Whether you oversee an agency with 100+ full-time employees or a home office consisting of you, your husband and your dog, employee management will undoubtedly have a significantly strong effect on your overall success as a business.
- Be ON PURPOSE. Dr. Wayne Dyer, a self-help advocate, speaker and overall awesome guy preaches the value of focusing your attention and intention on the greater purpose for whatever it is you are doing. Drawing on Buddhist teachings, Dyer discusses the virtues of consistently promoting the greater goal as the best way to maintain a positive demeanor and avoid getting bogged down by every little hurdle and pitfall along the path to achieving success. Don’t ever let your team forget why they are working so hard on that project, event or program. Instill reminder mechanisms that point towards the real payoff so that everyone is always ON PURPOSE.
- Take meaningful breaks. Most American office workers are quite accustomed to a coffee break (or three) and a longer lunch break each work day. These typically serve as a much-needed hiatus from stressful work environments and also as social gatherings. I propose employers introduce more purposeful break options that, unlike jolts of caffeine, will provide true stress relief and emotional balance. A concept such as “breathing breaks” (literally taking a few minutes to focus on one’s breathing in a quiet surrounding) can do wonders for a disjointed mind. In certain yoga practices, the art of breathing is the centerpiece of the mind-body connection. Looking for something less “hippyish”? Try screaming breaks. I can only speak to personal experience here, but every now and then I go to my basement and let out a hearty, bellowing yell. Not angry, just a powerful burst of emotional release. It sounds crazy, but don’t knock it til you try it.
- Manage time, don’t let time manage you. For many companies, time management has come to mean “adding more work to your plate without giving you additional time to get it done”. I can’t begin to express the frustration I’ve felt over the years (and I know you feel me on this one) with the seemingly irrational increase of team meetings and client conference calls. I actually have 3 hour-long conference calls for one client on Mondays, one of which is a “call before the call to discuss what we plan to discuss on the next call”!! It’s unnerving at times. How is an employee supposed to create quality work when he/she has 6 hours of conference calls a day? Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly an advocate of information sharing and team relationship fostering. However, I’d bet dollars to donuts that at least 25% of your calls and team meetings are unnecessary and that at least 40% of them can be properly executed within a shorter time frame. Give some time back to your employees so they can do what they do best – work, think, create. (And if you need to illustrate this point during those meetings, try THIS out.)
- A people problem cannot be overcome with a process related solution. Too many times have I seen my colleagues and superiors respond to a human issue with checklists, revised protocol messages and “if X happens, do Y” emails. The problem with this type of reaction is that it ignores the foundation of most issues – people. From my perspective, the majority of workplace challenges are people problems. And in order to properly address them, you must look at behaviors, personalities, motivations and needs. It’s a route that involves a lot more effort, but the results will make up for it.
- Take a day of creativity and innovation. My former agency used to hold “Lunch And Learn” meetings every couple of months, where pizza was ordered for the entire company and an industry expert was brought in to wax poetic on his/her area of expertise. Useful, yes. Interesting, some times. But the concept was very passive and non-participatory. An Australian software development company by the name of Atlassian had a much better idea for inspiring innovation in its employees. A few times a year the company tells its engineers to take the next 24 hours to work on anything they choose, as long as it is outside their daily work scope. The engineers then present their work to the entire company the next day and a few concepts are then moved to the current projects bin. The results have not only produced new software developments, but a much more inspired and autonomous workforce. Looking for something a little more eccentric? Check THIS out.
Now go forth and INSPIRE!!