Category Archives: Leadership

Solving Workplace Problems – The Slacker

Scott Adams has given us the classic workplace slacker in Wally. Wally not only excels at dodging work, he flaunts it. Of course, we laugh at Wally’s “skill-set” because we all know and have worked with a slacker.

There are two types of slackers in most organisations, those who are in over their heads when it comes to getting the job done and those who are just plain lazy. Both types are difficult to deal with and both create morale problems in the workplace.

Regardless of type, slackers have common behaviours:

  • They consistently fail to do what they’re expected to do.
  • They excel at “busy work”.
  • They’re the last to arrive, but the first to leave.
  • They try to pass off tasks to other staff members.
  • They often claim to be “too busy” to help out.
  • They spend lots of time visiting around the office; often interfering with the work of others.
  • They lots of time surfing the web, on personal phone calls or personal e-mail/messaging.

Here are some techniques for dealing with slackers:

  • Talk with them in private about their behaviour, not in the middle of a team meeting.
  • Don’t get angry. Remain calm and objective.
  • Focus on measurable productivity. Don’t blame or accuse.
  • Focus on the behaviour not the personality.
  • Describe the behaviour’s negative impact on the team.
  • Set clear expectations and set up an accountability system to track the expectations. Document the expectations in writing.
  • Get a commitment to changing.

Some questions for consideration. Post your answers in the comments below.

  • Have you dealt with slackers? How?
  • Have you been a slacker?
  • What were the consequences?
  • What made you change your behaviour?
  • Why is it important to avoid being confrontational?
  • What kinds of skills do slackers need to work on? (E.g.: time management.)

10 Tips for Communicating with Employees

Effective communication is a key skill for supervisors. If a supervisor is unable to deliver a message clearly, it doesn’t matter how good or important the message is, it has no value.

Communication is a continuous process, and good communication provides both quantitative and qualitative input. It serves as a yardstick whereby your employees can measure their progress in terms of meeting their goals and objectives.

Here are some things you can do to make sure you connect effectively with others:
  1. Be clear and specific about what you want. Break the task down into step-by-step procedures.
  2. If you’re unsure whether or not people have really understood you, have them repeat your message using their own words.
  3. Demonstrate or illustrate whenever possible.
  4. For more complex tasks, break-down the instructions to each part of the job.
  5. Use direct and specific language. Say exactly what you mean. Don’t leave people guessing.
  6. Don’t rush your instructions. Clear directions save time.
  7. Avoid misunderstandings by asking employees how they’ll approach the issue or task and why. Have them repeat your instructions when you’re finished.
If you’re receiving directions or new information
  1. Be active. Ask questions. Clarify.
  2. Remain open-minded and patient when you receive instructions from others.
  3. Don’t second-guess or jump ahead of the person giving directions. Listen to the details.

How to Build Effective Working Relationships

 I came across these notes I had taken at some time. I’m not sure if they come from a book I was reading or a presentation I was attending.

Leaders achieve results through the work of others. Interpersonal skills are crucial to the leader’s ability to persuade and motivate both internal and external stakeholders. Effective leaders know how to negotiate with associates and resolve conflicts both formally and informally.

Recognize the importance of sensitivity.

One of the factors that undermine leadership is behaving in ways that are insensitive and uncaring to the needs of others. To be effective, managers must be able to establish working relationships based on trust, respect and caring and be sensitive to the opinions, feelings, and interests of others when communicating with them.

Build relationships informally.

Use informal interactions with your peers, superiors and subordinates as an opportunity to build valuable working relationships. Use common courtesy such as smiling and saying “hello” when you encounter people casually. Treat your coworkers with respect and be non-judgmental in your dealings with them.

Be approachable.

If your employees consider you to be unapproachable, ask yourself what it is you do that creates this feeling. Be wary of behaving as if the suggestions or concerns of your employees are unimportant. Make an active effort to interact informally with your employees. Consider establishing and encouraging the use of an open-door policy.

Make effort to improve poor working relationships.

Consider the peers with whom you work regularly and identify the individuals with whom you have poor working relationships.

  • Identify interpersonal barriers. Identify that get in the way of your working relationships with those individuals and determine how you can remove these barriers. View these problems in the same way you view the other problems you face as a manager; they are a challenge that can and must be overcome.
  • Be willing to adapt. Resolving interpersonal differences requires asking yourself what aspects of the other person’s style can be dealt with by simply acknowledging them and being prepared to face them. Other problems may require an ability to adapt your style when interacting with others. In these situations, it is helpful to take the perspective of the other person and understand their reasons for behaving as they do. In most cases the reasons are neither selfish nor misguided; they are simply unique. Individual uniqueness is the basis of the diversity that is crucial to the adaptability and resilience of any organization.
  • Acknowledge others’ viewpoints. Accept that other people will perceive their views as being as valid as yours and that some individuals will never be completely persuaded to accept your point of view or be willing to compromise.
  • Be a mentor. Be a mentor to a less experienced manager who could benefit from your wisdom and guidance. You have an important role to play in developing and mentoring staff to become leaders.
  • Show appreciation. Continually seek opportunities to show appreciation to others for their work. Acknowledge and credit the contributions of your staff in open forums, as well as in private.
  • Recognize your dependence on others. Remind yourself regularly that you become successful as a leader only to the extent that you help those around you become successful.

How to Empower Your Employees

Empowerment as a term is widely used and often misinterpreted; as a genuine action, it is difficult to put into practice. Empowerment is really about offering and receiving commitment so it is important to recognize that there are two kinds of commitment: external and internal.

External commitment

External commitment occurs when employees have little control over their destinies and are accustomed to working under the command-and-control model.

Examples of external commitment:

  • Tasks and the behavior to perform tasks are defined by others.
  • Performance goals are defined by management.
  • Goal importance is defined by others.
Internal commitment

Internal commitment occurs when employees are committed to a particular project, person, or program for their own reasons or motivations. Internal commitment is very closely allied with empowerment.

Examples of internal commitment:

  • Individuals define tasks and the behavior required to perform tasks.
  • Management and individuals jointly define challenging performance goals.
  • Individuals define the importance of the goal.

Consider ways that you can support your employees in developing an internal commitment to the work that you do. And, the ways you can also enhance your own commitment.

8 Characteristics of a Good Team Leader

Effective teamwork is a critical aspect in all types of organizations. Team members should be completely comfortable working with each other in order to give the best to whatever they do.

Generally, we would see a team to be comprised of team members and a team leader. The onus of success lies on the team, but there is an expectation the team leader carries responsibility for the success of the team..

Anyone on the team can be a leader. It doesn’t always fall to the person appointed to that role. However, being successful as a team lead requires the following characteristics.

  1. Supportive:
    • ready to go to bat for the team
    • presents team needs to organization and organizational needs to team
  2. Focused on Organizational Effectiveness:
    • balances people and work
    • keeps “productivity” and “quality” to the forefront
  3. Grooms “replacements”:
    • shares leadership role
    • creates leaders
  4. Good communicator
    • willing to listen
    • able to express
  5. Innovator
    • pursuer of progress
    • and developer of people
  6. Creates positive expectancy.
    • sets high expectation levels
    • sets and expects high standards
  7. Models expected behaviours:
    • consensus decision-making
    • risk-taking
    • empowering
  8. Able to deal with problem team members:
    • creative problem-solving
    • coaching
    • power to remove

How to Be a Leader

Do you get frustrated by things that don’t seem to happen the way they’re supposed to? People are milling about, but nothing gets accomplished. In the hustle, do you feel that your goals remain just that – goals?

Maybe its time for you to stand up and do something about it.

Most people are content to sit around waiting for orders. It’s not difficult adopt a follow-the-leader mentality. Maybe that doesn’t work for you. You have a desire to make things happen – to be the head, not the tail. Maybe leadership suits you.

Some people believe that great leaders are born, not made. While it may be true some people are born with natural ability, without practice, drive and experience, it’s difficult to develop leadership.Good leaders continually work and study to improve their skills.

What is a leader?

To be a leader, you must be able to influence others to accomplish a an objective. The leader contributes to the organization and cohesion of a group.

Contrary to what many believe, leadership is not about power. It is not about harassing or bullying people using fear. It is about encouraging others towards the goal. A leader brings unity of purpose, keeping everyone informed. You must be a leader not a boss.

How do you get people to follow?

People follow a clear sense of purpose. People will only follow you if they see you know where you are going. You know the bumper sticker, “Don’t follow me, I’m lost too.” The same holds for leadership. If you don’t know where you’re going, people will not want to follow you.

You have to have a clear vision of the “big picture”. Have a clear sense of hierarchy, know who’s who, understand the goals and objectives, and how the thing works. Then, others feel confident you know what you’re doing.

Leadership is not about what you make others do. It’s about who you are, what you know, and what you do. You are a reflection of what you want those following to be.

Another basis of good leadership is trust and confidence. If people trust you they will follow through difficulties to achieve the objectives.Trust and confidence is built on good relationships,transparency, and ethics.

The manner in which you deal with people and the relationships you build will lay a strong foundation for your group. The stronger your relationship, the stronger the trust and confidence in your capabilities.

Communication is third key to good leadership. Without this you can not be a good leader. There are 10 key communications principles every leader should know and use

  1. Everything communicates.
  2. The golden rule works.
  3. Stand for something.
  4. Everyone wants to be heard.
  5. One size does not fit all.
  6. They both end in “tion” but there’s a big difference between “information” and “communication.”
  7. Communicate courageously.
  8. Remember the competition.
  9. If it looks important, it must be important.
  10. Good communication is a good investment.

Leaders are not do-it-all heroes. You should not claim to know everything and should not rely upon your skills alone.

You should recognize and take advantage of the skills and talents of others. Only when you come to this realization will you be able to work as one cohesive unit.

Being a leader takes work and time. It is not learned overnight. It is not about just you. It is about you and the people around you.

Do you have the drive and desire to serve to be a leader? Do you have the desire to work cooperatively with other people? Start now. Take your stand and become a leader today.