Developing new leaders; enhancing current leadership skills.

5 Ways to Help Your Employees Manage Re-entry Anxiety

As many states are set to reopen, employers are developing new procedures to keep their teams and customers safe. While this includes a lot of logistical planning, the physical well-being of employees is not the only thing to consider. Employees will have different emotional and psychological responses to these changes. Regrettably, mental and emotional health is discussed less frequently.

Anxiety is a natural reaction to an uncertain future. Employees not only worry about their physical safety but their job security as well. If employers don’t help manage this anxiety in their employees, it will affect engagement and productivity.

Here are five things that employers can use as a framework to build re-entry plans and assess progress in their employees:

  1. Make employee’s well-being your top priority. Employees want reassurance that their companies will put people first. Companies are offering more support to frontline workers and more paid sick days. Addressing employee concerns and remaining committed to their health and safety, especially during difficult times, goes a long way.
  2. Be transparent. Employees want regular, timely updates with transparent information from their employers. Open two-way information is critical for employers to deal with the economic impact of the current pandemic. Organizations that are involved with their team and engage in ongoing dialogue will be better prepared for these difficult conversations.
  3. Take action to implement public health measures. According to the CDC recommendations, employers should: extensively clean and sanitize work areas, encourage sick employees to stay home and implement flexible sick-leave policies, promote personal hygiene, provide protective equipment, and screen employees before entering the workplace. Employees need to know what measures will be implemented and how they will be enforced. They need to be reassured that steps are being taken and measures will be updated as situations evolve.
  4. Train leaders and managers to support employees. Leaders and managers will shoulder much of the responsibility when returning to the workplace. Some companies are holding ‘re-entry training” to discuss topics such as dealing with ambiguity, building personal resilience, developing emotional intelligence, and leading hybrid teams. Managers will need to be familiar with signs of emotional distress and regularly check in with their staff.
  5. Offer flexibility. The large-scale work-from-home environment has demonstrated that work can be flexible and change with the environment. As workplaces reopen, leaders should expect pressure to maintain flexibility, particularly from employees with children and sick family members.

In efforts to keep employees physically safe, employers also need to consider the impact of the current pandemic on psychological health. Growing anxiety with re-entry will impact health and work performance. Taking interest and addressing this anxiety will help companies cope with this transition and perform better in the long run.

I would enjoy hearing what you are doing to help alleviate “re-entry” anxiety – email me at robyn@ahaleadership.com

Repurposed from  Harvard Business Review

How to Teach Decision-Making to Your Team

As a leader your team must understand what you want to be done – it is just as important for them to understand why you’re making the decision you are, which means occasionally having ‘why’ chats about the decisions that are being made.

Your role as a leader is to develop the team to be able to tackle new and more challenging work, which means you don’t want them to know just what you expect of them but also the why you’re making the decisions you are so that they can learn how to think about the work, not just what to think about the work. 

Practice sharing how to think about the work. The goal is to develop each member of your team to be able to make similar decisions when the context changes. If you teach them what to do, you’re only teaching them something very contextual. In this specific circumstance, here’s the decision you should make. However, when you teach them how you think about it and why you’re making the decisions you are, you’re equipping them to be able to make decisions for themselves in other circumstances when the context is changed.

Action Steps – How to walk others through your thought process on a key decision.

  1. Frame up the decision that needs to be made.
  2. Share which variables you considered.
  3. Talk through the key reasons that made the decision you made. The key is explaining how and why each variable is critical in this situation.

Ultimately your goal is to teach your team how to think vs. tell them what to do. This takes time and the payback is magical!

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together” – African Proverb

Better Quality Sleep = Better Leader

What do Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Arianna Huffington, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have in common?  Beyond being some of the most well-known country and business leaders, they share the belief that adequate rest and sleep is vital to being able to lead and perform their best.   

Sleep positively impacts our human capacities that are most important for leadership effectiveness:

  • creative problem-solving,
  • interpersonal savvy,
  • sound decision-making,
  • self-awareness, making connections and inferences
  • and higher energy and lower stress

Bottom line…well-rested leaders have better cognitive functions. Who wouldn’t want to work with a leader like that?

Unfortunately, 42% of leaders get fewer than 6 hours of shut-eye a night versus the recommended minimum of 7-8 for optimal repair and performance according to a study by the Center for Creative Leadership.

Organizations need leaders with the skills and capacities to engage others, steer through challenges and manage change and complexity—which is why they provide development opportunities, training, and career experiences.  But for leaders to be high performers, on top of their game, and functioning at their very best—consistently—they need sleep, too.  Click here for ways to improve your sleep from wellness expert, Andrea Cassell.

Need a mask? We can help! We teamed up with our local church to supply masks to assisted living homes and elderly care facilities. To date, this team has supplied over 2500 masks to those in need. We also care about you and your family, so if you need masks, please let us know – We are happy to help. We are in this together! Email us at aha@ahaleadership.com

Giving Thanks Will Make You a Better Leader

For many people, “thanks-giving” is a tradition that happens around the dinner table once a year. But research suggests that leaders should encourage gratitude in the workplace year-round.

The Science of Gratitude:  Gratitude can be defined as a positive emotion felt after receiving something valuable. And science has shown that people who are grateful feel happier. They have an improved sense of well-being, higher self-esteem, experience less depression and anxiety, and they also sleep better.

The Gratitude Gap in the Workplace:  Despite its compelling benefits, expressing gratitude doesn’t always happen at work. A recent Glassdoor survey found that 80% of employees say they would be willing to work harder for an appreciative boss.

So why is there a gratitude gap in the workplace? Wharton Business School professor Adam Grant believes it’s because people don’t like to admit they need help at work, and many believe thanking someone means admitting you couldn’t do it all on your own.

How to Be More Grateful

Ready to reap gratitude’s many benefits? Luckily, you don’t need any fancy tools or advanced degrees. Here are 3 simple exercises that have been scientifically proven to boost your gratitude levels.

  1. Send a note expressing your gratitude. Writing a letter thanking someone for the positive impact he or she has had in your life is a great way to boost your gratitude. Or, send a text, if you prefer. Take out your phone right now (if it’s not out already), and send a simple text to someone you’re grateful to have in your life and let them know that you are thinking of them.
  2. Keep a gratitude journal – or even just a list. Keeping a journal of people and things for which you’re grateful can increase your feelings of gratitude. If you’re not the journaling type, don’t worry; making a short list works, too. Just jot down 3 things you’re grateful for on a Post-It note. Stick it somewhere you’ll see it often, and refresh it weekly.
  3. Take time for reflection. Simply reflecting on the many aspects of your job — large and small — for which you’re grateful can boost gratitude levels. These might include supportive work relationships, sacrifices or contributions that others have made for you, advantages or opportunities, or gratitude for the opportunity to have your job in general. Going on a short “gratitude walk” is a great way to take time out for this reflection.

 How to Increase Gratitude in the Workplace

  1. Offer thank-you cards. During his tenure at Campbell Soup, then-CEO Doug Conant wrote 30,000 handwritten thank-you notes to his employees. This practice, along with others, has been credited with how he created a culture of gratitude and turned around a struggling company. Do 30,000 letters seem daunting? Take a page out of Mark Zuckerberg’s playbook and aim for just one a day. To encourage others to do the same, emulate Starbucks and offer unlimited company thank-you cards for employees to use.
  2. Make a gratitude wall. Create a designated space for employees to share shout-outs and words of thanks. This can be a wall, a whiteboard, a flip chart in a common area…be creative! A public, anonymous display of gratitude is a great way to introduce gratitude into the workplace culture and keep employees feeling appreciated.
  3. Start meetings with gratitude. A simple way to cultivate gratitude at work is to begin meetings by sharing a short statement of appreciation (remember the difference this made in the fundraising center study!). Or, if you want to take this approach to the next level, try having everyone in the meeting share one thing they’re grateful for — it makes a great icebreaker.
  4. When things go wrong, count your blessings. It’s easy to be grateful when things are going well. But gratitude can have an even bigger impact if you’re going through a rough patch. So, next time something goes wrong at work, see if you can find the silver lining. What did you learn from the experience? What opportunity did it offer you? Share these insights with your team. Being able to be truly grateful during times of challenge and change is a great way to stop negative rumination spirals and get people motivated and energized.
  5. Be grateful for people, not performance. Sometimes, gratitude initiatives can feel like old recognition programs warmed over. To avoid this feeling, focus on social worth and think about how people have made a difference. Give thanks for people’s willingness, enthusiasm, commitment, or efforts — not their impact on the bottom line.
  6. Customize your thanks-giving. Practicing gratitude requires thinking about how specific people like to be thanked, and tailoring your gratitude accordingly. Thanking a very shy person at the global quarterly meeting might come across more like punishment than recognition.
  7. Be specific in your gratitude. Saying “thanks for being awesome” doesn’t have the same impact as “thank you for always getting to meetings 5 minutes early to set up the projector; I know that our meetings wouldn’t go as well if we didn’t have you.
  8. Don’t fake it. Authenticity and vulnerability are key parts of gratitude. If you can’t think of anything you’re truly grateful for, don’t try to fake it. Most people can tell when thanks isn’t heartfelt, and fake gratitude is probably worse than none at all.

Lastly, research shows that whether you’re an absolute novice or gratitude guru, everyone can reap the positive benefits of giving and receiving thanks. So, get out there and start encouraging more gratitude in the workplace!

Article Excerpt from the Center of Creative Leadership 2019

5 Damaging Effects Micromanagers Have On Your Team – Do you have one on your team?

Leadership is an action that empowers people – not micromanagement.  Are you or your managers leading in a way that creates a culture of trust?  Often some managers believe they must have a hand in everything or they will lose control.   Yet it is counterproductive.  This behavior breeds mistrust among their direct reports and trust is the foundation for successful relationships, employee engagement and boosting the bottom line.

 “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” ― Steve Jobs

As Brigette Hyacinth, author of The Future of Leadership: Rise of Automation, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, shares micromanagement results in 5 damaging effects to your team:

  1. Decreased Productivity – When a manager is constantly looking over their employees’ shoulders, it can lead to a lot of second-guessing and paranoia, and ultimately leads to dependent employees.
  2. Reduced Innovation – When employees feel like their ideas are invalid or live in constant fear of criticism, it’s eventually going to take a toll on creativity. In cultures where risk-taking is punished, employees will not dare to take the initiative. Why think outside the box when your manager is only going to shoot down your ideas and tell you to do it their way?
  3. Lower Morale – Employees want the feeling of autonomy. If employees cannot make decisions at all without their manager’s input, they will feel suffocated. Employees that are constantly made to feel they can’t do anything right may try harder for a while, but will eventually stop trying at all. The effects of this will be evident in falling employee engagement levels.
  4. High Staff Turnover – Most people don’t take well to being micromanaged. When talented employees are micromanaged, they often do one thing; quit. No one likes to come to work every day and feel they are walking into a penitentiary with their every move being monitored.
  5. Loss of Trust – Micromanagement will eventually lead to a massive breakdown of trust. It demotivates and demoralizes employees. Your staff will no longer see you as a manager, but an oppressor whose only job is to make their working experience miserable.

Micromanagement sucks the life out of employees, fosters anxiety and creates a high-stress work environment. If you hired someone, it means you believe they are capable of doing the job, then trust them to get it done. A high level of trust between managers and employees defines the best workplaces and drives overall company performance. When you empower employees, you promote vested interest in the company.

 If you want results:  Select the right people, provide them with the proper training, tools and support, and then give them room to get the job done!

Interested in learning more about how to build trust?  Email us at aha@ahaleadership.com

The Missing Piece to Making Meetings More Effective

Meetings.  The word can solicit strong feelings about their value and level of effectiveness.  Regardless of how you feel about them, meetings are an essential part of most organizations.  Many of us practice the standard guidelines for creating a good meeting: creating a clear agenda/meeting objective, keeping time, recapping action items, inviting the right people, etc.

So how can meetings be more engaging and productive?  What’s missing? 

Knowing your audience’s personality style is often the missing piece.

 A personality assessment like EverythingDiSC® can help bridge the gap between employees and optimal workplace communication.  For example:

  • Consider that D-styles prefer meetings with minimal small talk and an agenda that everyone sticks to.
  • Allow i-styles to flourish by allowing them to express personal opinions and have open discussions with others.
  • To ensure S-styles feel comfortable, provide them with your meeting’s outline or agenda in advance so they can prepare.
  • Remember that C-styles don’t do well with making big decisions when they feel rushed or pressured.

These are some of the elements of how knowing your communication style and that of your other meeting participants can make for more effective meetings.

-Adapted from  EverythingDiSC® blog July 11, 2019

3 Simple Changes That Will Improve Your Leadership Style

Leading a team is an art and a science.

Luckily, researchers at Google and Facebook have conducted extensive studies to determine the most effective leadership strategies, allowing us to tap into their data and discover the three simple changes that will improve the effectiveness and the performance of the teams you manage.

  1. Support your team, don’t lead them

Recently, leaders at Facebook shared some really fascinating strategies that they use. It all starts with a critical mentality shift.

Managers don’t “lead” teams at Facebook, they “support” them. Here’s one thing you can do to immediately increase your effectiveness with your team…Stop saying you “lead” a team.

“Whenever you are about to say “the team I lead,”  catch yourself and shift your attention.”  – Mel Robbins

Instead, teach yourself to say you support a team. This one-word shift, from lead to support, alters how you view your role as a leader and changes everything.

Try it for one week. Whenever you are about to say “the team I lead,” catch yourself and shift your attention. Never doubt that it’s the smallest changes that make the biggest impact—even something as simple as changing one word.

  1. Encourage and welcome escalation

A study found that 85 percent of employees are withholding critical feedback from their bosses.

We only do what we feel like. And if people at work feel like they’ll get in trouble if they come to you with an issue, or that it’s futile, they won’t come.

Without open and transparent communication, there is little room for innovation, collaboration, and engagement with your employees.

A few years ago, Google embarked on an initiative to study hundreds of internal teams and figure out why some teams rock and others fail.

As Google crunched the data, a concept called “psychological safety” emerged and it is one of the most important things their leaders now focus on creating. It means you operate in a manner that people feel safe coming to you with problems, challenges, and improvements.

There are two simple things you can do that create psychological safety. First, encourage and welcome escalation and concerns by showing appreciation when it happens. Second, ensure that everyone talks in meetings.

  1. Everyone’s opinion matters

Remember, your job isn’t to lead the team, but rather to support them. And that means removing the obstacles that are in your team’s way. One of the biggest obstacles you can remove is the fact that many of your team members are holding themselves back.

You are going to make sure that everyone talks and contributes in meetings.

Whenever you hold a meeting, try this:

  • Make a list of everyone attending.
  • Place a check mark next to people’s names when they talk.
  • As the same extroverts start to speak again, engage the “quiet people” by asking them for their input.

By giving someone a push to become more visible and showing interest in their inputs, you are making them know that they matter. Through this experiment, meetings will spur collaboration and open communication.

As a leader, if you pay attention to these few things, you’ll not only increase your effectiveness—you’ll be changing the way your team works together.

 

Source:  Mel Robbins, Author and Speaker

“The 5 Second Rule”

 

Why Is Change So Hard?

We all have strengths and weaknesses. The best way to improve upon our weakness is to practice a new behavior, right? Practice practice practice. But how easy is that?

The answer is not as easy as you may think. We are creatures of habit; habits we aren’t even aware of. This is why change is so hard for many of us. We can learn a new behavior, sure, but how quickly…and when does it stick?

What steps should we take to sustain changed behavior?

  • Be VERY specific on the habit you would like to create (which may also be stopping a certain behavior).
  • Understand the reason why you want to change. What are the benefits to be derived from this changed behavior?
  • Create a plan of action and STICK WITH IT! Consistency is key. Stay committed to your plan.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Our brain creates pathways for behavior. We need to repeat and repeat and repeat to create new pathways.
  • Expect resistance from your body, from your moods, added stress. This is your natural resistance to creating new pathways. Don’t give up!
  • One day, and you won’t know when and where, your behavior change will become your new habit.

If you are interested in further readings on creating habits, here are some excellent books on the topic:

  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (name one of the best books of the year by NY Times)
  • Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results
  • 23 Anti-Procrastination Habits: How to Stop Being Lazy and Get Results in Your Life

“Our actions change our minds, our minds can change our behaviors and our behavior can change the outcomes.”
–Manish Abraham

Why Keeping Commitments is Critical to Your Influence

When we think of someone with integrity, we think of someone we can count on to come through on what they promise. Unfortunately, that’s not always a safe bet today.

Over the last several years I’ve noticed a change in the way we use the word integrity. The word used to mean staying true to your word—even if it’s difficult, inconvenient, or expensive. But today I hear more and more people using the word as if it means being true to themselves—even if that means leaving someone else to clean up the mess.

This might look like a win if we’re trying to save ourselves from difficulty and discomfort, but it will come back to bite us in the end. Nothing destroys our credibility faster than bailing on a commitment.

Why is integrity so important?

  1. Trust depends on integrity. If people can’t rely on your word, they won’t trust you. They may extend some grace, but eventually, people will doubt and disbelieve.
  2. Influence depends on trust. People will refuse the influence of leaders they distrust. Just look at how this plays out in politics or the media. We follow people we trust.
  3. Impact depends on influence. You can’t make the impact you want unless you can influence others and shift their behavior.

Now think of other relationships: marriage, parenting, church, whatever. The strength of our relationships is measured by how much people can count on us. If we’re not true to our words, that means our relationships will be as unreliable as we are.

“The strength of our relationships is measured by how much people can count on us.” – Michael Hyatt, Author

Create Accountability—Reignite Your 1:1 Meetings

Great 1:1 meetings drive accountability by continuously keeping top priorities, top priorities.

 

If you feel that your one-on-ones aren’t especially useful, then it’s time to improve your process. I truly find that 1:1’s are the single most important meetings of my week. It helps me set expectations, communicate priorities, and listen to the struggles/challenges that each person on my team is having.  When done well, 1:1’s drive engagement and accountability.

 

Trap: Don’t get caught by the misconception that 1:1’s are just another meeting or that the “open door” policy is better.  I truly believe by focusing 30 min of time each week on each of your direct reports, you will free up hours of meetings by delegating decision making power, and eliminate last-minute fire drills by getting ahead of problems before they blow up while results by motive each person to stay focused on your team’s top priorities.  When done well you will also reduce email and phone calls because both of you have a predetermined weekly time to talk through or share key information.

 

How to create more effective 1:1 meetings

1-Recurring, scheduled meetings:  Weekly, bi-weekly depending on your role/business.

2-Brief – 30 minutes.  It may look like this:

15-20 min:  Progress on goals and priorities

  • Progress should be reviewed for each goal; share with your leader any issues or blockers they may need to help with to ensure that the target will be achieved.

5 min:  Share recent accomplishments – ask for feedback

  • Ask for feedback from your leader. Any good work or praiseworthy behavior should be recognized and encouraged. Be open to it. It is a gift!

5-10 min:  Development and open-ended Communication

  • Leave this open in the agenda – where does your leader need help? It may be an opportunity!!
  • What are you working to further your career development? Discuss ideas.

3-Location:  Consider having your one on one meeting outside or out of the office – the change of venue can contribute to a more relaxed session.

4-Timing:  Consider the timing for the recurring meeting.  4pm on Friday is not ideal for a focused conversation about your career development.

5-Commit to your 1 to 1 meeting – make it a priority: The first thing you need to do is make your one on one meeting a priority. It’s easy to skip meetings, so schedule a recurring calendar event each week to ensure the appropriate time is set aside.

6-Establish the 1:1 Meeting Agenda Format:  Setting a mutually agreeable agenda allows the both participants to show up prepared and with aligned expectations.

7-Prepare so you can look forward, not backward:  Thoughtful preparation. If you submit your template to your leader the day before your one on one meeting, each will arrive at the meeting knowing what will be discussed and allow you to spend the bulk of your time looking to the future, brainstorming, creating action items, and connecting personally.

8-Focus on you and your projects and development:  Avoid discussing other employees’ work during your time together, unless it’s specifically applicable to the conversation.