Effective performance management is a learned skill. Some managers have stumbled upon their best practices through years of experience, with trial and error. Wouldn’t you rather fast track your own performance management skills, and have more success than failure, right out of the starting gate?
Consistently high performance often has more to do with the manager’s ability to connect with employees and convey clear performance expectations than anything else. Sure, there are star players on your team. But you also can ensure that others produce consistently and are a positive force for your organization, by effectively managing their performance.
Research findings reinforce that:
- The key to employee engagement will require consistent interaction between manager sand employee.
- The foundation for building a strong workplace is for managers to communicate clear performance expectations.
Performance Management and Authenticity
“Leadership is far less about what you are doing, than about who you are being. If you think about the people who have influenced you most over the course of your career and life, it’s likely that what impacted you most was not what they did, but about who they were being while doing it. Genuine. Honest. Courageous. Resilient. Real.” ~Author, Maggie Warrell
Connecting authentically with those people you lead will make you more approachable, trusted, and therefore, more influential. Here are ways that you can unlock your power of authenticity:
1. Share Authentically
Letting yourself show some vulnerability will help you connect most authentically with your team members and colleagues. When we feel vulnerable, we have a tendency to anticipate finding ourselves in a vulnerable predicament, our automatic reaction is to protect ourselves: pull out of the launch, cancel the meeting, step back from the relationship, or retreat from center stage.
“You have to be willing to put yourself at risk in the way you communicate and interact with employees.” ~James Strong, former CEO of Qantas
As Harvard Researcher Shawn Achor wrote in The Happiness Advantage, "The more genuinely expressive someone is, the more their mindset and feelings spread."
2. Unlock The Power of Individuality
"Leadership involves taking risks and confronting tough choices. It requires standing frim in the face of opposition. When others see that you can do this, you will be infinitely more respected and trusted.” ~Suzanne Updegraff, CEO, Employee Development Systems, Inc.
If you stand behind what makes you different from others, you will differentiate yourself in the marketplace. Although public perception is important, you watering down your opinion or stance will only serve to make your organization and your team average and forgettable.
“I don’t know the key to success, but I know for sure that the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”~ Bill Cosby
3. Learn to Listen
Active listening skills get a lot of press, but not much follow-up action. Learn the five fatal flaws of active listening, and how to stop using them, so you can authentically connect with your team.
5 Fatal Flaws of Active Listening
- Giving advice
- Becoming defensive
- One-upmanship (or Telling Your Own Story)
- Telling others how to feel or dismissing feelings
Add to the Fatal Flaws the modern listening problems that everyone experiences in the new workplace:
- Finishing sentences
- Zoning out
- Preparing your response
- Believing you are right
Counteract your own tendencies to disengage from authentic listening with your team members by pausing to consider what people have said; using an active listening response, such as reflecting content, reflecting feelings, or asking for clarification; giving a review of what you heard, to confirm understanding.
4. Appreciate Others
As a leader, the effectiveness of your critical feedback will be increased if you also have given positive feedback since the last time you gave criticism or correction. Take time to acknowledge ideas and positive involvement of your employees. “Acknolwedging idea promotes creativity and innovation by creating a climate where people’s input is valued and encouraged.” ~Suzanne Updegraff, CEO, Employee Development Systems, Inc.
Leaders are judged by how well they serve. This can play out in many different ways, such as taking a genuine interest in an employee’s career development, or just simply caring about how they are doing. “The more you engage with those around you from a place of service, the more effective you will be at harnessing their talents, and the stronger the results you will achieve through them.” ~Author, Maggie Warrell
Many of you who are reading this may be working from home, or you may have a flexible work week, which could include an afternoon off during the week and sometimes find that you take on work during the weekend. With social media now fully integrated into most of our lives, our personal and work lives have merged to such a degree that it’s not uncommon to bring your personal problems to work and share them with the world. What is the cost of our increasingly casual lives?
US companies everywhere are losing market share, and are unable to find competent, polished talent, even in an economy with a fairly high unemployment rate. Where are all the good employees? The rise of the casual work-life merger offers us a mixed bag. Some of it enriches our lives, and some if it has led to a country of employees who can’t meet deadlines, don’t match their words with actions, and lose clients daily because of “whatever.”
A ten-year study of incivility (conducted by researchers Christine Porath and Christine Pearson), showed that anti-social behavior at work is more toxic than you might think.
Berating bosses; employees who take credit for others’ work, assign blame, or spread rumors; and coworkers who exclude teammates from networks are all part of what are considered “anti-social” behavior.
The researchers* polled several thousand managers and employees from a diverse range of U.S. companies about their responses to rudeness at work and learned that among those on the receiving end,
- 48% decreased their work effort,
- 47% decreased their time at work,
- 38% decreased their work quality,
- 66% said their performance declined,
- 80% lost work time worrying about the incident,
- 63% lost time avoiding the offender, and
- 78% said their commitment to the organization declined.
With these kinds of startling responses, the cost of toxic colleagues can’t be overstated.
Formalized training in professional behavior cuts this cost and improves productivity. Professional behavior benefits you and your employees and benefit your career and position within an organization by:
- Differentiating you as a potential leader.
- Helping you develop the confidence necessary to achieve results.
- Building an image that is respected and models corporate values.
- Being viewed as a positive influence with co-workers.
- Cementing strong business partnerships.
- Adding value to your personal life through accomplishments.
- Being identified as a person who listens, communicates and clarifies.
- Focusing on excellence in the work you do.
What does professionalism in today’s workplace look like?
Professionalism encompasses the day-to-day behaviors that define who you are and what you do. Your behaviors, skill sets and competencies all determine whether your individual contributions positively or negatively impact the goals, mission and vision of the organization you represent.
Sign Posts of High Professional Presence
- Confidence in their abilities to perform the functions they were hired to do.
- An ability to solve problems and focus and solutions.
- They make decisions that are sound and responsible and impact the good of the organization as opposed to self-serving.
- Confronting or eliminating fears from their thinking. FOcusing on positive outcomes instead of negative results is their operational method.
- Taking risks. Professionals take calculated, measurable risks in order to challenge themselves, create movement and change the organizational culture.
- They take care of themselves through effective self-management. They exercise, they eat the right foods, they nurture themselves and create an environment that is positive and motivating instead of one that is filled with stress.
The cost of anti-social, unprofessional behavior in the workplace is severe. Making sure your organization is intentional about its expectations related to professionalism will take everyone to the next level, increase employee engagement, retain employees, and most of all, improve productivity.
You will find that intentionally increasing your own professional presence will pay off in your career and personal life, because the integrity-based behaviors of an increased professional presence will undoubtedly spill over into your personal life.
Each generation feels differently about the importance of an online presence. Those opinions range from “LinkedIn doesn’t pertain to my career” to “Facebook is my personal space, so I’ll should be able to post what I want to.” The truth is that LinkedIn does relate more to some industries than others.
However, you still need a basic presence and a well-thought out career summary. This is where the world goes to find out about your experience. It has been said before, but is worth repeating, that although Facebook likely reflects your personal identity, your profile should never contain anything incriminating or embarrassing. If someone else posts an image of you that doesn't show you in the light you would like the entire world to see you in, follow up on it right away, so it can be deleted.
Remember, the online frontier is still wild, and there are no professional standards written in stone. It’s up to you to show the world who you are, but carefully monitoring and building your online presence. One thing is for sure -personal content online can affect your professional life. Don’t be fooled, human resources professionals take a look at Facebook profiles all the time.
The Millennial generation is often blamed for being self-centered, narcissistic and unable to sacrifice or perform at a higher level in order to accomplish long-term goals. They are also accused of not being able to collaborate with others or work well in groups. But are these claims accurate? A second look at the Millennials’ background gives ample justification for their outlook and behaviors. Millennials have grown up with choices rather than limits, and they are not only technologically savvy, but have fully integrated the tools of technology into every part of their lives. They can enter a new work environment, take a look at some of the entrenched processes and instantly see a faster, more efficient way to accomplish the same tasks, through the use of any number of tools.
Growing up in this environment also has left Gen Y inwardly focused, relative to other generations in the workforce. Consider that each time Millenials interact with technology, the internet, television or social media, the message they receive is targeted directly to their own personal interests and lifestyle. This represents a drastically different world from coming home each day to watch one of three standard evening newscasts on network television, along with millions of other Americans.
To their credit, young Millennials have a valid argument for the importance of change and the growing irrelevance of the traditional workday. For Gen Y, work can be done at any time of day or night, as long as it has meaning and can be integrated into their lifestyle.
The workplace course titled, Professional Presence in a Casual World, which has already been presented to over 1 million people, cuts through the accusations on both sides of the generational divide, and gives everyone in the mix a unified culture in which all employees can work together, and more importantly –succeed together.
All generations are able to learn how they can differentiate themselves as leaders and potential leaders.
- Develop the confidence necessary to achieve results.
- Build an image that is respected and models corporate values.
- Learn how to be viewed as a positive influence with co-workers.
- Cement strong business partnerships.
- Cement strong business partnerships.
- Add value to their personal lives through accomplishments.
- Be identified as a person who listens, communicates and clarifies.
- Focus on excellence in the work that they do.
Professional Presence in a Casual World shows attendees how to develop a professional presence, match the professional culture in their workplace and build professional competence.
Organizations that support members of Gen Y in polishing these professional skills will benefit over their competitors by gaining well-rounded employees who not only bring energy, new ideas and technological expertise to the workplace, but also have the ability to listen empathically, collaborate with others and communicate professionally. An added benefit to providing this kind of course in the workplace is that employees from all generations can be included, resulting in a common language of professionalism across the entire organization.
Listen to this Q & A podcast with EDSI’s CEO, Suzanne Updegraff, for insight into a new model for embracing professionalism in a contemporary workplace setting.
The term “teamwork” is so overused that it has all but lost its meaning. In your organization the word team may describe the entire company, self-selecting groups of individuals, or subsets of key individuals who have been identified to solve specific problems.
Here’s how to sift through all of the clichés and aphorisms to focus in on what will actually make our teams successful.
The Exceptional Team Member
In order to be considered team-oriented, members must meet the following personal criteria:
-Open, willing to stretch and ask the tough questions
-Supportive of teammates, putting the good of the team ahead of any personal agenda
-Active in the team, and in moving towards stated team goals
-Positive, offering a can-do attitude.
It is said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For successful teams, having highly competent individual team members is simply not enough. Strong positive relationships are essential to the success of the team.
What does “positive” mean here? It means win-win relationships where team members feel that they are being heard and listened to. All team members must be willing to make adjustments that will build the relationship.The two-lane exchange of feedback is essential.Given and received constructively, feedback allows a team to modify its path before getting the process too far off track. That means checking your ego at the door and listening effectively.
Most teams are put in place to solve problems or achieve goals of one sort or another, and problem solving in a team environment requires some additional competencies and personal abilities. We know that problem solving is made up of critical thinking skills, data gathering, analyzing, and using your judgment to weigh alternatives and risks – however when we transition to a team environment we’ve got even more considerations. Here are a few more key skills for effective problem solving in a team environment:
-Willingness to change processes that aren’t working
We Need Leaders!
Regardless of the quality of the individual members, the relationships among members, and the ability of the members to work as a team to solve problems, the group must have an effective leader who allows team members to do their job and encourages the positive behavior necessary for the team to accomplish its goals. Here are the qualities the leaders must embrace:
·Ability to focus on the goal. The team leader holds the vision and ensures that the team is focused correctly on the goal at hand.
·Supports the collaborative environment. The team leader makes sure that team members know the expectation that they will function as a collaborative unit. When they are ready to work toward the goal at hand, the leader supports the process for the good of the group as a whole and the organization.
·Instills confidence. The effective team leader is successful at instilling confidence among team members. Remembering to accentuate the positive, the effective team leader gets the most out of each team member.
·Is also an effective team member. The team leader should demonstrate the characteristics of a successful team member and should be knowledgeable of the content of the job.
·Leads. Simply stated, the effective team leader is able to set the priorities for the team and keep the team on task.
·Manages performance. Effective leaders must challenge members who are not contributing their fair share and be empowered to handle the behavior for the good of the team and the goal.
"Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it." ~Brian Tracy
"As a manager, you're responsible for leading, inspiring, influencing, encouraging and getting results fro others. It's a difficult task because each person youwork with has a different personaliuty, system of values and beliefs, attitude, and level of self-confidence."
~Suzanne Updegraff, Author, Business Leader, CEO
Do you consider developing your team members as critical to strengthening the organization and improving its bottom line? Why is employee development a persistent problem in so many organizations? In a recent Forbes article, author, Victor Abrams shared some interesting ideas as to why development planning is so frequently ignored.
- We’re all too frantic. Just as Stephen Covey taught us in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it’s critical to clarify and prioritize the important and non-urgent tasks in our day. If managers are constantly putting out fires in their day-to-day operations, long-term planning doesn’t seem valuable.
- We overlap too many systems and evaluations, but seldom follow through on them. So many employee development or evaluation systems have become over-developed and cumbersome, that they become dreaded by most leaders and are almost certainly put at the end of the line when it comes to our busy schedules. When the documentation and processes are finally complete, we’re just relieved to have gotten that far, and never want to think about them again!
- We’re out of time. Of course, everyone is. In a world where “busy” is the new “fine,” leaders have to constantly remind themselves that there is always time for important activities. In the words of Covey, "The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities." By now, like most successful leaders, you likely realize that development planning is important, so make time for it!
Employees value work that has meaning. Meaningful work even takes priority over salary! If you don’t participate actively in their development, employees will disengage. Taking a genuine interest in employees’ career plans give you a hand in their professional presence, personal effectiveness, accountability, and ultimately, their productivity.
Take a look at your current employee development programs, and decide the kinds of programs you could implement that address the overall professional presence and personal effectiveness of your employees. Generational conflicts, learning how to give feedback or giving them practical tools improve teamwork skills should be at the top of your list. As Victor Abrams remarks, “Good talented people naturally want to advance, and appreciate meaningful support in the process.”
A recent study carried out by the Harvard Business Review (published in July, 2012) showed that capable and ambitious employees WANT training and mentoring. If your organization doesn’t provide it, your emerging high performers will spend their lunch hour polishing up their resumes.
As the Harvard Business Review article stated:
“Dissatisfaction with some employee-development efforts appears to fuel many early exits. We asked young managers what their employers do to help them grow in their jobs and what they’d like their employers to do, and found some large gaps. Workers reported that companies generally satisfy their needs for on-the-job development and that they value these opportunities, which include high-visibility positions and significant increases in responsibility. But they’re not getting much in the way of formal development, such as training, mentoring and coaching – things they also value highly.”
We have been in the business of developing employees for over three decades, and invite you to learn more about our programs or contact us to talk about how your organization utilizes employee development tools to improve effectiveness, increase professional presence and the productivity if your employees.
Think about the best manager that you’ve ever had. What put him or her into that category for you? Undoubtedly, your performance was enhanced while you were working with that manager. Now think about your own team members. Do you think you fall into the “Good Boss” category for them? If you aren’t sure, here are some things you can do to help yourself get voted into the “Good Boss” category with your team and grow your organization.
First of all, when was the last time you took stock of your professional role, priorities and ability to influence others at work? What changes have you made in your management style that made you more effective? Have you tried anything new lately?
We all want to be in the "good boss" category, but what can you do to get there, and use your "good boss" status to strengthen and grow your organization? Here are some simple shifts you can make right now.
Practice being happy to see people at work. Start to greet your own subordinates and other employees by name, and make sure they know you are glad to see them, even as you pass them in the hallway. Consistently taking this one step will round the edges off of the next situation you need to address.
The people you don't directly manage, work with or work for are often the most critical in solving a cross-departmental situation or in bringing your name up in a positive light.
Keep yourself from being reactive. When an employee shares a situation with you, don't make the assumption that your input or help is needed. Make a point of asking if they would like you to take action or if they are just seeking your empathy. If empathy is called for, listen actively and give them the encouragement they seek.
If action is being requested, make a conscious decision whether you want to get involved, or if your time is better spent counseling the employee and sending them on their way to give it a try on their own.
In short, resist the urge to get involved in everything. Sometimes holding back will give you the time and space you need, and will help your employees grow in new ways.
Get buy-in where possible, but sometimes you need to make the call. It is common management knowledge that your results will be better if your team buys in to the plan, project or decision that it is faced with. Authentic collaboration is priceless, right? The fact is, sometimes you can't spend the time and energy it might take to rehash the decision that needs to be made.
Give the team members the opportunity to get involved with a solution, but if it doesn't happen, don't over discuss the topic. Put it to rest. You are the boss, and sometimes it makes the most sense to get the team moving on a plan or solution more than it does to get their vote of approval.
Use these take-aways to revamp how you interact with others, spend your time and determine your team's priorities.
- Are there any employees you walk by or interact with, whose name escapes you? Find out their names, and begin to use them each time you run into them. What are some other steps you can take to boost your enthusiasm on a regular basis?
- The next time someone approaches you with a situation, what steps can you take to make a conscious inquiry into whether you should even be involved?
- What are some typical empathic phrases or sentiments you can use to show encouragement while staying out of a situation? Can you brainstorm some phrases that help direct an employee to begin problem solving on their own?
So your company has survived the economic downturn... so far. Chances are you’ve accomplished that through various coping mechanisms, cut-backs and resource reallocations. Congratulations!
If the economy is indeed showing signs of looking up, what do you need to do in order to get ready for the exciting growth stages? Many companies have made extreme (even drastic) cuts in resources that while they made survival possible, they may also choke off growth before it has a chance to begin. Ask yourself; if business started picking up tomorrow, would you have what you need to meet demand, or have you cut back to the point of instability? Are my employees accountable (to themselves and the organization), and are our managers communicating to manage performance?
The New Normal
As the recession continues on, the way we do business and what we all assume is "normal" may continue to be in flux. Beware, possible rough waters ahead. Habits may have changed permanently. Business models may not return to what they were before, regardless of the rate or speed of the recovery. Coping through the current economic climate has certainly changed all of us, but in what ways and by how much is the 64 million dollar question.
What you can do now is prepare your employees with the tools they need for coping with whatever is coming up next. Now is the time to communicate effectively and consistently with all employees, give communication skills training, and ensure that generational or cultural issues are not decreasing productivity. Find more resources here.
It is critical to maintain focus. Certainly, you have been a "good soldier" through this recessionary period. You still have a job, and your company is still in business, right? Well, as things begin to look up, you will find that it is equally important to maintain your vigil, but simply change its focus.
What are the specific indicators that predict your market area? Have they changed? How can you be sure that you are keeping a pulse on those changes, as this economy moves forward?
Customers & Clients
You may have seen some of your partners or clients walk away from your relationships, and you have likely spent time and energy maintaining others. Right now, your push should be to continue casting the net to create community around your product and services, whether it is through social networks, email campaigns or direct calls.That being said, you will also need to go back and take a hard look at the potential of the members that your net has caught.
As the economy picks up, you likely will need to capture some high potential clients, if you haven't already. Of course, you want to service all of your clients, but success with high potential clients will help you continue to offer great products and services to the smaller-yield clients, too. In short, are you ready for pent-up demand to be unleashed?
The organizations that have prepared will make the "big catch" in the next few years.
Regardless of an increase in demand, many industries will experience pressure on downward pricing. This applies across industries, whether you are selling a product, service or are simply doing business with other organizations. Here's the thing: you should expect considerable recalibration.
Many companies, indeed, many industries, have lost the trust of the consumer. Even though your company has likely continued to offer the same goods and services it always has, consumers are more skeptical than ever. Is there anything you can do to highlight mutual trust that you share with them?
Develop your back-up plan. How long will the current recession last? Will the recovery be gradual or dramatic? We can hardly speculate. Either way, do you have a back-up plan? Now is the time to run various scenarios. By putting all of these recommendations into practice, you and your organization will be much more skilled at adjusting to the new economic climate, as it unfolds before us all.
Most of us have long- and short-term career plans. They likely include attending particular training courses, getting a higher degree, or taking on particular projects that will fill out our portfolio. Suzanne Updegraff, author, business leader, and CEO of Employee Development Systems, Inc. has valuable advice when it comes to career plans:
“With three decades of training, teaching, and coaching behind me, I am convinced that the real-world value of professional etiquette is invaluable. As a matter of fact, inquiries about whether or not people should seek a higher degree or obtain certifications specific to their field often become a sidebar to the most important aspect of their career -Their ability to manage performance with professional presence and personal effectiveness.”
Here are some of the basics of management etiquette, inspired by Chip Conley, author of How Great Companies Get their Mojo from Maslow.
Practice radical responsiveness! Make a promise to yourself to respond consistently to every issue that you face. What is a radically responsive turnaround time in your workplace? Perhaps one day? Make yours half of a day, and keep your promise to yourself that you will always follow it. Never let your guard down on this one. If all you can do is reply to let people know that you received their information and you are finding answers, then do that. Don’t wait until you have a complete solution. Your immediate attention to “all things great and small” will extend goodwill in every situation.
Make conscious decisions about where you will place your attention. We all want to be heard and understood, and the same goes for your employees and colleagues. Learn to be an intentional listener and you will need much less leverage to garner support and foster higher productivity.
Stretch your gratitude muscle! Use it to thank people for their attention, follow up chance meetings or appointments with a hand-written note, or consciously add a statement of sincere gratitude to your email messages. This simple rule of etiquette will show your emotional intelligence and polish. Here are three rules of gratitude that author, Chip Conley suggests we all practice: a) Make a rule of giving gratitude twice a day at work and if you miss Monday, you need to do four on Tuesday; (b) If possible, express the gratitude in person or in a fashion in which the person can really hear your authentic appreciation; and (c) Be as specific as possible about why this was meaningful to you because just saying "you did a great job" doesn't create a profound moment of learning for the other person.
Take a breath. Whenever a colleague bursts out with an inflammatory remark or someone in your group is spending energy assigning blame instead of looking for solutions, give a measured response. Always take a breath, so you have time to collect your thoughts and overcome the ‘lizard brain’ that is waiting to take over your communications and feed that high emotional IQ you have to the dogs. Give yourself time by using statements such as, “Really?” or “I’ll think about that.”
Develop the foundation of your professional presence. Professional presence is built on behavior, personal presentation, and business presence. Behavior is marked by the actions others see you do and the words you use in all communications; personal presentation is embodied by your actual appearance and all of the components of how you portray yourself to the world, as well as how you manage yourself; business presence is knowing the right thing to do in business situations. Consider your possible blind spots in these areas, so you can get to work on them.
As we talked about in a recent post (Beware of the 'F' Word), fear holds us all back, whether it is from the next position or doing well in your current one. What can we all do to recognize our fears, put them in the proper place, create solutions for what scares us most, and even use it as career–boosting fuel?
Where you put yourself into this mix will help you move beyond the same hackneyed patterns that you have been playing out, possibly for many years. Download the article titled, "Powerful Choices: Fear," authored by business leader, author, and Employee Development Systems, Inc. CEO, Suzanne Updegraff.
As you are reflecting on the following types, ask yourself: Is this me? These are archetypes, and you may not fall squarely into one category. In one situation, you may see that you embody the thought patterns and habits of the Faker, and in another situation you may begin to realize that you are a Controller. As you let your fears go, you will find that more choices open up for you as a leader and successful communicator, both at work and in life!
Controllers tend to accomplish goals. Unfortunately, it is at the expense of professional relationships, because their motivation is a desire to be in command of all areas.They feel tremendous stress when faced with a situation they can’t control. Controllers tend to live with the irrational perception that no one around them can get done what must be done.This is perceived as patronizing by others and conveys a lack of belief in the team, coworkers or subordinates. It leads to constant and inevitable conflict.
Everyone sells themselves on something that they know is false, at least in some part. The Fake goes through the day feeling inadequate and undeserving of respect. This feeling is unconsciously conveyed to others and results in less buy–in from team members or customers.
The Attention Seeker
We all know one. This character will work hard to make others take notice, and actively looks to be judged – though they may be oversensitive to the judgment given.
This character harbors resentment, anger, guilt, and other assorted personal baggage. Prisoners can be seen complaining about being trapped in their jobs, and they tend to catastrophize when they fail to capitalize on opportunities.
The worrier expects something unfortunate to happen, disrupting productivity and leading to dissatisfaction in their professional and personal lives. The Worrier is comforted by this toxic thought pattern and a fear of success is often toggled with their worry. What a combination!
Victims tend to attribute their problems externally. Rather than saying, "I failed to avoid this mess," victims say, "Responsibility for this mess cannot be attributed to me." The focus and subsequent effort is put squarely on avoiding any potential blame. Any time spent on blame (especially blaming others) is wasted energy that should be spent on finding solutions and moving ahead.
By dealing with fears head on, we can more quickly and effectively develop productive, positive behaviors. Increasing self–acceptance, reducing the fear of failure, taking responsibility, and improving our confidence can reduce the emotions that attach themselves to fear and help us aspire to transcendent performance.
To learn more about freeing yourself from the influence of fear, download the article titled, "Powerful Choices: Fear," authored by business leader, author, and Employee Development Systems, Inc. CEO, Suzanne Updegraff.
Eleanor Roosevelt"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do."
*Fear types were summarized from Face It (Amacom, by Art Horn).
The three essential assets every company needs in order to succeed: people, capital, and technology. All valuable, but people are the critical component to success. They drive capital growth and technical expansion, or at least they should. The truth is, a company’s workforce needs care and attention to stay effective and consistently perform at a high level. In fact, employee performance hinges on the concept of “personal effectiveness”—the sum total of the skills, attributes, and abilities necessary for success in a given work environment.
Here is how you can get started. After reading the points we have listed here, download the full article to find much more information critical steps you can take to foster an effective, productive work climate!
1. Improve self-awareness
Why do so many people overestimate their job performance? There are two basic reasons for this: The first and most obvious reason is that people just don’t like to acknowledge their own shortcomings; the second (and more common) reason is that they actually believe what they’re saying is true. They believe they are operating at 100 percent of their potential, regardless of what the reality of the situation may be.
When people are convinced that they perform at the top of their game, they’re actually less likely to improve. That is why improving self-awareness is perhaps the most important step employees must take to increase their personal effectiveness.
2. Live by values
Values are a very important part of each employee’s identity. Yet, most people don’t give their core-value system much thought—it’s simply there and always has been. However, values influence virtually every choice and decision that employees make, from what to do on Saturday night to their professional goals. Simply put, values define what is important and what is considered worthwhile. According to author, business leader, and CEO of Employee Development Systems,
“Values are particularly important within the context of employees’ personal effectiveness because they are the driving force behind their behaviors and choices. In fact, understanding the role of these values in their professional lives is a key step toward their improved self-awareness—it helps employees discover the “why” behind the choices they make and helps them evaluate whether these choices are serving their best interests.”
3. Strengthen communication skills
Effective communication is much more than simply saying what you mean and meaning what you say. It is actually a balanced mixture of dialogue and questions, of speaking and listening.
Asking the right questions helps to gather information and avoid misunderstandings. Unfortunately, many people avoid asking questions because they think questions are perceived as a sign of ignorance or stupidity.
4. Think strategically
Do your employees or team members keep the big picture in mind? Do they have the organizational goals in mind as they carry out their goals? “This type of disconnection can breed apathy and a “who cares” attitude that will ultimately affect work quality and spread to others. In Ms. Updegraff’s words, “After all, when work is being done in a perfunctory style (and primarily for the sake of next week’s paycheck), it is bound to become less meaningful and less fulfilling to the employee doing it.” She continues, “And keeping staff connected to the company’s larger strategic picture causes them to be more mindful of the strategic value of their own daily activities.” As you can tell, strategic thinking is invaluable. Employees who are able think strategically are able to improve personal effectiveness and produce higher quality work.
5. Build relationships
The ability to build and sustain professional relationships is a vital component for employees’ personal effectiveness. All relationships are based on trust, and trust is created using the same skill sets needed for personal effectiveness. These skills include assertiveness, the ability to communicate clearly and professionally, and the ability to understand (and make appropriate use of) the gifts that each employee brings to his or her job and the rest of the organization.
6. Listen with understanding
Although communication is typically thought of as relaying information, it also involves receiving information. Listening is just as important as speaking. When one or both parties stop listening, true communication doesn’t take place. This breakdown is usually due to one or more “fatal listening flaws”—mistakes that are usually made unintentionally but that still serve to understand the communication process.
These are only the beginning points in Suzanne Updegraff’s watershed article, Maximizing Human Potential. Download the entire article by clicking below. Note that if you have downloaded EDSI resources in the past, you won’t be requested to fill in all of your information again. If this is your first time, rest assured, we won’t ask you again!