Workplace Apologies

Workplace Apologies

Concerns about the overuse of “Sorry” in the workplace, have left some people confused (dare we say, “jaded”) about how and when to sincerely apologize.  

Apologizing for everything including things that don’t warrant a response can signal a character flaw of untruthfulness; in fact, such insincerity has been dubbed “a backhanded apology” or a “nonpology”.  However, NOT apologizing in a situation when it IS necessary expands the breach between you and the other party.

For incidents that truly warrant an apology, make every effort to genuinely express regret.  

That said, apologies take on a different energy in the workplace…corporate culture may have a lot do with it.

Keep these three ideas in mind for workplace apologies:

1)  Apologize as soon as possible.  Rectifying the issue quickly enables all parties involved to move forward instead of unnecessarily brooding over the matter.

2)  Own what happened. Taking responsibility for what occurred will open the door to empathy.  Avoid explanations that may be perceived as a defense mechanism…it could lead to a debate which could completely derail the apology.

3)  Discuss with those who were offended what you learned from the mistake.  Doing so will demonstrate that you have the capacity to evolve and that you won’t make the same mistake again.  Make sure your discussion and the apology are concise.

In the comments below, share your tips for crafting the perfect workplace apology and don’t forget…make it a great day!

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!

Keeping Unconscious Bias Out of the Workplace

Keeping Unconscious Bias Out of the Workplace

Unconscious bias, also known as implicit bias, essentially is subconscious prejudices based on stereotypes or attitudes developed through upbringing, environment, and experiences.  Several types of unconscious bias exist in the workplace and in society such as affinity bias, beauty bias, racial bias, and gender bias.

A common prejudice, affinity bias, causes a person to closely identify with others who possess attributes similar to themselves.  For example, perhaps you have developed a friendship with a colleague who graduated from the same college as you.  Because of this relationship, they are the only person you consider to head up a new project instead of contemplating the qualifications of other candidates who may have equal qualifications.   This is a sign of what could be considered affinity bias.  

Beauty bias is when you subconsciously form certain beliefs or attitudes about people based on their physical attractiveness.  Let’s say a coworker:

  • Doesn’t have the “right color hair” or hairstyle
  • Doesn’t wear “the right makeup”
  • Doesn’t wear the “right designer clothing labels”
  • Wears casual attire everyday
  • Has a “different type of smile”
  • Doesn’t get professional manicures “on a regular basis”

In the instances listed above, subconsciously, one may think the coworker is unqualified to lead an important project because the results of their work might be unprofessional, unrefined, incomplete, and delayed.

Unconscious bias can lead to micro-aggressions in the workplace and mutate into harassment and/or racism.  It occurs during the hiring process as well as promotion reviews.  That said, employers can actively work to eliminate implicit bias.

Educating employees on the topic is an excellent start.  According to the Harvard Business Review, employee training should include the following practices:

  1. Empower employees to change.  Provide employees with tools/best practices to reframe their thinking in order to break stereotypes.
  2. Create empathy by providing opportunities to see and respect different perspectives.
  3. Encourage diverse interaction by nurturing curiosity in team projects.

Training should be accompanied by policies, procedures, and a corporate philosophy that talk about its harmful effects on clients, employees, vendors, visitors, and the company as a whole.  

Let us know your thoughts on reducing implicit bias in the workplace in the comments below.  

Go out there and make it a great day!

Workplace Bullying

Workplace Bullying

What happens to elementary school bullies?  In some cases, they grow up to be adult bullies who lurk in offices and workspaces doing what they’ve always done—tormenting their targets.

According to the Workplace Bully Institute (WBI), workplace bullying is defined as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment by one or more employees of an employee; abusive conduct that takes the form of verbal abuse; or behaviors perceived as threatening, intimidating, or humiliating; work sabotage.” 

The WBI also found in a 2021 study that 30% of employees are bullied in the workplace with 43% of remote workers enduring the same experience.  Bullying can result in qualified employees’ high absenteeism, lost productivity, lost revenues, and high turnover.

While harassment at work is illegal, bullying is not because harassment involves mistreatment based on a protected class such as religion, race, national origin, or sex.  

Workplace bullying takes on many forms including but not limited to:

  • Hostile or aggressive written and/or verbal communication
  • Withholding resources
  • Unrelenting criticism
  • Invasion of personal space
  • Non-verbal intimidation 

Often times, the bully is the target’s manager but the behavior can also occur among peers.

If you are bullied at work,

  • Address the situation in the moment
  • Say exactly what he/she is doing to you and why it’s a problem
  • Call the bully by name and use self-assured body language
  • Document all incidents including how you responded
  • Retain all emails, voice mail, and other communications 
  • Present your documentation to human resources.  Your documentation should include suggestions on how you would like to see the issue resolved

Through company culture and policies, this offensive and unacceptable behavior can be eradicated.

In the comments below, let us know if you’ve experienced bullying in the workplace and how you handled it.