The Art of Constructive Criticism

The Art of Constructive Criticism

Some leaders dread offering constructive criticism to employees because at times, no matter how positive their delivery, oftentimes, it is received negatively.  Employees may feel embarrassed, ashamed, low and like they have a target on their back.  

Let’s face it, none of us want to be perceived as a staunch critic but when carried out with empathy, constructive criticism has tremendous value.

Offer constructive criticism as feedback by explaining one of the best ways to grow is to identify areas of improvement.

Employees who do not receive feedback become disengaged. On the other hand, providing strength focused feedback engages employees and engaged employees are more productive.  

Ideas for Best Practices:

1) Make feedback timely and don’t make it personal. Feedback is most effective when delivered immediately so that the employee can easily recall what occurred.  Be mindful to allow a cool down period if emotions are elevated.  Remember, when executed poorly, constructive criticism comes across award and accusatory.

2) Opt for an authentic approach using specific and supportive language.  Avoid vague and judgmental language. 

4) Frame the feedback with positive intentions.  Say something like, “I know you’ll offer great information in your speech and I want to make sure the audience receives all of it.  So let’s think of ways to increase your eye contact and project your voice.”.

By shifting your perspective, it will build employee morale and productivity.

Give us your feedback and share the method that is most effective for you.  Whatever you do, make it a great day!

Attract and Keep Excellent Remote Employees

Attract and Keep Excellent Remote Employees

In 2020 many companies faced the task of taking their workforces remote due to the pandemic. The change was abrupt, swift, and caught employers off guard leaving them to quickly create and implement new structures, plans, and policies in order to manage newly minted remote employees. 

The early days of the transition presented challenges with the internet, communication, and supervision (just to name a few) causing high levels of stress for all staff levels.  As a fun way to relieve the strain, the employer/employee virtual happy hour was born.  

Flash forward to 2022.  With the heyday of the digital cocktail party becoming a distant memory, employers now recognize that they must find creative ways to attract and keep exceptional remote employees.  Similarly, remote employees’ expectations have surpassed virtual mixers to keep them happy.  They want to feel seen, heard, and valued by their employer. 

Here are a few ideas for employers to consider:

1) Enthusiastically express appreciation.  A handwritten “Thank You” note, including a gift card, tells remote employees that their work is respected and valued. 

2) Respect their time.  Eliminate unnecessary meetings. Give extra time off.  Bottom line, find useful ways to say, “You are an important asset to our company and we’re glad you’re on our team”.

3) Reduce interruptions throughout the day.  Constant direct messages (pinging) can quickly become an additional stressor for remote employees and negatively impact productivity. 

4) Allow extra breaks and avoid micromanaging.  For a variety of reasons, employers keep a close watchful eye on their employees’ online activity.  Routine self-care breaks are still necessary and should be encouraged rather than scrutinized.

5) Promote mental health.  Because some remote workers may feel isolated, consider offering confidential assistance from mental health professionals.

Let’s be clear, the hybrid company (consisting of employees who have a remote and brick and mortar office) will become more dominate as time progresses.  If companies fail to plan to attract and keep proficient “hybrid” employees, they should prepare to lose them to competitors.

Keep in mind that a lack of employee engagement will adversely affect morale, productivity, customer satisfaction, revenue, and profits.

In the comments below, tell us how you plan to attract and keep your remote employees. 

Make it a great day!

Trust in Leadership

Trust in Leadership

Your company’s growth and profitability can catapult to new levels and a lot of it has to do with how much your employees trust your leadership. 

According to an article in The Harvard Business Review, employees who trust their leaders tend to be more productive.   The article suggests that trust is linked to oxytocin levels in the brain, therefore, employees are happier and communicate more effectively with colleagues and management.  This may have a connection to increased productivity and profits.  

Points to ponder:

1) Transparency is key.  Employees seek to be aware of what is real and true.  Besides the need for job security and career advancement opportunities, employees want to be part of a workplace culture that puts a premium on delivering the truth.  For example, employees want to know how management perceives the effectiveness of their work performance because it allows them to make decisions based on facts and not assumptions about how they want to navigate their company career. 

2) Do as you say.  Discussing company core values and expectations in monthly meetings is important and employees expect leaders to model those values—consistently. 

3)  Be vulnerable.  Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t have all of the answers and that you’re not perfect.  Become comfortable with being uncomfortable so that you can build workplace relationships as you build the business.  Be willing to share childhood family dynamic(s) that influenced your adult values.

4) Avoid micromanagement.  This is key for building trust and developing strong workplace relationships.  Also, less micromanaging means less stress for you and more accountability for your employees.

5) Understand how to be an effective listener.  Sometimes the boldest thing a leader can do is listen and truly internalize the ideas/opinions of their staff.

6) Make employees feel appreciated and valued.  Plan an annual retreat.  Ask employees where they’d like to go and activities they want to do during the retreat.  If it is successful, consider making it an annual event…it will be something for everyone to look forward to each year.

Bonus point:  Authentic trust in work environments promote well-being and high morale.  A lack of trust produces higher turnover and lower productivity. 

Go out there and make it a great day !

My Personal Amazing Customer Experience

My Personal Amazing Customer Experience

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

A recent “customer experience” caused me to reflect on how I have observed that phrase over years.  

Recently, I began using a new upscale grocery store shopping app.  My personal shopper was unable to fill several items in my order.  Since the pandemic, I’ve become accustomed to expect inventory shortages due to the “global supply chain crisis” so I wasn’t particularly upset by the grocer’s foible.  

A few days later, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email apology for the “lack of service” and shortcomings in their job performance.  They assured me that the deficiency does not represent nor comply with their company’s core values for client satisfaction. 

Included in the email was a “because you were inconvenienced” coupon that allows me to order a high end product—at not cost.  It is a product that I have purchased from their store on several occasions.  

Even though I did not submit a complaint, this level of empathy demonstrated that the store understands how to:

  • Be accountable.  They stepped up and addressed the fact that they missed the mark by not meeting my expectations and that their own internal service standards had been compromised.
  • Stand out from the competition.  Their acknowledgment of the situation followed by an olive branch apology in the form of a product they know I like is a display of vulnerability.  They know I will shop for that product again…regardless whether it is at their store or at their competitor’s store.

So, how were they able to provide stellar customer service to me in the face of perceived failure?  Because they know the basic tenets of the “amaze your customer” model:

  1. They initiated a plan for problem resolution.  Their email explained that, even with global supply shortages, they do their best to monitor stock levels in order to set appropriate expectations for their customers. 
  2. They monitored my shopping activity.  Apps are data rich and are uniquely positioned to synchronize customer information into a clear picture of the customer’s style and taste.  In my case, they noted the number of chats I had with my personal shopper via the app.
  3. They were able to detect an issue and quickly respond. Chatting with a shopper is not in itself unusual, however, the number of canceled items in my order raised a red flag. The grocery store shopping app reacted to that red flag by reviewing my shopping experience and the grocery store manager reached out to me to resolve the issue.

Has your business implemented an “amaze your customer” model?  Let us know in the comments below.  Remember to always do your part to make it a great day!

Mental Habits to Reduce Stress and Burnout

Mental Habits to Reduce Stress and Burnout

As the pandemic and its effects drag on, many people are moving from feeling stressed to being completely burned out in their professional and personal lives.  Stress and burnout can impact employees—despite their position/title—and can carry over to home life.  

Here are a few habits to consider implementing to help reduce stress:

1) Get a Good Night’s Sleep!  According to Dr. Michael Twery, Director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR), sleep affects almost every tissue in our bodies including:

  • Growth and stress hormones
  • The immune system 
  • Appetite
  • Breathing
  • Blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular health

Doctors have long attributed a lack of sleep to the increased risk for obesity, heart disease, and a number of infections.

2) The Gift of Life!  The moment you wake up, try to focus on the gift you’ve received for a brand new day.  Embrace the idea that today is filled with opportunity and your productivity will benefit yourself, your employer, co-workers, family, and the community.  Make a conscious effort to create joy the very moment you awake.   Avoid mentally drifting into the difficult moments of the past—you’ll introduce yourself to a “worry” mindset.  

Worry has a physical impact on the body:

  • Muscle tension
  • Digestive disorders
  • Attack on the immune system
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

3) Focus! Practice centering your attention on the matter(s) at hand; it is a great way to ignore distractions.  Think strategically, avoid multi-tasking, and take on the day with a positive frame of reference.

4) Make Space! Distance yourself from problems or situations.  Distancing doesn’t mean you don’t care, it means you and your mind are unavailable to worry—about anything.

5) Let Go! Release negative emotions surrounding situations, people, or issues.  A fatalistic mental loop replay can keep you trapped in bleak emotions and entangle you in an uncomfortable web of negativity.

Peak performance in the workplace depends on good mental health.  Stress and burnout will stifle your creativity and ability to make excellent decisions.  Great mental health habits are key to remaining calm and relaxed. 

If your struggle with life is beyond self-help, many resources are available to assist you.  We encourage you to reach out to professionals who care about your well-being.

In the comments below share your tips for reducing stress and remember…make it a great day!