Tag: Small Business Coaching

Appreciation in Business Cannot Overcome Toxicity

Everyone seems to really like you. You’re always supportive, never negative and never stop expressing your appreciation for the work that goes on around you. Whether your role is boss or employee, you understand that making your coworkers feel great is a necessary component of a healthy business. Yet, things aren’t great in the office. People talk behind others’ backs, apparent cliques now exist, HR seems on edge, and favoritism is running rampant. Though you try your hardest to promote a happy, healthy environment, no one can respond because of the severe level of toxicity wiping away your attempt at appreciation.  Toxicity kills any opportunity for appreciation in business.

Toxicity is a fear of every work environment. It’s something that can be sparked by an action as simple as a bad hire, leading to a snowball effect where resentment and frustration slowly build up into a boiling point, making productivity decline and good workers quit. Possibly the worst part about it is the fact that it drowns out any positivity that tries to steer things back on course. You could be the most appreciative employee to have ever existed, but without a healthy environment to express that in, your actions won’t be realized. In the end, sometimes the best form of thanks is to stop toxicity before it starts rather than focus on appreciation.

Identify
If it seems pressure is rising in the office, the first step is to identify where it’s coming from. Is it one person? Was it sparked by an event that resulted in unresolved feelings? Finding the source is an integral part of diffusing the situation. It alerts everyone to the problem, giving the entire office a cause to rally behind, once again unifying the culture. Just be sure this unification doesn’t go too far and result in a witch hunt. Over aggression when trying to find an answer tends to be just as harmful to the people involved as ignoring the situation at hand.

Help
Assuming the problem is emanating from an employee or group of employees, it’s time to practice empathy. Sit them down in a private setting and discuss the situation at hand. Much like identifying where the toxicity was coming from in the office, steer conversation toward figuring out why the employee was acting so negatively in the first place. While it would be a wonderful world where people could immediately identify and deal with their emotions, many individuals simply don’t understand how to analyze what they feel in such a way that results in determining why they’re feeling the way they do.

In addition, be patient through this process. Many times, toxic behavior stems from a personal place, and the employee needs time to trust you enough to open up honestly about what is going on. Sometimes, the problem isn’t even work-related but they haven’t had anywhere else to go about their life stressors. If it isn’t emotional and the employee simply lacks the maturity to properly handle various situations at work, it could very well mean some sort of disciplinary action is required.

Purge
It’s not fair to your other employees if one person refuses to change their toxic attitude. Though acceptable to give the person a chance to change the problems discussed with them, it’s not acceptable to keep them on when they’ve clearly proven their unwillingness to change. After you’ve spoken with them and highlighted exactly what they’re doing and why it needs to stop, give them time to adjust. If they don’t, it’s time to let them go.

I’m not a human resource expert so I’ll leave the next step to those that do have that expertise.

Kerri Pollard, past president of Commission Junction, stated at a recent Affiliate Summit keynote, “Don’t tolerate the brilliant jerk. It will cost you too much in teamwork.”

She is so right.

Manage
Occasionally, the source of the negativity doesn’t stem from an employee but upper management. It’s in this situation where controlling and stopping the bad habits is essential for company survival. Everything done by upper management trickles down, affecting every single employee no matter their position on the ladder. Do your best to manage upward. Ask good managers with influence to help stave off the toxic behavior. This can even be as simple as keeping them removed from any and all meetings and filtering their messages to the staff.

The flip side of this situation is that senior staff usually doesn’t face any kind of threat even when told about their behavior. This then leads to a system lacking accountability where those in power can abuse their position. If they won’t change, the answer then may be to move on to a company that prides itself in a healthy culture and respects those that show appreciation.
Improve

Other times the source of frustration comes for poor internal processes. If, for instance, the process for ordering a new part for a machine in a manufacturing company is long and complicated resulting in a decrease of production the part orderer gets yelled at for, it’s understandable that a level of resentment would build up over time.

This is arguably the easiest form of toxicity to deal with as it’s not a person causing the issue. All it takes to fix is a reform of how requests are processed, something that can be implemented in days.

No matter how kind you are to others and no matter your rung on the corporate ladder, your appreciation cannot break through an office muddied by toxicity. This is why it is of the utmost importance to keep the culture happy by knowing how to deal with the different types of negativity that can arise. Keep this under control, and your employees will finally feel the full weight of the admiration you hold for each and every one of them.

5 Things You Need to Stop Doing Now to Create Strong Connections in 2015

I know, I know – the year’s just barely halfway through and now I’m writing about next year’s activities.  You can start now to put the foundation and resources in place so that you’re one step ahead of everyone.

Making Connections Work for Your Brand (and more importantly for you, it’s important to create strong connections)

You probably have heard the expression “people do business with those they know and trust.” It’s true. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with sales pitches, sales offers and an endless stream of online updates and messages, it’s the people you trust and have personal connections with that are likely to come through for you.

Ask any senior level executive, industry leader or even politician which skill plays a big part of their success – and a large majority will say making connections/networking. If you want to grow your brand, making the right connections is crucial.

As you embark on making meaningful connections, you realize that not everyone in or associated with your brand might have the same networking skills as you do. People are different, and where you might excel in communicating with others, some of your team members might not do so well. As a brand, you want to portray a unified front, so identifying members who may need a little work on their networking skills is important.

Do you need to develop your connection skillset? Here are some helpful articles for you to develop a foundation for online and offline connections:

The Importance of Connections

Why is making connections so important?

For starters, no man is an island. You need people around you to help you grow, learn and to share information with. But further from the team that helps your brand grow, you need people that will buy into the strategy and vision you have set out. For this to happen, a connection has to happen first.

Meaningful connections will share the vision that you have, and through word of mouth communicate it with others they interact with. A positive word dropped here and there works wonders for your brand. Also, it is through such connections that you start establishing your business contacts.

Through connections, you are able to understand the best practices and trends in your industry or area of expertise. Attending conferences and meetings allows you to interact with thought leaders and experts, and by making connections you learn the best methods and resources to use to deliver results effectively and efficiently.

The importance of developing relationships around your brand:

1.  Stop trying to look big

Be real, be human

Let your brand portray a human side. Be real and genuine in your messaging and approach. Know the target audience you cater. You are a good starting point of the ideal audience, so think what would appeal to you. How would you like to be approached?

It’s all about engaging with people and making meaningful, genuine connections. Listen and learn, and you’ll be on your way to creating the kind of connections you want.

Small business owners, this is where you excel.  Keep from wasting that by trying to look big and putting large business practices in place that encumber your responsiveness.

To Do Item:  Remain agile, responsive and human in your interaction. 

2.  Stop acquiring more connections than you can cultivate

Earlier I wrote that you need Stop Meeting People to Be Known and Get Referred and that’s a practice that you need to put into place before 2015.

Superficial connections, huge lists of contacts, and putting everyone that we meet into our database only becomes problematic, unmanageable and stressful to us.  It also takes away from the great connections that we could possibly make with others since all of our energy is often squandered away in trying to manage everyone we have contact with.

To Do Item:  When it comes to relationship building, less is more.

3.  Stop thinking it’s a numbers game.

It’s important to be strategic in our connections and in order to do that we have to know what it is we uniquely deliver to a connection.  When we know what it is we know or uniquely bring to any connection, then we can begin to develop relationships with others who can be a part of our support network, referral or information network.  Variety trumps quantity.   Developing stellar connections, means looking for others who have additional information or perspective that can lend itself to our growth and understanding.  It’s not about seeking others who speak from the same beliefs or even same knowledge background.

To Do Item:  Know your unique skills and perspective to strategically seek others who can complement us.

4.  Stop developing boundaries around your roles

When you have a variety of connections that can be helpful to others, you are in a perfect position to be a “hub” of resources to your connections.  Stop separating your resources by roles.  A great event planner at your church could be a stellar connection for customer in need of some ideas or connections on planning an “open house” event for their business.  A great volunteer you connect with at a non-profit who knows all the ins and outs of a word processing software, could be a great resources or even trainer to your team members (or connections) on knowing all the shortcuts in using this software.

To Do Item: Reach across the many roles you play in your life from PTA parent to member of the board of directors – bringing people together across a variety of roles is a valuable skillset.  

5.  Stop guarding your resources

In a minute you can Google most anything that you want to know more about so the days of keeping a resources or piece of information “top secret” are fleeting. When you can recognize problems or opportunities, and provide solutions you elevate your value in someone’s mind.  I’m not saying to “give the farm away”. What I’m recommending is when you find a great tool to help someone solve a problem, then share the information with them.

In positioning people who are experts in their field, you often here this statement, “identify the problem before they even know about that problem and you’ll be seen as an expert.”  The same belief applies here. Identify a solution or resource before they even know where to begin seeking assistance and you’ll be seen as a valuable connection.

To Do Item:  What resources have you been using, that you could inform someone about that would assist them? Start getting into a habit of reviewing your resources and sharing how people can acquire the resource for themselves.