Kellie Mills – Coach, Trainer and Speaker

Creating Change…one conversation at a time

Why is good morale important?

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Do your employees trudge into work with despair etched on their faces? Is laughter in the workplace a distant memory? Your employees’ morale may need a boost.

Happy employees are productive employees, so the saying goes, and there is a definite link between productivity and morale.

High morale in the workplace is essential to success.But good morale is more than just hearing laughter around the coffee machine–it’s also about your employees having confidence, discipline and a willingness to perform.

When employees feel good about their work, they want to work hard,accomplish goals and tend to invest more emotionally in their job.

When they don’t feel good, they are less productive, and prone to withdrawing their efforts and adopting counterproductive behaviour.

With low morale comes a high price tag. A study by US management thinktankThe Gallup Organization estimates that there are 22 million actively disengaged employees costing the American economy as much as $350 billion dollars per year in lost productivity including absenteeism, illness and other problems that result when employees are unhappy at work.

Low morale also leads to an increasing number of errors in the workplace.

Industrial psychologists have found that employees with poor morale have a more negative attitude toward their firm and its safety rules, which leads to less compliance with these rules and more risk taking behaviors.

The obvious potential is more frequent and severe injuries – a particular concern in safety critical industries such as mining and manufacturing.

Workers in the mining industry often experience stress such as fatigue, feelings of anxiety, loneliness and depression, all of which lead to low morale.

Some other causes of low morale include a lack of advancement opportunities, poor leadership, lack of effective communication, chaotic or constantly changing working conditions and poor commitment to safety.

To improve workplace productivity you must understand what boosts the morale of people in your group, and what undermines it.

Steps which can be taken include improving leadership skills, ensuring employees feel like their work is more than just a job, mixing up the way you do things, celebrating accomplishments, following up on problems and demonstrating that safety is a priority.

Keeping employee morale high is essential to maintaining a productive workplace. Remember, it is the people you employ who are the driving force in the success or failure of your business.

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on blogresponse@millseaton.com.au

How to kiss your ‘BUSYNESS’ goodbye!

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Nov 12, 2015

This decade has a new motto and that motto is ‘busy’.

Filling our lives with ‘busy’ seems to be essential for demonstrating effectiveness and worth in today’s world, but it doesn’t necessarily mean productive or effective.

In fact, often the opposite is often true. For most of us, this busy mentality has become a dominant – and insidious – way of thinking, feeling and acting.

Being busy impacts the way we communicate with others at home and at work. When asked how we are, our reply generally includes the word busy or the concept of ‘busyness’. We rush through our days focusing on prioritising so we can achieve our KPIs and KRAs and outcomes, all the while hoping to appear in control at the same time.

Thinking busy all the time affects how we feel about ourselves. Remember when we had ‘slow times’ which were used to catch up on the busy time overflow? The lack of catch up time today leads us to always feeling behind, so we feel guilty when we do catch up, or heaven forbid, take some time out.

Being ‘too busy’ is also a great excuse for not doing what’s really important like catching up with friends, exercising more, having a health check-up or a weekend away with family.

But is being too busy the message we really want to project to those around us?

When bosses or clients assume you are too busy, they stop bringing you opportunities, believing you probably won’t have time to take advantage of them.

Staff may stop asking for your advice, approaching you with ideas that could have a positive impact on your organisation, or coming to you when problems are small and manageable.

 By using the dreaded ‘B’ word you give the impression you are no longer in control. Is this what your clients, bosses or staff want to see?

When family members assume you are too busy, they stop expecting to spend time together and start to build their lives without you. When was the last time you ran into a friend or family member and said those sincere words: ‘We must catch up for a coffee?’ How often do you make the time?

Busy isn’t a motto we should live by. Here’s how you can kiss your ‘busyness’ goodbye:

• Make time for staff by having regular morning tea breaks with your team where informal, non-specific chat can occur. You will be surprised at the innovative (and often time saving) ideas generated when staff don’t feel pressured to keep each conversation short and to the point.

• When your boss asks you a job-related question, avoid telling them how ‘busy’ you are. Instead let them know what you are ‘currently working on’.

• When talking to clients, instead of emphasising your ‘busyness’, tell them business is great and ask how they are doing. Make time to find out what you can be doing for them and open the door for more paid, instead of busy, work!

• Ensure you schedule in time for family and friends. Book that family weekend away, go for picnics and meet friends for Sunday brunch. Celebrate family events regularly rather than wait for Christmas and Easter. The occasional coffee with a close friend might take time out of your day, but don’t you deserve some time out? Laughing with those you care about reduces stress, clears your mind and enriches your life.

There are 1440 minutes in a day. Will the world stop turning if you take a few of them and use them not to be busy?

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on blogresponse@millseaton.com.au

Are you wasting a wage on your managers?

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In most organisations, high achievers and self-starters who have strong technical skills or great qualifications are usually first in line for promotion.

These workers are our top fifteen percenters and are incredibly valuable employees. They are used to getting on with the job. They are focused on the task. They can see the big picture. They are loyal and hardworking.

Then we put them in charge of people who are nothing like them. Suddenly, they are responsible for the rest of the team who can range from the plodders and followers to the cynical troublemakers.

And neither side copes well.

The manager lives with constant frustration. ‘Why don’t they just do it? Why do they have to be told everything?’ they ask. Staff wonder why the manager is on their back all the time. In no time, you can have bullying and harassment claims to deal with.

If the manager isn’t well trained or comfortable in the art of delegation or direction, they end up doing the work for the staff because it is ‘just easier’.

Ultimately, you are paying a manager’s wage and getting a hard worker, but not a leader of a productive team.

Implementing a manager without leadership skills is a recipe for disaster. Common problems include team dysfunction as the manager becomes stuck in work tasks, missing the people issues erupting around them. They can also become overwhelmed by the added people responsibilities and burn out fast.

If you are not investing in training your supervisors and managers in people leadership skills, you could, in fact, be wasting a wage. Staff have a greater expectation on Managers to be people-focused leaders these days so throwing your best technical people into the deep end and hoping they’ll ‘do okay’ can be a costly experience for the organisation if they fail.

So what is management exactly, and how does it differ from leadership?

Leadership involves creating an inspiring vision of the future and motivating people to understand, engage with and achieve that vision. Managers are responsible for ensuring that vision is implemented efficiently and successfully. To be fully effective, managers need to fulfil both roles.

So many organisations focus on their managers managing tasks only. This unfortunately leads to people like me getting called in to ‘fix’ things.

There is nothing wrong with placing your best and brightest in a management position, but they also must know how to lead.

Many smaller companies can’t afford to offer internal study or to send aspiring managers to external training, so there is no formal leadership training. But rather than transplanting employees directly into management, you can begin training them to be managers in their current job.

Consider the qualities of a good manager, and then provide employees the opportunity to build those qualities. Develop their personal skills, team skills and corporate skills.

This can involve creating a culture of learning where employees push themselves and meet new challenges, providing incentives for employees to learn on their own by giving them time off to attend conferences or book individual leadership coaching.

Also encourage goal setting, build team communication skills and familiarise employees with what happens inside the business. If you can offer formal management training, of course offer it.

By giving your staff the chance to build leadership skills and habits before they become managers, you can also see which employee will make the best manager.

It’s often said that a company’s greatest asset is its people. This may be true, but it takes a great leader to guide those people and therefore the business to success.

As American social leader and activist Benjamin Hooks once said: If you think you are leading and turn around to see no one following, then you are just taking a walk.

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on blogresponse@millseaton.com.au

What causes dysfunction in teams?

“Unity is strength. . . when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” — Mattie Stepanek

For some of us, the word ‘team’ invokes excitement and for others dread. Some born leaders can’t wait to take the reigns, while introverts fear the prospect of having to work in close proximity to others. The balance of a team is a tricky thing to get right, but it can be powerful when executed successfully.

With teams it is important to remember that individuals are unique and so is the way they work. Not everyone is going to see eye-to-eye and everyone will work differently depending on the environment.

Often, what has the possibility to make a team also has the possibility to break it. Teams are all about enhancing the unique skills and ideas of individuals by coming together and strengthening a business as a whole.

However, there is an art to effective team development. Unfortunately team dysfunction is frequently the result of ineffective communication.

So where does it all go wrong?

Common signs of poor team performance are reduced productivity, low morale, and division within the team.

If any of these signs seem familiar, it might be time to delve deeper into the team members’ understanding of their priorities, timing, and direction of tasks.

Some of the reasons for dysfunction in a team can include:

  • Lack of trust: This is when team members are reluctant to express their own weaknesses or ask other members of the team for help. Improving this aspect of the team will result in improved communication and benefit the overall outcome.
  • Conflict: Whether it’s a build up of unspoken opinions or an over share of feelings, both can be detrimental to the teams function. It is important to create an open environment where all members have equal opportunity to be heard.
  • Absence of leadership: Unclear roles within a team can make it difficult to determine the hierarchy and create challenges when the time comes to make big decisions. This can be overcome by designating positions for each member and in turn ensuring a pathway to effective communication.
  • Uncertainty of responsibility: Within the team, a clear definition of each individual’s roles and responsibilities is key to dodging ineffective time management and attaining success.

Investing in a training of team-based activities can enhance the way the members communicate. To find out more about my specialised team-building and development programs visit Mills-Eaton Training Team Development.

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on blogresponse@millseaton.com.au

 

How to work in a multi-generational workplace

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Finding the balance when working with multi-generational colleagues can be a difficult task. Each generation has their own unique work ethic, culture and way of communicating.  These differences can impact the way staff work together and the quality of the finished product. Here is a breakdown of each generation:

o       Builders/Silents- aged between 67 – 96

o       Baby Boomers- aged between 48 – 66

o       Gen X- aged between 32 – 47

o       Gen Y- aged between 18 – 31

o       Gen Z- aged between 3 – 17

In order to understand the barriers we must look at these differences as cultural rather than age-related. The three main generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y), must be explored further in order to understand how their views were shaped according to influences from the world around them.

Baby Boomers

·         Were raised to be ‘seen and not heard’ when around adults or people of authority

·         Strong set of ideals & traditions, Very family oriented

·         Believed hard work & education got you most things in life

·         Life had stability and safety with mothers at home when growing up

·         Forever young – still young and funky!

·         Value experience over education

Generation X

·         Live in the present

·         Like to experiment but look for immediate results – impatient

·         Self-reliant & question authority

·         Like options & to set own priorities

·         Developed independence

·         Ambitious and hard working but value a work/life balance

Generation Y

·         Accepting of diversity

·         Question tradition

·         Have been taught skills rather than discovered skills, often over supervised

·         Rapid adapters to change

·         Want to be entertained, quick to change interests – Multi-taskers

·         Appear Extremely confident and abundance of self esteem

·         Very concerned with self image & product brands

·         Focus on personal priorities

·         Smart, creative, optimistic and tech savvy

By delving into a generation’s history we can gather some important points which lead us to how each generation behaves in a workplace environment. For example Baby Boomers often prefer face-to-face conversations over emails. Gen X generally opt to working alone rather than in teams. Whereas, Gen Y expect equality and willingness to break tradition.

However, it is important to note that everyone is an individual and they should not be stereotyped by their generation. For a workplace to cater to the needs of a multigenerational workforce it is important to keep an open mind and understand the different perspectives.

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on blogresponse@millseaton.com.au

How to talk to Aliens

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It can be hard to relate to colleagues when you simply have nothing in common or don’t understand where they are coming from. Effective communication is key in a working environment, unfortunately gender based miscommunication is an area which often needs work.

This common issue is something I like to call “Talking to Aliens” and addresses the misunderstanding between male and female styles in the workplace. It is important to note that not all women have a female style of communication and not all men have a male style.

Although we have come along way in recent years in terms of gender equality, I believe we still have room for improvement, particularly in Corporate Australia.  The first step is to remember that women are equal but different to men. Both genders contribute in very different ways, there is no right or wrong.

Understanding the key styles for each gender is significant to moving forward and overcoming gender barriers in communication. In her book ‘Gender Games’, Candy Tymson describes the following things to look for:

Male Style   Female Style
Focus on information   Focus on relationship
Report style of speaking Rapport style of speaking
Goal driven Process oriented
Single task approach Multi-tasking approach
Succinct language Storytelling style of speech
Working towards a destination On a journey
Need to know the answers Want to ask the right questions

The important thing to remember is to be aware of the style of the person you are talking to and address them accordingly. We need to get to know our work mates on a more personal level, instead of a gender-only perspective. This way we can eliminate stereotypes once and for all.

Humans are designed to fear what they do not understand. Most men do not really understand women, therefore, as much as they may not want to admit it, there is a fear-factor that modifies most male / female relationships.

A simple example… Men often think that women want solutions from them, whenthey discuss issues, whereas women generally problem-solve themselves, as they are talking them through.

Men often underestimate their female colleague’s abilities and the responsibility for this can be shared by both genders. Woman need to start speaking up about the things that are important, and sell themselves and their abilities better. When women are given praise they need to learn to believe it and accept it, rather than downplay or minimise the comments.

Men stand up and ask for, or demand, opportunities. While women often hold back and hope their good work will get them noticed. Frankly, if great performance were enough to get women to the top, then there would be a higher percentage of women in senior management and in the boardroom.

Gender barriers can be difficult to work through but it is important to realise  and understand when its happening. Together males and females can counteract this age old barrier and continue on to complete equity.

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on blogresponse@millseaton.com.au

How to have a courageous conver-sation

 

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Having tough conversations in the workplace takes courage. It is something that many of us dread.

Many of us will delay asking for a pay rise, for time off or bringing up a sensitive topic about another employee. Whatever the Courageous Conversation may be, it’s about time we stopped putting them off. By pushing these conversations to the side they take up precious energy and focus. This would be better directed to living in the present and getting on with what needs to be done.

Fear is the main reason why these necessary conversations do not take place when they should. Whether it be: fear of being shouted at, fear of looking stupid, fear of offending the person, fear of lack of performance or other repercussions from staff, and fear of being judged. By taking a calm and blame-free approach to having actual courageous conversations, stress levels can be reduced and effective outcomes can be achieved.

CIA is a good first step in assessing what the conversation should involve and how it needs to be approached. CIA involves asking Can I CONTROL it? Can IINFLUENCE it? Or can I ACCEPT it? This helps to take you to the next step: Clarifying the Realistic Outcome you want. For example, if the outcome is for the staff member to change their behaviour, you need to be able to be specific on the change that is required. You need to be clear that you do not want to change their personality or make them feel personally targeted. You need to name the behaviour or the performance issue that needs improving.

The next step involves Three Magic Words. These are three essential qualities that you need to exhibit when having courageous conversations: Empathy, Curiosity and Accountability. Empathy will remind you that you are dealing with another human being with his or her own ideas, emotions, and way of working. Be sensitive to the idea that they may be going through other struggles out of the workplace that you know nothing about.

Be curious, ask appropriate questions and seek understanding rather than making quick judgements. Try to uncover why they behave the way they do and take the time to get the full story. Finally, remember that Accountability is a two way street. Both people in the conversation should be aware of their tone, body language, words, and the way their message is received. Letting frustration seep into your behaviour will be detrimental to the final outcome and chances of resolving the issue will be limited.

Approaching tough conversations in the workplace takes courage. Being self- reflective in the way you process the issue in your own time will help the end result. Be confident and clear on what the issue is and how it can best be resolved.

Mills-Eaton Training delivers In-House training for medium-large organisations. They specialise in Team Development (with expertise in dysfunctional teams), Leadership, Communication and other practical programs.

Contact Kellie Mills on blogresponse@millseaton.com.au