Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

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.

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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.

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Is Stress Killing Your Productivity? The Counter-Intuitive Reality of Taking Time to Self-Manage and Pursue True Longevity

By Leadership Resources 12/24/2018

In the workplace, it often seems like nothing matters more than productivity. In theory, when workers are more productive, the business thrives, profits increase, and everyone is happy. But productivity can come at a cost. The truth is, people only have so much mental and physical energy in a given day to get things done. And it doesn’t take much to push someone over the edge into the land of stress. Stress tends to take a hit on productivity in the long run, so there is a fine line to walk between working hard and burning out. This applies to leaders and staff members alike So, how can managers help employees deal with stress? And what about managing leadership stress?

Encouraging Self Care

The workplace is meant for work, of course. But if a work environment offers no small escape or time away from work duties, the quality of work will suffer. Therefore, a workplace culture should encourage staff and leaders to take some time during the workday to socialize, refuel mentally and physically, play games, and step outside for fresh air. These little things add up and allow all team members more space to gather thoughts and gain perspective.

At first, this all might sound counterintuitive. After all, the goal is to increase productivity. How does playing a pickup foosball game or taking an extended coffee break get anything of value done? Well, these activities reduce stress and allow one’s brain to reset. People will come back to work refreshed after partaking in a small act of self-care, and their work will be better as a result. So, in the long-term, these seemingly pointless excursions can increase productivity.

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

Fostering an Open and Honest Environment

Stress is like pressure and often feels like it. It gets bottled up and eventually will explode if not released on a healthy, regular basis. So, leaders and staff members need a way to air their personal and work-related concerns in an open environment, free of judgment. A company’s culture and values should allow every employee to feel comfortable speaking their mind to their peers and managers when necessary. Otherwise, problems get swept under the rug and fester. These issues can devolve into resentment or worse.

There is nothing more harmful to productivity than a workforce that feels stifled by a lack of communication. Things may occur in a company or office that leave some team members angry, confused, or feeling left out. Leadership in times of stress and change such as these is more important than ever. Leaders must not only reassure all staff that their concerns are being heard, but they must actually listen and act accordingly. Otherwise, that pressurized stress will eventually boil over and the team might fall apart completely.

Long-term productivity sometimes depends on short-term sacrifices. Sometimes a staff member just needs a personal day. Others might need an hour to blow off steam and recalibrate priorities. The work will always be there. The key is to ensure that the work gets done well. A workforce that is overstressed and unable to communicate will eventually fail in this pursuit, as will leaders. Managers and employees alike must encourage each other to take care of everyone’s well-being first and foremost.

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. To learn more about what we do and why, contact us here.

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Why Our Job Requirements Include Our Values – Hiring and Culture Start with Core Motivations

By Leadership Resources 12/10/2018
place sign

An organization is only as good as its people. So, when a business hires new people, it must look for specific things that will enhance the business as a whole. Of course, new recruits must have relevant experience and knowledge. But perhaps even more important than that is what makes that potential hire click. What motivates them in life and in work? And are these motivations commensurate with the existing company culture?

At Leadership Resources, we include our values in our job requirements. This way, we can attract individuals whose values and core motivations align with those we’ve set forth. Let’s further examine why we do this, and why every organization should hire with culture and values in mind.

Roots and Branches

A good entry point to understanding the importance of this hiring practice is to use the analogy of a tree. On one end of the tree are the roots, and on the opposite end are branches. Workplace culture is akin to the roots, the stability and sustenance of the organization. When all else is in question, those values remain firm and rooted.

On the other end, the branches are always reaching out. Likewise, a business should always seek new directions, ideas, and influences. However, the roots must remain intact for this to occur. The roots feed upward to the branches. In other words, an organization must aim to grow without sacrificing its core values. Indeed, the only way it can grow and is by keeping these values in mind every step of the way. When hiring new team members, you should keep this analogy in mind. Will this person contribute to the strength of the roots so the branches can continue reaching?

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

Knowing When and How to Change Company Culture

This might sound counterintuitive to the previous point, but sometimes the roots need to be reexamined and shifted for an organization to progress. When this happens, it’s crucial to know how to change company culture carefully without undoing past progress. Values must be firm, then, but flexible enough to be made better and stronger than before.

So, when a business looks to hire people with matching values and core motivations, included in these motivations must be a desire and willingness to improve the organizational culture and leadership when necessary. At Leadership Resources, this falls under our core values of Continuous  Development and Authenticity. Leaders must be vocal about their concerns and ready to make changes with confidence and clarity when the time comes. This applies to any business, large or small.

A business has a lot to consider when looking for new hires. Few candidates will perfectly fit every requirement and preference laid out in the application. However, some candidates will stand out in specific areas related to the company’s core values. These are the people you’re looking for. Without them, the roots may rot and the branches will cease to grow.

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. For more information on what we do and who we are at Leadership Resources, contact us here.

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Sustainable Office Productivity: How to Get the Most out of Your Employees Without Creating Burnout

By Leadership Resources 12/03/2018
do more

When it comes to maximizing office productivity, leaders are faced with several challenges. On the one hand, you want to get the most out of your employees. On the other hand, you don’t want to push your team past the threshold of exhaustion. Burnout is a real problem in today’s workplace culture. Leaders must find a way to avoid burnout while still fostering sustainable office productivity. The question is: how?

Expectations and Motivation

In any successful organization, its core values are defined for all its people from the very beginning. These values lay out what the business aims to achieve and how it aims to achieve it. As a result, clear expectations are set for all staff members. Employees will understand how to behave as well as the consequences of not meeting these expectations.

However, consequences alone won’t enhance employee performance management. People need motivation to work harder and feel good about their work. This motivation can come in many forms. Ideally, an employee will have flocked to the company because his/her core values align with the culture and values of the business. If this is the case, the employee will feel inherently motivated by contributing to the company’s success.

But staff members can always be motivated further. For some, receiving praise on a job well done is a strong motivating tool. For others, it’s compensation or promotion. Whatever the case, the best way to motivate employees is to appeal to their core values and encourage their great work.

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

Encourage a Healthy Separation of Work and Home Life

Not feeling motivated can certainly lead to burnout. But the other leading cause stems from the inability to get away from work. Of course, some employees work from home and others enjoy collecting overtime as compensation for extra hours worked. Still, failing to find a healthy balance between work and life outside of work is bound to create burnout in most employees at some point.

When building office culture, leaders should keep this separation in mind and respect the private lives of all employees once the work day is done. Employees should also feel encouraged to take a reprieve from work every now and then, either for a personal day or a week-long vacation. These breaks for the day-to-day stresses of work actually benefit employee productivity management in the long-term.

Of course, every now and then you may have to call an employee after hours for clarification or to change plans on the spot. Aside from these litter interruptions, though, compartmentalizing work and life is usually for the best.

In business performance management, striking the balance between healthy productivity and burnout is challenging. As a leader, you want your employees to feel motivated on their own and know what’s expected of them. You also want the most work possible to get done, but you know that this will come at a cost of your team’s well-being and long-term success.

For more advice on how to maximize productivity and minimize burnout, visit Leadership Resources. Here you’ll find tools, worksheets, reading material, videos, and more, all designed to improve your leadership abilities and enhance 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.

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Culture Is Not a Buzzword – Creating a Shared System of Values to Make Your Team Work Together Intuitively and with Precision

By Leadership Resources 10/19/2018
leadership development omaha

The word “culture” has been used so frequently and in so many contexts it can be difficult to define. In the broader sense, culture refers to a collective set of values and/or achievements expressed in a particular group of people. Different cultures exist among ethnic and religious groups, throughout separate regions, and within smaller niches of interest (i.e. geek culture). And when people are gathered together for long enough, a new culture often develops.

Workplace culture is just another version of this. After all, a company is made up of several individuals who at the very least can all agree to exist in the same space for several hours a day. Of course, most companies aren’t as rooted in history and time as religious or regional groups. Also, not everyone who works for a company necessarily shares the same social, political, or moral values.

That being said, a company’s success relies heavily on establishing a strong company culture that unites all of its staff regardless of differences. How can a company truly develop and maintain a culture that’s not too forced or too loose?

Establish General Principles and Values

To establish a long lasting company culture, you have to start with the basics: what can just about everyone agree on? This isn’t a matter of pandering to low expectations or compromising important values. Rather, it’s a reaffirmation of common human decency.

In other words, everyone who works for a company wants to be treated with respect. Additionally, they want to earn a good living to support their families and further their careers. People also want to do a good job and be recognized for their work. These nearly universal principles should be deeply embedded in every company culture.

Different phraseology can be used for expressing these values, but in the end, respect, fairness, and recognition are always integral. From this foundation, a company can chisel away at the culture and values they want to build. This will likely depend on what the company does, its mission, and its goals moving forward.

Let New Employees In On It

Once a company culture has been established, it is crucial to let it be known to new employees very early on. When entering the company, new employees should immediately get a feel for the organizational culture and leadership styles of the business.

Many businesses create a video and/or pamphlet that outlines the core values of the company, why they matter, and how they’re implemented each day. The clearer this picture is, the better equipped new employees will be when getting accustomed to the new workplace. They will immediately feel a sense of purpose and unity with other staff members, as everyone will know the shared culture.

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

Keeping the Culture Present and Open to Change

Of course, it’s not enough to say you have a culture; you have to actualize it, too. The work of a company should be directly tied to its culture so that every hour spent working is also an hour spent emboldening the set of shared values. This will result in greater teamwork and increased morale.

For instance, if the culture of a customer service company involves learning from other staff members, each call doubles as an important aspect of work as well as a teachable moment for other employees. A great call will be recognized by managers and staff, and then used to improve the performance of everyone else.

Beyond work, a company should also provide its people with fun, team building events, exercises, and celebrations. Even something as small as celebrating monthly birthdays or participating in annual award ceremonies can go a long way to strengthening bonds.

Culture should be strong but it should also be flexible enough to allow for important changes. Knowing how to change company culture is just as important as knowing how to establish it. When a business changes its priorities, undergoes a major overhaul, or sees difficult times, it may have to reconsider how its culture can be improved.

If changes are necessary, leaders should call for meetings to explain these changes to each and every employee. Just as a company must clearly establish its initial values, it must clearly indicate how and why the culture should move in a new direction. Leaders should be open to questions, concerns, and criticisms. In fact, these very concerns might be the catalyst for these changes to begin.

In the end, a good company culture depends on everyone’s mutual understanding and participation. Every employee and manager must be on the same page. The culture should be the foundation that every staff member can fall back on when something goes wrong or gets confused. Not only will this bedrock of values increase a company’s longevity, it will also increase the spirit of collaboration and make the workplace a better, more welcoming place overall.

If you’re a company leader who wants to learn more about company culture, Leadership Resources can provide you with tools to establish and articulate a set of values to your staff. Contact us here to learn more.

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