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It's Not My Fault! Creating Accountability in Business

Accountability, both in business and in personal life, is defined as taking personal ownership to ensure responsibilities are achieved as expected. It is a mindset that a leader must possess and then foster throughout their organization. To fully grasp accountability in business, it might help to first understand the opposite of accountability.

Consider the typical teenager and how they’d likely respond when asked to explain why they received a failing grade or were issued a speeding ticket. Refusing to accept accountability, they’d claim, “It’s not my fault!” They’d then go on to explain, “the teacher hates us and asked questions on topics that we never learned” or “the officer let everyone else go but stopped me because he is after teenagers.”

Every adult was once a teenager and likely went through this phase of refusing to assume accountability. Unfortunately, some never completely snap out of it and live their entire lives believing that their shortcomings, to a certain extent, are the fault of someone else. In contrast, those who do understand and embrace the concept of accountability never take a victim mentality but rather accept personal ownership of the areas for which they have accepted responsibility. They then guarantee a result and focus all of their energy to ensure that it happens. If you manage a business, such a high level of accountability can be a huge asset to your company.

Does this ring true for you? If I were your boss and demanded a “guarantee” from you on all of your goals for this year, would you give it to me?

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Role of Leaders Culture of Customer Centricity

Choosing to create a culture of customer centricity involves many specific actions, processes, initiatives, and methods to make sure the outcome is not only what is intended, but also expected, in order to make a real difference to the overall success of your organization. As such, it is the role of a great leader to help their people do what is necessary to bring customer centricity to life, within the broader context of many other equally crucial and demanding activities. In this video, Phil Geldart, author of “Customer Centricity: A Present and Future Priority,” explains the role great leaders play in a customer centric culture.

Video Transcript

Phil Geldart: And so you work your way all the way up the organization and you realize, to be truly customer-centric, you need to equip every level of leadership with the skills and the behaviors and the mindset to think about the customer, and to translate that mindset into action themselves.

Customer centricity is a culture. It’s not easy because it means that everybody in the organization is thinking about the customer. The reason that’s not easy is because many people in the organization never actually meet a customer. They never talk to a customer and they feel, “oh, customer centricity is what happens at the front lines.” What happens at the front lines is customer service; within the organization, it’s customer centricity.

So now: I’m an employee, how do I start thinking about the customer? How do I start evaluating whether the decisions I’m making are actually going to benefit the customer? I’m going to look at my leader. I’m going to expect my leader to be there to help me think about the customer, to show me how to think about the customer, to remind me about thinking about the customer. If my leader doesn’t do that, I’m just going to focus on my job. So, the leadership is vital within any organization, if you truly want to be customer-centric.

Which leads to an interesting question: do the leaders know how to do that? Because the leaders know how to do their job. And it’s difficult for them to think about the customers because they, too, have leaders. And so you work your way all the way up the organization and you realize that to be truly customer-centric, you need to equip every level of leadership with the skills and the behaviors and the mindset to think about the customer, and to translate that mindset into action themselves. And then to equip them to take those skills and that thinking, and coach their employees to do the same. You can’t have customer centricity without great leaders who are modeling that behavior and coaching others to do the same.

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4 Strategies for Becoming an Inclusive Leader (and Why It Matters)

Adopting an inclusive leadership style benefits individuals, teams, and the organization as a whole. Research by Deloitte has found that leaders who create an inclusive culture for their teams see a 17 percent increase in performance, a 20 percent boost in decision-making quality, and a 29 percent better collaboration. Inclusive leadership respects and values individual differences in work styles, learning, ideas, and communication, and leverages those differences for the benefit of the team and organization. Here are four strategies for becoming a more effective leader by focusing on inclusion.

1. Treat people fairly

When you recognize the traits, experiences, and working styles that make each person unique, you allow employees to bring their full selves to work for the benefit of the team. Inclusive leaders recognize individual differences and treat others fairly in light of those differences. Research shows that fairness is highly valued by employees and helps to build their engagement at work. A survey of full-time employees found that after fair compensation, “treating the workforce fairly” was named the second-most important workplace attribute.

It’s important to note that treating people fairly doesn’t mean treating everyone the same. Inclusive leaders assess individual strengths and preferences and strive to align each individual with the role and work that best fits their knowledge and skills. For example, individuals who bring an analytical skillset may be better matched to certain projects than those who are more creatively inclined. Leaders who take an inclusive approach also offer individuals on the team equal opportunities for growth to ensure they have chances to learn and develop their skills.

2. Encourage communication and collaboration

Recognizing the benefits of having a variety of perspectives on a team is at the core of inclusive leadership. Inclusive leaders pull individuals together to share their ideas, knowledge, and experiences, making sure that everyone has the chance to contribute. Some of the ways you can practice more inclusive communication and collaboration include:

  • Asking for input from individuals who are new to a topic or seem apprehensive to speak up in meetings.
  • Encouraging cross-team collaboration on key projects.
  • Leading by example and frequently demonstrating teamwork with leaders in other departments or functions.

3. Use cultural and emotional intelligence

Inclusive leaders recognize that not everyone sees problems and opportunities through the same lens, nor do all individuals manage their emotions in the same way. Leading a team requires developing a sensitivity to the ways that individuals respond to different leadership styles. One individual on the team may appreciate it when a leader spends time listening to their frustrations, while another may look to the leader for a motivating pep talk. Developing strong emotional agility will enable you to use different leadership strategies to motivate and support each person on the team.

4. Seek continuous learning

Part of being an effective leader is being committed to your own learning and growth. At the same time that new ways of working are introduced in the workplace, so too are new ways of thinking, communicating, and collaborating. Inclusive leaders recognize that no one has all the answers and that it’s necessary to seek out opportunities to sharpen their leadership skills, as well as the skills and knowledge of everyone on the team. Examples of how to demonstrate a commitment to continuous learning include:

  • Being willing to learn from feedback and work to achieve a better outcome after a failure.
  • Seeking to overcome biases and outdated beliefs.
  • Engaging in ongoing training and development opportunities.

Inclusive leadership helps to ensure the organization realizes the full benefit of different perspectives and ways of working. Without it, employees can miss opportunities to grow and perform to their potential. When leaders have the desire and capability to be more inclusive, the whole team is positioned for greater success and healthier team culture.

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3 Benefits of Developing Coaches Within Your Organization

Good leadership is about more than just developing strategies and delegating tasks. Excellent leaders are skilled at helping others gain new skills and guiding them on a path that leads to performing better and reaching personal goals. When this aligns with organizational goals, everybody wins: Employees enjoy personal growth and a work environment that supports it, and organizations build a high-performing, engaged, and loyal workforce.

When leaders are actively invested in developing employees’ skills and competencies, they will see their efforts bear fruit. In addition to strong training and development programs, coaching plays a valuable role in developing and engaging talent day to day, leading to a broad range of benefits such as empowered employees, improved performance, and higher engagement.

1. Empowered employees

Coaching helps empower employees to come up with solutions and implement their ideas. This benefits the organization because empowered employees know they have the freedom to be proactive and make decisions that will improve the company.

Why Empowerment Matters

When employees understand the boundaries and freedoms that have been defined for them, they are able to use their knowledge and skills to the fullest. Research from the University of Iowa shows that employees who work for organizations that promote employee empowerment are more engaged, take more initiative, and report greater job satisfaction. When employees are granted the autonomy to make decisions within their scope of expertise, not only do they feel valued, but they also make their organization more responsive, more innovative, and, ultimately, more productive.

How Coaching Helps

Identifying the appropriate level of autonomy for individuals is not as simple as using a template. Because each employee has a different working style and every task has unique requirements, boundaries have to be determined at the individual level. Often, when an employee has too much freedom, they can feel overwhelmed. On the other hand, when they are too restricted, they can become frustrated and disengaged because their talents are not being used to the fullest.

When employees work directly with coaches to determine the right balance between freedom and restrictions, they are able to grow to their potential. As employees learn and develop, their boundaries should be adjusted to continue the cycle of empowerment. Communication is a critical element of this process. Coaches must both listen to the recommendations of empowered employees and have the ability to provide the honest feedback that will help them grow.

2. Improved performance

Another benefit of coaching is that it can greatly improve individual performance.

Why Performance Matters

Most employees want to do a great job. In addition to providing training and the necessary resources to do the work, organizations that also provide one-on-one coaching are able to improve individual performance, which ultimately leads to better organizational performance.

However, Gallup research shows that traditional approaches to performance management are falling short and not reaching stated performance management goals. Only two in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. When only 20 percent of employees feel motivated, it is nearly impossible to achieve organizational excellence.

How Coaching Helps

The importance of ongoing interactions in a coaching relationship cannot be overstated, especially when the goal is to improve performance. It starts with providing clear direction for a specific task or goal and laying out a path to achieving it. If the interaction stops there, the employee might be able to successfully complete the task based on the clear direction, but if that’s all they get from their manager, it’s a missed opportunity for improving performance.

A good coach will periodically check in—ideally, at least once a week—to discuss the progress that has been made, help overcome any hurdles, and highlight areas for improvement. This continued engagement enables the employee to make incremental (and sometimes drastic) improvements that will allow them to become an overall better performer. Modeling behavior is important, but even the sharpest employees cannot rely on observation alone. When coaches explain why something is done a certain way and how that method evolved, employees gain new knowledge and can apply it to other work.

3. Higher engagement

Improving employee engagement is a goal for many companies, and coaching is one way to get individuals to stay tuned in.

Why Engagement Matters

Gallup estimates that the cost of poor management and lost productivity from employees who are either not engaged or are actively disengaged is between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion per year. This loss can have a major impact on the bottom line, especially for companies with larger workforces.

Despite this dismal statistic, the modern workforce wants to be engaged. Employees want to understand how their roles connect to the larger team and to the organization as a whole. According to the Gallup study referenced above, employees who strongly agree that they can link their goals to the organization’s goals are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged. Unfortunately, only 44 percent of employees say that they can see this connection.

How Coaching Helps

Engagement is directly linked to the frequency of communication with a manager and the content of those conversations. The same Gallup report indicates that employees who receive daily feedback from their manager are 3 times more likely to be engaged than those who receive feedback once a year or less.

Gallup has also found that employees who have had conversations with their manager in the past six months about their goals and successes are 2.8 times more likely to be engaged. This is a substantial return for a relatively small investment of time and energy from a coach. However, only 20 percent of employees say that they have talked with their manager in the past six months about steps to reach their goals, indicating a lost opportunity for increasing engagement. It’s clear that communication needs to happen more frequently and that it must address employee goals and successes.

Goal-setting through coaching also leads to better engagement, but only 30 percent of employees strongly agree that their manager involves them in the process of setting goals. These employees are nearly 4 times more likely to be engaged than other employees, but for the ones who are not involved in goal-setting, the consequences can be damaging. According to Gallup:


“Unfortunately, the majority of workers tend to sense an unfairness or injustice in how their performance is managed and evaluated. They are held accountable for work that they don’t always have the tools or support to accomplish successfully, and they often are not even invited to a conversation about how work could be done more effectively.”

Coaching can help eliminate these negative feelings. Actively setting goals together, creating milestones to achieve them, and tracking progress along the way give employees the chance to be involved in their own development and feel that their leader has their interests in mind.

Creating accountability through coaching and goal-setting also helps improve engagement because employees own the results of their actions and behaviors and are accountable to both themselves and their coach. When individuals know that they are responsible for completing a task or behaving a certain way—and have the skills and competencies to do it—they are motivated to stay engaged and meet their goals.

Develop Coaches Within Your Organization

The benefits of coaching extend beyond just increased engagement, better performance, and empowered employees. Developing leaders from within the organization helps build the leadership pipeline and grows institutional knowledge.

Teaching leaders how to be coaches also helps them become better at their jobs. They learn how to give and receive feedback, set measurable goals, and track milestones. They must also model the behavior they want to see in their employees, which means they are more accountable for their own actions and behaviors. All of these skills can be applied in future leadership positions, as well.

Leaders don’t automatically know how to be good coaches, but they can be taught with leadership development that offers practical strategies for coaching teams toward sustained performance improvement. Just like any other skill, coaching can be taught through experiential learning. It can also be honed over time through real-life practice and additional training to learn new techniques and approaches. If you want to empower employees, improve individual performance, and develop an engaged workforce, consider making an investment in developing coaches within your organization.

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4 Ways to Build a Culture of Safety in Your Workplace

Safety in the workplace is a critically important issue, particularly in industries such as construction, manufacturing, mining, and healthcare. According to the National Safety Council, every seven seconds, a worker is injured on the job, leading to loss of productivity, missed days at work, or even loss of life. Although it’s true that individuals must adhere to safety regulations and wear proper safety equipment, having a culture of safety will ensure that employees not only follow safety rules but also are fully committed to achieving safety in the workplace.

Building a culture of safety is a powerful way to ensure that every individual at every level in the organization takes personal accountability for the safety of each other, patients, and the general public. Here are four ways to build a culture of safety.

Create a Roadmap for Change

To fully achieve a culture of safety, you first need to understand your current reality. Surveys and focus groups are two ways to understand current employee attitudes about safety and to identify specific challenges and opportunities related to changing the culture. Creating a roadmap for culture change also requires a clearly articulated safety objective. Whether your goal is to become the industry leader for safety or to reduce illness and injury in the workplace by a specific amount, it will be important to clearly state the goal and the metrics you will use to chart progress. That way, everyone can recognize and celebrate success when you get there.

Ensure Leadership Support

Individuals on the front lines who are working directly with patients, hazardous materials, or heavy machinery are not the only ones responsible for ensuring safety in the workplace. In fact, leaders have a critical role to play in building a culture of safety, including:

  • Championing safety as a critical aspect of ongoing company success through regular digital and in-person communication
  • Dedicating sufficient resources to equip the workforce with the knowledge and skills they need to ensure safety
  • Recognizing employees whose behaviors align with the company’s safety culture goals

Build Knowledge and Skills Through Training

To build a culture of safety, you need more than a traditional safety training program. Traditional training programs are great for providing instruction on how to use equipment or follow certain procedures, but they won’t bring about true culture transformation. To achieve a shift in culture, it’s necessary to provide employees with learning experiences that enable them to think differently about safety and take ownership of their role in creating a culture of safety. When employees attend training that focuses on building a safety mindset, they develop a strong conviction for promoting safety and learn how to:

  • Adopt shared responsibility for safety in the workplace
  • Take actions that ensure their safety and that of others
  • Proactively suggest ways to improve safety through improvements to existing processes and protocols

Measure Results and Reinforce

Any culture change effort requires ongoing reinforcement to ensure individuals retain lessons learned in training and don’t fall back into old habits. Digital learning reinforcement, assessments, and coaching from company leaders will help to ensure the safety culture becomes further embedded in everyday employee activities. Reinforcement activities aren’t meant to teach new information or add more to employees’ workloads. Rather, they should be designed to reinforce what was taught in training, in bite-sized increments over time, so that individuals can incorporate those reinforced lessons into their workdays. In partnership with reinforcement activities, ongoing measurement of results based on clear metrics will help everyone recognize and measure progress.

Meeting your workplace safety goals can be a reality when employees and leaders work together to demonstrate their commitment to a culture of safety. With a roadmap to success, the support of leaders, and training that helps develop a new safety mindset, everyone in the organization will be equipped to improve safety in all areas.


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How-To Increase Employee Engagement In Healthcare

The overarching goal for healthcare organizations is to deliver patient care that heals and saves lives. With advances in technology and a highly skilled workforce to deliver exceptional patient care, healthcare organizations also need a highly engaged workforce that is productive and committed, in order to reduce turnover and gain a higher patient satisfaction. In fact, in a study conducted by Gallup of 200 hospitals, it was found that the engagement level of nurses was the number one variable correlating to reduced patient mortality, even more important than the number of nurses per patient. In other words, patient outcomes improve when employees in healthcare are engaged with their job.

While it can be challenging to tackle employee engagement in healthcare, it is a realistic and achievable goal. The key is to focus not on engaging those that are disengaged, but to focus any efforts on improving the engagement of those who already are engaged. There are three ways you can begin to increase employee engagement in your organization:

  1. Deploy Employee Engagement Assessments and Use the Data to Make Changes
  2. Provide Training for Leaders
  3. Create Opportunities for Mentorship and Coaching for New Employees

Now, let’s discuss these in more detail.

1. Deploy Employee Engagement Assessments and Use the Data to Make Changes

The data and results these assessments show have the potential to identify and execute improvements related to employee engagement. However, the issue is often too much measurement with too little action. To highlight this point, 80% of executives say high engagement (the employee experience) is critical to their organization, yet only 22% have a plan on how to improve it. If healthcare employees are to feel that their opinions are valued and it was not a waste of their time, actionable steps must be taken.


2. Provide Leadership Training

According to a study conducted by Gallup, leaders account for at least 70% of the variance in team engagement. So while the importance of technical skill programs is not to be underestimated, a great deal of the patient and employee engagement has a human element involved. By training leaders with people skills, such as communication, conflict management, and collaboration, they are more likely to be successful for their employees and patients. These skills are also important so healthcare leaders can work through any challenging situations and provide the best customer service to their patients.


3. Create Opportunities for Mentorship and Coaching for New Employees

The most engaged nurses have only been on the job less than six months. In those months they are enrolled in a carefully crafted onboarding program and are just beginning to familiarize themselves with the culture and the job. When this time comes to an end, engagement begins to fall.

Counteract this with a program that gives them coaching, networking, and mentoring opportunities. When employees in healthcare are paired with people that have a track record of success, they can learn valuable lessons about the nuances of the job and the organization they are just beginning to work for. Mentorship also allows for further on-the-job observation and in-the-moment coaching so questions or challenges can be handled effectively and efficiently.



For healthcare employees, excessive or unpredictable overtime, a stressful workload, and lack of workplace flexibility can all contribute to low engagement. Though you can increase employee engagement in healthcare, improve retention rates, and improve patient outcomes, by starting with these three things.


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The Role of Human Resources in Organizational Transformation

The role of Human Resources in organizational transformation efforts is an important one. HR acts as a powerful change agent and advisor to company leaders. According to Gartner research, 66 percent of organizational change factors relate to talent, requiring the full involvement of HR to pull together the people and resources needed to make transformation efforts a success. Though it may be tempting to think of HR as the prime driver of organizational transformation, senior leaders are responsible for establishing the vision and championing organizational change, with HR acting as a critical enabler of change. Here are four key areas in which HR plays an important role in supporting organizational transformation and helping to make it a reality.

Employee Training and Development

The role of HR is to understand the unique learning needs of the workforce. During an organizational transformation, HR ensures that leaders receive the necessary training to be more effective in leading change and that all employees have opportunities to expand their skills in relevant areas, such as teamwork, communication, or customer service, just to name a few. Employees need new skills and knowledge to change their behavior, and HR can identify training partners and solutions that will address learning requirements as the organization evolves. With a culture transformation, for example, HR can evaluate and identify an enterprise-wide solution that incorporates coaching, targeted skill-building, and training reinforcement to ensure lasting behavior change.

Workplace Communication

Effective communication is necessary for any initiative to take hold within an organization, and HR is an important catalyst for ensuring that all individuals involved have the information they need. HR also supports workplace communication by ensuring that the appropriate feedback loops are in place so that individuals have opportunities to express their views and ask questions. HR can enhance two-way communication in support of organizational transformation in the following ways:

  • Helping to craft employee communications from senior leaders
  • Participating in town halls and team meetings
  • Advising leaders, from the CEO to the frontline, and helping them to deliver consistent messages at every level of the organization

Tracking Progress and Sharing Feedback

HR helps to develop, drive, and monitor the agenda for change, keeping leaders informed and helping those who derail get back on track. Different functions and teams will have different experiences as organizational transformation gets underway, and HR is well-positioned to monitor each team’s success, making sure that implementation across departments and functions is consistent. Because HR is often central to transformation activities, HR professionals are able to see each team’s progress with clarity and can deliver feedback that will help managers guide their teams more effectively.

Linking Talent Management Programs

During an organizational transformation, HR needs to ensure that each stage of the HR Cycle—including recruitment, rewards and recognition, and performance management—aligns with the goals of the transformation. When talent management programs are aligned to the new state of the organization, people have greater clarity regarding performance expectations and opportunities for growth. Some examples of how HR can link talent management programs to organizational transformation efforts include:

  • Ensuring that recruitment efforts and job postings incorporate the skills and competencies required for success in the new organizational culture
  • Revising succession plans to ensure individuals who embody the new company culture are positioned for leadership roles
  • Integrating new organizational values into the performance review process

As business partners and advisors, HR is at the heart of any initiative that impacts the mindset and behavior of employees. Therefore, the role of human resources in organizational transformation should be to ensure that individuals have the necessary tools and resources to understand the need for change and take ownership of their role in making organizational change a success. On an ongoing basis, HR helps leaders instill new values across their teams and supports employees along every step of the HR Cycle.


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Giving Feedback to Employees: A Leadership Skill That Can Be Trained

Leaders have a tremendous influence on their direct reports, and one of the most critical areas for leadership success is being able to give feedback to employees, praise when it’s deserved, and coaching in the moment. However, not every leader will be able to do so successfully. This is a leadership skill that can be trained, honed, and perfected over time. For this reason and with over 30 years of experience providing leadership training, we believe training leaders to give employees feedback is imperative to the long-term success of the organization, the team, the leader, and of course, the employee.

Why Is Giving Feedback An Essential Leadership Skill?

Feedback Helps Employees Achieve Their Goals

One key characteristic of a good leader is that they are able to reach organizational goals by motivating others. Giving constructive feedback helps individuals grow by learning how they can improve and by reinforcing the activities they are doing well. This ultimately helps them achieve both personal and organizational goals.


Feedback Builds Trust Between the Leader and Employee

Although it can initially be challenging, when an employee and supervisor become adept at giving and receiving feedback—it’s a two-way street—it builds a foundation of trust. When done well, the feedback process should not be anxiety-inducing for either party. It should be a mutually beneficial learning experience that helps individuals gain new insights that will help them improve performance.


Feedback Influences Employee Engagement

In companies where leadership knows how to give effective feedback, employees are more engaged. According to Gallup, “When employees strongly agree that their manager provides meaningful feedback to them, they are 3.5x more likely to be engaged than other employees.” Additionally, “Employees who receive daily feedback from their manager are 3x more likely to be engaged than those who receive feedback once a year or less.” A higher level of engagement is associated with better performance, lower turnover, and higher rates of employee satisfaction, all essential elements of staying competitive and attracting top talent.


Feedback Reinforces Individual Accountability

An organization – whether large or small, corporate or not-for-profit, complex or traditionally structured – cannot function to its fullest if individuals do not take accountability for their projects, tasks, and behaviors. Keep in mind that accountability is defined as a commitment to follow through on what has been agreed upon and to take ownership of the outcome. Feedback is crucial at reinforcing an individuals accountability to their commitment as it provides support, guidance, and direction in a way that builds confidence.

How Can You Train Leaders to Give Feedback to Employees? The Answer Is Experiential Learning

For leaders who are not well-versed in giving feedback to employees, the interaction can be stressful and uncomfortable, even in a training session. Fortunately, like any other type of competency or behavior, feedback skills can be taught and practiced until they become second nature. However, you can’t expect leaders to learn feedback skills on their own by reading management books. To become excellent at it, they must practice it.

Of course, practicing new feedback skills in the work environment is intimidating and potentially damaging if it’s not done well. This is why experiential training is an ideal way to teach leaders this vital leadership skill. Experiential learning takes participants out of the work environment and allows them to practice new skills in a safe space with no real-world consequences. By trying different approaches and immediately seeing the results of each, participants can learn what works, what does not, and why.

Well-designed experiential learning sessions close with a debrief, led by a skilled facilitator, that connects the concepts learned in training to real-life situations that participants face on a regular basis. The leader can then return to the workplace with the confidence to use their new feedback skills effectively.


Leaders at every level can benefit from learning how to give and receive feedback, but it is especially important for emerging leaders to gain these skills through training. Experiential learning is a training method that allows leaders to test their new skills and become comfortable with them in a way that does not impact their employees. Seeing the positive results of giving feedback in a training environment and learning how to do it most effectively through practice empowers new leaders to use their new skills on the job. This leads to stronger employee-manager relationships, higher performing teams, and more engaged employees.


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How Management Styles Affect the Workplace

The strategies and behaviors of a manager can impact the performance and productivity of a team, and therefore the whole organization. Most would agree that managers who effectively leverage employee strengths and rally individuals around team goals will achieve a more favorable performance outcome than those who withhold feedback or provide little support to team members. A person’s management style can also impact overall employee engagement. According to Gallup research, managers account for 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement, and can adversely or positively impact employees’ commitment to their work and the company.

While one kind of management style may work better in certain work environments than others, managers often rely on a mix of styles, depending on the situation and circumstances. Here are four examples of different management styles and how they affect the workplace:

Authoritarian Management Style

An authoritarian management style is one that relies on an individual’s position of authority in the organizational structure. Managers who lead with authority typically assign tasks and deliverables with little room for debate or questioning, which, if not done in the right situations, can lead employees to feel micromanaged, undervalued, and replaceable. Authoritarian management can also negatively impact employee behavior. One research study found that an authoritarian leader in a manufacturing environment contributed to higher incidents of negative employee behavior such as theft, personal internet surfing, and misuse of overtime.

While an authoritarian work style may negatively impact employee productivity and engagement, there are times when it is necessary. Environments that frequently deal with emergencies or equipment failures—for example, hospital emergency rooms or power plant facilities—require strict adherence to management directives. In those environments, an authoritarian style can help ensure staff consistently follow required procedures and protocol.

Laissez-Faire Management Style

At the other end of the spectrum is one style that is far more hands-off. A leader who employs the laissez-faire management style empowers employees and trusts that they have the adequate skills, knowledge, and judgment to execute goals without much direct oversight. Self-reliant teams and individuals who prefer to work with a lot of freedom typically respond well to this type of leader.

While this management style leaves a lot of leeway for employees to be creative, collaborate, and take risks, it can also have a negative impact in the workplace when used inconsistently or in an environment where teams need close supervision. Employees who are new to their role or accustomed to more hands-on management may feel abandoned and unsupported by a manager using a laissez-faire approach.

Coaching Management Style

A coaching management style focuses more on employee learning and creating opportunities for individuals to perform to their full potential. Leaders who coach their employees to improve their performance provide necessary support, encouragement, and guidance. Leaders that act as coaches use their one-on-one time with employees to give praise, deliver feedback, and brainstorm ways to improve, which can help employees develop a sense of trust and loyalty.

While this style is very beneficial, it comes with its own unique set of challenges. Leaders need to manage day-to-day operations, which can sometimes limit opportunities and time for coaching. It’s a fantastic way to manage, if you are intentional about it! Also, keep in mind that coaching employees requires first making a connection with employees, so that the coaching isn’t confused with criticism or condescension.

Collaborative Management Style

A collaborative management style focuses on encouraging the free exchange of ideas within and between teams. Since collaboration in the workplace can have many positive benefits, including increased innovation and the break down of organizational silos, a collaborative management style can be invaluable to helping to build a high-performance culture and a workforce that embraces change. A collaborative manager listens to employees’ ideas and suggestions before making a final decision independently, but also relies on consensus decision-making, which gives employees a voice of influence and a sense of empowerment.

While a collaborative management style can bring employees together and help to establish a strong sense of team in the workplace, it can also sometimes lengthen the time it takes to make decisions. This style may even negatively impact productivity during times of crisis when quick, decisive leadership from one individual may be more appropriate.

Depending on the workplace culture, company goals, and the roles and experience of employees, the use of different combinations of management styles can be effective at different times. Leaders can be most effective when they understand that they can employ a unique mix of styles to use in a range of scenarios in the workplace. A good first step in helping to expand leaders’ knowledge and skills is leadership development that helps them discover the many ways they can motivate, coach, and support employees to perform to their maximum potential.


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How to Promote Critical Thinking in the Workplace

What is critical thinking? Critical thinking is a process of objective evaluation of facts and the consideration of possible solutions to problems. According to the Foundation for Critical Thinking, the concept dates back to early methods of questioning to achieve knowledge practiced by the Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. Today, organizations value critical thinking as a means to greater innovation and improved problem-solving. In fact, the skill is deemed so important that a survey of leading chief human resource officers conducted by the World Economic Forum found that critical thinking will be the second most important skill in the workplace by 2020, second only to complex problem-solving skills.


Critical thinking is important because it helps individuals and teams more effectively diagnose problems and identify possible solutions that aren’t entirely obvious at first. In addition, critical thinking can help resolve conflicts in the workplace. When individuals consider a range of possible approaches to solving a problem rather than relying on bias or snap judgments, they are more likely to arrive at a better solution.

Ways to Promote Critical Thinking in the Workplace

Some ways you can promote critical thinking in the workplace involve making changes in your workplace culture; others involve training. Here are five ways to encourage critical thinking in your organization.

1. Hire and Promote Critical Thinkers

An important first step to building organizational strength in critical thinking is to hire individuals who are already strong in that area. Behavioral interviewing is an effective way to gauge a candidate’s strengths in critical evaluation and analysis. In addition, when you make critical thinking a desired competency for leadership and promotion, you begin to build a pipeline of talented critical thinkers.

2. Build a Culture of Learning

It’s critical to create an environment where the behaviors related to critical thinking are a natural part of your company culture. Some of the ways you can build and support  a culture that stimulates critical, objective analysis include:

  • Incorporating “lessons learned” discussions after the conclusion of important projects, during which employees have the opportunity to look back on areas where more critical thinking might have been helpful in improving a project’s outcome
  • Creating an environment where tough questions are welcomed and employees are encouraged to talk through alternatives openly
  • Developing a routine or protocol for decision-making that encourages critical-thinking behaviors such as exploring possible solutions to a problem, exploring bias, and considering the consequences of different proposed solutions

3. Avoid Jumping to Conclusions

Another way to promote critical thinking in the workplace is to avoid jumping to conclusions. Instead, approach a problem by first developing a common understanding of the challenges it presents. According to a recent helpful article, these are a few ways to accomplish this:

  • Ask questions about the origin of a problem and how it evolved
  • Define the desired outcome before settling on a solution to the problem
  • Avoid overthinking possible solutions, which can slow down the problem-solving process and undermine disciplined thinking

4. Create Internal Forums

Sometimes the simple act of talking things out can help to spur the critical, objective analysis of problems. When individuals have a forum for addressing and discussing one big problem or a series of related problems, they generate new ideas, share pros and cons of certain solutions, and take advantage of opportunities to collaborate with coworkers on creative solutions to workplace problems.


5. Teach and Train

Leadership development and teamwork-skills training can help build employees’ critical thinking strengths by encouraging a mind-set and skill-set change. As individuals learn new behaviors, they begin to see broader problems and solutions that exist beyond their individual roles and consider the larger picture when looking at a problem.

Experiential learning  works particularly well in promoting critical thinking because learning by doing encourages a critical skill set. The immersive nature of an experiential approach keeps employees fully engaged so that they continually use their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.


Build Critical Thinking in the Whole Organization

Critical thinking is more than a desirable soft skill; it’s a valuable competency that is the basis for innovation and problem-solving. When properly cultivated in the workplace, critical thinking can help individuals and teams overcome challenges and meet business goals. Although there’s no magic bullet that will increase critical thinking in the workplace, a variety of activities in combination can effectively promote it. When you build a culture that promotes and values critical thinking, your organization as a whole will see greater results and outcomes.

What is critical thinking in the workplace?

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