RSS

Category Archives: Stress at Work

Is fear a good management style?

Management techniques have been the subject of much empirical research for many years now and one of it’s students was American psychologist, Rensis Likert. He studied management styles for 30 years and came to the conclusion that there were four types of management systems. One of which was named “Exploitative Authoritative” and Likert defined this as consisting of:

  • Threats, fear and punishment are used to motivate employees
  • Managers at the top make all the decisions
  • Concerns of those lower down are ignored
  • The manager has little or no confidence or trust in employees
  • There is little teamwork or communication between managers and subordinates

The thing about managing through fear is that although it may have the desired effect in the short term but it is not a sustainable way to manage people if you are looking to achieve long-term results by creating and maintaining the most productive workplace you can.

Fear as a motivator is little more than a scare tactic and for that reason the results of it are usually short lived. The consequences can often be more damaging, such as lower morale, which is notorious for spreading like wildfire and in turn becomes lower productivity anyway.

It’s a great way for a manager to alienate themselves from their people. They appear unapproachable, unreasonable and people don’t want to work for them. This can create relationships whereby people would rather just agree with their manager when being asked for their opinion, instead of saying what they really think. Once people are afraid to go against a figurehead’s point of view, their importance diminishes considerably as does their feeling of self-worth.

It’s also a risk that managing through fear could scare off even the best members of the team even if those tactics aren’t employed with them directly. They will soon seek employment elsewhere if they don’t like what they see – which is a style of management that cultivates dishonesty, ‘brown-nosing’ and colleague sabotage.

So can a leadership and management style ever be used to the benefit of the company and its employees? Have you ever been on the receiving end of such practises? Perhaps you think there are times when it’s appropriate to rule with an iron fist?

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

What stops us making decisions?

You make a decision when you ‘make up your mind’. The downside of this is that when you make a decision, you have to let go of other ideas, options and possibilities. Some people find this difficult to do. There are many reasons for this, including:

  • Not having good decision-making techniques
  • Lack of confidence, not trusting yourself
  • Lack of information or even too much information to keep in your head at one time
  • Disagreement between group members
  • Level of responsibility – if your decision affects others and carries consequences, you may be reluctant to finalise things
  • Being emotionally attached to a certain outcome that is not the logical choice
  • The opportunity cost of making a decision and thus letting go of other options
  • Uncertainty over the consequences, especially if they seem to lead to a lose-lose situation

Sometimes we mull over the smallest decisions without knowing why. It may be because we have no deadline for the decision and are spending too much time on the details. Some people naturally take more time in making a decision than others; this is not necessarily a bad thing, but if time is critical this can have unfortunate consequences.

Motivation

In order to make a decision, we need some personal benefit for making it. Bear in mind that one major benefit of   making a decision is that you no longer need to expend mental energy on it – it is a ‘weight off your mind’.

So, to motivate yourself to make a decision, you need to focus on how you will feel after making the decision. What will be the benefits of making the decision? In the end, it all comes down to the fear of consequences, which produce anxiety and in turn fuels the fear. To drive out the fear of consequences, look at any decision from these four perspectives:

  1. What would happen if I did?
  2. What would happen if I did not?
  3. What would not happen if I did?
  4. What would not happen if I did not?

Each of these is a subtly different question and you will get great clarity around the consequences of a decision by really thinking about each in turn.

Helping people on your team make decisions

You can lead by example, using decision-making techniques regularly and openly. This demonstrates to your team how important you think structured decision-making is and introduces them to the techniques. When your team has become comfortable with a specific technique and are using it regularly by themselves, start introducing new techniques.

You can provide training in decision-making techniques, either by getting external training for your team or running short, regular training sessions yourself. This introduces them to the techniques and raises the importance of practising decision making in their minds. Alternatively, if one of your team is a natural resource investigator and communicator, why not give this role to them and make it their ‘pet project’?

You can coach your staff individually to be better decision makers. Allocate time to talk with them about their difficulties in decision-making and help them to generate the solutions for their improvement themselves

Over time, the group will develop its own decision-making ‘style’ and even start inventing its own approaches.

Dealing with pressure

Feeling under pressure can disrupt the decision-making process, whatever technique you are using. Applying the techniques in a non-pressured environment will help. Get yourself away from the office and distracting interruptions if possible and concentrate on applying the techniques in a cool, calm and collected manner.

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Five reasons why you should take a break from work

Over here in the UK we recently had what we call a ‘long weekend’ – well really it was a bit more than that. Thanks to the Queen’s diamond jubilee there were two days of public holiday on top of the weekend that, for many people, meant a four-day weekend.

It got me thinking about the benefits of an extended break from work and how that rest and recuperation time can be harnessed positively upon returning to work. There are benefits for you, your colleagues, your boss and of course the work you produce and you may not even realise your work and even your working relationships are suffering until you return.

Here are five reasons why you should consider taking a break from work:

1. Let’s start with the obvious one – productivity. Taking a few days away from your workplace can be rejuvenating and give you the energy you need to step up your game. If you are in a better place mentally then it will show not just in the quantity of work you are able to produce but the quality as well. Isn’t 50 weeks of top level production better than 52 weeks of sub standard efficiency?

2. It shows you care about your job. Understand that taking a break is not giving up or running away or any other form of escapism. Mental fatigue can take its toll on you with the effects being felt on everyone around you. Although it’s counterintuitive to think stepping away from a heavy workload is a good idea, in the long run, it can be the best thing for you.

3. Passion. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder’, although you possibly haven’t applied it to a work setting yet. Having time away from your desk can eradicate feelings of jadedness and reignite your passion for your career. You will return hungrier and possibly even with some wonderful new ideas.

4. In this digital era of Smartphones, netbooks, tablets and laptops it has never been more difficult to disconnect from work. Consequently, poor physical wellbeing and burnout are a bigger threat than ever. All the minutes spent, for example, checking and responding to emails on your daily commute can soon add up – and this is even before your working day has actually supposed to start. In isolation you may think nothing of it, but long-term it certainly takes its toll.

5. You get the opportunity to behave differently. You are your behaviour and if the person you behave like is a brain-fried, stressed out workaholic for 40 or 50 hours a week then having a break will let you be somebody else for a week or so. Something as simple as not having a strict schedule to adhere to day in and day out can be hugely refreshing.

I want to leave you with the results of a psychological study that showed how just the simple act of even planning a vacation alleviated stress and increased happiness for up to eight weeks. Certainly food for thought.

For more insights on what Catalyst offers in terms of people skills and learning & development, visit out website for free downloadable material at http://www.cbduk.biz/Downloads.asp

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Perfectionist at work – good or bad thing?

Traditionally, perfectionism is given positive connotations, and rightly so – there are many good qualities associated with the perfectionist. However, in a workplace environment, it may not be the most coveted attribute among co-workers for a few reasons. So, is being a perfectionist a good or a bad thing?

The truth is, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. Perfectionism means you have extremely high standards, you work hard and you usually have a vision of what you want and you know when you have reached it.

But the thing is, the standards the perfectionist strives for are their standards, personal to them and therefore they might not share the same vision flawlessness as their colleagues. This is where friction can arise between colleagues and discontent within the individual.

Not only that, not settling until the task is done to standard can cause work to be completed after deadlines, the knock-on effects of which can be far reaching. Essentially, the perfectionist loses sight of what’s really important – getting the task done on time and in full. 

If you find yourself falling into the perfectionist trap, even if only occasionally, then consider the following:

  • Understand that good enough is enough. If you find yourself going over the same piece of work time and again looking for ways to tweak it on the off chance you can make it even better – stop. Sure, review your work but when you think it’s 80 to 90 percent good enough, move on.
  • Accept that making mistakes are normal. They are a standard part of the learning process and that as long as you do just that – learn from them – then there’s no problem. The reality is that reaching 100 per cent perfection is probably impossible so don’t fret about the possible consequences of making an error and don’t concern yourself with the notion that you will be judged if your work isn’t absolute perfection.
  • Consider your priorities. What impact will improving a particular piece of work have? I mean, what will it actually do? What is its value? If you can’t answer these questions with valid reasons then you need to move on to the next task because it may not be worth your while continuing. Don’t let low priority, more trivial things, consume your valuable time, effort and skills when you could be applying all three to something that genuinely requires it.

Perfectionism can stem from anxiety possibly caused by stress at work or perhaps a poor work/life balance. For more information on these topics and to see how we can help you and/or your team improve performance, visit our website by clicking here or to find out about our free Leadership & Management seminars, click here.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

How do you maintain self-motivation at work?

When things are not all you want them to be in your professional life, motivation is one of the first things that can start to waver. During these periods, there are certain things you can do keep yourself motivated which in turn will make you more productive and, of course, happier.

1. Surround yourself with positive people. You are what you think and those around you can influence your thoughts. So if you sit next to someone in the office who is always being negative, it is bound to get you down.

2. Take on some more responsibility. It could be that you have lost motivation because you are not being sufficiently challenged at work. Ask your manager if there is any of the projects you can get involved with. Even if there isn’t right now, showing willing means you are more likely to be thought of the next time something comes up.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize. Is there something you are working towards either within the workplace or outside of the office? Everybody needs to have a goal – an objective and an outcome they want to achieve. Are you pushing for a promotion or a pay rise? Is there are holiday coming up that you are really looking forward to? If you are lacking motivation, frequently remind yourself of why you are doing what you are doing. 

4. Be active. Regular exercise has been proven to help maintain a healthy mind as well as a healthy body. If you are feeling mentally sluggish, this can often transmit to your energy levels and you can feel drained. By actually being physically active you energise your body and your motivation levels can, in turn, increase as a result.

5. Remember why you have it good. When lacking in motivation, it can be easy to fall into the trap of only thinking about all the terrible aspects of your working life. Each day, it can help to take the time to think about all the things you like about your job, the things you are grateful for, and the positive impact your job has on other aspects of your life. Again, it’s all about getting into the habit of being in a positive frame of mind.

These are just five things that can help increase self-motivation and which you might find useful the next time you are staring at your computer screen wondering why you no longer get that buzz you used to get from a job well done.

At Catalyst, we run learning and development courses covering many aspects of management, coaching, people skills and Motivational Insights™. Click here for more information.

I know there are many other tools and techniques out there that work well so please leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Employee issues – capability and conduct

Capability and conduct should be treated separately and it’s important to recognise the difference between warning someone for a capability matter or their conduct. Some organisations have separate disciplinary procedures for dealing with capability and conduct.

Capability

Dismissal on grounds of capability could be for one of three reasons:

  1. Lack of or loss of an essential qualification to do the job
  2. Lack of ability or skill – this can be repeated minor incompetence or one serious act of incompetence (poor performance)
  3. Lack of capability because of ill health

Qualification

If an employee loses or fails to achieve a qualification necessary to do his job, he may be dismissed on grounds of capability. However, other options should be explored if, for example, an employee whose job it is to travel to clients loses his driver’s licence for a year. Can they work from home or office? Can they use public transport? Can he do another job in the business while his licence is withheld?

Poor Work Performance

It’s the manager’s job to show that poor performance is the reason for the dismissal and that you reasonably believe your employee is not capable of working to the required standard. Rather than dismiss for a minor incompetence as a first offence, it should be something really serious like a life-threatening action or omission.

You must help the employee by doing everything reasonable to help them meet the required standard of performance by using coaching and retraining and giving a reasonable amount of time to improve. You must warn the employee before dismissal of the consequences of failure to improve.

Ill Health

It is not unfair to dismiss an employee who is no longer capable of working because they are too unwell to do so. In cases of long-term ill health, you should concentrate on investigating the medical facts and consulting with the affected employee about the available options.

A person may be disabled if he has a physical or mental impairment which is substantial and exercises a long-term adverse effect on his ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.

You must consider all the other options apart from dismissal. It may be possible to find an alternative job or change the job content to accommodate the employee’s changed requirements.

As an employer, you have to be seen to be considering all the options properly and going through a fair procedure to avoid an unfair dismissal claim, even if the end result would have been the same anyway, fair procedure or no fair procedure.

Conduct

Dismissal for a reason relating to the conduct of an employee will be fair, provided the procedure is properly followed. Examples of misconduct:

  • Poor timekeeping
  • Poor attendance

Gross misconduct is a very serious breach of conduct by the employee. It may be an act or an omission, but it is tantamount to a fundamental breach of contract by the employee. Examples of gross misconduct:

  • Theft
  • Fighting, abusive or intimidating behaviour
  • Consumption of alcohol while on duty

Your procedure must list the offences you consider to be gross misconduct in your organisation.

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

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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. 

 

Tags: , , , ,