Top 5 List – Bad Leadership Skills

Top Five List – CC0 Public Domain
Top Five List – CC0 Public Domain

Recently a small group of colleagues and I met for a regular informal meeting about the world of work and what that looks like now. The discussion quickly turned to an article a couple of us had seen online…the topic was leadership. In this case, bad leadership. We all agreed that leadership is simply defined as developing the members of your team to their fullest potential (or something very close to this). The author presented 5 of the most common bad leadership behaviors they had witnessed. In summary, those 5 are:

Lacking integrity – Employees will know when questionable decisions are made for financial gain or for the personal benefit of leadership. If the employees know,  then the respect has already been lost. Leaders should lead their teams by example and always show integrity in the decision-making process. 

Failure to provide ongoing feedback – The typical annual performance review and its process often doesn’t result in positive feedback. Typically in this process, managers will bank a year’s worth of views and perspectives until review time dumping them all at once on the employee. This experience often leaves the employees feeling dazed and confused overwhelmed and even irritated.

Not recognizing good work – Gallup has surveyed millions of employees from around the world. The results of the surveys show that people who receive regular recognition for doing good work increase their productivity, increase their engagement, and are more likely to be retained as an employee. 

Being disrespectful – Last year (2020), Resumelab conducted a poll on what it means to be considered a bad leader. This poll found that 72% of those surveyed were treated in a rude or disrespectful manner by their supervisor. Another 70% were criticized in front of their peers and 83% of them felt bad about it.

Failure to communicate – Communication issues are common. There can be too much communication, too little communication, or wrong messages being conveyed. Whatever form poor communication arrives in it can affect employee morale, disengage employees, and even create problems with customers. Communication should be crystal clear in every form.

-RG

Top 5 List: Be A Better Co-worker

Top Five List – CC0 Public Domain
Top Five List – CC0 Public Domain

As hybrid working, co-working, and open work environments become more popular people will be more likely to spend a significant part of their day working next to someone else. And there’s a greater chance that’ll be working next to someone they don’t know. In an effort to help maintain a comfortable and stress-free work environment we owe it to each other to be respectful, kind, and courteous. Here are a few tips for being a better co-worker.

Meetings – if there’s a need for a meeting okay then use a meeting room. To have a trusted colleague come over for a quick exchange is one thing and acceptable by most professionals. However having a small group meeting at your desk can be disruptive to everyone else in the workspace.

Eating – avoid turning your desk into a dinner table, there is no need to eat your desk. A cup of coffee and a small cookie or even a cup of fruit is fine. If you absolutely have to eat at your desk try to bring foods that don’t have strong smells.

Dress – showing too much skin can be offensive and can have a negative impact on the way that people perceive. You don’t always have to dress in professional business attire, just make sure that you’re not dressed for a day at the beach. A hoodie and sweatpants may not be the best option either.

Phone – be aware of others around you when speaking on the phone. Loud talkers may inadvertently share private or confidential information that others may not be interested in hearing. Be especially cautious of using a hands-free speaker. Trust that no one wants to hear your personal conversations. Consider stepping away from your workspace and the folks that you share the work environment with, if need be.

Grooming – there should be absolutely no personal grooming at your desk. Some of the most offensive things that bother people the most include nail grooming, teeth flossing, and applying deodorant. Basically if you do it in the bathroom at home then you should NOT do it in the office.

-RG

Embrace Diversity In The Work Environment

Smiling Faces
Smiling Faces

There is no single (or preferred) strategy to help embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the work environment. It’s important that all members of the organization recognize that continuous forward motion is the only way to achieve success. Here are a few strategies to get started:

Start the conversation – this starts with the leadership team. Open the door, set the tone, and send a very clear message that DEI is something that will be discussed openly and acted upon.

Increase transparency and accountability – organizations that do not operate with a high level of transparency and understanding of what is being done to increase DEI, will not feel that enough is being done to make a sustained improvement.

Inclusive leadership skills must be developed – simply being aware of unconscious bias or having a basic business sense for DEI is not enough. Awareness is important, however, it doesn’t automatically mean that action will be taken. Leadership needs to learn the tools, understand the frameworks, and utilize the skills to help close the gap between theory and practice.

Take notice of diversity during conversations and decisions – leadership must create the conditions in which diverse viewpoints will be represented, they must be purposeful in seeking out people with opposing viewpoints, they must delegate equitably, and then proactively identify opportunities for all to maximize professional development.

Pay attention – the growing challenges of DEI efforts have been highlighted due to hybrid and virtual working conditions. Some groups have reported that the virtual working environments come as a relief where being at home has provided a safer place to conduct work during the pandemic. It is clear that flexible work arrangements bring huge benefits, it also creates a risk for widening the diversity gaps and possibly creating new ones. Leadership (and all other members of the organization) need to pay attention to how all people are being treated. Leaders should be intentional in the way they engage and acknowledge each person and their value to the organization.

Act as an ally – acting as an ally for someone is similar to being a catalyst for change. To embrace diversity in the workplace is to advocate on behalf of others and contribute to creating fair working conditions for everyone. Additionally acting as an ally becomes even more critical when supporting historically those groups that have been excluded and may face unique challenges.

Commit to change – to look inward is a very critical piece to enhancing a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Each member of the organization should consider their own leadership strengths and opportunities as they relate to these best behaviors and best practices.

Building a platform – it takes every member of an organization to take action to embrace diversity. It requires the work of the individual, the team, and the entire organization. This work is difficult, so all of those involved should be considerate of others by maintaining their coworker’s sense of self-esteem and demonstrating empathy. Empathy is key. Leadership should continue to spread the message that there is always work being done in this area as well as modeling the behaviors they want to see in their teams and develop a loop for feedback.

-RG

Top 5 List: Improve Service To Others

Top Five List – CC0 Public Domain
Top Five List – CC0 Public Domain

Many business owners operate from this mindset related to customer service: “if you can make your customers happy everything else will simply take care of itself”. But what about those small businesses that simply don’t have the resources to create and implement an effective program for customer service that their employees can use? Here are five easy ways that can improve customer service that won’t require any special training or any additional resources.

Be professional – a professional exchange with customers in-person, on the phone, or in an email will have a major impact on how people communicate with you. Be caring, courteous, polite, and attentive at all times.

Thank you – simply say thank you and let your customers know you appreciate them and their business. This can be done with a quick phone call, a handwritten note, a small gift, an email… Or simply remembering them the next time you interact with them.

Accessible – make it easy for customers to reach you or a member of your team. This can be done through email, voice mail, text messaging, and even social media. These are all great ways to make yourself available and to respond promptly.

Ask – ask customers what they need or what can be done to make things right for them. Never put your customers on the defensive by asking why is there a problem here.

Follow up – follow up with customers especially in those cases where you feel a customer may not be 100% satisfied. It’s surprising to see how few businesses actually do this in a way that is personalized or individualized to that particular customer.

-RG

Top 5 List: Unique Study Habits

Top Five List – CC0 Public Domain
Top Five List – CC0 Public Domain

A crucial part of the successful completion of any degree program is studying. And knowing this so many things still get in the way of a successful study session. Finding the right groove that works for each individual can be challenging. The study tips that are provided by advisers and counselors may just not do the trick. Yes, it helps to have a quiet space free of any distractions where the focus can be prioritized. But what else can be added to maximize the use of this time?

Here are a few study habits that may help to get studies back on track:

Video – one of the trending items in higher education today is the use of “study along” or “study with me” videos. These videos don’t exactly teach you how to study, these are videos that have been created by others showing themselves simply studying. These video creators might suggest some ambient noise or soft music in the background to help enhance the environment. These videos simply show others reading, taking notes, reviewing notecards, etc. Those that use these types of videos report that seeing others in the act of studying find that studying becomes contagious and helps them make the best use of their time.

Sing – at one time or another we’ve all had a song get stuck in her head and simply can’t get rid of it. Take the same idea and put it into use during your next study session. You can make up a few lyrics or a simple jingle about the fact you want to remember or even the key points that could help you on a test. This could be a lifesaver when you need it the most. Turn to your favorite track or a familiar melody to help you memorize different skills it’ll be much easier than you might imagine. Have some fun with it!

Music – many students report that simply listening to some type of study music and letting that same music play why they sleep has helped them improve their academic performance. Try some new style of music. Perhaps some ambient noise or simply some instrumental music that you may not normally listen to.

Rewards – consider rewarding yourself after a study session. Just like a high-performing athlete may have one cheat day where they can enjoy a slice of pizza. Perhaps as a hard-working student, you can set aside your favorite dessert when the studying is done. This can even be a small reward if you enjoy a favorite candy, reward yourself with a piece after reading a few pages in that textbook required for your class. If creating notecards is part of your process for studying, consider setting aside a handful of your favorite snacks once you’re done.

Accessorize – creating a Study area includes more than just setting the mood that applies to your desk arrangement or the lighting. This can apply to your study implements. Perhaps having a special set of pens, notebooks, planners, and stationery will help you visualize success and will support your study sessions. Setting up your surroundings including accessories can go a long way towards putting you in the right state of mind to begin your successful study session.

-RG

Build Trust

Trust
Trust

One of the greatest skills that we are all possessed with is that of building trust. And because of this our skill to build trust can be strengthened deliberately and improved upon.

Trust simply means “to believe that something is true”.

There’re some very simple reasons for not trusting others:

  • We don’t believe they have the knowledge or skills to get the job done
  • We don’t feel that they are experienced enough to do their job well
  • We don’t trust people because they are different, or do things differently
  • We don’t trust that people will deliver results consistently

If we don’t believe that it is true that someone will do a proper job for us, then we simply don’t trust them.

Regardless of your role or position within your organization, it is imperative to take a leadership approach to identify where trust is broken – and then fix it.

Let’s agree to do good things by developing and building trust with each other… Rather than simply just trying to identify those people, we can’t trust. 

Stop labeling people as being “not worthy of trust”.

I’m confident that by removing judgment, identifying the pillar of trust that needs to be repaired, we will build more positive and engaging work relationships built on trust.

-RG

 

Top 5 List – Find Motivation

Top Five List – CC0 Public Domain
Top Five List – CC0 Public Domain

Here is a Top 5 List to help you get back in the work groove after vacation, even if you’d still rather be at the beach. Or at any time during the year when motivation is lacking.

Create lists. The night before or the first thing in the morning, make a list of everything you need to do for the day – especially the difficult stuff. This is most effective if you write it on paper instead of inputting it into your device. Make multiple lists if needed (example – personal & business). This will result in more things being checked off. Actively checking things off a list provides the motivation to do the next task.

Celebrate all achievements. Set small, attainable goals for yourself to complete throughout the day, everything from making phone calls to finishing a report. Then take some time to reward yourself when each goal is reached. Get a coffee, go for a short walk, or listen to a brief podcast…something not work related. As long as it is within reason, whatever you feel you deserve.

Start with the difficult items. A long list of tasks can be overwhelming and discouraging, resulting in very little being accomplished. Especially, if you delay addressing those difficult items. You’ll feel better about yourself and your ability to take on the tougher jobs and finish the day with more enjoyable tasks.

Change things. Many of us fall into a routine, both at home and at work. Breaking that routine, even just once in a while can give us a fresh perspective and renewed energy. Perhaps work from home, change your hours, or simply hold meetings in an unusual place.

Collaborate. Surrounding yourself with others, even those who may also feel unmotivated, can lift the whole group. Keep it light and fun. Get people laughing. Try some word games or company trivia before getting down to business. Sometimes the best way to improve productivity is to think less about being productive.

-RG

Unlock Your Potential – Do This

Leadership – CC0 Public Domain
Leadership – CC0 Public Domain

What are you most proud of?

Grab that thought that just appeared in your mind. That’s right, the very first one that appeared when you read the question. For me, the answer has little to do with achievement, and much more to do with a time where I was able to contribute beyond what I originally thought I was capable of. In my mid-20s, I became the Senior Project Manager for a large retailer. What was supposed to be a temporary journey to lead several of their new construction projects, turned into a multi-year, amazing adventure.

The most profound times of our lives are the situations and challenges we couldn’t have planned for; yet choice-by-choice and effort-by-effort we ended up making it through better off than when we started.

The key to surprising yourself with what you’re capable of is to stay open to discovering more on your journey. When faced with challenge, don’t default to “I can’t.” Instead, center on what you can work towards. The reward is the richness of experience and the awareness that your capability often extends far past what you imagined being possible.

I’ve seen many examples of leaders (in the news this year) stepping up during the pandemic to work towards achieving more:

The manager who made the ask of her greater department to donate leave for an employee who needed extended time off to recover from COVID.

The coach who expanded his team’s roster to take on more players so more kids could have the opportunity to play and exercise during online school.

The senior manager who went without pay for three months to retain junior team members.

The boss who wouldn’t accept a parent’s resignation so she could provide childcare for her kids; instead, he worked to create a flexible schedule for her to get through until schools reopened.

Each of these leaders approached challenges with an eye for how they could be of service to others, finding a way to make things happen, even when it meant sacrifice or extra effort. When you face challenge, focus on the work towards mentality: the first step you can take to overcome it. Then, keep stepping, knowing that with the most difficult matters we face, the value is in the experience not the outcome. And, through it all, look for ways you can contribute to supporting others. That’s leadership.

-RG

Say No – To Being Time Poor

Need More Time
Need More Time

Like many, I’m time poor. (I actually think I may be bankrupt.) But, I’m learning a few powerful lessons during this stress test (known as the Global Pandemic) that I’d like to share.

Before You Commit to Anything, Get Clear on Your Priorities. You might think it’s crazy to take on all of these things that we do and I do agree, I’d also like to offer that all of these activities must be aligned with our top priorities. For example:

  • Family
  • Professional Development
  • Support & Service To Employer (and community)

For the record, I’ve said “no” to things recently, to make room for my “yes” replies When asked if I want to get involved in anything new, I say, “let me think about it” before I agree to move forward. Clear priorities give me guidelines on whether I should say “yes” to anything new.

You Can’t Do Everything. We all have limitations. What I’ve learned is that I can’t be everywhere at once, I don’t always make the best decisions, and there are others willing to step up and help when asked. To manage, we have to delegate and empower. Sometimes it’s hard for people to give up control as they assume more responsibility. You can delegate authority, but not responsibility. When you delegate authority, you give people autonomy – something we all crave. Any task that has been delegated can be a great learning opportunity for someone else.

Sometimes Good Enough Is….Good Enough. We’re all busy and in the greater scheme of our lives, things matter but maybe not as much as we think. When you’re busy, how you allocate your minutes is critical. During the week, there are things I spend time on and things I don’t. There are things that I perfect, and there are things I choose not to. In your world, you know when you’re trying to make perfect things that don’t matter. The key is being able to recognize when good enough is really good enough.

For all of us, we strive to feel full lives. I’ve given up on the idea that life can feel balanced – is anything ever really balanced?

-RG

Effective Communication Strategies For Students

Question Mark – CC0 Public Domain
Question Mark – CC0 Public Domain

Faculty often tell me…when students reach out they often express their concerns about their courses, they confess their shortcomings as students and writers, and they ask for some advice. The conversation might look like this:

Student: “What’s the one thing I can do to increase my chances of doing well?”

Faculty: “Simple, keep the lines of communication open.”

The most successful students are the ones who aren’t afraid to reach out to the faculty members with questions, concerns, and comments. As a student, if you’re not used to communicating with your instructors, here are some helpful tips to help you get the most out of each interaction:

Reach Out Early – Most universities and colleges require their instructors to respond to student inquiries within 24 – 48 hours. So, if you have a paper due by 11:59 PM on Sunday, you don’t want to wait until 11:00 PM to email your instructor. Look over the assignments in the beginning of the week and send questions as soon as they arise!

Avoid Vague Comments and Questions – If you ask vague questions, you’ll get vague answers. If you ask clear and specific questions, then you’ll get clear and specific responses.

Be Prepared – Every now and then, faculty members get a student who will send an email like this: “I’m confused by the assignment. Explain it to me, please.” Most faculty provide assignments with detailed instructions and rubrics. So, faculty members are not willing to simply rewrite the instructions. However, they ARE willing to respond to a specific question with a specific direction or a specific piece of language from the rubric.

Use the Appropriate Communication Channels – Be sure you’re using your instructor’s preferred method of communication. If he/she encourages you to call, then call – just be respectful, and don’t call in the middle of the night! If he/she asks you to communicate via school email, do so. If you don’t use the proper communication channels, you may stall the conversation.

Be Patient – Online courses are available 24/7. Online instructors are not. If the school promises a 24-hour response time, then be sure you give your instructor a full 24 hours before firing another email.

Be Nice – Professors are people. They don’t like to be yelled at. They don’t like to be called names. They are more willing to work with people who are kind to them. So, be professional and be kind.

Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to reach out to your instructors. Good communication can make the difference between an okay learning experience and a great one.

-RG