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

Where do you hang your values?

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I often find myself sitting in a room with a group of senior managers and I ask the question: “Tell me about your company values and how are they applied?”

The response varies; sometimes it will be shifting eyes from co-worker to co-worker in the hope that someone else will answer. Other times someone will say, “I think there’s five of them? Or is it seven?.Is one of them Integrity?…umm or Honesty?”.

What is the use of values if they are not implemented and understood?

Many organisations spend time and resources on creating their core values.  They then put them on their website, email signature and in a nice frame on the wall in reception. Unfortunately that’s often where they stay.

Let me tell you – truly successful organisations do much, much more than that. They have the values absorbed into the culture and they are applied in all they do.

How an organisation demonstrates their values can vary and there is no right or wrong. The important thing is that every member of staff is on the same page. Understanding what the organisation’s values are and how to demonstrate them in the workplace will make the business stronger as a whole.

Take this company for example –  NewGold Peak Gold Mine, in Cobar, NSW.

Their 5 core values are:

·         Develop Our Employees

·         Commitment

·         Integrity

·         Teamwork

·         Creativity

They believe “our values are what guide our behaviour in achieving our vision and mission”. This is obvious in the conversation, from the behaviour and the decision making of the CEO right through to the Supervisors on-site. They don’t just have their values ‘hanging on the wall’, instead they are embedded into their culture.

Personal values can be categorised into ethical/moral, ideological/cultural, social, and aesthetic. While workplace values are typically things such as: conduct, dedication, honesty, integrity, accountability, and collaboration.

It is important to keep in mind that personal values differ from individual to individual, whereas workplace values are a set of values upheld by a team or a group of people.

Conflicting values can occur when entering the workplace. With your own set of personal values, it may be difficult adapting to a new set of team-based values. For example, you may over-hear two colleagues having a heated discussion about another colleague and the quality of their work. This type of behavior may be embedded in their personal values and how they deal with conflict, but the organisations values state that there should be no bad mouthing or secrecy in the office. You are then put in a difficult position of making a decision as to whether you will tell your manager about the breach of the organisations values.

Team building days, workshops and weekly staff newsletters, are all good places to rehash on the organisations values. Often giving staff members hypothetical, value-based dilemmas is a good way of instilling what you would like to see happen when conflicts occur. It also sets a benchmark for future reference.

A values driven organisation is a powerful one. Not only does it strengthen staff members sense of team but also makes the workplace a happier community. Ask yourself what your organisations values are and see if you know the answer.

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 step out of your comfort zone

How to step out of your comfort zone

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We are often told that to truly grow and develop we need to step out of our comfort zone.

What IS our comfort zone? According to Wikipedia… A comfort zone denotes that limited set of behaviours that a person will engage without becoming anxious. Alternatively denoted as a “plateau” it describes that set of behaviours that have become comfortable, without creating a sense of risk.

Humans are creatures of habit, we like patterns and familiarity. We are constantly creating little comfort zones in our daily lives. Whether it be a certain spot where we place our handbag when we get home or a specific mug you like to use and feel upset when someone else is using it.

If you travel on your own for business and stay in hotels, do you find that you put things in the same places as you would at home? – For example, watch and rings, suitcase, and make-up. You create your own ‘home away from home’.

What does stepping out of your comfort zone mean to you?

For some people it could mean a huge physical adventure such as hiking Mt Everest, or a physical change such as dying your hair, or adjusting your career path after years of doing the same job. Each one of us has our own individual set of comfort zones, what may be out of the ordinary or scary for some, may just be part of every day life for others.

The barriers, which stop us from stepping out of our comfort zones, are most commonly: fear of failure, fear of embarrassment and lack of self-belief.

Highly successful people routinely step outside their comfort zones, to accomplish what they want.

A comfort zone is a type of mental conditioning that causes a person to create and operate mental boundaries that are not real. These boundaries create an unfounded sense of security.

Are you really attempting something that has never been done before? I doubt it.

Every time you step out of your comfort zone you build your confidence levels and open your mind a little further to new opportunities. You learn more about yourself, your capabilities, and ultimately become stronger.

Remember how it felt when you started your first job? Remember the things you worried about? When you think back now, you can realise that it really wasn’t anywhere near as daunting as you imagined. You can be self-reflective and understand what you gained from the experience.

There are times when you don’t have a choice and you are thrust out of your comfort zone and forced to be bold.

Try doing something you do on a regular basis differently – dare to be different (I’m not talking about sky diving unless you have always wanted to). But perhaps a few changes to your normal routine could open your eyes to new possibilities, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

  • Start shopping in the opposite end of the supermarket and see what you see. Or even go to a different supermarket
  • Order something different off the menu at your local café
  • Travel a different way to work
  • Call someone you recently met at a networking event and meet them for a drink
  • Write down 3 things that you are illogically afraid of and commit to doing at least one of them by Easter.
  • Buy a business magazine that you wouldn’t normally buy and learn something new – knowledge is power
  • Learn a new skill – preferably something you think you cannot do
  • Change your self-talk from “no, I don’t think I can” to “ok, I’ll give it a go”

Be bold on your quest for new experiences.

Be bold enough to do the things that are important to you and say the things you need to say.

Be bold enough to say ‘no’ to things that don’t fit your value system and educate others on what is important to you.

Be bold enough to take an honest look at the boundaries of your comfort zone and why you have created them.

Then be bold enough to challenge those boundaries and leap outside of them.

I’m going to conclude with 3 of my favourite quotes…

  1. Dare to be yourself. What others think of you is none of your business.”
  2. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well”. Diane Ackerman
  3. Never sell yourself short. Anything anyone else has done, you can probably do as well.”

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

5 ways to get your Manager’s attention.

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Here are my top tips on how to get your Manager’s attention:

  1. Put yourself in your manager’s shoes – think about the pressures thatthey might be under; what might be their key priorities, and how does what you want or need fit within those priorities? What may seem incredibly important and urgent to you, may be down the end of a very long list of issues that you manager is currently facing.
  2. Respect their time – choose your timing when you have something to discuss with them. Indicate the importance of your issue by making an appointment to see them, rather than mention it in passing in the corridor. Often staff give managers information at inconvenient times, and then wonder why nothing is followed-through. If what you want to talk about is important then do what you can to minimise distractions and ensure that you have their full attention. Also, when you tell them that you need ten minutes of their time, don’t talk about an issue for an hour.
  3. Consider their personality and preferred communication style – does your boss like extensive detailed explanations? Do they respond better if they have a brief email prior to a meeting so they have time to weigh up options? Do they make quick decisions or are they analytical and like to gather all of the facts first?  In team meetings, if there is a controversial issue, consider how you would feel if you are put on the spot in front of an audience, then ask yourself how your boss would prefer to deal with it.
  4. Speak their language – generally, the more senior a supervisor or manager is, the more they have to focus on budgets, targets, numbers and safety. So if for example, you want to ask for a new piece of equipment or an additional staff member, do your homework first and prepare a case study outlining the costs and the overall benefits to the company that the additional expenses would bring. Oh, and remember the magic 4 letter word…RISK! Part of a manager’s role is to identify potential risks and minimise the impact of them. Where relevant, let them know you have factored in the various risks involved in your proposal.
  5. Don’t use their office as a dumping ground – if you want your boss to take you and your concerns seriously, don’t just walk into his/her office and dump your problems for them to sort out. Where possible consider a couple of solutions before you see them and then present the issue, and your ideas of how it may be resolved. Your boss may prefer an alternative solution, but they will respect you for looking at the bigger picture.

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