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Tag Archives: training

Language in the workplace: should leaders and managers swear?

Some people couldn’t care less about swearing while others are highly offended by it. Bad language can be a divisive topic in it’s own right, but swearing at work seems to cause an even greater split.

There is evidence to suggest swearing in the workplace can have a positive impact on morale and relieve stress therefore boosting productivity, creating a better team spirit and improving bonds between colleagues.

The reason for this is that it enables people to be themselves and express themselves in a way that they naturally would outside of the office. When colleagues see this happening, it helps to break down barriers because you are seeing more of the personality behind the job title.

Others might argue that swearing is just rude, immature, unjustified, and a lazy way of expressing feeling. Of course, context is everything. It can be very easy to interpret swearing as nothing more than straightforward anger and aggression.

While cursing the computer system for crashing on you for the tenth time today may be seen as humorous, using foul language to abuse your boss for increasing your workload will probably paint you in a bad light. 

But what about when bosses and managers swear? Does this make you feel comfortable? These are the people you are supposed to look to for leadership so you want to see someone who is strong and in control and if that means using ‘strong’ language then that’s great, right?

On the other hand, if the person managing your team is always ‘effing and blinding’, doesn’t this display a lack of control? Shouldn’t they be more sensitive to their team members since the negative consequences of not swearing surely outweigh the positives of swearing?

Think back to Barack Obama’s reaction to the BP oil spill when he was said not to care enough about the incident – until he told a reporter he wanted to find out “whose ass to kick”. And it was only recently that Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron was widely criticised for referring to a member of the opposition party as a “muttering idiot.”

In some workplaces, they play it safe by having a zero tolerance policy on swearing in any context, be it humorous, light-hearted or otherwise. Others may want to encourage an open environment, freedom of expression and so forth. Whatever is decided, it’s important to be consistent and practice what is preached.

What are your feelings on swearing in the workplace? How much depends on where you work? Would you speak out if you manager’s language made you uncomfortable?

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How to correct poor performance in the workplace

If a member of your team is genuinely performing poorly in the workplace, then you need to act now. Delay will only make matters worse.

First, look back at the objectives that you set for the person:

  • Were they realistic?
  • Were they achievable?
  • Was the time frame reasonable, given the rest of their workload?
  • Have other priorities taken precedence?
  • Was the objective clear enough?

Second, consider the person:

  • Do they understand the objectives and know what they should be doing?
  • Do they believe and want to do the job?
  • Do they think they have a better way of doing the job?
  • What do they think they will get if they do the job?
  • Does the job overstretch them and send them into panic?
  • Do they think that something else is more important?
  • Are they getting enough feedback?
  • Do they realise that they are underperforming?
  • Are they under stress from factors outside work?

Third, consider the environment:

  • Do they have the tools to do the job?
  • Do the systems and processes allow them to do the job?
  • Do they have the assistance they need?
  • Are other tasks getting priority?
  • What other external things influence their performance?

Remember though, this is only your point of view and the person who is not meeting their targets may not agree with your assessment. Really try to empathise with them and you will better understand why they are underperforming.

It’s also important to be emotionally detached and not get angry about their performance, as this won’t solve anything.

The next stage is to discuss with the underachiever everything we have looked at so far and get their perspective on things. Ensure that they are able to be open and honest with you, even if you get feedback that you don’t like about your own part in the situation. 

Assist the person see the effects of their behaviour from other people’s perspectives, including your own and anyone else who is immediately affected. The reasons for the poor performance will become apparent, and then it is a matter of addressing them.

If you identify that the poor performance is due to lack of knowledge, training can rectify this. There may be a company programme that would be suitable, or it might just be a simple case of the person working with another, more experienced member of staff, shadowing what they do for a while.

If the objectives were not clear to the person, you need to re-set them.

If the person is genuinely unaware that their performance is poor, and yet others think it is, you might consider a 360-degree process, which will ensure they get the broad-based feedback they need.

Note that if whatever it is that is affecting performance is external to the work environment, you may recommend counselling or perhaps the HR department may be able to help.

Whatever you decide to do, you need to create and agree a clear action plan with the person. This should include specific steps and checkpoints along the way to an agreed target and it’s a very good idea to document the plan and even get the person to sign a copy so it has an air of importance to them.

The action plan would also include features to mitigate the risk of a repeat of the poor performance, despite your best efforts. To this end, you need to consider what sort of monitoring needs to be in place, and also what contingency plans.

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 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.

 

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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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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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Time Management – how you can be more efficient at work

Time is something we all have and that, famously, waits for no one. “I just haven’t got the time” is a common workplace complaint and it can be frustrating when everybody wants a piece of your time, tasks start to build up and it can become overwhelming.

So, here are some tips and on how you can better manager your time, get more things done and ultimately feel more satisfied at the end of your working day.

Group and prioritise your activities

  • Use lists. Create a list of all the activities you are involved with and put them into groups/categories
  • Prioritise. Think about what your main objective is and which group is most important in terms of achieving that goal

Make a daily To Do list

  • Get into the habit of updating it at the same time on a daily basis. Remember, human beings are habit machines so do this regularly and it will become second nature.

Set your priorities 

  • Label them as High, Medium and Low Value and keep the list in a prominent place  where you will always see it and it’s always accessible.

Tackle each item based on its value, starting with the High ones

  • It is also a good idea to have a list of small tasks to be completed for when you need a break or you have some spare time – which you are sure to have when you follow these time management tips!

Make sure you limit your To Do list to one that is achievable for that day

  • That way you will have that overwhelming sense of achievement when you finish work at the end of the day.

Don’t put off the things

Don’t be tempted to postpone the tasks that you dislike and, by the same token, include things you do enjoy. It will help give you the juice to keep going.

Allow for unexpected interruptions

  • Have a contingency plan in place for those interruptions which are unavoidable. If you deem any of them unnecessary then see what can be done to minimise them or at least the chance of them happening.

Set time limits

  • For when people ask for your time such as a meeting request, and be firm about it. If it’s not suitable offer up an alternative solution such as a different day.

What do you find works well when it comes to time management? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

 

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We could be heroes: Self coaching and how to go about it – Part 2

Self coaching is a very useful tool and if used correctly and appropriately can be very effective in helping you take the initiative and make a positive change. If you missed Part 1 of this blog post, it can be found here.

Now we will continue to look at what tools you can use for self coaching. 

Action Learning Sets

An action learning set is a group of individuals who gather together over a period of time to explore a particular topic. Between meetings, the members of the set go away to explore issues back at work that are related to the topic. They then bring their experiences to the next meeting and discuss them with the whole set. Coaching yourself can assist you in getting the most out of an action learning set and vice versa.

During a 360 degree feedback process

Some organisations use either ad hoc or regular 360 degree feedback processes. If you are actively coaching yourself, this is likely to assist you in completing the 360 degree questionnaire, getting the most out of the feedback from the whole process and acting on it to further develop yourself.

Mentors (real or virtual)

This might be someone within or outside the organisation that can act as a mentor. You can test out with them the ideas and reflections that have come from your self coaching. Nowadays, mentoring can be face to face, on the phone or via email. 

You might be asking what virtual mentors could be. Well, even if you don’t have an actual mentor, or if you cannot contact them when you need to at a particularly challenging time, there is an exercise that can help you to tap into a mentor’s wisdom. Virtual mentors are people who you call on in your mind, rather than in reality. They could be dead, alive, fictional or real, mythical, historical, known to you or famous. Your mentor could even be an animal: for example, some people have a courageous lion or wise owl as a mentor.

The following exercise works well if you have a decision to make or are facing a difficult problem. You can do it either in your head or on paper, and it can work very well if you walk around and step into the different mentors’ shoes. The latter tends to be the most effective way of doing this exercise, so you will need a private space for it.

Exercise

Step 1 Think about the issue or question you are facing.
Step 2 Think of three virtual mentors whose wise words about this particular issue you would like to hear. Perhaps mark a space with paper on the floor where they would stand.
Step 3 Take one of the mentors and step into their shoes, onto the piece of paper on the floor. As you stand in their shoes, imagine you are them. From their perspective, look at you, back where you were first standing. From their shoes, give yourself some words of wisdom, encouragement, support and/or inspiration to help you in the situation you are facing or the decision you are making.
Step 4 Step back into your shoes and take on board these wise words.
Step 5 Repeat steps 3 and 4 with each of the other two mentors.
Step 6 When you are back in your shoes, take on board the wise words from all three of your mentors. Then look up and visualise yourself acting on these wise words.
If you want more information on our coaching courses, or indeed any of our leadership and management seminars and workshops, visit our website or you can speak to one our team on 0207 436 3636.
Post courtesy of People Alchemy
 

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