How To Manage Difficult Conversations At Work

In many cases difficult conversations rarely get a chance to happen. Instead, we spend days, weeks, even years telling ourselves (and perhaps our unfortunate partners at home), stories about how rude, inappropriate, unhelpful and/or arrogant some people are. We rarely have the conversation with the person or people we are having difficulty with. We bring our own preconceptions to the events and don’t even get close to finding a viable solution. So… does the challenge get resolved? No… like a coffee maker, our stories keep perking – getting stronger and more bitter as time goes by.

Difficult Conversations Perk

Presto© Coffee Perk

Note for clarification: Firing someone isn’t a difficult conversation. Having a difficult conversation often starts uncomfortable but usually leads to quickly working with someone to help you and them understand a disruptive situation and correct it.

Lets face it – in a heated moment we all tell ourselves stories. What matters is how long we allow ourselves to be ‘stuck’ telling our stories. Your stories likely sound something like:

¤  She did ABC because she just knew I wanted XYZ.
¤  It’s like he thinks none of us know what we are doing.
¤  He always interrupts us because he doesn’t value our ideas.

If we do nothing we don’t find solutions. Instead we tell stories that build walls and increase stress while also degrading the quality creativity and productivity of our work environments. And if we keep it up, we may even put our employment status at risk.

Of course, while these negative stories go on and on, the person who is challenging us often knows nothing of our internal struggle. Until we talk to the person who is challenging us, we stay frustrated but we do not know their true motivation and beliefs – we only know our (biased), guess of Why the problem happened.

How To Quit Telling Yourself Difficult Stories And Start Having Difficult Conversations

  1. Most importantly, reclaim space and authority to build community. Take back your power to do something good… even though it may be difficult. I bet, 9 times out of 10 it will get better… and it is certainly better than you telling yourself difficult stories for months or years on end.
  2. Realize when you are telling difficult stories.
  3. Know that our subconscious often adds fuel to the fire; what we feel we make real. We may even subconsciously do or say things that promote a behavour. If you think your challenger will be:

¤  Creative – he will be creative “Wow Bruce, that is a great fresh approach.”
¤  Arrogant – she will be arrogant. “Yvette is such a know-it-all.”
¤  Rude – you will see examples of rudeness.
¤  Dismissive – you will feel you are being disrespected and dismissed.

  1. Show emotion but don’t be emotional. Tap into your empathy and that of the other person / people, “I’m feeling uncomfortable about something that happened yesterday but I feel it’s important we discuss it so I understand it better. Do you have some time now?”
  2. Explore WHAT someone did – not WHY. Stories that focus on Why is a path that often leads to blame (and the Dark Side for Star Wars fans). And if we haven’t spoken with anyone, our stories about WHY are also speculation which is dangerous and not helpful. Consider, they may not have even noticed they did XYZ.
  3. Let’s consider a situation at work when someone did something inappropriate / against policy. If someone does something outside of work boundaries then it needs to be addressed – not because someone is rude, disrespectful or mean… but because WHAT they did is inappropriate. Inappropriate behaviour must change in order to support a trusting, creative, collaborative environment. And while the conversation may be uncomfortable… even difficult conversation… in the majority of time it doesn’t need to get heated… in my experience.
  4. On rare occasions – do nothing. If it happens once, then sure – you may choose to let it slide… but if it is behavior that repeats, it should be discussed ASAP for the harmony of the team.

If you don’t manage difficult conversations, what are your options?

¤  Do nothing and keep being stressed
¤  Wait until you have had enough, lose your temper and yell at them.
¤  Continue to complain to all your coworkers and your partner

They don’t sound like great options. I recommend having a calm conversation where you share your observations and how those actions make you feel. I’d say something like, “When we are in meetings I feel you often interrupt me when I’m speaking. It makes me feel like you don’t value what I have to say. I wanted check in with you and see if you noticed and what might be happening.” This should start a helpful, respectful, calm conversation.

In conflict situations, you decide how you are going to respond when something doesn’t go your way. Be conscious to Feed Positive Energy – not the negative energy. Elevate the conversation. As we see Michelle Obama saying in this Youtube video, “When they go low, we go high.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu_hCThhzWU

Before difficult situations even happen, choose how you want to act. Who do you want to be in a difficult relationship? Do you want to be the person who shuts down, the person who screams or the person who moves on? OR, do you want to be the manager that deals with the situation?

Instead of generating a negative conversation, elevate the conversation – add positive energy to the conversation and your feedback. Take control of how you act – how you feel – what you own. Ask yourself:

¤  When I think someone is Rude, How do I act?
¤  When I think someone is Selfish, How do I act?
¤  When I think someone is Unsupportive, How do I act?
¤  When I think someone is Aggressive, How do I act?
¤  When I think someone is Taking More Than Their Share, How do I act?

Conclusion

More hate doesn’t beat someone else’s hate; more rudeness doesn’t beat someone else’s rudeness – they just breed more hate, rudeness and frustration.  The only thing that can beat negativity is respect and talking about it.  It doesn’t always fix the problem, but if you start showing respect and listening to the person who shows you hate, rudeness or frustration,  eventually everyone will see them as being the A$$#!*& – not you. Your reputation will improve. Theirs… not so much.

It is amazing what happens when you build trust / build respect between parties. With a base of trust two people could discuss and try a proposed solution quickly vs. discuss and debate it for hours or days. The beauty is that if you try you would both be able to quickly evaluate what worked / didn’t work and perhaps how to improve.  

If we keep telling ourselves difficult stories we will never find a mutually beneficial / satisfactory solution and office productivity and morale will go down as our stress levels go up. Having difficult conversations is far better better.

Happy communicating… mentoring… and training.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Mindfulness.

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Why I Believe Millennials Are Marginally Motivated

In the last 3 months my ‘Hiring, Motivating and Retaining Millennials’ workshop has been my most popular program. I’ve trained at a few companies and spoken at a golf conference, a long-term care conference and even a heavy machinery conference. No matter who my audience is, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “How do I get the best out of Millennials and keep them more than 18 months“. It’s a great question. There are many concerned leaders who believe Millennials are only ‘marginally motivated’ when it comes to their work.

That’s what I would like to address over the next few minutes. My goal is to share three key reasons why I believe Millennials are marginally motivated at work.

Reason 1: We Don’t Hire The Right People

Some Millennials take jobs that are not in their chosen profession. You may wonder, ‘Why would someone take work they don’t really want?’ The simple truth is many Millennials may need the money, or they may be tired of looking for work, or perhaps they want to make sure there isn’t a gap in their resume. There are many reasons why a Millennial might compromise, and whatever the reason, it is not good for you or for them.

If your new Millennial employee feels they are compromising (and my Millennial At Work Survey research says that many Millennials feel they have to compromise), it’s not surprising that during that time with you they will be ‘Marginally Motivated’ and you’ll only get 50%, 60% or perhaps 70% of their effort. In addition, it should not surprising that they keep looking for work they really do want.

This is why it is critical to hire the right people. When you hire people whose career goals and personal values reflect the work and your corporate values, you will have engaged employees. When you use a hiring process that is measurable, accountable and reliable, you will have lower-than-average turnover and lower-than-average training expenses. In addition, all of your other success indicators will move in the right direction. If you are not using a formal hiring process it’s like gambling in Las Vegas… it’s risky, based on chance and will likely be expensive when you lose.

Reason 2: We All Excel When Respected

Millennials want to be respected and valued. They also want to feel they are making a contribution and want professional development opportunities. Lets face it, we all excel when we are respected, valued and feel we are making a contribution. You know that when you love something you spend lots of time doing it… you many even volunteer to do more of it.

The difference between Millennials and everyone else is that if a Millennial doesn’t feel they are growing / acquiring new skills or making a difference, they quickly feel frustrated and lose interest… which is why people think they are ‘Marginally Motivated’. And, because many parents of Millennials have not done a great job of teaching their kids patience, even if Millennials are working in their chosen profession, when they feel frustrated you will begin to have a retention problem.

NOTE: Millennials are life-long learners – these are values their Boomer and Gen X parents instilled in them.

Reason 3: Millennials Want Meaningful Work

Millennials see work as part of their whole life, something they want to enjoy and is / will be something that fulfills them. Millennials want their work to be meaningful and even (for many), a place where they make friends with their co-workers / leaders. Millennials also perform better when they are given frequent, positive reinforcement / encouragement.

Giving frequent reward and motivation to each employee isn’t ‘natural’ for Boomers. For 30 plus years Baby Boomers were the primary employment market. In addition (and this is critically important), for the most part each of them shared very similar goals. Generally speaking, Boomers never thought of work as a place to fulfill their passions. Boomers wanted stability; they didn’t want to take risks (and since change equals risk… it was bad). What Boomers wanted was mutual loyalty, to pay their mortgage and to collect wealth (which would give them even more stability). Very few Millennials share these values – for now at least.

Conclusion

Does this sound like too much effort? I hope not. Employers can only insulate themselves from Millennials (and the upcoming Gen Z), for so long. Soon, most of the Boomers will have retired and the largest workforce will be Millennials.

In case you don’t sense it, I do believe Millennials are hard-working, creative and loyal as long as we hire the right Millennial and support them / motivate them in the way that meets their individual, personal and professional goals. And, while they do want to be loyal, they do not expect to work for one company their whole career.

The benefits of hiring Millennials and motivating them as unique individuals is tremendously profitable. And this holds true for people of all generations. When a company is able to keep highly motivated employees (not marginally motivated employees), for five or more years instead of the two years so many employers are experiencing… and even expecting… it translates into a great pay-off (and saving), for the company AND a great learning experience for each employee.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating, coaching… and training.

Click here to learn more about Bruce Mayhew Consulting. We facilitate training courses and speak on a number of topics including email etiquette, time management, leadership, generational differences and more.

Embrace Your Night Owl Employees

I can’t even imagine working at night. Anything I do after 8PM had better not need strategic thought.  But at 6AM (or earlier), I can plow through creative, thoughtful, strategic work like an Olympic runner at a marathon.

Yup – I’m a morning person. Even on weekends ‘sleeping in’ past 8AM rarely happens.

And then there’s my friend Catherine. Catherine is a Night Owl. For Catherine, she’s not at her ‘best’ in the morning; her energy patterns – her Circadian Rhythms – are ‘different’ than 80%-90% of the population.Circadian Rhythm

No matter what time you sleep, each of us does our best, most strategic, most creative work when we are rested.

As a chronic morning person I used to believe Night Owls routinely went to bed too late and that if they changed some of their habits they could also enjoy getting to the office early. Now, as a Time Management Trainer I’ve see over and over evidence that tells me Night Owls are only embracing their natural way. When I’m training there’s usually at least one person in the team that says they do their best work at night.

Thankfully for Catherine and other Night Owls like her, work spaces are changing so Night Owls can better embrace their late-night energy spikes.

As work environments change businesses are becoming more accepting that people work on different schedules – whether employees want to because of family commitments – or have to because they are Night Owls. Virtual ‘work wherever & whenever’ companies that have employees throughout the country or the world are becoming more and more common.

Benefits Of Embracing Night Owl Employees

  • If you are an “in-the-office” company, see if you can give employees more flexibility. It’s not a perfect solution for a Night Owl, but if someone can travel during off-peak hours it means they will be working when THEY are more productive. It likely also means your employees are less stressed and will be happier because they spend less time sitting in traffic and more time doing the work they enjoy or being with their family/friends. And, happy employees are more creative, more productive and will be more loyal to your organization and your values – meaning better customer service and less time having to rehire, retrain, re….
  • If you are a “virtual” company, it’s likely you’ve already embraced the idea of hiring the best people vs. the best people living within 100kms of… wherever; your employees are likely in a different time zone. It’s also likely you and your employees are happily experiencing a ROWE (Results Only Work Environment), who cares when they do their work as long as they meet their timelines, budgets and work quality. Your virtual employees can work when THEY are most productive… it also makes them happier. So – what you have is a happy, productive employee who again, will be more creative, more productive and will be more loyal to your organization and your values – meaning better customer service and less time having to rehire, retrain, re….

No matter what your company structure is like, leaders need to explore what is right for each member of their team… and to focus more on keeping their team collaborating and focused on the vision and goals vs. when or where they are doing their work.

When Should Night Owls Send Email?

I get asked this more and more often when I deliver Email Etiquette Training. Proper workplace etiquette has put more pressure on employers to leave employees alone during their time off. For most, this roughly means no contact from 6PM to 8AM.

If you are a Night Owl like Catherine I recommend you use a delay-send feature for email so the email you write gets sent closer to 8AM vs. 11PM, 2AM or 4AM. Other than not disturbing your fellow co-workers, I believe this is especially important if you are emailing clients. Consider that a 1:30AM email might give your client a negative feeling that you are out of control.

Conclusion

What is your Circadian Rhythm and work-life pattern? What are your most productive hours? More importantly, as a leader when are your employees most productive? As work-spaces change it’s important we enable our employees to be productive when people are productive. If you are a leader – help your team find joy… you will be rewarded with loyal, hard-working, creative team members.

Our work and our work schedule should give us joy. Hopefully you can find a schedule to help you be the best person you can be and do your best work.

Happy communicating… interviewing… mentoring… and training.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Return On Investment From Investing In Email Etiquette Training

I was recently asked what Return On Investment (ROI), a client might receive from investing in my Email Etiquette Training.

The quick answer is that I’m confident that my Email Etiquette Training conservatively gives the average professional more than 6 extra days of productivity per year. If participants see me speaking at a conference it may be a bit less – or if they experience me in a customized corporate training environment it may be a bit more.

Depending on the employees’ responsibilities, this result can have a tremendous impact on training ROI; not to mention how it improves their professional relationship, brand reputation and efficiency.

Let me show you how I come to my 6 productive days conclusion.

My Hypothesis: Saving 6 Days, 15 minutes at a time

Studies demonstrate the average business professional spends approximately 90% of their time writing and reading business email. I’ve seen first-hand that learning to write better email well helps participants get more done in less time, and it helps organizations and individuals improve their reputation by:

  • Writing / formatting messages in a professional manner
  • Getting to the point – quickly / learning how to bottom-line messages
  • Getting and giving all the information that is required – when it is needed
  • Not having to send multiple email asking for information that hasn’t been received
  • Not being misunderstood as bossy, rude or hostile
  • No longer clogging up their managers inbox by overusing To… Cc… and Reply All…
  • And more…

I’ve studied how participates in Email Etiquette Training can save between 15 and 30 minutes per day. But, let me be conservative here and say they only save 15 minutes a day (or 1 hour and 15 minutes per week), of extra productivity.

The average American works approximately 1,700 hours per year. Based on an 8-hour workday, that equals 42.5 weeks per year, (when considering vacation, statutory holidays, sick days etc.). Saving 1 hour and 15 minutes per week for 42.5 weeks gives us 53.13 recovered / saved hours per year (3,187.56 minutes). That equals more than 6 additional – more productive days per year… per employee.roi-from-professional-development-training

What If Email Training Saves 20 Minutes Per Day?

If email etiquette training saves 20 minutes per day (an extra 5 minutes), employers will enjoy nearly 9 days of additional productivity per year… per employee… almost 2 free weeks of productive work.

Conclusion: Email Etiquette Training Return On Investment

Email Etiquette Training is a Win for the employee, a Win for the department and a BIG WIN for the organization overall. The additional 1, 2 (or more), weeks of productivity per year has no cost – other than the training. Chances are, any training costs will be recovered within the first week simply in additional productivity and added brand value / reputation.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Time Management, Leadership, Generational Differences and More…

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

Implementing A Performance Management System (PMS)

A Performance Management System is about building trust, capacity and a respectful partnership between a manager and each of their employees. Some people see performance management as trendy words for the annual performance review. It’s Not… it’s much more! This is especially true if the organization is transforming and leading change.

In a time when employees don’t feel their employers are loyal, a Performance Management System is a commitment by employers to partner with their employees and help them reach their work goals, career goals and personal goals by investing in opportunities, mentoring, encouragement and training.

In a time when employers don’t feel employee loyalty, a Performance Management System is a commitment by employees to understand and respect the organizational values and to do their best to support the organizations strategic plan and improve team / organizational effectiveness.performance-management-plan-for-success

Note: One-Year plans are common for full-time employees. Part-time or seasonal employees still participate in Performance Management, but goals may be measured by project or a shorter time-period.

Step 1: Co-Developing A One-Year Performance Management Plan

Performance Management Systems define how an organization will support its employees as they pursue a set of goals. It also defines how each employee will support a department and/or organization strategic plan.

To set a One-Year Plan, each employee and manager should:

  1. Review the employee’s job description to ensure it is up-to-date and reflects the work the employee is doing and appropriate measurement criteria. This is especially important if the organization is leading change and transformation.
  2. Review how the employee’s work supports the teams and the organization’s goals, objectives and strategic plan.
  3. Identify three to five employee performance objectives for the year. These should be specific and measurable and dependent on:
    • The organization’s strategic plan
    • Key deliverables that are associated with the employee’s responsibilities
    • Employee goals
  4. Recognize that at some point, unexpected opportunities and crisis will happen and will have unexpected (positive and or negative), impact.
  5. Develop a more detailed work plan (tasks / tactics), based on the three to five employee performance objectives.
  6. Specify the consequences for the employee and the organization if they are responsible for the performance objective not being met.

Note: Experienced managers and employees will leave time for unexpected opportunities/crisis (practicing good Time Management).

Step 2. Monitor A Performance Management System / Year Plan

To be effective, performance must be continuously monitored. Therefore, when implementing a performance management system be sure to include an agreed upon way to monitor progress. In today’s work environment where autonomy, relevance and progress are important, monitoring refers to measuring results for both the employees and the organization.

One approach to monitoring I particularly like was introduced to me by one of my previous bosses; it’s what I call ’10-minute laser meetings’. In this case, my boss met with each of his employees once a week for 10-minutes to discuss critical issues on major projects. For each of these meetings, it was each employees responsibility to chair these meetings and be prepared to:

  • Introduce the project and what success looks like (the performance objectives).
  • Share what progress has been made towards meeting the performance objectives.
  • Identify any barriers that may prevent the employee from accomplishing the previously agreed upon performance objectives. (Get management input and support here)
  • Suggest what needs to be done to overcome any barriers. (Get management input and support here)
  • Identify if there has been a shift in organization priorities or if the employee has assumed new / unexpected responsibilities. (Get management input and support here)

Defining the appropriate measurement criteria is one of the most difficult parts of developing the strategic year plan. Remember people often respond better to positive reinforcement vs. punishment. I strongly recommend considering the value of intrinsic motivation to help managers encourage employees.

Step 3. Managing Shortfalls

Sometimes there will be shortfalls. Sometimes those shortfalls are outside of an employees control… and sometimes they are within the employee’s control. In the cases where performance fell short of objectives…

  • Stay positive and cordial – good rarely comes from hostile behavior.
  • Document the challenges/shortfalls encountered:
    • Answer the What, Where, Why questions.
    • Did the challenge fall within or outside of the employee’s control?
  • Are the change management and transformation plans impacting the project?
  • Identify opportunities for coaching… by the manager or professional executive coach.
  • Give constructive feedback in a non-threatening way.
  • Identify areas for training and development.

Throughout the year (perhaps quarterly), managers should formally assess each employee’s performance. The beauty of the laser meetings mentioned above (for example), is that both the manager and employee have up-to date examples of how goals are… or are not being met; there should be no surprises.

Step 4: Continuous Coaching / Having Difficult Conversations

Coaching / mentoring and managing shortfalls can be done by the manager or by bringing in a professional executive coach.

Implementing a performance management also means making sure everyone feel comfortable having difficult conversations. Learning how to give constructive feedback in a non-threatening way helps everyone address performance issues in a productive, supportive way and ensure that even challenging moments lead to a positive contribution.

The role of the coach is to demonstrate good listening skills and to deliver honest feedback. In a coaching role, the manager is not expected to have all the answers… but they do ask questions that help the employee and themselves analyze the situation. Coaching means working with employees to identify opportunities and methods to maximize strengths and improve weak areas.

Mentoring can include providing constructive feedback to address a particular performance issue if an employee is not meeting the agreed upon performance expectations. The beauty (and my belief), importance of weekly 10-minute laser meetings is that challenges or shortfalls are identified early and don’t have time to become critical issues… they are taken care of early when they first arise.

Step 5: Employee Training and Development Plan

A critical part of a Performance Management System is for the manager and each employee to identify areas for further training and development opportunities. These should support the workplace activities that the employee should undertake as well as their career goals and personal goals.

This step should not be taken lightly.  Training and development opportunities must be supported and pursued by the employee, their manager and the HR department. All parties involved must take a leadership role – no matter how high or low on the seniority scale they are.

The main goal here is to find, mentor, train and motivate… and therefore retain top talent all while also leading strategic corporate change. Hiring and training new people is a great expense compared to a modest training and development investment. This is a critical component to the long-term success of a Performance Management System… I cannot emphasis this benefit enough.

Conclusion

A Performance Management System is a much more than recapping performance once-per-year with an annual performance review. As I said above, this is especially true if the organization is transforming and leading change.

Performance management includes activities such as joint goal setting, continuous progress review and frequent communication. The idea is to ensure resources like talent are valued and maximized (monitored and respected), as much as resources like technology, equipment and finances are monitored and respected.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and leading change.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

A Checklist For Your Performance Management System

Performance management is a much more than correcting negative behavior throughout the year and recapping performance once-per-year with an annual performance review. It is much more.

Performance management includes activities such as joint goal setting, continuous progress review and frequent communication. The idea is to align an individuals core-competencies and goals to an organization’s core-competencies and goals. The idea is to ensure resources like talent are valued and maximized (monitored and respected), as much as resources like technology, equipment and finances are monitored and respected.

Performance management refocuses the lens on the individual, ensuring they have all of the knowledge, resources and motivation to exceed their capabilities and expectations… and because the individual does, so does the team and organization.

Checklist For Your Performance Management System

An effective performance management system will:

  1. Support each employee by being job specific, based on well written job descriptions, key performance indicators and job-related activities.
  2. Hire the right people by using a measurable interview / selection process (a BEI).
  3. Align with your organization’s strategic direction, culture and values.
  4. Be practical and easy to understand and use.
  5. Have the manager and employee work together to set personal and professional goals and behaviors… including measurement criteria. This includes why each goal and behavior is (or is not), important. This includes hard and soft skills.
  6. Create opportunities for clear and regular communication between managers and employees.
  7. Provide training and development opportunities for improving performance and helping employees achieve their work and career goals.
  8. Work with each employee to ensure their 3 top priorities (daily), are reflective of the agreed upon goals and Important Work (with exception of interdepartmental Urgent Work).
  9. Agree in advance how challenges will be managed.
  10. Provide ongoing constructive feedback when improvement is needed as well as positive feedback (praise), for work that exceeds agreed upon expectations.
  11. Train managers on how to manage, mentor, coach employees and how to have difficult conversations.
  12. Ensure there is commitment from management to quickly act on situations that are both positive and negative to support the process, the individual and the team.
  13. Periodically review the performance management process to ensure it is being applied consistently.
  14. Ensure each employee keeps a copy of the performance plan (work plan) so that they can refer to it.
  15. Establish an appeals process.
  16. Designing effective compensation and reward systems looking at the benefit of Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivators.
  17. Perform exit interviews to understand the cause of employee discontentment.

Each should refer to their goals regularly and meet to evaluate progress and make many smaller adjustments throughout the year.

Conclusion

If you are looking to create lasting change  look to how you can motivate your employees. When employees – and leaders are motivated they will do more… do it better… and finish earlier.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and More…

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

Coaching Millennials At Work, Choice Magazine Article

Last week an article I wrote about Coaching Millennials At Work had been published in ‘Choice Magazine’ – A Coaching Magazine. http://www.choice-online.com

The article speaks to the importance of being a coach – a mentor and a leader when working with Millennials. Work with them well and you will have a loyal, creative, hard working employee. Don’t… and you will be hiring again soon – likely before their 2-year anniversary with your company.

With little fanfare… here is the article. I hope you enjoy.

coaching-millennials-at-work-choice-magazine-2

coaching-millennials-at-work-choice-magazine-3coaching-millennials-at-work-choice-magazine-4

Please feel free to share – and to contact me with questions.

Bruce

Executive Coach & Trainer  | Difficult Conversation Training  |  Business Email Etiquette   |  Time Management Training   |   Collaboration Skills  |  Generational Differences At Work  |  Motivating Millennials  |  Leadership Training  |  Behavioral Event Interview (BEI)  |  Creating & Using Stories

Imagine confidently communicating with your customers and co-workers.

“Published in, and reproduced with permission from, choice, the magazine  of professional coaching  <http://www.choice-online.com&gt; http://www.choice-online.com&#8221;

Body Language / Non-verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication, also known as body language can account for over 90% of your communication. Yup – you are likely saying more with every action you make than you are with every word you speak. Therefore, understanding how people interpret body language will help you share your message – and will also help you ‘read’ what other people may be thinking / feeling.

Lets start looking at how we use body language by starting at the top of our body… or more specifically, your face.

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Benedict Cumberbatch

Your Face:

Making eye contact is usually great and often demonstrates you are engaged and interested in your conversation. But too much eye contact may come across as staring and can be threatening. In addition, it’s generally accepted that if you don’t make ‘good’ eye contact or frequently look away you may be feeling uncomfortable with the person or the subject; in addition you may be feeling the person you are speaking with is lying.

Smiling during a conversation often means you like what you are hearing, saying or doing. But, if you are frowning you may be stressed, uncertain or do not agree. Be careful with your facial expressions; for example, when I’m in deep thought I naturally frown (many people do). Because I know I frown I try to change my behavior – especially when I’m in meetings with clients.

Your Hands:

Your hands deserve their own section. Your hand are a natural part of how you share information and interact with your environment. The added bonus is that when you use your hands you are entertaining your listeners (keeping their attention), and giving them visual cues to help them remember what you are saying.

Steepled fingers (or Steepling), is a non-verbal cue often used by actor Benedict Cumberbatch as he represented the fictional private detective Sherlock Holmes. Steepling is also a favorite of professional speakers and politicians. Steepled fingers (either with fingertips touching and pointed up or fingers crisscrossed), demonstrates you are confident and can give the impression of authority and knowledge. Steepled fingers can also be a sign that demonstrates you are listening and quite interested.

Using one finger to point at someone is often interpreted as offensive – especially if you are communicating with someone you don’t know or who may be ‘sensitive’. For me – using one finger to point at me is like saying “Let me tell you,” which immediately gets my back up. My recommendation is that if you want to point at someone or something then use an open-hand with your palm facing up; that is an accepting gesture. The bonus of an open hand is that when we show our palms, people interpret what we are sharing as being honest.

Use head or hand movements to help express an idea or meaning.

Clenched hands often mean you’re feeling anxious and negative and are holding back your emotions (or you may be freezing and need the air conditioning turned down). Similarly holding your wrists behind your back all about self-control.

Shaking hands (handshaking), is one of the most common ways we share nonverbal communication. When you shake hands I recommend looking the person in the eyes (but don’t stare). Do you have a strong grip (confidence) – or perhaps a soft grip (shyness or a lack of confidence)? When your handshake is vertical with both parties shaking with equal pressure, the mood is set for a positive rapport. If you have ever turned someones hand to face upwards you are demonstrating dominance – forcibly stripping away their power or authority. In a similar way, a crushing handshake can identify dominance – or it might be that you are overcompensating.

Standing & Your Arms:

Most of us know that if you sit with your arms crossed and/or are slightly turned away you may be feeling skeptical, angry, unhappy, bored or closed to new information… or you may simply be sitting that way because it is comfortable or because you are cold. It’s important to note that sitting with your arms crossed is one of the most misinterpreted body language cues. My recommendation is to try to avoid crossing your arms and creating misunderstanding – especially when sharing information with people you don’t know or who are important to your success.

Similar to good eye contact is leaning forward. If you are leaning forward you are likely feeling engaged and interested. If you are in negotiations you may be giving a clue that you are ready to agree or to buy. Alternatively, if you are slouched or leaning back in your chair, your non-verbal communication may be interpreted as closed, bored or unhappy.

Especially when standing many people don’t know what to do with their hands and arms.

Standing in a fig-leaf pose covering your groin strips away your own authority or suggests you are not confident or are afraid. Alternatively, standing with your hands behind your back can demonstrate you are patient, ready and likely waiting. But… because standing with your hands behind your back is also a common military posture some people can interpret this position as threatening. If you don’t know what to do with your hands, the best thing you can do is to get comfortable with your hands resting by your sides.

Standing with your hands in your pockets, thumbs showing or thumbs tucked into your waistband can say, “I’m not moving or negotiating.” It may also say, “I’m better than you / this place.”

Cultures:

While I’m not going to discuss it in detail here, be mindful that different cultures have different non-verbal / body language cues. They may be different but they are equally important to how we and they interpret information. If you are working with people from different cultures (and most of us are), I recommend getting familiar with body language behaviors unique to other cultures.

Conclusion:

Picking up on non-verbal cues can create opportunities for you.

Being able to recognize your – and other peoples body language helps you make an informed decisions or take informed actions. It’s always best to be making the impression you want – willingly – purposefully.

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Teach Millennials How To Be Great Leaders

When we think of great leaders we think of people who have leadership qualities like goal setting, inspiration, dedication, honesty, trustworthiness and so many other positive qualities. Millennials on the other hand are often described as lazy, entitled, selfish and many more negativedescriptions. However, when the right Millennial is hired for the right job these descriptions are not valid… especially when they are mentored by a great leader.

If you are a great leader it’s likely you learned it along the way from a combination of opportunities like:Leaders Values Millennials

  • Trial & error.
  • You had great mentors.
  • You studied / read leadership books.
  • You paid attention to good and bad examples of leadership.

Very few people are natural-born leaders. Lets not cast aside Millennials as hopeless. Instead, lets intentionally teach / mentor Millennials how to be great leaders.

When you have the right person in the right job, Millennials (like most people) are self-motivated and full of potential. So it’s up to their parents, professors, HR professionals and managers to make sure they are demonstrating the best leadership qualities for today’s ever-changing business market.

The challenge for them is to not learn poor leadership styles some of us have had to un-learn from that one really bad boss we once had. You know, the boss who had the Top-down / Carrot-Stick leadership style poplar post WWII when jobs were linear, repetitive and boring. The reality is that today most jobs are far from linear, repetitive and boring.

What are some of the lessons we have to make sure we are both
using – and teach Millennials how to be leaders?

Here is a list of 6 important lessons that will help teach Millennials how to be leaders.

1) Help Them Recognize Their Values And Their Importance

Most Millennials have wonderful values like compassion, charity/philanthropy, creativity, collaboration and achievement… and are not usually strong on values like conformity and tradition. Learning to recognize their strengths and values… and the strengths and values of others (and the organization), is critical to them being a great leader. Help your Millennials by teaching them the importance of values when making decisions and communicating.

When the time comes for your organization to review your mission, vision and values, let all of your employees contribute to your mission, vision and value statements. Demonstrate that great leaders make sure everyone have a respectful opportunity to contribute.

2) Be Their Mentor – Not Just Their Boss

The best leaders are effective because they know what they are best at and they lead with those skills. To create effective millennial leaders we must help them first understand their own gifts and talents. Help them identify what these skills are so they can use them to make informed decisions. Help them also see their gaps not as failures – but as opportunities to rely on (and develop), other people.

3) Be Authentic And Transparent

Authenticity and fairness come naturally to most Millennials. They grew up being encouraged to explore their individuality and to accept others for who they are no matter of their differences. As their leader, demonstrate that being authentic and transparent is important in their professional life.

Show Millennials that what they say and what they do matters and will be respected – especially in difficult times or during difficult conversations.

4) Be Trustworthy

Autonomy ranks very high on a Millennials list. Sure they love working in teams and are some of the best / least territorial collaborators… and yet, like most of us, Millennials love some independence. Trusting individuals to control their schedule is important. They will also enjoy when their collaboration team enjoys some project autonomy.

By trusting  Millennials (and other generations), you deepen commitment by demonstrating your respect for them and their opinions / talents.

5) Be Confident… And Flexible

Being confident about goals and objectives is terrific – but being flexible is also advantageous. Great leaders know that other people’s ideas and experiences often bring an approach and creativity that wasn’t previously considered and may make the project even better. This also supports your plan to offer employees more autonomy.

6) Teach Millennials How To Listen

Millennials love to learn – so remind them they can’t learn while they’re talking… only when they’re listening. Great leaders understand how powerful listening is in building relationships and respect.

Teach your Millennials not just to listen, but to demonstrate they are listening and care about what they hear. Like any good news reporter, encourage them to ask powerful questions… and to listen to the response.

Conclusion:

Millennials have the ability to become great leaders. We just need to teach them to recognize and lead from their innate strengths, communicate effectively, listen well and be transparent in what they do. Start today and lets awaken the leaders of tomorrow!

Happy communicating, mentoring, motivating… and training.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Organizations Are Finding Stability

Organizations are finding stability – but not stability that rests on lack of change; that stability often leads to organizational distress.

I’m talking about stability that includes a responsibility to your business, your employees, customers, environment and the economy. Stability that is foundational; guiding principals that influence daily activities and encourage employees to collaborate and explore future opportunities with shared purpose. The kind of security that is critical when organizations are changing and the economy is in flux (everyday). Stability that understands that pushing boundaries sometimes means taking one step forward and two steps back… and those steps are all learning opportunities to be celebrated… not failures that compromise job security, trust and therefore creativity / progress.beach stones

Organizational stability is a savior when it’s rooted in values that are honored, celebrated and respected by all employees. Values and guiding principals that drive:

People repeat behaviour that is rewarded. You can’t positively affect the organization’s cultural core without bringing your team along. There has to be trust, communication and fairness.

Some of the hardest work is to address a top performer who isn’t a team player. Why? Because they do undermine corporate values and organizational stability… which is why they can’t be allowed to continue. It’s easy to measure their individual success – but difficult to measure the negative impact / loss they cause throughout your organization by lowering others engagement, productivity and loyalty. They may seem to be star earners, but what about the harm they do undermining everyone else’s progress? They may be costing more than they bring in as they create a work environment that causes talented employees to walk away.

Good employees leave bad cultures and / or bad bosses. Losing strong, dependable, collaborative talent [for whatever reason] disrupts organizational stability and increases hard-costs, as you have to hire and retrain new talent. I see it far too often how lone-wolf employees erode organizational success and the potential within team dynamics.

How your treat your whole team is your culture.

Holding people accountable does not mean you have to be mean or cruel, it means you have to be confident and fair. You have to hold people accountable to the corporate values, success of the business, its customers, any individual you are speaking with AND all of the other employees. Holding people accountable provides organizational stability everyone can trust… during slow times, busy times and even during times of great change.

Organizational stability expands productivity and creative engines exponentially.

Your team is the energy that drives your organization forward. Stability requires dialogue that may not be easy at first (difficult conversations), and often requires training and practice to learn how to move forward – consistently.

Happy communicating… and hiring… and mentoring… and training.

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If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

 

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

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