PositivePeople July 3, 2019 No Comments

Managing your Team with Empathy

Managing your Team with Empathy:

Providing real support during traumatic times

 

Life events wash over all of us.

Keeping a team engaged and enthused despite outside personal pressures can be challenging for even the most skilled Manager. No matter how great your culture or team environment, when employees are faced with a major life event how you support them through this period can make or break their commitment to you and your business.

We have all had team members who have children with serious illnesses, overseas bereavements or other traumatic events to deal with. Company policies often don’t provide guidance on how to balance the organisation’s needs and the needs of the individual.

There can be a lot of pressure and stress involved in traumatic personal situations.

In circumstances like these, employees need to deal with the personal situation facing them, ensure they keep earning, as well as making sure they are not letting you and the team down. How you manage this is critical. No amount of future development opportunities offered can ever recover the loss of trust that occurs if their situation isn’t empathetically managed.

Building a business that balances empathy, fairness and overall standards, while allowing flexibility to manage at an individual level is key to making this a success.

 

To do this well we suggest:

  1. Know your team

Encouraging genuine relationships where your team are comfortable to let you know about personal challenges. This helps you to manage these situations for best results for the individual and business. If you have a team member who suddenly starts disappearing at 5pm on the dot this should raise questions – perhaps they just have a gym class to get to but also, could they be getting home quickly to help a sick partner with the kids? Do you know and would they feel comfortable telling you?

 

  1. Encourage the use of EAP or specialist support services

Managers aren’t counsellors and there is no expectation that you can help your team process grief or deal with complex mental health issues. You do however want to make sure expert support is available for these situations, so that your team members are able to return to full health.

 

  1. Allow Management discretion in the application of policies

Having fair guidelines for everyone ensures an even playing field in your organisation. However, there must be room to make exceptions. If you have a team member having important medical treatment do your Managers have the flexibility to change shift patterns to accommodate this? If a team member suffers the loss of a child can extended bereavement leave or AL be taken? We don’t think any of us would expect 3 days leave would be enough to cope with a situation like this. Company policies should not hamstring Managers from making sensible, compassionate decisions.

 

  1. Consider extensions of leave entitlements for special circumstances

You can allow anything that is over and above minimum statutory entitlements. You don’t have to wait until 6 months for bereavement or sick leave and you can give additional leave in special circumstances. You have a range of options available to you should it be needed, so making sure you consider this and have flexibility to support your team members through tragedy or traumatic events can make the world of difference for them.

People have long memories, and even though work is important it quickly takes a back seat when something personally traumatic happens.

Having Company standards but managing individual pressures will help to gain future commitment and engagement from your whole team and is – in the end – the right thing to do.

Positive People have 24 years’ experience helping organisations develop policies that provide clear expectations and help to get the best from your team. Contact us now if you need help.

360 Degree Feedback for Leaders

360 Degree Feedback for Leaders

We all know how important leaders are to a business. Their ability to inspire and motivate their teams is an essential ingredient of business success.

Often in leadership development the focus is on what we want our leaders to improve, what we see as gaps in their knowledge and the results we want them to achieve.

If our leader’s success is achieved through their people, doesn’t it make sense to turn that around and ask what their team want from their leader?

360-degree feedback surveys are a powerful tool for figuring out exactly what a leader’s real development areas are. Every team is different, and every organisation is different, so leadership skills need to be adapted and developed continuously to achieve great results.

Making this a meaningful exercise can be challenging, so here are a few of our top steers:

  1. Let you leader choose the feedback participants alongside you

Typically, you will have 8 to 10 team members complete the 360. Choosing a balanced group is essential. Working together to select this group will ensure that the leader is engaged and receptive to the feedback.

  1. Brief the participants well

Sometimes the feedback in a 360 can be tough to take, so making sure your participants understand how to provide this feedback constructively is important. Phrasing questions so that they feed forward can help, using questions like “What would you like to see your leader do more of?”. Participants should also focus on skills and actions, not personalities. A personal attack in a 360 will never achieve good results.

  1. Have the leader rate themselves too

It’s always interesting to compare how we think we are doing against how others see us doing. This opens the conversation about why there may be differences in perception. Often leaders will establish an environment which motivates them but may not work for their team. Seeing these differences will help leaders realise that their team may have different needs from them.

  1. Make the feedback session a safe space

Its normal to be nervous receiving 360 feedback, and this can make your leaders defensive. The best way to approach this is to let them work through it in stages. Provide the report for them to consider, meet to help them work through it and discuss their thoughts on it. Then meet again to agree development areas. Having time to process the feedback can make it more meaningful. It can pay to use an external person or your HR Manager for the feedback session, as they can discuss the results dispassionately and the leader can respond honestly.

  1. Agree the development areas together

Just like any goal setting exercise, if your leaders have development areas chosen for them they won’t completely commit to them. This may mean that there are some compromises in their development plan. However, any development that moves them forward and improves their skills will benefit your business.

“If your actions inspire people to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

John Quincy Adams

 

Positive People have 24 years’ experience helping medium sized business’s develop great leaders. Contact us today to discuss how our 360-degree feedback surveys can work for you.

Effective Decision Making for Leaders

Effective Decision Making for Leaders

Effective decision making is a key skill for everyone in the workplace, but in a leadership role it becomes vital. Whether you are deciding the best candidate to select, which marketing strategy to choose or what price point to offer to win a big piece of business, you must be able to make the best decision possible with the information you have available to you.

Although we all have different ways of thinking and approaching problems, a systematic approach is important to avoid bad decisions.

The steps to good decision making:

  1. Categorise

Is this a unique problem, or is it reoccurring? Here you are establishing if you have a pre-designed principle to follow or adapt, or if you need to develop the rule through this decision.

  1. Define

What is it? Where is it? Who is affected by it?

  1. Desired Outcome

What is the result you need? Who and what will be affected by that outcome and how?

  1. Decision

First, consider what decision will fully achieve the desired outcome. From this starting point, you can start to think about what compromises can be made while still reaching the outcome you need.

  1. Action

Assign responsibility for the action being carried out, as well as specifying who will actually carry the action out. This may all be the same person (you!) or you may, for example, assign responsibility to your Operations Manager and delegate the particular tasks to the relevant employees within their team.

  1. Review

Build in feedback and reporting to review the effectiveness of the decision against the results.

Bring in the team

It is well documented that teams make better decisions than individuals. None of us is smarter than five people! It’s generally accepted engaging a team of four to six people is the sweet spot for decision making. You will benefit from diverse skills and perspectives, without the complexity that organising a larger group brings. Next time you have a decision that you would normally make alone, consider getting a team together and working through the decision making steps together.

Positive People have 24 years’ experience helping leaders and teams grow and develop their skills. We can work with you to tailor a bespoke learning and development solution that will help your leadership team to build their decision-making capability.  We can also help you to introduce and integrate decision-making models into how you do business and work with you to ensure your leadership team are working together to make the best decisions for your business.  Call us today to find out more.

Reflecting for personal growth

Reflecting on 2018:

Getting ready for the New Year

Why take the time to reflect?

Reflection is the engine room of personal growth.

  1. It helps to detach ourselves from rigid ideas and reminds us that we have the ability to make independent decisions that will lead to better outcomes
  2. It develops self-awareness of our own emotions. This helps us to understand how and why we have responded in certain ways to various situations, and how we can change this
  3. It allows us to see that we usually already have the answers and the knowledge we need to make the best decision, to change or to grow. We are our own best source of learning to enable personal growth

Challenge yourself!

Take 30 minutes (outside if possible) and think back over the year that has been and the year that is ahead.

The Personal and Work sections will probably overlap to a certain extent.

Personal

  • What were my biggest achievements this year?
  • What were my biggest mistakes this year?
  • What would I do differently if I could travel back to any point during the year?
  • What have been my personal strengths and weaknesses this year?
  • What were my goals and have I achieved them? Why or why not?
  • If there is one thing I wished I’d achieved, what was it?
  • What have I learnt?
  • What do I want to learn to do better next year? How can I do this?

Work

  • What new thinking and ideas am I bringing to my work?
  • How can I regularly make time for deeper thinking about my job and how to do it better?
  • How could I up the productivity of my team by 10%?
  • How could I better meet deadlines?
  • What do I need to do to be acknowledged as a genuine top performer?
  • What do I need to improve in my leadership style?
  • How can I better connect with what the future holds?
  • How can I better engage and communicate across the organisation?

We hope this exercise puts you in a great state of mind and good space to welcome in a successful 2019 with a bang!

Positive Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcement – Why managers should prioritise praise

 

“If each of us was to confess our most secret desire, the one that inspires all our plans, all our actions, we would say “I want to be praised”” – Emil Cioran, Philosopher

When we see an outstanding leader in action, one of the first things we notice is their ability to recognise achievement and celebrate success in a way that feels genuine. This has an uplifting snow-ball effect on the team.

This is evident in data gathered from global engagement survey providers, which consistently tell us that there is a direct link between enhanced retention, productivity and revenue and employees receiving praise and recognition at work.

But even when we know that praising employees for their work and commitment has a positive effect on our bottom line, it can still be something we struggle with.

Practice makes perfect.

Knowing you should give positive reinforcement, and actually doing it are two very different things. Also, saying the same thing on repeat will quickly lose its impact. So not only does it need to become a habit but you also need to mix it up.

“The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount” – B. F. Skinner, Psychologist

 

  1. Find out what motivates each member of your team and tailor your positive feedback to drive their performance
  2. Use different channels. Some people prefer one-on-one, others in front of the team, or in an email. Most people will respond well to praise, however it is delivered, so use a variety of forums to keep it fresh
  3. Remember your introverts. You may not hear as much about their accomplishments so make the effort to dig a little deeper to find out how they are going. If they’re delivering great results, let them know
  4. Commit yourself to never forgetting to praise a team member who you see going the extra mile. Discretionary effort is the hallmark of engaged employees and these are the people you need to retain.
  5. Remember, it is far easier to spot mistakes than it is to focus on what is right with a piece of work. Keep this in mind when delivering feedback and make sure it’s balanced.
  6. If you have a consistently high performer, don’t forget to consistently praise them for their efforts. Sometimes when a high level of performance becomes the norm from someone, it can be easy to let the positive feedback slip off the radar
  7. Performance reviews are the ideal opportunity to link an employee’s efforts with the bigger picture. Tie their achievements to the strategic goals of the organisation – this reminds them of the ‘why’ and the important part they are playing
  8. If you’re working on an area of development with an employee, take every opportunity to positively reinforce behaviour or actions that show they’re improving in this area

Positive People can help you to develop your frontline leader’s ability to recognise their team and elevate performance. Contact us today at info@positivepeople.co.nz or 09 445 1077.

360-Degree Feedback Surveys

360-degree feedback surveys:

Forming a rounded view

What is 360-degree feedback?

360-degree surveys are a tool that allows employees to receive performance feedback from their manager, peers, direct reports and other internal or external stakeholders. It provides a rounded view of the individual and usually results in employees accepting the feedback, as it is validated through coming from a range of people and angles.

People who are chosen as feedback providers are selected in a shared process by both the employee and their manager, with support from HR. Generally, they will be people who regularly interact with the employee who is receiving feedback.

What is the purpose?

The process aims to assist the employee to understand their strengths and weaknesses and to provide insights into where there are opportunities for development.

360-degree feedback surveys can help an organisation to:

  • Get better quality employee feedback that is more accurate and insightful than only considering feedback from an employee’s manager. Also, if there is a personality issue between the employee and their manager, multi-source feedback reduces the risk of this impacting their relationship and performance assessment
  • Highlight gaps in perception between the employee’s own perspective (demonstrated through completing the survey themselves) and the perception of others
  • Improve leadership strength by including employees in the leadership feedback process
  • Gauge the relative strengths of a team through gathering comparative peer related information
  • Identify individual and organisational development needs, so learning and development spend can be more effectively allocated
  • Help team members to work more effectively together – improving communication and processes
  • Empower the employee to take responsibility for their own development and career
  • Improve the level of customer service the organisation is providing where external stakeholders, like customers, are included.

How do you implement a 360-degree?

For a 360-degree feedback survey to have a positive impact on your organisation, it must be integrated into the learning and development goals of the business and your performance management and review system.

It’s also important that the feedback is shared with the employee by a trained coach. This allows the employee to understand the feedback by discussing unclear comments or seeking more information about the ratings and their basis. A good coach will also help the employee to focus on the positives and how they can build on their strengths, rather than dwell for too long on the negatives. Where areas for development are identified, a coach will support the employee to find solutions and make positive change.

360–degree feedback surveys are a powerful but under-utilised leadership development tool. Improve performance and ask us about them today.

We support businesses to implement effective 360-degree feedback systems. Contact Positive People today to discuss how we can help you introduce this valuable performance enhancement tool. info@positivepoople.co.nz or 09 445 1077

Problem Solving

Problem Solving

One of the biggest challenges new leaders face is the sudden pressure of being the main port of call for workplace problems. They no longer have the back-up of passing issues up the chain to be solved by someone more senior. The responsibility suddenly falls on them to find effective solutions and make decisions quickly.

If they do this well it builds confidence and improves your organisation, but, if they procrastinate or do this badly it damages confidence, undermines reputations and can have a significant impact on business results.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”

Albert Einstein

So, how do we build our future leaders to effectively solve workplace problems?

We suggest you:

  • Empower your leaders
  • Have a defined, commonly understood problem-solving framework
  • Encourage root cause analysis
  • Develop support networks
  • Support learning from mistakes

Empower your leaders

Sometimes problems come up for your leaders, which you know how to solve. Resist the urge. Even though they may still be growing in confidence, stepping in to solve their problems will undermine their leadership role and hinder their growth as a leader. Take a step back, take a coaching approach and encourage your leaders to come to you with solutions, not problems.

Use a defined, commonly understood problem-solving framework

Making decisions when problems arise can be stressful for new leaders. Introducing a problem-solving framework into your organisation encourages your leaders to feel confident that they will solve problems effectively and reach the right solution. Having a framework which the whole business understands encourages the practice, allows for a common understanding when solving cross functional problems, and gives you a better chance of reaching the right solution.

Encourage root cause analysis

Sometimes you need to do a quick fix – and that’s fine. Business must continue, products must go out and time is money! But…..if your leaders don’t double back, establish root cause and put a solution in place which stops the problem re-occurring they will end up in continuous firefighting mode. Not good for your business, and not good for them.

Develop support networks

Usually when one of your leaders is solving a problem they need the help and support of other teams within the business. If this doesn’t come willingly it can undermine their effectiveness, confidence and how positive they feel about their role. Developing a culture and network of supportive teams is essential to good problem solving. Your leaders need to know who they can call on when they need expert input and feel confident they can trust the advice they receive.

Support learning from mistakes

Despite the best, most robust problem-solving process in place, mistakes do still happen. Using these as learning opportunities helps your leaders to accept their mistakes, look forward and become better at what they do.

Problem solving is an often overlooked, but essential leadership skill. The ability to do this well can transform your organization and keep it continuously moving forward.

We can help to ensure your Leaders have the skill and confidence to be expert problem solvers. To find out more you can check out our website here or contact us at 09-455-1077.

Following these guidelines will help you and your team members smooth over and resolve any differences of opinion. Keen to learn more? Positive People run a Problem Solving & Decision Making module as part of our popular Leadership Development Program. Contact us today atinfo@positivepeople.co.nz or 09 445 1077 to discuss our group or individual training, coaching and development solutions.

Motivation

Motivation:

Making sure you and your team are goal focused, driven and successful.

Pretty much anyone can issue instructions and somehow get the job done.

But what is the quality like? How quickly is the job done? Does the team work together? How innovative is the team? How focused on the customer are they? Is the job delivered on time? What is the service like?

What good leaders are looking for is their team actually WANTING to do the job. And this is the mantra that stands at the core of motivation – WANTING TO rather than having to. It is about commitment, not compliance. Take a look at the individuals in your team. Who is committed? Who is just going through the motions?

“You cannot motivate anyone. You can only provide the environment where your team members motivate themselves.”

When people want to do something they can overcome the biggest of hurdles to achieve their goals.

Often people with loads of experience, knowledge and talent just fall by the wayside because they don’t have the passion to achieve things – they lack that critical WANT TO factor.

How do you ignite their passion?

There are two elements to this.

  1. Developing an understanding of each person in your team. This means there is a need to establish which buttons you need to push for each person. And each person’s motivational buttons are different, so it takes time and insight to work out what makes a person tick. This understanding allows you to temper and fine-tune your natural approach so your communication resonates with each person. People instinctively understand, appreciate and “get” that you “get” them. This individual awareness allows you to develop and grow a special relationship with each of your different team members. This means that you connect to each person and this is a strong contributor to their commitment.
  2. Creating a workplace environment that allows everyone to be their best. This requires the development of an organisational culture that is conducive to people pushing forward for both individual and organisational success because it feels good to do so.

This kind of environment is usually principled, supportive, challenging, exciting, and collaborative.

Add to these two key motivational factors an appreciation of what the organisation is trying to achieve, coupled with a clear understanding of the expectations attached to their role, and you will have motivated team members committed to succeed.

While the motivation of each individual is in their own hands, the set-up for this motivation is very much in the hands of the management.

Following these guidelines should help you and your team members ride the crest of a wave with enthusiasm and success. To find out more you can check out our website here or contact us at 09-455-1077.

Keen to learn more? Positive People run a Motivation module as part of our popular Leadership Development Program. Contact us today at info@positivepeople.co.nz or 09 445 1077 to discuss our group or individual training, coaching and development solutions.

Managing Conflict at Work

Conflict Management:

Everyone experiences conflict – in life and at work.

Why? Because different people are always going to have different points of view and different needs, wants and values.

Differences of opinion are natural and usually need to be openly addressed to avoid tension.

So, what should we do when conflict or differences of opinion arise?

  • Deal with the issue before the situation escalates
  • Talk directly to person(s) concerned
  • Work with people to try and resolve the issue
  • If someone approaches you with an issue, be prepared to confront and work on it
  • Where appropriate, if someone complains to you about another person, encourage them to talk directly to the person involved. Give them the tools to do this through a coaching discussion.

Before you meet with the person

  • Identify the real issue, not just the symptoms/emotions
  • Be prepared to work toward agreeable solutions, not just towards “winning” (or one party winning)
  • Remember that it is not unusual to disagree and that people are quite entitled to do so. You can still find a solution and resolve the conflict.

During the discussion

  • Look at the issue through another ‘lens’ or point of view
  •  Be willing to “own” part of the problem
  • Establish a common goal (a solution) and stay focused on it
  • Define the problem and establish solid facts (yours and theirs)
  • Identify common ground
  • Agree on a common goal
  • Explore all possible solutions and select the solutions that will best meet the needs of both parties
  • Decide on a course of action
  • Summarise the agreed course of action back to ensure that the needs have been met

It is also important to manage the post-conflict situation. Don’t leave it and pretend that it didn’t happen. Follow-up is essential. This may involve checking in to see how the person is feeling and monitoring the situation to ensure agreed actions have actually happened. Then when the matter is truly resolved, it’s time to put it to rest and move on.

We can help to equip your leaders to manage conflict effectively. To find out more you can check out our website at here or contact us at 09-455-1077.

Following these guidelines will help you and your team members smooth over and resolve any differences of opinion. Keen to learn more? Positive People run a Conflict Management module as part of our popular Leadership Development Program. Contact us today at info@positivepeople.co.nz or 09 445 1077 to discuss our group or individual training, coaching and development solutions.

Performance Management

How to have that difficult conversation

 

Preparing for performance reviews with your team should generally be a straight-forward process.

Typically, the steps include:

  1. Requesting the employee’s feedback on their own performance
  2. Gathering evidence, including things like sales figures, other KPIs/measurements, customer feedback, attendance records, etc.
  3. Completing your manager review
  4. Meeting with your employee to discuss the above, along with their personal development plan
  5. Finalising actions for the next review period

However, where you have a poorly performing employee, additional preparation is required. Here are our recommendations for approaching difficult conversations at performance reviews.

 

Be solution driven.

Any performance difficulties discussed need to conclude with an agreed way of moving forward so that every issue has a solution attached to it at the end of the discussion.

Use the phrase: “So, now that we have discussed this challenge, lets agree how to change this in the future…”

 

Keep the meeting on an equal footing.

Make certain that the meeting allows for the employee to feel that they are completely free to say what they want to – allow time and space for them to talk. If the meeting is not conducted on an equal footing, then half the communication (and much of the benefit) will be lost.

 

Discuss the differences.

Major differences between your manager review and the employee’s self-review highlight a gap in perception and understanding. The discussion will centre on why the perceptions are different and also what can be done to move the assessments up the scale.

 

Is it a problem of motivation or ability?

Ask questions to diagnose the root cause of the issue. Listen for whether it is a case of ‘can’t do’ or ‘won’t do’? Tailor the solution accordingly.

 

Discuss your role in improving the performance.

Are you helping or standing in the way of performance? Are you controlling too much or being too hands-off? Does the employee need more training? How can you can best support them to make positive changes?

 

Make a plan and follow up.

Agree and document the plan – what, who, and by when? Then don’t forget to follow-up. Too often a performance plan languishes unopened until the next review. Regular follow-up is essential to effect real change.

 

Following these guidelines should lead to a constructive conversation and the development of a quality action plan. Keen to learn more? Positive People run a Performance Management module as part of our popular Leadership Development Program. Contact us today at info@positivepeople.co.nz or 09 445 1077 to discuss our group or individual training and development solutions.