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Why Being Humble Is Your Most Important Trait

Leadership is a tricky skill to navigate. You’ve got to be forceful enough to take charge of a situation and dictate responsibilities, yet display enough humility that you encourage everyone to work together as a team. In order to accomplish this task so that everyone feels like they are unique and welcome, being humble will be your most important attribute. Humbleness puts the team before your own needs and allows for strengths to be recognized on a consistent basis.

Can You Take Being Humble Too Far?

One of the interesting aspects of a team environment is that people want to feel like they have an individualized input, but are still part of a “hive mind” when it comes to certain decisions. Being too humble and allowing too much uniqueness can actually reduce productivity more than being a dictator would.

It really begins by your ability to share your successes and your failures. By demonstrating your own personal growth, you’re actually encouraging others to follow a similar journey. Failure is the great human equalizer, which means everyone can relate to it in some way. This gives you the opportunity to connect with your team in a personal way that will encourage relationships to be built.

It’s About the Dialogue, Not the Debate

The elements of a team that makes them different is what will make that team stronger. You don’t have to win every argument to be an effective leader. You don’t even need to engage with people to convince them of the validity of your point. If you include all points of view and then make the best decision possible from those viewpoints, you’ll show your team that you’re willing to focus on their agenda instead of your own and that’s an effective way of being humble.

The ultimate goal of this journey is to encourage others to become leaders instead of being willing to just follow your own dynamic leadership. Sometimes that means you’ve got to reverse the roles in place and put others in charge. Placing yourself beneath someone else on the team automatically puts you into a humble position and it is reinforced if you follow the lead of the person you put in charge.

These changes can bring about a lot of uncertainty, however, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you are able to embrace uncertainty and turn it into a teaching moment, what you’re able to do is create a place where others are encouraged to step up to the plate and offer valuable solutions that they might normally hold back. It creates an environment of independence, but fueled by an underlying interdependence that brings everyone together.

Being humble doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to make the hard decisions when they come along. It just means that you’re giving your entire team the opportunity to learn from the experience in their own unique way instead of dictating the experience to them. That’s why it is one of the most important traits in all of today’s best leaders.

5 Ways to Bring Your Emails Under Control

How much do you hate your email? Many people see a new message and are instantly filled with dread because it means there’s another task that needs to be resolved. If you could manage that email and make it work for you instead of against you, could it become a more useful tool to manage your day?

For many people, that is their reality. Here’s a few ways that you could make it your reality too!

#1. Talk More, Send Less

Email is wonderful for when written communication is necessary. When a simple question or a quick conversation could resolve an issue, however, why is it that email is the first place that people tend to go? Try to get into the habit of picking up your phone and calling the person you’d normally ask a question to through email to see how fast your inbox traffic drops and your productivity rises.

#2. Use Your Email Flags and Options

Instead of letting your email inbox fill up with read messages that you need to search through to find, try using different flags or other options available to you. Even if you just mark an email as “unread” after reading it, you’ll be able to better organize what needs to be done now, what can wait until later, and what can be deleted from your account and your memory immediately.

#3. Find a Routine and Stick With It

When it comes to managing your email, your routine is extremely important. People who tend to check all of their messages in the morning right away tend to be less productive because they try to resolve each incoming email before taking on other responsibilities. As a way to establish your routine, try setting aside 10 minutes per hour to get caught up on your emails, respond to immediate ones, and take care of issues as they come up.

#4. Be Precise

Email isn’t like a conversation that goes back and forth immediately. One wrong interpretation of what you’ve said can cause anger to fester and frustration to mount on the other end of the message for a very long time! Be precise with your words, choose them carefully, and be open for questions so that a clear picture can always be seen. When you give some thought to who will be reading the email and personalize it, you’ll further reduce complications too.

#5. Be Responsive

How long does it take to write a quick response to tell someone that you got their email. Even a simple “I got it – thanks” goes a long way today to let people know that you understand the message and can implement what needs to happen. You can also be too responsive – emotional emails cause a lot of problems, so anything that may be considered to be sensitive should be taken care of in person instead of through email.

You can be in control. Email can work for you! Implement these ideas and you’ll be able to become more productive and communicative, yet still reduce your overall workload!

5 Ways To Effectively Manage Someone You Don’t Like

 

In a perfect world, we’d all like to manage people that we’d be as comfortable sharing a drink with them as working with them on a professional team. Going beyond the pleasantries and ability to find common ground, when there is general “likeableness,” work is just easier.

Unfortunately not everyone wants to be your friend when you’re the manager. Some are out for blood and want to take your job! Others just hate you for the fact that you’re the one in charge. I once had a direct report try to sabotage a project because he thought that if the job looked bad, then I’d look bad and be replaced.

The reasons why we don’t like someone can vary. What doesn’t vary is how we can effectively manage them. Here are 5 key lessons I’ve learned over the years:

1. Friendships Are Less Important At Work

Having a good friend at work can help the day go by much more quickly. Multiple studies have shown, in fact, that there are higher job satisfaction levels present when people have a best friend at work! When you’re in management, finding friendships is still important, but finding them outside of your team is usually a better idea. When you’re friends with a direct report, it becomes more difficult to discipline them should it become necessary… and if you do, that discipline can end up stopping a friendship cold anyway.

2. Stay Positive In All Things

Those sayings like “find the silver lining” or “look for the sunny side of things” grate on my nerves some days, but the truth in the message is clear. By staying positive in all circumstances, even when you’re around someone you’d rather avoid, you are leading by example as a manager. Every project at work will encounter some sort of difficulty. How you handle it will help show your direct reports where the silver lining can be found.

3. Everyone Contributes Something

I’ve found that the people I tend to dislike the most while working are the people who are the most like me. I find that this dislike stems from the fact that they have the potential to do what I do, only better. As the manager, you’re supposed to be the best right? Not necessarily. As the manager, your role is to be the team leader. That means making sure everyone contributes something based on their best strengths – even if those strengths are similar… or better than your own.

4. Work Closely Together

It’s not about keeping your enemies closer than your friends. It’s about learning what makes a person tick. You don’t have to like a person in order to understand them. Then, when you have managed to understand their perspective, that dislike you have for that person tends to start fading away. It also works in reverse – when those who don’t like you work more closely with you, their understanding of you helps to ease the discomfort.

5. Confront Fast, But Praise Faster

The most common reason to dislike someone is because they don’t contribute like they should. It could be because of laziness, brashness, or even arrogance. If you’re noticing the bad stuff as a manager, your team has known about it for weeks most likely! By fast to confront negative behaviors that could drop your team’s morale, but be faster to praise the good job a person does. Negativity is often brought about because of a lack of recognition, so put the emphasis there.

Just don’t be afraid to be proactive about the bad stuff too.

It’s not always easy to manage someone you don’t like, but it is very doable. Use these tips to work on your own interactions and you just may find that the working relationship is more about respect than it is about how much one is liked.

Ace Your New Job By Avoiding These Common Mistakes

It’s exciting to start the first day of your new job! Did you know, however, that how you start your new job could set the tone for the rest of your time at the organization?

You can ace your new job by avoiding these common mistakes:

Getting Involved With Office Politics

Every office has politics that go along with it and to some extent; you’re going to have to participate in those politics at some point so that you can be effective at your job. When you first start a job, however, the inclination we all have is to trust everyone as we’re training because these office veterans must know what they’re doing, right?

Unfortunately misery loves company and there are several office veterans out there that can be pretty cynical. Some will even send you in the wrong direction just to get a laugh at the fact that you got into trouble! Take instructions with a grain of salt and if something doesn’t make sense, don’t do it.

Being a Maverick From Day 1

Even if you’re hired to bring about change in the office, you’re not going to create change from the first day. In many offices, you need to evolve the office atmosphere instead of create a revolution because relationships will help to motivate people more than tyranny will. Being excited about a job is one thing. Being overeager to tell everyone why they’re wrong and you’re right will just create workplace enemies.

Refusing Help, Even When You Need It

It’s almost embarrassing to ask for help sometimes, especially if it feels like what you’re doing is one of the simplest tasks the office has. It’s always better to ask for help when you’re new, however, then to assume or guess that the way you choose to do something is the right way. You might guess right and come out looking like a star, sure… but you could completely miss and end up looking like a fool. Better to just ask and claim rookie status now.

You Don’t Communicate

If your new job has a probationary period associated with it, then times can really be tough because it feels like you’re being micro-managed, right? When that probationary period wears off and people aren’t breathing down your neck so much, it’s really easy to just start doing your own thing on a daily basis. You’ve still got to keep your team and your boss informed of what’s going on, however, because no one likes surprises – especially bad surprises.

There’s a Lack of Appreciation

Gratefulness goes a long way when you’re a new employee. There’s a good chance that your new co-workers were really good friends with the person you just replaced and they’re likely not too happy right now that you’re filling their friend’s shoes. Even if the job you got is a brand new position, you’ve likely beat out dozens of people for that job, some of whom may be your new co-workers! Be humble, be grateful, and you’ll win over your co-workers over time. Well… most of them, anyway.

Avoiding these common mistakes as your start your new job will help to put you on a path toward success. Start your journey today!

Make Work Become One of Your Happy Places

For many, the morning routine is one that is filled with dread. Plodding through breakfast and getting dressed for the day, thoughts turn to what can be done after work instead of enjoying what happens during work. If the average person spends 40 hours per day working at a job and all of those hours are miserable, then nearly one quarter of life is a negative experience!

Life doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips to help you make work become one of your happy places:

1. Incorporate your organization’s mission into your daily job routines. Most companies have a very clear and concise mission statement. Many are similar to something like this: “We strive every day to improve the lives of our customers in a brand new way.” How can you make that idea become a reality for you as you take care of your daily tasks? By working to inspire others, we often inspire ourselves because we can connect our lives to the lives of those we’re helping in some way with our job.

2. Let your talents drive you at work. Even if you’re in a job that you don’t prefer, you can still let your talents flow with every task. If you’re a natural salesperson, for example, but you work as an administrative assistant, you could utilize your talent for sales to create convincing documents that further your company’s mission. Talents often get noticed… even if they aren’t always outspokenly appreciated all the time!

3. Challenge yourself with short-term goals. Employers are notoriously bad for not providing a lot of feedback about your job performance. Just because they don’t set goals for you, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t set goals for yourself! By setting short-term goals that excite and drive you, you’ll always be at the top of your game at work and producing quality work.

4. When you meet one of your goals, don’t forget to reward yourself! Rewards are always part of the achievement process. Without rewards, there is ultimately very little to motivate someone to continue finding success. You can reward yourself in a number of ways, from a day of pampering on one of your day’s off to a gadget you’ve always wanted or even just a mental health sick day that you take after the job is done so you can relax with your favorite movies. Whatever it is you like to do, make sure you do it after a job well done

5. Focus on the quality of the work, not the outcome of the work. A quality job will always produce a quality outcome, but often the outcome is looked at before the quality of the work. By focusing on the fine details of a job and working hard to create an as close to perfect product as possible, the outcomes will naturally come along for the ride. Take pride in always doing a good job!

You don’t have to allow a quarter of your life to be negative every year. Implement these tips to make work a happier place and you may just find that life will become much happier too!

How You Can Survive a Frustrating Boss

Having a problem with your boss consistently can make for a very frustrating professional environment. If you’re always butting heads, then going to work is no longer fun. The alarm clock goes off and you basically drag yourself through your morning routine because you dread stepping foot inside the office, right? The good news is that you don’t have to look for a new job… yet. Here are some ways that you can survive a frustrating boss:

Find where your problem really lies. There’s a number of different reasons why you and your boss could be having issues. Some common ones are:

  • creative differences
  • personality conflicts
  • different professional expectations

If you can determine what your problem actually is, then you can begin to work on the differences that you’re really having with your boss. It is impossible to move forward with any repair until you can determine exactly what it is that is making you so frustrated!

Determine realistic solutions to the problem. The only person that you can change is yourself. Going into your boss’s office and expecting them to change is an unrealistic goal that will only lead to failure! Look instead at what you can do to improve the environment. That might mean adjusting your own expectations or making an effort to understand why your boss is doing things the way they are. With greater understanding of the situation and proactive efforts at finding a solution, even the most difficult bosses can become more bearable.

Make an effort to talk it out. Having a productive conversation means being honest about how you feel, but doing so in a non-threatening way. Remember: you’re looking for a solution to the issue that you have – not to create more issues! Communication is a two-way street and it is often a communication issue that creates high levels of frustration. By making more of an effort at having productive, useful communication, the more likely you’ll create a better work environment.

If nothing seems to work Sometimes it is just an unfortunate fact of life that people are incompatible. If you’ve made an effort to resolve your differences with your boss without success, then it may be time to bring in a third party. That could be the boss of your boss, a human resources manager, or someone else on an equal or greater management level. Together you can have a meeting where both sides can talk about their frustrations in a safe environment.

If having a third party involved doesn’t work to settle your differences, then it might be time to find a new position under a new boss. Remember that a professional frustration is really just feedback in disguise. Is it feedback regarding your job performance? If not, then chances are the issue your boss has that may be frustrating you isn’t really about you. Realizing that fact can often be enough to relieve  a lot of frustration!

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