Blog - Woodruff and Colleagues

ncreasing Team Productivity

When the team is strained the profit is drained.  Here are 4 steps to take the strain from the team and the drain from your profit.

 

A recent health issue in my family introduced me to a well-known charity group that I found very beneficial at this time.  I was interested in becoming a volunteer with this group and sent an email to the coordinator.  Over the course of 2 months, through several emails and one voicemail, I have yet to receive an appointment to see what role would work best for both parties.  It took an average of 4 days to get a response to any email.  By the time I did get a response, the situation had always changed.  It was a very frustrating experience and, in the end, I just gave up.  I felt sad I wasn’t able to give back.  I question if the coordinator enjoys their work.  Ultimately, I am curious as to how many amazing volunteers they have lost because of the behaviour of one staff member.  Is this a “bad” employee?

 

A bad employee arrives late and leaves early.  They make negative comments about other employees.  They want their birthdays off.  They want weekends off.  They aren’t motivated to show up, do the work, and put in the time.  They want to be CEO and when they aren’t given that opportunity, they don’t quit…they ghost.  They just quit coming in.  These employees are costing every company they work for money.  When companies lose money, they shut down.  They no longer provide employment.  This means your children will have less opportunity to earn a living. 

 

What can be done?

 

1) Find these employees:

Conduct an anonymous survey of your team to flush out problem employees.Have a team assessment conducted.

 

2) Determine their attitude to change:

Take the time to get to know if the problem employee is in a position that suits their natural behaviour style and workplace motivators.  If they are, have the discussion with them about what you would like to see in the future.  If they aren’t, let them go.

 

3) Re-train them: 

Assign a mentor.Institute a follow-up program that measures outcomes.

 

4) Nurture them:

Ask for their feedback.  Ask for their ideas for improvement.  Nurture all your employees.

 

Employees who cause problems in the workplace cost the company enormous amounts of money.  Take the 4 steps of finding these employees, assessing their attitude to change, investing in re-training them or let them go, and nurture them…all of them.   You take these 4 steps, and you increase your profit.

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My employment history has involved over 40 positions in more than 15 industries.  Back in 1985 I was told in a mock interview that this pattern of jumping from one job to another was dangerous to potential employers.  I chuckled under my breath as I knew that this was the beginning of change in the workplace and there would be fewer and fewer people willing to commit to 25+ years in one position.  I could already see how business was veering away from loyalty to employees, even witnessing those who were let go within 1 or 2 years of their 25-year anniversary.  No more gold watches.

 

In her TEDx talk, Emilie Wapnick supports those people who aren’t called to one profession.  She coins the term “Multipotentialite”.  Referring to personal experience, she identifies a pattern (10:50) whereby she would dive into work that was interesting, get bored, then find a new interest.  The idea that she should have a passion for only one line of work frightened her, made her feel like an outcast.  She goes on to identify 3 benefits that a multipotentialite brings to the table; Idea synthesis (5:19), Rapid learning (4:22), and Adaptability (3:11).  Also honouring the person who is called to one passion, she suggests that the pairing of a specialist with a multipotentialite can lead to amazing possibilities.

When I work with teams we use the DISC behavioural analysis to identify preferred behaviour styles.  Over-representation of one style can lead to a multitude of problems, the most dangerous being a lack of creativity and innovation.  Once we establish a balance of preferred behaviour styles on a team, we look at what motivates each team member to action.  My suspicion is that Emilie Wapnick is highly theoretically motivated, which means she needs a challenge or to be constantly learning things.  As one of my top two motivators, I can relate.

 

About 5 months ago, a 5-year-old close to my heart asked me “What do you think I should be?”.  I answered “I think you should be happy.”.  She responded “No, you know when I work.”.  My response to that was “Well, you can be whatever you want to be, but you must still be sure to be happy.”.  Emilie Wapnick and I agree on that.

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When working at a collection lab, where we collected specimens and data, I was part of a team of approximately 8 people (the numbers fluctuated while I was at this place of employment), and we were all committed to having fun while at work.  It was important as we were extremely busy (we processed more than 200 clients per day), the environment was fast-paced and often stressful for the clients.  We would joke with each other and with clients, hoping that laughter would help to calm them.  It worked for the most part.  As a team, this laughter tightened camaraderie, increased creativity, lightened the atmosphere, and increased productivity.  As we worked 10-hour shifts, laughter helped the time to fly, and much more enjoyable.  For the clients, it boosted their trust and confidence in our team, and their overall experience was a pleasant one.

 

According to a Harvard Business Review*, “laughter relieves stress and boredom, boosts engagement and well-being, and spurs not only creativity and collaboration, but also analytic precision and productivity.” And “that cracking jokes at work can make people seem more competent.”.  Why am I not surprised?!  One of my favourite magazines, Fast Company, supports the increased productivity and creativity theory** when citing a “2009 study [that] people are more likely to be better at problem solving if they are in a better mood.”.  If you consider the jobs you’ve had in your lifetime, how many of them allowed for fun at work?  I’ve had several jobs and, in some workplaces, fun was frowned upon.  The leaders and managers thought that if there was fun, there must not be productivity.  How wrong they were!  Not only did staff more often call in sick, they wanted out of that workplace as quickly as possible.  This leads to high attrition, shortage of staff, work not getting done, customers unhappy, and a hit on the bottom line.

 

If you’d like some ideas on how to encourage humour in the workplace, click here.

 

The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.

Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.

 

*Source: https://hbr.org/2018/11/the-benefits-of-laughing-in-the-office, June 18, 2019

**Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/90227542/why-we-need-more-laughter-in-the-workplace, June 18, 2019

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The first experience I had in regards to the importance of continuously learning was back in the mid ‘80’s.  Before this I used to think learning ended with the completion for a degree.  That said, I also realized that I had been continuously learning ever since I finished school!  In the later years I learned that being challenged, or continuously learning was actually one of my top 2 motivators, and whenever I was in a working position that didn’t provide challenge or learning, I didn’t last very long.  Continuous learning in 2019 is much more important and this is because of the speed at which technology has the world changing.  Particularly the world of work.

 

In most companies gone are the days where an employee simply gets up, eats, gets to work, and begins to do the same monotonous tasks day after day after day.  Employers today want to hire innovators, people who are creative, and who are not afraid to speak up with ideas that could propel company profits, and contribute to the longevity of the company.  There are few industries that technology hasn’t pushed toward the necessity of continuous learning.  Accountants are expected to provide creative alternatives to their clients.  Doctors are required to have awareness of the most up-to-date testing equipment and pharmaceuticals available to their patients.  Construction personnel need to be up to date on the latest safety standards, not only for buildings, but also for their staff, who also need to be aware of the latest safest tools and how to use them.  So rare is an industry that doesn’t need to be continuously learning, you need only look to the manufacturing companies who have turned to artificial intelligence for the rote, monotonous work, and hire highly educated people who are creative and innovative and will take their company to the highest efficiency level possible…for 2019…because what is possible next year will be even more exciting.

 

If you would like 5 ideas on how to keep your employees continuously learning, click here.

 

The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.

Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.

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A friend and colleague of mine who was participating in an HR certification program, upon completion of their first class, came into the office and wrote on their whiteboard “Employees are a company’s greatest asset”.  Few in business have not heard this, however does everyone who doesn’t own and operate their own business realize that your people are also one of your greatest expenses?  Entrepreneurs are well aware of the “hidden” costs of hiring, yet many employees are surprised to discover the cost to the company is goes far beyond their hourly wage.  Even business owners who hire sometimes neglect to consider the additional costs when an employee’s behaviour, attitude, and actions lead to the loss of customers.

 

It seems that some employees believe a job is just a job, that the employer doesn’t “own” them, and they should be able to behave in any way they wish when not on the company clock.  There can be a problem with this in the times that the employee is wearing work-labeled clothing and behaving in a less than respectable way.  One example is when the employee from Hydro 1 made disrespectful and rude comments at a sporting event as they were being filmed.  That employee lost their job with that behaviour.  And there are several examples since the onset of the “Me too” movement.  One can’t blame an employer for reprimanding an employee given the probability of their behaviour leading to bad publicity, defamed reputation, and possible consumer boycotting.  It can take months, even years, before the company regains the trust of consumers and this is often a deep cut to their profits.  Employees would be wise to understand that they represent the company they work for and they have the power to influence the people they connect with in a way that might actually lead to an increase in customers, company profits, and the opportunity for advancement…because they are now a great asset.

 

For the actual costs of employees to employers click here.

 

The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.

Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.

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If you’ve ever worked in a toxic work environment, you will understand the effect it has on productivity.  I once worked for a company with a team of 9 individuals with 2 people sharing the Supervisor position.  Overall, we got along very well and the service we provided was exceptional.  There were, however, two personnel who weren’t happy unless they were stirring the pot.  They would speak to one another in whispers, glance sideway at another staff member and giggle, just genuinely rude behaviour.  Some might refer to them as the workplace bullies.  Whenever they were working, the Supervisors faced staff issues as they would put in a complaint about one thing or another that wasn’t substantiated, just wasted time and upsetting morale.  This company lost their major contract to a competitor, and these were the only two people who weren’t offered a position with the new company.  This speaks volumes to the degree a company might have to go to in re-establishing a healthy work environment.

 

What often happens in a toxic environment is nobody wants to acknowledge the problem(s) that one or two staff members are causing.  Other staff members don’t want to “squeal” on their colleagues, and management either isn’t aware of the noxious behaviour, or they are so uncomfortable addressing it that they choose to ignore it.  They often self-justify the behaviour isn’t a problem if no-one on the team is complaining about it.  The consequences of this non-action, however, is the company often ends up losing top performers to their competition.  I know of no company who has more staff than is needed, so if one of your team members leaves, that means you have to replace them, and those costs can be as high as one and a half times the employee’s annual salary.  Although uncomfortable, the only solution is the address poor behaviours on the team, and establish policies to deal with them.

If you wonder if your team has anyone displaying poor behaviour that leads to a toxic work environment, click here to see 5 discreet signs of a toxic work environment.

 

The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.

Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.

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A Manger/Leader once shared with me one of their interview experiences when in a hiring situation.  They told me they went to reception, greeted the candidate, and asked them to follow them to the office where the interview was to take place.  Once in the office the Manager/Leader walked to their chair at the desk and asked the candidate to have a seat.  Upon turning around the Manager/Leader discovered that not only had the candidate joined them in their office, but also the candidate’s parent.  The Manager/Leader was completely taken off-guard.  There wasn’t even a second chair in the office, and they scrambled to retrieve one from a colleague’s office.  Needless to say, the candidate was not offered a position with the company.

 

Of course, I was shocked to hear of this Manager’s/Leader’s experience, even though I’d previously heard of similar situations.  Apparently, it was during what was known as the “helicopter parent” era.  Now, the Manager/Leader I heard from conducted the interview despite the situation, even though they knew they wouldn’t hire this candidate.  This is not how I would have handled it.  I like to think that, upon discovering that the parent had accompanied their child into the interview room, the first words out of my mouth would have been “Well, this concludes the interview.  Thank you for your time, and I wish you all the best in your job search.”.  This is because I know the cost of my time with candidates, and I despise waste of any kind, particularly of money.  And, time is money.  If, as would likely happen, there were questions about why I wasn’t going to conduct an interview, I would have but one statement, and that is “I need a person who is able to work independently.  I appreciate your immediate honesty in displaying this is not a skill that you (or that your child) does not possess.”.  If this seems too harsh to you, I admit that it took some time for me to realize that, when coaching clients, I do them no favour by allowing unprofessional, or inappropriate, conduct.  I call a spade a spade, and explain why the behaviour is unacceptable, and how to behave in a more appropriate fashion. 

 

If you would like to know 3 major mistakes that candidates make in formal job interviews, click here.

 

The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.

Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.

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It was in the mid-90’s when I discovered the “Silva Method of Mind Control”.  This was a technique designed to have people control their own minds, not that of others.  The “Silva” course took place over 2 weekends, beginning Fridays at 6:00 p.m., and ending Sundays at 6:00 p.m..  It was very intensive, and yet I was astonished at how much energy I had at the end of each day.  The foundation of the “Silva” method is “Controlled Relaxation” and may be referred to as “guided meditation exercise”, or “going to your alpha level”, which is a level of brain wave measurement.  The state of mind of the alpha level is inner conscious, so you’re awake, but very relaxed.  When in the alpha level we did all kinds of mental work, including visualization that encouraged all of the other 4 senses, touch, taste, sound, and smell.  It’s a wonderful way to imagine what you are capable of creating for yourself in your life.  When going to the alpha level, we would count down from 10 while deep breathing.  Once at the alpha level we created areas of relaxation, improved memory, stated positive affirmations, and many other things.  One of the affirmations that rang (and still rings) true for me is “I watch for and notice opportunities to use my abilities and accomplish my goals.  I take positive, effective, action in response to those opportunities.”.  In the “Silva” course, we learn there really is no such thing as coincidence.  My personal experience was evidence of this as when I would think of things, like “I really want to find a Toronto Maple Leafs Jersey for my granddaughter, and then, within 2 days, I walked into a thrift store, and there it was!  Now, in 2018, I see how this affirmation actually works in our brains. 

 

In our brains there is a part called the “Reticular Activation System” (RAS).  It may come as no surprise to you that we are constantly taking in millions of pieces of information through our senses.  It would be practically impossible for us to analyze every piece of that data, so we have filters that allow us to pay attention to the pieces that are meaningful to us at that time.  I knew I was looking for that Leafs jersey, and consciously looked in every store we entered.  Then, when on a walk, I came across a store with a life-size Toronto Maple Leafs jersey in the window, and I went in, went directly to the children’s section, and there it was, the perfect size for my granddaughter!

 

So now I can confidently explain that it’s not magic, it’s the RAS in our brains.  So, don’t ignore those moments that seem coincidental.  It’s your sub-conscious giving you what you asked for.

 

If you would like to listen to a 7-minute guided intentional meditation I’ve recorded one here.

The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.  Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.

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Very few people have had the luxury of avoiding loss.  Maybe some have yet to lose a loved one, others perhaps the loss of a job.  Usually, however, most have experienced at least one loss in their life.  The thing is, and what most don’t recognize, is that loss is loss, and the stages of loss and the emotions that riddle each stage, happen with loss of a loved one or the loss of a job.  Yes, if you’re least expecting it and you lose your job, you will probably experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, thankfully, acceptance.  The other thing is, these stages are not necessarily linear, so the emotions associated with them may not exhibit themselves in this particular order.  For instance, in my experience in outplacement situations where the employee has just been informed they no longer have a position with that company, “and we’ve arranged for you to work with a company that can help you get another job”, the first emotion I’ve witnessed is anger.  The employee often feels they’ve spent their entire career helping that company succeed only to be let go, just like that.  They need to be heard, and so, I just listen.

 

I listen, that is, for a period of time that we’ve both agreed to for them to vent.  Then comes the most exciting time…a time to discover all the opportunities that are ahead for this employee.  Sometimes we get so caught up in just doing our job that we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to dream about how things could be.  What we would enjoy doing if given the chance.  I don’t mean to negate the worry that accompanies job loss.  Naturally we all think about our commitments, our abilities, even our age when we lose a job.  That is actually a very intelligent step in moving forward, as it forces us to really consider our situation and all of the options that are available to us.  Perhaps this is the most important reason to seek the counsel of a person who can work with you and advise you on options, as well as highlight your personal gifts that you can take to a new position.  One that you actually love.

 

If you would like 5 actions you can take to help you move toward the stage of acceptance, click here.

 

The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.

Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.

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You may not be aware that in order to get your Psychology Degree you have to pass a Statistics (Stats) course.  I walked into my Stats class one day and, as usual in group settings, I sat close to the front.  We had an amazing Professor, so amazing she was able to make stats fun!  She often offered us ways to gain a couple of percentage points and this one day she had a name and contact information on the whiteboard.  She informed us that the Psychology Department was conducting a research project regarding overcoming fears.  She said we could increase our mark by 2% if we participated.  Well, it didn’t take me long to jump on that bandwagon.  First of all, I could use all the extra marks I could get (statistics is not my strong point), and secondly, I had a fear I’d love to overcome.  I’d been afraid of flying stinging insects for years.  I was assigned a graduate student in the research project to work with, and the process began.  I was successful in overcoming the fear, even visiting a bee farm with the student.  A few years later I was able to send him a picture to bring him up to date on my progress.  You can see the picture in the link to this blog.

 

Fear comes in all shapes and sizes, and I’ve seen plenty of it in some clients I’ve worked with as they struggled toward a career, new or old.  There’s been fear of approaching strangers, fear of losing a job, fear of leaving a job, fear of not getting a job, fear of rejection…the list goes on and on.  I have always enjoyed Ziz Ziglar’s definition of fear.  He used it as an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real”.  As a person who has overcome a fear, I can tell you that it originates in the mind and is either kept alive or silenced in the mind.  I use a number of methods and tools to work with people in overcoming fear and have found that once a client overcomes the fear of overcoming a fear, they’ve often been successful in achieving their career goals.

 

To read about the process I went through in the research project (and for a look at that picture) click here.

 

The content in all blogs is the point of view of the blog author and is based on their experiences.

Readers have the option to disagree, and/or, disregard any information in any blog.

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