Do Your Employees Hate Coming to Work?

Last Sunday, The New York Times republished a 2014 article, “Why You Hate Work”. Among other things, the article summarizes the results of a survey conducted by one of the authors, and reinforced challenges of employee engagement in the workplace.

They cited four things that make a difference in employee engagement and productivity.

1. Renewal – the ability to take breaks to refresh. A notable quote: “feeling encouraged by one’s supervisor to take breaks increases by nearly 100 percent people’s likelihood to stay with any given company, and also doubles their sense of health and well-being.”

2. Value – feeling appreciated by one’s supervisor

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A Day of Gratitude

Long time readers of this column know that I love Thanksgiving for its simplicity of coming together as friends and family with no commercial agenda. Engaging in spirited discussion, eating too much, and rooting for football teams are hallmarks of a day of contentment.

I always marvel at the variety of ethnic adaptations that different cultures bring to the day. If you didn’t hear “The Sporkful: Thanksgiving is for Eaters”, it’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit.

Beyond the holiday elements, I think of Thanksgiving as a day of gratitude. It’s a time to pause, reflect, and give thanks for the things that mean the most to you.

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Managerial Consistency

How does a manager stay on top of the myriad details that her employees oversee? Unless you’re a supernatural micromanager, it’s impossible. No matter how organized and detail-driven you are, your staff is accountable to do their jobs. How you manage them will make the difference.

Consistency is one of the key factors for successful outcomes. If you are all over the map, no one will know what to expect from you. Here are some ideas to consider:

Communication: Of course, all roads lead back to excellent communication. If you aren’t precise and clear in your direction, you can’t expect your staff to follow the path of your expectation. Be clear verbally and in writing.

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Resiliency in Change

Change can cause massive turmoil, especially when you least expect it. Organizations undergo restructuring, management shifts, and new job responsibilities without even realizing the whirlwind of confusion and bewilderment that can follow.

When you layer on employees’ concerns, dissatisfaction, and fears from such changes, it can become a leadership nightmare.

Leaders need to learn how to assess situations, make decisions and take action often without the benefit of collaboration or advice. Simply put, you need to rely on your inner knowledge and wisdom to lead your staff and manage the change.

This isn’t easy and it takes practice. Like anything else, clarity about what you face ahead can bring you a long way on your learning curve.

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The Respect Factor

When tensions run high in the workplace, the issue of respect often rises to the surface. People become angry when they feel ignored, dissed, or talked to in negative ways. They don’t feel respected, and the resulting resentment seeps into many conversations and activities, whether or not relevant.

Being respected is more important than being liked. The two are not mutually exclusive – you can respect someone, but don’t necessarily have to like him. On the other hand, you can like somebody, but may not have respect for her. Think about it – would you rather work with a person you respect, or one who you like?

Leaders need to be mindful of the respect factor, because when disrespect creeps into the office environment, it can become viral. When this happens, life at the office can border on toxic.

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Magical Halloween Trends

The National Retail Federation has been conducting research on Halloween since 2003. You may not believe it but this year’s spend on Halloween is expected to reach a high of $8.4 billion. Some 171 million Americans will spend an average of $82.93 on the holiday, up nearly 12% from last year.

The NRF reports three Halloween-related trends captured from their research survey conducted by Prosper Insights. First, Halloween is no longer just for kids. Millennials are the top Halloween consumers and are most likely to spend on costumes and parties and report these activities over social media.

Next, this year represents the second lowest in trick-or-treating, and more activities are shifting to retail venues instead of door-to-door. Finally, costume trends have shifted from princess to superhero. Costumes are more gender neutral, with spending on costumes expected to reach $1.17 billion. And, don’t forget pets – 16% of pets will strut in style in an array of costumes.

So why is this important to you?

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Team Dynamics

I recently moderated a panel discussion on interview skills for college students. The panelists were from top companies in financial services, technology, consulting, and fashion retail. One of the trends that emerged from the discussion was the expectation that entry level employees have strong skills to be part of a team.

The evolution towards team focus parlays to managers: You need to hone what is important in leading successful teams in addition to managing individual efforts. This begins with the ability to assess the strengths and weaknesses of team members.

Skill assessment: You already know the core skills of each of your employees. In more of a team environment, competencies such as interpersonal and collaborative skills become more important. Use a skills assessment to objectively evaluate these and other job-based skills.

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Do You Hear What You Say?

Last time I wrote about the impact of tone of voice. This week is about content.

Are you aware of what you say when you speak to your staff (co-workers, family, friends…you get the picture)? Most breakdowns in the workplace can trace back to ineffective – or just plain old BAD – communication.

I’ve recalled several examples shared by clients during the past few weeks.

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Do You Like What You Hear?

I have a friend who is a litigator by profession, and true to her calling, she sounds like a litigator in all aspects of her life. She is smart, interesting, and fun to be around….that is, when it doesn’t seem like she’s badgering people. Her tone is often contentious and argumentative, even if we’re talking about something as mundane as what to order in a restaurant.

The sad part is that she doesn’t realize what she sounds like.

As a friend, I overlook this. Once I had an “organic opportunity” to bring it up, and she denied that she sounded the way that I described. Friends can be forgiving. Colleagues may not be.

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Pause to Acknowledge the Accomplishments

Last week’s column recommended turning your attention to your remaining 2016 goals. I hope you came up with some concrete ideas that will move you forward to complete them by year end.

Although it’s important to tune into what you haven’t yet accomplished, it’s equally important to take time to acknowledge what you have achieved and commemorate those triumphs.

Leaders who are achievers are always pushing to the next goal…the far-off target…the “blue moon” project. I see this in most of my clients: they complete something awesome, and then plunge right into the next aspiration without pausing to acknowledge the great work they’ve done.

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