Browsing "The Work Place"
Jul 13, 2012 - The Work Place    3 Comments

Building Communication at Work

The first thing we need to remember is that everyone is different. Some people are inherently more social than others. Some of us are better communicating in writing while others are better at speaking. Some people are better at reading information and some at listening. It all depends on the information being delivered and received. When you deliver information consider whether it should be spoken or written depending on the content as well as the preference of your receiver.

Here are some ideas that will help your communication skills grow.

  • Be an active listener: Make a conscious effort to really hear and understand what the other person is saying. Work at understanding their words as well as their body language and tone. Practice holding off thinking about how to respond or interrupting until you have thoroughly heard what they are saying. Often times the best communicators are also the best listeners.
  • Be clear and direct with your audience: Whether the information that you need to send is spoken or written it is so important that it’s clear and direct. Try and use language that is specific (we don’t want any guess work). Check that the person understands the information as you intended. Try to avoid acronyms, there is a chance they will be unclear or might be used as a form of passing the buck.

    As time goes on more and more of our communication is done via email and texting. There are many pros and cons to each of these, depending on the message and the audience. Texting can be effective when a quick question or answer is needed without further explanation. But don’t text when it cannot effectively and directly communicate your message.
  • Work at paraphrasing: The object of paraphrasing is to ensure you are clear about what has been said and it lets the talker know that you care about what they are saying. Both are equally important in effective and successful communication. Try saying, “What I hear you saying is . .”.
  • Use Face to Face communication when needed: Whenever you have difficult information to send or something that could have many questions, try having a direct face to face conversation. You will also have the huge benefit of non-verbal communication cues including tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.
  • Know your audience: Communicating with your boss, co-worker, or customer will many times require a different style of communication. When communicating with your boss be careful to pick the right time and ask for what you need and what you expect they can reasonably deliver. With a co-worker try and be direct, transparent, and open-minded. If a customer calls with a problem, listen carefully, always apologize even if it wasn’t your fault, and offer a solution.
  • Always be respectful and positive: Being respectful of others is key in communication and it builds morale in the work place. Work at using the other person’s name, looking them in the eye, and nodding to let them know you understand what they are saying. If you’re communicating in writing, reread your message before sending to ensure that it could not be misinterpreted or taken as disrespectful. When on a phone call, don’t multitask even if you think the person on the other end of the line doesn’t know that you are.

    Also regardless of the conversation keep it positive. Even the harshest feedback can and should be delivered in a positive, supportive, team-centric manner. Stay focused on your behavior and performance. When you’re on the receiving end avoid getting upset by difficult messages. Look at the bigger picture and the long term implications. Work on taking notice of your personal communication habits. This will help you gain insight into any problems you are having. If you consistently act in a professional and respectful manner, others will notice and your communication skills will grow.
  • Make personal goals: Having good communication is so important because it can build workplace morale, and will build efficiency and productivity. If communication is a significant issue in your workplace, consider setting personal goals for improving communication skills, and giving yourself awards with you meet those goals.
Apr 20, 2012 - The Work Place    6 Comments

Building Work Morale

“Dear John, I’m having a hard time building morale at work. I was recently promoted and so now I have all these new expectations and demands from my job. I’m worried that being inexperienced in this position will case difficulties with my colleagues. And also I want to keep those relationships I had with people before I became their boss. Do you have any ideas? Kevin”

Dear Kevin,

Building morale in the work place can be a difficult challenge. Often times it takes a lot of effort and will only succeed if you keep with. However in the end you will have a much better work environment than you did before. Here are few things that I remember from past employers I’ve had.

1. Surprise your employees with doughnuts and coffee in the morning. Set up the refreshments in your office, this will allow them to come into your office and when they do say “Hi”. Don’t mention work during this time.

2. Make schedules more flexible. It’s a good idea to give people time to take care of their personal lives. This only works as long as it’s not abused and doesn’t start to interfere with their jobs.

3. If your employees have worked late or put in more effort in days past, then let them off early on a Friday. It’s a big reward to your employees and helps them feel appreciated.

4. Organize a weekly or monthly lunch with your employees. Maybe even a pot luck where everyone can sign up to bring something.

5. Start a monthly newsletter where each month a different employee is singled out for his or her achievements. You could write up a report on the employee describing his or her achievements.

6. Birthday Cards. Have your graphics department make a birthday card for each person (that way it’s personal) and pass it around the building to get signed when it’s their birthday.

7. Set up an anonymous suggestion box in which employees can submit ideas for workplace improvements.

8. Once a month ask each of your employees individually if there is anything they need? As far as materials goes. Or if there is something they would like to have to make their job easier.

9. Have a weekly meeting each Monday morning to discuss issues or success from the previous week. This will keep everyone aware of what others are doing and will help you identify if an individual needs help or praise.

10. Each Friday at the end of the day walk by each of your employees and make small talk. Like “You have big plans this weekend?” or “Hey, did you heard about that new restaurant that opened?” Try and remember what you talk about each week so that you will have something to talk about the following Friday.

The number one thing that you can do as their boss is establish a safe and understood level of equality. This can be hard to do. You need to keep it known that you are the boss but also that you humble enough to treat your employees like colleagues within reason.

Never use guilt to get something done. You’re the boss and they may be angry and upset at you for assigning them an extra task, but it’s far better than the feelings they will have for making them feel guilt. Try and find a reasonable way of assigning extra work. You could try giving out a reward when the task is done. And as you said, you would like to keep those relationships that you had before, but you need to remember that they are no longer your colleagues. They are your employees and when the day is said and done extra assignments should not be argued about. People respect a strong leader.

There are tons of ideas and ways to build morale. These are just some of the things that I’ve been a part of.

Hope it helps,
~John

Apr 6, 2012 - The Work Place    2 Comments

Unfullied Work

“Dear John, I can’t find any relief in my job. It seems like I can never get ahead and there are always people in my work place that are unwilling to be a team player. People expect me to do more then what I feel I was hired for. And I just don’t know what I should do. I work long hours and never feel any since of accomplishment. Should I quit, I don’t know. I need a job to pay the bills. I feel so trapped. ~Jennifer”

Dear Jennifer,

First, try and look at all the benefits of being employed:

•  The obvious thing in this economy is that you have a job, which is a blessing.
•  You can pay your bills. If you’re providing for your family, or just trying to survive, the money you earn is important.
•  Many jobs provide you benefits while working (health insurance, retirement, bonuses).
•  You can afford food.
•  You have something to do each day.
•  You can build relationships with those you work with. (If people are unwilling to be a team player find out why. Maybe they are going through the same troubles you are. You might be surprised on what you find. Just because its work doesn’t mean the “Golden Rule” is void.)
•  You’re building experiences that will help you grow into a future job. (If you feel that you’re doing more work or different work then what you were hired for try and remember that this is a job and not a social club. You are being paid to work. It doesn’t matter what that work is. You agreed when you were hired to work for “X.XX” dollars an hour. Remember that. We can sometimes think that the world revolves around us and we should be compensated when we over achieve. Here’s a question for you, would it be okay if your boss paid you less on a day that you took it easy?)
•  The saying “Tried by fire.” is just that. While working in a crazy and stressful job is toiling. It can build great character, if you allow it.

Second, know that you’re not alone. Many people live their lives working in jobs that they never thought they’d do. Some find great joy in their unexpected career. While others feel that they’ve created a prison in their daily work with no hope of release. It could even be that you set out to build a career in a specific area and are now completely miserable. You are doing what you’ve always wanted to do and hate it.

I know it’s miserable to be in this position and I’m so sorry. Working at a job you hate is always difficult. But no matter what situation you’re in if you’re unhappy it’s important to take a step back and ask yourself “Is this job really worth it?” Is the job really worth the complete dread of that morning drive to work? Is the job really worth missing important events because of stress? We as humans can justify everything. “Man, the pay is so good.” or “The hours are super flexible.” However, if you are going to work each day full of anxiety and stress then is the job really worth it?

The question, “Should I quit?” is always a big one. My advice is always “Stick with it!” or at least until something else comes along. Even if that something else is McDonald’s and you’re trading one prison for another. But make sure that you have a hold of another job before you let your current one go. Don’t get ticked or go off someone’s word that there’s a job waiting for you. Get everything in writing and stay positive. It’s easier to be hired for a new job if you’re currently working. It shows that you’re employable. Also, applying for a new job when you’re unemployed can give way to many unwanted questions. Many people can even become stagnate when they find themselves unemployed. This opens the door for even more troubles.

But if all else fails and the job is just too much to bear. Take some time every day when you get home and see what else is out there. Make it a daily goal to check the paper and online ads for work. Check with your friends and family if they know of any job openings. Set your priorities and rearrange your schedule to find work. Tell yourself aloud each day that “I’m going to find a good job.” Put some emphasis on the word good when you say it. “I’m going to find a GOOD job.” Keep your head up and don’t let yourself get discouraged. You never know what tomorrow may bring.

Wishing you the best,
~John