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Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Archive for the ‘Personal Awareness’ Category

Seven Proactive Steps to Take to Deal With a Problem Employee

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Employees must remain motivated if they are to perform to their maximum capabilities. Negative attitudes and behaviors not only impact personal performance, but left unchecked can spread like a cancer through the entire unit. It is essential that managers identify and address these problems as quickly as possible in order to minimize their overall impact.

When managers identify a problem, the natural tendency is to directly confront the employee and place him or her in a defensive posture. The natural reaction of the employee is to exhibit fear of repercussions and punishment for his or her behaviors and attitude. While this may be emotionally satisfying to the manager, it does not move him or her any closer to a solution. In fact, the solution may be even further away than before the employee is confronted.

It is important for managers to deal with negative behaviors and attitudes in a factual and objective fashion. By remaining emotionally and personally detached, managers will be more able to pinpoint the cause and identify acceptable paths to a productive solution.

When dealing with a negative employee, the manager must approach the individual with an open mind and remain free of personal bias and emotion that may taint the process. The following steps can be used to successfully rectify the problem.

Identify the Problem

The initial step in dealing with employee negativity is to formally recognize that there is in fact a problem requiring corrective action. The problem may be initially indicated by a decrease in performance or by a remark or complaint made by an associate or customer.

Once a problem is identified and is verified to exist, the manager needs to examine and document the extent of the problem along with possible implications and ramifications.

Talk to Employee About the Problem

Once managers have examined and documented the extent of the problem, they need to meet with the employee and objectively get the problem out on the table. This presentation should be factual and free of emotion, finger-pointing or assignment of blame. Such subjectivity will only inflame the situation, create barriers to a solution, and place the employee on the defensive.

Allow the Employee to Provide Input

The employee should be given adequate opportunity to provide their input. While he or she may be allowed to vent any frustrations, managers must keep the discussion as free of emotion and subjectivity as possible. Both the manager and employee should work together to identify the sources of the problems in a factual manner.

Identify the Source of the Problem

Often employees are so involved with and close to the problem that they are unable to look at it objectively. By remaining calm and at arm’s length, the manager should be able to pinpoint the root causes behind the problem. As often the employee will only exhibit symptoms of the problem, it is up to the manager to probe more deeply in order to uncover the problem’s causes.

Identify Potential Solutions

Once the problem is adequately identified and defined, the manager and employee then brainstorm to identify all potential solutions that are available to remedy the problem.

Again, when problems are approached in a calm, objective and factual manner, the fear of repercussion is diminished. This allows the employee to be more open to the possibility of an acceptable solution.

Agree Upon a Plan of Action

After the manager and employee have had an opportunity to brainstorm all potential solutions to the problem, proper time should be taken to carefully review each. Some will be revealed to be impractical for obvious reasons, while others may provide paths to concrete resolution of the problem.

Both parties should agree on the best option. Once chosen, a specific plan should be detailed and agreed upon. In this fashion, the employee is empowered to solve his or her problem and is accountable for implementing the plan and the solution.

Monitor Solution and Provide Feedback

Managers should actively monitor the employee’s progress in carrying out the plan to resolve their problem.

Managers should provide feedback to the employee on the acceptability of his or her work to resolve the problem. If they are meeting or exceeding the plan, praise should be given accordingly. Conversely, if he or she is failing to meet the goals of the plan, the appropriate punishments should be administered. The goal of the manager is to work with the employee to rectify the problem and eliminate the negative behavior.

If and when these steps fail to rectify the problem, the manager may have no other recourse than to terminate the employee.

Excerpt: Negative Workplace Behaviors: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD


16 Ways to Motivate Employees and to Celebrate Their Successes

Recognition Must Be Given Liberally, Frequently and Publicly

Motivation Is More Than Money

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Leading By Example

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A developmental milestone is reached when the leader is able to build trust and motivation with their employees to the degree that they are willing to openly follow their direction regardless of circumstances. This is not achieved until a leader is able to demonstrate—through personal example—that they have earned their employee’s respect and admiration.

The practice of interactive leadership provides leaders with a distinct set of advantages that cannot be realized without their active presence. This enables them to establish trust, credibility and respect. These are all elements that buttress a leader’s ability to personally lead their organization and motivate his or her employees to follow.

It is one thing to lead an organization and quite another to motivate individuals to follow. The practice of interactive leadership demonstrates the character, ability and integrity of a leader and motivates individual employees to follow.

The practice of interactive leadership spotlights the individual leader and gives them the platform to shine by motivating their employees and effectively moving the organization forward. Interactive leadership is also the practice of leadership by example, and places all a leader says or does under the close scrutiny of their employees. Effective leaders use this to their advantage by practicing the following techniques:

Sell the Vision

In the storms of change and transformation, the leader’s compass is his or her personal vision of the organization, its goals and potential accomplishments. Interactive leadership provides leaders with ample opportunities to “proselytize,” or sell their vision to their employees every time the opportunity arises. This often means leaders are constantly talking about their vision and the positive changes that will take place when it is achieved.

The importance of a leader selling his or her vision cannot be overemphasized. As a leader, the goal is to motivate and lead employees. An essential part of motivation is selling employees on the vision and getting them to individually accept and “buy into” that vision as their own. Since organizational transformation in the face of change is normally a lengthy process, leaders must take every opportunity to remind their employees of the direction in which they are headed, and motivate them to continually work toward the accomplishment of their shared vision.

Walk the Talk

Interactive leadership places leaders under the microscope of employees who are continually assessing integrity and credibility. The practice of interactive management allows leaders to demonstrate their true character and build trust and loyalty with their employees. This is accomplished by a consistency in words and actions—the measure employees use to gauge a leader.

Consequently it is crucial for leaders to make certain they follow through on what they promise. If this is not possible, they have a good reason and take the time to explain why their promise cannot be kept.

Trust, credibility and loyalty are established when employees, associates and superiors know they can take what a leader says “to the bank,” and that what he or she promises will be done. This trust is strengthened and a strong bond created when a leader clearly demonstrates by actions that he or she places their employee’s interests above their own personal agenda.

Empower and Delegate

The practice of interactive leadership strengthens trust between leaders and employees when leaders actively empower employees and delegate tasks and assignments as needed. Empowering employees, groups and teams “on the fly” and delegating assignments when feasible allows leaders to swiftly respond to the rapid pace of change—as well as resolve problems and frustrations as or even before they occur.

Create Urgency

The rapid pace of change creates its own sense of urgency, but as transformation often takes time, leaders must motivate employees by further instilling this sense in them. This is best accomplished when leaders introduce new ideas and concepts, test them quickly, learn from the failures and move on to the next idea. It is through this process of continual adaptation and refinement of ideas and concepts that a sense of urgency is developed that keeps the organization moving forward toward transformation. In the absence of this sense of urgency it is easy for employees to fall into complacency.

Openly Communicating

Interactive leadership is built upon open communication and the ability of leaders to actively listen and respond to feedback and ideas offered by subordinates. This allows leaders to use all of their physical senses to observe and learn firsthand what is happening within their organization and to minimize the distortion of information.

Removing Obstacles

When leaders are ever-present and openly and actively interacting with their employees, they are able to identify and remove frustrations and barriers impeding forward movement.

Leaders openly empower their employees to overcome barriers and delegate the creation and implementation of the solution to them. Often these barriers come in the form of minor problems and issues that can be handled by frontline employees without the direct intervention of the leader. This enables the organization to be more responsive and productive.

Celebrate the Little Successes

The open presence of the leader among his or her employees allows them to plan for short-term wins and successes. These are important since the lengthy term of transformation can cause employees to lose sight of their goals and motivation. The celebration of short-term and minor successes maintains employee focus and keeps them motivated to continue to work toward the long-term success of the organization.

Excerpt: Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD


Five Critical Steps to Maximize Performance

Execution: Six Action Steps

Performance Plans Create Results and Maximizes Performance

Objectives Allow Managers to Focus on Obtaining Results

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Performance Management: The Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series

Planning to Maximize Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Maximizing Financial Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved



Happy or Grumpy: Your Mood Impacts Your Organization’s Performance

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Numerous studies have shown that when leaders are in a happy mood, the individuals around them tend to view everything in a much more positive light. The resulting atmosphere provides for an optimistic workplace, which in turn facilitates higher overall productivity, more creative reasoning and more efficient decision-making. The converse is often true when a leader’s negative moods prevail: they have detrimental effects for the leader, his or her employees and the organization’s performance.

In 2000, Caroline Bartel of New York University and Richard Saavedra of the University of Michigan studied 70 workgroups across diverse industries. Their research found that people who gather within normal meeting settings end up sharing their good or bad moods within two hours. Other research has corroborated the fact that people who work together share their moods.

It is significant for leaders to understand that within most organizations, moods that originate at the top have a tendency to spread quickly throughout the workplace. The reason for this diffusion is that nearly everyone in the company observes these moods and is thus directly influenced by them. Leader’s that are not cognizant of this process fail to understand the personal impact they, and their moods, have on organizational performance.

A large body of research indicates that a majority of leaders are unaware that their emotional intelligence levels, their moods and their behaviors have a definite impact on employees and the organization. Leaders can remain clueless as to how these factors have the power to resonate throughout an organization.

In many instances the repercussions of unwatched and uncontrolled negative behaviors are immediate. Employees can be reluctant to communicate accurate and realistic data and information for fear of the leader’s emotional reaction and potential rage.

The consequences of negative emotional reactions are damaging to the point that the leader becomes emotionally disconnected from the organization; as a result, he or she will not have a realistic sense of what is occurring in the workplace. These circumstances are especially troubling when employees actively work to hide failures, mistakes and potentially troubling trends.

While an emotionally disconnected leader can often sense something is amiss in the workplace, the exact cause remains elusive and their personal effectiveness is thus undermined. The perceived uncertainty of the situation also forces leaders to second-guess their employees. Other serious organizational problems can be caused by the following reasons:

Lack of Awareness

When leaders demonstrate a lack of personal awareness, they cannot objectively gauge their own personal moods let alone the impact those moods have on the organization. In some instances, a lack of awareness is the result of the leader’s ignorance, but more often it is a reflection of older leadership styles being used.

Many leaders who fall victim to a lack of awareness feel their personal moods are nobody’s business. Because these leaders do not see the need to force themselves to accommodate their employees, it becomes their employees’ responsibility to deal with the moods. Whatever the cause and reason, a lack of personal awareness undermines not only the leader’s effectiveness, but also the bottom-line performance of their organization.

Lack of Self-Management

When leaders possess a lack of self-management skills, it can be toxic to an organization. Mood swings, highly emotional responses, rages and outbursts have a dramatic and negative impact on all employees. In all these instances, leaders allow their emotions to control them. These uncontrolled emotions serve to undermine employee motivation and morale, which produces immediate and negative consequences on organizational productivity.

When leaders allow themselves to be emotionally unstable, their organization will experience higher rates of absenteeism and employee turnover due to increased stress levels. This tangible impact on an organization can be directly analyzed, quantified and demonstrated.

Lack of Social Awareness

Leaders clearly lack social awareness when they fail to empathize with employees and other individuals. Those who lack social awareness are either unaware a problem in this area exists or they don’t care about the impact their words and actions have on employees and the organization. Leaders who only focus on results while neglecting personal contributions, actively demonstrate this social deficiency.

Such leaders are unconcerned about motivation, morale or personal issues. Consequently, they will often find themselves surrounded by incompetent or fearful employees. The competent individuals or those with better employment options will quickly leave. The subsequent impact on the company’s productivity and profitability will be serious and obvious.

Poor Relationship Management

Leaders who possess poor relationship management skills are unable to communicate effectively, which results in misunderstandings, confusion and conflict. Employees in this situation can feel leaderless and uncommitted, as their work is often criticized and second-guessed by the leader. The leader’s poor relationships with employees subsequently lower morale and motivation. Employees don’t know where they stand with these leaders. And this feeling often results in high employee turnover and lower productivity.

While possible, it is uncommon for leaders to exhibit symptoms in only one of the above areas: usually they are deficient in multiple emotional intelligence categories. When these factors are combined, their impacts are intensified; a toxic organizational atmosphere is thus created that is saturated with problems and conflicts.

Often these leaders cause extreme chaos and havoc within the entire organization. Not only does this diminish their standing and effectiveness as a leader, but also it can completely undermine and destroy an organization’s effectiveness. Turmoil and damage will remain until a more hopeful and realistic leader replaces the dissonant one. And this change generally becomes the only viable alternative to relieve chaos and repair the organization.

Excerpt: Leadership Styles: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 18.95 USD


Three Reasons Why Leaders Fail

How Well Do You Set the Tone?

Communication Starts With Respecting What Others Have To Say

Unresolved Conflict is Corrosive to Leadership

For Additional Information the Author Recommends the Following Books:

Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Becoming a Leader of Your Own Making: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Communication in the Workplace: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Strengthening Leadership Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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