Football is a team sport that calls for perseverance, goal setting, discipline, and teamwork. It’s a competitive sport, and during the season, teams seek to impress their fans on the field with all the hard work they put in during practice. You can use the same principles at work. (more…)
One of the most difficult times a leader faces during the course of a career is dealing with change within an organization. From company mergers and account closings to employment shifts and adopting hybrid workforce solutions, leading a team through the uncertainty of change and company transformation can be challenging. However, leaders can expect at one time or another, they will have to face change head on.
According to a study by Garter, organizations have averaged five major companywide changes in the past three years, and surprisingly, not including changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, 75% of companies expect major change initiatives to increase in the near future. With change affecting organizations across North America, leaders will have to embrace a few techniques to ensure successful transitions for their teams. (more…)
Culture is the most important aspect of a company and is the very foundation of the organization itself. The common values and beliefs that make up this foundation help dictate not only how a company operates, but also how its employees interact with one another. There are several factors that can create cracks in the foundation, but one factor in particular can cause lasting damage: unresolved conflict.
According to a comprehensive workplace conflict study by publisher CPP, Inc., 85% of employees experience conflict in some form at work. While conflict may not be avoidable, embracing conflict and working toward resolving it within your company saves the culture in three ways.
When never saying “no” turns into a problem.
It’s a question they ask. Every. Single. Interview.
There’s only one right answer: “Yes.” Followed by examples of how great you are at working with a team.
And it’s true—if you can’t work well with others, you’re probably going to have trouble in any workplace.
However, there’s a limit. If you accommodate every single person’s request, from picking up lunch for a group meeting to taking notes, you become everybody’s “go-to guy (or gal).” It’s flattering to be thought of as the co-worker who can get any task done. But that can take a toll on you, both mentally and physically.
Here’s a few ways to tell it might be time to start embracing the word “no” (or a suitably polite equivalent).
You Say Yes. A Lot.
As noted by the Wall Street Journal, many employees now spend 85% of their time working with other team member in emails, meetings, conference calls, or instant messaging. That’s why it becomes a problem when you tell everyone you can handle anything.
You want to do a great job. So, you email a friend in a different department that you’ll send their request to your manager, help every customer (via phone or in-person) with any requests they have, and tell the front office coordinator you can cover the desk while they’re on lunch break. You like being reliable.
But before you know it, it’s two hours before you’re supposed to go home and you haven’t even started your own projects for the day.
You’re (Too) Stressed
When you say you can do several things for several different people, even if they’re all small, it all adds up. And saying “yes” makes you accountable. You said you’d do it, and don’t want to let everyone down.
But now you’re juggling too many things. You almost forget what you’re working on, who requested it, and when it’s due. And even if you can keep all those things straight, you still have your own responsibilities as well.
You’re Becoming Bitter
Eventually, initial feelings of pride over being the reliable person can turn sour. You don’t even remember why you started doing these things that aren’t in your job description in the first place! Why did people even ask you to handle responsibilities that aren’t yours? Why don’t they do it themselves! But now it’s too late to say no. You’re buried with no way out.
Or are you?
You’ve Accepted You’re A Yes (Wo)Man; Now What?
First off: you’re not alone. Being overwhelmed is a real problem, all across North America.
According to Robert Cross, lead author of an eight-year, 28 employer study on collaborative demands, “The volume and diversity of collaborative demands on employees have risen 50% in the past decade.”
But not all hope is lost. The article goes on to note that “changing just a few behaviors can regain 18% to 24% of the time spent collaborating.
- Taking time to focus, whether through meditation or whatever else relaxes you.
- Not answering every email. It’s okay, not everything is meant for you to respond to. If you’re addressed directly, feel free to forward it to the appropriate person.
- Having hard discussions. Sitting down with your boss or a particularly demanding co-worker to let them know you’re a bit overwhelmed. If you’re handling odd jobs for multiple people, it’s likely each person doesn’t know the full extent of everything you do.
And if you’re resolved to continue doing everything for everybody? At least try to schedule your workload down to the minute. Once you go past your scheduled time on a task, stop it and move to the next one. Prioritize your own projects and let people know you’ll be handling those responsibilities first.
Have you ever ended up as the workplace go-to person for basically everything? If it became overwhelming, how did you handle it? Let us know in the comments section below!
Why do interviewers care so much about teamwork?
Project Aristotle researchers studied a broad range of characteristics of successful groups and teams within the company, including personality, hobbies, relationships with each other outside of work, and various demographic variables. Surprisingly, the results showed there was no real evidence that such characteristics made a difference in a team’s success.
The major breakthrough came when the researchers began to focus on “group norms,” or the unspoken and often unwritten set of informal rules that govern individual behaviors in a group. They found that the most successful teams shared a similar understanding and commitment to how they interact with each other.
According to a New York Times article about the Project Aristotle initiative: “One team may come to a consensus that avoiding disagreement is more valuable than debate; another team might develop a culture that encourages vigorous arguments and spurns groupthink. Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound. Team members may behave in certain ways as individuals—they may chafe against authority or prefer working independently—but when they gather, the group’s norms typically override individual proclivities and encourage deference to the team.”
It’s an interesting case study that highlights an important trend in organizational development that focuses on group dynamics and building stronger, more productive teams. In fact, in Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends Study, 32% of respondents said they are redesigning their organizations to be more team-centric, which is also driving trends in performance management to “shift from focusing just on an employee’s individual achievements to evaluating their contribution to a team and the team’s impact on driving overall business goals.”
Just as important as focusing on the strategies that make a team work, is avoiding the things that bring team progress to a screeching halt, including these common workplace teamwork killers.
- Undefined goals: A clearly defined, common goal not only serves as a target to work toward, it also helps unite team members with an understanding of how their hard work will affect the company overall. According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workforce study, “employees who strongly agree they can link their goals to the organization’s goals are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged.”
- Poor leadership: Great team leadership is an essential, but difficult skill to master. In the Center for Creative Leadership’s The State of Teams study, some of the top skills participants identified as essential to effective team leadership include management skills, interpersonal skills, setting direction and building commitment.
- Lack of trust: In his best-selling book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” leadership and organizational development expert Patrick Lencioni writes, “… it is only when team members are truly comfortable being exposed to one another that they begin to act without concern for protecting themselves. As a result, they can focus their energy and attention completely on the job at hand, rather than on being strategically disingenuous or political with one another.”
- Lack of accountability: According to Gallup, only “three in 10 employees strongly agree that their associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.” Holding each other accountable to completing assigned tasks is an important group dynamic that must be established from day one.
Wondering what it takes to thrive in the workplace?
You’re the perfect job candidate. Your resume is chock full of keywords and metrics showing you know what you’re doing. Perhaps you’ve increased ROI by 40%, averaged seventy words-per-minute, or mastered a certain software program.
These are all hard skills, abilities and experiences you may frequently see as job requirements. Measurable skills you can test for. You’re probably thinking, “if hard skills exist, soft skills must exist too, right?”
You’re 100% correct. Soft skills are about working well with others in a workplace environment. Being able to deal with difficult co-workers or knowing how to cooperate with multiple team members to reach a deadline—all are considered soft skills.
Soft skills are important because you must have them to succeed. Hard skills can get you in the door, but they’re just a baseline—soft skills are what allow you to move up the ladder by collaborating with others.
The capability to not only express yourself in multiple ways, but also to listen and persuade others.
Being a Team Player
The capacity to work well with others through an understanding of the big picture.
Having a Strong Work Ethic
The ability to work hard and meet deadlines without sacrificing quality.
Being able and willing to change course on the fly as the situation calls for.
Having a Positive Attitude
Keep your conversation and attitude optimistic and light to inspire and help others.
In the following video, provided by Express Employment Professionals, here’s a look at the top soft skills employers look for.
Most companies dedicate a significant amount of research, planning, and money to communicating with their customers. If a message isn’t crafted just right or the proper channels aren’t used to reach a target audience, there’s a good chance a lot of hard work and effort will go to waste.
The same holds true when communicating to your internal audience. When it comes to conveying important messages to your employees, the extra effort spent ensuring you hit the mark the first time, every time, is the key to keeping your workforce informed and on the same page.
Here are four quick tips for more efficient internal communication with your employees.
Know your audience
In the modern workplace, it’s possible there are as many as five different generations working side by side, each with their preferred ways of communicating. So, it’s important to consider the various communication tactics will ensure your message is retained.
For example, traditionalists, or those born before 1942, tend to have great respect for hierarchy, and would likely be more receptive of communication that comes through an established channel that goes from the top down. Whereas, younger generations, like millennials (born between 1980 – 1996) and Generation Z (born after 1996) often eschew more formal structures and would prefer a less structured and more open path of information.
Even types of jobs can dictate how an employee would best receive communication. The IT department may prefer one type of communication and the marketing department another. The key point is that it’s important to know your audience first, then tailor fit a communication plan that gives the best chance of your message being correctly received by employees.
Set a standard
From email to phone calls to text messages to in-person meetings, your employees are bombarded by a wide range of information throughout the day. That’s why consistency is key when it comes to effective communication. Setting standards for how certain types of messages will be disseminated through the workforce not only helps establish a recognized portal for communication, it also helps eliminate misinformation that comes through “the grapevine.”
Setting up an internal company blog or message board is one method to centralize official internal communication. If you set the standard that important messages will be posted in one, easy to access location, your employees won’t have to worry about whether or not information they received from other sources is accurate.
If you do have a central hub for internal communication, it’s important to stay active. Without the expectation of consistency and access to current content, your employees won’t see it as a useful source and will fall back to less effective means for seeking out company news and information.
Be timely and concise
Gossip and rumors spread like wildfire through a company. Without timely and concise communication, employees are left to build their own narrative, so it’s imperative to be the first source of information. The more time your employees have to make uninformed assumptions based on “the word on the street,” the harder it will be to sort fact from fiction later.
In addition to being timely, it’s also important to leave little room for interpretation—that is, make all communications as concise as possible. In most cases, less is more. If it’s a written message, optimize for readability by using bullets and subheads. If you’re delivering a verbal message, be sure to stop occasionally to check for understanding from your audience and be sure to call out key points.
Give employees a voice
Communication works best when it’s reciprocal. Fostering an open forum where employees are not only able, but feel comfortable asking questions and providing feedback is the best way to build understanding. It’s important to gauge whether or not your communication techniques are successful and your workforce is extracting the right information. Providing an opportunity to voice their interpretation of a message will make you feel confident they understand the information, as well as help pinpoint the most effective techniques for getting your point across.