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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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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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6 Strategies for Breaking Down Silos in Your Organization

The relentless pace of change in the corporate world today requires teams to collaborate and innovate. Therefore, company culture must overcome silos and support effective, cross-functional interaction between teams. When teams break out of their silos, the organization has a better chance for long-term success. In a survey of global operations managers, 61 percent cited cross-functional collaboration as being the key to helping the company reach strategic goals. Here are six strategies that can help break down silos and foster greater cross-functional collaboration across the entire organization:

Communicate a Unified Vision

Often, organizational silos form because individual or departmental goals have become such a priority that they become all-important, causing employees to lose sight of broader company goals and purpose. A unified vision that is broadly communicated among employees helps individuals to understand that individual and team goals are secondary to organizational vision.

For organizations that have grown accustomed to operating in silos, the vision will need to be communicated often and across different mediums so that it remains top of mind. When people see the bigger picture, they can begin to understand their unique place in the organization, as well as that of others. In time, a focus on self and team will expand to include other individuals and teams that are also part of the company vision.

Create Shared Accountabilities

Once a unifying vision has been established and communicated, it needs to translate into the everyday behaviors of teams and individuals to take hold. Teams can benefit from having shared goals that pull them together rather than divide them. For example, an organization might align the IT department’s goals with those of other departments to ensure more efficient use of internal IT systems. To further break down organizational silos, it can also be helpful to have two or more teams work together on a task force that ends with a joint presentation to senior management.

Bring Teams Together

Breaking down organizational silos and increasing cross-team collaboration doesn’t happen on its own, but will be more likely when individuals have opportunities to interact and work together. Joint meetings, focus groups, and chat sessions can provide employees with opportunities to get to know people from other teams, who does what, and how they can help each other to achieve company goals. Other activities that bring teams together include combining similar teams under co-heads, or co-locating teams that can benefit from being in close physical proximity, as in the case of companies that sit sales and marketing teams together. Organizing a corporate events can also promote collaboration, build trust, and encourage relationships between teams.

Get Leaders On Board

People on different teams will be unlikely to collaborate and will remain in silos unless they see leaders modeling collaborative behavior. Company leaders need to set the example to demonstrate that they expect cross-functional teamwork and information sharing from their employees. Leaders can support greater collaboration in the following ways:

  • Talk about shared goals between teams
  • Assign a team member or two to keep another team in the loop on a key project
  • Regularly communicate and spend time with leaders of other teams
  • Recognize and reward individuals who demonstrate collaboration with other teams

Incorporate Collaboration Tools

In the digital age, there is a range of workplace collaboration tools that can bring teams together in the cloud, making it easier to share ideas and information. Digital collaboration tools can be particularly helpful in unifying remote teams and individuals. Some examples include:

  • Project management platforms with chat and virtual whiteboard capabilities
  • Shared documents that allow multiple teams to access and collaborate
    on presentations, proposals, and project plans
  • Data management tools that incorporate data from other platforms—for example, a CRM that integrates with company dashboards used by various teams

Shift Mindsets and Behavior with Training

A great way to help employees break free from silos is to train them to engage in behaviors that support more teamwork and collaboration. With the help of accountability, communication, and leadership training to name a few, employees can learn more about the dangers of silos, see the benefits of collaboration, and practice useful techniques for breaking down silos back on the job.

Organizational silos stand in the way of innovation and growth. They also limit the success of individuals, preventing them from realizing the positive benefits of teamwork and collaboration. By using strategies that encourage individuals to think of themselves as part of the broader organizational team, more cross-functional collaboration can become a reality.

6 Strategies to Help Leaders Break Down Silos At Work

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3 Change Management Activities For Leaders

As a leader, it is always important to be present and accessible to the individuals who report to you, and it is more important than ever during a transition in the company. When not handled well, change can be distressing and potentially damaging to morale. On the other hand, if you implement a well thoughtout change management plan, with accompanying activities, you can successfully undergo a transition that leads to long-lasting, positive change.

Leaders are especially important in the success of any change initiative. Regardless of whether the change is small such as a physical modification of the office space, or as large as an organizational culture transformation, individuals will look to leadership for cues. If you exhibit poise and grace under pressure, your team is likely to follow suit. However, if you express concern about the transition, or even worse, seem oblivious to the worries of those around you, others in the company are more likely to feel anxious. Approach the transition with intention and incorporate these change management activities for leaders and you will be well on your way to success.


1. Build Effective Communication Throughout the Process

Effective communication is essential for successful change management. Start an open dialogue as early as possible in the process and continue to provide updates and ask for feedback. Do not assume that people will come to you if they have questions; make it clear that they are not only welcome to do so, but encouraged to actively participate in the process. By communicating the reasons for the change, the projected timeline, how it will impact each individual, and any other relevant details, you not only minimize the disruption, but you also get the buy-in you need for everybody in the company to embrace the new systems or change behavior.

For your change management plan, consider face-to-face communication sessions that start with executive leaders, move down to management teams, and then to individuals. You can:

  • Conduct one-on-one meetings with each of the senior leaders in your organization that foster an honest and straight-forward discussion of the changes.
  • Form small group meetings, led by these senior leaders, throughout the organization. These meetings should share the same information, brainstorm solutions, and implement the new processes.

Remember, individuals will be more likely to embrace change if it’s discussed on a personal level rather than by reading it.

Recommended Change Management Activity

If you’re finding that communication is breaking down, try starting your meetings with a communication-focused team-building activity, based on the improv comedy tenet, “Always say yes.” Take ten minutes to do an improv exercise that helps build communication skills.

  1. Have individuals break into pairs.
  2. One member of the pair starts with a statement and the second person responds with, “Yes and…” The first person continues with another statement and the “Yes and…” cycle continues for five minutes.
  3. After five minutes, the partners switch and do the same exercise starting with a different statement.

This kind of activity works in two ways: first, individuals benefit from practicing communication skills. Second, when leaders are involved, they get insight into the kinds of communication improvements that individuals respond the best to. You strengthen communication and leadership skills – all in one.


2. Create an Environment of Accessibility

Your team should always feel that they can come to you and any other leaders with questions, suggestions, or concerns, particularly when the company is undergoing a transition. Make it easy for them to communicate with you by eliminating the obstacles that make it logistically challenging or intimidating. For example, if you have a busy schedule that leaves limited time for one-on-one conversations with individuals on your team, try these strategies:

  • Set aside a couple hours a week when you have an open door policy so they know they can reach you without disrupting your schedule. Put it in the calendar as “non-touchable” time.
  • Schedule a regular meeting time with team members, giving them the opportunity to speak up when they otherwise might not. Also put it in the calendar as “non-touchable” time.
  • Allow team members to participate in decision making by scheduling a brainstorming meeting where each individual will have an opportunity to voice their ideas or feedback.

Recommended Change Management Activity

If you feel that team members aren’t comfortable coming to you and may be holding back questions about the process, try an activity that both opens you up as a leader and encourages questions from the team.

Use a physical activity to demonstrate the importance of open communication.

  1. Start with everybody in the group blindfolded and have them pass a ball around the room without speaking. The process is slow and the ball can only go to people who are adjacent to each other.
  2. Next, allow them to speak while passing the ball, but still with blindfolds on. Speed increases, but where the ball can be passed is still limited by proximity.
  3. Finally, remove the blindfolds and allow them to pass the ball around the room to anybody they want to.

This exercise demonstrates that when all of the obstacles to communication are removed, the flow of information is dramatically improved.


3. Practice Empathy

Remember: just because the reasons for the change and the process to get there might be crystal clear in your mind, they are not necessarily so obvious to others in the company. Take the time to put yourself in other’s shoes (which will mean stepping out of yours) by using active listening:

  • Prior to implementing the changes, conduct interviews with employees from various levels and functions.
  • Repeat back how you interpret their ideas or feedback by saying: “Please tell me if I’ve got this right. You feel that…”.
  • Avoid weighing in with your opinion during these meetings in order to truly see the changes from their perspective.

Once you have clarity on how the changes will affect others in the company, adjust the change management game plan accordingly. Clearly outline the process and make your communications– whether they are email memos or announcements at staff meetings–concise and and organized. This is especially true if the change involves multiple steps or different categories of activities.

Recommended Change Management Activity

Active listening not cutting it? If you’re not feeling like it’s easy to put yourself in your team members’ shoes, try one of the activities listed above–but you should be a participant, not the leader. Instead of leading through a communication breakdown, you’re experiencing it firsthand. Later, you can better lead through these breakdowns because you’ve recently been on the receiving end.

Even the smallest of changes will inevitably be disruptive to some degree, especially if the stage has not been set properly in advance. Therefore, by employing change management activities like effective communication, being accessible to your team, and looking at the transition from their perspective, you can successfully lead change.


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8 Strategies for Running an Effective Team Meeting

Attending team meetings are an everyday occurrence for many of us. Gathering people together to discuss a topic or decide a course of action can help to maintain and improve workflow. However, not all meetings make good use of employees’ time.

A team of researchers surveyed senior managers across a range of industries, and 71 percent of them said meetings were unproductive and inefficient. One key reason meetings can be unproductive is because only an estimated 20 percent of leaders receive training on how to run them effectively, according to research by Steven Rogelberg, author of “The Surprising Science of Meetings.”

Meetings don’t have to waste anyone’s time. With targeted training, leaders can learn to take the following eight steps to ensure every team meeting is effective and relevant.



Know the Meeting Objective

Team meetings can have all sorts of objectives, from informing to providing an update to getting input from others to solve problems. Unfortunately, many meetings don’t have a stated objective. They may simply be called based on an assumption that participants understand and agree on the purpose of the meeting. To ensure that everyone involved understands the objective of the meeting and the intended outcome, it’s necessary to establish what the meeting will accomplish before or at the beginning of every meeting. Before the meeting, send out an agenda that outlines the goal of the meeting, along with any items you want people to prepare or provide updates on. Once everyone understands the meeting objective, you can start the meeting off on the right foot.

Get Input from Everyone

A meeting is not effective if only a handful of participants are actively involved in the discussion. All participants in a meeting should be contributing, whether by offering new ideas, asking questions of others, or volunteering to take responsibility for follow-up action. Some ways to get input from meeting participants include:

  • Regularly asking for input during the meeting, including from those who have not yet spoken up
  • Having the team engage in brainstorming or brainwriting exercises that encourage idea generation
  • Asking a select number of individuals to perform follow-up work and present their findings at the next meeting

Ensure Clarity Between Fact and Opinion

Although an effective meeting benefits from participant viewpoints and opinions, it must also include facts and data that help the team make progress. After all, a team project is not likely to find success if activities are guided by individual guesses or conjecture. Instead, reports, trend analyses, and other data will be more effective guides for team discussion and action. One good way to ensure clarity between fact and opinion in a meeting is to include a presentation of key data, and then offer each person the chance to weigh in on their interpretation of the data.

Recap Periodically

It’s not uncommon for a meeting discussion to stray from the agenda. Team leaders can ensure agenda items aren’t overlooked by adding periodic recaps of what’s been discussed and agreed upon. Periodic recaps ensure that each agenda item gets its necessary attention and discussion. Recaps also help to focus the team and keep off-topic discussion to a minimum.

Make Decisions

An effective meeting doesn’t dance around issues but brings them to closure through definitive decision-making. A decision outcome can be as small as an agreement to revisit a specific topic once more information has been gathered. It can also be as large as a decision to change some part of the team strategy. Making a decision ensures the team doesn’t stagnate and keeps the agenda moving forward to action.

Assign Tasks to Individuals

An effective meeting specifies deliverables and who will be accountable for achieving them. As one Inc. article describes, “Great meetings result in decisions, but a decision isn’t really a decision if it’s never carried out.” When you carefully assign follow-up tasks along with deadlines, there’s a greater likelihood of ensuring that nothing is forgotten and that team members aren’t duplicating efforts. Producing meeting minutes and using project management software are examples of ways you can ensure efficient task assignment and keep track of deliverables.

Keep the Meeting Engaging

Meetings shouldn’t be tedious or boring. Instead, they should be designed to hold participants’ attention and use everyone’s time efficiently. Some ideas for keeping meetings engaging include:

  • Limiting the duration of the meeting
  • Adding an experiential activity that encourages participants to interact and communicate on a deeper level
  • Using video conference tools to involve remote employees

Commit to Follow Up

An effective meeting requires follow-up so that each member of the team knows what to expect and what they need to do after each meeting. Following up after a meeting also ensures that important information isn’t lost and helps to memorialize what was discussed and agreed upon. Whether the meeting follow-up is in the form of an email to the team or a discussion in a subsequent meeting, it keeps the meeting agenda and deliverables top of mind for meeting participants.


Conclusion: Start Running Effective Team Meetings Today

Running an effective team meeting is a critical skill for leaders to master because it helps to move projects forward in an efficient manner. Because leading meetings effectively doesn’t come naturally for many individuals, it makes sense to include opportunities to learn and master that skill as part of a robust leadership development program. From there, individuals will be equipped to get broad participation, regular follow-up, and clear decision-making in each of the meetings they lead.


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The Importance of Emotional Intelligence When Leading Change

Organizational change is happening all the time, especially during times such as these. It can bring about a range of emotions in people, including fear, resistance, frustration, and confusion. Leading change successfully in the midst of those emotions requires the ability to define and communicate a vision that inspires others. It also requires helping others to adjust their thinking and behavior in the workplace so that they can successfully navigate change.

One powerful tool that helps leaders guide their teams through change of any kind is emotional intelligence—the ability to identify and manage one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships with empathy and good judgment. Not only is emotional intelligence a strong predictor of overall job success (research has found that it accounts for 58 percent of success at work), but it also influences individuals’ ability to successfully navigate the emotions and behavior of others during times of change. Here are four ways emotional intelligence helps leaders guide their employees through changing times.

Helps to Overcome Resistance

Resistance to organizational change is common for many reasons. Some individuals may want to avoid certain changes to their responsibilities and work processes, and others may simply resist being pushed outside of their comfort zones. Because emotional intelligence involves understanding others’ emotions, it requires listening and asking questions rather than simply telling employees what they should and should not do.

Leaders can leverage emotional intelligence to hone in on the source of employee resistance to change and can offer ideas, strategies, and coaching that will help to overcome feelings of resistance. Some key activities that can support getting at the heart of resistance to change include:

  • Q&A sessions that allow employees to air their frustrations and fears about change
  • One-on-one discussions that provide opportunities to talk about specific employee experiences with change
  • Employee surveys that ask individuals to describe their experiences and share feedback on company change initiatives

Encourages Continuous Learning

Change implies that there will be an ongoing requirement to think and behave differently in order to be successful in the future. Change in the workplace requires the same—that individuals will acquire new knowledge and skills to help them navigate the waters of change. Research points to emotional intelligence as a key factor that drives the willingness and desire to learn because it helps to encourage both curiosity and an openness to learning lessons from successes and failures.

Leaders who possess emotional intelligence and model behaviors that demonstrate their support for continuous learning can encourage those behaviors in others. Leaders can further instill a dedication to continuous learning by encouraging employees to participate in training that helps them develop healthy attitudes toward change.

Improves Decision-Making

When navigating organizational change, individuals must be equipped to use their judgment and make decisions in the midst of uncertainty and shifting circumstances. Because those with high levels of emotional intelligence are more self-aware and also more socially aware of others’ feelings and emotions, they are better equipped to make well-informed decisions when solving problems or determining a course of action.

Leaders who employ emotional intelligence can help themselves and others become better decision makers during times of change. Instead of making a decision based solely on assumptions or a single person’s interpretation of the facts, emotional intelligence helps leaders consider the emotional needs of others when leading their team through important decisions.

Supports Healthy Relationship-Building and Trust

During times of change, individuals need support from leaders and need to feel like they’re not alone. Emotional intelligence allows leaders to provide the understanding and empathy that builds confidence and trust in others. Through active listening, patient conflict resolution, and mentorship, emotionally intelligent leaders build healthy relationships with others and allow employees to trust them as they lead the team through change successfully.

Emotional intelligence is a valuable tool in all aspects of working life, but it is particularly important when leading in times of change because it helps individuals take the emotions and feelings of others into account. When leaders take the time to provide support, training, and coaching to help individuals manage their emotions during the uncertainties of organizational change, there is less chance for resistance, fear, and distrust to derail organizational change efforts. With a combination of leading by example, providing opportunities for employee learning, and establishing forums for communication and feedback, it’s possible to fully leverage emotional intelligence to successfully lead others through change.


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Excellent Communication Requires Patience

Individuals who communicate effectively can achieve far more than those who give confusing feedback or struggle with an awkward communication style or poor message delivery. It’s one of the reasons most organizations list strong communication skills among the competencies one working in the modern workforce needs to be hired or secure a promotion. In a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers rated verbal communication skills as the most important skill sought in job candidates.

Strong communication is more than a buzzword. It’s a powerful tool that can make a difference in an individual’s overall performance. To become effective communicators, individuals need to master a range of communication techniques and behaviors; one of which is patience.

What Does It Mean to Have Patience in the Workplace?

Someone who has patience in the workplace has both the ability to listen and the ability to deliver the message directly to the intended recipient in a way they fully understand and connect with.

These two skills are very closely linked. If you have the ability to let the person finish speaking through until they are done, without interrupting, then you will be able to understand more clearly what’s on their mind and why they feel the way they do. When you interrupt you cause them to change direction, and then respond to what you said rather then finish what it was they were about to say. The better you understand what they were thinking, the better you are able to respond to them where they are.

Alternatively, when you’re speaking and they interrupt, let them! This gives you additional information as to where they are coming from, and what’s really important to them. This is difficult when we want to finish what we are saying, but if effectiveness is your objective then it is more effective to let them interrupt than to finish what you have to say. What they’re really thinking about is what they’re going to say when you’re done anyway.

As we grow to appreciate the importance of really effective communication, rather than simply the sense of relief we feel when we’ve said what we want to say, even if it’s not been heard as well as we would like, then we should be willing to be patient. This patience when listening, or patience when being interrupted, pays big dividends if you are then able to better understand your listener and tailor your message accordingly.

Developing Patience Through Training

Communication skills influence how employees interact with each other and with customers, as well as how they approach problems and deliver feedback. Improving communication may involve some simple concepts, but achieving it will be a challenge if individuals don’t know how or what to change.

Training that provides the necessary communication skills and knowledge will help employees at every level of the organization become effective communicators and show patience to their colleagues, superiors, and direct reports. It is not a skill that employees can learn by just reading, watching a video, or listening to a presentation about it. Instead, employees need opportunities to learn how to become better communicators by doing, and what better way to do this than by learning through experience, otherwise known as experiential learning. Experiential learning teaches skills and behaviors by presenting individuals with a low-risk opportunity to learn and practice face-to-face techniques in an engaging experience that seems completely unrelated to their lives at work. By engaging in experiential learning, individuals begin to understand why the skills and knowledge being trained are so important in the workplace, how to improve them, and how to apply what they’ve learned back on the job.

Mastering excellent communication requires patience. Both patience as the organization who wants to see it developed in its people, but patience as the one who is communicating with others every single day. Though through intentional effort on implementing practical training solutions, organizations can make this a reality.



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3 Performance Management Best Practices That Will Make You Better

Performance management best practices encompass so much more than a yearly review. A company with a strong performance management system facilitates the communication between leaders and employees, with an eye toward achieving both employees’ professional goals and the company’s business goals. Companies who understand the massive impact that a clear set of performance management best practices can have on employee and team performance will invest in their leaders. This will develop the all-important “soft” leadership skills needed for the manager to be successful in performance management.

What’s more, when organizational leadership puts an emphasis on performance management, it sends a message to both leaders and employees that professional development is an important priority. The message the organization sends is “we want you to invest in this company, and we know that for you to do that we must invest in you first.” As with all strategic initiatives, the directive for a strong performance management system must come from the top.

If your leadership is ready to ramp up its performance management system, here are three performance management best practices to keep in mind.

1. Provide Actionable Feedback

Not all feedback is created equal. Effective performance management relies on set clear standards for what managerial feedback should look like. Clarity, honesty, and transparency are essential. For feedback to be valuable for employees, leaders must feel comfortable speaking the truth about an employee’s performance—and they must also possess the skills to do so tactfully. During performance review sessions, however, the focus shouldn’t linger on how an employee may be underperforming, but how that employee can improve.

You may need to shift the mindset of some leaders who view performance reviews as “report cards” rather than roadmaps to success. Don’t limit feedback to review sessions, either. Help leaders adjust their feedback delivery for different kinds of situations—like giving more immediate feedback while an employee is working on a big project. This is especially important if you manage millennial employees, who greatly value more frequent feedback.

2. Don’t Make It Personal

Part of the reason performance reviews aren’t always as effective as they could be is because speaking the truth about an employee’s performance puts leaders in a pretty uncomfortable position. Discussions about poor performance are tough on both parties. To limit the discomfort—and ensure employees are getting actionable feedback—train leaders to deliver feedback in terms of employee behaviors, not characteristics. That way, employees don’t feel personally attacked during reviews.

Moreover, leaders should clearly draw the line between employee behaviors and their results (or lack thereof). It may be hard for employees to see the result of a project as a consequence of their behaviors, when other workplace factors—like constraining budgets or deadlines—are in play. It’s a leader’s responsibility to clearly articulate the consequences and benefits of employee behavior, which will encourage an employee to take accountability for their actions and results.


3. Invest In Training

Performance reviews are great tools for identifying employee behaviors that need improvement. How, though, will employee behaviors actually improve? Through training that focuses on instilling lasting behavior change. By implementing training that uses methodologies such as experiential learning, individuals learn by participating in hands-on, interactive learning scenarios that mimic the workplace. The key differentiator of this delivery method is that it builds conviction and confidence within employees to do things differently.

Just as vital, however, is training for your leaders. Invest in leadership training that equips leaders with the skills they need to help their employees succeed, like strong communication skills, adaptive feedback styles, and effective listening techniques. All too often, under-trained leaders become barriers to employee success. Change this narrative by investing in training for both employees and leaders that fosters mutual trust, accountability, and professional growth.

3 Performance Management Best Practices


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