The “virtual office” isn’t a new notion by any means, but the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to ravage the world has made remote work the norm rather than the exception for countless businesses. While some companies saw a smooth transition to these workplace changes, others had a more challenging time adapting to them and continue to struggle with the ramifications of working from home. There’s no denying the obvious differences between in-person and remote work (e.g., no more commutes, less interaction, adjustments in hours, etc.), but these surface-level distinctions have broader implications on productivity, mental health, relationships at every level, company culture, and more. Those companies that can hold onto and even improve these aspects of their enterprise in the midst of such a global shift will have a major advantage moving forward, and every employee will benefit to boot.
Let’s go over how to manage employee relations effectively and maintain a strong culture despite remote working conditions.
Don’t Avoid Company Culture Conversations
When everyone is suddenly working from home, there’s often an elephant in the virtual room that needs addressing. That metaphorical elephant represents the clear change in communication and culture that occurs when people stop seeing each other face to face. Rather than ignore the obvious, though, leaders should point it out and spark conversations about workplace culture, how it’s changed, and how it can be improved. These conversations will keep everyone thinking about and discussing tangible short- and long-term goals that can be achieved virtually and, when the time comes, in person.
Take Advantage of Modern Technology
We’re fortunate to live in a time that offers so many methods of long-distance communication — phone calls, video chats, text-based chat rooms, and message boards, etc. While there’s no replacement for in-person interactions, there are also countless opportunities to keep in touch with team members throughout the workday when working remotely. If you’re concerned about keeping up with employee relationship management, then use this technology to your advantage in practical and creative ways — have regular video meetings to go over projects and discuss new ideas, host virtual happy hours weekly or monthly to unwind and discuss non-work-related matters, replace the time normally reserved for commuting with remote coffee or breakfast check-ins with employees, have lunch over video call with team members, the list goes on. The bottom line is this: communication is key for maintaining strong management-employee relations, boosting team morale, and fortifying culture. Of course, you’ll want to make sure each of your employees has access to the necessary technology to partake in these various virtual activities.
Encourage a Proper Work-Life Balance
Finding a healthy balance between work and non-work can be a challenge for many people, regardless of extenuating circumstances. Of course, striking this balance is even more difficult during remote working conditions. Working from home creates a dynamic in which it’s difficult to separate one aspect of your life from another. Even if you have a dedicated home office, you’re never far from your living room, TV, child/children, pet(s), etc., during the workday. And when you’ve finished your work for the day, it can be hard to switch your brain from “work” to “play” when you’ve never left your home to begin with. This lack of boundaries between work and life can quickly lead to burnout and negatively affect one’s mental health. It’s up to leaders to encourage and exemplify a healthy work-life balance, so employees don’t feel trapped in their work or too distracted to get anything done. You can do this by:
- Providing resources for employees regarding these matters to help them achieve a positive balance in their own lives
- Establishing boundaries that limit or restrict work-related communications to a certain range of hours (e.g., 9 A.M. to 5 P.M.) so employees aren’t tied to work at all times
- Prioritizing productivity over hours worked, so employees feel free to set their own hours and work at their own pace
Different companies will have different ways of promoting a good work-life balance; making this a priority and leading by example is one of the best leadership qualities you can have.
Recognize Your People and Accomplishments
Lastly, don’t let virtual work take away from the important ritual of workplace recognition. Whether in-person or remotely, everyone likes to feel seen for their contributions and accomplishments, and recognizing your people for their hard work is key in maintaining strong relationships and strengthening your culture. In many ways, employee/team recognition is more important than ever now that so many of us are working from home, as it’s normal for people to feel underappreciated and unseen when siloed from their coworkers and managers. Letting your people know that their work and fortitude haven’t gone unnoticed is an important role for all leaders during this time and in general.
Remotely Challenging Times
Navigating leadership in times of stress and change like the ones we’re currently living in is no walk in the park. That said, current remote working conditions provide the perfect opportunity for companies and leaders everywhere to test their strengths, bolster their weaknesses, and create an even more cohesive company culture that can withstand the most difficult circumstances.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.
One year ago, when COVID-19 was just starting to acquire its pandemic status, few people could have anticipated what the following months would have in store. The early toilet paper shortages and panic buying seem somewhat quaint compared to the havoc wrought on individuals, families, and businesses between then and now. With effective vaccines and rapid distribution on the way, there is now a light at the end of this tunnel. That said, even when the pandemic ends, the world will have to deal with its consequences for many years to come.
Business leaders are already looking ahead to what the future may hold while battling the burnout that has plagued everyone, from students, workers, leaders, and owners alike. As we’ve discussed before, the stress of leadership can be daunting enough to deal with during normal times, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this pressure. Businesses everywhere have had to lay off or furlough employees, suddenly switch to remote work protocols, reduce hours and customer capacity, adjust their supply chain, implement intensive cleaning and disinfection protocols, and so on. One year in, people everywhere are on their last legs, and leaders are no exception.
How to Lead Your People if They’re Burnt Out from COVID-19
Prioritize Self-Care and Stress Management
When challenging times arise and work piles up, it’s easy to fall into the trap of pushing yourself past your limits to keep up with deadlines. You might be able to go on this way for a little while, but eventually, your work will suffer — more importantly, so will your mental and physical health. This common situation describes burnout, and it can take a long time to reignite the flame. It’s better to prevent that proverbial flame from burning out in the first place by maintaining its heat and oxygen through self-care. In our previous blog on managing leadership stress, we discussed key ways to take care of your overall well-being, such as getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, practicing mindfulness (i.e. meditation, yoga), staying hydrated, maintaining a healthy diet, and taking breaks for enjoyment and relaxation when needed. Encouraging your employees to do the same by sharing your experience with these stress-relieving techniques is key for preventing (or at least mitigating) COVID burnout in your workplace. When everyone feels motivated to take care of themselves first and foremost, they will be better equipped to handle the challenges before them.
Keep on Communicating
We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: communication is one of the most important leadership qualities there is. And during COVID-19, strong communication has never been so crucial. At the most basic level, your people should be regularly informed about how the business is navigating COVID-related challenges. Any updates and changes must be clearly delivered, and everyone should feel free to ask questions and voice their concerns. Considering the nature of this pandemic, you may need to convey these messages via virtual meetings, emails, and other means. To keep burnout at bay, your communication style should be steeped in empathy — if you’re feeling burnt out, odds are your peers, partners, and employees are, too. Use your emotional intelligence to understand the shared and unique challenges faced by others to enhance your organization’s sense of community. Hosting virtual and community events will help you maintain and improve your company culture so everyone feels connected and valued.
Simplify Your Processes
If anything good has come from COVID-19, it’s that this pandemic has revealed what matters most, both in terms of everyday life and in business. While the initial shock of COVID sent many businesses into a frenzy, many that have been able to recover have gradually adjusted their priorities and trimmed the fat in key areas. Simplifying your processes by streamlining tasks, delegation, and your broader vision can reduce the risk of burnout and ultimately reshape your business in positive ways. You might, for instance, realize that remote work is a powerful tool for team management and that it greatly reduces overhead costs associated with rent, energy, commuting, etc. Every business and employee is different, of course — while some might appreciate the freedom of working from home, others might require more structure and crave in-person encounters. How you decide to adjust and simplify your processes during this latter portion of COVID-19 and afterward will depend on what you learn during this time. The key is paying attention to what your people are feeling and how it’s affecting your bottom line.
Keep the Big Picture in View
As we stated earlier, the implications of COVID-19 will carry on far beyond its official conclusion, contributing to leadership stress and potential burnout. As such, you must view this situation as a marathon rather than a sprint. The day-to-day doings of your business matter, but thinking too small and short-term can cloud your judgment and impede your view of the future. Of course, looking too far ahead can induce plenty of stress in its own right. To avoid burning out in either sense, you want to achieve a balance between short- and long-term thinking, where the way you handle things each and every day is informed by where and how you wish to steer your team and enterprise. In order to accomplish this, you must focus on becoming more adaptable and resilient, regularly taking stock of what is and isn’t working so you can fine-tune your business for the future.
Providing strong leadership in times of stress and change is no small feat, but it’s essential for alleviating burnout in yourself and your team. Taking care of your own well-being, maintaining emotionally-intelligent communication, simplifying your operations based on necessary changes, and implementing long-term thinking will allow you to lead your organization to a brighter future despite these challenging times.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.
No two leaders are exactly alike, but the most successful leaders often have plenty in common. Personal preferences, opinions, and life experiences aside, there are certain leadership qualities that ring true across the board — honesty, responsiveness, passion, integrity, etc. While these traits may be somewhat inherent in certain leaders, the best leaders become successful by honing these skills through hard work and habit formation. Let’s outline some essential habits that allow leaders to acquire and maintain success in their workplace and in life.
What Habits Make a Successful Leader?
Cultivating a Thirst for Knowledge
One of the most important qualities of an effective leader is the willingness and ability to continuously learn. Reading books across genres and fields of expertise, listening to people with diverse backgrounds and experiences, asking questions of peers, employees, friends, and strangers — all of these activities allow leaders to expand their horizons. Even if a piece of information might not seem immediately relevant to a leader’s life or career, the culmination of various bits of knowledge can be synthesized over time in new and unique ways. There is no downside, only upside, to receiving an ongoing education, and successful leaders know there’s always more to discover.
Maintaining a Balance of Confidence and Humility
There are always areas of growth for leaders, and the only way to identify and improve those areas is to put your ego aside and then pick it back up to act on those necessary changes. Leadership comes with power and privileges, and this prestige can cloud the mind of individuals who lack humility. Conversely, leaders who lack confidence can struggle to get things done, create buy-in, and keep their people on track. As such, the most successful leaders strike a balance between confidence and humility, listening closely to their peers and team members while not backing down from bold ideas. Practicing gratitude each and every day is another great way for leaders to stay humble and positive.
Focusing on Physical as well as Mental Health
The aforementioned power and privilege inherent in leadership also comes with its fair share of stress, which manifests both in the mind and body. Leaders who fail to take care of their mental and physical health can burn out, lash out, and/or simply become less effective overall. Leadership success largely depends on maintaining a healthy lifestyle both in and out of work. The best leaders focus on managing leadership stress by exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, eating healthy, taking breaks, practicing mindfulness (i.e. meditation, yoga), and more. Taking the time for self-care allows leaders to operate with a clear mind and high-functioning body — crucial for getting things done and getting them done right.
Effective leaders are also well-organized where it counts. While a messy desk might be a proverbial sign of genius, it’s not exactly ideal for strategic planning, scheduling, goal-tracking, and so on. Keeping documents and items in their proper places, taking regular notes, journaling, and maintaining a detailed calendar helps keep things straight so leaders can spend less time and energy shuffling papers around and more on other matters like idea generation, performance management, employee check-ins, executive meetings, etc.
Consistently Pushing Themselves and Others
Organizations can only grow if leaders and their teams are constantly coming up with new ideas and taking calculated risks. Indeed, this willingness to push the envelope is one of the key qualities of a good leader, and honing it depends on leaders pushing themselves out of their comfort zones in every area of their lives, not just at work. Successful leaders are always challenging themselves, whether it’s running an extra quarter-mile than initially planned, trying new cuisine, attending an unlikely event or concert, and so on. Living life “on the edge” in this way conditions leaders to be bolder in the workplace and mitigate the fear of the unknown so their organization and people can grow in unexpected ways.
Successful leaders are creatures of habit — not just any habits, but habits that help them gain new knowledge, become more self-aware, improve their mental and physical well-being, stay organized, and try new things. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
Every great leap begins with an idea. Indeed, brainstorming sessions, after-hours conversations, and spirited debates are highly valuable to any enterprise. These discussions help shape and clarify a company’s vision as leaders seek opportunities for improvement and growth. However, there comes a point when words must translate into actions. Too much talk can actually get in the way of proper execution. Real progress can only be made by testing out your various ideas and going over what’s working and what’s not.
How to Humbly Display Your Progress
Set Smaller Goals
While it’s important to always keep an eye on the bigger picture, the only way to get there is through incremental steps. Setting smaller goals is one of the key features of any effective performance management system. Unlike long-term, sweeping goals, smaller goals are easier to set (or reset), accomplish, and track along the way. For instance, you might have the larger goal of increasing your annual profits this year. In order to achieve this goal, however, it’s important to zoom in on actionable goals that your team can tackle each day, week, month, and so on. One of these short-term goals might be challenging your sales team to increase their client base by a specific number between now and the end of the quarter. While it might not be easy to accomplish this goal, setting a clear benchmark like this makes it easy to track your business’ progress with hard numbers.
Build More Buy-In
No matter the size of your business, progress is only possible if your people are working toward the same goals. In order to keep everyone on the same page and perpetuate a high-performance culture, you must do your best to create buy-in. Maintaining broad buy-in requires constant communication and calibration — there may be times when an individual (or more) strongly opposes the direction you or your leadership team wishes to go. When this occurs, you must determine whether an executive (“command”) decision must be made, whether additional input is needed (“consult”), or if consensus is imperative for progress (“consensus”).
Accountability is paramount for proper performance management — without it, you’ll struggle to identify the trail of mistakes and miscommunication that led to a serious problem or roadblock. Moreover, prioritizing accountability in all leaders, managers, and employees will help keep everyone working towards their specialized and collective goals. For instance, leaders should regularly check in with their team(s) for concrete updates on their progress. If little to no progress is being made, the reasons for this lack of progress must be brought to light so necessary adjustments can be made, whether this means altering goals, shifting roles, or letting go of someone. A high-accountability culture can be difficult to establish and maintain, but doing so will allow you to make real progress beyond mere words.
Invest in Business Coaching
Speaking of accountability, there is perhaps no better way to keep leaders and teams accountable than by hiring a coach to provide you with an experienced, objective point of view. The best coaches can easily identify potential areas of growth for leaders, set and track new goals, keep everyone focused on unified, and point out hurdles that are preventing you from progressing. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
There is no single “right way” to operate a business or poise it for long-term success. Every enterprise is unique, after all. Still, specific approaches transcend these differences, offering near-universal benefits to businesses of all sizes and types. Strategic leadership refers to one such approach to business management that can yield several long-term benefits when properly implemented and executed. Of course, it’s worth noting that the upsides of the strategic leadership approach are contrasted with some downsides, too.
Let’s Look at the Pros and Cons of Strategic Leadership
What Is Strategic Leadership?
Strategic leadership can be defined as a leadership philosophy that prioritizes the communication and execution of a particular vision via tangible, streamlined actions and processes. In other words, the strategic leader not only generates and clarifies a business’ vision, but also adeptly leads its team toward realizing said vision one step at a time — the best strategic leaders can simultaneously keep the big picture and key details in mind, which is precisely what allows their business to achieve its short- and long-term goals. The leadership skills required for this brand of leadership include strong communication, a focus on culture, judicious deployment of power, self-control, compassion, consistency, loyalty, and strong motivation.
The Plus Sides of Strategic Leadership
There are several potential benefits that come with the strategic leadership approach. First, strategic leaders are able to unite teams, generate buy-in, and keep everyone on the same page, working toward a collective goal. In this way, the strategic leader keeps departments from losing focus or losing touch with one other, which makes it that much easier to move the business forward. Next, strategic leadership establishes a framework for practical decision-making. When goals are clearly communicated, everyone can better contribute to the collective vision. Strategic leadership also facilitates impartial, long-term thinking, filtering daily decisions through the lens of the broader vision. And lastly, the best strategic leaders cultivate commitment among their teams by acting as models for proficiency and practicality. For all these reasons, businesses should consider investing in strategic leadership training for their top talent.
The Setbacks of Strategic Leadership
A strategic leadership approach isn’t a flawless one, of course. As with all long-term processes and goals, there’s no way to know for certain what the business, industry, or economy will look like in the next year, three years, five years, decade, and so on. In this way, long-term strategic thinking can become a significant expense and source of leadership stress, especially if a seemingly solid plan becomes irrelevant in the face of unpredictable changes. This is why strategic leaders must be as flexible as they are visionary. In a similar vein, strategic leaders can get lost in the bigger picture and start neglecting the business’ present issues and needs, which can cause budding problems to go unresolved and eventually interfere with the very vision in question. Ultimately, this lack of attention to the present moment can halt company growth and even result in long-term harm. Strategic leaders that either take too many risks or are too risk-averse can cause the company to miss out on key opportunities.
Developing a Winning Strategy for Your Leaders
Strategic leadership is not inherently good or bad, but rather a tool that can raise a business up for years to come or sink the ship for lack of seeing the iceberg straight ahead, so to speak. Every enterprise must determine its own balanced approach to strategic leadership development so it’s able to safely navigate the current moment while aiming for the bigger goal in the distance.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
We’ve all seen the movies and TV shows — the ones that feature a promising young individual who struggles to overcome the external and self-imposed barriers surrounding them until an older and wiser guide enters the fold and aids in the protagonist’s growth. Sure, real life is never as cut and dry as the stories that inspire us, but the student-mentor relationship is anything but fictional. Mentor figures come in many forms and the best ones provide important guidance, feedback, and the occasional nudge that allows their pupils to flourish. But what exactly defines a good mentor? What are the components that allow one individual to instruct another in such a meaningful way?
What Are the Qualities of a Good Business Mentor?
Has Relevant Experience
If you’re not sure how to find a business coach or mentor, a great place to start is by seeking those who have worked in your field for a long time. Those with years of experience are able to naturally impart their wisdom to those with less experience and identify issues and opportunities that others might miss. This isn’t to say that mentors have nothing left to learn, of course — part of being experienced is knowing that the learning process never ends.
Able and Willing to Listen
As we’ve discussed many times before, being a good listener is one of the most important leadership skills one can acquire. Having experience matters, but a good mentor is careful not to hijack the student’s natural growth process. In many cases, an individual will learn more by mulling over a problem on their own and asking plenty of questions. By listening to their pupil’s questions and concerns, a mentor gains a better understanding of their student’s thought processes and can provide answers when needed without simply solving the problem for them.
Passionate about Teaching
Though pop culture gives us many examples of the reluctant instructor, a good mentor must want to fulfill this crucial role. We respond to each other’s energy levels, after all — if your teacher doesn’t seem interested in the subject matter or in helping you out, odds are you won’t feel too enthusiastic, either. The same principle applies in regards to mentoring in business. For the best results, the level of interest must be reciprocal between mentor and mentee.
The mentor-mentee relationship is also built on mutual respect. Both parties must retain a level of humility, good faith, and kindness to get the most out of this symbiotic bond. Mentors and pupils can show respect for one another by showing up on time, paying attention to one another, avoiding judgment and hurtful language, and so on.
Eager to Push Their Students
While the best mentors are respectful and kind, this doesn’t mean that they are pushovers. Personal growth only occurs when one steps outside of their comfort zone. Mentors must not be afraid to nudge their students into new and uncomfortable territories every now and then — this might mean having them take on new roles, tackle a challenging project, etc. It’s possible to push a pupil too far, of course, which is why communication is so important — the better a mentor and mentee know one another, the more productive these exercises will be.
Objective and Direct
Lastly, a good mentor doesn’t hold back when delivering feedback. At the same time, this feedback must be free from personal judgments and delivered in a constructive, transparent way. Simply put, we don’t learn or grow without becoming aware of our shortcomings. We might try to ignore our own flaws or downplay our own strengths, which is why it’s so important for mentors to plainly reveal them. Having an external, objective point of view is paramount for personal progress and reducing leadership stress.
In business and in life, everyone should be so lucky to have a good mentor by their side. Fortunately, there are many resources available that help establish these key relationships.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
Strong leadership and strong communication are inextricably linked — you simply cannot have one without the other. The best leaders maintain a clear line of communication with their peers, partners, employees, and customers. In doing so, these leaders develop a deeper understanding of relevant situations, issues, shortcomings, and opportunities while delivering clear feedback and instruction that steers the ship in a purposeful direction. Let’s dive deeper into why communication is so crucial in leadership.
What Are the Benefits of Good Communication?
Communication Keeps People on the Same Page
Team management is a challenge for businesses of all sizes. Whether a team consists of a few people or dozens of individuals, leaders with strong communication skills are the glue that holds said team together through thick and thin. It’s worth noting that proper communication isn’t a one-way street, either. Leaders must be equally adept at delivering instructions and receiving feedback from team members in order to manage their team optimally. This reciprocity allows leaders to earn the respect and engagement of their employees and make informed decisions that garner maximum buy-in.
Communication Is Key to Understanding Problems
The ability to listen is one of the most important qualities of a good leader, and, as previously mentioned, half of the communication equation. If you fail to hear or comprehend the concerns of those within your organization, the smallest issues can grow into a rot that’s more and more difficult to expel over time. The best leaders actively check in with their people to uncover any nascent problems so they can resolve them as quickly and effectively as possible. New issues are still bound to arise — the key is getting ahead of them with masterful communication rather than ignoring them or missing them entirely.
Communication Drives Positive Change
The whole point of understanding problems in your organization is to discover weak points that you can fix and then make various adjustments that push your company in a better direction. In this way, then, strong leadership communication skills are the driving force behind constructive change. Your organization will struggle to grow or improve if its leaders don’t properly respond to problems and opportunities when they arise.
Communication Helps Retain Top Talent
In recent posts, we’ve discussed the importance of employee retention, especially when it comes to keeping top talent in your organization. While these retention efforts are multi-faceted, leadership communication remains at the heart of them. Those with the most potential in your company may seek other opportunities if they don’t feel like their ideas are being heard and/or if they don’t feel properly compensated for their contributions. In order to keep these valuable people around, leaders must help them grow with the organization — this might mean promoting them into new positions, guiding their own leadership development, giving them appropriate raises, and so on. Whatever the case, these decisions must be based on the mutual needs of these individuals and your company, which can only be uncovered through powerful communication.
Leaders who display strong communication keep their people on the same page, understand and resolve issues before they fester, improve their operations and culture, and retain the very best people to keep this cycle going. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
Your leadership team is largely responsible for allowing your business to continually meet quotas, increase profits, and grow sustainably. As such, motivating your leaders to do their best work and maintain that momentum must be one of your top priorities. Of course, all leaders are human beings, and human beings have their limitations. Pushing your people too hard can create massive leadership stress and get in the way of progress. Conversely, loosening your grip too much can result in chaos and stifle productivity. In order to ensure ongoing success, then, you must strike a balance between putting on the pressure when the time is right and letting go when things get too tense.
How to Get the Most Out of the Leaders in Your Office
Support Their Personal and Professional Goals
Even if your leaders inherently love what they do, their job is ultimately just a portion of their lives. Most people are more motivated by the notion of building a better life for themselves and their families than growing the company for which they work. Fortunately, these goals go hand in hand. As your business flourishes, so do the personal lives of your leaders, as long as you maintain an awareness of what your people want out of life and their careers. If you want to get the most out of your leaders, then, take the time to understand what gets them out of bed in the morning and connect those aspirations to the business’ growth. You can further support your leaders by offering ongoing leadership training, providing career resources, and more.
Prioritize Performance Management
No matter how self-aware someone is, no one recognizes all of their shortcomings without some external input. Your leaders won’t be able to progress as quickly or efficiently if they’re not receiving honest feedback on a regular basis. Make it a priority to track your leaders’ performance and go over their strengths and weaknesses at key intervals or on an as-needed basis. Your constructive criticism should also include recognition of all of a leader’s accomplishments — this way, your leaders can continue doing what they do best and work on what they might have missed for the betterment of themselves and your business as a whole.
Make sure you allow time for your leaders to ask questions and deliver their own feedback as well. Sending out employee surveys is another powerful way to see how your people feel about the workplace and culture.
Leave Room for New Opportunities
One of the primary reasons people part with a company is because they feel stuck, as if they’ve reached a peak and there’s nowhere to go from there. In order to draw out the very best from your leaders (and keep them around), you have to offer ongoing opportunities for growth. You might develop a transparent system for lateral movement, promotions, and raises for leaders to work towards, and/or create new roles for managers with specific leadership skills. It’s important to maintain strong communication with your leaders to see how happy or unhappy they are in their current position so you can come up with ways to best utilize their unique talents, skills, and experiences.
Provide Practical Paid Time Off (PTO)
Everyone needs a break, especially your hardest-working talent. Working around the clock for months on end will inevitably lead to burnout, which can take weeks to recover from and do plenty of damage in the meantime. While paid vacations and extended break periods might seem like a major liability, they’re necessary investments for managing leadership stress and getting the most out of your leaders in the long run. For a deep dive into this subject, read our article, “How Much Paid Time Off (PTO) is Good for Productivity?” At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
Among all the challenges you face as a business owner, few things are more difficult to approach than employee compensation. Between establishing base wages and salaries, distributing bonuses, and giving out raises, you’re bound to get a headache or two managing it all. That said, these issues cannot be ignored. Your people might like working for you and your business, but they won’t stick around if they don’t feel fairly compensated, especially if they can find a better paying job elsewhere.
Employees expect their pay to be fair from the beginning and increase over time (beyond just keeping up with inflation). Indeed, without delivering this expectation to new hires, businesses would have a hard time getting anyone on board, and developing leadership talent would be impossible. The hard part for you is figuring out how to broach this subject, how to decide who gets a raise (and when and why), and how to keep your people from turning on each other in favor of the almighty dollar.
So, if you’re hiring new team members, here are five important decisions to make before giving raises.
What to Do Before Giving a Raise
1. Create a Compensation Structure
As your business grows and you hire more people, you need to establish a system of compensation that works best for you. Some companies keep things simple with a one-size-fits-all solution that delivers the same percentage pay increase to every employee on a regular basis (usually annually). While this approach is equitable and easy to manage, it can negatively impact productivity and employee morale, as there is no clear correlation between performance and pay.
Other businesses might decide that performance and compensation management go hand in hand. These companies conduct regular performance reviews for each employee and give out raises based on how well they’ve done. All employees might receive raises, but the best performers will get a higher pay bump. This method can help motivate individuals to work harder and remain engaged, but it can also create tension between employees, splintering unity.
Both approaches have their merits, and you may decide to create a system that falls somewhere in between. Just make sure that your compensation structure benefits your employees and business as a whole.
2. Match the Market
No business exists in a vacuum. You must pay attention to what your competitors are doing if you plan on thriving in your industry and retaining your top talent. Companies that offer the best compensation packages tend to have a competitive edge. You may need to work with a business coach to give you a broad perspective of your industry’s outlook on compensation so you can match or exceed those expectations. This will allow you to attract and retain the best people.
3. It’s All About Value
When budgets are tight, giving out raises might seem like a burden. Indeed, doing so might result in short-term losses. However, you have to think long term and focus on building your business’ value over time. Your people bring value to your company, after all, and without them, you wouldn’t be able to grow or thrive. By reciprocating and delivering value to your employees, you’re creating a feedback loop that will propel your enterprise forward. In this way, compensating your people accordingly is a major component in talent management and succession planning. If you want your organization to be its very best and last for years to come, you need to invest in your people.
4. Exercise Care With Pay Compression
As you calculate wages for new hires and percentages for raises, be mindful of pay compression. This phenomenon occurs when newcomers make the same amount as those who have been with the company for a long time. Not only might this offend long-standing employees, it may actually devalue their position, as the newcomer’s wage accounts for inflation while theirs does not. In other words, a dollar is worth less today than it was a year ago, and even less so than 10 years ago, and so on.
Pay compression can toxify your workplace culture in more ways than one. Therefore, it’s important to adjust all salaries for inflation and always factor in longevity so senior employees are rewarded for their commitment and experience.
5. Be Upfront About Pay When Hiring
When seeking employment, people appreciate transparency. Companies that clearly outline their compensation packages and potential for growth often entice the best people. So, if you’re looking for top talent, don’t shy away from discussions around pay. This includes mentioning how, why, and when raises are dished out. The more open you are about these matters, the better, as it establishes expectations and minimizes confusion.
There’s nothing easy about raises. But if you take your time and think in the long term, you can develop a compensation system that attracts top talent, keeps your best people from leaving, improves your culture, and ultimately adds value to your business.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow.Read More
Taking on a leadership role is a major honor and responsibility. Much is expected of leaders, and many leaders have a habit of carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders to prove something to themselves, their colleagues, their team, or all of the above. However, being a strong leader isn’t about bearing all of your business’ burdens — rather, it’s about lifting up your organization through strategic decision-making, delegation, oversight, and flexibility. When things get too stressful (and this year has certainly been one for the books), your ability to effectively lead can get hampered, especially if you don’t have the resources and habits for handling this stress. In this way, strong leadership and stress management are two sides of the same coin.
With that in mind, let’s outline some effective stress management techniques for leaders of all stripes.
How to Reduce Stress
Prioritize Your Physical and Mental Well-Being
All of your decisions and behaviors stem from your physical and mental state. This means that being a productive leader begins with taking care of your body and mind. The following lifestyle adjustments help both prevent and relieve leadership stress:
- Get enough sleep (7-9 hours)
- Maintain a healthy diet (limit caffeine, alcohol, and sugar)
- Stay hydrated
- Exercise regularly (3-5 days a week)
- Practice mindfulness (meditation, yoga)
- Read for enjoyment and education
- Enjoy hobbies and/or mindless activities
Anything that promotes your physical and mental well-being will make you more alert, improve your mood, boost your decision-making capacity, and minimize distractions when it counts.
We’re often told that a messy desk is a sign of genius. While there may be some truth to this statement, a chaotic work space is also a major source of stress. If you can’t easily find folders, documents, utensils, etc., you’ll end up wasting time, causing you to fall behind and undergo even more stress. One of the simplest methods for managing leadership stress, then, is organizing your stuff, which includes not only your physical space but also your schedule. Make lists, label and alphabetize folders and files, streamline your calendar, etc.
Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
As leaders, we often feel like we have to do everything. Not only is this an arrogant frame of mind, though, it’s also detrimental to your mental state and your organization. Simply put, some tasks can and should be handled by other people so you can focus on other things. The key to proper delegation is finding the right people to take on certain tasks. By establishing a strong rapport with your team, you can determine their individual strengths, which will allow you to trust the person (or people) you charge with a given task. You can always assess their performance after the fact and determine whether changes need to be made. Delegating tasks to your team members also grants them the opportunity to learn new skills and grow into leaders themselves.
Remember: Perfection isn’t the Goal
One of main causes of leadership stress is the nagging pull of perfectionism. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get things done right, but focusing too much on perfection can paralyze your decision-making, slow down your operations, and result in worse outcomes in the long run. You can reduce a lot of stress and work more efficiently by instead focusing on getting things done and smoothing out any rough edges afterward.
Wield the Power of “No”
To be a leader is to have a target on your back (for good or bad). People will constantly reach out to you, ask you questions, seek advice, cast blame on you when something goes wrong, and so on. While it’s important to maintain strong communication with everyone in your circle, it’s also okay to back away and take some time to yourself. You don’t need to attend every single meeting, hop on every phone call, handle every sudden task that crops up, work weekend, etc. Sometimes you just need to say “no” for your own good and, ultimately, the good of your organization. It’s better to deal with one task at a time than to stretch yourself way too thin.
Continue Developing Your Leadership Skills
No matter how long you’ve had your position or been with a company, leadership development never ends — at least, it shouldn’t. There are always new things to learn, new skills to acquire, and new techniques to try out. By continuing to hone your abilities, you’ll get better and better at de-stressing your life and the lives of your employees. Think of it as having more tools in your toolkit to tackle tough problems when they arise. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More
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