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Why Empathy at Work Works!

Empathy is the ingredient necessary to facilitate healthy relationships and keep your social and professional relationships running smoothly. Empathetic leaders identify with and understand another person’s feelings, situation, and driving forces. They putting themselves in the other person’s shoes, see what they see, and understand their feelings. Empathy, however, needs to be balanced with critical thinking, logic, and objectivity. 

Some people think empathy is too “touchy-feely”; the truth is far from this! It is a valued trait in leaders.  According to the white paper Empathy in the Workplace: A Tool for Effective Leadership, from the Center for Creative Leadership, “…Empathy is positively related to job performance. Managers who show more empathy toward direct reports are viewed as better performers in their job by their bosses.” In other words, showing empathy on the job contributes to your professional and career success by enhancing your performance in the eyes of your manager.

Empathetic leaders open the door to authentic communication, increase team morale and motivation, enhance customer and employee retention, and build an environment that supports positive rapport and engagement—everything an organization wants in a leader!

“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

Theodore Roosevelt, 26thpresident of the United States




Being in a Good Mood is Good Business

Your mood has a lot to do with how positively productive you are and how effective your team functions. Everyone prefers working with people who are cheerful and positive and who make them feel good just by being around them. On the other hand, a bad mood spreads like the flu and leaves everyone feeling unhappy. Here are some tips for elevating your mood and positively influencing everyone around you. 

  • Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Stop reading and think about five things you are grateful for. Just five things. It’s hard to be grumpy and feel thankful at the same time. This is a great tip when you are feeling blah or negative. Just stop and think of five things that you are grateful for and watch your mood rise!
  • Stay in the moment. If you have been in my GO System workshop, you heard me talk about focusing and being present. While this is a valuable tool for being productive, it also helps lift your mood. Often, we are in a funk because we are thinking about problems or worrying about the future. When we focus on what we are doing in the moment and exclude extraneous thoughts, our mood changes for the better.
  • Take a time out. A bad mood is often the result of stress and burnout. If your mood is down, take a time out. Go for a walk and get some fresh air. Stay in the moment and think about what you are grateful for in your life and work. See my blog post Finding Time for Yourself for some ideas.

A bad mood is catching, so is a good mood! If you feel blue or grumpy, try one of these tips to raise your mood and the mood of the environment around you. See my blog post Does Positivity at Work Really Make a Difference? for more information.


Why Being a Nice Manager Makes Sense

The old saying, nice guys—and gals—finish last isn’t true—at least when it comes to being a nice manager.

Being nice doesn’t mean being a pushover; it means that you communicate and manage with consideration for each team member and treat each person as an individual. Nice managers cultivate a positive work environment that contributes to a motivated, positively productivestaff. 

Nice managers never blindside an employee. Always set performance standards and communicate your expectations to each employee. By setting specific goals with deadlines and metrics, you empower your team to achieve and exceed your expectations. Learn the strengths, weaknesses, and skillsets of your employees and assign them tasks that communicate your commitment to their success.

Whether employees meet, exceed, or fail to meet their goals, it is critical to provide immediate coaching and feedback that focuses on their work, not on who they are as people. Meet privately, so you can speak confidentially and without distractions.

If an employee needs to improve, provide specific direction and have the employee commit to making improvements by a deadline. Always follow up. See my blog post Discussing Problem Behaviors for Improved Performance for more information. On the other hand, make successful employees feel valued and appreciated by offering rewards and recognition for a job well done.

Being nice takes work! It requires you to proactively lead your team, support them, and help them shine! It involves teaching other people how to do their jobs effectively by giving them tools to grow and advance and helping them become successful in their careers.


Build A Super Team in 2020

Developing your team to succeed is a leadership responsibility. As we start a new year, take some time to decide how you can strengthen their skills and give them new ones. The more knowledge your team has, the more positively productivethey can be.

  • Share the vision. Make sure everyone on your team knows the company’s vision, your department’s role in realizing that vision, and their contributions to help make that vision a reality.
  • Provide growth opportunities.Encourage your employees to stretch and grow by giving them developmental assignments. Review what you currently do that could be handled by a team member with the proper coaching.
  • Offer professional training programs. Investing in training that is delivered by experts is smart leadership. Help employees be more effective by improving communication, writing, productivity, emotional intelligence, stress management, and so on. Can we help? Check out our website for the courses we offer.

A strong leader helps his or her team improve performance by giving praise when it’s deserved and motivating the team to achieve even more. Keep employees focused on raising the bar and groom them to achieve more than they think is possible. Encourage them to have a can-do mindset—the difference that makes the difference!

Happy New Year! May 2020 be your best year ever!



Enhance Your Leadership Skills

Leadership is all about having a can-do attitude. Good leaders are high achievers that look for opportunities to succeed while also inspiring others to succeed. Here are five tips for cultivating leadership in 2020.

  1. Take calculated risks.Leaders must be good at assessing the risks and rewards of opportunities. Weigh the options, analyze worst-case scenarios, identify mitigation strategies, and understand the consequences of a decision. Once the pros and cons are vetted, act decisively and confidently.
  2. Develop high emotional intelligence. This means you need to cultivate empathy for others, understand your own strengths and weaknesses, be aware of how others respond to you, and know how to act appropriately in challenging situations. Leadership isn’t being in command of others; it’s being in command of yourself so that others want to follow you and emulate you.
  3. Build a network you can rely on. Leaders are connected; they create networks both within and outside their organizations. Having a network gives you a pool of people you can call on for advice, information, and consultation. See my blog post Networking for Results for more tips.
  4. Be a perpetual learner. Leaders know they will never know it all, so they keep learning and growing. Take more classes, read and listen to more books, talk to people who are experts in areas you want to develop.
  5. Don’t turn mistakes into failures. Leaders have a realistic view of situations and realize that mistakes aren’t failures; they are valuable feedback! If you get off track or make a mistake, take action to rectify the situation, but don’t stop there. Analyze what went wrong and what you can learn. As baseball great Babe Ruth once said, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

Set an intention for 2020 to enhance your leadership skills by focusing on these five areas. Much success to you!


Avoid Office Party Blunders

Holiday office parties can be great fun that let coworkers and colleagues deepen workplace relationships. While there are benefits to socializing at the office, the holiday party also has pitfalls that can damage your professional reputation if you aren’t careful.

  • Let your hair down—but not too much! It’s fine to be relaxed and have fun, but keep things in moderation. If alcohol is served, limit your intake and make sure you eat while you drink. Becoming too uninhibited can lead to words and actions you might regret the next day.
  • Meet and mingle. It’s tempting to stay with people you know, but the holiday office party is a good time to reconnect with those you haven’t seen or spoken with in a while. Make a point to get to know someone new or someone you only know by phone.
  • Remember whom you work for. If customers are at the party or if a customer invites you to their office party, you have to be on your best behavior since you represent your organization. Avoid talking shop and focus on getting to know your customers better as individuals. At customer events, it is smart to avoid alcohol and stick to soda or sparkling water.
  • Ask permission before taking photos. You may want to take some shots on your phone, just make sure you have people’s permission. It can be annoying to have someone whip out a phone and start shooting. Be careful what you post on social media since you might embarrass someone—or yourself!—or violate your company’s policies or that of your customers.

Making a positive impression at the office party, will demonstrate your professionalism to your customers, coworkers, and management. It is an opportunity to make a good impression and be noticed in all the right ways.



Holiday Gift Giving Guidelines

Holiday gift giving is a challenge for many business people. How much to spend? What kind of gift? Do you send it to the person or the office? You don’t want to send something that is too personal, but you do want to acknowledge people. So what do you do? Here is a quick guide to business gift giving for the holidays.

  • Make sure you know the rules. Most organizations have policies for what their employees can give and receive in the way of gifts or gratuities. Read your own guidelines and make sure your team understands them, too. Ask your clients and customers about their organization’s rules to ensure you aren’t violating them and putting the customer in an awkward position.
  • What about a gift for your manager? This can be tricky. You want to be politically correct and choose something that represents your appreciation of him or her. A handwritten note with a token gift, such as a basket of treats or homemade sweets, usually works. Also consider a team gift by asking your coworkers to chip in. Don’t put pressure on anyone by asking for a specific amount to contribute; just ask people to give what they want.
  • What about gifts for your employees? If you are a manager or supervisor, think about a gift the whole team can share, such as having lunch catered in or hosting an ice cream and cake afternoon.

If your office exchanges gifts or has a “Secret Santa” tradition, choose a gift that fits the person if you know them. If you don’t know them very well, choose something most people can use, such as candles or a gift card for gas or a local restaurant.

Gift-giving the right way can strengthen workplace relationships and help you acknowledge the people you work with. Choose thoughtfully, and you will enjoy the smiles on people’s faces when they open your gift! See also my blog post Plan Now to Wow Your Customers This Holiday Season


Giving Thanks is Not Just One Day a Year!

Do you become embarrassed when someone gives you a compliment or praises your work? It’s surprising how many people respond with, “It was nothing.” If you’re one of them, stop! This type of response is a subtle rejection of the person giving you the compliment and a subconscious hit to your self-esteem.

When you receive a compliment, accept the praise as well earned and say, “Thanks! I appreciate that.” If the compliment was for a team or partner effort, mention the contributions of others. “Thanks. I appreciate that. My partner/whole team worked hard to pull this together. I’ll share your comments with them.”

Remember to smile!

I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful for my loyal followers and those new to my blog. May you enjoy the warmth and blessings of family and friends during this holiday season!

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

 Thornton Wilder, American playwright and novelist



Is It Distress or Eustress?

You’ve probably heard a lot about bad stress or distress. Many emotional and physical disorders have been linked to this type of stress. People under stress for a long time are more prone to infections, autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal problems, and high blood pressure among other health issues. Distress also adversely affects relationships, productivity, and focus.

On the other hand, some stress is good for us. This type of stress is eustress. Eustress is stress that motivates us and keeps us interested and challenged. The stress an athlete feels before a competition is a form of eustress as is the stress we feel before a major presentation.  We all need eustress in our lives in order to accomplish our goals and grow personally and professionally.

If you are feeling more distress than eustress, try some of these tips:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Meditate daily
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Give yourself a time out and do something relaxing
  • Stop thinking about the stressor and turn your thoughts to something positive
  • Get more sleep
  • Build a support system
  • Set and maintain boundaries

As the holidays approach with more demands on your time, feelings of distress may arise. Don’t get derailed! See my blog posts Finding Time for Yourself and Speed Up by Slowing Down for more tips you can use.



Got the Cube Blues?

Most of us work in cubes these days, which cuts down on privacy and leaves us little room for making our workspace work for us. Here are some tips for turning your little, gray cube into a place you enjoy.

  • Bring in some green. Live plants bring the outside indoors, and a touch of green is cheering. With flowering plants, it’s best to avoid anything that gives off a strong scent since cube mates may be allergic or find it offensive. Have a black thumb? Silk plants are a good substitute.
  • Keep it neat. Walking into a mess in the morning can be demoralizing and demotivating. Clear the clutter and keep things neat and orderly. See my blog post A Simple Approach to Eliminating Clutter
  • Be ergonomic. Avoid aches and pains by having a correctly designed workspace, use ergonomically sound equipment, and make sure lighting is adequate. Check with your manager or human resources for available options.
  • Add reminders of life outside the office. Photos of family, friends, and activities that you enjoy are pleasant reminders of your life outside the cube. Be prudent with your choices, especially if you work in an area that gets a lot of customer traffic.
  • Move around. While many cubes are pretty small, set an alert to get up and move around every hour or 90 minutes. The more you sit in one place, the more constricted you feel; the cube walls seem as if they are closing in on you! See my blog post Sitting is Bad for Productivity –  and Your Health for more information.

Don’t treat your cube like a cell! An attractive, pleasing workspace makes work easier, reduces stress, and can make you more positively productive.