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Emotional Control during Difficult Conversations

It’s hard not to get emotionally involved when you’re in a tense conversation. A disagreement can feel like a threat. You might be afraid of having to give up something — the idea that you’re right, your point of view, the way you’re used to doing something, or even power – and therefore your body hypes you up for a fight by triggering your sympathetic nervous system.  There is no need to feel guilty, this is the natural response, but the main problem is that our bodies and minds aren’t good at differentiating the threats presented by not getting your way on a job-related issue and being chased down by a wolf. Your heart and breathing start to spike, your muscles tighten, the blood flow from your organs decreases, and thus you’re likely to experience an uncomfortable all-around feeling.

All of these combined does not put in the right frame of mind of resolving a conflict. If your body goes into what Dan Goleman would call “amygdala hijack,” you may lose access to the prefrontal cortex, the all-important part of your brain responsible for rational thinking. Obviously, you need rational thinking when dealing with a difficult conversation. Due to the fact that you are losing the ability to think clearly, chances are your conversation counterpart notices these signs of stress — your face turning red or the pace of your speech speeding up — and as a result of mirror neurons that cause us to apprehend the emotions of another person, your colleague is likely to start feeling the same way. Consequently, the conversation inevitably derails and the conflict intensifies.

Every manager fears emotional outbursts. Whether we’re talking about tears or full-on rage, the full extent of emotions can leave both the manager and the employee feeling embarrassed and stressed. How can you manage to stay calm and at the same time get your point across? How do you prepare yourself? Can you somehow minimise the chances of an employee getting emotional? Learning to handle emotional conversations in a productive way is the mark of a true manager.

Luckily, there are ways in which you can interrupt this physical response and manage your emotions, for a more productive discussion. There are several things you can do to keep your cool during a conversation or to calm yourself down. It is essential you start off with a positive. Especially if you think the conversation is likely to be emotional, plan to start with a positive. This will set the tone for the entire conversation and can help the employee engage with what you’re saying later, even if it’s hard to digest.

Breathe

Through simple mindfulness techniques, you can manage tense situations and none is more straightforward than using your breath. If you start noticing you’re getting tense, try to focus on breathing pattern. Acknowledge the sensation of air coming in and out of your lungs. Feel how it passes through your nostrils or down the back of your throat. This will take your attention off the signs of panic. Some mindfulness experts suggest counting your breath.

Acknowledge and define your feelings

Another useful tactic comes from the renowned author of Emotional Agility, Susan David. When you start feeling emotional “the attention you give towards your thoughts and feelings may crowd your mind and judgement,” says Susan David. In order to distance yourself from that feeling, define it. “Call a thought a thought and an emotion an emotion,” says the author.  When you manage to distance yourself from these emotions, thus making it easier to let them go — but don’t bury them or let them explode later. Sometimes expressing your emotions is all that’s needed to make an employee feel like they’ve been heard. If tears are involved, empathy is the recommended course of action. If your employee is angry, acknowledge and understand their frustration, but if that anger becomes insulting, calmly make it clear that you will not tolerate violent language or threatening behaviour.

Take a break

This is an underused approach. The more time you give yourself to process your emotions, the less intense they will be. So when things start escalating, just excuse yourself for a moment — get some coffee or water, go to the bathroom, or take a brief stroll through the office. It is essential to give a neutral reason for why you want to pause the conversation — the last thing you want is for the other person to think that things are going so badly you just want to escape.

Keep in mind that you’re probably not the only one who’s upset or angry. Your counterpart may very well express anger or frustration. While you may want to give them the above advice, no one wants to be told they need to breathe more deeply or take a break. You both may require just a little bit of time alone to vent. Of course, that’s usually easier said than done. It’s difficult not to yell back when you’re being screamed at, but more screaming isn’t going to help. At the same time, don’t act aloof because it’s important to show the other person that you’re listening. If you manage not to feed your counterpart’s negative emotion with your own, it becomes more plausible for them to calm down.

Keep your impatience in check

Finally, the demon you will have to wrestle the most with is your own impatience for getting the result you want. You will need to be patient and let the situation unfold itself. When you think you know exactly what is wrong with the other person’s thinking, your best approach is to ask them questions that will enable them to see other possibilities, ones that are much closer to your point of view. Don’t slip and tell people what is wrong with their thinking, because their brains will shut down and you have to be patient with silence. Silence is a good indicator that what you said or asked made the person stop and think about their ideas and arguments. The best thing you can do is to be patient and allow the person’s brain to process the information.

Don’t take it personally. Watch out for your own defensive mechanism, especially if the employee has said something in the heat of the moment. Remember that frustration is usually the cause of such outbursts at the office. You’re not going to solve the underlying issues or maintain a positive relationship if you barrel through the conversation when you’re completely worked up.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://hbr.org/2017/12/how-to-control-your-emotions-during-a-difficult-conversation

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141028170158-2763533-how-to-manage-your-emotions-in-difficult-conversations/

https://www.insperity.com/blog/10-tips-for-keeping-your-cool-during-emotional-conversations-with-employees/

 

Dealing with Procrastination and Overcoming It

We all procrastinate from time to time, sometimes even more than we would like to admit to ourselves. Procrastination is part of our lives. Usually, it’s those ordinary things – like sorting documents, looking over bank accounts, or tidying the things on your desk. But often it’s the bigger things that necessitate more time, more commitment and energy that put us at more risk of failing or looking foolish. Such actions include things like updating our resume, looking for a new job or even pursuing a long held aspiration.

Of course people tend to get very creative with the reasons why now, today, just isn’t the right time or they are not in the right state of mind. But people don’t stop here reasons may vary from too stressed, too risky, too busy, too broke towards too disruptive, too inexperienced, too young, too old, too uncertain. From time to time these reasons are valid and we have to be prepared for that. Typically, they are just excuses that keep us from doing what we really have to do and experiencing the emotional hardship inherent in making meaningful changes in our personal and professional lives.

At the heart of things we have fear.  It is a potent and instinctive emotion and represents the reason why we want to shield ourselves from pain (including the emotional side of things) and somehow ‘demands’ us to get away from anything that might be threatening. If left unresolved, fear can lead us to the hope that if we procrastinate longer, our situation will miraculously improve, or our problems will magically disappear into thin air and be replaced with a lot of courage. We often tell ourselves that ‘one day’ we will be ready to make that big change, or take that big chance and in that ‘one day’ the timing will be better, our confidence will be soaring and the circumstances will definitely favour us.

Unfortunately the reverse is generally true. As the days go by, our fear grows stronger, until it will eventually lead to our ever-growing burial ground of unfulfilled dreams and untapped potential. Philosopher William James was not wrong when he talked about the impact of procrastination on our lives: “Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an unfulfilled goal.”

There are a few methods through which you can get yourself going when you feel procrastination is creeping up on you.

  • Acknowledge the situation

Firstly, it is recommended you openly acknowledge that you’re starting to procrastinate. Procrastination can sneak up on you in many forms and when you least expect it, so it’s essential for you to be vigilant. Afterwards, ask yourself why you are doing it, what is your underlying reason and then start searching for the right approach to tackle this issue.  Stanford philosophy professor John Perry created the term ‘structured procrastination’. The idea behind it is that people procrastinate by doing the least important tasks on their to-do lists, so professor John Perry says that we can trick ourselves by pushing down our important tasks from our to-do list and our trivial ones to the top.

  • Be brave all day everyday

When you start working on reducing your procrastination, building momentum is crucial. Commit to yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone at least once per day. It can be something really small and it should be right at the start. In the end, it doesn’t matter how fast you are going, as long as you are taking the necessary steps in the direction you feel is right. So take that first step, then another, and so on because after all life is worth enjoying.

  • Spreading procrastination times throughout the day

The fact that we live in the real world means that there are and will be days in which we’re tired, even though we try so hard not to be. Taking this factor into account, you could organise a schedule of well-timed ‘mini-procrastination’ sessions between each task. Instead of waiting for a big break when you want to do whatever you want offer yourself 10 minutes between each task. In those 10 minutes you can do what your heart desires: check Facebook, make a dinner reservation, weekend plans or any other pleasant activity. You will be surprised by the amount of work you will accomplish when you don’t feel bad about procrastinating. Also, you will soon realise that you’re not indulging your procrastination, but actually set up a few breaks. Breaks are guilt-free and they mentally recharge you for the rest of your day.

  • Break your important tasks into smaller ones

The bigger the goal the more difficult it is to actually start working on it. Shortly after, you begin to feel overwhelmed and procrastination is only a step away. So when you feel out of your element, try and break your task into more manageable steps, as small you feel you need. Soon enough, the steps you have to undertake will simply unfold in front of you.

  • Channel your fear

As mentioned earlier, fear is a very powerful emotion that can keep us from becoming the best version of ourselves. Our brains are hardwired to survive, so in the moment you feel fear our instincts tell us to sit tight because nothing bad can happen this way. But if you manage to focus your fear, it can work for you and not against you. Pull out a pen and paper and write down the cold hard facts if you would continue to do nothing. Be honest to yourself, the purpose of this exercise is for you to understand that the fear you are experiencing at the moment is more manageable that the one you would feel when things are left undone.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/catherine-orer/my-very-own-3-steps-to-de_b_10360486.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2013/03/25/why-you-procrastinate-and-how-to-stop-it-now/#583832c51837

https://www.forbes.com/sites/vanessaloder/2016/04/15/10-scientifically-proven-tips-for-beating-procrastination/#7c78426c296a

https://www.themuse.com/advice/advice-procrastination-no-routine-change

Building Trust and Credibility with your Customers

Customers’ happiness is always going to be tricky to achieve and maintain. Although the global economy is growing and thriving in certain industries, Forrester, a market research firm, has discovered that companies shouldn’t rest on their laurels. In fact, according to the Forrester report for 2018 that next year will be a “year of reckoning” for many brands as they face the facts that consumers might not love them as much.

Interestingly enough, customer experience scores have stalled in recent years, without a single brand improving their trust and experience scores from 2016.

One of the main reasons for the halt in customer experience is that clients are interacting with brands more often. More interactions mean more opportunities in building brand loyalty, but it equally provides more opportunities to create unhappy customers, which is what seems to happen. Customer confidence is at a high level at the moment, which means they are more than willing to spend, but unfortunately they don’t trust the vast majority of companies. Customer experience is one of the best ways in which to boost trust. Top survey responses say treating employees well is what drives the experience and helps customers trust a brand, offering the best services and listening to customers concerns and issues.

The Forrester report also revealed that personalised companies will thrive. Instead of trying to serve everyone, brands will have to learn from successful of companies like Facebook and Starbucks and start serving a more narrow set of customers. The most successful companies realise they can deliver more value by focusing on the unique needs of specific customer segments instead of trying to provide everything to everyone. Companies that are suffering in their customer experience scores are Walmart and Amazon due to their numerous products and services.

Transparency Is Crucial

Transparency is a core competency that should no doubt come naturally. Yet so many businesses are struggling coming to terms with what it really means.

Customers and clients are smart and they know when you’re being truthful or when you’re trying to trick them. Honesty is the best policy and they’ll appreciate and admire your company even more when you admit to a mistake or avoiding the topic altogether.

It is recommended that you don’t try to cover up errors. Discuss about the matter at hand, explain how you wish to handle it and thoroughly explain what steps are being taken to prevent any future errors. To implement transparency effectively leading by example is quintessential. Your employees will admire you even more for being honest.

Consistency Brings Harmony

Consistency goes hand in hand perfectly with maintaining great service. Strong internal expectations lead to great external results.

From a business point of view, consistency should exist in every aspect of what the company does:

  • Employees should provide equivalent levels of service.
  • Equipped with all the tools it needs, your sales team should address questions and queries in the same way.
  • The company should stay on course with the current state of products and services, rather than constantly shifting gears to try new tactics or initiatives.

Develop a powerful measurement in order to assess whether something is working. If it isn’t viable anymore, there should already exist a plan B or C.

From a leadership standpoint, consistent performance shows employees what you expect from them. For example, if you miss a meeting without a good reason, don’t be surprised if they consider doing the same when interest serves them.

Great Service Matters

According to the survey done by Concerto Marketing Group and Research Now, when customers have faith in a brand, 83% of them will recommend that specific organisation to others and 82% will continue to use that brand on a regular basis. Although there is hardly any mention about the time you went above and beyond for a client, you’ll definitely hear from the displeased ones if you failed to make a deadline or delivered a product that didn’t operate by the books.

Earning the trust of a customer with great service is an essential first step. How would you want to be treated if you were the client? The hard truth is that service should come naturally, instead of being strategically planned. The more you plan for great service, the less time you’ll actually have to deliver it.

Sure, there will be times when you’ve tried your best and can’t seem to make any headway with a particular problem. But you want to strive for responsiveness and always exceed expectations.

Sealing the Deal

Maintaining solid business relationships does not mean your customers or clients have to like you. Everyone wants to be liked but it is impossible to be liked by every person you come in contact with. However, creating customers and clients for life is more about them entrusting you to deliver on your promises. It takes a lot of effort, but in the end your hard work will pay off again and again, with repeat business, even more referrals and knowing you met and exceeded your customers’ expectations.

Organizations with great customer relationships are able to grow their businesses without tricks, fee cuts or special treatment. You have to be good at what you do, obviously, but having a truly successful business is based on one very simple concept: trust. With trust, you’ll have clients and customers for life. Without trust, you may as well pack your bags and go home. Building trust takes time and a lot of hard work. But is entirely feasible if you and your team work on three of the most important core competencies: service, consistency and transparency.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2017/11/13/ten-ways-to-build-trust-with-new-and-existing-clients/#75edfdda4b0b

https://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2014/04/22/three-ways-to-build-customer-trust/#5e32c56f22b8

https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2017/11/14/consumer-trust-at-an-all-time-low-says-forrester-in-their-most-recent-report/#607e348c1a19

Being a Great Leader: the fine line between Confidence and Skepticism

You’ve probably heard, over and over again, about the importance of self-confidence for a leader. Confidence gives you charisma. It makes people follow you. It makes friends trust you and enemies fear you.

It’s pretty hard to imagine Caesar or Napoleon telling their people “Well, we could try this, but I don’t guarantee that it’ll work.” So why should you, if you aspire to become a great leader?

But let’s leave confidence aside for a minute. There’s another element which most leaders of today are lacking. Have you ever had a boss who thought he knew all the answers to every question? Who never admitted he was wrong or, even more, that idea didn’t even cross his mind? Of course you did. In one word, do you know what that guy was missing? It was skepticism. Will all the praise of confidence and self-esteem, almost everyone forgot the importance of a certain dose of self-doubt.

Being a little skeptical about your own opinions is such an important factor these days. While everyone has an opinion (and everyone thinks that their opinion is the right one), those who can be skeptical about their own beliefs have a great advantage: when a problem arises they won’t take anything as given, but they will try to make up their mind, starting from zero, about what would be the best solution. That includes asking every employee’s opinion on the subject matter, because the skeptic knows that he is just a human being, fallible like any other. From this type of behaviour, two big advantages emerge: the employees will appreciate their leader for respecting them and the final solution to the problem will have a much, much higher chance of being the right one.

Well, but it seems pretty impossible to be skeptical and confident at the same time, right? Indeed, but that might not be needed. Here’s my piece of advice: whenever a problem arises, adopt this two-step approach in solving it:

Step 1– Total skepticism.
Do not take anything for granted. Search the internet for similar problems that other companies had and look at how they’ve handled them. Take notes. Now take what you’ve learned about it and present the information to your employees. If possible, ask each and every one of them how would they handle this. Finally, make a decision based on all of their insight.

Step 2 – Total confidence.

Once you’ve made that decision, stick with it until the end. At this point, you know you’ve done your best, so there’s no reason to be insecure. Your people also have to feel they they are going in the right path, so make sure you radiate confidence. Act like nothing can stop you and your people anymore from reaching your objectives.

Doesn’t look so hard anymore, does it? And while this two-step approach is meant specifically for leaders, it can be a great idea to use the same pattern in making any kinds of decisions, the results will be great nevertheless.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Successful Brainstorming: Possibility or Hoax?

In terms of brainstorming, people often tend to forget that in order for it to be achieved the answer is quantity, not quality. Brainstorming represents the essential first step in early stages of a new project, so it is crucial that everyone understands how important it is to be open towards all ideas and variables. Naturally, issues occur when team members feel the need to filter themselves from potentially good ideas that they may seem far-fetched or just simply because they are afraid of rejection and embarrassment.

Another common misconception about brainstorming is that employees and managers alike believe it can be done only in a certain way: the evergreen group discussion with everyone involved. It is not necessarily the worst idea, but it can have major drawbacks from a creative point of view. There is a general tendency that during these meetings, the first two ideas that get bounced around tend to be the focus of the entire meeting. In a recent study on traditional brainstorming methods, it has been discovered the fact that only a handful of people do approximately 60-75% of the talking. Logically, it can prevent other ideas from being discussed.

How to Make Brainstorming Better

There are many ideas through which brainstorming sessions can become more practical, based on individual creativity, idea generation and a better meeting experience. The following strategies will help your organisation’s brainstorming.

1. Select only necessary employees: Choose the people you need for a brainstorming session. If the meeting is filled with people who have no relation to the nature of the discussion, their contribution and participation will be zero. Moreover, more people mean a higher level of difficulty in passing along ideas given the fact that people may exhibit anxiety in explaining their ideas. A manager’s best bet here is the creative individuals who can actually carry the discussion in a productive manner.

2. Brief sessions: It is as clear as day that shorter meetings are more efficient. The current tradition is for a meeting to last for an hour. However, shortening the meeting time will entice people to bring ideas to the table much faster with a healthy disregard to keeping some ideas for themselves. Normally, a meeting shouldn’t be any longer than 30 minutes. Managers can always do follow-up meetings to discuss leftover ideas or if the schedule is too hectic then the recommendation is individual brainstorming time.

3. “Bad” ideas are welcomed: Managers should encourage their employees to speak their mind. Good ideas “happen” after a lot of other ideas have been bounced off at the meeting table. People should understand the fact that there is a very fine line between good and bad ideas. From a managers point of view all ideas are welcomed given the obvious fact that it will lead to the best solution in the end.


Read also: What Makes a Great CPO


4. Brain Writing: The general principle of this technique is to separate idea generation from actually talking. The manager shares the topic with the team, and the team members individually write down their ideas. This helps eliminate anchoring and encourages everyone on the team to share their own ideas. It also gives everyone more time to think over their ideas, which is especially helpful for your introverted participants. This brainstorming technique works best for teams who seem to be greatly influenced by the first ideas presented during a meeting. When you get your team to brainstorm ideas individually, away from distraction and public opinion, concepts are generated that may not naturally surface when in a larger setting. Individual brainstorming techniques such as this will often give you more unique ideas than when the group is left to think up topic ideas.

 5. Online Brainstorming: These days, virtual teams are becoming more and more common across all industries. The evolution of email and collaboration tools makes working remotely the norm in some organisations. Having a central location online where team members can collaborate is crucial for these virtual teams — talking here about cloud-based document storage or an online collaboration tool. One of those brainstorming exercises for groups involves using an online mind-mapping tool to answer very specific questions or simply to generate ideas that might be tangential to the main problem. What other ideas surround this concept? Map these examples out, visually.

 

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.wrike.com/blog/techniques-effective-brainstorming/

https://www.inc.com/larry-alton/5-strategies-for-team-brainstorming-to-use-in-your-next-meeting.html

https://www.inc.com/kat-boogaard/4-easy-tips-to-improve-your-brainstorming-sessions.html

How to keep your Employees energised

Top organisations around the world are starting to manage employee energy like a highly important strategic asset. They know that the ever-increasing pace of advancements requires more and more human energy. Any entrepreneur will tell you that it takes a tonne of energy to grow and build a business. The key is to manage it; sometimes you have to exert energy, other times you need to conserve it to go the extra mile, and after a sprint you need to replenish it. When teams are energised, they feel like they can achieve almost anything. But when there’s an energy gap among employees, it’s up to you the leader to bring back the necessary level of energy. You have to show the kind of energy you want to see. At the beginning it’s important to assess where your employees stand. Think about when they were at their highest energy levels, when they had a perfect day, what does the average day look like. These things will help you take things forward. Here are some of the best hacks in order to maximise human energy:

1Spend time engaging with people.

Say hello in the morning and goodbye at night. Be approachable. Ask about their families and show them you care about other things besides work. When they miss work because their baby is sick, ask how the child is doing when they come back. Also, enable your teams to enjoy and get to know each other. One great and very simple way to do this is through team lunches and dinners.

2Honor special occasions.

Celebrate every new hire. Acknowledge special occasions and make people feel special. For example, IBM used to give a gold watch to celebrate 25 years with the company, but most people don’t stay that long anymore. Don’t wait 25 years! You can celebrate every year and every other milestones in small ways by recognizing employees’ achievements in meetings or writing them personal thank you notes.

3. Careful with work hours

In the U.S. employees who are earning a salary of less than $47,476 must track hours and be paid for overtime. It’s wise to start enforcing this rule and discourage employees from doing work off the clock. Try and explain to your people that work-life balance can and should be achieved. Talk to each and every one of them individually to show them that you really care and you may see shifts in attitude towards themselves. It is also recommended that they take regular breaks during office hours in order to unwind. Encourage them to leave their desks, go out for a walk, stretch or even find a quiet space where they can relax.


Read also: Preventing Burnout in 5 Easy Steps


4. Allow creativity

Employees need to be reminded that there is no such thing as a bad idea. Even when an idea is not pursued, it can shift ideas into new territories.

From how employees decorate their desks to how they complete assignments, allow creative freedom, as long as standards of work are met. Encourage employee input, and, however possible, provide time and resources for meaningful, work-related smaller projects.  Nowadays, companies now set aside time each week when employees can work on their own projects, as long as those efforts further the company’s goals.

Employers can’t remove all the stress of their employees’ lives, but they can make the workplace a source of purpose, focus and togetherness that can help prevent employee burnout.

5. Celebrate wins

Do fun things with and for your team. Take a break and take the team to a movie, or do some charity or volunteering work together. This can be achieved very easily and here are some examples:

  • LiveOps have random Nerf arrow attacks and paper airplane contests.
  • At AdMob and Everwise, the sales teams ring a gong when a big deal is done.

It’s especially important to do this even when times are hard. At eBay, there was a day in which they started to do a free listing day. Users were thrilled about it—they stayed up all night posting listings. The increase in volume was immense – a year ahead on volume projections. Although a great marketing ploy for the company, it was a nightmare for the people running the system. They worked tirelessly to make it through capacity problems, and when they finished they had a parade and turned the relief into positive energy.

It is essential that employees understand the long-term winning strategy you are trying to implement. Run the positives and negatives by them in order for them to analyse and understand why there is a change in policies.

We have an impressive assessment library with hundreds of dimensions that can be leveraged in creating a custom skills-based assessment that supports your organisation’s specific competencies and unique vision. Please contact us if you need to measure the engagement level in your company.

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Sources:

https://www.inc.com/alison-eyring/these-5-strategies-will-keep-your-employees-energized.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/maynardwebb/2016/08/23/7-ways-to-re-energize-your-team/#5aad4d267349

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9711-prevent-employee-burnout.html

What Makes a Great CPO?

Extract from an article published in Supply Management Magazine:

“There are more than 96,000 procurement and supply professionals in the UK alone, according to CIPS estimates. For the ambitious among this large group, there exist only a handful of strategic CPO roles to compete for. So what helps someone get there? Is there a secret sauce of competencies, skills and behaviours that the best of the best have in common? It’s something SM set out to explore in a first-of-its-kind study to assess the psychometric make-up of forward-thinking procurement leaders.

We handpicked 45 CPOs from large, global organisations, including FTSE-100 listed multinationals, government departments and high street brands, and put them through the Great People Inside Full Spectrum, a completely new assessment platform just launched in the UK by psychometric assessment company Great People Inside (GPI).”

To read the full article, please access this link.

 

Presentation Mistakes: Why it Happens and How to Solve It

At some point in your life, you must have experienced this unfortunate event. You are halfway through your presentation and things are going amazing. Your speech is fluent, the audience is engaged and you are feeling confident. But, somehow, your mind draws a blank. And your mind starts racing: “Oh no, things are getting bad! What was I about to say?”

If you relate in any way to this situation, you obviously know how awkward and cringe that feeling can be. It is also difficult to regain your rhythm. So the question now beckons; what can you do to avoid this mental mishap? Fortunately for everyone, there are a few tricks you can use and they will follow in the list below.

  1. Oversimplification isn’t helpful

Regularly, keeping things simple is one first public-speaking strategies you can follow, but there is a limit to simplicity as well. For example, if you are looking for one word or phrase to best explain various ideas you may not select the right one. Consequently, your thoughts get tangled, and your mind has to go through the whole process of unravelling each idea and then try to put them back together in the appropriate order.

Sometimes, all you need to get baffled during a presentation is to forget or cannot find the right word. This usually happens when people are trying to compress 2-3 ideas into one. That is where the mind can no longer cope. When preparing for a presentation it is essential you pinpoint every main idea and afterwards search for explicit language in order to convey it. Oversimplifying can make people struggle during a presentation in which everyone is paying attention to them.

  1. Never mention how many points you are going to make

This one is one of the most common mistakes out there. People should avoid telling the public how many points they are going to make because once the audience has a number in their head, be assured they will be counting. Being prone to mistakes due to our human nature, you may forget which exact point you were talking about and will have to encounter that awkward silence trying to remember where you left off.

In terms of strategies, people should also avoid using terms and idioms such as: “first of all”, “secondly”, “third” etc. It is recommended you keep things a little bit ambiguous by saying: “One of our strategies”, “Another one of our strategies” and so on and so forth. If you manage to keep out numerical terms from your speech you are helping your mind avoid going blank.

  1. Keep your rhythm

If you happen to stumble during your speech, do not get stuck trying to make it right. There are speakers out there that once they mispronounce a word their next thought is completely deleted from their “system” due to the simple fact that they thought about their mistake. In order to get passed the “system” failure all you have to do is reconnect with your speech rhythm. Start by breathing. When people breathe, they have the opportunity to get the body back in sync and from that their thoughts will start flowing again.

Drawing a blank is nothing to be scared or ashamed of. It happens to absolutely everyone and it doesn’t mean that you are not cut out to be a speaker. A true speaker is the one who knows how to make mistakes less often and how to recover quickly when it happens.

  1. Technical difficulties

There is nothing worse than sitting around and waiting for a presenter to figure out how to make the projector or clicker works or even worse, listening to a presentation without visual aids because he or she couldn’t make it work. Be prepared to connect to anything. Know beforehand the kind of projector, the size of the screen, and the layout of the room so you can be prepared for anything.

  1. Disorganised presentation

When people have to make a presentation, most people open up PowerPoint and start making slides.  That is a really bad idea. At first, use sticky notes to prepare your presentation’s story. It will save you loads of time and make your presentation more organised. Plus, if you want to create an emotional response in your audience use full-screen pictures. The text should just be used for facts. Animations are fun for the person making the presentation, but they don’t usually add anything valuable to it.

It is as clear as day that mistakes are inevitable; there will be a point in everyone’s career when they will have to make a presentation. Of course, for some people, public speaking is their opportunity to shine, but for others, it may seem like the perfect nightmare. Wherever you think you may have a problem, these tricks will help you develop your presentation skills.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/239443

https://www.fastcompany.com/40478112/heres-how-to-avoid-drawing-a-blank-in-the-middle-of-your-presentation

https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/presentation-mistakes.htm

Innovation through Failure

For the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, every practice session ends up with something a little bit surprising and that the analysis of their mistakes. The pilots do not congratulate each other on their training achievements, but rather say what they did wrong in front of the whole group and how they plan to fix that issue. Even though they are expert aviators, the Blue Angels do not allow their pride to come in the way of further improvement. Their approach is meant to strengthen ownership, to encourage the desire of being better and also coming up with a plan for it as well.

Failure is often seen as inevitable, but the way in which it should be viewed is invaluable. Failure is common in all industries, economic situations and market trends; it is one of life’s best philosophies. If your employees do not fear failure, they have a very good chance of succeeding. Fear is a very powerful component of the human mind, it makes people disengage, panic and pull out of possibly prolific business opportunities. The past cannot be fixed, but learning from past experiences can enable employees into harnessing a strong sense of innovation. Here are just a few tips through which companies can enable their workers to be more innovative.

  1. Creating an innovation prone environment

This has to start right from the very top. CEOs and CFOs have to start creating an internal ecosystem in which innovation can flourish. In order to begin garnering innovation, there has to be a clear vision of what the company wishes to achieve and how innovation is at the very heart of it. Leadership teams within the organisation have to figure out the right way in which employees can be motivated and inspired in order for them to deliver on any innovative ideas the company may want to implement.

Of course, selection and recruitment play a very important role in this matter. The HR department has to recruit the right candidates, people who are well-trained on how to come up with ideas and to properly establish what kind of tools and resources they require in order to create, test and receive feedback from customers. All of these processes together help create an innovative culture. An organisation that tries out a lot of ideas will definitely encounter failure but chances are, success is closer than ever. Due to the fact that companies have numerous initiatives, they improve their chances that one of them will be a major score.

  1. Outside-the-box thinking and aggressiveness

Usually, the basic culture of a team promotes safe-playing. In layman’s terms, be on time, try not to upset the hierarchy, follow the group norms and have a steady paycheck. This type of model is clearly an innovation killer and can put an organisation light years behind the competition. For example, entrepreneurs have never been people who play it safe. Also, they praise employees within their organisation that actually do something and are outside-the-box thinkers. Managers have to make sure their teams do not rest on their laurels because there is no such as thing as a one-size-fits-all game plan. It is essential that entrepreneurs and managers empower their workers to come forward with their ideas, to present their action plan and put it into practice afterwards.

Of course mistakes and odd product releases may happen but that is simply part of the business world as we know it. In the 1950s, the Jacuzzi brothers invented a whirlpool bathtub in order to treat people with arthritis. Even though the product worked in the way it was intended, from a sales point of view it was a total bust. Unfortunately for them, their target market was small, due to the simple fact that not a lot of people could afford expensive bathtubs. The idea was killed immediately after but was relaunched in a completely different market – luxury item for the rich. Obviously, it was an instant hit.

In 1959, Honda Motor Company entered the US market with their range of low-powered motorcycles. Things were going from bad to worse for Honda, as it learned in a very cruel way that what was tremendously popular in Tokyo suburb areas was a complete flop on American soil. After a while, they came back in the US with high-powered bikes that became an instant success. The founder of Honda, Soichiro Honda had this to say: “Many people dream of success. Success can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection. Success represents the one percent of your work that results from the 99 percent that is called failure.”

Great deals of successes have been failures in the beginning. What today may seem like a logical invention that was meant exactly for that purpose, this is not always the case. People have to ready to fail; success cannot be achieved without gaining all the necessary variables from a problem. At Penn State University, there is a course for engineering students which is called Failure 101. The sole purpose of this class is for students to take risks and do as many experiments as possible. The more fails they have it gets them that much closer to an A grade.

Another great example is Christopher Columbus. He set out to discover a new and easier route to India. He landed in America and the rest is history. Pfizer scientists were testing a drug called Viagra which was meant to reduce high blood pressure. After further investigations it lead to the discovery of the effects it had on men, thus making Viagra one of the most successful failures in recent history. Another great example is regarding champagne. It was invented by a monk called Dom Perignon and it happened when a bottle of wine had fermented twice. 3M invented glue that wasn’t sticky enough. However, it was the basis for the invention of our daily used Post-it notes.

A leader who thrives on innovation will always encourage a culture of experimentation. People must learn that every failure they encounter is another step closer towards the road to success. Allow your employees to have the necessary freedom to innovate, to experiment and to be successful. All in all, it means allowing them the freedom to fail as well.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/294673

https://www.forbes.com/sites/karenhigginbottom/2017/08/03/why-the-ability-to-fail-leads-to-innovation/#5bfd624a36f6

http://www.innovationmanagement.se/imtool-articles/failure-is-the-mother-of-innovation/

Overworked Employees: Signs and Prevention

Every manager dreams of having a team full of hard-working employees, people who, on a daily basis, come in engaged, focused and prepared to reach all of their goals. And while everyone can appreciate employees who are very productive, there is a fine line between productivity and burnout when we talk medium to long-term. Unfortunately, that line is not hard to cross. All they have to do is start believing they have to work longer hours, even though business hours were over a few hours ago.

Perhaps there are managers out there that don’t want to realise this is a rising trend. In 2015, a report from Workfront “State of Enterprise Work” analysed the working hours of more than 600 employees. 52% of them have said they work longer not to catch up with assignments but actually to get ahead. This statistic raises a number of questions:

  • Do employees think this is what is expected of them?
  • Where does this feeling of working longer hours come from?
  • Are employees trying to avoid getting overwhelmed by work?

Perhaps an even better question would be:

  • Why don’t managers acknowledge this?

Managers have the responsibility to establish an environment where employees know and feel that they appreciated for their efforts instead of constantly questioning themselves and think they need to put in more and more work. Although the latter scenario may sound ideal, it is as clear as day that it leads to exhausted and even burntout employees.

Your business may be flourishing, but if you do not have any workers left to run the operations smoothly, employee turnover levels may change quickly. If you feel your employees have been neglected or have been overworking themselves, it may be time to take action and prevent anyone from quitting. Here are a few quick steps to implement in order to boost morale and bring back engagement at respectable levels.

Employee attitude shift

When employees start getting exhausted and frustrated about their workload, their attitude starts to drift towards a more negative perspective on work-related issues. Perhaps you have noticed some of your workers being angry and extremely irritable with frequent outburst towards their colleagues. It is a very clear sign they are over-worked and over-stressed. They may require some time off work or if deadlines are piling up the manager should be directly involved in dealing with day-to-day tasks and activities.

Higher working hours/week

In the vast majority of companies, the typical employee works more than 40 hours per week, more often than not it goes beyond 50 hours. In John Pencavel’s Stanford study, he has discovered that productivity reaches its maximum potential at around 49 hours, after that it dips down dramatically. If your workers are constantly working over 50 hours a week, it may a clear sign of exhaustion. Long hours lead to lower engagement levels, frustration and eventually burnout, so it is essential that the manager checks the average working hours put in by his team. Also, try and encourage your staff to work more reasonable hours in a week.

Vacation Days

There are situations in which employees do not use up all of their vacation days. This typically happens when they are over-burdened with work or they feel they haven’t pulled up their weight in the past few weeks or months. This where the HR department has to keep a close eye on employees, who do not use their vacation days in order to relax and decompress.  A quarterly review of this situation is imperative so that companies avoid burnout employees.

Increased employee turnover

It is common knowledge that stressed and exhausted employees are always susceptible to quitting. Obviously, this happens because employees have stopped being happy and they start seeking other employment opportunities. Providing flexibility for their work schedule can go a long way to reducing unwanted stress. Some people may be excellent workers during the early hours of the morning while others are night owls; allowing your employees some leeway with their schedule can be a simple way to create a happier and more productive work culture. Also, provide your employees with a Goals and Objectives document. This enables you, the manager, to have discussions with your staff regarding new projects or deadlines in order to mutually determine project priorities, shuffling due dates and rebalance workloads.

“Unplugging” from work

This has to start from the manager exclusively, by avoiding sending emails or texts during night time. Managers have to show faith in the importance of their employees’ life. A life in which they work, they have time for their hobbies and time to rest. Everyone needs to detach from work, which nowadays automatically means to spend time away from our smartphones and gadgets.

Bottom line is, there has to be respect for the people who work for you. It is essential for the manager to provide work for his employees, tasks that are challenging and exciting whilst at the same time making sure they do not overload. With the right balance and tension between projects can help create a wonderful working atmosphere with properly engaged and motivated employees. Managers should be mindful and keep an eye on for various signs that their team might reach the burnout point. Employees tend to keep their thoughts and ideas to themselves, afraid of what might happen if they confront their managers. This is why it’s up to the managers to observe and adjust any unfair situations that may develop in the workplace.

Great People Inside provides easy-to-use tools and processes to attract, assess, match, select, onboard, manage, develop, benchmark and maintain workforces anywhere in the world.

Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

Request a free demo:

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Sources:

 

https://www.inc.com/mandy-gilbert/what-to-do-when-everyones-overworked-and-theres-a.html?cid=hmpopface5

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/286777

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/how-to-manage-a-staff-that%E2%80%99s-overworked.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2015/11/08/8-signs-that-you-could-be-accidentally-over-working-your-team/#1f52711a5899