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Motivate a Bored Team With These Three Tips

September 6th, 2019

Each member of your team entered the workplace because he/she/they showed promise. The company or interviewer truly believed (at that moment) that this person could come on board, accomplish something important for the company, and change things for the better. Some of these hires have certainly done this, and continue to do it every day. But for most of the team, a more realistic scenario eventually sets in: On good days, they fulfill their promise. On regular days, they just show up, do their best, and clock out.

A little thoughtful motivation, properly applied, can help increase the overall number of good days, and reduce the number of days that are just meh. Here are a few ways to make that happen.

Rely on the power of teamwork

Recognize a key truth about all important endeavors: nobody accomplishes them alone. To do something big, we need multiple areas of expertise, multiple varied skill sets, and a combination of different strengths. We need to come to the table and pool the assets we have. We need to compensate for each other’s weaknesses, share our specific areas of knowledge, and talk through problems from multiple angles and perspectives. Make sure each person knows that they don’t have to shoulder the weight of an entire project or effort on their own. They really shouldn’t try. Collaboration and interdependence, not isolation or silent suffering, will get us to our goals.

Pay people what they’re worth

It’s nice to talk about employee engagement, and it’s wonderful to see workers having fun with each other and enjoying their projects. But under lots of cheerful, friendly, positive language about “passion” and “commitment” and “loyalty to the company”, no rational person would come in every day and work hard for the company if they weren’t getting paid. The bottom line for employee motivation is the bottom line: dollars. Make sure spending the entire day here is well worth your employee’s time. If you do, they’ll work hard. If you pay the minimum they’ll accept, they’ll only show up until they find something better.

Don’t punish employees for failure

As a manager (especially an inexperienced or first-time manager), you may believe that your job depends on an equal blend of carrots and sticks. Half your day should be spent on encouragement and the other half on correction and constructive criticism. That’s fine if you’re correcting a course of action to help an employee find a better outcome. But watch out; the stick should be used only for acts that seem both consciously negative and consciously counter to the interests of the company. Bad behavior and “failure” are not synonymous, and trouble brews for a manager who treats failure like a conscious decision to hurt the company. Encourage effort, risk and bold ideas. When they fail or don’t pan out as planned, encourage them even more.

For more on how to keep your teams inspired and get the most out of their efforts, contact the staffing experts at Merritt.

Dealing With Dramatic Employees

November 9th, 2018

Let’s face it: A modern office with grey upholstery and windows that overlook a parking lot just isn’t a very interesting place. Polite conversation, strained laughter, plastic coffee stirrers and repetitive tasks just don’t have much Oscar-winning movie potential. And when confined to such spaces day after day, many of us find new outlets for our emotions. If you’ve ever turned into an Olympic sprinter upon hearing news of free cake in the break room, you understand this phenomenon. And if you’ve ever felt like screaming at your desk for no reason … we understand. Some people manage these feelings more easily than others. Here’s how to deal with workers who channel their in-office emotions inappropriately or excessively —the employees we call “dramatic.”

First, judge not.

Dramatic employees are not stupid, crazy or undisciplined. We ALL feel this way when we’re placed in conducive circumstances. So, remember: The circumstances are the problem, not the person. If we decided to throw all “dramatic” employees out the door, none of us would be spared, including you. Treat others the way you would want to be treated should you find yourself in their shoes, which you eventually might.

Recognize that conflict is rarely what it seems.

Steve is extremely, unreasonably upset because Karen ate his lunch, or because Sally spoke rudely to him during a meeting, or because he thinks Amed has a secret he isn’t sharing. Before you discount Steve’s concerns, recognize this probably isn’t just about the stolen lunch. If Steve and Karen have a simmering, unspoken conflict, address the conflict, not the lunch.

People cry at work. Deal with it.

In some imaginary distant era, “professionalism” meant keeping a cool head, and keeping cool head—for some reason—absolutely precluded workplace tears. Workplace yelling may have been okay sometimes, and workplace swearing had its place, but crying was absolutely, positively, never, ever acceptable in a professional venue. Such a cultural requirement is not only impossible, it’s ridiculous. People cry. They cry at work. Let them. Accept this perfectly normal form of human expression and make sure others do as well. Occasional tears are part of healthy and functional human interaction. Keep tissues available around the office.

Maintain a culture of perspective

It feels terrible to lose an account because of a mistake, or to have a proposal rejected after weeks of work. It’s terrible to endure a botched roll-out or a product that flops. But these things happen. It’s how you bounce back—as a person and as a team—that defines your success. A climate in which “failure is not an option” breeds excessive, toxic and unnecessary drama. If you don’t want a workplace in which employees claw at each other, scream, lie, swear, hide, hold grudges or throw tantrums, don’t build rigidity into your culture. Place perspective, teamwork and learning above a relentless focus on success metrics that fall outside of your control.

For more, contact the management and career development experts at Merritt.

Are You a Bad Boss?

October 19th, 2018

You’ve finally reached the management stage of your career, a level at which you hold sway over the positions, responsibilities, paychecks and expectations of other people. You’re a leader now, which is to say, a boss. But are you a good boss? Are you effective? Are you respected? Are you liked?

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you evaluate your leadership skills and look for areas where your management style could use a little work.

First, don’t coast.

Bad bosses usually don’t KNOW they’re bad bosses. And even when they do, they rarely choose to become bad bosses on purpose. Nobody does that. When you’ve earned the respect, trust and appreciation of your team, they tend to make this clear. If you haven’t, your employees aren’t likely to tell you anything at all. There are no billboards to inform you when you’re going down the wrong road. So, as you conduct your self-assessment, be brutally honest. Don’t assume little birds will bring the news; be brave and seek it out.

Give your employees a chance to speak their minds.

If you ask a subordinate, point blank, if they like and respect you, you won’t get an honest answer. But if you let your employees know you’re open to both general and project-specific feedback, you follow through on that by receiving the feedback gratefully and acting on it directly, you’ll get better results, more honesty and more helpful information.

Don’t make people share twice.

Here’s a habit we often employ when we face painful corrections, hard advice or negative feedback: we ask twice. We say, “Am I doing this wrong?” and when we get an affirmative answer, we ask again until we get the answer we’d rather hear. Don’t do this. If you’re told—even subtly—that your directions are unclear, your demeanor is ineffective, your jokes aren’t funny, your example isn’t inspiring or your work ethic could be improved, don’t respond by asking again. Just swallow that bitter pill and get to work on fixing the problem.

Be the person you want your employees to be.

If you want them to stay late, stay late and come in early. If you want them to care more about bigger-picture project outcomes, show you care about these outcomes more than anyone. If you want them to edit their emails carefully until they contain no typos, don’t send out emails with typos. If you want them to take safety rules seriously, make sure they see you doing the same. Don’t set standards that you don’t personally intend to meet. This includes everything from communication to organization to general engagement and professional behavior.

For more on how to set an example and earn the respect of your teams, contact the management experts at Merritt.

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