Monday, August 30, 2010

The Seven Laws of an Effective Leader

1. Delegate don't dictate.
Assign tasks evenly amongst members of the team or committee, provide full explanations verbally and in writing, and provide deadlines for completion with follow-up dates built into the schedule.

2. Communicate don't confuse.
Fully explaining tasks will eliminate confusion down the road. Pay attention to non-verbal cues of confusion (raised eyebrows indicating a surprised look, blank stares, squinting eyes, etc.) this may be a sign that you need to provide additional information. Ask clarifying questions to ensure understanding.

3. Help don't hinder.
Be available to assist with tasks that have been assigned. There may be questions regarding procedures or some clarification needed, provide feedback and explanations; help the person understand what is expected of them and how the task can be completed.

4. Compliment and compensate.
Give compliments on a job well done to members of your team, co-workers, or colleagues. Thank them for their assistance. Compensate by giving rewards for their efforts and accomplishments; for example, publicly acknowledging people for their efforts in a team meeting is a form of compensation and builds loyalty amongst the team members.

5. Guide don't criticize.
Everyone makes mistakes. Guide your team members on the path to correct the errors and learn from them.

6. Prepare don't procrastinate.
Set deadlines and create check-lists and to-do lists and most importantly, stick to them! Procrastination is the root of all evil, team members will lose faith in your leadership, feel pressured, and will not give 110% due to negative experiences.

7. Be open to suggestions.
Letting team members know that you are open to suggestions builds confidence and trust and creates a comfort zone. Team members will be more open to voicing their thoughts and comments if there is a level of trust and comfort. Confident team members are more productive than intimidated or fearful team members.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Miscommunication, Misfiled, and Misplaced = Misrepresentation

A work day consists of filing, answering phones, greeting visitors, and a host of communication efforts with coworkers, supervisors, and customers, plus other duties and responsibilities that can get overwhelming. When we get distracted, it becomes easy to miss things. Here are a few tips to avoid missing items so that we are not misrepresented.

1. Miscommunication - Communicate effectively
Nine-tenths of the serious controversies which arise in life result from misunderstanding. Miscommunication consists of giving the wrong impression, not fully disclosing details, or not providing information at all. This is a common problem in the workplace and can create longterm problems. The best way to combat miscommunication is:

• Provide as much information as possible
• Make sure that you are understood
• Listen for feedback
• Look at non-verbal cues to ensure comprehension. For example, if you are speaking to someone and their eyes become widened, ask if they have any questions about what was discussed. This could mean that they are shocked, surprised, or confused. When there is a communication breakdown, address the issue immediately. This will eliminate problems later.

2. Misfiled - Get organized

Statistics show that we will touch the same piece of paper at least 21 times in a day. The best way to get organized is to start with your desk. How many piles of paper do you have on your desk that needs to be filed away? How many times do you search through those piles in an attempt to look for a document that isn’t there? Schedule time in the day to file documents or keep a pile of “frequently referred to” files on your desk for easy access.

3. Misplaced – Develop a system

Whether you are looking for a paper document or searching for an electronic file, developing an effective system will increase productivity and efficiency.

• Paper Documents
Use the color coded system for filing (ie. finances are green, vendor files are yellow, meetings are blue, etc.). Not only will this filing method allow you to locate files easily, it will be simple to file items away later, especially if the file drawer has multiple files. In any filing system, be sure to adhere to point #2 about getting organized and filing documents immediately so that your piles don’t grow piles!

• Electronic Files
Decide what needs to be retained and what can be deleted. Then determine what electronic file folder will store the document. If you are submitting a draft of a document to someone else for review or proofreading, include the file name and path at the bottom of the document so that it can be easily found at a later time. Another tip is to create a folder on the desktop entitled, “Today,” and all items worked on that day can be placed until they are finalized and can be stored in its respective folder. Be sure to delete it from the “Today” folder to eliminate duplicate documents.

You will spend most of your time in the workplace, practice effective communication, organization skills to empower you to be a productive employee.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Effectively Deal with Anger in the Workplace

JetBlue flight attendant, Steve Slater was fed up. He couldn’t contain his anger any longer and allowed a rude customer to enrage him to the point that he quit his job, but on the way out, he verbally displayed his anger, took some items from his place of employment, and left in an unorthodox way (as if his tactics for quitting weren’t unorthodox enough). Was there a better way to handle the situation? Yes! Here are four ways to handle a difficult person:

• Call for assistance.

The passenger clearly did not want to regard the rules of airline safety and Steve needed some additional help in getting his point across. He should have tried to call a fellow flight attendant to assist him with the difficult passenger. This would have provided Steve with backup from other co-workers, which would have relieved a level of stress because he would not have been the “lone ranger” in the incident.

• Think before you react.

Perhaps Steve really wanted to quit his job and this was a good time for him to do so. Now, what about the consequences? He has criminal charges pending, his professional reputation is scarred, and he is out of a job. If Steve had taken a moment or two to rethink his reaction he may still be employed.

• Remain professional.
Was it necessary for Steve to release his anger on the intercom system? What did other passengers think of his tirade? Maintaining a professional image means remaining tactful, cordial, and respectful to others. Releasing anger is therapeutic and relieves stress, there are other ways to effectively release anger such exercise or venting to a friend or yourself.

• Report the person and the problem immediately.

Steve already had a tough time in getting the passenger to comply with his requests, the insult to injury was literal; Steve was hit in the head by the passenger’s luggage. This incident should have been immediately reported to authorities and the problem and the passenger would have been dealt with accordingly.

Dealing with difficult people is a skill that requires patience, each situation means your reputation, career, and sanity are on the line. If the situation is beyond your control, seek help immediately before you have regrets later.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dealing with Workplace P.M.S. - Poor Management System

Do you feel as though your company does not value you as an employee? Does it seem like management does not support its employees by not offering incentives for growth and professional development? Or do you feel as though there is no room for advancement in your company? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be suffering from “workplace PMS.” P.M.S. or a Poor Management System is condition that embodies many companies due to economic times, change in company practices, and company personnel.

Workplace PMS is the worst pain to deal with because there is a systematic breakdown within the company that is usually accompanied by more than one symptom. The breakdown begins with management and has a trickle down effect that eventually causes all employees to feel the “aches” and “pains.” Here are some symptoms of workplace PMS:

• unresolved conflicts
• poor communication between management and employees
• lack of support from upper management
• low employee morale

First, you begin to feel inadequate and undervalued, then you begin to despise your job and the people you work with; eventually you feel as though you are just going to work to get a paycheck. If you are having any of these feelings, here are ways to cure workplace PMS and regain control of your worklife.

1. Let your voice be heard.
If you have a suggestion, voice it. If you have an idea on how to improve business practices or department procedures or tasks, tell your supervisor and be sure to put it in writing. Upper management are not the only ones with the ideas, they may be missing something because they cannot see what you see.

2. Show your worthiness.
Ask to work on a new project or volunteer to assist a colleague. Going the extra mile will show the company that you are capable of doing your share and then some. Give 110% and the Return on Investment will be double. Opportunities will arise and you will be regarded as an asset.

3. Remain positive in times of change.
Businesses change policies and procedures constantly. Showing resistance or negativity will make your job harder and ultimately upper management will see it. Keep a positive attitude when changes are implemented, when asked for feedback, give your honest feelings and be tactful, professional, and respectful.

4. Prove to management that their support is important.
If you want to take a course or attend a workshop and management is reluctant to pay for your professional development, outline the value and how it will benefit you as an employee. Provide specific details and objectives that align with the company’s objectives/goals/mission.

Workplace PMS surfaces regularly and stays around for a long time. Being able to effectively deal with a poor management system will make it easier to come to work and do your best. Don’t let workplace PMS control your worklife; you will feel better at the end of the day.

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