Meetings can be a complete waste of time. But even when meetings are useful and necessary, spending hours in the same conference room week after week can make you and your staff a little stir-crazy. Consider these alternatives to shake things up:
- Chat with employees. You can discover a lot by simply talking with your team members in casual settings. Stop by their workstations for status updates. The conversations will be more efficient and genuine, since they won’t be swayed by their co-workers’ opinions.
- Go to the source of the problem. If you’re meeting to address a particular issue or mistake, meet where it happened. If customers are complaining about the state of your fitting rooms, meet there. If the kitchen is confusing orders, meet there. Your employees will be more focused on the issue at hand, and being on location often illuminates the cause of the problem.
- Hold a walking meeting. If you’re meeting only with one or two people, walk while you talk. The exercise will stimulate your brain, and you won’t be tempted to let the meeting go longer than it needs to.
- Go outside. As the weather gets nicer, schedule an outdoor meeting. The sunshine and fresh air will invigorate your team. Note: Choose an outdoor location that offers plenty of shade. Sunburns shouldn’t be a side effect of a meeting!
What tips do you have for breaking out of a conference room rut?
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I recently enjoyed an older Robert Stephen Kaplan blog post over at Psychology Today in which he debates the validity of the phrase “It’s lonely at the top.” As we move up the ladder in any field, our peer groups grow smaller, and that can be a very lonely feeling.
Before you were promoted to a supervisory position, if you had hard day or a difficult decision you needed to talk through, you probably had a variety of people to turn to: your immediate supervisor, your team members, your friends and family. Now the path to good advice is not as obvious.
Establish a network you can turn to for both friendship and advice by:
- Looking beyond your department. Just because you don’t know anything about accounting doesn’t mean that you won’t relate to the manager of the finance department. If you’re in a large organization, connect with others in supervisory roles. Your teams might do very different work, but you may find that your day-to-day managerial situations are quite similar.
- Seeking a mentor. If your organization doesn’t automatically set you up with a mentor (and most don’t), track one down yourself. A good mentor can provide guidance during tough times and can help you anticipate issues before they become problems.
- Joining a professional group. LinkedIn groups provide advice and support to their members. Pose a question to a group and you’re likely to receive some thoughtful answers. Better yet, engage with the group by answering others’ questions and not only will you gain their appreciation, but you’ll increase your own confidence. If you’d rather meet in person, check Meetup.com for business or networking groups in your area—and start your own if one doesn’t already exist.
How do you fight loneliness as you move toward the top?
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Employees often have problems adapting to organizational change and growth. Accustomed to the status quo, they are afraid of how changes will affect their positions. Will I have new duties? Will I need to work longer hours? Is everyone affected equally? Is my job in jeopardy? The fears resulting from reorganization, new management or a change in responsibilities can all throw off the balance of your team.
Ignore the age-old idea that “what they don’t know won’t hurt them.” Employees’ performance and morale are adversely affected by “not knowing” what is happening in the organization. Get everyone on board by answering the following questions for your employees:
- How will my job be affected? This is the number one question we all have when organizational change is imminent. Be honest and gain support from employees.
- What is the purpose of the change? Is the idea to increase output, save money, expand a product line or create better focus? We all deal with change a little better when we understand the logic behind it.
- How is the change an improvement? Be positive and reassuring, and explain why the change is a good thing for the organization.
Bottom line: Give employees information and you will gain cooperation and acceptance through organizational change.
What tips do you have for preparing your team for organizational change?
[Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/76029035@N02.]
As a manager it is your responsibility to motivate and inspire your people. If you make employees feel like they count, they will work for a higher level of success. When you leave them feeling more confident about their work and their abilities, they are better able to break through their own self-imposed limitations. In a work climate where so many workers are disengaged from their jobs, you have to work even harder to motivate your team.
To be an effective manager and make your team feel important, you should:
- Recognize. It only takes a brief, one-on-one conversation with employees to recognize their effort or contribution to a project.
- Level. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
- Plant. You have the ability to plant seeds of confidence and enthusiasm in your employees.
- Welcome. Be open to suggestions, and encourage your employees to identify problems and offer solutions.
- Be available. Pay full attention and listen when your employees need you.
- Support. Celebrate your employees’ success, and guide them to understanding and growth when they make mistakes.
- Be open. Keep information and news flowing. Your team can be hurt by what they don’t know.
What tips do you have for motivating your team?
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You want to be an all-star manager, so it’s natural that your brainwaves—at least while at work—are concentrated on your team’s goals, progress and accomplishments. While it’s great to be focused on your work, don’t lose sight of this fact: Your employees are people.
As a leader, your job isn’t just to motivate your team to meet and exceed expectations; it’s also to build relationships. If your nose is always to the grindstone you’ll miss opportunities to connect with employees. Take these examples:
- On Friday, Todd mentions that he’s running in a half marathon over the weekend. You tell him you’re impressed and wish him luck—and you mean it. But when Monday comes around, if you’re so engrossed in the week’s sales that you forget to ask about the race, Todd is going to feel forgotten.
- Vicky tells you that she and her husband are expecting their first child. Does your mind jump to covering her duties while she’s on leave? You will have to figure coverage out eventually, of course, but if you don’t comment about the happy occasion first, Vicky may feel like a commodity instead of part of the team. Don’t be surprised if she doesn’t return after maternity leave.
In neither example will treating your employees as people first generate immediate rewards. In fact, a co-worker might hear your conversation with Todd and jump in to chat too, and Vicky might rush off to share her news with other members of the team—costing you a few minutes of productivity in either case. However, in the long term, your thoughtfulness will lead to loyalty, and loyal employees work harder and stick around longer.
How do you show your employees that you care about more than just the bottom line?
[Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/digitalinternet.]