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Micro-Management: An Organizational Dilemma

The hands of the men chained in handcuffs, on a background of thAny organization, department, division or office that experiences a high turnover of employees in a short period of time definitely has issues that go deeper than just the employee that went through the revolving door.  Unfortunately, numerous offices experience this – yet never look at the root cause of why it’s happening.  Whether you know it or not, the ‘revolving door syndrome’ has a detrimental impact on others nearby, costs the organization money, and might just be the ‘beginning of the end’ for many organizations.  Too often, managers link high turnover to people who are not dedicated, lack talent, or are just incompetent to do the job.  However, I’ve learned through my experiences…and it’s also proven through academic research…that a significant part of the problem is not with the people, it’s with the system that’s been created in which they work.  So, what could be wrong with the system or the process?  Well – many things.  My next few blog posts will highlight some of those areas.

One such issue that could be throwing the system in a tilt is the management style – specifically micromanagement.  There seems to be a very fine line between macro-managing and micro-managing.  Most of us would say we are macro-managers and we allow our employees some space in order to carry out the responsibilities of their job. But sadly, there are too many managers who think they are doing a bang-up job and supporting their employees, when actually…they are doing just the opposite and hand-cuffing the very people who are there to help.  So,are you a micro-manager?  Let’s look at some of the signs:

  • Do you resist delegating work to others?
  • Do you focus on ‘overseeing’ the projects of others?
  • If you find mistakes, do you tend to take the project back in order to complete it yourself?
  • Do you focus on the small details and tasks instead of the big picture?
  • Do you ask others to ‘consult’ you before they make a decision?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, then you may be headed into the vast land of micro-management.  But, you may be asking, “What’s wrong with micro-managing if it delivers the results I want?”  Good question.  My view on it is this…micro-managers tend to take certain attributes to the extreme. When this occurs, then there develops an obsession to control everything – even to the point of rendering their colleagues powerless.  Then you run the risk of ruining their self-confidence, causing them to quit, and/or damaging their performance itself.  You may achieve the original goal you intended, but at what cost?  So take a strong inventory of your management style and find a healthy balance that helps to empower others around you to develop, grow, and make the necessary decisions to move the organization forward.

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How To Make a Repeated First Impression

confidence-dictionaryEveryone knows how important a first impression is during a job interview.  But after the job is secured and you’ve settled in, does it really matter what type of impression you make on others?  Well, if you want to be effective in your career, then I say the answer to that question should be yes.  Regardless at what level your position is on the organizational chart, you should always be repeating that ‘first impression’ vibe because that’s how you can best display confidence at work.

So, whether you are an entry-level employee, a volunteer, or a CEO…take a look at these suggestions that you can practice every day in order to display the best ‘first impression’ again and again:

  • Clothes – It’s important to convey a polished, professional appearance in the workplace.  Looking the part exudes confidence to others around you.  Regardless of what you are wearing, be certain it is high quality, neat and proportionate to your body.  The old adage is “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”  Also – avoid a lot of accessories and busy patterns that will distract others.  So, basically…be sure to look your best every time you step into the workplace.
  • Eye Contact – Establishing and maintaining eye contact with others is your best way to communicate confidence and interest.  When speaking or listening to someone, always look directly into their eyes for 3-5 seconds before looking away or moving to someone else.  This will show them you are interested and involved in the communication process.  If you constantly avoid eye contact, then you are viewed as insecure, anxious and somewhat evasive – which will erode any confidence.
  • Facial Expressions – There are seven basic human emotions (anger, sadness, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, surprise) with scientifically proven facial expressions associated with each.  These expressions are often involuntary and unconscious.  Be aware of what your face is revealing to others and be sure to choose the right expression that matches the message you want to send.
  • Interactions – Initiate conversations with others.  Taking the initiative to interact with others displays confidence in yourself enough to walk up to a complete strange and begin a conversation.  Learning this process will boost your self-confidence and the confidence levels of others around you.

Gaining and maintaining the confidence of your workforce will go a long way when it comes to making tough decisions because many other attributes are associated with confidence – such as respect, loyalty and commitment.  I’m sure there are many other ways to make a repeated first impression, but the ones noted above will get your started on the right track.  Implement these suggestions today and watch how your confidence level increases dramatically.

 

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Honor: Applicable in the Workplace?

honor1Most every school has something they call the ‘honor roll’ and it’s always a distinguished recognition of those students who are doing things right and are successful in the classroom.  But when we move from the halls of academia and into the world of business, it becomes more and more challenging to know when you are ‘doing things right.’  It’s my opinion that even in the business environment, one’s honor can still be utilized as a measurement tool of a managers effectiveness and overall success within the workplace.

In today’s organizations, it’s easy for managers to feel compelled to ‘adapt’ or be everything to everyone.  But being a person of excellence – one of respect, means you must strike a careful balance in all your actions and decisions in order to maintain your honor in the eyes of others.  We’ve all heard the horror stories of those bad bosses that basically take advantage of every opportunity – both ethical and unethical ones – just to get ahead and benefit only themselves.  It’s those scenarios that play out in the minds of workers that create a tension sometimes between various levels in the workplace, i.e. upper management and other workers.  Therefore, to correct or improve upon that stereotypical mindset…it’s vital that today’s managers display honor in the workplace.  How can one maintain his or her honor and still be an effective manager?  Here are five suggestions to consider:

  • Be honest – It’s critical to be honest with your employees whenever they ask direct questions…or even indirect questions.  If you try to lie or exaggerate truths, then you will be found out and your image of honor will be damaged beyond repair.  Always be tactful, but truthful.
  • Trust others – Give others a chance to develop that trusting relationship.  The more you trust others, then the more others will view you as being trustworthy.  Be sure to develop a strong bond with your workforce and always-always-always keep your word.
  • Protect your space – Don’t feel like you have to be a ‘part of the crowd’ just to be liked or honored by the workforce.  It’s easy to be lured into doing things that everyone else is doing.  So be mindful of what is ‘appropriate’ behavior, then guard your personal space to maintain and display that behavior.
  • Operate on facts – Identify and call out others (if you have to) that are spreading rumors, gossip or any information that can’t be proven or substantiated.  Sending a strong message that you’re only interested in facts will show others that you don’t want to participate in the ‘water cooler conversations’.
  • Know the difference – Be able to distinguish between an honorable act and a dishonorable act.  If it doesn’t sound right, feel right or look right…then more than likely it’s a dishonorable action.  So, be cautious and think before you act or before you speak.  Not knowing the difference is probably the quickest way to be out of a job.

These are just a few suggestions to help you in establishing and/or maintaining your honor in the workplace.  Take time this week to practice these and other ideas and see what type of response you get from others.  Have a great day!!

 

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Fear: Change Your Thinking

FearAll of us have at least one thing we fear.  Some fear death and some fear spiders, while others may have the fear of heights or the fear of failing.  In a managerial position, the same concept is true.  Managers have fears about competition, meeting deadlines, quarterly earnings, etc.  So, how can we best overcome our fears?  Well, one of my good friends had a fear of riding roller coasters; however, one day he calls me up and says, ‘hey, let’s go to Six Flags.’  Of course, I reminded him that he didn’t like roller coasters, but he was adamant to go and conquer his fear.  He had looked up information online about roller coasters and he had watched simulation videos of roller coaster rides.  So, he was equipped and prepared to meet his fear head-on.

Therefore, the best way for managers to conquer their fears in the workplace is to change the way they think about fear.  This can be done by simply equipping and preparing themselves for a direct encounter with each fear.  This basically means doing just two things:

  • Turn Your Fears into Fascination Drivers – In other words, research and learn as much as you can about each fear.  What can you learn from it and how can you turn it into a source of positive energy?  If you have a fear about your competition, then learn everything you can about them.  What makes them tick?  What are their goals?  In what areas are they strong and weak?   Then, take this information and determine how you can re-frame it into a positive aspect that will be beneficial for you and your team.
  • View Your Fears as Opportunities – Start looking at fear as an indicator of something that needs attention…and not as something to avoid.  It’s a way to identify problems and issues and then to develop strategies to overcome those problems and issues.  Have a fear about an upcoming deadline, then take charge and develop a plan in advance with specific timelines for each step that’s needed in meeting your deadline.  Don’t procrastinate just because you have a fear because when you do that, then you’re allowing the fear to take control of your management process.

By becoming fascinated with your managerial fears and learning how to turn them into opportunities, you can become more effective in your day to day responsibilities and push forward into new, innovative areas that will advance the overall mission of your organization.  So this week, take time to list a few of your immediate fears and start changing how you think about each particular one.

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Time Management – Step #4 of 4

time expandedThis is the last step in our understanding of the perception of time and how we can best manage it.  Step #4 is learning how to expand time.  Most us have a narrow view of time – that is, we simply look at the seconds and the minutes that make up each hour…and the hours that make up each day; however, we should also look at how much we can pack into each of those hours…or how we can ‘expand’ our moments within a certain time period.  This final step of learning how to best manipulate time and manage it accordingly requires a great deal of creativity.  Mastering this technique will definitely separate the great leaders from the good leaders.

So, how can you expand time?  Well…it’s all about using all of your senses to experience each and every day.  In other words, become more aware of the importance of each minute and look for ways that you can experience a moment more indepth or how you can have a more meaningful experience regarding a specific time period.  Think of it this way – if time is wider, then you can fill it up with more things and take more from it as well.  Maybe this is similar to multi-tasking, but in a sense that you maximize all of your senses to experience a wider, fuller moment.  One example would be those individuals who enjoy rising early in the morning so that they have time to make coffee, read the paper and just take in the beauty of the morning before they begin the routine of getting dressed and out the door to work.  They are expanding time – using their senses to capture the moment.

Even though we can’t stop time or add extra hours to our days, we can alter how we experience and perceive the time we’ve been given.  If you can your relationship with time into a positive one, then you can experience a liberating life that allows you to focus on the important things.  So…as you can see, there’s a lot more to time management than just prioritizing which meeting you need to attend.  If you learn to measure time correctly, understand how circumstances affect your perception of time, determine how to best control your perception of time and learn how to expand it…then you’ll have a full grasp on how to manipulate the limited time we have so that you can be more productive, efficient and successful.  Try it out and see what happens!!   Also…be sure and follower me on Twitter – @craigholloman.   Have a great day!

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4 Simple Ways to Encourage Your Employees

encouragementMost of us do have a life outside of our employment.  Sometimes our work gets in the middle of our life events – such as kids ballgames, doctor visits, school plays, graduations, etc. and we have to adjust to participate; however, sometimes, our life events creep into our workplace, as well.  Given the current state of our economy, increased home foreclosures, difficult relationships, challenging family members and more, it’s easy to understand how workers have these things on their mind even while at work.  Most times, we never know what’s going on in the personal lives of our employees or those around us.  We never know when just a simple word of appreciation or encouragement might be the highlight of someone else’s day.

So, here are a few quick tips to implement into your managerial regime while you’re at work…and maybe, just maybe, you will make a huge difference in the life of at least one employee:

  • Be Attentive – Watch for signs from your employees that something is going on.  Things like tardiness, lack of performance, bad attitudes may be just a symptom of a deeper issue.  Also, be certain to really listen to your employees when they come to you.  Listening will help you determine in what areas your staff needs encouragement.
  • Be Positive – Focus on the positives instead of the negatives.  If you always expect the worst, that’s probably what you’re going to get.  So, look for ways to highlight the positive aspects of projects, employees, and teams.
  • Be Genuine – Don’t give ‘canned’ encouragement to your employees.  Saying ‘Way to go!’, ‘Good job!’ or ‘You can do it!’ can come across as a bit insincere and meaningless.  Find other ways to encourage your staff by asking follow-up questions like “how were you able to do that?  I knew you would.”  These types of responses tell the employee that you are really listening and are in-tune with what’s going on with them.
  • Be Real – You owe it to your employees to be direct and straight-forward without glossing over reality.  Every day can’t be all roses and rainbows and unicorns.  Make your employees aware of specific hurdles they may be facing at work, but then give them the tools to overcome those hurdles.  Being in the loop of what’s going on within the organization and knowing how it may affect them will give your employees more encouragement than you may realize.

Applying these four simple tips will help you to become a better person, a better manager and a better encourager to those around you.  And…just maybe some of that encouragement they receive at the workplace will carry them through those life events when they need just a little nudge to make it to the next day.  Have a great day and go mark your spot!!  Catch up with me on Twitter too – @craigholloman.

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