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Category Archives: Leadership

How do YOU create a happy workplace?

We’ve all been in jobs where the atmosphere is, shall we say, less than harmonious. People grumbling, gossip flying, unmotivated individuals and conflict galore. Nobody wants to spend eight hours of their day in a place like that.

While it’s not so straightforward to create and maintain a happy working environment but there are certain things that can be done to help cultivate one. The result is a more productive workplace with motivated personnel and a happy workforce.

There are so many factors at play so here are just five things that can help. We encourage you to let us know what works for you in the comments section below.

1. Be Positive

Show that you are positive, approachable and willing and able to lend a hand if asked. Even things like smiling and pleasantries convey a positive demeanour and people will remember you for a simple, ‘hi, how are you?’ Also, be respectful; do not engage in tittle-tattle or gossip, and ask questions before making assumptions – particularly when talking about other people.

2. Be Sociable

Ask you’re colleagues how their weekend was, chat about whatever sporting event took place the previous night. Does your company have a football team? Join it! 

Be the one to buy someone a birthday cake or get the morning coffee and don’t be afraid to suggest a quick drink after work. Getting to know the people behind the job titles you see day in and day out can really stand you in good stead should problems arise.

3. Personal Space

Don’t invade personal space whether you are talking to someone at their desk or sitting next to them spilling paperwork everywhere. If you share a desk or workspace, come to a mutual agreement as to where the boundaries are and stick to it. This shows a mutual respect and means if there is a pre-arranged agreement both parties know where they stand.

4. Be Honest

Be ethical and do the right thing. Don’t promise things unless you know you will be able to deliver them. Whether that is a reward for a completed task or saying you will have something delivered by a certain time.  If you say yes just to appease somebody then this will only lead to trouble further down the line so be honest about what you can and cannot do and don’t feel pressured into taking on too much responsibility. 

5. Don’t Assign Blame

Or at least, don’t vocalise this even if you do think someone else is at fault. This normally leads to snippy remarks, arguments and a general unproductive and unpleasant atmosphere. If you are the one to appear only too happy to listen to the other person’s point of view and willing to show empathy then the person with whom you have a problem will likely be much more receptive to negotiation. 

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Managing your state

We can’t exactly measure our states but we know when our state is changing. However, it’s not true to say we have no control over our states – not only that, it’s a limiting and unhelpful belief.

Everybody manages his or her state to some extent. For example, ‘I will take a long bath; that will make me feel better’ or ‘I will go out for a run’ are both strategies to change our state.

As we pass from state to state, we think of them as good or bad and we know the states we enjoy and the ones we don’t, so we have a basis for deciding whether to maintain a state or change it to something quite different.

External Event

We usually think that a state happens as the result of an external event, however, a state is not always directly linked to the external event, and it only occurs after some other processing takes place. This processing is unique to each of us, so the state that results from an event will be different for each of us.

Events themselves are neutral, it’s only after we have processed them through our filters that we label them as good or bad. If the majority considers an event bad, this does not make it so. It simply means the majority have filtered the event in a similar way and come to the same conclusion.

The good news is that just because we think an event is ‘bad’, this does not mean it cannot change for us if we change our filters.

Internal Movie

Another way that states arise is when we imagine something or replay a memory. This can be completely unrelated to what is going on around us, yet it can still generate a powerful state. If we really get into the process, an internal movie can generate just as powerful a state as an external event.

Behaviour

By behaviour, we mean any activity. This could be something subtle, such as the way you stand or breathe, or something much more obvious, such as a brisk walk or talking. 

Our state is affected by activity, even a subtle activity. How do you stand when you put on that really expensive and sharp-looking suit? You are power dressed and you know it. If you stand that way right now, even without the suit, how do you feel?

Changing state

We can change our state in the moment by changing any of the above things that affect state and we can make more permanent changes to the way we generate states by changing our filters.

What state do you want?

Your state influences everything you do. If you are clear about the optimal state for doing something and then access that state, you will be making it much easier to achieve your outcome.

Whatever your planned activity, you might start by considering the following:

  • What state you want to be in?
  • What state do you want other people to be in?

You then need to plan how you, and others, can achieve those states. It may well be that you can’t do it all in one jump, so what intermediate states would you or others need to go through?

Baseline State

Many states are fleeting or transitional, but each of us usually drops back into a state in which we feel ‘at home’ – your baseline state. This may be balanced and harmonious or it may be out of balance and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it has become habitual, even if it is one of continuing anxiety or depression or dullness. The quality of your baseline state contributes hugely to the quality of your life, since you spend so much time in it.

Eliciting states in others

We are always eliciting states in others whenever we interact with them. Another person will always pass what they experience of us through their filters, coming up with a meaning which will affect their state.

The simplest way to elicit a particular state in another person is to ask them to remember a time when they were in that state as vividly as they can. This works best when you are in rapport with the other person, and you are already doing your ‘version’ of the state you want them to access. If you want them to access confidence, be in a confident state yourself, with all the voice and posture signals that exude confidence.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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How to give a great presentation

The idea of giving a presentation can be daunting but it’s something many professionals will have to do at some time or another, whether it be for a job interview or in the weekly Monday morning briefing.

Anyone who’s stood up and delivered a speech of some kind in front of total strangers, or indeed people you know relatively well, knows it is not an easy task and that it takes practice to get it right.

Delivering a good presentation also requires preparation and if you put in the time and research certain key areas then your chances of blowing away your audience increase immeasurably.

Think about who your audience will be

How many people will be there?

What will their attitude be? 

How much do they already know?

Are they there by choice?

What language will be most appropriate?

Prepare you material 

Brainstorm all your ideas

Aim for no more than eight main points

Open with an inspiring, positive, attention-grabbing statement of intent

Make sure each part of the material has a purpose

A simple, effective plan for any presentation is to keep in mind the following:

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them. Then they know what to expect and there will be no surprises and tell them what they will get from it.
  2. Tell them. Deliver the presentation as you have told them you will and invite questions throughout.
  3. Tell them what you have told them. Succinctly recap and review what you have delivered in the presentation and invite questions.

If used in the right way, visual aids are a fantastic addition to any presentation because if something is written down in a clear format it is often easier to understand. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts for using visual aids:

  • Do keep each visual as simple as you can
  • Do maintain eye contact with the audience. Resist the temptation to stare at your work.
  • Do check the equipment for your presentation and have spares of everything.
  • Don’t write everything down on the visual, leave yourself some things to say – it’s not a script
  • Don’t use just one colour – vary between light and dark and texts and backgrounds.
  • Don’t leave a visual up if you’ve finished talking about it.

For more information on the courses Catalyst offer or to find about our FREE Leadership & Management seminars, click HERE 

 

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Performance management. What are the key skills?

Managing a person’s performance requires a wide range of skills, from the inter-personal through to process skills. The key ones are as follows:

Goal setting

Without setting a goal, you cannot manage a performance since nobody has a yardstick with which to measure achievements. No measurement, no management.

Coaching

Coaching is an essential part of managing staff performance so individuals can learn how things could have been achieved more efficiently. To improve performance, it is helpful to coach them through using questions such as:

  • How do you think you could have done that differently, for a better outcome?

Or

  • Do you think ‘Z’ approach would have been more effective?

This allows staff to evaluate their own performance and helps them consider other possible approaches for next time.

Mentoring

A mentor’s role is that of someone who has ‘done it before’ so they use their own personal experience to meet the same objectives. This is frequently called mentoring, as opposed to coaching.

Delegation

This can be a very useful way to improve staff performance. Even if the delegated work isn’t carried out perfectly, with the right feedback and coaching it can be extremely effective management tool. 

Empowerment

This is used to drive an individual’s performance to new highs because people often respond to the feeling of empowerment to complete a task by performing well, as long as there’s an appropriate level of coaching and feedback.

Feedback

If a person is doing well at a particular task, or just in general, tell them and they are more likely to continue performing to that standard. Positive feedback makes people feel good, giving them a sense of achievement and motivating them to continue working hard.

On the flip side, if a person is performing ineffectively and they don’t know why, won’t improve. Constructive feedback enables individuals to address any problems or challenges and become more effective.

Listening and questioning

When you are listening to someone, focus on them and absorb what they say. Get underneath their skin and understand their perspective.

Asking relevant, probing, open questions allowing for further discussion to get to the core of any problems. This focuses on addressing the causes of issues, rather than unmet objectives.

People will not always tell you the real reasons for issues. For example, they may feel they should have the skills to do their job, but don’t really understand what they should be doing.

Time management 

A person who isn’t managing their time effectively, and therefore not meeting their objectives, may need help to understand how they can manage their time better. You can help your employees by assisting them with things like task prioritisation.

Regarding your own time management, you may need to seek clarification from your manager to ensure priorities have not changed and that you are performing effectively.

Motivation

Motivation is often used to explain poor performance and while there are often many factors, motivation is clearly a major factor in levels of performance. As a manager, you need to know what motivation is and how to encourage it in your people.

Assertiveness

Despite their senior position, many managers are unable to be genuinely assertive. They are either unable to ask for what they want without trampling over the rights of their people or to set firm boundaries and expectations.

360 degree appraisals

This is a useful assessment if an individual is unaware of their performance level or if it differs greatly from how others see it. It can also help when the individual is not receptive to constructive feedback.

It combats this lack of awareness and thus raises the individual’s performance because the feedback is usually supplied anonymously so it’s harder for the individual to dispute the findings.

Post courtesy of People Alchemy – for access to the Alchemy for Managers online resource visit http://www.peoplealchemy.co.uk/catalyst

 

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The Skills/Motivation Matrix – do you recognise any of these?

Skills and motivation are the two key components needed if you want to achieve optimal performance. Having one without the other, both or even neither obviously has a massive impact on what a person can achieve.

As you will see from the words below, depending on the skill/motivation combination determines what kind of approach is required in terms of managing that person and maximising their performance.

Directing (low skills/low motivation)

Raising skills and motivational levels through training of short-term tasks.

The manager helps the person to envision a future they can construct, own and direct, and they set themselves short- and long-term goals to achieve this. Learning is structured through a series of cumulative events or short-term tasks with deadlines.

Guiding (low skills/high motivation)

Raising skill levels through on-the-job training, guidance, envisioning, support and encouragement. 

The manager needs to effect a real commitment to the employee’s vision of their future, ensuring that activity is consistent with this goal and is founded on what this future would really be like if the skills are fully developed and embedded in different practice.

Inspiring (high skills/low motivation)

Increasing motivation through opportunities for short-term successes, brokering resources, making connections.

Find out why there is low motivation. Skill is required to work adeptly on the positives expressed by employee in the dialogue, without being trapped into agreeing with or joining in the dissatisfaction. A range of short-term actions should be agreed that will bring a raft of successes to build on further and generate new enthusiasm.

Delegating (high skills/high motivation):

Exploiting connections, creating rich opportunities, disseminating benefit through delegated freedom to experiment.

The freedom to experiment needs to be well supported to allow mistakes to happen and to gather learning from such eventualities. The manager will be careful not to supervise the processes, but to work alongside with subtlety to evidence their interest, maximise the on-going dialogue about the learning arising from the experimentation.

To find out more about Catalyst’s accredited Leadership & Management courses and for information on our FREE seminars call us on 0207 436 3636 or click here to visit our website.

 

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Assertiveness at work: Have you found the right balance?

What is assertiveness?

  • Respecting yourself and others
  • Taking responsibility for your actions
  • Being honest with yourself and others
  • Sharing understanding other’s situations
  • Dealing with conflict

As human beings, we have two natural responses to perceived threats – fight or flight. This means we either behave aggressively or submissively.

If we behave aggressively, essentially we are looking to satisfy our own needs at any cost even if that is at the expense of somebody else. 

For the individual, the short-term benefits might be that we achieve a sense of authority but in the long-term we might feel a sense of guilt and a feeling of isolation.

Unsurprisingly, behaving submissively is not without its pitfalls either. It’s basically accepting defeat right from the off. We should never feel apologetic just for wanting something different.

Sure, we might gain a certain amount of popularity from colleagues for accepting an unpopular task, or we might get praise from the boss for the same thing. But long-term, problems can arise such as feeling a lack of self-worth, low self-esteem and fatigue from an unmanageable workload.

So, what is it that affects our ability to be assertive?

Self expectation: You must have a positive mental attitude and believe you will achieve what you are setting out to do because if you do, then this will come across in your communication.

Attitude: They influence behaviour and your attitude toward someone will come across in how you talk to them and behave around them. Things like prejudice and certainty prevent effective communication while flexibility and openness facilitates it.

Benefits of communicating assertively:

  • You can influence others by stating your preferences clearly and appropriately
  • You will quickly find out what others think and what they prefer
  • You will feel more confident about making decisions that work and are right for you and others

Finally, being assertive is NOT:

  • Getting your own way at all costs
  • A series of tricks or techniques
  • A way of manipulating others

Being Assertive is one of a number of issues covered in Catalyst’s Active Knowledge Bites™ which we deliver as part of our portfolio of training solutions. More information on these and other courses are available on our website.

 

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