Leaders: Creating a Happier Workplace Culture

We all want to be happy; however, many struggle with maintaining this state. No truer is this statement than in the workplace where many drudge along and don’t seem to find any positives in their work environment.
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Workers want to go to an organization that is relaxed, fun, open, i.e happy. They don’t want to go to a place that is drab and dreary, or no fun.
How can a leader develop a happier workplace culture? While there are many ways, it really has to start at the top. If the leader is not happy, or portrays being that way, it can demotivate workers to even try. People follow a leader who is like them and makes them feel part of the team. Also, a leader who is willing to create a positive work environment will inspire workers to follow.
Here are 5 ways that leaders can create happier workplace cultures:

  1. Be open – this means being available to your people and showing that you’re open to them. Greet them each morning (by name); ask how they are doing on a project; see if they need help, etc. Have an open-door policy so they trust that you are receptive and welcoming. This creates an open environment which leads to inclusion and happier workers
  2. Communicate – communication is so crucial in any relationship so be sure you are conveying relevant information and in a timely manner; have regular meetings with them, as a group and individually, to give and gain (yes, get their) feedback on ideas, problem solutions, on improvements needed, as well as letting them know how they are doing in their job. This leads to less confusion on what needs to be done, as well as progress made, all of which leads to happier workers.
  3. Know your people – get to know your employees on an individual basis, as people with lives outside of work and who have wants and needs to be met. As everything today is ‘how you make me feel,’ being interested in your workers can lead to meeting their needs while building a bond with them, which is what will keep them following your lead. Learn their motivations, the best part of their job, their strengths, their children’s names or favorite sports team – this makes a worker feel special and they feel more satisfied (and happier) with their work.
  4. Recognition – we all want to be recognized for the work we do, so show your employees how their work contributes to organizational goals, including special talents or skills they’ve shown in that work; say thank you, bring bagels or cookies (food is always appreciated), write them a personal note, recognize them in a meeting – I’m sure you get the picture. It’s not how it’s done – just that it is done, and often. Recognized workers = happier workers.
  5. Have fun – do team-building exercises; have a pot luck day, where everyone brings a dish in and eats together; have a theme-day, where workers can wear a color or decorate their office/cube to match; plan a contest, such as guess the baby picture or vote on a favorite joke. This can lessen stressful days and give workers something to look forward to each month, all of which creates happier workers.

These five tips have been heard from individuals I’ve met and interviewed so these are valid and highly desired. Changing a culture isn’t always easy, as the human brain can be resistive even to positives. As a leader, start with one or two – get to know your people and their ideas on creating a happier culture, and ask for their ideas and help; ensure you are communicating the intent for doing so, as well as progress on generated ideas so everyone knows what’s going on to get on board. Soon, you can have a culture that is open, relaxed, and happier all of which leads to more devoted workers and a productive and high-performing culture.
Committed to Your Success Coaching & Consulting focuses on workplace happiness and organizational success. If you need help gaining clarity on your business or career goals, why not get some help – stop the struggle and call today to get started! https://www.cyscoaching.com or barbara@cyscoaching.com.
For more great tips, visit our other blog at https://cysoaching .com

The Highest Rated Skill Organizations Want You to Have Today

If you’ve been following the news (or my blog), you’ve no undoubtedly been seeing that leaders want workers who possess specific job skills, and that is what hiring is  all about these days. But, I think the important skills get overlooked, particularly the soft – or people- skills; you can possess great technical skills but if you’re not interacting and being engaged, problems are going to arise.
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It’s easy to forget that organizations are made up of people, who have differing personalities and ways of working. Often, these differences can lead to conflict of some kind, leaving either the worker unhappy or the boss, as work will suffer in some way. Ongoing conflict among workers disrupts workflow and makes the atmosphere uncomfortable for all.
The one skill that leaders really value today is the concept of collaboration, which essentially is ability to see an issue from all sides and meet with (an)other to work together. Collaborating goes along with negotiating; no one will ever get everything they want so it’s about a give and take on those wants. It’s about being open to hearing the other person’s side and then the give and take to come to a mutually beneficial outcome.
For example, a new project is on the table and you’ve been chosen to be on the team who will develop it; say you’ve had some past experience in this area, hence, your role. You come in to the meeting with a ton of ideas for how to take the project forward. But, when you get in, you’re met with resistance and you leave the meeting feeling dejected or angry (‘how could they not see how my ideas would be successful? I’ve done this before!’).
Essentially, you came in with your own agenda. In the spirit of collaboration, and replaying the scenario, you come into the meeting with the same ideas but you sit back and listen to everyone’s ideas before you present yours; you recognize other’s contributions and see how theirs, and your, ideas could blend and complement each other, also recognizing that the other person has experience with this type of project, also.
Collaborators don’t push their own agenda and are willing to work together for the good of the team and the outcomes they are charged with. This makes for more productivity, more good-will and respect among team members. People are more likely to then recognize your expertise and to work with you in the future; your boss would be more open to having you take on more responsibilities and challenging work, which could lead to promotional opportunities.
Collaborative leaders are able to engage people and get them working for the common cause, even outside of their department or control, motivating and inspiring them along the way. Being collaborative makes for calmer and happier workplaces; as people see that their ideas and strengths are being recognized, they take more responsibility for their own work and are more successful. Leaders can delegate tasks, thereby giving autonomy and empowerment to workers.
So, if you want to be more successful in your career, begin to adapt collaboration as part of your daily routine; you will then find it leads to better relationships overall.
Committed to Your Success Coaching & Consulting focuses on workplace happiness and organizational success. If you need help gaining clarity on your business or career goals, why not get some help – stop the struggle and call today to get started! https://www.cyscoaching.com or barbara@cyscoaching.com

Leaders Set the Tone for the Culture – What's Yours?

Have you ever walked into an establishment, no matter what type, and you instantly felt welcomed and comfortable? Likewise, have you ever walked into an establishment but felt turned off or that there was negative energy going on and couldn’t wait to get out of there fast enough? I have on both counts.
When I look at the environments that are created, or the culture of a business, it leads me back to the person in charge – the leader and how they set the tone for how that business is run as well as the tone they want to convey to not just their workers, but to customers as well. The feeling of the overall organization will trickle down to the departmental level, which then keeps trickling to the end-user. This then lends itself to the brand and how perceived by those entities.
A leader, through their ‘style’ and way they view their role, can be open, welcoming, and believe in their worker’s abilities to do to their job, thus empowering them; or, they can have a style that is punitive and looks at employees as ‘workers,’ who much achieve their numbers and goals, not really caring how or when. It all depends on how one’s perception of what a leader is and traits they possess and want to emulate. Yes, one who assumes a leader role actually gets to decide the type of leader they want to be.
Surprised? I don’t think most people who assume a leader role realize they get to decide what leadership style they want to use to get workers embracing the vision and mission set by the organization. There are many styles to choose from (most based off of research): skills approach, style approach, situational approach, contingency theory, path-goal theory, leader-member exchange, transactional, transformational, authentic, and the newest – servant leader style. Each of these view lead from a different frame which sets the tone for how systems and process are set up and how workers are embraced.
For example, situational leaders will vary their approaches based on the situation at hand, as different approaches are needed in differing situations. An authentic leader is based on a leader being real and genuine, working off of high values. A transformational leader works to know their people and focus on their emotions, values, ethics, motivations, and long-term goals and moving them to using those fully.
It is reliant on anyone in a leadership role, or who wants to move into one, to determine the type of leader they want to be: what are the specific traits you possess and want to convey; the values you want to pass on; how you want to be known for/as by followers; what type of overall tone you want to convey for your workers, i.e. open, relaxed, fun, inclusive, bureaucratic, and the like. Being a leader also applies whether you own your own business, as well as for yourself personally, as we are all leaders in some way, mainly the leaders of our lives.
If you are in a leader role, or desire to, I encourage you to evaluate your leader style and the tone you are setting in your environment. A nice caveat is that you can always amend any behaviors and skills needed to step into those leader shoes you desire and be the leader you envisioned.

Do Leaders Really Know How Much Their Employees are Actually Working?

In a post for one of my online classes I teach, the subject of multitasking came up to which I responded to a comment about the ‘myth’ of multitasking and what happens to our brains when we do too much forced and sustained work. It gets depleted, leading to the perils of errors and low performance.
I was quite surprised when another student commented that, while he recognized this himself, he did not believe his company understood as workers are expected to multitask – doing several projects at once, moving from one area to another, while working an 8 hour-shift. He indicated that this was a norm in his industry (IT) and that they have adapted to these intense shifts.
This got me thinking about his leadership and if they really know how much their employees are actually working and spending time in their work tasks. I think of his upline and their awareness, as well as conveyance, that employees need to do multiple tasks at the same time if they want to keep their job. This speaks of the old way, back in the day, when we were caught in the recession and employers having a plethora of applicants to choose from, so the motto became “do or perish.”  But, now?
I also wonder if the up-line talks to employees or observes what is going on and how work is being done. Is this a product of a customer who has high demands, or is this due to the perception that work needs to be done faster in order to get and retain customers by satisfying them with quick turn-around? Could it be that workers put pressure on themselves to show their worth so they get noticed, or even still worry if they will have their jobs? Or is this an ego-fed result from the boss who wants a promotion or is driven by his own interpretation of directions he or she has been given?
As a leader, it is your job to be aware of the daily work-life of those you oversee and ensure they have appropriate systems and resources to do the work, to understand with clarity the work goals needing to be accomplished, and to give them support while they are working to get them completed. These are very easy responsibilities to handle. It means being the silent observer, the listening ear, and the motivator to your people. Having conversations with them is the way to get to know them, their needs, and help them to be more inclusive into daily work life.
It’s being aware of the effects the workplace has on workers, both positively or negatively, as well as the long-term impacts that too much sustained work can have on both the mind and the body. And it’s about doing as much as you can to make it one that employees are happy to go to their jobs and do work involved – it starts by being aware to how, and how much, your workers are doing daily.

Federal Employees are Leaving en Masse

It is finally happening – federal employees, Boomers to be exact, are finally feeling ready to leave their government jobs.  It is predicted that approximately 80,000 are set to retire by the end of the fiscal year, according to the Office of Personnel Management. This number is expected to increase as we move on and the Boomers age; more than a third of federal workers are eligible to retire by 2016 – 3 out of 5 will be at the executive level.

Some of the reasons they are giving include financial freezing of their wages and retirement accounts, furloughs and low morale.  This number is impacting executive levels as their knowledge and experience is also walking out the door.  While this signals good news for younger workers, some positions will not be easy to replace due to required experience levels, such as air traffic controllers or those in research positions, which often takes years to acquire.

It seems that the economic downturn forced many to stay in their jobs, who would have been otherwise gone; but it doesn’t seem that there has been a good succession plan in place to prepare for this exodus, as it was going to happen eventually as time moved on.  Some interventions that some  governmental agencies are doing and which can be an example for organizations to begin considering and planning for, as they will also be impacted, are to offer the career lattice that I have previously discussed, which is offering workers the opportunity to get trained and experienced in several different skill-sets and work areas, another is training and mentoring opportunities, while another is to have a phase-out policy, where an executive could retire but continue working part-time with partial compensation for which they would mentor and train their successors.

This problem is not going to get better as the last of the Boomers are not going to reach age 65 until 2030.  I think our younger workforce is ready to move into those positions but need developed in the skills that will fully enable them to do the job well.  It will be interesting to see how this will impact our federal agencies – take one other lesson from these agencies and don’t wait to develop and put in place a succession plan today.