Author Archives: Dan Weaver

Managing the Manager-Employee Relationship

Very few would argue that when it comes to maximizing employee retention and performance, nothing is more important than employee satisfaction. Therefore, it stands to reason that if your employees aren’t satisfied, you don’t have a company – or at least one that will last very long. One of the most relevant factors of employee satisfaction is the relationship between workers and their managers.

When an employee has a negative relationship with their boss – whether it’s because they struggle to communicate with them, don’t receive enough recognition, or simply don’t feel respected – the consequences are immeasurable. Employee performance will suffer, turnover will increase dramatically, and morale will decrease significantly. If the manager-employee relationship is managed properly by HR and Leadership, these detrimental outcomes can be avoided.

Find the Right Manager

Although it sounds obvious, finding the right person to fit a managerial role isn’t always as easy as people think. When searching for a new manager, it’s natural to assume that the best course of action is to hire someone who is experienced and talented in their field. While that is definitely important, there are many other characteristics that need to be considered if you want a superstar manager. When evaluating a potential candidate, ask yourself – are they a good decision maker and communicator? Do they have the emotional intelligence necessary to show empathy to those working under them? Are they passionate about the work they do and the company they work for? Do they have an attitude that will make others want to follow them? Finding someone with the right combination of traits may be challenging, but it is absolutely necessary if you want to equip your company with the best leaders out there.

Encourage Constant, Quality Communication

If an employee doesn’t feel like they can communicate with his or her manager about a problem, it could only be a matter of time before they’re out the door. Regular check-ins are a great way to set the right example for positive communication between employees and managers. It makes workers feel that their well-being is cared for, and lets them know that their manager is an open communicator who is always available if they have a problem. Employee recognition is also a vital component of positive communication. If an employee genuinely feels appreciated by their manager, their working relationship will improve considerably.

Discourage Favoritism

A common mistake made by lackluster managers is playing favorites. Yes, some employees are higher performers than others. However, if someone feels like they are not being treated equally, either because their work is not up to par or worse – because a manager has a subconscious or discriminatory bias towards them regardless of work quality – this only serves to worsen their performance and/or make them want to leave. In order to augment each employee’s potential and ensure they are working to the best of their ability, it is imperative that managers foster an atmosphere of equality and respect.

Promote Mutual Trust

Just because a manager is higher on the job ladder doesn’t mean they are truly “above” the people working for them. Employees and managers have a reciprocal relationship – managers depend on employees to do their work well and keep the organization afloat while employees depend on managers to give them guidance, support, and fair compensation. For this reason, mutual trust is key. Managers can develop trust by making sure employees aren’t overmanaged and constantly monitored, which can make them feel untrusted. Managers should also try to be forthcoming about communicating company updates so that workers always feel like they are in the loop. Employees can build trust in their managers by performing their jobs well and going above and beyond what is asked of them.

If you want to keep your employees and maintain a positive culture within your organization, you can’t afford to overlook the manager-employee relationship. If handled correctly, your employees will be happier and your company will thrive.

Does the Eight-Hour Workday Still Work in 2019?

For many of us, the eight-hour workday seems about as normal as fireworks on the 4th of July. To understand how this common workday tradition came about, let’s take a journey back in time to 1817 when fair-labor advocate Robert Owen popularized the term “Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest” as a means to combat unfair labor standards at the time. It took a while, but this phrase planted the seeds for the eight-hour shift to eventually become the status quo by the 20th century and beyond.

Fast forward to 2019, and even though working nine to five is still pretty common, many employees and employers alike are beginning to question its practicality in the modern work environment. Are there actually positives to the eight-hour schedule in 2019? Or is it an outdated practice that we only continue because it’s been cemented over time as a tradition that we’ve grown comfortable with?

Different Strokes for Different Folks

One challenge of the eight-hour workday is that everyone has different rhythms. Let me use myself as an example – at the moment I am writing this, it is 9:42pm on a Tuesday night. I’m sure some people would much rather be relaxing watching the new season of Stranger Things at this time – but for me, it is when I feel most productive. Some people do their best work in the morning, others in the evening, and the typical nine to five workday doesn’t adjust for that accordingly.

With that said, there are cons to allowing people to adjust their work schedules based on their own natural rhythms, particularly when it comes to communication. If employee A is most productive between the hours of 6am and 2pm, but employee B prefers working from 3pm to 11pm, there would be no visible overlap in which they can collaborate in the event that they are working on a project together. Therefore, it’s important for coworkers with flexible schedules to be forthcoming with one another about their preferred schedules and the best times for them to communicate.

Employee Morale

Doing away with the eight-hour workday for a more flexible schedule is generally a positive for employee morale. Workers will be pleased with the freedom to choose a schedule that works well for them and their personal lives, vastly improving work-life balance. Can you imagine being able to willingly avoid driving in rush hour traffic, saving money on childcare, and being able to spend more time with your children? I can’t think of many things more morale-boosting than that.

A flexible schedule can have a reverse effect on morale as well. Employees who don’t have the option for a flexible schedule can grow jealous of those who do (see my blog post on dealing with jealousy in the workplace). Also, employees who function best with structure and uniformity in their daily lives may struggle to cope with choosing their own hours.

Quality vs. Quantity of Time

When the idea of the eight-hour workday was originally conceived, it was done so mainly with industrial factory workers in mind. For this type of work that consisted primarily of manual labor, performing an eight-hour shift could easily yield tremendous productivity without infringing on the rights of workers. While that may have been favorable at the time, the workforce looks much different today with many jobs relying more on creativity and problem-solving to be done well. These more intellectually-stimulating skills may not necessarily thrive when employees are forced to sit in an office and work for eight hours straight.

Most people would likely agree that your best ideas never come to you when you want them to. Oftentimes they pop into your head when you least expect it, and the quantity of time spent at work isn’t really going to change that. If an employee has the freedom to work when inspiration strikes, it’s likely that they will produce a much higher quality output.

In the end, every company – and each individual working for them – is different. For some organizations the eight-hour workday is the most optimal situation, or even the only option in industries like healthcare and hospitality. And for some people who desire structure, the traditional nine to five might work best for them regardless of the type of business they work for. It’s important to at least be open to it, as your company and workers could potentially benefit in spades.

Does your company offer flexible work schedules or are you considering implementing them? Please let us know below!

Dealing with Jealous Feelings in the Workplace

Anyone who has felt even a hint of jealousy – and most of us have – knows that it’s like a curse. The moment it takes hold, it doesn’t hesitate to create a toxic work environment filled with resentment and hostility. But as a natural human emotion, that’s unavoidable, right? Not necessarily – if you become afflicted with feelings of jealousy due to a fellow employee obtaining success you think you deserve, there are steps you can take and strategies you can use to vanquish it, or at least shift things in a more positive direction.

One of the worst things about jealousy is the sheer amount of mental energy that gets wasted because of it. Actions that emerge from jealous feelings like doing things out of spite or spending time sulking don’t just have a negative effect on your organization’s morale, they take up so much of your own time and energy that would be better spent elsewhere. If you’re feeling jealous of a coworker because they received a promotion over you or they seem to get praised more for their work, you can always choose productivity over negativity when it comes to how you react to the situation. One healthy reaction is taking the opportunity to analyze why you feel the way you do. Breaking things down may help you realize that whatever accolades you are jealous of actually make sense given the situation and don’t necessarily call for jealousy. Let’s say a coworker who has been at the company just as long as you have receives a promotion before you do, and are now higher up the ranks even though you’ve been working there the same amount of time. While your gut reaction may be to assume that management thinks your counterpart is better than you or has more inherent value as an employee, that may not be the case at all. It might just be that the job opening was more closely attuned to their specific duties, and your chance for growth will come later when a similar opportunity arises that you are a better fit for.

Even if you come to the conclusion that a coworker you are jealous of is having more triumphs come their way because there are things you can improve on, you can still respond in a manner that is positive and proactive without dwelling on your shortcomings. Use it as an opportunity to grow as a professional – communicate with your managers about opportunities for career development and what changes you can make to perform your job more effectively. Communication is equally important in the event that your jealousy is completely valid and someone is being given more recognition for unfair reasons like favoritism. Allocating your energy toward voicing these concerns to management as opposed to keeping quiet and stewing in anger is tremendously beneficial for yourself and your organization. Hopefully, it will influence your managers to rethink the grounds by which they reward employees, creating a more fair-minded environment for yourself and your coworkers.

Jealousy happens. At the end of the day, we’re all human and we can’t stop ourselves from experiencing these feelings every once in a while. We can manage them, however, and work toward a more positive outcome. The most important thing to remember is that your coworkers are your teammates, not your competitors.

Ever dealt with jealousy at work? Feel free to share your experiences.

The Future of HR: Expected Top Trends of 2019

As we reflect on 2018, there’s no doubt that the last year brought a lot to the table when it came to innovating HR methods and the business world in general. We saw changes implemented to improve the work-life balance of employees, a higher emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and increased applications for more than a few technological advancements that allowed businesses to function more efficiently, to name just a few. But as we begin the final year of the decade, it’s time to build on the past and look ahead to what will be HR’s biggest focus points in 2019.

Increased Consolidation of Work and Life

In the past few years, we’ve already seen companies instituting changes that allow employees to import more and more aspects of their personal lives into their place of work, like focusing on self-care during work hours or even encouraging people to bring their pets into work. The inverse is true as well; not only are more personal activities being done at work, more work-related activated are being done at home. Since a better work-life balance leads to reduced stress which leads to higher quality work performance, it’s fortunate that we can expect to see this trend continue with even more employee flexibility in 2019.

Enhanced Applicability of Artificial Intelligence

Although artificial intelligence is only just starting to make its mark as a relevant part of the workforce, it’s expected to start taking shape even more in 2019. AI will further increase efficiency across departments including human resources by streamlining various HR processes like scheduling and hiring. Not to worry though – it is not projected that AI technology will replace human workers anytime soon. To quote a tweet from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, “Humans are underrated”; AI will only make humans do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

Higher Focus on Employee Engagement

In our last post, we discussed the importance of employee engagement and how to identify and deal with emotionally detached employees. High employee engagement generates benefits on multiple fronts including increased morale, a greater quality of work, and decreased turnover rate. In 2019, many companies will be taking what we’ve learned about the significance of employee engagement in the last several years and putting it to good use, spending more time and energy on employee engagement practices than ever before. Business solutions company G2 Crowd has projected that companies will spend 45 percent more on employee engagement in 2019 than in previous years, which will have a tremendous positive impact on the workforce.

Spotlight on Diversity and Inclusion

Of all the emerging trends of 2019, diversity and inclusion will likely be the most significant, and rightfully so – having a wider array of backgrounds and perspectives is essential to the success of any company. Changes will be instituted to eliminate bias during the hiring process, and organizations will be encouraged to pay more attention to the level of diversity in their working population through detailed analysis. A higher emphasis will also be placed on educating and informing about the importance of diversity through internal training programs and a number of emerging conferences that focus specifically on diversity and inclusion.

Although change is never easy, it’s hard not to feel positive about a lot of the expected trends coming this year. These changes won’t only provide countless benefits for organizations everywhere, but more importantly, the people behind them. Thanks for reading – please feel free to share your thoughts on this year’s upcoming trends.

Identifying and Managing Emotionally Detached Employees

Have you ever felt emotionally detached from your work? If you said yes you’re certainly not alone, and if you said no… please leave a comment telling us what your secret is. Whether it’s due to sleep deprivation, being overworked, or something crazy going on in our personal lives, most of us have days when we just don’t feel like ourselves. While that’s perfectly normal, it’s when employee disengagement shifts from a temporary to a consistent basis that it becomes a problem for your company’s productivity level and turnover rate. Although engagement is not always easy to pinpoint, there are various telltale signs that an employee just isn’t feeling it anymore, as well as steps to be taken to reverse the issue.

One obvious red flag concerns lines of communication and behaviors surrounding them. When a staff member is quiet during meetings, it’s easy to assume that that they just didn’t have anything relevant to say. However, if suddenly mum’s the word for someone who is normally vocally present, it’s likely that they would much rather be somewhere else. The same can be said when once-responsive employees stop replying to e-mails or partaking in work-related discussions with their colleagues. Unsurprisingly, the best way to deal with an employee who isn’t communicating is to, well, communicate with them about it. Even if you think it’s probably nothing, it never hurts to reach out and make sure everything is okay, and if not, have a discussion to determine the source of the dilemma.

While verbal distance is a big warning sign, literal distance is an even bigger one – as in an employee not being at work. When a staff member calls out, no one ever wants to believe it’s simply because they don’t want to be there. We all want to give our workers the benefit of the doubt, and besides, things do happen – people get sick, family matters arise, an employee’s favorite rock band comes to town, you know, priorities. But when these call-outs become a little too regular for comfort or they occur in conjunction with other common disengagement signals, it may be time to sit down and have a candid conversation with them about how they are feeling about their work.

Another major indicator is attitude. When a once wide-eyed, optimistic, and energetic employee now seems to always present as cranky and apathetic (or in Sesame Street terms, when Elmo turns into Oscar the Grouch), what do you do? You could sweep it under the rug and assume that whatever’s bothering them will eventually resolve itself, but if you wait too long you run the risk of losing a valuable employee. It’s important to take action as soon as you notice these negative behaviors – talking with them and their supervisors is a great first step as the problem could be something as simple as them being overworked, which can be easily adjusted.

The last and probably most glaring sign of an employee’s emotional detachment lies within the work itself. If someone who was at one time known for being vigilant, detail-oriented, and having high standards commences a new pattern of completing assignments late, putting less care into projects resulting in noticeable slips in quality, or blowing off tasks altogether, you know something is wrong. The sooner you speak to the employee about this issue the better, so you can help him or her get back on track as soon as possible.

From personal problems to burnout from being overworked, there are a lot of reasons why an employee might become emotionally detached from their job. Taking the initiative by opening a dialogue with them is the key to gaining insight on the root cause of the issue and determining what can be done to make them feel motivated and engaged again. You never know what kind of personal battles your workers are fighting, so it’s always helpful to apply a compassionate, patient, and honest approach – doing so won’t only reflect well on your businesses’ success, but more importantly, the morale and wellness of the individual and the employees around them.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences on employee engagement.