LEADERSHIP RESOURCES BLOG

Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

How to Lead Despite COVID Burnout

By Leadership Resources 03/19/2021
Woman wearing a mask burnt out from COVID-19.

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.

Schedule A Call To Learn More Read More

Why Communication Is Important in Leadership

By Leadership Resources 01/05/2021
Business meeting with good communication

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.

Unlock The Leadership Potential Within Your Organization. Download this whitepaper. Read More

How to Lead Hybrid Teams

By Leadership Resources 10/29/2020

Even pre-pandemic, leaders knew that each employee has different needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Now, leaders are tasked with how to manage employee schedules when the employee is working at home, or if that employee is working at home with children who are learning from home. Some employees are hoping to get back into the office, while others may resent the fact that they are being asked to go back during a pandemic. No matter what issues have risen since the pandemic, the leader must make a plan to offer fair, empathetic, and effective team management.

What Experts Say

When employees are scattered remotely, or some are remote and some are back in the office, a number of new issues arise. Some employees who are in the office may start taking charge of projects that weren’t assigned solely to them, or start becoming resentful that they had to come back in while others remained remote. This can create division, making employees pick sides of their peers. Though this may not be new to some offices, there are likely more issues exacerbating this. Linda Hill, professor at Harvard Business School says to ask yourself, “What is the experience my employees are having at work, and how can I empower them to do the best they can?” The best way to manage employees when you notice new or existing issues is to offer support.

How to Truly Support Your Employees

The role in management for employee development is often linked to the leader’s capability to support with empathy while managing a productive team. Right now, there will be several variables to work around. Like you, they are dealing with a global crisis and an unstable economy. Some are dealing with small children and out-of-work partners. The list goes on, but leaders must offer effective team management, empathy, and support, if they want business to run as usual. 

One idea experts, like Hill, recommend is offering regular one-on-one check-ins with everyone, whether they’re in the office or not. Ask them to be honest about their struggles and make sure they know what the priorities are and what can wait. Hill suggests leaders use this time to explain to the employee what is on the agenda and how the employee is going to achieve their goals. Some employees may need to change hours. Some may desire a strict schedule. The leader may need to manage employee schedules differently and make compromises for the time being. Either way, they must ensure the employee knows that during this time, it’s ok to ask for these concessions.

Remain Inclusive and Empathetic

One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is to allow employees to start, whether intentionally or not, excluding remote workers. A quick suggestion of ensuring all team members get on a Zoom call, or something of the sort, to discuss how to manage a project together is a great way to handle this situation. Additionally, don’t allow the assumption to float around the workplace that those in the office are more productive than those who are remote. Offer a safe place to vent frustrations while remaining hopeful and productive, but don’t encourage unfair treatment or gossip between employees.

You must also show fairness among your employees. So, even if your star employee is making it known that their being in the office makes them a more productive person than an employee who annoys you, you must stop this toxic behavior of the star employee immediately while remaining empathetic to why they’d feel that way. This is a time unlike any other, so some employees may not know how to handle it, but offering an all-inclusive workplace is a positive step in the right direction toward excellent productivity.

Contact Us

The last thing you want to do is create an environment where employees are burnt out, whether they’re at home or in the office. 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

Growing Business in Lincoln, NE: Will My EOS® Need Change Over Time?

By Leadership Resources 02/13/2020
Two women presenting stats on a whiteboard

Every business aims to grow in one way or another. Of course, the type, rate, and limits of this growth will vary from one organization to the next. One company might prefer to stay local but deepen its impact on the community and strengthen its operations, while another might wish to expand beyond its regional base and maximize its long-term profits. In other words, businesses seek more than just expansion — they seek sustainable and strategic growth.

How do companies in Lincoln, Nebraska and elsewhere achieve the growth and success they desire? Simply put, they need to operate under a system that clarifies both short- and long-term goals, unifies all team members to execute on those goals, and develops healthy leaders to guide these processes each day. This is where the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)® comes into play.

But what is EOS, exactly? And does this system remain useful as an enterprise grows and changes over time?

How to Manage Your Company’s EOS

Establishing EOS® for Your Organization

The Entrepreneurial Operating System is a collection of principles and practical tools designed to help businesses achieve their full potential. The EOS Model™ outlines Six Key Components™ that businesses of all sizes and scopes should bolster in order to succeed. These are Vision, People, Data, Issues, Process, and Traction®. 

Each component requires equal attention, and they bounce off one another in important ways. For instance, an organization must employ the best People to execute on its Vision, but it must also create a culture of accountability and discipline (Traction) to do so.

What Is The Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)? Download this whitepaper.

Getting a Grip on Your Business’s Growth

Beyond its detailed and multi-faceted approach to business growth, what makes EOS so powerful is its adaptability. In other words, the system is designed to move at a given company’s pace and adjust accordingly. The EOS Process™ includes Focus Days™ to establish leadership roles and set priorities, as well as Vision Building Days™ to cultivate a concrete plan that looks at 90-day, 1-year, and 3-year desired outcomes. EOS also requires quarterly sessions to evaluate overall performance, reestablish focus and priorities, and resolve current issues. Annual sessions are also included in order to foster healthier team management and update the company’s vision for the upcoming quarter and year.

This broken-up, routine, dynamic performance management process changes and grows with an organization. In this way, EOS keeps companies in check every step of the way. If the business is growing beyond its means, EOS makes it possible to pump the brakes, and if it’s falling behind, EOS can address and remove the roadblocks. And all the while, leadership development is always front and center as team members grow more confident, engaged, and united.

Preparing for Your Company’s Next Chapter

As mentioned above briefly, EOS isn’t just designed to keep a business on track in the here and now — it’s also crucial to ensuring a business’s long-term success. Indeed, by performing regular checkups, a company strengthens its foundation to ensure sustainability. Simply put, the focus EOS places on team unity, accountability, problem-solving, and healthy leadership growth helps set up a business for a bright future. As such, the system helps businesses cultivate, discover, and choose the best people for the right positions when it’s time to change over leadership and/or restructure. Succession planning is made easy with EOS because it happens naturally.

So, if your business adopts EOS, will the system remain relevant as you grow? The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, EOS plays a key role in ensuring your company grows in the best possible way. Best of all, EOS is built to adapt with your organization. Change is good, especially when that change is backed up and well-informed with EOS.

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 we can help your business succeed and grow.

Schedule A Call To Learn More Read More

Open Floorplan or Cubes: Is One Better Than the Other?

By Leadership Resources 06/07/2019
leadership development omaha

A workplace is more than just a collection of walls, chairs, desks, and employees. It’s an environment where several individuals must cooperate and focus on a number of tasks each day. The way your workplace is organized in large part determines how your staff members feel, how hard they work, and how they get along with one another. In other words, your office should be designed to improve and optimize your company’s unique workplace culture.

We’re all familiar with the proverbial office with sequestered cubicles and low ceilings. And while many work environments have inherited and maintained this design, plenty of modern offices have done away with the barriers and opened right up. Are these open floorplans better than cubes, though? Let’s run down the pros and cons of both set-ups and see if we can determine a winner.

Should You Get an Open Floor Plan or Cubicles?

Cubicles

Our modern sensibilities might shudder at the thought of cubicles. But that drab image in our heads is usually not representative of the real thing. Cubicles can range in size, shape, and design.

Pros:

  • Personal(ized) Space: Employees who work in an office spend a lot of their time there. Many of them enjoy having some space where they can put up photographs, artwork, and knick-knacks to make it their own. On top of that, most people benefit from some personal space where they can get away from others every now and then.
  • Limits Distractions: Cubicles are often a great way to reduce performance management issues caused by visual or auditory distractions. Their walls keep such unwanted stimuli out of sight and mind. This is especially important for jobs and roles that require serious focus or privacy.

Cons:

  • Detrimental to Teamwork: Cubicles might not be the best option for a team-driven business. These partitions keep everyone in their own little bubble for much of the day. Leaders may struggle with team management as a result.
  • Less Accountability: These enclosures may also tempt some employees to shirk some of their responsibilities. In this regard, cubicles might not make for the most effective performance management, even if they also encourage focus at times. It’s a double-edged sword.

Open Floorplans

This type of office configuration is becoming more and more popular. On paper, open floorplans sound great. However, they’re not without their flaws as well.

Pros:

  • Encourages Communication: The fewer barriers your office has, the more open it is to collaboration and communication. Staff members will get to know the faces and names of everyone else in the office. These open floorplans make it difficult to hide from your team.
  • Increases Accountability: An open floorplan makes it so every employee has an idea of what their team members are up to. In this way, your team will stay productive and accountable for their work.

Cons:

  • Less Privacy: All of that open space comes at the cost of privacy, of course. Without the comfort of a cubicle, employees have a harder time making their workplace their own. They also lack options when they want to take a break from socializing.
  • Increases Distractions: The more you can see and hear, the harder it may be to focus on the task at hand. Some employees can manage their attention better than others, but an open floorplan opens the door for all kinds of distractions. So, this configuration might not always be suited for proper employee productivity management.

Open Floor vs. Cubes? Which is the Better Option?

In a way, the pros and cons are flipped for each set-up. That means the “winner” depends on your specific needs, roles, and company culture. If your company relies heavily on teamwork, collaboration, and free expression, open floorplans are often ideal. If your business, on the other hand, requires more individual focus and privacy, cubicles might be the way to go. Some offices might even incorporate elements of both configurations. Do what’s best for your purposes.

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.

Schedule A Call To Learn More
Read More

Is Remote Work Right for Your Team?

By Leadership Resources 06/05/2019
leadership development omaha

The notion of a workplace is undergoing a major transformation. The internet allows people to share ideas, files, and projects across the world with lightning speed. For industries that primarily deal with information and communication (as opposed to manufacturing), the need for dedicated commercial space is becoming antiquated. This is especially true for businesses that wish to hire the best candidates across the globe and don’t want to be limited by their region’s pool of potential hires.

Forbes projects that half of the U.S. working population will soon work from home or at least away from a central office on a regular basis. Many workers and companies have already made this leap. Of course, many of these businesses still maintain some office space for a number of reasons, such as maintaining a workplace culture. But is remote work right for your team and company? If you’re on the fence about this future, here are some factors to consider.

How to Tell Remote Work Is Right for Your Team

What is the Nature of Your Work?

Not every job is an ideal fit for remote work. If your company’s day-to-day operations include plenty of meetings and hands-on demonstrations, you probably want your team to be physically present most days. The same goes for industries that require some level of physical labor. Working remotely means your body is essentially unavailable.

If, however, your business mainly deals with data, information, and simple communication tasks, remote work might make a lot of sense. In these cases, your employees’ brains (and fingertips) are the most valuable assets. It doesn’t matter where they’re working, so long as they have a functional internet connection.

Establishing Trust With Your Team

Even if remote work makes sense on a practical level, you must also consider the potential pitfalls of fragmenting your team across physical space. One of the primary advantages of maintaining office space is its usefulness in the realm of team management. Having your team in one place at the same time makes it easier for everyone to communicate, establish trust, and hold each other accountable.

This isn’t to say that communication or trust-building is impossible without a shared space. Video conferences, text-based chat groups, and occasional in-house meetings can be enough to keep your team on track. Still, if you’re going to offer remote work, you need to establish some kind of performance management system so that all employees are accountable for their contributions. Working away from an office is a big responsibility and everyone on your team must be on the same page.

Cost Considerations

Keeping the lights on isn’t cheap. Depending on the size and scope of your operation, owning or renting commercial property might hurt your bottom line. First, take account of how many employees you have. Then, consider how long, on average, it takes for your workers to get to the office each day. You might start to realize that your employees are burning a lot of gas just to show up, and that you have more space than you need.

On the other hand, your office space might be integral to your company culture, both internally and externally. For instance, if you’re in a prime location, regularly conduct meetings with clients and customers, and utilize every part of your space, your property might be a fixture of your business model. Whatever the case you must consider these costs and benefits, even if it means offering remote work to a portion of your staff, or moving to a smaller location.

Stress, Productivity, and Culture

For many people, working remotely can significantly reduce stress and actually increase productivity. Commuting to an office, socializing with others, and feeling confined in a cubicle each day can take a toll on many workers’ mental and physical health. There are plenty of examples of how managers can reduce stress in the workplace, but offering remote work, if possible, might be one of the best.

When team members can work from their favorite location, skip the morning rush hour, and feel in control of their work environment, they’re often more inclined to get work done. There’s always a risk here in terms of employee work management, of course. But as long as team leaders establish clear guidelines for how team members should approach remote work and what’s expected of them, this opportunity can make for a more positive, productive company culture in the long run.

Remote work might not be right for every company just yet, but it seems to be the way of the future. Keeping the above considerations in mind, you might realize that remote work can lead your team in a positive direction.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.

Schedule A Call To Learn More
Read More

Can You Terminate Employees Without Crushing Morale?

By Leadership Resources 05/03/2019
Leadership Resources termination document

In a constantly evolving business climate, it is more important than ever to make sure work teams are cohesive, high performing, and agile. A strong culture of strategic leadership and values based hiring processes can serve to create high functioning teams. However, sometimes even the most promising hires turn out to be the wrong fit. After efforts to coach, develop, and train an employee fail, it sometimes becomes apparent that they are negatively impacting your business’ growth, reputation, and/or team morale.

It is almost inevitable that a leader will eventually face the difficult decision to terminate an employee. Firing a staff member can lead to serious leadership stress, which can trickle down to the rest of the organization, causing disengagement, confusion, and discontent. Is it possible, then, to terminate employees without crushing morale? In short, yes, but it takes some effort.  

How to Terminate an Employee and Maintain Morale

Transparency after Termination

A team member who is either underperforming or a bad fit has significant impact on the morale and energy of their coworkers. If you’re responsible for managing team dynamics, you have to bear in mind that even when a termination is necessary to improve working conditions, some employees may still panic at this revelation, thinking they could be next. It’s your job to articulate a clear leadership message before concern spreads. Your communication should reinforce critical company values, and how the team will move forward, without divulging so much information that you put the organization or yourself at risk.

Be thoughtful prior to sending any message to the rest of the team. Be as transparent as you legally and reasonably can. While you shouldn’t share health or sensitive personnel information, the more your team knows, the better they’ll understand what they’re doing right and where they can improve. Clearly lay out the reasons for the change through the lens of mission, vision, and values, and provide opportunities to discuss matters further with individual team members privately, if necessary.  Don’t dwell on specific performance issues beyond this point. This is the time to clear things up, tie any loose ends, and forge a positive path forward with the current team.

Framing is Key

It isn’t just about what you tell your team, but how you tell them. Framing the situation the right way can turn a sour scenario into something beneficial for the workplace culture. The key here is to focus less on the negatives and more on the positives. Don’t ignore the truth of the termination, of course. Instead, leverage this disruption as an opportunity to bring your team back together.

For instance, if an employee was terminated due to a bad attitude or inappropriate behavior, conduct a meeting with your team to reinforce the company’s culture and values. Remind everyone what types of behavior are acceptable and encouraged, and which are discouraged, and point out recent instances where employees did an outstanding job. Bring the focus back to the collective vision, and clearly state what actions are being taken to reinforce this vision and move the company forward.

Terminating a Negative Force Can Actually Boost Morale

In addition to the above, it’s also important to remember that terminating an employee is in the organization’s and the team’s best interest. After all, the decision to remove an employee from the company comes from a careful performance management review process where it becomes clear that the employee is not a cultural match for the organization and may be harming the business in some significant way.  If you have been clear in communicating your core company values, the termination should not come as a surprise to the employee, and it’s likely that the employee’s negative performance or attitude manifested in many forms, such as lowered productivity, violation of company policies, or negatively impacting morale. Purposeful action to preserve and uphold your stated values can serve to increase individual accountability and foster greater teamwork.

While this change in numbers might be abrupt for some, it should ultimately make for a better work environment. In this way, firing an employee should actually serve to boost morale rather than crush it. It might take a while for this shift to occur, of course. But with proper framing and clarity in communication, your team can see a positive change come out of this decision.

Of all the responsibilities a leader must take on, having to terminate an employee might cause the most stress. Many seasoned managers still admit to agonizing over even the most justified cases of termination. Still, it’s necessary for maintaining a positive company culture and promoting growth of the organization. Be open and honest with your team and continue focusing on the good.

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.

Schedule A Call To Learn More Read More

Having Tough Conversations with Dignity

By Leadership Resources 04/11/2019
Leadership Resources two men having a hard conversation

Your people are your greatest assets, but they’re also human beings with various ambitions, views, and flaws. If you’re in charge of a team, you have to focus much of your energy on communication and performance management. Proper communication with each individual and the team as a whole will help keep everyone on track and mitigate any growing issues or concerns.

This is easier said than done, of course. When something goes wrong, a tough conversation may be in order. And if you’re the team leader, the impetus is on you to conduct these tough conversations with dignity while still addressing the issues at hand. Let’s explore some of the ways you can navigate these interactions while also preventing them from devolving into finger-pointing or talking around the problem.

How to Have Challenging Conversations Well

Keep it Private

When a problem arises in your company, it may affect your whole team. Or, your team might have triggered the problem in the first place. Whatever the case, resist the urge to address your team as a whole right away. It’s often better to speak with individuals one-on-one to better understand the issue before bringing it up at large. If the problem seems to stem from a single person, you’ll want to begin by speaking with that person first, of course.

Private discussions are free from distractions and eliminate the potential to lean on or blame anyone else. This gives you the opportunity to better understand where the other party is coming from. Holding conversations in private can also help the other party feel more comfortable, as they won’t feel singled out in front of the rest of the team.

Be as Clear and Honest as Possible

Good leadership communication is all about clarity. The more transparent you are, the better the conversation will go. What does this transparency look like in action? It means addressing the issue head-on, clearly explaining why it matters, and genuinely expressing your desire to make things better as a team. The more sincerity you show, the more sincerity you’ll receive. A workplace culture built on this trust is bound to be more successful.

Don’t Make it Personal

Just because you’re speaking with a staff member one-on-one doesn’t mean the conversation has to get personal. Instead, the talk should focus on the problem itself. Even if the individual contributed to the problem in question, merely placing blame is not an effective way to course-correct. You should try to uncover the full context of the issue and discuss ways to make future improvements. We all make mistakes, and sometimes underlying circumstances play a part. If you’re not willing to dig deeper into all relevant factors, the same mistakes will rear their heads again.

11 Ways To Create Accountability And Increase Productivity At Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.

Let the Other Party Speak

Tough conversations cannot be one-sided. Yes, you’re the one initiating the discussion, but you must also let the other party speak and ask questions if anything is to get fixed. Be sure to ask them questions as well. If you don’t open a dialogue you won’t know how to manage your team effectively in the future. Of course, the individual might start placing blame on others, avoiding the problem, or responding emotionally. If this occurs, continue listening, but try to bring the conversation back to the issue, not the person.

Forge a Path Forward Together

The goal of any tough conversation is to amend a problem, making things better moving forward. This can only be done through team effort. Make sure that you end every difficult discussion with a purpose. Work with the individual to create strategies and solutions that will benefit them, the team, and the company. Dignity requires autonomy and self-respect, so you should empower your employees to do better in the future, helping them along the way with mindful team management.

Tough conversations are by definition never easy. They can, however, be productive and cathartic, as long as they’re conducted with dignity. With proper leadership communication training, you can get better at having these conversations. The better you get at this, the stronger your team and your business will be. Leadership Resources offers courses and resources for improving your communication and team management skills.

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.

Schedule A Call To Learn More Read More

Criticizing Your Team Without Demeaning Them

By Leadership Resources 04/09/2019
Leadership Resources critical group discussion

Most of us don’t like receiving criticism. But when we look back on our lives, we often find that our most significant moments of growth were driven by feedback and advice from others. We’ve already discussed the problems with being your own coach. Indeed, sometimes we need an external push to point us in the right direction. If you’re in charge of team management, part of your job is to evaluate its performance and dole out criticism that can help get everyone back on track.

Mastering this communication and performance management is easier said than done, however. On one hand, you don’t want to water down your comments or avoid confronting imminent issues. On the other hand, you don’t want to make your team uncomfortable by singling out members or acting rudely. There is an area between these poles that allows you to criticize your team without demeaning them. Let’s explore this area, how to find it, and how to navigate it properly.

Deconstructing Constructive Criticism

Most of us have heard the term “constructive criticism” before. In fact, it’s one of those terms that loses its meaning after a while due to how frequently it’s used. Still, this is a relevant concept that’s worth truly understanding, as it defines the area between weak feedback and bullying mentioned above.

Constructive criticism isn’t necessarily easy to swallow or even “nice.” Rather, it’s honest feedback given in good faith designed to improve the organization. The feedback given must have the ultimate purpose of improving the individual, team, and/or behavior moving forward. Without this aim in mind, criticism lacks initiative, and may even be given in bad faith. This is why leadership communication is so vital when delivering feedback. If you fail to clearly communicate why a problem needs fixing and how it might be fixed, you’re likely to encounter the problem again.

Unlock The Leadership Potential Within Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.

The Lame Blame Game

Anyone who grew up with siblings has probably partaken in the blame game before, whether that blame was warranted or not. It’s true that we’re responsible for our own actions, and when we make mistakes it’s best to own up to them as soon as possible. However, playing the blame game is not an effective way to manage your team.

When someone makes a mistake, it affects the whole team. Even if a single person made an error, this mistake serves as a learning opportunity for everyone including that individual, of course. The key here is that the problem gets addressed, not that the individual gets singled out. If you do point the finger, plenty of new issues can arise. For one thing, the finger may get pointed back at you or other team members, quickly creating fissures in the company culture. Also, blaming an individual in front of the team can make that person feel ostracized, which may decrease their productivity and willingness to work.

Some mistakes are more serious than others, of course. If a team member does something hurtful, dangerous, disingenuous, or illegal, you will have to address this person directly. However, it’s often best to have a one-on-one conversation with said person rather than single them out in the group.

Reiterate Unity and Vision

Ultimately, the best way to criticize your team without demeaning them is to frequently remind everyone of their shared purpose. You and your team are in this together. There are bound to be mistakes along the way, and they all must be addressed. But it all must come back to the unified vision so every team member can regroup and get back out there better than before. It isn’t personal.

If you’re still new to leading a team, it’s worthwhile to invest in any available communication training for managers. These programs will help you become a better leader, listener, and bearer of constructive criticism. If you want to learn more about how to manage your team effectively, look no further than Leadership Resources.

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.

Schedule A Call To Learn More Read More

Is Your Team Unclear on Your Message? Know the Signs of Disconnect

By Leadership Resources 03/13/2019
question

Communication is one of the most powerful aspects of an organization. Strong communication keeps staff members accountable and helps maintain clarity. Poor communication can muddy the waters on every level. Without good leadership communication skills, your team might not know what to do next, or why they should do it. And if they fail to give you honest feedback, you might not even know that your message is unclear. This is a negative feedback loop that stifles productivity.

To get ahead of this potential confusion, it’s important to know some of the warning signs that suggest a disconnect in understanding. Here we’ll take a look at some of these signs and outline a few ways to course correct.

Lack of Engagement

We’ve all been told that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Still, most of us don’t like being the first or only one to ask for clarification on something. If a team member isn’t grasping a message or a concept, they might hold still and wait for someone else to do it instead. The problem here is that this sometimes results in no one asking common questions at all. The leader in charge of team management is then unaware of the confusion that several team members might be feeling.

If your team isn’t super responsive or seems hesitant to ask questions, take this as a sign that something is unclear. To remedy this disengagement, try asking specific team members what they think the goal or task is about. If they can’t do this, they’ll most likely ask for further instruction rather than pretend to know the answer.

Repeated Questions

On the opposite end of this spectrum, you may receive too many questions, some of which echo questions you’ve already answered. This is a big red flag for team culture, too, as it suggests that team members aren’t listening well to each other and that they’re having a hard time grasping your message.

Repeated questions may derive from a flaw in your communication, however. Perhaps similar questions keep popping up because your answers lack clarity. Take these repetitive questions as a sign that you need to step back and explain yourself more clearly.

11 Ways To Create Accountability And Increase Productivity At Your Organization. Download this whitepaper.

Overlapping Tasks

Once a project is in motion, there are a number of signs that indicate team members aren’t fully clear on the task at hand. The most glaring of these is when staff members assigned distinct tasks end up overlapping. For instance, one team member may be in charge of taking research notes while another is tasked with reaching out to contacts. If either person ends up doing something that’s in the others’ jurisdiction, there is probably need for better communication and performance management.

If you notice this happening, go back to the drawing board and reassign clearly distinguished tasks to your team members. Make sure everyone is clear on what they should be doing, how to report on it, etc.

Goals Aren’t Being Met and Productivity is Suffering

This final warning sign stems from the previous one. When team members fail to do their job or accidentally do someone else’s, productivity suffers. Failing to meet goals and deadlines can occur for a number of reasons, but it’s most commonly from miscommunication and lack of understanding. People struggle to achieve goals if they’re not sure what those goals are, or why they matter. One of the most important leadership qualities is knowing how to set and frame goals so that every team member can get on board.

Knowing how to manage communication in teams is easier said than done. For one thing, every team is different, and within each team are unique individuals with various strengths and weaknesses. It takes time to learn the subtle cues of each team member and recognize when your team is veering off course. Leadership Resources provides tools for leadership development that can help better equip you to handle these situations and get your team back on track. For instance, our team includes certified implementers of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS)®, a system which promotes clarity and cohesion in organizations.

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.

Schedule A Call To Learn More

Read More

SCHEDULE A CALL TO LEARN MORE

Let us help you achieve your vision. A member of our team will respond within 24 business hours to arrange an initial discovery session with one of our growth consultants.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.