The Art of Receiving Constructive Criticism

The Art of Receiving Constructive Criticism

Many people find it difficult to be on the receiving end of constructive criticism.  It can feel like an attack—especially if it isn’t delivered thoughtfully and with empathy. 

We can’t stress enough how important it is to mentally reframe corrective action as an opportunity for continuous growth and improvement.  As an employee makes performance adjustments based on feedback, their performance reviews/ratings will increase (not to mention job satisfaction!).  When an employee can effectively process corrective feedback, they will be happier and more productive.

Here are a few practices that you can share with your team from Forbes.com:

1) Actively listen. Repeat and affirm what you’ve heard. This gives the brain time to process without becoming defensive. Body language is also a component of active listening.  Check your posture.  Are your arms folded?  If so, relax your arms and maintain good eye contact.

2) Thoughtfully consider the feedback given to you.  Avoid quickly rejecting or accepting the person and take your time to evaluate the information. Consider the impact of the requested change.  Reflect on how frequently you receive similar feedback from other coworkers or in other environments, i.e., at home.

3) Remain open…ask followup questions using the start, stop, continue format.  Begin by asking, “What is something that I am not doing that you would like me to start doing?”.   Next ask, “What is something that I am doing that you would like me to stop doing?”.  Finally ask, “What is something that I am doing that you would like me to continue doing?”.

Take these tips into your next feedback session and leave with clear understanding and amazing opportunities for improvement. 

Share your best practices for receiving corrective feedback in the comments below.   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 !

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!

Breaking Down Customer Service: The Greeting

Breaking Down Customer Service: The Greeting

A memorable experience!  As a consumer, who among us doesn’t want that on a consistent basis?

Customers form opinions about your service based on many things—beginning with the way you talk to them.

Great customer service begins from the first point of contact…over the phone, virtually, online, face-to-face.  Regardless of the method, your greeting should impact customers such that they have a longing to do business with you indefinitely.

A genuine embrace with your body language, facial expression, other non-verbal acknowledgement tells them you affirm their presence…it is the first step in building a relationship.  Now, that’s only the beginning.  The following are basic principles to consider as you protect one of your most precious assets…your client:

  • Ask how he/she/they want to be addressed…”Mr. Smith”, “Mrs. Johnson”, “Dr. Matthews”.  Do not use their first name unless they’ve given permission to do so.  
  • Your greeting should be professional and not rehearsed.  Avoid too much banter and being loquacious.
  • The ability to read body language, tone of voice (written or verbal) can offer great insight as to the level and frequency of interaction a customer prefers.  For example, an introvert may prefer a quick greeting void of small talk.  Remember to offer a sincere smile while speaking on the phone, texting, online, and face-to-face…your client can hear it in your voice.

Your greeting provides an opportunity to deepen the relationship, create community roots, and increase customer loyalty. 

In the comments below let us know what makes your customer greeting special.  Make it a great day!