7 Tips to Get Your Team to Actually Listen to You

Original post entrepreneur.com

Right from the outset, entrepreneurs must pay attention to every communication and opportunity for sharing their passion and vision.  They must communicate effectively, so they can inspire others to come aboard.  They must speak honestly and in ways that reveal their personal character and genuine connection. Yet, this sort of communication style can be difficult and time consuming – especially when demands are huge and time is scarce.

There is far more to being an effective and authentic communicator than most entrepreneurs believe -- at least when they are starting out. Even if you think you’re good at speaking to your team and motivating them, there’s always more to learn.

Leadership communication is a discipline and a practice: The more time, effort and heart you put in, the more effective you become.  There really are no shortcuts.

That said, here are seven ideas that can help you focus your attention and improve your leadership communication.

1. Be authentic.

When you speak with your employees you must come across to them as real. This means sharing your beliefs and your struggles. Talking about moments of doubt but also explaining how you overcame them with more conviction and confidence than ever. Or perhaps share a story or two about a failure and disappointment in life.

The most convincing talks are when stories are shared about personal weaknesses and what one was doing to overcome them or disappointments and failures and how they were turned around.

2. Know yourself.

Dig deep.  Know your values and what motivates you.  If you don’t know yourself you cannot share or connect with others. People want to know what makes you tick as a human being not just as a leader. Share this and make yourself real.

3. Rely on a good coach or a trusted advisor.

Developing good communication skills takes time -- and in the rush of business, that’s scarce.  Having someone who can push you to examine and reveal your interests and passions is enormously helpful and the value is immeasurable.

4. Read up on leadership communication.

If you can’t hire a coach, read all that you can. This is an inexhaustible resource, and you should never quit learning anyway. Books, articles, the internet; the possibilities are endless.

5. Make values visible.

Effective, empathetic communication and a commitment to culture can provide a solid foundation for your ideas and contribute to making it a reality. Many of today’s most successful companies have gone through dramatic crises.  Their improvements often hinged upon genuine communication from the leaders.

For instance, think of Starbucks and Howard Schultz’s clear and genuine communications about the importance of managers and baristas being personally accountable for future success. Your employees want to know what you and the company stands for. What is the litmus test for everything you do? These are your values. Talk about them but you must always be sure to “walk the talk” and live by them.

6. Engage with stories.

You can't rely on facts and figures alone. It’s stories that people remember. The personal experiences and stories you share with others create emotional engagement, decrease resistance and give meaning. It is meaning that gets employees' hearts and fuels discretionary effort, thinking and desire to actively support the business.

Once someone was implementing a massive pricing cut. He could have presented reams of data about this change and why it needed to be made. Instead he invited in four clients of the firm who had written letters about why after more than 10 years they had decided to leave due to our pricing being noncompetitive. Everyone was engaged and quite horrified to hear this feedback. Getting the team’s support for the change was much easier after that.

7. Be fully present. 

There is no autopilot for leadership communication. You must be fully present to move people to listen and pay attention, rather than simply be in attendance. Any time you are communicating, you need to be prepared -- and to speak from your heart.  Leadership communication is, after all, about how you make others feel. What do you want people to feel, believe and do as a result of your communication?  This absolutely can't happen if you read a speech. No matter how beautifully it is written, it doesn’t come across as authentic or from your heart if you are reading it. Embrace what you want to say and use notes if you must, but never read a speech if you want to be believable and move people to action. (And yes this requires a ton of preparation).

Your speeches are visible and important components of your role as a leader. Successful entrepreneurs are conscious of that role in every communication, interaction and venue within the organization and beyond. They also know that while today’s world provides a wide range of ways to communicate to your organization -- mass email, text, Twitter, instant message and more --connecting is not that simple. Electronic communication is a tool for communicating information -- not for inspiring passion.

Here are the top 10 most costly U.S. workplace injuries

Original post lifehealthpro.com

Workplace injuries and accidents are the near the top of every employer’s list of concerns.Here is the countdown of the top 10 causes and direct costs of the most disabling U.S. workplace injuries. The definitions and examples can be found at the BLS website.

  1. Repetitive motions involving micro-tasks

Some of these tasks may include a word processor who looks from the computer monitor to a document and back several times a day or the cashier at the local grocery store who is scanning and bagging groceries for several hours at a time.

  1. Struck against object or equipment

This category of workplace injury applies to workers who are hurt by forcible contact or impact, for example, an office worker who bumps into a filing cabinet or an assembly line worker who stubs a toe on stacked parts.

  1. Caught in or compressed by equipment or objects

These workplace injuries result from workers being caught in equipment or machinery that’s still running as well as in rolling, shifting or sliding objects.

Picture the scene in a movie in which wine barrels topple over, catching the bad guy beneath them, only in this case, it’s the employee whose job it may be to stack the barrels. Perhaps it’s the experienced worker who removes a machine guard to dislodge material that’s stuck and gets a finger caught when the machine starts moving again.

  1. Slip or trip without fall

Occasionally, workers do slip or trip without hitting the ground. Think of the employee entering the workplace who slips on icy stairs but is able to grab the handrail to prevent hitting the ground. But the action of grabbing the handrail may cause the employee to injure his shoulder or wrench her knee.

  1. Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicle

The worker may be the driver, a passenger or a pedestrian, but the cause of the injury is an automobile, truck or motorcycle.

  1. Other exertions or bodily reactions

These motions include bending, crawling, reaching, twisting, climbing or stepping, according to the BLS. Consider, for example, a roofing contractor’s employees who are continually climbing up and down ladders.

  1. Struck by object or equipment

This category covers a range of possible injuries, from being struck by an object dropped by a fellow worker to being caught in a swinging door or gate. Picture the construction worker on a scaffold dropping a hammer on the worker below.

  1. Falls to lower level

The roofer could fall to the ground from the roof or ladder, or an office worker standing on a stepstool, reaching for a heavy file box, could fall to the floor.

  1. Falls on same level

The second most costly workplace injury, surprisingly, is a fall on the same level. Picture the employee who is walking through the office and falls over an uneven floor surface or someone leaning too far back in an office chair and toppling over.

  1. Overexertion involving an outside source

The BLS explains that overexertion occurs when the physical effort of a worker who lifts, pulls, pushes, holds, carries, wields or throws an object results in an injury.

The object being handled is often heavier than the weight that a worker should be handling or the object is handled improperly. For example, lifting from a shelf that’s too high, or in a space that’s cramped. Within the broad category of sprains, strains, and tears caused by overexertion, most incidents resulted specifically from overexertion in lifting.

Risk managers should work with their carriers and workplace safety specialists to minimize injuries, lost work days and workers’ compensation costs.With a little effort, employers can understand more about the causes of accidents and injuries in their organizations, identify the appropriate actions to reduce the number of injuries and minimize employee disabilities from workplace accidents.

You may look more productive skipping lunch, or eating at your desk. But you aren’t.

Original post Ellie Krieger, The Washington Post

The hour-long lunch may be a charming relic of the past, like phone cords and typewriters, but in today’s 24-7 work culture, many of us don’t take any lunch break at all.

Fewer than 20 percent of American workers regularly step away for a midday meal, and 39 percent usually eat at their desks, according to a survey done by Right Management.

This trend is fueled by the notion that the most dedicated, effective workers are constantly available and on-task, and that taking a lunch break is counterproductive. It’s a perception that’s especially powerful in the tech sector, which gave birth to the meal-replacement drink Soylent so you don’t need to stop what you are doing to eat. The tagline for the product is “free your body,” which implies we’d be better off liberated from the pesky burden of needing to be fed.

But the idea that breaking for a meal hinders accomplishment is plainly wrong. The truth is, stopping to eat can actually make you much better at what you do.

Part of the reason lunch can boost your performance at work is that food literally fuels your brain, which needs a constant supply of energy to function optimally. So, the worst thing you can do for your midday mental performance is to skip lunch; and the best thing you can do, it seems, is to eat one with a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Carbohydrate is the brain’s primary fuel and study after study, on everyone from children to airline pilots to the elderly, show improvement on memory tests after eating carbs, especially slow-release carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables. But it turns out that protein and fat have distinct roles in powering our brains as well.

In a 2001 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looking at how carbs, protein and fats affect thinking, researchers concluded that each of the macronutrients enhanced performance on different kinds of tasks. So the optimal power-lunch should include all three — carbs from vegetables and/or whole grains; a protein such as lean meat, eggs, beans or nuts; and a healthy fat like olive oil or avocado.

What to do when the boss yells

When things go wrong in the workplace, emotions can run high. Sometimes those emotions can lead to a yelling boss. What do you do if the yelling is directed at you?

It's an important thing to consider. How you react sets the tone for what happens next.

Kat George with Bustle outlines 6 things to consider.

1. Ask To Schedule A Private Meeting

If someone is yelling, it's probably because they're at their wit's end. They feel cornered by whatever conundrum they're facing, and might have become irrational about dealing with it. Whether your boss's concerns are legitimate or frivolous, you can diffuse the situation by calmly asking for a private meeting at which to discuss the meeting at hand. Make it formal: book a conference room and schedule a time that day so you two can sit down and hash out the problem, as it's most likely a solvable work challenge.

2. Explain Yourself

Again, remain calm, but speak up. If your boss has the wrong idea about something you've done, say so. Don't be vindictive or petty in your speech. Keep it matter-of-fact, and explain yourself. If your boss is demanding answers, give them. Be clear and succinct, and keep to the point without waffling on. If you can be direct in your communication chances are your shouting boss will calm down and meet you at your timbre.

3. Own Up To Your Mistakes

Don't make excuses. If you're getting yelled at because you messed up, own it. Denying your responsibility will only make your boss madder. Don't be combative when you're in the wrong, it won't serve you in the long run. Let your boss know that you understand your mistake, are very sorry, and will work as hard as you can to fix the problem as fast as possible. Chances are the more repentant you are about your mistake and the more willing to fix it, your yelling boss will soften and even feel bad about coming down on you so hard. We're all human, even bosses.

4. Offer A Solution

Whatever's going on, whether it's because of your folly or something out of your control, offer a solution. Yelling comes from frustration, so chances are your boss feels cornered, and is ironically probably terrified of being yelled at by their own boss. If you can be creative and show initiative in moving forward, you might be offering your boss a solution they couldn't see on their own.

5. Never Yell Back

Never, under any circumstances, yell back at your boss. Don't give your angry boss a reason to be angrier. Even when they should be more professional, you need to be the bigger person. It might seem unfair in the short term but it will serve you better in the long run.

6. Always Follow Up

When you've had a conflict at work, always follow up to see that it's resolved. After you've been yelled at by your boss, follow up the next day to make sure everything is square. Whether that's working towards the solution, or finalizing the solution, stay on top of it, and show that you care about your job and making things work. No one wants to be in their boss's bad books, especially when that boss is prone to flying off the hook, so be proactive (which you should be anyway at work!) to earn your good graces back.

Bullies taking a toll on their workplace targets

Source: Benefits Pro

Less than 10 percent of workers experience bullying on the job. But for those who do, the consequences can be severe.

Ball State University researchers reviewed 2010 data from more than 17,000 workers who were asked, among other things about bullying on the job.

The study found that 8 percent overall reported they had experienced bullying, with women being far more likely to be the targets of bullying than men.

Of those who were bullied, researchers reported, they were far more likely to report physical and psychological responses to the bullying, including stress, loss of sleep, depression and anxiety.

The report, “Workplace Harassment and Morbidity Among U.S. Adults,” says these targets tend to report higher levels of low self-esteem, concentration difficulties, anger, lower life satisfaction, reduced productivity and increased absenteeism than those who said they were not bullied.

“Harassment or bullying suffered by American employees is severe and extremely costly for employers across the country,” Jagdish Khubchandani, a community health education professor at Ball State and the study’s lead author, told Bloomberg BNA Dec. 18. “The first thing that we have to do, and employers have to do, is admit that there is a problem,” he said.

Among other findings:

  • Females were 47 percent more likely to be bullied or harassed than males;
  • Victims of harassment were more likely to be obese and smoke;
  • Female victims reported higher rates of distress,smoking, and pain disorders like migraines and neck pain; and
  • Male victims were more likely to miss more than two weeks of work and suffer from asthma, ulcers, hypertension and worsening of general health.
  • Bullying was more prevalent among hourly workers, state and local government employees, multiple jobholders, night shift employees and those working irregular schedules.

Khubchandani said that employees are generally reluctant to report harassment because the result is often “just handle it.” Companies need to have anti-bullying policies with teeth in them, and they can also conduct an annual survey of employees that includes gathering information about bullying.

An awareness campaign that educates managers on the signs of bullying such as employees chronically using personal or sick leave — will help to identify those who possibly are being targeted, he said.


Just Say 'No' to Co-Workers' Halloween Candy

Originally posted on  October 14, 2014 by Josh Cable on ehstoday.com.

Workplace leftovers might seem like one of the perks of the job. But when co-workers try to pawn off their Halloween candy on the rest of the department, it's more of a trick than a treat.

Those seemingly generous and thoughtful co-workers often are just trying to keep temptation out of their homes.

"Not only does candy play tricks on your waistline, but it also turns productive workers into zombies," says Emily Tuerk, M.D., adult internal medicine physician at the Loyola University Health System and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

"A sugar high leads to a few minutes of initial alertness and provides a short burst of energy. But beware of the scary sugar crash. When the sugar high wears off, you'll feel tired, fatigued and hungry."

Tuerk offers a few tips to help you and others on your team avoid being haunted by leftover candy:

  • Make a pact with your co-workers to not bring in leftover candy.
  • Eat breakfast, so you don't come to work hungry.
  • Bring in alternative healthy snacks, such as low-fat yogurt, small low-fat cheese sticks, carrot sticks or cucumber slices. Vegetables are a great healthy snack. You can't overdose on vegetables.
  • Be festive without being unhealthy. Blackberries and cantaloupe are a fun way to celebrate with traditional orange and black fare without packing on the holiday pounds. Bring this to the office instead of candy as a creative and candy-free way to participate in the holiday fun.
  • If you must bring in candy, put it in an out-of-the-way location. Don't put it in people's faces so they mindlessly eat it. An Eastern Illinois University study found that office workers ate an average of nine Hershey's Kisses per week when the candy was conveniently placed on top of the desk, but only six Kisses when placed in a desk drawer and three Kisses when placed 2 feet from the desk.

And if you decide to surrender to temptation and have a treat, limit yourself to a small, bite-size piece, Tuerk adds. Moderation is key.

5 root causes of disengagement

Originally posted on https://ebn.benefitnews.com.

The one-size-fits-all communications approach is ending, but employee engagement is still an issue for many employers. Alison Davis, of employee communication firm Davis & Company, identified five root causes of deteriorating engagement, which she shared with attendees at this year’s Benefits Forum & Expo.

The shredded employment contract

Since the recession, employees are losing confidence in the security of their jobs. Workers feel there has been a shift and that employers are holding more of the cards. According to Gallup, the number of actively disengaged workers increased to 24% in organizations that have recently laid off employees. Additionally, Towers Watson notes that 72% of companies have reduced their workforce in response to the recession.

Lack of trust in leaders

According to Towers Watson, fewer than two in five employees have confidence in senior leaders. People are skeptical and often have a wait-and-see attitude to what leaders have to say. Employees are saying “let’s wait and see what really happens,” Davis says.

Demographic attitudes

Another, and probably the biggest, challenge revolves around the different attitudes of the three primary generations in today’s workforce, says Davis. Baby boomers are burnt out and display a negative attitude in their exchanges with co-workers; Gen Xers are balancing work and home life responsibilities; Millennials have an “all about me” attitude and are somewhat impatient about moving up (or across) the corporate ladder. The average length of tenure out one job for a millennial is 2.6 years, and by the age of 27 they will have already worked four different jobs.

Mad men management

Employers are trapped in a 1950s mindset. This can be seen in the organizational charts that show a top-down hierarchy. The decision-making is done at the top, and general access to information is scarce, even as corporate leaders talk about transparency.

The way work gets done

We’re in a 24/7/365 mindset where an employee is always on the job. Employees never feel quite done or that they can ever shut it down, which affects their work-life balance and causes them to feel disengaged.

New-age challenges for employee privacy

Originally posted September 23, 2014 by Michael Giardina on https://ebn.benefitnews.com.

An individual’s online behavior and presence may seem like their own business, but when it comes to on-the-job use of social networks, the rules have changed. And as benefit managers and their HR teams do their due diligence to try to find the ideal candidate for a position, are they overstepping the law by requiring new hires to allow an employer access to the candidate’s online life?

How can employers ensure that current employees or potential hires are the right fit for their workplace without crossing the line — and taking steps enforcement agencies and new state laws deem too intrusive? As they look for answers, many companies will find that guidance has been a bit fuzzy.

Employers, including private companies and educational institutions, are being forcibly excluded from their employees’ social media accounts as privacy advocates push for more action from legislators. This year, New Hampshire became the 18th state to enact laws that promote employee and student privacy when it comes to employer access to personal online account information.

Five other states in 2014 and nearly a dozen others in 2013 have pushed forward with similar provisions to protect employee privacy, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“I don’t think it’s surprising that more states are enacting legislation,” says Jaklyn Wrigley, an associate at law firm Fisher & Phillips, who represents employers in Mississippi and on the federal level. “It’s a personal realm; that’s where you engage in communication with people that don’t have anything to do with work or school. So it makes sense — unless there is a reason for the employer or university to really stick its nose into that aspect of your personal business — that it is protected without fear of some sort of retaliation.”

The issue of employer social media access was first addressed in 2012 with the introduction of the Password Protection Act, which aimed to prevent employers from demanding access to their potential or current workers’ personal social media accounts. At the time, a Workplace Options and Public Policy Polling survey discovered that 89% of American workers felt their employers had no right to demand their social media login information, and 68% predicted that forcing workers to hand over this information would cripple the already shaky employer-employee relationship.

Alan King, president and chief operating officer of Workplace Options, explains that employer access to personal online information remains “a tricky issue.”

“There are several levels of concern for both parties, but when you look at the big picture, it really boils down to trust, engagement and security,” King says. “It’s dangerous to say that prohibiting employer access to search or monitor employee activity online or through social media sites will improve employee well-being across the board. That may be the case in some instances; it may not be in others.”

According to King, there is a fine line for both employers and employees to walk when policing this new-age issue.

“Employees need to know that what they do or say online or outside of work can impact their professional lives, even if they are off the clock,” he says. “But employers also need to hear and understand that too much interest in what an employee does in their personal life can be bad for

From a legal perspective, employers may be taking the wrong approach when considering an employee’s (or potential employee’s) personal life in their review process. But even before bans on employer access to social media and online account passwords were considered by state and federal lawmakers, employees did have protective safeguards in place.

“A lot of employers just assume that if it’s on the Internet, it’s fair game — and that’s not the case,” says Louis L. Chodoff, partner at national law firm Ballard Spahr.

“Social media in hiring comes up where employers like to do their own Google searches on people, and sometimes applicants will not privatize any parts of their Facebook page,” explains Chodoff. “The trouble that employers will get into sometimes is that they will access information that they shouldn’t be considering in the hiring process.”

He adds that employers should “insulate the decision makers from any information that may be considered in a protected class,” anyone who could suffer discrimination because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or disability. Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, formal guidance on the issue has been less concrete. The enforcement agency has yet to issue formal guidelines for employers to follow when implementing social media policies, but has commented on its encroachment in employment issues.

At a meeting addressing social media in the workplace, Carol R. Miaskoff, acting associate legal counsel at the EEOC, referenced the Internet-age medium’s impact on equal employment opportunity law.

“When an employer or other entity is covered by the EEO laws, their recruitment, selection, and employment decisions and activities are subject to the EEO laws, regardless of the media they happen to use,” she said.

While noting that regulations do not prohibit specific technologies, she highlighted that “the key question under the EEO laws is how the selection tools are used.”

Miaskoff says the National Labor Relations Board has been keeping an eye on employer social media policies as they pertain to violations of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which mandates that employees have  the right to organize. Organing activities, whether in-person or online, fall under the veil of “protected concerted activity,” according to NLRB.

Employees also need to be very clear about a company’s internal social media policy, to help prevent an ill-timed or unflattering Facebook or Twitter post from turning into a major public liability. Claire Bissot, HR consulting manager at CBIZ, a business services company, says a proactive stance on the rules can help avoid accidental (or genuinely injurious) messages from going viral.

“You should have a social media policy and certain expectations about what you expect about them; [including] not to give confidential information, not to post negative things about the company and other people, or say this is a view of the company,” says Bissot. “But I believe if you truly encourage your employees to feel like they have ownership in their company, and where they work, they are not going to do malicious things on social media.”

Meanwhile, social media monitoring proposals remained a hot button issue among state legislatures in 2014, and are likely to continue in 2015. As Wrigley notes, social media awareness and privacy concerns in the workplace are not going away anytime soon.

“[The legislation landscape] is really interesting in this age where everyone and their mother is on social media. So it makes sense that lawmakers have an eye to protect their constituents, and employers are also mindful of the privacy rights of [their] employees and applicants,”
Wrigley says.

She explains that it is also logical for employers to prepare themselves by developing a company social media policy, if they haven’t already.

But employers “need not go with [their] gut” when crafting and deciding specific policies, Bissot advises.

“They need to make sure they are taking the right steps,” she notes. “You don’t want to be the one that defines the case. With social media, it’s new ground, it’s new territory, and you want to make sure you are doing it correctly and appropriately for the culture.”

At the same time, Chodoff, an expert on labor and employment law, agrees that social media policies should leave nothing up to chance or assumption.

“I think social media policies have to be very specific about what employees can and can’t do,” Chodoff says. He warns that a savings clause in policies may also miss the ball when it comes to Section 7 because it may be deemed too broad by the NLRB.

“The NLRB will say that infringes on their Section 7 rights,” Chodoff notes. “So say, ‘you can’t make defamatory comments about people.’ You have to make sure that policy is being very specifically written in regards to what it is prohibiting.”