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Overcoming Negativity in the Workplace

Negativity takes a toll on many aspects of the workplace. It affects everything from engagement to productivity, and even affects employee retention. No one likes to work in a toxic work environment, period. Combating negativity is not an insurmountable challenge; you just have to go about it in a strategic manner. The days of gathering around the water cooler have moved online, adding another challenge as people can hide behind screens and think less about the impact of their words and actions.

Workplace negativity disrupts productivity. It creates a place where employees dread coming to work, and employees who harbour negative attitudes about work can be toxic workers with performance issues. Employees who continually express negative opinions about the company and their co-workers may need strict counselling to modify their behaviour and attitudes. Attention to employee dissatisfaction is a sure way to overcome negativity in the workplace, however. Giving employees the opportunity to express their feelings about the workplace and helping them resolve issues that cause negativity are effective management methods.

How is it that just one discordant colleague, a single voice of negativity in a business unit or project team that is upbeat and enthusiastic, can cast such a long shadow on group morale? How does one bad apple always seem to spoil the whole bunch?

The power of bad also explains why it is so hard to sustain innovation over the long term, even when things are going well. It turns out that the impact on morale of even a small setback — a project that goes over budget, a product that does not deliver particularly well — can overwhelm all the successes that surround it. In order to overcome a setback, it usually needs 4 good things to happen.

Researchers have documented the positive impact of “social support” — friends, colleagues, neighbours who pump you up and cheer you on. Researchers have also documented the negative impact of “social undermining” — people who gossip, carry grudges, and otherwise bring you down. Not surprisingly, “Social undermining was found to have a bigger impact than social support.” So leaders with great ideas and good intentions won’t stand a chance of succeeding unless they are going to remove the bad apples within their department or organisation.

No Criticism, but Education

Too often our reaction to seeing or experiencing a negative or unfavourable behaviour is to do one of two things – ignore it or complain about it. These are natural reactions, yet they’re decidedly counterproductive. To make an impact and enact change, you have to take action and educate people. Call out negative actions when you see them, but remember that criticism isn’t taking action. You need to educate people on how they transform negative behaviours in a positive way.

Many negative behaviours are unintentional and go unnoticed by the individual. Frequent interrupters often don’t realize how disruptive they are. People making insensitive comments might think they’re being funny. Let them know how their behaviour is resulting in a negative impact. Show them the direct consequences of their actions and help them change. In the same line, be aware of your own behaviours and model positive actions whenever possible.

Speak Up

Take a stand against negativity and make your voice heard. You can’t create change by staying silent. Have conversations that address any negative behaviors you witness. Question why we’re allowing those negative behaviors to happen in the first place. Just because a negative action has been allowed or people have looked the other way in the past doesn’t mean it has to be that way forever. Have the difficult conversations. Stand up for what you believe in and push for change.

Don’t Address the Problem On your own

If you observe negative behaviour, chances are you aren’t the only one witnessing it. Find others who are willing to speak up. One voice makes a ripple, a group of voices creates waves, and many voices produce a tsunami. Find as many people as you can – there’s strength in numbers. Use that power in numbers to drive change at a faster pace. The more people you can get to be on the lookout for negative behaviours, the quicker you’ll see the changes in the workplace.

Ultimately, the good news is that bad news doesn’t have to drag down your company or your team. But it does require all of us, as executives, entrepreneurs, and change agents, to infuse well-designed strategies with a healthy dose of psychology. In business, as in life, it’s hard to get to the good unless you overcome the power of bad.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. 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://smallbusiness.chron.com/overcome-negativity-workplace-11532.html
https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashiraprossack1/2018/07/24/how-to-overcome-negativity-in-the-workplace/#19a519f641fe
https://trainingindustry.com/articles/strategy-alignment-and-planning/5-ways-to-overcome-negativity-in-the-workplace/

Organisations Have to Prioritise Young Workers’ Mental Health

Young workers aged between 18 and 30 are more likely to have mental health issues than their senior colleagues, with a whopping 48% reporting suicidal thoughts or feelings. This information has been made available from a survey of around 3,884 people conducted over two years by Accenture revealing this worrisome fact. In comparison, only 35% of older workers experience such dark emotions.

Even though they are more susceptible to experiencing such feelings, 45% of young workers admitted to ‘holding back’ from talking about their mental health in the workplace, compared with only 22% of older employees.

Younger people have also reported that they are experiencing more pressure in their lives than their older counterparts, with 4 out of 10 people between the ages of 18 and 30 revealing that the pressures from work are affecting them on a daily basis, 1 in 3 are worried about the mental health of someone close to them.

Barbara Harvey, managing director and mental health lead for Accenture UK, has said “It’s clear that many young people face challenges with their mental health before they enter the workforce and while working, and that they are affected more often than their senior peers. Therefore, mental health must be a priority issue for employers.”

The aforementioned study has also brought up to the attention of the general public about the advantages of working in a supportive and open culture, with 41% of those working in such environments experiencing mental health challenges, compared with 65% in less supportive environments.

Mental ill health has been estimated to cost the UK economy around £94 billion per year, according to figures released in 2018 by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with 1 in 6 people across Europe struggling with their mental health.

The financial aspect alone offers a compelling and insightful reason for organisations to take action in addressing this problem. For example, in 2017, an independent review commissioned by the British prime minister put the annual cost to UK employers of poor mental health in workers between £33 billion and £42 billion.

Additional action needs to be taken. Here are 3 simple actions leading organisations have started taking to get things moving faster in the right direction.

1.   Onboarding is Essential

Young people often enter the workforce with little sense of what is about to hit them. It’s important to help them make the transition to a kind of pressure many have never faced before.

Boots, a UK health, beauty and pharmacy company, regularly reaches out to secondary schools, colleges, and local universities. It runs workshops and gives talks that help potential recruits better understand the workplace, and taps its own younger employees as leaders of these events to ensure that the messages resonate. Boots also helps young hires to build skills and confidence and better adjust to their new responsibilities through group discussions and workshops. Early-career tutors are trained to help these workers and are, in turn, helped by others; they know how to escalate any concerns to a colleague who has had specific training on mental health issues.

2.   Train Them How You Want Them

Once people have been onboarded, they need help understanding how to manage the stresses and strains of the job and how to deal with those particular situations. The key here is to design solutions.

The international law firm Allen & Overy has many trainees, most of whom join on a two-year contract. Working with and led by the younger cohort, senior managers created a programme that focuses on the human element of life as a lawyer. Trainers equip new lawyers with ‘practical resilience skills and advice’ to help them achieve a healthy work-life balance in a high-pressure environment. Among those lessons are included how to set and maintain boundaries between personal and work time. A message that is best delivered by people who have experienced that.

One recent pilot initiative coming out of this process involves ‘protected evenings.’  It allows trainees to flag nights that are important to them, giving them more control over their schedules. Trainees also publish a newsletter every two weeks that helps address key concerns on their agenda.

3.   The Role of Senior Leaders

They should be open about the challenges they have faced and they should show vulnerability. When they speak up, not only would they help their struggling younger workers realise that they’re not alone, they would also be giving them some language to use to describe their own experiences.

Paul Feeney – CEO of Quilter a wealth management company in London – has stated that making it personal is the best solution: “In our industry, we have a saying, ‘Don’t take it personal.’ We should make it personal. People need to know it is OK to not be OK. The best thing to do is open up and talk about it.”

The more we can do to reduce the stigma of this topic and bring it further out of shadows into the mainstream, the less will people need to be brave to talk about their experiences. And they will be happier, more confident, and more productive at work and beyond.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. 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.zenefits.com/workest/young-workers-demand-emphasis-on-mental-health-in-the-workplace/

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/young-workers-suicidal-thoughts-mental-health-talking-a9217911.html

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-most-anxious-generation-goes-to-work-11557418951

How to Make Your Employees Feel Appreciated

The need for making your employees feel valued and appreciated should not complicate the way you interact with them.

Those who find meaning and fulfilment in the eight or nine hours a day they spend with you will typically perform better and stick around for longer. Not only will it benefit your organisation on a financial level by reducing absence and boosting engagement, it will increase the chances of your employees living fulfilled lives.

That is why, if you’re interested in building a team of productive employees within the company, then making said employees feel valued is perhaps a manager’s most important job.

Feeling valued and appreciated at work is something we all need in order to do our best, whether we admit it or not. Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, said in an article in Harvard Business Review, “The struggle to feel valued is one of the most insidious and least acknowledged issues in organizations. Most employees are expected to check their feelings at the door when they get to work. But try as we might, we can’t.”

In one study published by Harvard Medical School, helping employees feel valued was shown to have a dramatic impact on their performance. Researchers randomly divided people into two fundraising groups who were both tasked with making phone calls to seek donations. The first group made these calls each day as normal; the second group got a pep talk from an executive to let them know how grateful she was for their hard work.

Any guesses on which group completed more calls?

The group of fundraisers who listened to the pep talk completed 50% more phone calls than the group who carried out their work normally. The only difference was a little show of appreciation.

Starting with these 3 strategies will ensure you build a solid foundation for your organisation’s employee experience, so employees will know that they really are valued (and it’s not just lip service).

1. Be Willful in your Everyday Conversations

Employees and managers alike are often instilled with the idea that “everyone is replaceable.” But it has been revealed that a big part of feeling valued occurs when employees are aware that they add something to the company that no one else can.

To effectively transmit this, think about how you approach everyday conversations with your employees. When you assign a new task, for example, go beyond the basic “Here’s the contact info for your next design client,” and reiterate why you truly value someone’s work: “You did a great job on that presentation last week. We have a new client who seems nit-picky, and since your work is detail-oriented, I think you’re the only one for the job.”

Or, as you start giving people more challenging work, clearly acknowledge what you’re doing and why: “You really nailed your presentation during the team meeting last week, so I think you can handle a monthly client presentation with some of our big accounts.” The more you recognize your employees’ specific contributions to the team, the more valuable they’ll feel.

2. Show Them that Others Need Them as well

While recognition can serve as a great motivator, it can also become a little routine when it always comes from a direct manager.

I’m not saying that you should ever hesitate to reward your employees for a job well done, of course. But, do remember that feedback from others can pack a little more punch—and show your team that they’re not only appreciated by you, but also by clients, co-workers, and even executives.

As a manager, pay attention when a client sends you an email to share the amazing experience she had with an employee or when someone from another department lets you know “Roy helped me find the number I need—he’s terrific!” Then, share it. Whether you do it privately or in public, you’ll let your employees know that they’re making an impact on clients and coworkers—and they’ll be reminded just how important their work is.

3. Challenge Them Professionally

Every job comes with less-than-glamorous responsibilities. But it’s important to balance out that grunt work with challenging assignments, too. When you only give out repetitive tasks (or tasks beneath someone’s skill level), you’re conveying that you don’t really need his or her specific, individual talents.

On the other hand, when you assign an employee a challenging task and actually put your trust in him or her to see it through, what you’re saying is, “I know you’re capable of this, and I trust you to do a great job.”

So, it has been discovered that it’s important to consistently find new ways to challenge your employees—whether that means developing new projects specifically for their talents or just being more aware of what each person does best and assigning tasks accordingly. As a manager you must also carefully select employees for the task of training new hires—giving people this responsibility conveys that you not only think they’re doing a good job in their everyday work, but that you want incoming employees to develop their same habits, skills, and attitude.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. 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.bamboohr.com/blog/employees-feel-valued-at-work/

https://www.perkbox.com/uk/resources/library/interactive-10-ways-to-make-your-employees-feel-loved

https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2018/12/27/how-to-make-employees-feel-valued/

Small Habits that Will Lead You to Success

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, a career professional, a student or even unemployed, your habits are either empowering you to achieve and succeed, or deterring and holding you back. For most of us, we’re limited by our habits. We have habits that hold us back and can’t seem to quit. But for others, who possess a repertoire of really good habits, success and goal achievement is more automatic and easily realized. The truth? The state and quality of your life is a direct reflection of the habits that you possess. Good habits are going to propel you forward while those pesky bad habits are going to hold you back. But if you’re serious about success and want to get ahead in life, these are some of the best habits that you can harbour. Focus on these, and watch your life blossom while you realize the fruits of your labour.

 

Keep in mind that several studies suggest that habits account for nearly half of all of our actions. From what we think, to what we say and what we do are controlled by the habits that we possess. So, the more that you can focus on improving your habits, the better you’ll be at doing things like growing your business, achieving your goals, getting a great degree, losing weight or even making an abundant amount of money.

Of course, this isn’t just about building the good habits, but also about disrupting your bad habits. Disruption is how you block the electrical impulses to continually wield those bad habits. It takes some conscious training and persistent application to do this, but there are a few strategies you can implement to disrupt your bad habits.

Many habits we do without thinking, such as brushing our teeth or saying Please and Thank you, or putting our seat belts when we get in the car, these are good positive habits that free our minds to think on more critical matters during the day.

Why bad habits?

Usually, it is because we want the immediate gratification of our base instincts and desires. Many times we act without thinking, overcome by emotion, and irrationally lead by our weaknesses rather than our strengths.

The problem is that when we indulge in these bad habits, they seem to multiply over time, and the results are a disaster. Some bad habits are so small that we think them inconsequential and not necessary. The truth is that even the slightest change in our daily routines can change the outcomes dramatically.

Small habits have a way to grow until they are tough to change and can take us far away from our desired goals. They become big trees that are extremely difficult to uproot.

With that in mind, consider these five steps for getting started:

Initiate a ‘ridiculously small’ micro habit

It usually takes my workshop participants between three and eight tries before they come up with something sufficiently small enough to be considered a micro habit. When I tell them reading for an hour each night is too large, they then change to reading for 45 minutes, then 30 minutes, and so on. Finally, I tell them, “You will know you’ve truly reached the level of a micro habit, when you say, ‘That’s so ridiculously small, it’s not worth doing’” — in this case reading only one paragraph each night. In our coaching groups, participants only get credit for achieving the minimum bar, not going beyond it. Aim for small.

Repeat Repeat Repeat

The benefit of micro habits is that you should be able to perform it with minimal effort every day. It’s important to execute on a new ritual daily so it becomes second nature, and if it’s small enough, you won’t be as tempted to defer your task from one day to the next. However, no matter the size of the task, it’s easy to get distracted, make excuses, or forget. Perform your new action at the same time as (or right before) an action you do without thinking. Need to read a paragraph each night? You can do that while brushing your teeth.

Follow your progress closely

As the saying goes, “What gets measured, gets done.” Again, if your measurement process is elaborate, you’re less likely to complete it. Write down the desired action and under each date, simply list a ‘Y’ or ‘N’ to indicate if you completed the task. People discover surprising benefits to the Yes List, including detecting patterns when they’re likely to advance or regress in their efforts.

Maintain the rhythm

It’s hard to think small to begin with; it’s even harder to stay small. For example, let’s say Jake’s micro habit was to do 2 push-ups a day. After earning 10 Y’s in a row on his Yes List, Jake was eager to do more. For the next two days, he did five push-ups, soon pushing up the number to 10 and then adding a 20-minute workout after. The sad result? Within two months, Jake would give up exercising due to the simple fact that he had enlarged his goals unrealistically fast. You have to stick with your original micro habit long enough when you feel bored with it for at least 2 weeks in a row. Then increase it only by about 10%.

Accountability is key

It might sound strange to enlist a partner to monitor your daily reading of one paragraph or doing two push-ups. But having people support you and hold you accountable can cement new behaviours, and it helps them in return. The leadership program mentioned above has a peer group meeting every other week, and participants send a report of their micro habits weekly, updating the group on progress by stating how many days of the week they performed it. When you want to change behaviour, jumping headlong into a major goal with both feet is often a waste of time. Instead, make tiny, incremental adjustments until they are part of your muscle memory. By starting small, you can attain big results.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. 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/christina-desmarais/20-daily-habits-practiced-by-highly-successful-people.html

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/297331

https://hbr.org/2020/01/to-achieve-big-goals-start-with-small-habits

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/