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Engage Employees for a Stronger Business

Employees are the fuel that runs your business. If you want your company to run well, you need to be able to recruit talented employees and keep them happy. And while this might seem like a significant investment of time and resources, it’s nothing compared to the cost of caustic employees and constant turnover. And if that’s not enough of a convincer, consider this: Companies with happy employees have happier customers.

Research found that engaged employees provide better experiences for clients and have 10 to 30% more client loyalty than those companies that don’t have engaged employees. And having engaged employees and loyal clients could seriously upgrade your business engine from Fiat to Ferrari. But you have to be committed.

Employee engagement programs are no small undertaking. Like anything else, you will need to put the work in if you want to reap the results. Experts agree that for employee engagement to have maximum impact, it shouldn’t just be a program run through your HR department. Instead, it needs to be integral to your core business strategy, with 100% buy-in from leadership. If you want to take your company to the next level, read on.

Employee wellbeing does not equal employee wellness

Frustrated, overworked employees will not give you their best and certainly don’t pass on happy feelings to clients. When your staff feels valued, cared for, and supported, they will share those positive feelings with you, your customers, and anyone else who will listen.

To build better workplace culture, you’ll need to implement policies and programs designed to help your employees achieve higher levels of work/life balance, satisfaction, and wellbeing. Yes, these programs can positively affect a company’s bottom line, as they often result in happier, refreshed employees who miss fewer days at work. But that shouldn’t be your only motivation. To be successful in your organization, you must have genuinely excited employees. This is where employee engagement can thrive.

Be careful not to confuse employee wellbeing with employee wellness. Wellness programs are great, but they often focus on health-related issues like increasing physical activity and promoting a smoke-free lifestyle. Wellbeing is a much more holistic approach that includes flexible schedules, relaxed dress codes, work-at-home options, personal career development, and professional mentoring.

Ask your employees what they need

How can you find out what your employees need? Ask them! There are many ways to do this: in one-on-one meetings, annual reviews, or tiny folded slips of paper in a super-secret suggestion box. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to gauge employee satisfaction and morale, try conducting a short survey. The following questions are examples of things you might incorporate into an employee survey:

  • Are you excited to come to work each day?
  • Do you tell people where you work?
  • Do you have all the tools you need to perform your job optimally?
  • Do you feel valued?
  • Does your management team inspire you?
  • If you could change one company policy, what would it be?

Talk about the results with your team

How often have you taken a survey, never to hear anything about it again? Sharing the results with your team promotes open communication and transparency. It will also let people know where they fit into the company culture. If only two people out of 1,000 said they want more rigid schedules and longer staff meetings, they’ll see they are in the minority. On the other hand, if 75% of staff wants a flexible PTO bank instead of separate vacation and sick days, that’s great information for everyone to know.

Use the information to make changes

The only thing worse than sending your feedback into an empty void is providing thoughtful feedback only to see everything stay the same as it was before. The whole point of conducting a survey is to let your employees know you are listening to them and that you care what they think. If nothing happens afterward, you’re sending the exact opposite message.

Do you have to implement every suggestion you get? Of course not. But you should provide information on policies you plan to change or implement based on employee feedback. Being honest and realistic about what will change and how fast it can happen is essential. Not all ideas will be feasible but choose the ones that make sense and communicate your plans as quickly and clearly as possible.

Employees are your foundation

Your employees are a highly critical part of your business. If you see them as individual production units rather than sales and service dynamos, idea generators, and brand ambassadors, it’s time to shake things up.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by fizkes

 

Strong Morale Means Strong Business

When employees thrive, the company thrives – making it critical that leaders put their people first. After all, people are at the heart of every organization!

Leaders who spend time boosting their employees’ spirits will lead a company to incredible growth, while others will experience the consequences of low morale. Take time to learn the causes of low employee morale before the effects catch up to you.

Why employee morale is important

Companies lose their edge by ignoring employee well-being, culture, and alignment. They often struggle to attract and retain top talent. At the same time, leaders that pay close attention to their employees’ well-being see them become more productive and engaged. These companies have the team spirit and engagement needed to persevere through times of struggle and major events.

Mineral’s recent study looked at the connection between morale and productivity throughout the pandemic. They found that companies with increased employee morale were 5.5x more likely to have increased productivity, and 83% of the companies reported increased revenue. Another study by Gallup showed that engagement increased profitability by 21%, decreased absenteeism by 41%, and lowered turnover by 59%.

Boosting employees’ attitudes is essential because companies will grow when employees’ spirits are lifted. But there is another reason why it is so important.

Ignoring low morale has consequences

Companies that ignore or wait too long to address low employee morale experience long-term problems that affect operations, performance, and growth. The most common problems include:

  • Loss of income ($350 billion annually!)
  • Decreased productivity
  • Chronic absenteeism
  • Increased conflicts at work
  • Higher turnover rates
  • Lack of talent retention
  • Poor brand image

When morale is low, it is time to make some changes.

Give employee morale a boost

The key to boosting employees’ morale is not to consider one-time solutions; you want to integrate permanent solutions into your company culture. Here are some of the best ways to boost and maintain employee morale:

  1. Create an open line of communication and feedback
  2. Build a culture of positive thinking
  3. Organize team-building activities
  4. Create an employee recognition program
  5. Give performance-based incentives
  6. Implement a health-and-wellness program (mental health too!)
  7. Encourage employee development

Another great way to boost employee well-being is by identifying the root cause and finding an appropriate solution. You can prioritize employee development if there is a lack of career advancement opportunities, or consider team building activities and adjusting employees’ workloads and schedules if there is worker burnout. Still, you must implement each method because each employee has a different need and experience.

By taking these steps, you will boost enthusiasm and engagement by facilitating clear feedback and communication, recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work, and continuously encouraging their development.

Time to thrive

Let’s be honest. The pandemic hit employees’ spirits hard, and there will always be another crisis or event that will do the same. The event could be major, minor, personal, or internal, so lean into the truth that companies’ growth depends on the well-being of their employees.

Find opportunities to help your employees thrive, and your company will too. Start today by reflecting on how you can boost morale, and you’ll see your team persevere and thrive.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by fizkes

Strengthening the Employee Holistically

Employees have lives and needs outside the workplace—needs beyond a paycheck and benefits. The needs were always there – what is trending is the conviction that if their current employer isn’t fulfilling their needs, they’ll leave their jobs to work for an employer that will.

Employers can see increased talent retention and performance by understanding the importance of employees’ holistic wellbeing and learning how to design a positive employee experience.

Think holistically and strengthen the employee experience

Employers need a deeper understanding of what employee needs look like and how they can help their employees outside the workplace. Supporting employees’ holistic wellbeing includes providing support in these key areas:

  • Physical health:  Level of illness, injury, preventative care, and general lifestyle.
  • Financial health: State of personal and family financial security.
  • Mental health:  Condition of psychological and emotional wellbeing.
  • Social health: The ability to form satisfying interpersonal relationships with others.

If you want to support your employees’ physical, mental, financial, and social health, you’ll need a compelling employee experience. According to Met Life’s recent study, there are five key areas that will contribute to a good experience:

Purposeful work

Purposeful work is a top driver for employee mental, social, and physical health. Employees are interested in their employers having a clear purpose and a positive impact, which significantly influences retention. People also want to feel valued at their organization, so it is not only about contributing to purposeful work but also being valuable.

Flexibility and work-life balance

Flexibility and work-life balance have become a priority. Seven in ten employees rank work-life management benefits and programs like flexible hours and financial allowance for their home office as their top needs. It’s essential to recognize that flexibility means different things to different people. The key factors include:

  • Where they work (remote, hybrid, in-person)
  • When they work (setting working hours and “protecting” pockets of time)
  • What they wear
  • How Paid Time Off (PTO) can be used

Employees who are satisfied with the flexibility their employers provide are twice as likely to stay with their current organization for as long as possible or until retirement, and 82 percent of employees feel mentally healthy. 

Social and supportive cultures

Strong cultures bring people together and increase social health, resilience, and loyalty. People thrive off their connections with others, but it takes strong leadership and managerial support to bring that culture to life. For instance, 77 percent of employees with supportive managers say they feel mentally healthy versus only 47 percent of workers who do not feel supported.

Career development and training

Employees are serious about growing and advancing their careers and are not afraid to seek employers that will support their careers. Job seekers look for roles that offer development, training, and advancement opportunities and see them as a must-have. The number of job seekers looking for jobs with those coveted benefits has grown by 8 percent since 2020; employers that offer these opportunities are more likely to have successful employees.

Wellness programs and benefits

Regarding mental health, wellness programs and benefits are the best route. This may include fertility benefits, parental leave policies, pet insurance, and employee-assisted programs (i.e., mental health counseling, legal support, and credit counseling). These benefits support the inner workings of employees’ personal lives, produce resilience, and improve overall mental health.

Why it matters

Employers face a tight labor market marked by declining job satisfaction and loyalty. Only 66 percent of employees say they are satisfied at their place of work (a 20-year low). If you’re thinking, “Well, I know my employees are loyal and satisfied,” be cautious. There is a significant gap in employer and employee perceptions. While 86 percent of employers believe their employees are loyal and satisfied: 

  • 55 percent of employees say their employer has their best interests in mind
  • 39 percent of employees would recommend their employer as a place to work
  • More employees are quitting their jobs to work for an employer that meets their needs

The same study found that holistically healthy employees are more likely to be satisfied with their current job, feel engaged and productive, and intend to stay with the company for at least 12 months. Understanding the value of supporting your people can make a huge difference.

Pursuing wellbeing is good business

It is safe to say that employees expect more support from their employers in many areas, at work and beyond. The good news? Positive wellbeing is good business.

Organizations that care for their employees’ wellbeing, offer compelling benefits, and provide an attractive employee experience will seize the win-win opportunity. They will attract talent that will enable the organization to perform at its highest level. After all, employees are more engaged, loyal, and productive when their needs are met.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by stockbroker

Make Your Company Irresistible

The pandemic changed the face and the culture of business. Along with this, hiring practices and office cultures were flipped on their ears. Employers must find ways to attract new hires and keep their current employees happy and fulfilled. While a good place to start, strategies such as adding more employee benefits and increasing pay are not enough.

To compete, workplaces need to be employers of choice, where everyone wants to work. And in a climate where there is a considerable transformation in business culture and structure, along with high employee turnover, the answer is clear.

Your company needs to be irresistible.

Give your business heart and soul

What is the big deal about being irresistible?

Research shows that being irresistible helps you outperform the competition in employee retention, better customer service, and long-term profitability. To be irresistible and to give your business heart and soul, surround your employees with the right mix of elements like the work itself, good leadership, opportunities for growth, a positive work environment, and trust.

Work that has value

Employees want to contribute to something larger than themselves. What employees value in work may vary, so it’s important to give them room to help contribute to and create space for differences in perspectives by:

  • Offering autonomy. When you give employees independence, or the freedom to “just be,” they can establish their work style within workplace boundaries and culture. Giving autonomy can spark new ways of thinking and working—and as a leader, you need to encourage and harness this individualism.
  • Putting people into empowered teams. This enables employees to interact directly with one another and form close relationships so they can develop trust, inclusivity, and mutual respect. This is good for a business’s bottom line and accommodates flexibility based on how the team prefers to work together and operate.

Good leadership

Leadership has a direct impact on the workplace culture. A seemingly weak leader or manager can be a barrier to good work. Being a strong leader takes self-awareness and practice, so to ensure you are an effective leader:

Growth opportunities

Employees want to grow and advance. One of the best ways to address this is to offer training and support through formal means, like courses and training programs, and informal means, such as check-ins and offering help when needed. You can also give employees the freedom to try new things in their role (or move to a completely different position, if appropriate), have them direct their own learning, and tie learning to cross-training and problem-solving.

Positive work environment

Employees do their best work when they feel free to be themselves. Offer a flexible and inclusive workplace if you want your employees to be engaged at work. Since employees have fast-paced and busy lives, offering the ability to flex and shape their schedules is a major way of making your workplace irresistible.

Give employees flexibility regarding what hours/days they work and how to approach their assignments. Also, give them recognition for their work, and make sure your workplace is humanistic (and helps employees fit their work into their lives) by making it fair, inclusive, and diverse—teams with inclusive cultures outperform others by 80%.

Trust

When you cultivate your leadership skills, it pays off in the form of trust. And this trust leads to your company’s success. How can you instill trust?

  • Communicate a sense of mission and purpose. When companies define success through the eyes of those they serve, your employees take this to heart and use this to further drive success.
  • Act with transparency. Don’t hide the truth about your company from your employees. For example, you must inform your employees if there are bad quarterly earnings or a security/data breach. It will pay off in the long run.
  • Focus on inspiration. Inspire them with your words and actions. Talk about the future, tell your company’s story, and share the vision and what it means. Ask your employees to share what the vision means to them as well. They will get on board and give you their best if they believe in your vision.

Be the place everyone wants to work

You don’t want to be the business that always scrambles to fill open positions—you want to be the business where everyone wants to work. So take the initiative and begin building up the different aspects of your business—ask yourself if you’re meeting expectations or letting employees down, and take action. The best, most successful companies treat themselves as constant works-in-progress, so there is never a time when you shouldn’t be thinking about how you might improve your employee’s experience. The more committed you are to it, the better off your company—and your employees—will be.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
Photo by gajus

How to Integrate and Lead Your Generation Z Employees

The workforce is changing rapidly– Baby Boomers are passing the torch to Generation X, Millennials are growing their skillsets and confidence, and Generation Z is entering the workforce. Now employers need to rethink how they can lead a multi-generational team as they experience one of the workforce’s most significant shifts.

As Gen Z enters the workforce, it’s important to understand how to integrate them into the team and effectively lead them. Understanding the characteristics that drive Gen Z and learning the best practices for leading a multi-generational team fosters shared respect, collaboration, and trust.

Gen Z characteristics

Every generation experienced significant events during their formative years. Baby Boomers grew up during revolutionary movements and became change agents, Gen Xers grew up with different family structures making them independent and self-reliant, and Millennials grew up hearing about terrorism and multiculturalism, creating a concern for safety and diversity. 

These life experiences influence how each generation sees the world and what drives their values and characteristics in the workplace. The common values, characteristics, and work styles found in Gen Z include:

  • Values: Gen Zers’ value connections, equality, and diversity. These values have made Gen Zers value personalization and freedom of expression because they want to be taken seriously and protect what they care about. 
  • Characteristics: Gen Zers are connected, diverse, personal, pragmatic, resilient, and resourceful. They are extremely connected because of their access to advanced technology. You’ll also find this generation more politically progressive and financially conscious because they grew up with Millennials’ progressiveness and saw their parents’ struggles during the Great Recession.
  • Communication and management styles: When it comes to Gen Z in the workplace, they tend to like a technologically driven atmosphere, automated processes, tasks over teams, financial security over personal fulfillment, and prefer video and images rather than big blocks of text.

Best practices for leading Generation Z

The members of Generation Z are entering the workforce and aren’t going anywhere. Gen Zers have a lot of potential in their future, and leaders can tap into their talent by effectively leading them on their path to growth. Here are common practices and tips for managing Generation Z:

Support their authentic selves

Gen Zers want to work for a company where they have opportunities to grow and develop and will choose a company that supports them in being their authentic selves. If they do not get these opportunities, they will go elsewhere– leaving the company with higher turnover. Consider offering Gen Zers professional development plans and mentorship that challenges and develops them individually and personally.

Demonstrate a societal impact

Leaders must demonstrate how the organization impacts society. Gen Z is progressive and eager to make the world a better place, wants leaders to be transparent, and wants to work for a company that thinks about the bigger picture. Consider letting them in on the company’s inner workings, listening to their ideas, and creating a culture of purpose. When companies contribute to society, they attract young talent, increase employee engagement, and bring in new clients and consumers who share this Gen Z value.

Give them opportunities to learn and share wisdom

Gen Z craves knowledge and experience and wants to apply their knowledge everywhere they go. Consider engaging them in stretch assignments (a project or task beyond their skill level). These assignments will stretch them developmentally by challenging them. Before you know it, you’ll see Gen Zers applying their new growth and knowledge at work.

Care for their holistic well-being

Gen Z is known for its stance on diversity, career advancement, and values. They expect more from their employers than any other generation, so nurture them! Give your Gen Z employees more responsibilities. Make your stances on diversity known. Make your company values known—and practice what you preach. Gen Zers, when happy, are loyal, committed, and will go out of their way to support the company’s vision and goals.

Leading a multi-generational team

Leading a multi-generational team is easier said than done. Luckily, there are tips and tools that leaders can practice to secure an effective team in a positive work environment:

  1. Establish trust and open communication. When managers know their employees and genuinely understand their values and work preferences, they can figure out the best way to communicate and foster mutual trust– leading to higher performance and better results.
  2. Consider team tools to gain insight, such as Myers Briggs, Kolbe, or StrengthsFinder, and share the results with the team to help members better understand and work with each other.
  3. Build empathy with your employees and tweak your management style to align with their communication and management styles.
  4. Integrate a generational component to your onboarding by teaching people the generational expectations around workplace etiquette, such as communication, collaboration, formality, and work ethic. By doing this, you highlight ways to draw from each other’s similarities and set the foundation for new employees to start building work relationships.

Differences are okay!

Older generations must understand how to lead younger generations because their values and priorities at work differ. Perhaps you’re a self-reliant and independent Gen Xer and get irritated by Millennials’ constant need to collaborate, or you’re a Baby Boomer who values the chain of command and feels disrespected by Gen Zers’ outspokenness.

Here’s the thing– being different is okay! The qualities that make each generation different are the same qualities a company needs to flourish. If every team member were the same, things would turn stagnant. Leaders and employees alike need to consider how their differences can complement each other and how they can combat the tension through empathy and mutual respect.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by alphaspirit

Too Many Meetings: How to Meet With Intention and Purpose

Meetings are an important and necessary part of working in a team environment. But if you find yourself staring at the calendar and gritting your teeth at the number of meetings scheduled, you have crossed over into the realm of “too many meetings.”

In the US, 55 million meetings are held every week. Of these meetings, 71% are considered unproductive. And on top of it all, Zoom fatigue is a thing, which is burnout from having too many virtual meetings.

Meet with intention and purpose, and gain time back in your day with these tips.

Come into meetings with an agenda

Agendas help establish the goals and objectives of the meeting. If you can’t think of any goals or objectives, chances are it’s a meeting you can cancel. Prepare the agenda a few days in advance and send it to the participants, so they have a chance to look it over and prepare any questions, thoughts, or materials for the conversation.

Schedule shorter meetings

If you’ve scheduled a 30-minute meeting and covered all you needed to talk about in 15 minutes, there’s no law saying you must sit around twiddling your thumbs for the remaining 15 minutes. Once you’re finished, end the meeting early. Experiment with making meetings under 20 minutes—enough time to cover your agenda but short enough to maintain attention and not interfere too much with your team’s schedule.

Make meeting attendance optional

Meetings need to have value to those attending. When scheduling a meeting, ensure that only the people who need to be there are there. Otherwise, discussions could get too far off track or people attending are wasting their time in irrelevant conversations. Any team members who don’t need to be at the meeting should be told that the meeting is optional, and if necessary, you can send out notes to people who don’t attend.

Encourage scheduling “meeting-free” times

When people have blocks of uninterrupted time to complete tasks, they are at their most productive. Encourage your employees to schedule “no meeting” times on their calendars. Multitasking is a myth; our brains cannot focus on more than one task at a time. Having meeting-free times and blocks of uninterrupted time to focus on tasks helps employees get more done; which, in turn, helps your business and your employees’ mental health.

Embrace asynchronicity

When a meeting is synchronous, it means everyone needs to be at the meeting at the same time—examples are in-person, over the phone, and Zoom meetings. But what if you have a team that spans multiple time zones, or even multiple countries? In this case, try the opposite and embrace asynchronicity.

Asynchronous meetings take place solely through communication tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams. These kinds of meetings allow people to communicate on their schedule, ask questions, and absorb information at their own pace.

Transition daily huddle meetings to electronic tools

Often, companies hold short sprints or daily meetings. These meetings are usually reserved for checking in with employees and how they’re doing with their goals or projects. Try this experiment: set up a channel in your Slack or Teams channel as a “daily meeting” channel. Send a message, such as: “@everyone, what is on your agenda today?” Or you can include a “daily agenda” section in your project management software that asks team members the same question.

These electronic interactions can save time. If employees have a question, they can drop you a message instead of scheduling a block of meeting time with you.

Use other methods of presentation

 Consider if the information you need to talk about can be presented to your colleagues differently, such as via video, PowerPoint, or email. If so, either make a video or PowerPoint or send your colleagues an email with the information that would have been covered in the meeting.

Make meetings intentional

Meetings enable collaboration, creativity, and innovation and foster company culture. But having too many meetings can cost time and money for you, your employees, and your business, creating more problems than benefits. Give all of your meetings intention and purpose and help your team gain back the time you need.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by petrovichvadim

5 Keys to Changing Your Company Culture

Is your company culture falling short of your original vision? Do you wish your organization was more exciting to current staff and enticing for future employees? 

Maybe you should do a little culture check-in.  

Here’s a five-step self-assessment exercise you can use to gauge the status of your current culture and what kind of work it will take to get it where you want it to be. 

Company values 

Values are one of those ideas that might make some people roll their eyes. But a company without values is a company with no soul. And no consistency. Having clearly defined values will help guide your organizational decision-making and behaviors in the right direction. 

Everyone has their own set of values they use to drive decision-making and behaviors. And regardless of how great your people are, if each person is using individual values to make decisions, you will create a disparate experience at best.  

Questions to ask: Have we defined our values as an organization? Are they documented and accessible? How often do we talk about them with the team? Does everyone understand what they are, why they’re important, and how to make decisions based on them?  

Organizational vision  

Owners and leaders need to have a detailed (and united!) vision of the company they strive to be. This is especially true during times of crisis and/or change. A vision isn’t a pretty statement to be framed and hung on the wall but a detailed description of the resources, skills, behaviors, and results necessary for success.  

But simply having a vision isn’t enough. There must also be a plan to achieve it. And everyone needs to understand the vision and the plan to create the culture reality.  

Questions to ask: What do we want our company to look like in three years? Have we documented this? What is our plan for executing these ideas? How are we communicating it to our team? Is everyone actively participating in helping achieve the vision? How often are we returning to review our plans?  

Performance coaching  

People will usually perform to the level of expectations you have for them. If you set mediocre standards, you’ll get mediocre results. But when you regularly work with people to strive for improvement and offer consistent coaching and mentoring, their level of performance will consistently rise. Look at your expectations and accountability levels and where they need to be.  

Questions to ask: How are we managing the performance of each person on our team? What processes have we established? How consistently are we using our processes to help our team members improve their roles? Have we clearly defined roles and expectations? How are we measuring success and holding people accountable? What resources are we providing our employees to help them stay accountable? 

Personal development  

In high-performance organizations, having employees with the skills to innovate and lead is imperative. You can be on a merry-go-round of continuously hiring new people to fill in gaps you may have, or you take the time to identify the skills you need and train your current team to be prepared with new capabilities. One method will go a long way to developing a positive team culture. The other? Not so much.  

Questions to ask: What training and/or personal development are we providing our team members? For leadership? What future areas have we identified where we will need improved or different skills from what we currently have? How are we working to uncover potential and develop inside talent? 

Organizational trust  

When your employees truly believe in the sincerity of their leaders and trust your words and actions, the organizational culture you’ve built will be able to move and adapt more quickly. Organizations with high trust consistently outperform the competition because people don’t waste time questioning motivations and speculating about hidden agendas. Organizations with high trust also enjoy higher levels of employee engagement, productivity, and morale.  

Questions to ask: What is the level of trust among our team? Do they trust each other? Their supervisors? Company leaders? Do departments work together or in silos? Does management trust their teams and empower them to take ownership of their work? 

After the assessment 

Depending on how you answered the above questions, you could have a little or a lot of work to do moving forward.  

If your culture is mostly where you want it, look for ways to enhance and communicate what you already have. Complacency is the enemy of great culture. Ensure the vision and messages are clear and the commitment to them is evident. 

If your culture seems less than stellar, it’s time to get to work. Culture starts at the top, and so should you. Get your leadership team together to define what values drive your organizational beliefs. Then decide how you’re going to live those values through your behaviors.  

Once you’ve created the vision, start working on plans for communication and execution. This is one case where an outside expert can provide a lot of value. Being ingrained in your organization can color your vision and make these processes more difficult. Having a facilitator/mediator who can help you find clarity, stay focused, and keep things on track is also helpful. 

If you’ve done the exercise and feel tempted to simply ignore any red flags, you’re not alone. Many businesses are doing exactly that, despite knowing they have issues. But believe it or not, this is the more difficult route. Over time, your culture will deteriorate to the point where it will require exponentially more work to dig yourself out. And that’s no fun for anyone. 

Commit to creating the remarkable organization you envision. Your team, your business, and your customers will thank you for it.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by rawpixel

 

Why Self-Reflection Matters in Leadership

Leadership comes with great responsibility, and great responsibility calls for regular reflection upon who you are as a leader, how you are developing, and your impact on the organization.

Regular periods of self-reflection are needed to ensure that you are heading in the right direction regarding empowering your people, making progress towards your vision, and creating a sustainable legacy over the long term.

Asking purposeful questions that challenge you and get to the heart of what it means to be a leader can uncover how well you measure up and highlight areas for self-improvement.

Has my “Why” evolved since I started?

Change is constant and inescapable. Processes, plans, goals, and even team members will change or evolve over time. Your ‘Why’ is what drives your emotions, actions, and behaviors. It’s the key to unlocking the purpose that leads your organization and the foundation upon which everything is built. Every decision you make is influenced by your purpose, which is why it’s crucial to reflect on it regularly.

Ask yourself, “Is the ‘why’ of what I’m doing the same as it was when I started?” If your ‘why’ has shifted, then you may have strayed from your values or vision. If that’s the case, it’s time to strategize to ensure a successful re-alignment, so your purpose continues to drive your organization. If you want to inspire people to get behind your purpose and vision, they need to believe in what you believe in.

Am I developing as a leader?

There are no perfect leaders. If there were, they wouldn’t need followers. So if you think you have it all figured out and that you’re at the pinnacle level of leadership, then reflect on how you’re developing. Leaders who value continuous development, and who remain agile and curious are capable of adapting to the most significant and unexpected challenges.

Contemplate how you’re developing. If your list is limited, explore opportunities that will help you grow and develop your skills as a leader in your organization.

Am I as accessible as I can be?

Take a moment to reflect on this question.

Did you think of physical availability? Perhaps, you considered yourself available because you have an “open-door policy” or a “virtual communication policy” if you’re remote. If so, you need to differentiate physical availability and accessibility.

Accessibility goes beyond physical availability because it’s everything that happens the moment someone walks in your door and your accountability that follows. Now reflect on this question again and ask yourself:

  • Does the culture I created encourage people to talk to me?
  • Am I providing enough support?
  • Am I actively listening to others’ input? 
  • Do I consistently follow up with people?
  • Do I show genuine appreciation and gratitude for my team members?

If you encourage your team to share their input and ideas because you read in an article that you should, ask yourself if you’re genuine. In the case of leadership, actions speak louder than words.

Do I seek enough feedback?

Countless people avoid feedback because they worry it may bruise the ego or harm their self-confidence, but as the saying goes – no pain, no gain. One of the bravest acts you can perform is to explore honest and constructive feedback on your performance as a leader. You can do this during team performance reviews or one-to-one employee check-ins.

Embrace the discomfort and seek out suggestions on how you can improve and support your team. Just as you would follow up with someone on their need to be accessible, It’s critical you follow through and integrate feedback for it to make a meaningful impact. Take this feedback, reflect on it some more, and embrace how you can grow as a leader.

Self-reflection translates into a powerful organization

Just as leaders expect certain standards from their people, their role as a leader holds them to greater standards.

Dedicating time to self-reflection fosters self-awareness and helps leaders ensure they’re holding themselves to this greater standard and walking on the path they paved.

Regardless of whether you’re a leader, manager, or team member, asking these questions can help you boost your strengths, emotional intelligence, and integrity, and can make any necessary improvements that will enhance your ability to be of greater service and benefit to yourself as well as others.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by peshkov

Cultivate a Culture of Peer Recognition

Employee recognition is essential – true, but what about peer recognition?

Too many organizations rely on recognition to flow downwards, trusting their managers will see their employees’ accomplishments and voice appreciation. When leaders are the only ones practicing recognition, there’s a lot of great work that goes unnoticed. If appreciation is the most important job element for employees, why leave it to only the leaders? Peer recognition allows appreciation and gratitude to flow in all directions – across departments and locations, and even upwards.

Start cultivating a culture of peer recognition by understanding the importance, benefits, and tips to facilitate recognition in your organization.

Importance of peer recognition

There’s no need to abandon traditional top-down recognition – employees value appreciation from leadership. Instead, complement it with peer recognition because this newer, more collaborative approach has different benefits that help individuals and organizations thrive. The most common benefits are that peer recognition:

Strengthens teams and relationships

When people rely on top-down recognition, it creates a competitive environment. On the other hand, peer acknowledgment fosters a sense of team spirit and cooperation that increases the probability of a constructive team culture by 2.5x! The shared gratitude sets a positive attitude for the company culture, encouraging everyone to work together and achieve company goals.

Improves confidence and self-esteem

When employees receive feedback from a fellow team member, it holds an increased level of validation and pride. They recognize their worth and impact, boosting confidence and self-esteem in later projects. Public recognition also allows leaders to see what they may have been missing and enhance the value of each of their employees’ skills and abilities. The cycle of positivity sustains confidence and produces high-performance teams.

Increases positive emotions and well-being

Peer recognition and gratitude are regularly associated with happiness. So it makes sense that it’s one of the simplest ways to make employees happy, optimistic, and satisfied at work.

The positive emotions affect people’s work lives and also enhance their well-being because happiness increases health. You’ll notice employees have better physical health, sleep better, and feel less stressed.

These benefits help organizations thrive because employees become more engaged, productive, present, and efficient. Most importantly, peer recognition leads to satisfaction and can help reduce employee turnover, as 75% of people say that recognition makes them want to stay at their current job longer.

Create a culture of peer recognition

Companies need to cultivate a culture that values and encourages employees to practice peer recognition if they want to experience the benefits. First, consider setting guidelines for giving praise and then implement a peer recognition program that reflects these guidelines. This could be a platform, such as Slack or Teams, specifically designed to assist peers with giving and receiving recognition or feedback.

Companies can also encourage employees to recognize others through LinkedIn endorsements. Let’s say a team works well together; they can go to each other’s profiles and validate the skills listed by “endorsing,” writing a recommendation, or using the “Celebrate an occasion” option when creating a new post. These are quick and simple steps that show appreciation and can help an employee in their career path.

Leaders should also engage in the peer recognition program’s celebrations because they provide important validation and show that the company cares when they’re involved. Leaders’ involvement is a great way to remind team members of the value and impact they can make when they recognize their peers.

Tips to apply

Recognition and appreciation don’t come easily to everyone. Some people may be “recognition champions,” while others need to be coached on how to give recognition effectively. You can help guide your team by sharing and modeling these best practices for giving recognition:

Timely: One golden rule for recognition is to share appreciation as soon as possible. Effective recognizers don’t sit on it for weeks; they observe and congratulate others right away. Praising someone in the moment is powerful because it shows that you’re paying attention and care.

Genuine: Adding scheduled recognition to your calendar becomes a transaction or chore. Recognition should be authentically earned and given, not something to check off your to-do list. Genuine gratitude makes sharing more effortless, and people will notice your sincerity. 

Specific: A simple note saying, “Great job on that project!” can make a person smile. What if you were more specific and said how they did a great job? You’ll put a smile on their face for days! A helpful tip is to connect their success with why it matters to you, the team, and the organization. The more specific, the more impactful the message will be.

Public: Peer recognition is best when done publicly. You can do this within a department, team, or across the company. The public spotlight turns the moment into a heartfelt experience of gratitude and encourages others to hop on the bandwagon. It also helps leaders be aware of the great work they can’t see every day and shows others what the company values, inspiring them to do the same.

Help people and company culture thrive

Leaders cannot do and see everything, especially when the company is growing and expanding. This makes it even more important to emphasize peer recognition in their company cultures. Recognition is not only your responsibility—it’s a gift to share and encourage throughout an organization.

When companies practice peer recognition, everyone is more aware of the great work around them. Feedback starts to flow freely throughout the organization, and the atmosphere of gratitude and appreciation creates a transformation. People begin giving themselves wholeheartedly, freely, and cheerfully.

Consider finding ways to weave recognition into the fabric of your organization and be ready to see a snowball of benefits that help individuals and the organization thrive!

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by fizkes

Be A Self-Aware Leader in the Face of Stress

We’ve all felt the pressure of heavy deadlines and important projects pulling our attention in too many directions. An entirely stress-free workplace doesn’t exist, so how do we set our organizations up to best handle the inevitable stress that’s bound to affect your team? One of the biggest barriers that prevent regular stress from becoming a driver of burnout is company culture. A strong culture will subtly work to create an environment where employees can handle stress in a healthy, sustainable way.

This type of company culture comes directly from leadership and is nurtured, maintained, and fiercely protected by everyone in a leadership position. Without leaders’ support and constant attention, the culture will waver and fade. It’s not that individual employees don’t play significant roles in protecting, promoting, and creating a positive culture, but their tone and approach only affect them and those closest to them—not an entire team or organization.

Leaders must be especially aware of their responses to stress because their reactions and approach will set the tone for everything.

The attitude trickle-down effect

 

Whether we like to admit it or not, employees must be constantly attuned to their direct manager—interpreting signals, communication, and behavior to ensure they’re meeting expectations. It isn’t the most comfortable thing to admit, but it’s true. It’s built into the social structure of our organizations. Whether they like it or not, leaders within organizations have a much more significant impact than simply helping their team meet deadlines.

The way leaders manage stress will be directly reflected in their team’s behavior. We naturally pick up on the energy of those leading us—it tells us whether we need to be rushing or taking our time. It sets the tone for how we feel about our tasks and how we approach them.

If leaders are responding to stress by:

  • Becoming accusatory and looking to place blame on others
  • Cutting people off and rushing communication
  • Micromanaging other peoples’ responsibilities
  • Working extreme hours
  • Becoming scattered and disorganized

Then their team will begin to respond to stress in the same way.

The harder it is to do, the more important it is to do it


No one is perfect, and leaders are no exception. They must learn to navigate their own unhealthy tendencies while continuing to be strong leaders for their teams. That means cultivating self-awareness and tools and resources to lean on to help them maintain a healthy leadership style in stressful situations.

The harder it is to maintain healthy responses to stress, the more critical it is to do so. Because if it’s stressful for the leader, you had better believe it’s stressful for the team. And when a leader poorly responds to stress, the team is forced to deal with the added and unnecessary burden of their leader’s stress on top of what stress is already there.

As leaders—and anyone for that matter—it can be helpful to practice some techniques to help catch themselves before they fall into unhealthy stress responses.

  • Check in with yourself. Use a mindfulness practice like journaling or daily self check-ins to keep track of your emotional pulse. The faster you can identify that you’re feeling stressed, the easier it is to remind yourself of the tools and resources you have access to.
  • Communicate with consistency. Set boundaries around how and when you communicate. Avoid communicating in the middle of the night and during personal time. If you find that you’re compelled to do so, ask yourself if it’s going to help or if it’s just your stress making you feel like it will help.
  • Pause before getting involved. If you feel compelled to check over someone’s work or ask them how things are going, slow down and ask yourself if it’s for a good reason. Stress can often trigger us to want to control or take over a situation, even if capable people are already on it.

Be consistent

As leaders, it is crucial to have the self-awareness to realize when we are exhibiting signs of stress and take steps to manage it appropriately. Sometimes we make mistakes, and it’s just as important to take responsibility for them after the fact as trying to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Knowing yourself and your tendencies is the first step to appropriately responding to stress. A cool, calm, and collected leader generates a balanced and sustainable workplace that can handle obstacles and challenges with confidence.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by ammentorp