The Lead Yourself First Blog

Workaholism – A Sanctioned Addiction: A Message For Dedicated Slaves…And Slave Drivers

How do you extricate yourself from an unhealthy work situation? Is it more difficult to do when you relish a challenge? Can you tell the difference between being a workaholic and a hard worker? If you are an employer, are you treating your best people with respect, or are you rewarding hard work with more work? Continue reading “Workaholism – A Sanctioned Addiction: A Message For Dedicated Slaves…And Slave Drivers”

Leadership Lesson: Can You Motivate “Dead Wood” Employees?

“I’m done.” These are thoughts or words that indicate an employee’s time with your organization has come to an end. Of course, many people reach this point for reasons that have nothing to do with low morale, lack of opportunity or a dislike for their jobs. They are ready to move up, move on or begin a new chapter in their lives, once their careers are finished or their time in the workforce is over.

Scenarios like those above are easy to understand. However, the same cannot be said about an employee who shuts down, becomes apathetic at work, or sucks the life out of their co-workers by displaying negativity day in and day out. While there is little doubt that a lack of motivation manifests itself in various forms, there are often underlying issues that can be addressed positively and proactively. Continue reading “Leadership Lesson: Can You Motivate “Dead Wood” Employees?”

When Customers Walk – The Business Consequences of Disengagement

Please help meAfter a seventeen hour journey from Australia to Canada, plus forty-five frustrating minutes talking to airline staff about a pair of prescription glasses that were left on board, our friends left Vancouver International Airport knowing that the chances of anyone caring enough to resolve their concern was almost zero. A young woman who listened to their plight while repeatedly attempting not to yawn informed them that if found, the glasses would be taken to the appropriate location for lost articles. She scribbled down the company’s website name and told them to fill out the on-line form for lost and found articles. It was time to go on her break and there was nothing else she could do. The fact that their airplane was still at the gate, and the fact that the “at your service” agent could have easily communicated with airline’s ground staff to check for the glasses seemed all too difficult.

This scenario is not merely an example of poor customer service. It demonstrates something much deeper…a problem that is reaching endemic proportions in many workplaces of every description: Skyrocketing levels of employee disengagement. The results of a new Aon Hewitt study, reported in HRM Online, found 47% of workers are disengaged from their work – the lowest employee engagement levels in North America in five years.

Healthy levels of workplace engagement indicate discretionary effort, i.e. wanting to do, rather than having to do a job. HRM online also noted that “the drops in areas such as diversity, customer experience and leadership lead to an overall decrease in how employees felt about their overall work experience.” In the case of my friend’s lost pair of glasses, she encountered an individual who was not only unwilling to ask another colleague at the gate about the status of the glasses in that moment, but gave no thought to the bigger picture regarding the future buying decisions of an unhappy customer in her highly competitive industry.

Workplace cultures, together with employees’ perceptions of their role in the grand scheme of impacting the bottom line are key indicators of engagement. A recently published report entitled: The impact of the new long-term employee…Dealing with the Increasingly Shorter Definition of “a Long Time with the Company” defined engagement as: “the degree to which employees are psychologically invested in your organization and motivated to contribute to its success.”

The above definition ought to become the new benchmark for assessing the entire spectrum of organizational effectiveness. Employers of any size and industry that continue to ignore the significance of their staff remaining disengaged do so at their own peril. Unfortunately, the front line is not the only cohort who is psychologically “checking out” on the job. Management are also disconnecting for a host of reasons that include pressures to achieve higher performance and productivity with reduced staffing levels, limited resources, and increased workloads. As a result of being pulled in divergent directions, they are compromising their own abilities to lead, inspire, and motivate in order to meet or exceed senior leadership’s expectations.

Sadly, the story of my friend’s lost pair of glasses continued on a downward spiral. Email communications with supervisors and managers proved futile, as it became evident that their apologetic responses were obligatory rather than empathetic. At no time did my friend get a sense that there was a genuine desire to resolve her concern, from the top down.

When individuals at every level of an organization lose sight of the “how” and “why” of their job function, the disengagement cycle continues to build, job satisfaction wanes, client service is affected and opportunities for business growth are lost. As a leader, are you personally setting the example for your team to be highly engaged? Is your customer service a reflection of a team doing what they do because they have to or want to? Disengagement is not only evident within your internal operations; it is also evident to your customers who may ultimately experience its consequences and take their business elsewhere.

 

Drama in the workplace: Are you ready and willing to end it now?

Understanding and managing drama in the workplace is a concern shared by leaders and individuals alike. Not only is it emotionally draining, the cost and consequences cannot be understated. In fact, one of the key reasons for soaring levels of workplace disengagement links directly to the existence of dysfunctional workplace relationships.

Drama occurs because we are emotional beings. We have a desire for self-expression and unfortunately, due to stress and overwhelm, we all have the capacity to display the worst version of ourselves from time to time. However, some of our colleagues and managers not only HAVE problems, they ARE problems. And many of them don’t realize the effect of their theatrics and emotional outbursts because they are operating in a state of oblivion…constantly reacting to workplace pressures, personality triggers or stressors that are occurring in their personal and professional lives, with little awareness of the impact of such behaviours on a larger scale.

The big questions that demands answers are these: Why does drama persist and why does it escalate? Here are five explanations:

1. At a very basic level, many people actual enjoy the show…either as a participant or a spectator. After all, life would be pretty dull and work would be very boring if there were no drama; nothing to gossip about? Let’s be honest, many of us willingly contribute to the juiciness of a good story by partaking in the gossip in the first place, even if we don’t spread it ourselves.

2. Drama also manifests on a regular basis because accountability isn’t taught or understood. It is often easier to blame others and share in the misery rather than accept responsibility, even if we do not know all the facts. Pointing the finger in the other direction requires very little effort.

3. Leaders don’t want to, or don’t know how to deal with it. This is one of the most common workplace demotivators. Sadly, a lack of action builds resentment amongst those who desperately want their leadership to deal with these people issues. As a result, those who once felt engaged and happy will slowly but surely find that the dysfunctional atmosphere taking a toll on their level of performance and satisfaction.

4. Organizations may invest in core technical skills or training, however the interpersonal skills that are essential when it comes to managing drama and conflict are lacking. Practicing outstanding communication skills in the face of such challenges can make the world of difference, not only to one’s peace of mind, but to the organization’s bottom line. When people feel disengaged and disconnected, when they do not feel inclined to express their concerns, absenteeism increases, turnover escalates and business declines as a result.

5. High morale is a low priority. At all levels, everyone feels the increasing pressure of managing their daily workload. As a result, paying attention to the human element slowly becomes neglected. Yet, this is precisely the issue that necessitates the greatest consideration. In addition, it is fascinating to note this is the one area that is within an organization’s control: the atmosphere within its own walls.

Based in Vancouver, Canada, Michelle Ray is a leadership expert who helps individuals and organizations succeed and take the lead. Her keynote presentation and workshop: No More Drama! How to Build High Engagement, High Morale and a Happier Workplace will be offered as a one-hour, complimentary webinar on June 27.

Are you a “desk” potato? The benefits of workplace wellness

It is one thing to be a “couch” potato…Are you a “desk” potato? Chances are that if you are both, you are heading for health problems. If your well-being is a value that you live by, then you are probably aware of the negative implications of being sedentary at your desk each work day and you make sure you get up and move whenever you can. How about your employer? The research confirms that optimum physical heath translates into better mental health. Therefore, better mental health means that both you and your employer will benefit because you are more productive. A “Living Strong” Blog report noted that by investing in wellness programs and encouraging healthier lifestyles, organizations will see improvement in employee morale, decreased absenteeism, lower health plan costs, improved productivity and increased company revenues.

In one of the only longitudinal studies undertaken on this subject, the University of Michigan proved that it pays to create a culture of wellness. They tracked the impact of a Midwest Utility Company’s implementation and investment in their wellness programs over nine years. The company realized a net savings of $4.8 million in employee health and lost work time costs. This week, CBS early morning news Health Watch segment featured New Jersey- based PHH Corporation as an example of an incentive-based wellness employer offering staff $1,000 a year to make measureable improvements to their heath. Many employees wear a pedometer and simply plug it in to their computers to track their walking success! They are rewarded for the miles clocked up just by walking around their workplace! The segment noted that for every dollar a company spends on wellness, their ROI (return on their investment) can be three to six times higher!

Adapting workplace wellness programs need not be financially prohibitive. Research the numerous pages available on line that describe best practices around the world. You can start by downloading this free PDF! Check out The Government of Alberta’s Healthy U webpage; as well as “Look Good Feel Great Always” blogs, great resources for you and your workplace to get healthy!