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Employee turnover is something all companies should pay attention to, because the effects of turnover will be different for every organization.

Some degree of turnover is unavoidable, and eliminating turnover altogether is unrealistic. That being said, it’s important to figure out the balance of departures and new hires that works best for your company.

We want to help you understand the types of turnover and their implications, and offer tips on reducing your turnover rate.

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Definition Of Employee Turnover

A simple definition of employee turnover is how many people leave an organization and are then replaced by new employees in a given timeframe. Usually, turnover rates are calculated by a fiscal year. Employee turnover can have certain negative impacts on a company, which we’ll get into, but it isn’t necessarily all bad.

Voluntary Vs. Involuntary Turnover

There’s a distinction to be made between voluntary and involuntary employee turnover. Voluntary turnover happens when employees are replaced after leaving by their own choice, and involuntary turnover happens when employees are replaced after termination.

Undesirable Vs. Desirable Turnover

Turnover is considered undesirable when a company loses high performing and otherwise valuable employees and replacement is difficult and expensive. On the other hand, turnover is considered desirable when a company loses underperforming employees and replaces them with employees who will improve output.

Is Employee Turnover Good Or Bad?

As you can see, there are a few factors to consider when assessing your organization’s turnover and whether it’s positive or negative.

Ultimately, it isn’t just about how many people leave, but who is leaving. Context is key to evaluating your company’s turnover rate.

Causes Of Employee Turnover

There are many causes of employee turnover, but an overarching factor is employee disengagement. Two areas that can have a big impact on turnover and retention are hiring practices and management.

Hiring Practices

A big part of why employees might leave and need replacement is that they aren’t the right fit. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re hiring the best candidates not just for the position, but for the company.

Of course you want candidates to be qualified, but you should also consider things such as cultural fit and company alignment. Technical skills may be key to performance, but motivation and a sense of purpose are key to engagement.


Getting the right people into your organization is step one, but it’s also about keeping them there. You’ve probably heard it before, but most people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. In fact, 75% of employees who quit their jobs quit because of their manager.

Employees need support and guidance from their managers, which is why effective leadership is so important. This relates back to hiring, because it’s important to make sure that the right people are being hired or promoted into management positions. Being a manager is about more than being an expert or star performer, it’s about having the emotional intelligence necessary for people management.

Proper training and coaching are essential to successful leadership, and making employees feel empowered and supported. Managers should be given resources to improve in their roles and encouraged to seek growth and development opportunities both inside and outside of the company.

Employee Turnover Statistics

Now that you have a more nuanced understanding of employee turnover, let’s take a look at the current state of employee turnover and retention in the workforce.

According to Bonusly:

More than ¼ of employees are in a high-retention-risk category, and many of them are top performers with critical skills.

44% of employees say they would consider taking a job with a different company for a raise of 20% or less.

More than 70% of high-retention-risk employees say to advance their careers they need to leave their company.

Employees who are “highly engaged and thriving” are 59% less likely to look for a job with a different organization in the next year.

In our own real-time report on the international State Of Employee Engagement, data reveals that:

15% of employees do not see themselves working at their company one year from now.

What’s more, according to Gallup:

51% of workers are looking to leave their current jobs.

Employees feel that they have to leave their companies in order to grow. This is a shame, because the longer an employee stays in your organization, the more of an asset they become. Opportunities to evolve within a company are essential to employee retention.

Employee Turnover Rate Calculation

Looking at the types of turnover and the underlying causes of it gives context to your company’s turnover rate and helps you to understand its implications. That being said, it’s important to look at the numbers to get an idea of where you stand.

To calculate employee turnover in your organization, you’ll need three numbers:
  1. The number of employees that left (voluntarily and involuntarily) in a year,
  2. The number of employees that you started the year with, and
  3. The number of employees that you ended the year with.

Start by adding the number of employees that you started the year with and the number of employees that you ended the year with, and divide that total by 2. Then, divide the number of employees that left in the year by the outcome from that first equation. Multiply your final outcome by 100.

Not a math person? We’ve broken it down for you with an example. Suppose you start the year with 200 employees, and 30 of them leave throughout the year. During the same year, you hire 25 new employees to fill in the gaps, leaving you with 195 employees at the end of the year. Your turnover rate would be 15%.

According to Gallup, 10% would be the ideal rate, but of course this will vary from company to company. The best thing to do is look at your own organization’s rate over time to get a sense of your average, and do research on average turnover rates in your industry.

Employee Turnover Costs & Impacts

Every time you have to replace or hire a new employee, it costs your organization money.

This graph by Josh Bersin demonstrates it well:

Essentially, keeping a high performing and engaged employee is more cost effective than bringing on someone new.

Beyond the financial implications of employee turnover, though, there are impacts on the company and your other employees. Losing an employee can decrease morale among the remaining employees.

When an employee is terminated, it can cause anxiety among the rest of the team if they fear that their positions may be at risk, too. On the other hand, when an employee leaves by choice it can sometimes cause a domino effect if the underlying causes for them leaving are impacting other team members.

This is why it’s essential that transparency and open communication between employees and managers is encouraged, especially in relation to employee turnover.

How To Reduce Employee Turnover

As the saying goes, prevention is the first solution. Focusing on employee retention by increasing engagement and growth opportunities will help you to reduce your organization’s turnover rate.

So how do you reduce employee turnover in your company? We have some ideas…

  1. Improve The Hiring Process

    The hiring process is where it all begins, so it’s important to get it right. Ask questions about who your candidates are as people in your interviews, not just their technical experience, and have them perform a “work sample” test with a few members of the team to see how their skills and personality integrate. Having a more thorough hiring process will benefit you in the long run.

  2. Improve The Onboarding Process

    As much as 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days, and a big part of that is due to an improper onboarding. Be sure to set proper expectations, make them feel welcome, collect feedback and touch base with them often with weekly check-ins. Try having a team lunch within the first week of onboarding a new employee so they can get to know everyone.

  3. Set Clear Goals And Expectations

    If employees don’t have a clear vision of their role, it can lead to disengagement and underperformance. Making sure that each employee has a mutual understanding with their manager of their roles and responsibilities is crucial to keeping them on track, and keeping them around.

  4. Train Managers

    Of the new managers we recently surveyed, 66% said that they did not receive any training or coaching before starting out as a manager. Offering training for managers is one of the best ways to ensure that they are a successful team lead. Some people may be born leaders, but there’s always room for learning and development.

  5. Give Opportunity For Growth

    What employees really want, as made famous by Dan Pink, is autonomy, mastery, and purpose. You can provide these things for your employees by empowering them to take charge of their own work and offering skill development and training. Having a clear company mission and company values will help employees feel that they are a part of something bigger, giving them a sense of purpose.

  6. Recognize Employees

    Recognizing employees is such a simple way of boosting their motivation and engagement, and making them feel valued. Employees also want to receive recognition from their coworkers, so setting up a platform for kudos is a great initiative to boost morale.

  7. Promote Work-life Balance

    Work-life balance is one of the most important parts of keeping your employees happy, healthy, and productive. Be flexible with employees working remotely and ask new hires what the most important thing in their personal life is and how you can accomodate them best.

  8. Collect Frequent Feedback

    Employees want to feel listened to and have validation that their opinion matters. Checking in and seeking feedback on a regular basis allows managers to detect problems early and implement solutions.

Collecting regular feedback with your team is easy and automated with Officevibe, a FREE tool that helps build stronger leaders.
Do you have any thoughts on employee turnover to share?

We’d love to hear. Let us know in the comments below.

This article was originally published by Jacob Shriar on April 18, 2017.

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As a manager, you act as a mentor, coach, and leader to your team. But that doesn’t mean there should be a level of separation between you and your employees. Quite the opposite—you should be connecting with employees and your team should feel like you’re one of them.

Having a positive relationship with their manager is important to employees. According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace Report, “manager or management” is one of the 6 most common reasons that employees cite for voluntarily leaving a job. Connecting with your employees improves their engagement and helps them to succeed, but it can also help you to excel in your role.

By developing your Emotional Intelligence (EQ), you can work on bridging the gap between yourself and your employees. All five domains of EQ (listed below) contribute to your leadership abilities, including how you connect with your employees.

This post will focus on helping you understand Self-Regulation and how it affects your relationships with employees—and give you some tips on improving both.

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How Connecting With Your Employees Increases Their Engagement

There are a number of benefits to connecting with employees, and a big one is increasing their engagement. Forming relationships and developing connections with the people they work with, especially their leader, makes them more motivated at work.

Ultimately, forming manager-employee connections is about breaking down barriers and hierarchy. Showing your employees that you’re on their team helps you to build mutual trust and respect with them.

That two-way trust and respect makes it easier for you to facilitate open and honest communication and conflict resolution on your team. It also helps your employees feel empowered to take risks, and less afraid of failure. All of these factors make your employees feel valued, and that will make for a healthier and more engaged team.

So how do you connect with your employees? We have some ideas…

3 Tips on Building Relationships With Your Employees

Starting out on the right foot and forming a connection with your employees from the outset is important. You want to establish yourself as an equal and show a genuine interest in getting to know each of your employees as individuals. These tips can help you start your employee relationships on the right foot.

  1. Meet With Your Team

    If you’re new to the team, explain your leadership style, your background, and your personal interests to give them a holistic introduction to who you are and how you see yourself fitting in.

  2. Meet With Your Employees Individually

    Ask about what they’re looking for in a leader and coach, but also about their background and personal interests to get a more well-rounded idea of who they are. If you’re meeting with a new employee, take this as an opportunity to talk about yourself and your leadership style, too.

  3. Break The Ice

    Do icebreaker games as a quick and fun way for everyone to get to know each other and get a better sense of people’s personalities. You can do this when starting out with a new team or bringing someone new on board.

6 Tips on Maintaining Connections With Your Employees

Once you lay the groundwork for solid relationships to blossom, you also have to work to maintain those connections over time. You want to show your employees that you’re in it for the long haul. These tactics can be implemented in your day-to-day to nurture your employee relationships in the long-term.

  1. Build Personal Connections Between Your Employees

    Encourage your team to get to know each other personally. The more comfortable everyone is with each other, including you, the more you’ll all have a trusting connection as a team. Schedule team lunches and social events outside of work.

  2. Build Professional Connections Between Your Employees

    Have different team members work with each other for training and onboarding to develop everyone’s technical skills and increase innovation and collaboration.

  3. Keep Things Fun

    Occasionally schedule time during the workday to interact as a team outside of the workplace environment. Go out for a group lunch or head to a park for the afternoon. The change in environment will help everyone open up and connect more authentically.

  4. Be Transparent

    Transparency with decisions, changes, and outcomes is key to maintaining trust and respect between you and your employees. Be as open and honest with your team as you can, with the good and the bad, the big and the small. Encourage your employees to come to you with feedback, questions, and concerns.

  5. Check In & Catch Up

    During regularly scheduled one-on-one’s, or just in your day-to-day, take 10 minutes to catch up informally with your employees. Ask about their weekend or any good books they’ve read or TV shows they’ve watched lately to check in on a more personal level.

  6. Give Recognition

    It can’t be stated enough, employees want to receive recognition for their hard work. The best form of recognition is the easiest to give—tell your employee “congratulations on a job well done, I really value your work and dedication.”

Self-Regulation & Manager-Employee Relationships

Part of building trust with your team is forming human connections and being vulnerable, but it’s also about being dependable. You want to show your employees that you’re one of them and be open about your dreams and fears, but you also want them to know that you’re there to support them in theirs. Your employees don’t want you to be a robot, but they do want to know that you’ll be the one to anchor the team when they need you.

Working on your Self-Regulation skills can help you to develop that stability that your team is looking for in your leadership. The first step is becoming Self-Aware, and with that, you can work on your ability to self-regulate.

Self-Regulation is about both your emotions and your behaviour. First, being able to monitor them, and second, being able to control and adjust them according to your circumstances. Regulating your emotions means keeping tabs on how you’re feeling and not letting your emotions take over.

Emotionally, self-regulation is the ability to calm yourself down when you’re upset and cheer yourself up when you’re down.
Psychology Today

When it comes to behaviour, Self-Regulation is about acting in a way that lines up with your core values instead of your current emotions or impulses. It’s the ability to consider the long-term impact of your behaviour before you act. Behavioural Self-Regulation happens in the space between emotions and actions.

The trust and respect that you form with your employees relies on your Self-Regulation skills as much as your ability to connect with them. Being able to keep calm during times of stress or uncertainty helps your team feel that they can depend on you. Making decisions based on the best long-term outcome for your team instead of acting on impulse helps your employees trust you to guide them.

Develop Your Self-Regulation Skills: Pay attention to the time and space that comes between your emotions and your actions in little ways. Try to take 10 minutes between reading an email and responding to it. Count to five before responding when someone asks you a question. If you feel an intense emotion coming on, take a 15 minute walk and think about the best course of action. The more you take little steps like this, the more Self-Regulation will start to come naturally.
How to Connect With an Employee You Don’t Click With

Sometimes you’ll end up with an employee on your team that you just don’t click with. Your Self-Regulation skills can really come into play in this situation, especially if you start to feel frustrated with the employee or find yourself acting passive-aggressively towards them. Remember that just because you aren’t the best of friends doesn’t mean that you can’t have a positive working relationship.

Here are some tips on how:
  • Focus on the work: The goals of the team and the company mission are a built-in common ground, so use that as a way to align yourself with the employee.
  • Connect Them With the Right Coach: Depending on the structure of your company, there might be another person who’s better suited to act as a mentor or coach for the employee.
  • Be real: Your employees value your authenticity, so don’t pretend to be their best friend if you both know you aren’t a match made in heaven.
  • Don’t Gossip: Talking negatively about your employee—especially to other team members—could be really detrimental to the trust you have with your team.
How to Maintain a Professional Relationship With an Employee You’re Friends With

On the other hand, sometimes you’ll hit it off right away with an employee and become work BFFs. This is another situation where your Self-Regulation skills can have a big impact. It’s great to make friends at work, but as your team’s leader you want to avoid your friendships making your other employees feel excluded or envious.

Here are some tips on how:
  • Be open about your friendships: Compartmentalizing our lives (“work life,” “personal life,” “family life”) is antiquated anyway. Pretending that you’re not friends with one of your employees could weaken the trust that you have with your other employees.
  • Don’t exclude others: Save your one-on-one friend time for outside of working hours. You have lots of time to make inside jokes and have private conversations outside of the office.
  • Spread the love: Giving all the fun tasks to an employee you’re friends with is unfair to the rest of the group and will likely lead to hostility and conflict on your team.
Boost your Self-Regulation skills to better connect with your employees with the FREE Emotional Intelligence Email Course.
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Connecting with your employees improves the health and engagement of your team and makes you a stronger leader. Part of building sturdy, trusting relationships with your employees is showing them that they can depend on you, but it doesn’t have to come at the cost of being human and being yourself.

Don’t forget to check out our other articles pertaining to the Domains of Emotional Intelligence!
  1. Social SkillsGuide to Dealing with Employee Conflict at Work
  2. MotivationHow To Effectively Increase Employee Motivation
  3. Self-AwarenessLeveraging Nonverbal Communication At Work
  4. EmpathyHow to Handle Poor Employee Performance at Work
Do you have any tips on connecting with employees?

Share in the comments below!

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Based on the book Primal Leadership by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, there are 6 different leadership styles you should know about.

The main premise of the book is that it is neither IQ or skills that make a great leader.

The secret to great leadership is a high level of emotional intelligence.

There’s obviously more than one correct way to lead a group of people, and while certain leadership styles may be more warmly received than others, choosing which to rely on depends on the circumstances, your personality, and the state of your team.

What’s important to keep in mind is that there isn’t one perfect approach to leadership. In fact, you’ll most likely wind up using all of them eventually. It’ll be on you to switch between them as you go, deciding on the best style to employ according to the situation.

Leadership Styles Definition

Leadership styles refer to the behaviors that leaders use to interact with their employees. It covers everything including how they motivate, give directions, accomplish goals and empower their team.

It’s important that as a manager, you empower your employees to become great leaders, too. They should understand that a leader doesn’t need to be in a position of authority to have an impact.

Enabling your employees to become leaders themselves will only create a more autonomous and productive environment for your team.

Looking to step up your leadership game? This free 11-day leadership course will take you to the next level.

The 6 Different Leadership Styles
  1. Visionary Leadership

    The visionary leader moves people towards a shared vision.

    It’s not about how to get there, it’s about getting your team to understand where you want to go.

    This style works best in the moments where a new direction is needed.

    What’s great about this style is that it promotes autonomy and allows people to innovate and experiment to get towards a goal.

    Failure is accepted, and employees can feel comfortable trying new things that will help move that mission forward.

    Many organizations out there don’t have a clear mission, which can often lead to employees feeling unmotivated. That’s why it’s so important to have a mission or a “why” behind what you’re doing.

    As an example, our vision at Officevibe is to empower managers. Incredibly simple and powerful, it’s also an exciting vision.

    Pro Tips To Become A Visionary Leader
    1. Be bold. Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment. Be okay with the prospect of failure.
    2. Create one ambitious goal that the whole team can focus on.
    3. When you’re about to start a new task, ask yourself if it will help you reach your goals.
    4. You don’t have to come up with every answer alone. Asking for help from your team won’t only encourage a greater diversity of ideas, but it’ll empower your group for the next steps necessary in bringing those ideas to life. It will also enable them to become visionaries themselves.
  2. Coaching Leadership

    This leadership style, like its name suggests, is all about coaching employees to get better at what they do.

    Things like one-on-ones are where managers with a coaching leadership style thrive.

    However, there is a difference between micromanaging and coaching. As a manager, your goal is to help them evolve in their role, to challenge them so they can surpass themselves while giving them the tools, advice, and support they need to succeed.

    Coaching leadership is not dictating what a person should do every step of the way, but rather guiding them towards an improved version of themselves so they can best contribute to the team, while also meeting their own personal objectives.

    One of the biggest mistakes that leaders make with this style is focusing on improving the weaknesses of their employees. As a leader, if you want to get the best results from your team you need to focus on their strengths.

    Pro Tips To Become A Coaching Leader
    1. Check in frequently with each member of your team, and make the time to mentor them. No matter how busy you are, if you’re a coaching leader, then you need to empower each of your employees to be the best they can be.
    2. Try to schedule monthly one-on-ones where you’ll be able to ask them about their challenges and improve their strengths.
  3. An Affiliative Leader

    Managers with this leadership style act as an affiliate, making connections throughout their organization.

    Their focus is to create a more harmonious workplace where everyone knows and works well with each other.

    Often, employees will have disagreements among themselves and may not like all of their coworkers, but this leadership style aims to fix all of that.

    If trust is ever broken in an organization, an affiliate leader is the perfect person to mend those cracks.

    Pro Tips To Become An Affiliative Leader
    1. Build a culture of recognition on your team. Over time, this will bring everyone in the group closer together, and help to develop those relationships.
    2. Otherwise, regular team building activities are a great way to bring the team closer together.
    3. Encourage difficult conversations within your team. It won’t always be perfect, and it’s perfectly normal to have challenges and disagreements between the employees. They key is to encourage vulnerability and real conversations.
  4. Democratic Leadership

    A democratic leadership style is all about creating group alignment towards a result.

    This leadership style is best used when you, as a leader, aren’t 100% sure of which direction to take and you want to source the wisdom of the crowd to help you make the call.

    This approach can be extremely powerful when you need to make big decisions, are planning for future strategies or even when making strategic choices that may impact the future of the business.

    The knowledge of collective intelligence is always greater than the knowledge of one person alone.

    Pro Tips To Become A Democratic Leader
    1. Learn to trust your employees and work on your communication skills so that you can discuss ideas with everyone on the team. A democratic leader gives everyone on the team an equal say in the decision making.
    2. Suggest a few ideas to spark the conversation and a game plan as to how you want to collect the opinions of everyone involved. Maybe suggest a brainstorm session, or a survey with qualitative questions.
    3. Consider all the ideas presented and share your thoughts with the team. It’s important for them to know that you spent time considering each idea submitted. Whether you move ahead with them or not, it’s important to acknowledge that they took the time to think about the possibilities and challenges.
  5. Pacesetting Leadership

    A pacesetting leader sets goals for their team that they expect will be reached no matter what. They demand a lot from their people and exemplify what is expected of the team.

    This leadership style has the potential of being detrimental to your team, so you need to be extremely careful when using this approach, and that it works best in short bursts.

    Sometimes you may need to expect a lot from your team, whether it’s due to the company going through challenges that force you to be more demanding to meet objectives – or for any other number of reasons.

    The trick is to balance this style with recognition. You need to make your team realize that while you’re asking a lot from your team and it may be tough, it’s also only temporary.

    Pro Tips To Become A Pacesetting Leader
    1. Recognize their efforts both individually and collectively, it can be a great motivator, especially when asking a lot!
    2. Make sure to tell your team that the expectations are temporary and that as a group, it’s the perfect time to pull together. In the end, it’ll only create stronger bonds between employees.
    3. Share the results of their efforts on the bigger picture. To be able to see the impact of their effort across the organization can be a very powerful thing.
  6. Commanding Leadership

    The commanding leader leads with fear.

    These leaders typically come across as cold and emotionless. Most of the time, this style has extremely negative effects on company culture and is highly ineffective.

    This style should be only used when in situations of crisis. But even then, it’s likely not the best approach to take. It’s generally recommended to avoid using this style altogether. Unless you’re in the military…

    How To Avoid Being A Commanding Leader
    1. Do not order your team, instead, inspire participation and clearly explain the full portrait of the situation. They will understand what needs to be done.
    2. Make sure to communicate that it’s only a temporary situation, your team will need to hold on for the storm to pass.
Key Takeaways
  • There isn’t one perfect leadership style. You’ll need to interchange between them according to the situation.
  • You don’t have to do everything alone. It’s not because you’re the manager that it all falls on you. Ask the team for help.
  • Enable your employees to also become leaders themselves. A leader doesn’t always mean a manager.
  • It’s important for a leader to also develop its emotional intelligence.
Want to become a leader that employees respect? Sign up for this free 11-day leadership course to get all the skills you need.
What Leadership Style Have You Used Lately?

Let us know what styles you’ve used in the past.

This post has been updated to reflect current views.

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Every manager at some point in their career finds themselves faced with an underperforming employee. Addressing poor work performance can be difficult, uncomfortable, and even downright awkward. The good news? When it comes to dealing with this issue, some basic planning and a little bit of heart can go a lot farther than you might think.

While several definitions exist for what constitutes a “poorly performing employee”, the truth is that its meaning can vary across companies, industries, and individuals.

At its core, however, it refers to someone who isn’t pulling their weight as part of a team. This could mean a person who isn’t meeting their quotas, is missing deadlines for deliverables, is constantly absent or late, or isn’t operating within a certain standard of behavior.

In other words, as a manager, it shouldn’t take long for these individuals to pop up on your radar.

But once they do – then what? And could these problems have possibly been avoided in the first place?

For decades, dealing with poor work performance was traditionally reserved for the dreaded all-encompassing annual performance review. But with more and more of the world’s leading organizations sunsetting that standard in favor of a more people-friendly take, it’s critical that teams begin redefining their approach to underperformance from the ground up.

Addressing poor performance with an employee is simultaneously one of the most delicate and impactful conversations you’re likely to have as a manager. So naturally, it’s also the perfect time to put your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to work for you.

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Today we’ll turn our EQ lens towards Empathy and specifically how cultivating it – along with a few clearly defined strategies – can be the key to turning common performance issues into opportunities to build stronger bonds within your group.

Common Causes of Poor Employee Performance

As we often point out, the best leaders are the ones who know that success in their role stems directly from how well they manage, balance, and nurture their workplace relationships.

It’s not just a matter of understanding the nature of the people on their team, but understanding human nature itself. When an employee underperforms on the job, the cause can generally be attributed to two main factors:

  1. Lack of Ability – This can include everything from not having the resources they need to deliver what’s expected of them, to not having the knowledge-base or skill-set necessary to excel in their role.
  2. Lack of Motivation – This can include everything from not getting enough recognition for the hard work they’ve put it, to feeling there are no consequences for doing a subpar job, to burnout after a particularly stressful period.
  3. While the majority of performance issues may, in fact, fall into these buckets, it’s also worth acknowledging a third, and frequently overlooked cause

  4. Personal Matters – Work is only one part of our lives. While some employees are able to compartmentalize external hardships and operate normally in the workplace, others can’t help but wear their hearts on their sleeves. Relationship troubles, complications with personal or family health, and financial difficulties are all examples of elements that can derail even the most motivated and skilled member of your team.

Thankfully, there’s generally always a fair and human way to handle these issues. The first step just needs to be taken in the other person’s shoes.

Performance Management: Why Empathy is More Effective Than Punishment

Whether you’re dealing with issues of Ability, Motivation, or Personal Matters on your team, your natural response might be frustration or annoyance. Those emotions may even be justified depending on the situation. Unfortunately, according to the Harvard Business Review, they’re also likely to work against you in the end.

“…when as a leader you express negative emotions like anger, your employees actually view you as less effective. Conversely, being likable and projecting warmth – not toughness – gives leaders a distinct advantage…”

Unless you’re dealing with a truly toxic employee, it’s worth remembering that the majority of us just want to leave work at the end of the day feeling as though we’ve accomplished something of value. Sometimes we just need a little help navigating the obstacles to get there.

It often makes all the difference to take a moment to step back, regulate your own emotions, and come at the situation from a place of compassion and curiosity. This is best achieved through empathy.

As Daniel Goleman outlines in his article The Focused Leader, there are three distinct types of empathy that apply specifically to leadership.

Leaders with high cognitive empathy can use their curiosity and understanding of another’s point of view to explain themselves and get ideas across in meaningful ways. This is useful for getting the best performance out of team members.

This is especially important for effective mentoring, and reading group dynamics. Not only do you understand the other person’s pain, but you relate to it, and in turn, feel it yourself.

While this relates closely to emotional empathy, it takes things a step beyond, allowing you to sense not just what people feel, but what they need from you. And as you might have guessed, this is what most people look for from their leader.

PRO TIP: Find the balance! Your goal should be to show compassion through emotional empathy, but then take a step back and shift to empathic concern, allowing yourself a clear-headed approach to solving the problem. Example – While addressing a team member’s slide in performance, they confide in you that they’ve recently been dealing with an ailing parent and are struggling to keep up with demands at both work and home.

Before finding a solution, take the time to connect. Relating a similar experience you may have lived through can go a long way, but simply listening and appreciating their situation can be just as meaningful. However, it can also be easy to become overwhelmed by the emotions present.

This is your moment to step back, worry less about feeling what they feel, and try instead to understand what they need. Something as simple as working one day a week from home could make all difference in helping them regain control over their time and responsibilities.

Employees dealing with performance issues aren’t always in the best space professionally or personally. Therefore, it’s in these tough moments where it’s critical to recognize that how you choose to approach the situation could represent a turning point in your relationship with that employee.

If, for example, the team member is struggling with a lack of ability in the job, they may feel embarrassed, afraid to ask for help, or like they’re biding time waiting for the inevitable hammer to drop. Truly making the effort to listen, empathize, alleviate stress, and work to help better their situation through additional coaching, training, or resources, is the best way to show compassion.

In an interview, Stanford University neurosurgeon Dr. James Doty, relates the story of his first experience assisting in the operating room. With his nerves in full swing, a drop of sweat fell from Doty’s brow and into the operating site, contaminating it. Even though the situation was in no way life threatening for the patient and easily resolved, the operating surgeon immediately became so angry that he kicked Doty out of the room on the spot, devastating him. As Doty explains:

“If the surgeon, instead of raging, had said something like: ‘Listen young man […] you contaminated the field. I know you’re nervous. You can’t be nervous if you want to be a surgeon. Why don’t you go outside and take a few minutes to collect yourself? Readjust your cap in such a way that the sweat doesn’t pour down your face. Then come back and I’ll show you something.’ Well, then he would have been my hero forever.”

Compassion translates to trust, and trust to loyalty in a way that, statistically, even a bigger paycheck isn’t able to compete with. Responding with anger and frustration in the majority of cases will erode that trust and could lose you an employee’s loyalty for good moving forward.

Still need convincing?

In a 2016 study by Development Dimensions International (DDI) that focused on the behaviors and results of over 15,000 leaders worldwide, empathy was determined to be the #1 leadership skill for overall success.

While it might not feel like it, empathy can absolutely be learned and improved. If you’re looking to sharpen this skill yourself and build on the information in this article, sign up for our free Emotional Intelligence Email Course, right here. Designed by experts, each of the five lessons covers a different domain, how you can apply it in your day-to-day, and provides guides, templates, additional resources & exercises that you can start putting to use immediately.

How to Plan Against Poor Performance

When considering an underachieving employee, it’s wise to start by asking yourself a few basic questions.

  • Is this person experiencing role overload?
  • Unclear objectives or responsibilities?
  • Are they struggling to meet unrealistic targets?
  • Might their expectations surrounding the role differ from yours?
  • When is the last time you sat down together to discuss their performance and goals?

Poor employee performance can often be attributed to poor employee development or role planning. With the workforce beginning to move away from reactive, annual performance reviews, many common underperformance issues can often be ironed out by simply starting with a clear outline.

Instead of a blanket performance appraisal at the end of the year, make the feedback more actionable and meaningful by spreading it out over the course of your monthly one-on-ones.

Define Employee Responsibilities and Expectations

One of the best gifts that you can give employees on your team is a clear path forward. It shouldn’t just be your goal as a manager to help them meet their objectives, but also to develop them as individuals in meaningful ways.

Our approach here at Officevibe, is as follows: When a new employee joins the team, we take time in advance to outline 5-8 key responsibilities for their role, as well as the level of expectation, ranging from “beginner” to “expert”, for each responsibility depending on what we know about the person’s capabilities and skill set.

We then meet with the employee to walk through it together.

PRO TIP: When taking this approach, make sure not to exceed a max of 8 key responsibilities! While it might seem like it makes sense to include more, your goal in providing this outline is clarity for the employee. Too many key responsibilities can dilute that clarity and result in a lack of direction and focus for your new hire.

This exercise is less about dictating what this person will do, and more about having an honest dialogue to ensure both of your expectations are aligned when it comes to the exact definition of their responsibilities and deliverables.

This is a great time to make note of areas where the employee seems unsure. Openly discuss these perceived challenges and plan to focus your coaching and check-ins there over the coming months. You can also use this as an opportunity to learn about your employee’s personal goals and ambitions.

How would they like to progress in their career? Are there jobs/tasks that they’re interested in learning or growing into? Take it all into account tweak their Responsibilities and Expectations document as needed.

This is the perfect place to use cognitive empathy as you begin to understand what makes them tick.

Agree together on a plan that will let them meet company objectives while helping them develop a roadmap for achieving their personal goals within the organization at the same time. This is a great way to earn trust and buy-in from the outset, while helping them feel pride in their strengths, and supported in their weaknesses right from the start – all while giving you, their manager, a better idea of what to expect.

In other words:

“Train people well enough that they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” – Richard Branson

Despite your best efforts, performance issues are likely to still crop up from time to time. Luckily, monthly One-On-Ones are the ideal place to deal with them.

5 Tactics for Discussing Poor Performance in One-on-Ones

Whatever stage you’re at in dealing with an employee’s poor performance, one-on-one meetings are vital to their improvement. They’re private, they’re personal, and they’re the perfect opportunity to display some empathy towards their situation and show that you’re committed to helping them improve.

Here are 5 approaches you can put into action.

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  1. Put in the Effort and Come Prepared

    Your one-on-ones may be scheduled every month, every two weeks, or even once a week depending on the time available to you. Whatever the case, if you’re going to the meeting with the goal of addressing a problem with performance, prove that you actually care by coming to the table prepared.

    Be ready to refer to specific instances, back up the things you say, and most importantly, have a few pieces of corrective feedback prepped and in your back pocket for the conversation. To be truly empathic, if you’re going to point out shortcomings, you’ll also want to work with that employee to understand what they’re feeling and where the problem may be coming from.

    Absorbing what they say and offering thoughtful feedback and solutions you can work through together shows you’re willing to put in the effort on their behalf.

  2. Ensure They’re Willing to Put in the Effort, Too

    The important point is that performance improvement can only come with employee buy-in. In other words, they need to be willing to make certain adjustments. Ask the person if they’re willing to change, and if you don’t get the sense they’re open to trying, it may be worth re-evaluating.

    Once you have buy-in, however, continue to show empathy by getting them involved in the brainstorming process. Engage them by asking what they think might help them improve in their problem areas.

    Tell them you don’t require an immediate response. Instead schedule a follow-up for a few days later and ask them to come prepared with some meaningful solutions. Building the process around them increases how motivated they’ll likely be in seeing it through.

  3. Set Clear Goals for a Short Time Period

    The path to helping an employee turn around their performance is most easily taken in shorter, measurable steps. In addition to corrective feedback, work with the team member to set expectations for whatever timeframe best applies.

    Get their input, set attainable goals and priorities, and make sure you’ve done your best to provide the resources and support you or they have suggested to help them improve. Plan to meet again at a defined date to measure progress and talk through their experience.

  4. Offer Praise, Make Positive Change Count

    If you notice the person is on the right path and trending towards the goals you’ve both set, don’t be shy about applauding them for it. At one point, what the employee needed from you may have been guidance and support, but if that’s resulted in an uptick in performance, what they need now may be acknowledgment.

    Make it clear you’ve noticed their development, praise them for their efforts, and take the time to chat through and try to pinpoint together exactly what the difference-maker in the equation was so you can keep the momentum going.

    If you feel the situation’s been resolved, and company objectives are being met, don’t dwell on it more than is needed and instead shift the focus towards the future and developing the skills that..

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As a manager, the success of your role is founded on building strong and trustworthy relationships with your colleagues and employees. The key to getting this right is being aware that the way you communicate in the workplace directly impacts the quality of relationships you form. And, that it’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters.

First thing’s first: Did you know that we are always communicating, even when we’re not using or words?

This wordless language is called nonverbal communication, and it accounts for a heaping 60-75% of our communication. Meaning, it’s not the carefully selected words you chose to use, but the nonverbal cues you give off that matter most.

Nonverbal communication, what many call the second conversation, majorly influences how we’re perceived, respected and trusted. The tricky part is that we’re not always aware of the nonverbal cues we’re giving off. Not to worry – we’re going to help you get a good handle on it by improving your Self-Awareness as a leader and communicator.

Building up this essential domain of your Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is key. Of the five domains of EQ (listed below), self awareness is arguably at the base of it all. Once you understand yourself and your emotions, you’ll have an easier time understanding others. This will help you nurture relationships founded in trust, so you can get the most devotion and productivity out of your team.

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What Nonverbal Communication is and Why it Matters

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said” – Peter F. Drucker.

Nonverbal communication is a way of communicating feelings or information without using words. It works hand-in-hand with verbal communication to create our language system, but there are significant differences between the two.

Nonverbal Communication Includes:

  • Body language (posture, gestures, movements)
  • Eye contact
  • Tone and octave of your voice
  • The distance or space between people
  • Use of touch
  • Appearance (colours, symbols, etc)

These unspoken signals matter because they are 12-13 times more powerful than our words. This means that as your colleagues and employees listen to you speak, your gestures, voice intonations, posture and eye contact are actually speaking louder.

People subconsciously use your nonverbal cues as a roadmap to discover your intention and credibility and then form automatic conclusions about you. If you get nonverbal communication right, people will walk away feeling positive without even knowing why. It will help you earn respect, form relationships, and establish your authority in the workplace.

The tough part is that we have so little control over our nonverbal language because it happens for the most part unconsciously. This is because historically, humans used nonverbal communication before language was ever invented and biologically, nonverbal is the first form of language we use to express our needs. It comes naturally to us, whereas language needs to be learned.

Have you ever caught yourself mid conversation thinking “oh, I should uncross my arms to be more open” Or “stop scanning the room and make eye contact!” These are good reflexes, but there’s so much more to it. First, let’s understand how nonverbal communication works.

Nonverbal communication functions on 3 key levels:
  1. Reinforces verbal communication

    Nonverbal cues and gestures can complement or accent our verbal messages.

    For example, a gesture such as banging a fist on your desk while yelling underlines the emotion of anger. On a more positive note, you can use your hands while explaining a project or presenting a pitch to demonstrate your enthusiasm. Using your hands makes your words more memorable.

  2. Substitutes verbal communication

    Nonverbal cues can also stand in for a verbal message.

    We don’t always need to speak to say something. The expression “a picture is worth a thousand words” more or less sums it up. Facial expressions are universal. We can read feelings on a face – so much so that we can even detect when a smile is “fake”. We can perceive authenticity, which is why it’s so important for you as a manager to be self-aware of the signals you emit. If your people see you as inauthentic, it will be difficult to get them to move in the direction you want them to.

    With self-awareness, you’ll also be able to understand and read others’ nonverbal messaging – the story behind the story – which is helpful in building and maintaining authentic relationships.

    Tip: Smile in the morning when you walk by people in the office. You may not have time for a chit chat but letting people know you’re happy to be at work with them will create a contagion of positivity and help form a positive impression without ever saying a word.
  3. Contradicts verbal communication

    Most importantly, our nonverbal cues can contradict our verbal messages.

    This is the one that managers need to pay particular attention to at work because contradictory communication breeds distrust and leads your employees to question your credibility.

    No one likes mixed messages, especially from a leader.

    It’s the great responsibility of a leader to express themselves clearly and impart their intended message with coherence. Saying one thing and doing another is a big leadership faux pas that we want to help you avoid.

    As HBR tells us:

    “If your spoken message and your body language are mismatched, audiences will respond to the nonverbal message every time.”

    Let’s look at a real-life example: You want to encourage your team to get on board with a change in the company. To do this, you need to express your own excitement about it. While your words hit the nail on the head, your arms are crossed, your voice is low and you’re resting back in your chair like it’s naptime. The outcome is that your team won’t be on board with the change, and they’ll perceive your mixed message as a sign of untrustworthiness.

    Takeaway Tip: The first step to getting nonverbal right is learning to manage stress. When we’re stressed, our bodies become the outward image of our inward emotions, which affects your body language and the message you (inadvertently) give off. This article on managing stress might help.
  4. Where Nonverbal communication can go wrong

    Nonverbal communication is powerful, for better or for worse.

    Here’s how it can backfire:

    False Impressions: You can give off impressions without intending to. For example, if an employee is resting his face in the palm of his hand during a meeting he’ll be showing that he’s bored, when in reality he might be thinking the complete opposite. Maybe he’s tired, or maybe that position helps him focus. It goes to show how quickly we make assumptions, and that it’s important to dig deeper than what we see. Don’t always believe everything you think.

    Credibility Crusher: If your nonverbal language tells a different story than your spoken language – the “mixed-message” dilemma – people might question your credibility. For example, if you’re giving positive feedback to an employee but you relay the good news with a low, monotone voice – they likely won’t believe your words, and may lose confidence in you.

    When you take the time to match your nonverbal messaging to your words when giving positive feedback you’ll see wonderful results. To deliver good news and have it perceived as genuine, sit forward when you speak and smile! If employees accept that your praise as sincere, they’ll feel more encouraged to keep up the good work.

    Don’t worry – we’ll shed light on each type of nonverbal communication so you can set yourself up for success with every personal encounter.

    The Secret Ingredient To Nonverbal Communication

    Can you guess? It’s Self-Awareness; the first, foundational domain of Emotional Intelligence.

    As a leader, your people skills or EQ have a much greater bearing on your success than your hard skills (IQ) because at the end of the day your job is about people – the heart of every organization.

    The first step is understanding self. We’d all like to think that we have a solid grasp on our emotions, how we handle them and how they affect others, but in reality being self-aware is no easy task. It is, however, an important one, and very luckily, one that can be learned.

    According to Harvard University

    The core of high [Emotional Intelligence] is self-awareness: if you don’t understand your own motivations and behaviors, it’s nearly impossible to develop an understanding of others.

    If you want to send the right nonverbal message, you need to first be aware of your emotions and understand how they impact you – inside and out. For example, we know that our internal stress affects our external body language. If we learn to be aware of how we’re feeling and what triggers our stress, we can better control it – and the way our body reacts.

    Daniel Goleman – the godfather of Emotional Intelligence – believes that tuning into the signals of our body is the most practical ways to build self-awareness.

    When emotions are activated, they are accompanied by bodily changes. There may be changes in breathing rate, in muscle tension, in heart rate. Emotional Self-Awareness in part is the awareness of one’s own body.

    In order to start building your self-awareness, Goleman suggests to “check in with your sensory experience”. Pay attention to how your emotions affect you on a physiological level, so you can control your body language.

    Tip: Ask yourself questions like: What triggers you? What situations make you feel certain emotions? Does your body language change with these feelings? Keep track of these emotions in a daily journal and then search for patterns. Understanding is the first step to improving.

    The Pros Of Building Your Self-Awareness:

  1. You’ll be able to send nonverbal signals that match your verbal ones, resulting in consistency and therefore trust. This is the ideal for all leaders.
  2. You’ll learn to read employees by their nonverbal messages and will better understand their feelings and needs. For example, you’ll learn that answers like
    “It’s ok – I’m not upset” when it comes to employee conflict, or negative feedback, can use a bit more probing and attention.
4 Nonverbal Communication Tips For Managers
  1. 1. Watch Your Body Language (Gesture, Posture, Movements)

    Your body language conveys emotional meaning to your audience. It tells the receiver whether you’re open or closed to them and their thoughts. If you want to build a positive, trusting relationship with your colleagues and employees, your body language needs to be the visual cue for that.

    5 Body Language Tips to Earn Trust:
    1. Lean in when you speak and when listening to show engagement.
    2. Nod your head to show that you’re listening.
    3. Sit up straight! A slumped posture demonstrates disinterest.
    4. Keep your arms uncrossed, your legs unfolded and your torso facing forward to show that you’re open.
    5. Stand in a wide position, about shoulder width apart to demonstrate confidence.
    Takeaway Tip: “Mirroring” is a technique you can use to connect with your employees. It means copying their body language to empathize and understand how they’re feeling in the situation, so you can adapt your messaging.
  2. Maintain Eye Contact

    “The eyes are the window to the soul” – cheesy, yes. But true. We can make sense of people’s emotions through their eye contact (or lack therefore). Maintaining eye contact during conversations with colleagues or employees will help you build trust and respect. It lets them know that you are listening, and that you care. It also demonstrates confidence in what you are saying.

    It sounds simple enough, but we can get easily distracted and our gaze can wander, so putting your best effort into maintaining eye contact is a good start to building a good relationship.

  3. Be Mindful of Your Voice (Tone, Octave, Pitch, Intonations)

    Here’s a fun tidbit: Politicians are trained on their tone of voice to ensure that they give off the right message to their audience.

    As explained in this article on nonverbal communication tips:

    Your tone of voice can convey a wealth of information, ranging from enthusiasm to disinterest to anger. Start noticing how your tone of voice affects how others respond to you and try using tone of voice to emphasize ideas that you want to communicate. For example, if you want to show genuine interest in something, express your enthusiasm by using an animated tone of voice.

    Tip: Avoid the question inflection! When your voice goes up at the end of a statement (as if you’re asking a question) it appears as though you are questioning yourself, which will make you look less assured as a leader.
  4. Keep Your Hands Where We Can See ‘Em

    Believe it or not, the first thing people see when they look at you is not your face, it’s your hands. Our hands reveal a lot about us. Exposed hands, for example, are a sign of honesty, while hidden hands can give off the impression that you have something to hide or that you’re withholding information. In your day-to-day work life scenarios, whether it be giving feedback to an employee or presenting a new business strategy to your team – to get the buy-in and trust that you want, it’s best to leave your hands where they can see them.

    The power to earn trust is in the palm of your hands.

    HBR offers great tips for getting hand gestures right. Each is valuable depending on the situation and message you want to give off.

    1. Pretend you’re holding a basketball: This indicates confidence and control.
    2. Don’t fidget: Keep your hands in a relaxed and steady pyramid.
    3. Expose your palms: It’s a sure sign of trustworthiness, openness and honesty.
    4. Keep palms facing down: This demonstrates strength and assertiveness.

  5. Nonverbal communication may not make or break your leadership, but taking the time to become more self-aware of your emotions and body language will certainly help you build better relationships at work. We hope the tips in this post are helpful! Start with one and see where it takes you.

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    Motivation is undoubtedly a driving force of success, both in business and in life, but it doesn’t always come easily or naturally. Knowing how to motivate your employees requires an understanding of where motivation comes from, and how it works.

    Motivation is one of the 5 domains of emotional intelligence, which is key to leadership and people management. That’s why we’d like to help you develop yours. Yes, emotional intelligence can be learned.

    Here’s a breakdown of the 5 domains of emotional intelligence and how they relate to the role of a manager:

    A big part of motivating people is understanding what drives them, and people are driven by their emotions. So getting in touch with your employees’ emotions (and your own) will help you to more effectively motivate them.

    Why Employee Motivation Matters

    Motivation is key to employees’ success, and it can boost their engagement, productivity, and innovation. The funny thing is that while motivation can increase those other success factors, those factors can also boost motivation. It works in a cycle.

    All of these things impact not just the input (what goes into the production), but also the output of a company (what is produced). A higher quality input leads to a higher quality output, and it all starts with motivation.

    Motivated employees are valuable to organizations because they put the most into their work, and it shows in what they produce. To effectively motivate their employees, managers need to understand how motivation works, and where it comes from.

    Let’s take a closer look at the types of motivation and how they work…

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    Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation

    There are generally considered to be two types of motivation: extrinsic motivation, and intrinsic motivation.

    A simple way of understanding extrinsic motivation is as something external that you receive for having completed a task, like a paycheck. Intrinsic motivation can be thought of as something internal that drives you to complete the task, like creativity or commitment.

    That being said, intrinsic motivation also comes with rewards. The difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is how the reward relates to the task. Rewards that have nothing to do with the task at hand are extrinsic motivators, and rewards that come out of the task are intrinsic motivators.

    Think about a child doing chores to earn an allowance. The allowance is an extrinsic reward because it isn’t directly related to the task of the chores.

    On the other hand, consider learning how to make a new recipe. Eating the food once it’s prepared is an intrinsic reward because it is a direct result of the task of cooking.

    While extrinsic motivation is a necessary part of a job (everyone has to make a living), intrinsic motivation is also very important in the workplace.

    The Importance of Intrinsic Motivation in the Workplace

    Intrinsic motivation has a stronger impact on employee engagement and performance than extrinsic motivation. Harvard Business Review (HBR) cites a study on motivation by Yoon Jik Cho and James Perry that found that:

    Employee engagement is 3 times more affected by intrinsic motivators than extrinsic motivators.

    When employees are simply working for a paycheck, they won’t be as motivated to meet their highest potential. Not only is extrinsic motivation less effective, HBR also cites an analysis by Edward Deci and colleagues that shows that it can actually have a negative impact on intrinsic motivation. The intrinsic motivation that employees have to perform is diminished when they’re offered extrinsic rewards.

    Bold Idea: Annual Reviews can contribute to culture of extrinsic motivation. It might sound radical, but it’s possible to successfully eliminate the Annual Review to foster a more intrinsic approach.

    What comes out of employees’ work is a direct result of what goes into it. Intrinsic motivation is all about how your employees evolve, both professionally and personally. Being motivated at work is directly related to personal motivation and development. That’s why getting your employees motivated requires a better understanding of what drives them. This is where your emotional intelligence really comes into play.

    Some tasks hold obvious intrinsic motivation, like things that people simply enjoy, and things that exercise and develop their skill set. Employees are also intrinsically motivated to do things that they’re passionate about. Believing in the purpose and mission of the organization and aligning with the company’s values are key to employee motivation and engagement.

    “[Employees] want to be engaged and motivated, doing work that feels meaningful and makes the most of their talents and strengths.”
    – Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report

    Ultimately, intrinsic motivation is about feeling a sense of purpose. Employees want to feel that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. Sometimes tasks can seem insignificant or even invaluable when they’re not contextualized. Seeing how their work contributes to larger goals helps employees understand the importance of what they do.

    “The modern workforce wants a job that feels meaningful. They need to be able to see clearly how their role contributes to the success of their team and organization. When employees have this sense of purpose, their engagement soars.”
    – Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report

    Understand intrinsic motivation and why it’s crucial to employee engagement is important, but knowing how to get employees motivated can be a challenge. We have some ideas and tips for increasing employee motivation in your team.

    How to Motivate Employees in Their Day-to-Day

    First and foremost, your employees want to feel inspired and motivated in their day-to-day work. That’s why it’s important to foster an intrinsically motivating work environment and culture.

    Here’s how to boost day-to-day intrinsic motivation on your team…

    1. Encourage Taking Risks and Embracing Failures

      If you never try, you’ll never know. Make this a team mantra and support employees in trying new approaches and experimental projects. Giving employees this freedom also helps you to build trust. Seek out the learning opportunity in every failure and remind your team that failures are a natural part of progress.

    2. Make Goal-Setting a Team Activity

      Employees want to see how their role contributes to team and company goals, but take this to the next level by involving them in setting those goals. Bring employees into brainstorms and planning for big initiatives and let them see for themselves how their work fits in.

    3. Provide Opportunities for Growth and Development

      Developing both personally and professionally is a big part of intrinsic motivation, so encourage both. Set up monthly talks and/or workshops led by different employees in their area of expertise or personal interest to encourage a culture of learning.

    4. Recognize Successes, Big and Small

      Recognition for a job well done can significantly boost employee motivation. Make a point of acknowledging your employees’ successes and make a space for employees to give each other kudos, whether on the office whiteboard or in a Slack channel.

    5. Foster Friendship Among Employees with Team Building Activities

      A sense of team spirit can go a long way in increasing your employees’ motivation. Schedule occasional larger team building activities, like visiting an escape room, but also incorporate team building into work life. Have your employees work together to assemble a new piece of furniture for the office or plan a monthly crafternoon.

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    How to Motivate Employees for Specific Tasks

    You may provide a motivating environment and culture for your team, but even motivated employees occasionally need a boost for certain tasks. Sometimes your employees just need help connecting their intrinsic motivation to the assignment in front of them. There are different reasons why an employee might be unmotivated, and how you motivate them depends on where there lack of motivation comes from.

    If Your Employee has Tunnel Vision…

    Employees sometimes lack motivation because their focus is too narrow, or they need a change in perspective. Talk to your employee about how the task at hand contributes to the bigger goals of the team and the company. Plan out next steps with employees so that they have something to look forward to once the task they’re struggling with is complete.

    If Your Employee is Out of Their Element…

    An employee could be unmotivated to complete the task because it doesn’t fit into their defined role. Show them how the task can be a learning experience, and an opportunity for growth. Help them to see it as a chance to branch out. Try to assign these types of tasks based on employees’ interests for growth and development.

    If Your Employee is Stuck in a Rut…

    On the other hand, if the task is something repetitive or tedious that the employee has grown tired of, they might need to be reminded of why it’s important. How you do this depends on the purpose of the task. Show the employee the positive impact that the task has had over time internally, externally, or both. Go over data related to the task or share a testimonial that shows how much clients appreciate that work.

    When and How to Implement Extrinsic Motivators

    When you face a lack of motivation on your team, the first step should be to try to boost intrinsic motivation. If your employees are intrinsically motivated in their day-to-day, that motivation should encourage them to tackle the little tasks that they might find tedious or boring. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, employees may simply not be intrinsically motivated to complete certain tasks.

    We mentioned earlier that extrinsic incentives can reduce intrinsic motivation. That may be true… but there’s a loophole.

    While extrinsic motivation can decrease intrinsic motivation for fulfilling tasks, HBR cites another analysis by Judy Cameron and colleagues that shows that for mundane tasks, extrinsic rewards can actually be quite motivating. So, if intrinsic motivation to perform a task is lacking, extrinsic motivation might just be enough to get the ball rolling.

    An extrinsic reward for a task your employee is unmotivated to do can actually show your employees that you empathize with them. It’s a way of showing that you appreciate their efforts.

    First and foremost, tedious and mundane tasks shouldn’t end up all getting dumped on the same employee if it can be avoided. Recurring tasks can be assigned on rotation so that every employee takes their turn. When tasks are assigned in rotation, the employee taking on the task could be rewarded with an extra long lunch hour, or another non-monetary reward.

    Occasional tasks, on the other hand, can be assigned based on employee workload and in consideration of who the last task went to. They can be assigned on a volunteer basis with extrinsic incentives attached. This not only motivates employees in the sense that they are receiving a reward, but also because they chose to take it on.

    Pro Tip: Take extrinsic motivation to the next level by giving your employees something more personal than a cash bonus. Cater extrinsic rewards to the personal interests of your employees. Give them a ski pass, a gift card to their favourite restaurant, or a bottle of their favourite wine—whatever shows that you know them and that you care.

    Motivating your employees might seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Developing your emotional intelligence will help you connect with your employees and understand what really drives them. Getting your team aligned around your goals will increase everyone’s intrinsic motivation.

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    What are your best tips for getting employees motivated?

    Share with us in the comments below!

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    Conflict is a natural part of working in teams. But not a fun one. As a leader, it’s your job to guide a diverse group of people with different skills, motivations, and personalities toward a common goal. Except it’s not just their workflow you end up managing – it’s also their emotions.

    Unsurprisingly, dealing with conflict between employees is a stumbling block that trips up managers of all experience levels every day.

    What’s more – it’s only one of the many situations where pure intellect and technical expertise aren’t going to do you much good.

    Enter Emotional Intelligence (also known as IQ’s counterpart, EQ), a key skill-set that’s increasingly being recognized as the main ingredient in successful leaders. Similar to how IQ represents the measure of a person’s intelligence, EQ gauges the understanding of one’s own emotions, as well as those of the people around them.

    EQ breaks down into five domains: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills. Each of them helps you in different, vital ways to deal with people, realtionships and situations in your role as a manager.

    And the best part? They can all be learned – we promise.

    Our goal today is to get you started on the path to building or improving your level of emotional intelligence with a specific focus on its use in conflict resolution. We’ll go over some useful strategies and approaches that should set you up to deal with conflict on your team in a meaningful and long-lasting way.

    Improve Your Social Skills, Improve Your Conflict Management Skills

    The five domains of emotional intelligence cover a lot of ground. To make sure you get the most out of our content, we’ll look at them individually and narrow down the focus of each to target scenarios our community most commonly asks for advice on. Near the very top of that list: conflict resolution in the workplace – specifically between two team members.

    According to Daniel Goleman who (literally) wrote the book on emotional intelligence, when it comes to conflict resolution, managers with strong Social Skills will always have an edge.

    “Socially skilled people tend to have […] a knack for finding common ground with people of all kinds – a knack for building rapport. It’s not just a matter of friendliness. Social skill, rather, is friendliness with a purpose: moving people in the direction you desire…”
    – Daniel Goleman

    Considering two of hallmarks of Goleman’s Social Skills domain are the ability to influence people, and the ability to find common ground with almost anyone, it’s little surprise that managers who are strong in these areas also make for strong mediators.

    Below we’ll dive into some of the most effective ways a manager can deal with conflict on their team. It should be noted that the sharper your Social Skills and overall EQ, the more easily you’ll be able to put these techniques into practice.

    If you’re looking to develop those Social Skills and become a conflict manager by building on what you learn in this post, keep an eye out for our free Emotional Intelligence Email Course, out next week. Designed by experts, each of the five lessons cover a different domain, how you can apply it in your day-to-day, and provides guides, templates, additional resources & exercises that you can start putting to use immediately.

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    Now let’s get into some strategies and specifics.

    How to Minimize Conflict on Your Team

    The key word here is “minimize”. In fact, that brings us to our Golden Rule of Conflict Management – one of the most universal pieces of advice you’ll find on the subject, and also the simplest.

    Any reputable source will tell you, like breathing, conflict is just a part of life. Not every member of your team is always going to get along and it’s crucial you accept this. Sometimes problems simply need to surface before we can move past them. For that reason, it’s best to frame conflict as an opportunity – for the employees involved in it, for your team as a whole, and also for yourself.

    Proactively addressing conflict head-on, gives your team the chance to prove to themselves – and each other – that they can overcome differences while strengthening themselves as a unit at the same time. As their manager, you gain experience in the wonderfully uncomfortable process of identifying, understanding, and resolving conflict. And that’ll make it just a little bit easier the next time. And the time after that.

    With that out of the way, here are a few things you can do to minimize conflict before it starts, while laying the groundwork for easier resolution later.

    Set Clear Expectations, Define Acceptable Behavior

    Whether you’re trying to hit the “reset” button with your existing team or inheriting a new one and looking to start on right foot, it’s never a bad idea to lay down some pre-existing ground rules to help define acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

    While it may seem obvious, explicitly stating that behaviors such as yelling, rudeness, bullying, shunning, etc. are simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated, may help an employee think twice before getting carried away. The more you can influence your team to identify with a culture of respect, the easier it will be for them to productively iron out their own wrinkles.

    Forbes suggests that the majority of conflict in the workplace stems from two main issues – poor communication, and poor control of one’s emotions. An employee’s emotions are obviously beyond your control, but how your team communicates isn’t, so start there:

    “If you reflect back upon conflicts you have encountered over the years, you quickly recognize many of them resulted from a lack of information, poor information, no information, or misinformation.”

    To avoid the same pitfalls, make effective communication easier from the start by laying down a clear framework. Establish a foundation of respect by crystalizing the roles of every team member for the group. Underline the value they each bring to the table in achieving your mutual goal, and make your personal respect for every role clear.

    Outlining expectations, swim lanes, chain of command, and laying out clear procedures for how to flag and address conflict early can often help nip problems in the bud before they can escalate.

    It’s also on you as manager to keep your eyes peeled for potential conflict areas, so you can step in as soon as there’s smoke. Catching and dealing with these moments quickly, and in a fair and diplomatic way has a big effect on preventing certain conflicts all together, while reducing the severity of the ones that do crop up.

    3 Questions to Help Understand and Resolve Any Conflict

    Acknowledging that a conflict is taking place on your team is one thing. Understanding who the participants are and the root of the conflict itself is another thing all together.

    There are a million different reasons an argument might take place. While you’ll probably never know all the details, it’s still your job to get the lay of the land so you can decide how to deal with each situation.

    Start by trying to better understand the conflict by asking yourself these three questions:

    Is the Conflict Hot or Cold?

    The Harvard Business Review categorizes conflict you’d likely encounter in the workplace under two banners:

    As HBR states, once you’ve identified the type of conflict your dealing with, it’s the manager’s role to step in, take control of the thermostat, and find the sweet-spot:

    “Conflicts that are warm – that is, already open for discussion but not inflamed with intense hostility – are far more likely to be productive. So, if you’re dealing with cold conflict, you need the skills to ‘warm it up’. If you’re dealing with hot conflict, you need the skills to ‘cool it down’.”

    Cooling Down a Hot Conflict

    Bringing two people together who are embroiled in a heated conflict can be dicey. If the conflict is too hot at the time, don’t be afraid to let things cool down a little before attempting to resolve it.

    Once things have cooled, try setting clear and concise ground rules that each participant must agree on ahead of time. These can include everything from setting three-minute time limits on each person’s speaking-turns, or getting them to come to the table each with a suggestion already in mind on a mutually beneficial way to move forward.

    You can also put those Social Skills to the test and try to defuse some of the aggression by finding the common ground between participants. Open with a question about how stress at work has personally affected each of them over the past month to humanize their situations, get them relating, and on the same page.

    Warming Up a Cold Conflict

    While it’s usually easier to bring these two parties together, the focus once you do will be on starting a constructive dialogue between them in which they both participate.

    The goal here is to get them talking as you lead the conversation. It’s also worth noting that cold conflicts typically involve a lot of repressed emotions. As the conflict warms and those emotions start surfacing, you’ll want to keep an eye on the temperature to make sure it doesn’t overheat as feelings begin pouring out.

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    What are the Conflict Styles of the Employees Involved?

    While conflicts can be seen as hot or cold, so too can an individual’s approach to conflict. The ways in which a conflict – and its resolution – play out have a lot to do with whether the people involved are conflict avoiders, or conflict seekers.

    As a manager, it’s your job to observe and know your team so you can more easily generate a game-plan if conflict arises. Understanding whether the stakeholders are avoiders (uncomfortable butting heads with coworkers) or seekers (willing or eager to engage in disagreements) can give you a window into how the conflict might play out, and the different strategies you can employ to help solve it.

    The Harvard Business Review offers some great insights in their breakdown of avoider/seeker combinations and how to approach each one.


    • No one addresses the issue
    • Suppressed feelings that explode later


    • You’ll need to take the lead
    • Take a sensitive approach to the situation
    • Don’t let them shy away from the problem


    • No one holds back
    • Discussion can get heated quickly
    • Each could feel disrespected


    • Suggest they both prepare for the conversation
    • Be ready to take breaks if things get heated
    • Shift to a neutral setting – getting a coffee / taking a walk


    • The Seeker may bulldoze the Avoider
    • The Avoider may respond with a passive aggressive approach
    • The Avoider may agree too easily with what the Seeker wants


    • Ask the Avoider to be honest, participate, and not hide their opinions
    • Explain to the Seeker in advance that you expect a calm demeanor and tone during the conversation
    • Encourage the Avoider to be direct and to the point
    • Encourage the Seeker to be patient should the pace of the conversation slow.
    How Can I Focus on the Problem, Not the People?

    Once you have a clearer idea of the temperature of the conflict and the conflict styles of the people involved, it’s time to shift your focus toward understanding the problem.

    There’s a good chance that the incident you’ve just walked into the middle of isn’t even representative of the real conflict. In fact, the source of the real conflict might be something that occurred over a month back, but left unresolved was allowed to fester as bickering continued, got more personal, and stress levels rose.

    So, before you assume the conflict you’re dealing with is actually about a team member ‘typing and breathing too loudly’, ask questions like, “When do you think the problem between you two first started?” and work to reveal the root of the issue, so you can best resolve it.

    6 Surprisingly Effective Conflict Management Strategies

    Now that you have a better idea how to consider and approach conflicts, let’s add a few more tactics to your arsenal for resolving them.

    Every conflict is unique and what works for one may not work for the other, so flex those social skills, understand where each stakeholder is coming from, and work to influence a positive change over the situation.

    1. Encourage Active Listening

      If you’re mediating a conflict between two employees, you’re going to need them to empathize with each other on some level before resolution becomes reality.

      In advance of sitting them down, encourage each to brush up on the finer points of active listening so they can come prepared. Active listening is all about really opening yourself up to what another person is saying, and not just waiting for your turn to talk – which most of us do.

      Active listening involves giving the other person the chance to express their opinion, having the control to not react impulsively to anything that’s said, and repeating back each other’s main points as a show that statements have honestly been heard, and more importantly understood.

      Check out this article from Fast Company for more on active listing basics.

    2. Change the Scenery

      Sometimes a simple change of scenery can go a long way. Since the conflict started in the workplace, a little separation from the setting can often calm the nerves and get conversation flowing.

      If based on the stakeholders, you believe there’s an opportunity for them to resolve things on their own, suggest they grab lunch together at a..

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    Starting out as a manager is a totally new experience, and because of that many new managers feel afraid of making mistakes.

    This fear shows that you care, but making mistakes is a part of taking on a new challenge. As Ion Valis suggests in his book The Magnificent Mistake, it is “crucially important to learn from our mistakes.” Messing up is a part of being human, and being human is a part of being a good manager.

    As you become a manager, it’s inevitable that you will make mistakes. What’s important is that you try to learn and grow from them when you do. It’s also great to be proactive in avoiding the mistakes that you can to set yourself up for success.

    Here are some common mistakes that first-time managers make and tips on avoiding them.

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    5 Mistakes New Managers Make and Tips on How to Avoid Them
    1. Focusing on Details & Micromanaging

      As a manager, you need to look at the bigger picture of your employees’ projects and how they fit into the objectives of your team and company.

      Especially if you’re making the shift from employee to manager, you’ll have to adjust from the more detail-oriented approach you took in your previous role. You might feel compelled to coach your employees through every step of their tasks—or worse, do their work for them.

      As the leader of your team, your role is to guide your team by setting goals and aligning everyone to meet them. That means supporting your employees as they work towards the goals, but leaving how they get there up to them.

      Tip: Have a team meeting early on to discuss collective goals and plan projects that align with those goals. This will get everyone on the same page and give you the confidence to take a step back and let your employees work autonomously.
    2. Not Seeing Your Employees as Individuals

      Your team works collaboratively towards common goals, but it’s still made up of individuals with unique skill sets and personalities. Each employee brings something different to the table, and together, they form your team.

      Be mindful of the differences between your employees and avoid treating them all the same.

      Look at the bigger picture when it comes to goals, but get to know your employees and their roles on a more individual basis. Not only do they all have different skills, they all have different needs and will seek different types of support from you.

      Tip: Once you’ve met with your team as a group, meet with your employees one-on-one to discuss their individual tasks and work styles. Getting to know your employees on a more personal level will help you to support them more effectively.
    3. Prioritizing Your Superiors Instead of Your Team

      Part of being a manager is shifting your focus back and forth between your team and your superiors. You have to turn the objectives of your superiors into actions for your team, and then show your superiors how the work of your employees achieved those results.

      It can be hard to know how to effectively split your focus and ensure that everyone is satisfied. Your success as a manager is demonstrated by the success of your team.

      Prioritizing your team will help you to produce the results that your superiors are expecting of you. Part of your role is acting as an advocate for your employees in your interactions with your superiors.

      Tip: Meet with your superiors to clearly define the expectations they have of you and how the goals of your team align with those expectations. Relay this information back to your employees so that you can succeed as a team.
    4. Acting Like a Boss Instead of a Leader

      A major misconception about being a manager is that because you’re an authoritative role you call all the shots. While you are in a position to organize and align your employees, that shouldn’t mean bossing anyone around.

      A good manager isn’t above their team, they’re part of it.

      Part of being a manager is guiding your team towards success, but it’s also about ensuring that your employees have everything they need to get there. Understanding the servant leadership model can be a great place to start when it comes to supporting your employees.

      Tip: Establish yourself as a part of the team from the start and get all of your employees involved in collective decision making and goal setting. Employees want to see how their work contributes to the bigger goals of your team and company.
    5. Faking it

      An overarching mistake that new managers make is trying to fake it. In your new role, you might put pressure on yourself to be perfect, but it’s always better to be authentic. Trying to fake it in some way often stems from the fear of making mistakes. A few common ways of faking it to look out for are:

      • Pretending to know everything: Becoming a manager is a learning process, and it takes time to get the hang of it. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers on day one. Ask questions, be open and stay curious. Remember that each of your employees will have something to teach you.
      • Keeping quiet about your challenges: Don’t be afraid to open up about the challenges that you’re facing with other managers and your superiors. You’re not alone and talking it out with people who have been there can give you some great insights.
      • Emulating leadership styles: You can learn a lot from the managers you admire, but avoid trying to mimic their styles. You and your team are unique, and it’s important to find a leadership style that works best for your purposes.
      • Putting up a wall: Being a manager is all about interpersonal relationships and people management, so it’s important for you to be yourself. Embracing your mistakes and showing that you’re human helps you to develop trust with your employees.
      Tip: Seek out training and coaching opportunities wherever you can. Encourage your employees to give you feedback on how you’re performing as a manager so that you can constantly improve.

    Part of taking on any new challenge is making mistakes, but the above tips are simple ways for you to be proactive in avoiding the big ones when becoming a manager. Remember that making mistakes is natural for both you and your employees. It’s how we learn from them and grow that matters more than anything.

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    What Mistakes Have You Made As A New Manager?

    Your turn! Tell us in the comments about mistakes that you’ve made as a new manager and what you learned from them.

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    Becoming a manager is a major role change with a whole new set of responsibilities.

    Taking on this new position will be exciting and rewarding, but you will also face some challenges. Adjusting to your new role will take time, and it’s normal to be nervous.

    Don’t stress! Overcoming challenges helps you to learn, grow and develop. We’re here to help guide you through 10 common challenges that first-time managers face and tips on how to overcome them.

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    10 Management Challenges and Tips on How to Overcome Them
    1. Shifting Your Mindset Along With Your Role

      In your old role as an employee, your main focus was on accomplishing your tasks. Now, your main focus is on helping others accomplish their tasks.

      The key more than anything in this transition is to shift your mindset and take on a new approach. Before, you were a “do-er.” Now, you’re a leader.

      It’s your responsibility to oversee and guide your team, and this will involve developing your soft skills. Listen and pay attention to the needs of your employees to help them achieve the collective goals of your team.

      Pro Tip: Monthly one-on-ones are a great way to make sure you and your employees are on the same page.
    2. Pressure To Perform

      One of the most nerve racking things about being a first-time manager is the pressure to perform. You’ve been given an incredible opportunity, and now you want to show that you were worth it.

      Remind yourself that you were picked for this position for a reason and that you deserve to be there. Becoming a leader is a learning process, and you will learn the most from the experience you gain as you go along.

      Pro Tip: Set clear expectations with your boss, and more importantly, yourself. Take time to plan properly and set yourself up for success.
    3. Shifting From Coworker To Boss

      In a situation where you’ve been promoted internally to a management position, you might end up with some former coworkers on your team. This is a common situation and can be awkward to navigate.

      Remember that even though you’re a manager, you’re still a member of the team that you’re leading. Your role on the team is to support your employees and ensure that they have everything they need to succeed. Management is a two-way street, and the success of your team is as dependent on you as yours is on them.

      Pro Tip: Address your employees directly about your new position and let them know that you’re still a part of the team. Establish your role as “leader” rather than “boss” from the start.
    4. Effective Communication

      Effective communication with your employees is key to both their success and your own. Your employees want to hear from you and they want to be heard. Your feedback helps your employees grow, and their feedback will help you to develop in your role, too.

      According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report:

      Only 23% of employees strongly agree that their manager provides them with meaningful feedback.

      Clarity and consistency are key to effective communication. To be clear in your communication, make sure you’re as direct and specific as possible. The frequency of communication that works best for each employee will be different, so ask them what their preference is.

      Be open and available for communication with your employees so that they feel comfortable coming to you when they need to talk something out. This will help you avoid being overbearing and micromanaging.

      Pro Tip: Active listening is a key part of communication. When your employees come to you to talk your focus should be entirely on them, and that means eliminating distractions (like your devices). Repeating back in your own words what your employee is saying to you can help you to retain it.
    5. Time Management

      Balancing your own tasks while overseeing your team can be difficult. You might not know how best to split your time, but remember that your team should always be a priority.

      You should strive to be as available to your team as possible, but it’s also important that you set aside time to dedicate to your individual responsibilities.

      Pro Tip: Book times in your calendar specifically for your own tasks, and let your team know in advance that you won’t be available during those times.
    6. Setting Clear Goals And Expectations

      One of your main tasks as a new manager is to guide and motivate the employees on your team. Part of that is making sure that your employees have clear directions and common goals.

      It’s important to make setting goals a team effort. According to Gallup, employees want to see how their individual work contributes to the larger goals of their team and the company:

      Employees who strongly agree they can link their goals to the organization’s goals are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged.

      Objectives and Key Results are great to align everyone on your team because the “key results” set expectations very clearly. Both employees and managers will have measurable results, making it easier to tell if they hit their mark or not.

      Pro Tip: Meet with your team to set Objectives and Key Results so that everyone is working towards the same final outcome.
    7. Encouraging Productivity

      As a manager, a key to your success is to make your team as productive as possible.

      This can be a challenge because all of your team members may have different needs and work in different ways. Some people like working later, some earlier, some people like being given specific instructions, some people like to have more autonomy.

      It’s important for you to create an environment that’s good for everyone. Try to find out what works best and adjust accordingly.

      Pro Tip: Have short daily meetings where everyone presents their tasks for the day to the team. This will help your employees set their focus for the day and see how everyone else’s tasks fit into the broader goals of the team.
    8. Hiring

      Bringing someone new onto your team is a big decision. Don’t be shy to ask other managers or people from the HR team in your company for help and advice.

      It’s important that you look at possible candidates from an all-encompassing perspective. Culture fit is as important as past experience. Look at your candidates as unique and dynamic individuals, and think about what they’ll bring to the team beyond their skill set.

      Pro Tip: A great way to hire someone is by doing a work sample test where you give them a small project to see how well they perform, communicate and interact with the team.
    9. Firing

      Letting someone go from your team is a tough decision to make. What’s important after you fire someone is to make sure that your team can recover from the loss. Prepare as best as you can to compensate for the gap that will be created in your team and their workflow.

      Transparency is important in addressing your employees about a termination. Be as open and honest as you can and allow for open communication between your employees and yourself. Encourage them to come to you with any questions or concerns they may have.

      Pro Tip: Set up a time to address the termination with your employees and discuss how you will move forward as a team. Address any questions or concerns they may have and encourage them to come to you privately to do so, too.
    10. Asking For Help

      You might feel pressure to have all the answers in your new managerial role, but it’s okay if you don’t. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

      Ask HR about training that you might not know about or expensing training courses online. Seek out opportunities that can help you and your team succeed.

      Pro Tip: Find a mentor. Look for someone with experience as a manager and pick their brain.
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    What Are Some Challenges That You’ve Faced?

    Have you been there before? Any tips for new managers that you can share with us?

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