Category Archives: Employee Productivity

Enhance Leadership Success by Building Trust

 

Stephen M.R, Covey, in his book, The Speed of Trust, says that when trust is developed and leveraged it is “that one thing that has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity.”  Our experience and research (Interaction Associates, 2013) tell us that teams that trust each other, and workers who trust their leaders, are simply more productive and effective. And probably happier.

Whether we are talking about family, or friends, or the workplace, the trust we feel is about predictability and reliability, as well as respect for the quality of the actions. Think about someone you trust — don’t they show skill in their actions, do what they say, and are consistent? When we feel trust towards someone, especially a leader or boss, we are willing to do more, sometimes risk more, learn something, and make the effort.

Certainly, we bring our individual history, beliefs, and values to a situation. Many of us have people in our past who didn’t deserve the trust we gave them. They didn’t do what they should have done in their position, they let us down, their words didn’t match their actions, and their values weren’t in tune with what we think is important.

It’s really not much different at work. A leader who inspires trust does what he/she says. They communicate clearly and fully. They see the best in their team and are ready for problems. They are open and self-aware. They have commitment to the goals of the team or organization, and they inspire us to commit also. When we are in their presence, they are really there. Some people might experience as safety. We feel known, and while no worker or leader is perfect, feeling trust inspires us to be better.

Trust is a sense or feeling. We have this feeling in our body, and often know whether or not we “should” trust a person. At some point, each of us decides that we have enough information or evidence to trust another person. However, most of us have flawed gauges. Maybe we trust too easily and get stepped on. Maybe we are biased and negatively evaluating someone because of their culture (or race, gender, culture, age, even clothes). Knowing our personal tendencies biases (and confronting them) is a strong step towards calibrating trustworthiness accurately.

If you are a leader, you may not have thought about your presence in terms of whether or not people trust. Now is a good time to reflect:

  • Trust is based on history and consistency: Is my behavior aligned with stated values and consistent?
  • Is there anyone I need to rebuild trust with?
  • Are there situations in which I can build trust and become more transparent by encouraging questions and answering honestly?

A good way to start enhancing trust is to pick one of these questions to discuss with your employees. Let them know you want honest and constructive feedback. See how this changes the relationship.

Judy Sugg, Ph.D. and Alisa Blum, MSW, provide leadership development that incorporate mindfulness techniques and skills to enhance emotional intelligence. Our programs provide techniques for enhancing leadership trust, decreasing stress, improving relationships and increasing productivity.

For more information, contact us at (503) 524-3470 or aimportland@gmail.com

www.developtopemployees.com

How Mindfulness Can Prevent Burnout Among Healthcare Providers

The strong desire to help others, along with natural tendencies toward compassion and empathy, serve to enable healthcare providers to develop high quality relationships with their patients. These qualities also put healthcare providers at risk for compassion fatigue, burnout and secondary post-traumatic stress.

Compassion fatigue is the point at which a helping professional or employee no longer is focused on the clients needs as well as before because the emotional “well” (the ability to empathize and manage the relationship) is dry. Burnout denotes a level of incapacitation of the provider/profession, often without acute awareness of the problem. Vicarious trauma often applies to workers who deal with aftermath crisis situations and deeply disturbing situations, such as abuse, war, violence, and, we would add, homelessness, deprivation, and domestic violence. Thus health care professionals start to take on the trauma of clients and feel the effects physically and emotionally, contributing to burnout but also to damage to their own health.

When providers are drained, distracted, overwhelmed, stressed, and unaware, they are unable to fully use their skills.   Not only does patient care suffer but these providers are more likely to lose time from work due to stress related illnesses and some will choose to leave the profession altogether.

In short, to care for others — or even deal with others in stressful situations — we need to take care of ourselves.   We have found that mindfulness practices, self-care techniques and a supportive work environment can greatly reduce the likelihood of burnout. We teach a number of mindfulness practices that can be easily integrated into the workday.   Strategies such as verbal recognition, short breaks and opportunities for support will enhance the ability of healthcare providers to present their best selves at work, thereby providing the highest quality of patient care.

Alisa Blum, MSW & Judy Sugg, PH.D. co-direct AIM for Organizational Health, providing customized training, facilitation and coaching, to raise Awareness, achieve Integration, and enable Mastery of mindfulness tools to improve individual and organizational effectiveness.  Our upcoming public workshop, “Seven Tools for MindfulSelf-care“, will help participants develop skills to prevent burnout & compassion fatigue.  

 

 

 

How to Integrate Mindfulness Practices Into the Work Day

by Judith Sugg, Ph.D.

Mediation, yoga, and breathing practices used to be confined to yoga studios and the like. Now these practices are cropping up everywhere, including big companies like Google and Intel.

But really, do they fit in our workday? The mountain of evidence to support these practices for improving health, training focus in our scattered world, and reducing stress is, well, striking. For the most part, the results of this research is wildly positive.

So why doesn’t everyone adopt these practices? One recent exploratory study* out of a business school looked at a particularly intense environment, health care, using self-selected professionals. Some professionals found they could integrate mindfulness into their workday, and some didn’t. The researchers now wondered: What’s the difference between these two groups? Why do some adopt these practices more readily?

Maybe the question really isn’t about “adopting” these practices. Maybe the word is choosing, in the moment, to use them. This is partly motivation, but mostly about habit. We are, of course, creatures of habit. Our mind chatter is particularly repetitive (and would be pretty boring if we had to read it), and it is difficult to break that habit of chatter.

Even after 30 years of practicing, when I get a grumpy email, my mind goes into a whirlwind. It takes a toned muscle of choice to get myself out of the whirlwind and into a more centered state. This muscle is the same muscle trained in meditation to bring your mind back to your focus (usually your breath). Inevitably, the mind wanders out into the ozone, makes up stories and conversations, gets emotional, and wanders off again. Without the muscle of choice being able to kick in, no fancy technique will get used.

And that is why practice, even a few minutes a day, is important as a simple and powerful reminder. Simple, brief practices for workplaces are a powerful step in the right direction because, ultimately, health in the workplace can mean something as simple as a breath done with great consciousness in a high stress moment.

* Lyddy, Schachter, Reyer, & Julliard. (2016). Transfer of Mindfulness Training to the Work Setting: A Qualitative Study in a Health Care System.

Judith Sugg, Ph.D. is co-director of AIM for Organizational Health, providing customized programs, facilitation, coaching and interactive training to raise Awareness, achieve Integration, and enable Mastery of mindfulness tools to improve individual and organizational effectiveness.  For more information about the programs we offer, please contact us at aimportland@gmail.com or (503) 524-3470.

 

Resolve Conflict by Taking the Other Person’s Perspective

Young businessman being confronted by his angry female boss. Isolated on white.

In conflict, your perspective is, by definition, different from the other person’s.

Both of you have feelings, desires, and maybe your self-esteem is at stake.  You can be strategic in resolving conflict by being self-aware and also “other aware”.  It doesn’t mean you have to agree, but knowing where the other person is coming from is valuable and humanizing.

Start with yourself: What causes you to view the situation this way?  How does your culture, personality, or circumstance show up?  Now imagine the other person: What do you know about them?  Their values?  Position?  What’s important to them?  What shows up about their culture, personality, or circumstance?

To understand another person’s perspective we must be willing to suspend our own opinions and look through the world through their eyes.  What are the pressures in their life?  What is driving their behavior and attitude?

When we gain this type of insight, we more easily diffuse the tension.  By small indications of understanding like, “I’m guessing you are under pressure because of the deadline”, we create space to maneuver. Taking the other person’s perspective is a powerful strategy for sidestepping judgements that block effective communication.

This post is an excerpt from “Six Word Lessons for Transforming Conflict at Work” by Judith Sugg & Alisa Blum.  This book can be purchased from amazon.com here:  Transforming Conflict with Mindfulness.

Contact us to explore how we can help your organization reduce conflict and enhance productivity.

 

Fueling Success Through Recognition

motivated businessman

Verbal Recognition has been shown to lower turnover, increase productivity, enhance teamwork and improve customer service.  This fairly simple skill seems to be lacking in the workplace.  Common barriers include, a perceived lack of time to provide recognition,  a lack of understanding of the need for recognition and a lack of skill in providing recognition.

Here are some ways to overcome these barriers:

Lack of Time:  We often overestimate the time it takes to give feedback.  Consider how long it actually takes to say: “Thank you for helping me with _______.  Here is how your contribution impacted our work________”.

Lack Understanding of the Need :   Individuals from the various generations may perceive recognition differently. A Boomer or Generation X manager who has received minimal recognition throughout his or her career may not realize how important it is for their Millenial employees to receive frequent positive feedback.  In addition, a person who is task oriented and not relationship oriented may not instinctively understand the importance of providing recognition.

Lack of Skill: Sometimes managers don’t provide recognition because they don’t know how to give effective verbal recognition. Their comfort level can be easily increased with focused skill development.

You will find that as the obstacles to providing recognition are overcome, you will see increased motivation, enhanced communication and improved productivity.

What Makes a Diversity Training Program Successful?

Mixed group business people

I have had the privilege recently to collaborate with intercultural communication specialist, Lillian Tsai, to provide a training program, “Working Across Generations & Cultures”. This training has been very well received, particularly among people who have been unhappy with other diversity training programs.

Here are some reasons why I believe this program is having a positive impact:

  • We use a strengths-based approach to help participants appreciate the positive contributions they all bring to the workplace.
  • We emphasize the importance of understanding people based on a multitude of dimensions, both generational and cultural, so they get an understanding of the many factors that influence communication in the workplace.
  • We incorporate a number of interactive exercises and discussions that help participants break down barriers and deepen their connections with each other.
  • Participants are given the opportunity during the workshop to figure out how they can apply the techniques they have learned to resolve a current conflict at work.

Although many people have had negative experiences with diversity training, I know that there are a number of successful programs out there. I am interested in learning more about what others have found useful when helping people work effectively across differences.

How to Select High Quality Managers

Portrait of happy smiling businesswoman and colleagues on background, at office

Think about the best manager you have ever had. What impact did this manager have on your productivity? Now think back to the worst manager you have ever had. How did this manager impact your productivity?

According to the latest Gallup workplace research, productivity suffers greatly when employees are disengaged.   Gallup’s research has shown that a primary reason employees are disengaged is due to poor relationships with their managers. The financial impact is significant as poor management is estimated cost to U.S. organizations $450-$550 billion a year.

It is quite common to promote individuals with high technical skills into management positions even though management positions require very different skill sets. The next time you need to fill a management position, you will improve the odds of hiring a high quality manager by asking these questions:

  1. Who are my company’s top managers?
  2. What are the specific skills, interests and motivations that cause these managers to excel?
  3. Which of our current candidates share the skills, interests and motivations of our top managers?
  4. Are there additional qualities the management team needs at this time?

Careful consideration of these questions will provide essential information needed to select high quality managers, who will be instrumental in increasing your organization’s productivity. Feel free to contact me to discuss how to best select high quality managers for your organization.

Copyright 2014, Alisa Blum & Associates. All Rights Reserved.

Alisa Blum is a management and employee development specialist. She works with businesses and organization to develop a high achieving workforce. You can reach Alisa at 503-524-3470. Information about her services can be found at www.developtopemployees.com.

Take Vacation Time and Enhance Productivity at Work

Happy Romantic Couple Enjoying Beautiful Sunset at the Beach Glassdoor published a survey recently, which showed that “the average American employee only takes half of their earned paid time off, while 61% report they work while on vacation.”

We need to strongly consider the damaging effects this practice has on our physical and emotional well-being.  Numerous studies on brain functioning have found that we are much more productive and innovative when we take breaks.  In an article in the New York Times, essayist Tim Krieder wrote, “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.  He goes on to say that “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration—it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.”

When contemplating your next vacation, consider that this vacation will improve your brain functioning, and therefore, improve productivity when you return to work.  And if you are an employer, encourage your employees to take what may be a long overdue vacation and insist they turn off the electronic leash.