Posts

Time Management? Try Energy Management

Have you ever heard of the spoons theory?

Though it is popular among people with chronic illnesses, such as arthritis or multiple sclerosis, it can apply to anyone. With the spoon theory, energy is related to spoons, and everyone gets a certain number of “spoons” daily. Some tasks take more spoons, and others take fewer spoons. Once you’re out of “spoons,” you’re out of energy and have no more to give to people or tasks.

In our world of go go go, people tend to cut out sleep. They stay up late and get up early. They work over 40 hours a week and work 12-to-14-hour days. By the time they get home, they are exhausted and maybe have time to eat dinner, shower, and get a few hours of sleep before getting up and doing it all over again. People go into the next day (and the day after that) with fewer spoons.

There has to be a better way

Time is a finite resource—it has a limit. Once it’s gone, you cannot get it back. So we do more to try and manage time by working longer hours to get everything done. And working longer hours does nothing other than deplete your physical, mental, and emotional energy and lead to burnout. 52% of employees feel burnt out.

But what about energy? Energy is an infinite resource, which means it can be replenished. Instead of managing work-life around a clock or a calendar, why not manage it around energy?

Energy management has always been a thing

Managing time means dividing the workday into tasks and determining how much time is needed to complete those tasks. Time management, however, doesn’t factor in the need to recharge because some tasks might need more physical, mental, or emotional energy than others.

How can you and your employees replenish energy and give yourselves more spoons so you can be more present and focused?

Pay attention to your attention

Some like to be powerhouses and to work through the day without ever taking a break. When working, pay attention to your attention. When it seems to drift, or you find yourself feeling tired or hungry, take that as your cue to stop what you’re doing. Take a walk, get a snack or some lunch, or do some meditation. The key point here is to step away from the desk or the screen—your work will still be there when you get back.

Throw away the idea of multitasking

 As mentioned in previous blogs, multitasking is a myth. Brains cannot focus on more than one task at a time; the more we focus on, the faster our energy is depleted. Give yourself time to focus on a task that allows your brain to relax while focusing on a single activity. Fit no-electronics time into your day and do something like pick a favorite book off your bookshelf and read.

Eat well, exercise, and rest

These health and wellness facts might surprise you: 

Instead of succumbing to the urge to sleep less, eat a lot of junk food, and sit down for hours on end, structure good sleep into your night and movement in your day. Make time to exercise, get up and move around, and make time for some “you time,” where you relax and enjoy a hobby. Your energy reserves will replenish, and your body will thank you.

Set your boundaries

Create boundaries for how much you want to get done in a day. If, for instance, you are a content writer and you find writing blogs to be particularly draining, set reasonable expectations for what else you’ll accomplish on days when you write blogs. You can adjust boundaries as needed.

Gain more energy in your days – and more spoons

You want to end the day with some energy and spoons left in your mental drawer. Rethink the idea of time management, and instead of structuring tasks around the time it takes to complete them, structure tasks around your energy—and encourage your employees to do the same.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by piksel

What is Leftover Toxicity, and Why Should You Care?

A toxic work environment can hit any business with lethal force, driving up turnover rates, reducing productivity, and damaging reputation. Despite our best effort, toxic behaviors can often creep into our teams unnoticed. They can be subtle—even unintentional—but their existence will only solidify if they aren’t addressed. One of the most impactful things you can do to maintain a positive company culture and work environment is to address it consistently.

A genuinely excellent company culture is a bit of a rare thing. Most people have worked in environments where they were expected to show up sick, work long hours, never call out, and bend over backward to please a cranky manager. It’s even more common in specific industries.

The service industry is a perfect example of an industry that often relies on employees sacrificing their health and well-being to save their jobs. If an employee calls out sick even once, they can seriously damage their standing at work. Not only do their coworkers resent them for having to cover a shift, but their boss begrudges having to make last-minute calls to employees who weren’t supposed to work that day.

Bringing old baggage

Now consider a new hire who just came from that work environment. While their personality might be fantastic, they may have leftover baggage in the form of toxic behaviors they developed to succeed in their last position. So, what happens to these behaviors when that person gets hired at a new company? They don’t go away. While the person might have left the toxic environment, the behaviors they developed to succeed there can linger. And sooner or later, those behaviors will affect the rest of your team.

Despite a person’s best intentions, leftover toxic behaviors can significantly affect their approach to their job. Whether they developed these behaviors at their last company or whether they developed them while growing up in their family, it can be hard to rid oneself of them once they’ve been ingrained.

Here are examples of common behaviors stemming from leftover toxicity:

  • Showing up to work when sick
  • Working long hours unnecessarily
  • Making excuses for not responding right away to an email or communication
  • Not using allotted PTO
  • Scrambling to come up with answers when a simple “I don’t know” or “I can find out” would suffice
  • Bragging about how busy they are

This pattern of behaviors and beliefs stems from a desire to survive. The key is to help people recreate their understanding of what it takes to survive and thrive in their new environment.

Build a communal vision

Ask your employees to describe what a positive workplace environment looks like. Encourage them to get specific. Together, paint a picture of this positive workplace. How would people be recognized for their work? What type of boundaries would there be to protect their well-being? Ask them to discuss past work experiences they disliked and uncover what went wrong. Then ask how they would have improved the situation. Ask them what behaviors they would avoid.

By helping them put a voice to their desired work environment, you can help them build self-awareness around those behaviors that reflect a poor work environment. The leftover behaviors they’ve been carrying around will become easier to identify and halt.

Always respond

Even with the best intentions and heightened awareness, some may still struggle to let go of their toxic behaviors. When this happens, leaders must know how to respond and redirect the employee. The components that make up a positive work environment must constantly be reinforced.

  • Boundaries to protect work-life balance
  • Clear expectations around communication
  • Reasonable deadlines and manageable workloads
  • Psychological safety
  • Prioritized employee wellness

If an employee talks about how late they worked into the night, avoid praising them for overworking themselves. Instead, find time to ask them if they have too much on their plate or if they need help with their work. Remind them that working late consistently isn’t expected, nor will it help them advance in their career. Remind them that a well-rested employee with a strong work-life balance is more productive and valuable than a tired, burned-out employee. Take note of who they were talking to and reinforce that message to them as well.

The key is consistently showing up in the face of toxic behaviors with a response. As your team sees how you respond to toxicity, they will develop new behaviors that help them survive and thrive in a positive environment.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by pressmaster

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

The Student Becomes the Teacher: Mentoring and Mentorship

There is no such thing as a solo journey in life. We receive assistance along the way from our parents, friends, teachers, and coaches. And when we reach the professional stage in our lives, mentors like coworkers and bosses help us succeed. 

As we progress in our careers, we may be asked to mentor others, but it may be intimidating to take the role, whether it occurs during employee orientation or throughout an employee’s tenure. Sometimes we don’t know what to say, what to do, or how to ensure employees understand their roles.  

Moving from student to teacher 

At many points in our lives, we are students. Being a mentor moves us from the role of student to teacher and trusted advisor. As a mentor, we act as a guide for a person (a mentee) in their career. We answer their questions, offer advice, provide resources, and brainstorm solutions to whatever problems they might face. In turn, the mentee gains confidence and feels secure knowing they have someone to turn to if they have any questions or concerns. 

But what makes a good mentor? How can we be good mentors? 

Practice clear communication and listening 

Being a mentor doesn’t mean interrupting people or talking over them. Great mentors establish guidelines for the mentor/mentee relationship and understand what you both want—and need—out of the relationship. For instance: 

  • Do they want support and advice? 
  • What goals do they have? 
  • What do they want to learn? How can you help fill in the gaps? 
  • What kinds of resources will help them get closer to their goals? 

You’re the expert in your position, and you should help your mentee learn about their role, not do it for them. As a mentor, you’re the coach, standing off the field, and your mentee is the person holding the ball and executing the plays. Be a listener—better yet, be an active listener. Any concerns or problems your mentee has, validate them. For example, if they’re having problems keeping up with multiple tasks and the pressure that comes with them, make them feel heard. Then, work with them to devise a solution. Once they feel confident knowing they can come to you about anything, they will feel comfortable with taking on more challenging tasks. 

Give constructive feedback 

Mentees are still learning about themselves and their career. One of the most effective ways to offer constructive feedback is to be honest. Openness about your struggles and what you’ve learned along the way lets them know their struggles are valid, builds trust, and strengthens your bond.  

See them as a person 

You may work closely with your mentee and know their goals and aspirations and what they need to succeed on the job—but do you know what makes them tick? What about their life outside of work? Their hobbies? What do they like to do on the weekends? Getting to know them personally contributes toward building a solid relationship and understanding who they are. 

Celebrate their successes 

Mentorships and the conversations that come out of them can often revolve around problems and how to solve them. But what about when your mentees do well or achieve workplace success? Congratulate them! Don’t hold back. Let them know that they did a good job and why they did a good job. 

Have good character  

The saying goes, “Character is who you are when no one is watching.” Your mentee learns from watching you and your actions, whether you realize it or not. They see how you communicate with others and how you handle workplace stress. Make sure you show character by how you handle situations; show them they have a choice regarding how they react. On the flip side, tell them what actions you took to achieve that outcome and display humility when things turn out well. 

Know what you’re getting into 

Mentorship is a rewarding task to take on, but approach it as something you want to do rather than as a task to check off on your to-do list. Being a mentor takes practice and patience, but the more you work with your mentee, the more you’ll learn about them as a person both in and outside the workplace—and it will be a rewarding experience for both you and them. 

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by kasto

Want to Maximize Your Marketing? Use These Marketing Statistics

When you’re running a business or leading a team, it can be difficult to know where to focus your attention because everything feels important. That’s why making data-based decisions around where and how you spend your energy is important—it removes the guesswork. It creates clarity around where your time and energy will result in the biggest impact and generate the most value for your company.

In this blog, we’ll look at a few statistics and break down what we can take away from them so you can spend your precious time and energy where it counts the most.

  1. 54% of decision-makers say they spend more than one hour per week reading and reviewing thought-leadership content. (Edelman/LinkedIn 2021)

Creating content is time-consuming; thus, using data to help you make decisions around the most effective content to create is your best solution to optimizing your effort and time. This stat tells us that the people you care about the most (the decision makers behind who’s going to buy your product) are taking the time to read content that educates them. If you prioritize writing content, such as blogs, that focuses on educating people and solving their problems, you’re more likely to get your brand and organization in front of potential customers.

Thought leadership can sound scary, but you shouldn’t be in business if you’re not confident in what you’re selling or teaching people. So remind yourself that you’re the expert and focus on sharing your hard-earned knowledge in a format designed to help people and solve their problems. It’s great for building relationships, SEO, and establishing your brand.

  1. Virtual events, webinars, and online courses ranked first in the B2B content that yielded the best results in 2021. (Content Marketing Institute)

Another powerful way to generate leads and build engagement is by offering long-form educational content. Online courses and webinars are two great options if you’re trying to maximize the value of your time since they can be designed to be evergreen content. Evergreen content is content that will be available indefinitely, creating a pipeline that can generate leads well into the future.

Consider how you can offer a course or a webinar that solves your customers’ problems. Think ahead about where they’ll be in the buyer’s journey and consider how your content offer will meet their needs. Then you can design a follow-up strategy to capitalize on your now high-qualified marketing leads (or people who are more likely to buy your product because they are more educated about how it solves their problem).

  1. Email marketing has the highest return on investment for small businesses. (Campaign Monitor, 2019)

Email marketing is one of the top performing forms of marketing today. It’s a great way to maintain engagement with your contacts, gain helpful insight into your contact database using analytics, and move leads through the funnel.

But you shouldn’t email for the sake of emailing. As much as email can be a great tool for building relationships, it can also ruin relationships. Make sure your email content is relevant, useful, and timely. Over-sending emails can become a nuisance to your contacts and result in unsubscribes. It’s also critical to take the time to design and format your emails intentionally. Email design, like web design, will significantly impact whether your emails get read.

If you’re in doubt, ask the data

Time management and marketing go hand in hand. Make sure you’re paying attention to what’s working and what isn’t. Use defined metrics and goals to decipher what content generates the highest value for your business and make decisions around what you’ve learned.

It takes time to collect enough data to make these decisions, so stick with each activity for at least a few cycles so you can accumulate enough data to make qualified decisions – because data tells a much more accurate story than your gut does. Creating content and managing a brand online takes time and effort, so spending your time in the right place makes or breaks your success.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by milkos

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

 

Balancing Generational Differences in the Workplace

The workplace is experiencing one of its biggest shifts as multiple generations come together in the workforce. Workplace formalities and dynamics are changing, and now we’re left asking ourselves how to best work together.

Understanding the similarities and differences in generational values and characteristics and the best practices for managing multi-generational teams encourages teamwork, shared respect, and positive communication in your organization.

Learn how Gen X and Baby Boomers, who hold the majority of leadership roles, can best lead and work with the workforce’s majority–Millennials.

Generational values and characteristics

Team members can tackle generational tension by building awareness around generational differences and recognizing their similarities and human needs. Learning the differences in values, characteristics, communication styles, and work styles can reveal the workplace views and expectations, leading to better communication and teamwork.

Baby Boomers

  • Characteristics: Competitive, disciplined, involved, and optimistic. They faced higher competition for jobs because of the rise in population, leading to a generation of determined workers who take pride in their careers. They fostered a youth culture that embraced reinvention, teamwork, and self-actualization.
  • Values: Personal growth, team involvement, strong work ethic, and making a difference. They are not afraid to question everything and care about equal rights and opportunities.
  • Communication and management styles: Team-oriented. Prefer face-to-face interactions, respect the chain of command, and expect leadership’s direction.

Gen X

  • Characteristics: Fiercely independent, flexible, pragmatic, resourceful, entrepreneurial, and transparent. They grew up without the intense supervision Millennials had and learned that “if you want something done right, you’d better do it yourself.”
  • Values: Personal growth, education, and a work-life balance. They are independent thinkers who see life as their full-time job and their job as their part-time gig.
  • Communication and management styles: Task-oriented, individually motivated, informal, independent, respond to direction and prefer email and direct communication.

Millennials

  • Characteristics: Natural networkers, friendly, and connected because they grew up with technology. They learned early on that “teamwork makes the dream work” and desire an environment where they can collaborate, problem solve and innovate with others. While they can be highly tolerant, optimistic, and adaptive to change, don’t be surprised by their impatience and competitiveness!
  • Values: Success, rewarding work, and close relationships. They value efficiency, speed, and timeliness and expect to move up the ladder quickly. They are environmentally conscious and eager to bring change to their organization.
  • Communication and management styles: Prefer leaders who coach rather than direct and enjoy continuous feedback. Their collaborative mindset helps them work well in teams, but they are easily annoyed by micromanagement. Similar to Gen Xers, they work hard for a work-life balance. They prefer online, text messaging, and social media communication.

More alike than you think

All the generations are similar in certain ways. How can they not be when people pass down history, values, skills, and knowledge to their children and mentees? The similarities help teams share a common ground and foster empathy:

  • The values that matter most: Family, integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness.
  • Desire to be respected and important: Employees want to be heard, seen, and recognized for their contributions. They want to know they are not easily replaced and make a meaningful impact.
  • Trustworthy leaders: People want to trust and connect with their leaders. Without it, relationships falter, productivity is lost, and communication stops.
  • Loyalty: If someone works hard for the company, they expect the leaders to invest back in them. It’s a two-way street!
  • Desire to learn: People are willing to acquire new skills to do a good job and further their development.
  • Feedback: It’s important to know how they are doing comparatively – are they meeting or exceeding expectations?

Best practices for leading Millennials

Recognizing what makes each generation unique is the first step to cultivating a team that can work together in diversity. The second step is to create a work environment where everyone can thrive. Here are common practices and tips for effectively managing the Millennial generation:

Create opportunities for collaboration: Millennials crave a collaborative work environment and constantly reinvent what collaboration looks like with new technologies. As a manager, create opportunities for Millennials to work collaboratively. From the beginning of a project, be clear about when and how often you intend for everyone to collaborate.

Impactful feedback: Millennials gravitate more towards informal, frequent check-ins, and their morale and performance take a hit when they don’t receive quick, transparent feedback.

Motivating Millennials: Money doesn’t motivate this generation in the same way as others. They are driven by their close relationships and team interactions, and are known to blur the line between work and personal life. Helping them find their squad or “work family” is a point of retention for this generation. Also, understand their unique curiosity. If a Millennial asks you why something is done a certain way, they don’t intend to be disrespectful. They genuinely want to understand. Answering their questions motivates them to continue learning and understanding the organization.

Here are some additional suggestions to help you manage a Millennial:

  • Independent Gen Xers often get annoyed by Millennials’ constant need for feedback and recognition. Defuse the conflict by setting clear parameters about when, where, and how often they can and should check in for feedback.
  • Focus on your common values, such as transparency and efficiency, and use your different qualities to balance each other.
  • Millennials take feedback differently, and “no-nonsense,” direct communication styles are often misconstrued as a lack of support. When giving feedback, try to inspire Millennials and soften the blunt messaging.

Embrace the differences

Leaders must lead and develop their teams to achieve the company’s vision and aspirations. A great way to do this is by learning to lead and manage people from different generations based on their values, work styles, and characteristics. Once you recognize how different generations function, you can lead a diverse company that works great together and knows how to get the job done.

 

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

What Behaviors Great Leaders Avoid

The saying goes “People don’t leave their jobs. They leave their bosses.” A survey given by BambooHR affirms that saying—44% of people said their boss was the primary reason for leaving their job. There are more job openings than there are people looking for jobs, and you want to be an employer of choice, rather than one frantically searching for employees to fill empty positions.

Look at the poor leadership and management behaviors you’ll want to avoid—and learn how to fix them.

Micromanagement

Micromanagement is a management pattern where there is excessive supervision, control over employees’ work and processes, and limited delegation of tasks. Imagine a helicopter, circling and hovering over the same spot—in this case, micromanagers are the helicopter, and the spots they’re hovering over? Their employees. Micromanagement, in the long run, leads to a lack of trust and slows a business down.

Does the above sound like you? – For your employees to excel, give them the freedom and flexibility to complete their tasks, based on objectives and deadlines you set. Trust your employees to complete their work—and then verify that it’s been done well. “Trust but verify” can be a great way to wean yourself off micromanaging.

One-size-fits-all management style

One-size-fits-all is good for hats, but not for managing a group of employees. The one-size-fits-all employer is stuck in their ways, wants all their employees to be like them, doesn’t want to learn, and won’t invest time in helping their employees improve. Great leadership is flexible and can respond to different needs and personalities in a positive, constructive way.

Does the above sound like you? – Every employee is different, so identify their strengths and put them in the best position to use those strengths. Consider how to remove rigidity around your approach to managing the different people on your team so you can take advantage of the diverse approaches and skills each team member can offer.

Not leading by example

A good leader listens to their employees’ challenges and leads by example because they know actions speak louder than words. Employees who see their leader acting in conflict with what they’re saying will feel confused and frustrated.

Does the above sound like you? – Your employees will have great respect for you if you choose to lead by example. If you want your team to use the database for tracking sales, be the first one to enter your leads. If you want them to hold one on one meetings with their direct reports, you need to hold one on one meetings with your direct reports.

Playing the blame game

Things go wrong—no business operates on 100% perfection all the time. But as a leader, if you choose to play the blame game, you use what goes wrong to deflect blame that might come your way, and you remove the opportunity for growth.

Does the above sound like you? – Instead of playing the blame game, help focus on solutions such as professional development, reviewing/changing strategies and goals, and improving business processes. This way, mistakes result in an improved system.

Taking all the credit

Employees help keep an organization running—and they want to feel valued and appreciated for their work. In fact, lack of appreciation is a top reason why employees leave their jobs, and when you show your employees a lack of appreciation by taking the credit for their work and using them to bolster your own advancement, you will experience turnover.

Does the above sound like you? – Praise your team often, individually and as a whole, for the work that they do. Make the feedback meaningful and intentional; for example, if an employee did a good job on a challenging project, tell them! Give specifics as to what they did well.

Lacking focus

It is good to have strategies, priorities, and goals. They keep everyone on the same page and let everyone know what direction to go in. But changing things up every day, or having a disorganized company vision and goals, will leave employees feeling confused and unmotivated.

Does the above sound like you? – Meet with other leaders in your department to establish a clear vision and clear goals for what you want to accomplish, whether it’s putting new opportunities into your pipeline or adding a certain amount of revenue to your book of business. Plan each day around moving closer to those goals.

Be a strong leader

If you’re in a leadership position, you’ll always have behaviors to improve upon. You have the power to turn around and change course when necessary. When you are open-minded and willing to learn, you’ll perform better, and your employees will perform better and become more engaged at work.

Don’t be the reason your employees leave. Be the reason they want to stay.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by milkos

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