inspires self-doubt. It impacts the way you show up to work and the way you show up to your relationships outside of work. And worse, these Bully Bosses always make you feel like you are the problem.

Working for a Bully Boss is hard.

And though others may try to offer to help, the options presented are always one of two things: make a change or suck it up.

Sometimes, making a change isn’t an option due to a variety of reasons, so it leaves people little choice but to grin and bear it.

But this is important: accepting a “grin and bear it” attitude with a Bully Boss doesn’t work.

Here’s why:

  1. Your attitude changes. You try to protect yourself in some way, so you adopt an indifference approach to how you show up to work. In your effort to let the nasty and toxic behaviors roll off your shoulders, you unwittingly shut yourself off from everything else. You become a shell of yourself, lacking enthusiasm, dedication and, perhaps most importantly, your personality. You are disengaged and disconnected. The difficult things in life seem to rise to the top as your attitude has shifted from optimism to pessimism.
  2. Your work changes. When you adopt the indifference attitude, your work starts to suffer. You don’t go the extra mile or engage in new ideas that can generate great opportunities for you and the business. Instead, you do just enough to not get fired. You try to fly under the radar, delivering items as they’re due, and never before. You stop looking for ways to expand your career or develop yourself because you just want to get through the day, and that’s all you can think of. And sometimes, the harsh criticisms you get from the Bully Boss about the quality of your work start to materialize.
  3. Your home life changes. When you work for a jerk and feel defeated throughout the day, it’s hard to not bring that defeated attitude home. And whether it’s intentional or not, as soon as you become indifferent to your work, you start to become indifferent to many of the other things around you, even things you care most about. You start to lack energy and excitement for the things you really looked forward to and instead opt to just sit and rest. You feel tired more often and you disengage from your friends and family. Sometimes, you can even begin to recognize real health issues.

You can’t just grin and bear it when you work for a Bully Boss. It’s a cascading thing; they intrude into every part of your life if you let them.

So before you tell yourself to just “grin and bear it” and push through your day, stop and notice the person you’ve become. This can be an enlightening moment for you, if you let it.

Take Action
If you work for a Bully Boss or find yourself in a toxic work environment, ask yourself: am I staying true to who I am?

The person you are, at your core, cannot be changed unless you allow it. You control the direction of your life. If you can’t control a situation, you can control your response to it. Decide who you want to be without regard to who others are. You own you. Choose your attitude and your approach. It is empowering.

So, if your Bully Boss is impacting how you show up (to work and life), consider looking for new employment options. It might not happen overnight, but know when it is time. And, be sure to properly vet each new opportunity to avoid moving from one Bully Bos to another. Stay clear about who you are and how you will show up to the things in your work and life. Make changes as necessary. Your sanity and happiness is yours to create.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading How You Act Won’t Influence How I Show Up and take our quiz Do I Work for a Bully Boss?

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What Employees Don’t Need from you in this Moment

We care about our employees. And from that place, we regularly offer advice on what they can do to deal with the difficulty of this moment.

Here are some things I have heard lately:

  • Tough through it. Tough times won’t last.
  • Find a way to focus on what you have, not what you don’t have.
  • Just be happy because it could be worse.
  • Change your attitude; stop being so negative.
  • You have to have stamina and grit or every tough situation will take you down.
  • Just get back up and keep going. That’s what successful people do.

To be honest, these are incredibly unhelpful.

In most cases, your employees are aware of all of this “wisdom.” They know WHAT they should do, the challenge is they don’t know HOW to do it, especially in today’s world. That is really what they want and need from you: guidance to navigate the challenging situation we’re all in that no one could have predicted.

So instead of telling them what to do, help them learn how to do it. Here are three ways to shift from the WHAT to the HOW.

  1. Be present. Most of us don’t know how to be in this moment because we don’t really know our abilities – the things that are part of us to help us in this exact moment. To help employees learn to tune in to themselves, offer some self-awareness training. Engage a coach to lead them through developing an inventory of abilities or use an online assessment. Make time to debrief the results and help employees see HOW to use their abilities to deal with today’s tough times. Someone who is organized, for example, can use that ability to calmly stay in control of daily activities. Someone who is empathetic can help others talk through their challenges and feelings. Someone who is more direct can use that ability to cut through the fluff and get the answers and guidance the company needs. We are all more talented and capable than we know. Your employees can’t use what they don’t know, so give them the tools to help them fill in the blanks about who they are.
  2. Understand the moment. The real issue is that we are in challenging times that make us feel that we have little or no control. This activates our limbic brain, the part of the brain that reverts to safety and caution, so we are routinely in fight, flight or freeze reactions. Everything seems amplified and more difficult from that mindset. So, the shift in mindset is HOW to deal with this moment. This first starts with understanding. Share with employees why they are feeling this way, that this is normal in a period of extended stress and that most others are in this same situation. This prepares them for HOW to take action in our next step.
  3. Develop a toolbox of success habits. This is where you can help your employees develop tangible actions that help them actually develop stamina and grit, how to improve their attitude and how to be grateful for what they have.

Watch the Video: What Employees Don’t Need From You Right Now

Here are some options of HOW to rally in tough times that I share with my clients, as well as a few ideas they’ve shared with me:

  • Develop a gratitude practice by starting and ending each day with a list of 5 things you are grateful for, including your abilities; share this with a family member or friend.
  • Develop a practice to breathe deeply when you encounter a challenge (breathe in for a count of 4, hold it for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4; do as often as is needed).
  • Develop a network of people (phone a friend) to check in on (they need your help to help them out of feeling sorry for themselves; you need their help to help you stop feeling sorry for yourself). Do this as often as needed.
  • Develop a connection to nature (nature delivers a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week distraction to shift out of challenge and on to beauty).
  • Exercise or do yoga to shift your mind off the stresses of the day and onto your health and wellbeing (invite a friend).
  • Journal or write about your thoughts, feelings and emotions to better understand them and to gain context.
  • Focus on a celebration or great time that has recently happened. Dream of how to do something like it again.

Gather and share more ideas so all employees have a start in HOW to change their attitude about what is happening to show up more energized and excited, even when they face tough and challenging times.

Most of us don’t know how strong, resilient and adaptable we are until we go head-to-head with tough times. Then, with some tools and some guidance, we find that we are able to rally – to dig deeper and find that we are, as A.A. Milne shares in his famous quote, “braver than we believe, stronger than we seem and smarter than we think.”

Take Action
Your employees don’t need you to remind them WHAT they should be doing; they really need you to help them with HOW to do it. Consider developing a company initiative to address HOW to help employees stay upbeat, focused and energized, even when the world around them is tough. This is one of the greatest values you can create for an employee – a value they will actively take and use everywhere in life.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading What You Don’t Know About Your Employee is Impacting Your Team’s Performance

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Watch our video on YouTube.

Step Into Their Shoes

There’s a lot happening in the world and now, more than ever, organizations are encountering a very frustrating situation: distracted employees.

Distracted employees often don’t perform to their best and can be extremely short-tempered. But what they don’t need is a manager or leadership meeting them at this level.

What they need is someone to step into their shoes to understand what’s distracting them, to understand what life is like for them, to ask “How can I help?”

If you consider our theme at The Forte Factor this month (Lead with Love), this ties into it beautifully. Because leading with love doesn’t mean romantic interest, and it also doesn’t mean you’re soft. It actually just means that you care.

Think about the impact caring can have on a particularly distracted or stressed employee. You’ll not only help them get to a solution that will genuinely help them, but you’ll also create loyalty and respect, too.

 

Watch the video

 

Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/kvvRdMCs-M8.

Consider reading How You Act Won’t Influence How I Show Up

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How Do You Love Your Employees When They Are Unloveable?

Employees are distracted, not bringing their best to their day. They’re flippant and aggravating, and management is meeting them at this level. It has created an intolerable workplace.

Sound familiar?

So how do you love your employees when they’re unloveable (and that’s the way a lot of employees are acting at this moment)?

VIDEO: How to Love the Unloveable Employee

In line with our theme Lead with Love this month, our CEO and Certified Business and Executive Coach Jay Forte shares his thoughts in a short video on what you can do — as managers and leaders — to guide the unloveable employee back into being loveable through a culture that supports them and holds them accountable.

Watch the video.

 

Consider reading Staying Optimistic and Hopeful in Down Times

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What You Don’t Know About Your Employees is Impacting Your Team’s Performance

The outside world generally knows more about your employees than you do. And realistically, there’s little surprise here. There often isn’t time to just sit and talk with employees during the day about anything other than work-related items, and there seems to be a manager-employee divide where many won’t cross that line and friend/follow each other on social channels. Yet these social channels are where so much of this expanded employee information is so readily available, like individual skills, abilities, interests and work experience.

This is a big obstacle in inspiring and engaging employees to perform at their best. Think about it: as the world moves faster and faster and requires greater performance from your employees in ever-changing roles and environments, how do you know what skills training to provide and who would be a better fit in a different role?

Our answer: an inventory of abilities.

Generally, we develop a clear understanding of what success attributes new employees bring to their workplace on their first day as it relates to performing the role they are hired for. But this is only a snapshot of what they can bring to the table. Each employee is equipped with a more robust set of skills, experiences, interests and core abilities. When you add these to the robust abilities of your existing teams, you gain the information you need to more wisely align, develop and promote employees as your world and workplace continue to evolve.

To most effectively tap into these previously unknown strengths and skills, help each employee create an inventory of abilities. This is best done through activities and assessment tools to help employees articulate their strengths and liabilities, interests, values, communication styles, favorite and least favorite aspects of their role, behavioral triggers and blind spots. When employees have a more complete understanding of their potential and their personal drivers, it helps managers see all they are capable of. Having an expanded awareness of who employees are also helps to see who they can become and how they may fit into a workplace that always needs new and different skills and abilities.

The inventory of abilities can help your organization inspire greater employee performance by greater understanding of each employee in three critical areas.

1. Alignment. Having a clear understanding of who an employee is, what they are capable of and what they are interested in doing helps improve role alignment. Employees who are well aligned to their roles feel more capable and competent which activates engagement; engagement is the driver of productivity, performance and retention. It is difficult to get A-level performance from someone who doesn’t have the ability or interest to do what the job requires.

2. Development. Upskilling or reskilling are new terms that are making their way around the workplace and refer to adding new skills or improving the skills employees have to accommodate the changes in both work and workplace. As required workplace skills and abilities change, do you know who on your team has the abilities to respond to the changes? Without this insight, you will only look to the outside talent pool to address performance needs instead of considering your existing and already familiar inside talent. This also adds time and additional resources to effectively onboard new talent, resources most organizations are already short on.

3. Advancement. Few organizations treat a promotion or advancement the way they do an initial job hire; it’s often not even considered to clearly define the expectations of the role and then assess a candidate’s behaviors, skills, education and experience as right for the role. Think about how many colleagues or employees you’ve known to be promoted even though they weren’t interested in or capable to perform what the next level required. By expanding what you know about each employee, you start to see the opportunities in employees that may not be on a linear trajectory but instead one that uses their abilities in a new and different way. For instance, an installer of a product may make a great customer service or project manager because they are intimate with the product, its applications and success attributes. Or a frontline employee may make a great company educator because of what they know and have experienced firsthand.

Each employee only brings a small portion of who they are to their current role. Help them expand what they know of themselves and learn alongside them so you can also better see who they can become as your work and workplaces changes.

Take Action
Information is power. Make a point of gathering more information about your employees from your employees; they come with greater abilities and skills that you currently know or use. Without this information, you will not be prepared to properly upskill and respond quickly and effectively as work and the workplace change.

And, contact us to learn about our Inventory of Abilities tool and approach that we use in all of our leadership, management and employee education.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading How to Get The People Thing Right for Your Business

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How to Poach-proof Your Organization’s Talent

We are, once again, faced with a war for talent. But this talent war looks a little different now.

Before COVID-19, organizations struggled to get employees to perform at their potential, in an environment that was predictable. In fact, for most of the past 20 years, the Gallup Organization reported in its The State of the American Workplace report that the percentage of engaged employees hovered around only 30% of the workforce.

Here’s what that means: only 30% of employees were engaged in their work. They brought their A-game and were connected to making a difference.

That also means that approximately 70% of the workforce was in some form of disengagement; they did just enough to not get fired, or they did even less.

Now, in a COVID-19 workplace, disengagement is amplified by epic worry and anxiety. Employees now worry about foreclosures or evictions, access to food, having the proper cleaning supplies, having and using the right safety equipment, feeling safe in and out of the workplace, feeling disconnected from their teams and friends, struggling to feel successful working from home and feeling uncertain that their job will still exist. Without some assistance from their managers – to feel heard, supported and helped through these tough times – employees’ disengagement rises. Couple this disengagement with employees working from home (not under the scrutiny of management) and the fact that many organizations are actively looking to expand their talent base, and you may discover that your best employees are considering other opportunities with organizations that do a better job engaging their teams.

Consider what your organization does to encourage your employees to stay, regardless of any enticing offer that may come their way. Is there a protective forcefield around your talent to ensure your great employees say no when they’re approached by others?

Here are 3 commitments organizations must make to keep employees engaged and happily saying ‘no’ to job offers that come their way:

  1. A commitment to job alignment. Employees need to feel capable and competent in their roles to build their energy to deal with some of the other pandemic-inspired challenges. Feeling like you make a difference (because you are effective at your job) is an important element in helping you feel grounded and engaged. No one would feel engaged, passionate or committed to their job if they don’t have the talents, skills or interest needed to do the job well. To ensure job alignment, take the time to clearly define the tasks of each job and the attributes needed to do these tasks well in your workplace (i.e. the talents, skills, education and experience). Once that’s clear, ensure your hiring, development and promotion processes accurately assess candidates’ and existing employees’ required abilities. Consider including prove-it-to-me activities and behavioral-based questions to ensure you are getting the full picture of their abilities before you bring them on board.
  2. A commitment to providing an employee-focused workplace. Getting employees to want to stay is directly related to the quality of the work environment the organization provides. Employees today routinely insist on working for a company that values them as people, encourages their performance and continually develops them. It seems obvious, but employees who have the tools and equipment they need to do their jobs well will be more engaged in their workplace. Note, however, that this doesn’t mean just the physical tools or supplies to get the job done. It could include things like doing purposeful work, having clear performance expectations, participating in skills and career development, receiving regular supportive and corrective feedback and seeing that the organization shares and lives its beliefs and values. Providing these tools and support activates employee performance, ownership and loyalty, making them more poach-proof. An added bonus: it holds even greater weight when employees are working remotely or in some hybrid remote approach.
  3. A commitment to building successful manager / employee relationships. Relationships are the drivers of performance and loyalty. Consider this: workplaces that manage in the outdated method of command-and-control actually push their talent into the arms of poachers. The Gallup Organization stated that the shift from managing to coaching is the single most important talent retention initiative every organization should be focused on. By helping managers learn how to think and act as workplace coaches, managers shift from directing, controlling and telling to guiding, supporting and asking. The result is a more personal and accountability-based relationship where managers make time for employees to help them in their growth, performance and self-belief. This also encourages employees to open up about their worries, anxieties and needs in this pandemic moment. It’s only with this additional communication that managers can wisely decide who and how to be with their employees, and, more specifically, how to help them manage the challenging moments and get back on stable ground. This intentional awareness from managers helps employees show up more focused. Though shifting from managing to coaching is critical, the Gallup Organization shares that only approximately 20% of managers instinctively know how to coach. That means a core engagement strategy will require you to train your managers to think and act as workplace coaches.

By creating dream jobs for your employees (even during COVID-19), you’re creating an environment where they get to be their best, and are honestly and openly cared for, valued, respected, all while having the opportunity to learn and grow from their managers. With an environment like that, they won’t have the need to look elsewhere. After all, great employees want to work in great organizations.

And when your organization hires wisely, builds an employee-focused workplace and helps managers think and act as coaches, you create an exceptional employee experience. This results in your best employees not only refusing the advances of aggressive poachers, but they will become talent magnets, attracting other great talent to your organization, even if they’re working from home.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading 3 Ways to Help Your Team Start 2021 Strong and Focused

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How Managers and Leaders Can Create [Workplace] Calm After the Storm

There is no doubt that this past election created a storm. Raging tempers, severed relationships and extreme emotions have marked this period both in and out of the workplace. Add to it the tensions around protests for racial equality, a raging coronavirus and the destructive impact of nature’s storms and wildfires and it’s easy to see that anyone – regardless of their level at your organization – is at their breaking point.

What we all desperately need is calm after all this turbulence. Our best thinking leads to our best solutions, but we can only get there when we are calm. Being calm unclouds the mind, which lets us be present enough to wisely understand our situations and identify meaningful responses. Most often, this is done by engaging productively with others. After all, raised tempers encourage reacting not responding.

Creating organizational calm may seem foreign or even out of reach at the moment. But we can’t just wish for calm or less turbulence; we need to create an intentional plan to get ourselves free of the heaviness of this past year, and it starts from the top down. Today’s leaders can be ready to help their organizations successfully learn to access a place of calm once they figure out how to do it for themselves, first. Here are some ideas how:

  1. Be a role model. Your teams watch you and how you respond. As you go, so do they. Use this moment to develop your mindfulness practice, a way to stay calm on the inside regardless of the noise and distractions on the outside. Developing a mindfulness practice includes making time each day to calm your body, quiet your mind and open your heart. This can include taking time to meditate, reflect, journal or just sit quietly. When this becomes part of your day, it inspires a greater sense of inner calm. Without making the intentional effort to develop the internal stamina to show up wisely, compassionately and intentionally, it’s easy to get caught in the emotional reactions of today’s challenging situations. When you do this, you miss the opportunity to engage and inspire others to work toward successful outcomes.
  2. Understand your employees’ stress level. As with any change or period of stress, it is important to be more tuned in to what is going on with your employees. Consider increasing the frequency and type of contact you have with each employee to better understand what is going on with each of them. During these touch points, ask more direct questions about their stress and anxiety levels, and watch and listen for challenging, distracted or destructive behaviors. This type of connection plays a critical role in giving you accurate insight into where your employees are and it will therefore guide you in knowing how to help (or if you need to get them help). This might seem like something else added to your plate, but when you make this an intentional practice, it becomes second nature and helps you become a better manager, too.
  3. Help or get them help. Offer some of your own experiences in your efforts to stay calm to help guide them in a direction that works best for them. It could be taking a greater number of short breaks, writing lines in a gratitude journal, increasing exercise or staying in touch with people they care about. Sharing your approach can give your team ideas to consider and try. After all, the ability to be responsive instead of reactive is their responsibility. Separately, be aware of what mental health support options are available if any of your team needs professional help to handle today’s storms. Ensure that you support their self-care and respect that this moment in history is exceptionally demanding.

Though storms will always be part of our days, this seems to be a particularly complicated moment. For many, this may be what tips them over the edge, amplifying their feelings of anxiety, fear, concern and distress.

Take Action
So ask yourself: what can you do as a leader at your organization to ensure the wellbeing of each of your employees is met? Consider how you can help them help themselves to stay calm in any storm, whether it’s personal or professional.

A little calm goes a long way.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading 4 Things Managers Can Do to Help their WFH Employees Celebrate the Holidays

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3 Ways to Help Your Team Start 2021 Strong and Focused

A new year is associated with so many good things. It’s a chance to start fresh. It’s a chance to try something new. It’s a chance to identify what could be better and create a plan to make it happen. And that’s what so many of us will be doing as we approach the countdown on December 31, ready to ring in 2021 with welcome arms.

After all, 2020 was certainly filled with some unique challenges. A variety of natural disasters, weather, a hostile election year and, to top it all off, COVID-19, which was not only a challenge in itself, but the ramifications it created sent many companies reeling.

So how can you inspire the fresh start feeling of a new year with your employees when 2021 will still reek of the challenges from 2020?

It’s actually pretty easy: relationships.

Relationships are the driver of employee engagement as employees want and need connection, support and guidance from their managers and their peers. If you could only focus on one thing in 2021, make it relationships.

So, as a new year welcomes you and your team to the workplace – in whatever way work is done – here are three relationship-focused things you can do to help your employees (and you) start your year off strong, focused and engaged.

1. Reconnect personally with your team. Make it a point to really get to know your employees. To effectively manage and coach your employees, it is important to know their strengths, interests and values. It is important to know what engages and disengages them about their jobs and the organization. It is critical to know how they best communicate and learn, and what are their most and least favorite aspects of their jobs.

Another element is to get to know them outside of work – what are their hobbies? How is their family? Is there anything they’re worried about? Are they struggling with anything? Is there anything you can do to help? Though some employees may prefer not to share too much personal information, the fact that you asked goes a long way, especially now when so many people may be grappling with challenges of COVID-19, like foreclosures, concern for high-risk family members or access to enough food, to name a few. Gather important information about each of your employees to understand them better and to know how to best connect with them and coach them. Employees want time with their managers – use this increased time to get to know them and to develop a plan to connect with them more effectively going forward.

Remember: people quit people before they quite companies.

2. Include your team in creating shared goals. Goals are important. They provide direction, clarity and focus. And by including employees in the creation of goals, or more specifically team goals, they feel more included, valued and part of the organization. They know you are interested in what they think. A workplace culture that asks employees for input not only benefits from greater employee loyalty, but also from expanded ideas that come from empowering and expecting employees to actively think throughout their days. An added bonus: those employees share their working experience with others, attracting other top talent and top performers to join your team (a huge benefit since networking will look drastically different as we all navigate the continued effects of COVID-19 on how we do business).

3. Commit to sharing more performance information. You want your employees to be more focused and engaged, but few feel that way when they work in the dark. They can’t connect their work to its impact or value with information about why they’re doing what they’re doing isn’t made clear. By improving your relationship with your employees, you create the space to have more candid and honest conversations about performance. Now, feedback is welcomed as it is delivered from a place of care, support and guidance, instead of reprimand. Invoive employees in creating their own performance expectations that help them amplify their strengths and connect with areas that interest and excite them. Again, these are things you don’t know if you have not first taken the time or made the effort to better understand each employee. An added bonus: employees take ownership of things that benefit them and the organization. They learn and grow and the organization improves.

A recap:

  1. Reconnect personally with your team: What is one thing you can do to connect more personally with each member of your team?
  2. Include your team in creating shared goals for 2021: How will you involve your team in the creation of shared goals?
  3. Commit to sharing more performance information: What information will you share in 2021 and how will you share it?

Take Action
As the New Year approaches, commit to enhancing the relationships with your employees. It really all comes down to communication – both listening and talking. Ask questions, be supportive, engage them in organizational goals and share performance feedback more regularly. Observe, ask, listen and guide. That is what employees want from you. And, in return, they work hard, bring their best performance and stay loyal to the organization.

Start the new year off strong. Make relationships your priority.

By Jay Forte

Consider reading How To Keep Your Team Energized When Some Now Work Remotely

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4 Things Managers Can Do to Help their WFH Employees Celebrate the Holidays

There was a time when work would slow down so the holiday season could gear up. The regular workday gave way to office parties, vacation time and a more relaxed and congenial pace, with more impromptu employee gatherings. Spending more personal and relaxed time in the workplace around the holidays does wonders for employees’ sense of team and organization inclusion.

For many organizations, that is now a thing of the past. But the benefits of shifting from work to celebration are significant and are part of how an organization unites itself to stay energized and get ready for the start of a new year.

Since celebrating is important and its approach will be different this year, many employees will need help recreating the office celebration feelings in their WFH situations. This will require managers to help create the shift to holiday thinking, especially because employees are remote.

Here are 4 ideas to consider and try.

  1. Help employees create a gradual work slowdown as the holidays approach. Encourage employees to sign off earlier each day as the holiday approaches. Some organizations gave their employees a free vacation day to take care of the holiday preparation or to just step into the holidays in a less rushed and stressed way. Help them decide how to use that time to celebrate with other company employees or with their families. Many employees have actually worked more and longer in the pandemic. Getting them to shift out of work mode in favor or holiday and celebration mode may take some consistent guidance.  
  2. Create activities to replace the impromptu interactions that used to take place in the workplace around the holidays. Plan team activities, such as holiday Zoom background competitions, creating holiday team videos, sharing holiday tradition stories and other things that employees would do had they been still on-site. Give them a list of options to help them use their earlier shutdown time to shift to holiday preparation and celebrations.
  3. Have a recurring discussion about how the employee and his/her family are preparing for the holidays. Be interested in the details of their holiday prep and encourage them to sign off early and use the time to do things to build their holiday energy and spirit. By your interest and support, you encourage them develop a new sense of work and holiday balance.
  4. Share how you are creating time and space for celebration and holidays in your WFH approach. Seeing you doing and living the things you are guiding others to do, helps employees see that you are serious, and it gives them ideas in how to make this happen. Remember, this is new for most everyone. New things take time to try, adopt and embrace. Be a role model and employees will migrate faster to new behaviors.

Take Action
Your employees will likely need a little direction in how to shift from WFH to CFH (celebrate from home). So many of the WFH employees have gotten into a productive routine and shifting it once again, even for something like the holidays, can be a challenge. Be there to guide, support and encourage your teams to get into the holiday mood, even if they don’t have the normal workplace holiday events. (See our other ideas in how to celebrate the holidays when you employees are remote.) Not only will your employees have a better holiday, but they will come back to work recharged, energized and ready to respond to the next round of changes that now define how our workplace and world seem to move.  

By Jay Forte

This article appeared on Vistage in the Entrepreneurs and Small Business Network on November 11, 2020.

Consider reading Tips to Celebrate the Holidays When Your Staff is Remote

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