Sep 29

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Share the workload by delegating

delegate-to-improve-efficiencyPart of your job as a supervisor is to know what tasks you should do yourself and which ones you should delegate to your employees. It seems like a simple concept, but many supervisors struggle with letting go of any aspect of their job.

If you’re one who struggles with delegating tasks, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I afraid that my employees will be able to do the job better than I can? This isn’t an uncommon thought. If you never share the knowledge, you’ll be the only one with the skill. While that may bring you a false sense of job security, think again. That train of thought really hinders your own growth as a supervisor.
  • Am I worried that another employee can’t do the job as well as I can? This is another common thought many supervisors have. If you’re afraid that you will look like a failure if your employee messes up a task, think again. Mistakes can be remedied and you should give your employees the chance to rise to a challenge.

One way to break the do-it-yourself mentality is to prioritize your workload. Make a list of the tasks you feel are most important to your job and set those aside for yourself to tackle. Then, make another list of the tasks that need to get done but that are mostly busy work for you, and delegate those responsibilities to some of your employees.

Delegating some of your tasks to other employees will benefit both you and your employees in a variety of ways, including:

  • It will free up some of your time to really focus on the important aspects of your job.
  • It will show your employees that you trust them to handle some of your responsibilities (just make sure that you aren’t dumping all of your work on them).
  • It will enable you to take some much-needed time off. While you are out, you will have peace of mind knowing that things can run smoothly when you’re not around, and that’s okay.
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Sep 22

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: What would you do? Keep up your appearance when you’re on the go

stay-preparedShowing up for that meeting on time was really a feat after being stuck in traffic and not finding the building right away. Too bad you didn’t have a comb to help neaten your hair after rolling down your car window and asking for directions.

Because making the right first impression is so important in business relationships, you need to constantly look and feel professional. Outside forces, though, can interfere with your appearance and make your clients think you’re a disorganized slacker.

To look and feel your best at every business meeting, pack a small plastic box filled with essential items that you don’t carry with you. You can pack one to keep in your office and one to keep in your car. Some suggestions of items to pack are:

  • Tissues. Pick up a multi-pack of the travel-size cases; they take up less space.
  • Lip Balm. Dry lips can distract you and become irritating when you do so much talking.
  • Laundry Detergent Pen or Wipes. Especially for those after-lunch meetings or when you’re forced to eat that jelly doughnut on the way to your meeting.
  • Box of Mints. For when you’ve just eaten lunch. They also come in handy after that cup of coffee or other hot beverage.
  • Deodorant. These also come in small travel sizes, so they won’t take up too much room.
  • Mirror and Comb. Take a moment to spruce up your hair.
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Sep 15

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Resolve conflicts objectively

resolving-conflict

Do you often feel like you need to walk on eggshells around fighting subordinates? Do arguments disrupt your employees’ workdays? Do you sometimes feel like you need to side with one employee or the other to truly resolve the conflict?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, here are four steps that will help you stay impartial while mediating a conflict between your employees:

  • Determine their limits. It can be difficult to get both employees to explain the root problem, so you’ll have to talk with each one personally. Find out what pushed them over the limit. Are they annoyed that their coworker takes two hours for lunch? Does one coworker engage the other in too much “mindless chit-chat?” Remember that no question is too small to ask during this stage. What seems like a silly question could lead to a productive answer.
  • Open the discussion. Fostering an open discussion between the disagreeing employees is the best way to clear the air, despite how awkward it can be. Sit in a neutral space, such as a conference room, and ask each person to state her professional goals and expectations. Keep the dialogue focused around work with words like “objective,” “target” and “expectations.”
  • Find healing. After both sides have stated their workplace goals and expectations, invite one subordinate to analyze how her behavior impedes the other’s ability to realize her goals. Then, ask the other one to do the same. Once they’re aware of how their actions harm the other’s career goals, they’ll be more likely to shape up.
  • Remember the human touch. Your employees need you to be objective and fair regarding their conflict. Instead of taking sides, provide a human touch and understand that sometimes the simplest resolution is the best — an explanation and an apology. Encourage your workers to make amends and move on.
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Sep 08

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Eradicate low energy levels for good

energize-yourselfIf you’re feeling sluggish in the mornings when you arrive at work, chances are you need a better way to increase your energy level. We have the remedy. Start off your day right with these energy boosters:

  • Get a good night’s sleep – Try to get in eight hours of sleep a night. Likewise, go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Going to bed or waking up at different times causes your body’s clock to go off track. So, if you normally get up at 8 a.m., refrain from getting up any later than an hour before or after that everyday.
  • Relax before bed — Before you turn out the lights, make sure that you have gone through a relaxation routine. You can read a book, take a warm bath or drink some warm milk. If you are relaxed before you go to bed, you will sleep better.
  • Exercise regularly — The average individual should be exercising a minimum of three times a week for 30 minutes. Create a workout routine to maximize your energy level. Daily workouts can help to increase your blood flow and to utilize nutrients in your bloodstream more efficiently.
  • Munch on those carbs — Eat a diet filled with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Make sure you consume plenty complex carbohydrates such as bread, whole wheat, etc. Try to cut down on simple carbohydrates like sugar. These give you only quick energy fixes that cause you to feel more sluggish when the energy burst is over.
  • Supplement your diet — Even if you are getting a well-balanced diet, many of the essential vitamins in foods are lost during the cooking process. Try taking a multi-vitamin daily, and you should also take an additional supplement of Iron, B-Complex and vitamin C. If possible, resort to herbal supplements like Ginseng. Remember to consult your doctor before taking any vitamins or herbal supplements, because some can interact with prescription medications.
  • Get out! — Sometimes just getting some fresh air will give you an energy boost. Try to take a walk or just stand outside for a few minutes to take in your surroundings. You’ll feel so much better afterwards.
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Jul 28

MANAGEMENT MINUTE: Give feedback that gets results

285_2721557Providing employees with meaningful feedback will help them improve their performance. Yet fewer than half of employers use feedback effectively, according to a New York University poll.

What prevents supervisors from providing the right feedback? Lack of perspective, assertion, personal involvement, and understanding, according to senior consultant Jamie Higgins of the Monitor Company and Diana Smith of Monitor University.

They offer this advice to ensure your staffers receive targeted guidance:

  1. Keep Perspective. Every story has two sides, so your point of view is also limited. Use feedback as an opportunity to foster dialogue, not a monologue.
  2. Be Assertive. Don’t back down when a worker resists your feedback. Stay firm and focused; remember that wishy-washy comments aren’t helpful. Instead, foster learning by asking what types of problems he or she has faced. Then, offer suggestions.
  3. Get Involved. Sub-par productivity has multiple causes. Make sure you’re not impeding your employees’ work. Ask focused questions like: “What could I do to help you complete this task on time?”
  4. Show Understanding. Mistakes happen, but covering them up doesn’t help. Find out what led to the mistake, and then ask the employee to identify steps to avoid that mistake in the future. Your feedback will provide real learning and development.
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