Everybody wants to have a great manager that supports and guides them along their career path. Here are some quick tips to get the most out of your manager:
- Get to know your manager: You can’t get the most out of your manager unless you make the effort to understand the ways in which they fundamentally operate. The first step is to work out what they need from you, and how you should deliver this. Getting to know your manager will help you to deliver the information they need in a way that they enjoy receiving it.
- Show initiative and drive: You should have a consistent one-to-one meeting set up with your manager. If you don’t, then you’ll need to take the initiative and request that one be set. You might need to outline why these meetings benefit yourself and your boss (such as improved productivity or quicker decision making on their behalf). Communication is a two-way street, and if you wait for your manager to organise things themselves you may not get the attention you need to develop and grow in your career.
- Get organised: Make your catch-ups with your manager really count. Use Motivii’s One Click Review to plan for these meetings and stimulate discussion surrounding your career with your boss. Every time you think of something you want to bring up write it down, and compile a list to discuss at your next meeting to make sure you’re covering everything you want to.
- Their opinions are not set in stone: When you talk with your manager, you don’t want to seem argumentative or defensive. Equally, you don’t want to be passive. If your manager gives you advice or suggestions that you think is flawed, say so. However, make sure you have facts or data that can demonstrate your reasons for challenging them.
- Offer solutions, rather than problems: It is easy for us to pick out problems at work, but this is not our job; our job is to proactively seek out ways in which we can address these issues. You should never simply complain to your boss about something at work. Instead, try to figure out ways around it and take charge of conversations that need to be had in order to solve it. That way, when you do tell your boss about it you can let them know the actions you’ve already undertaken to solve the problem.
Managers should want the best for their direct reports, and should always look to be a supportive and useful leader. Here are some tips to help you become a better manager:
- Figure out each individual’s motivations: Human beings do things because we want something out of it. At work, people might do great work because they want recognition, praise, or simply more money. They might work really hard to impress you. Figuring out the motivations of each employee is your first responsibility, and then reward them if they do well in what they are asked.
- Work on your communication: Communication skills are crucially important if you are a manager. Each of your direct reports depend on your communication skills heavily. You have to be clear about what you want in order to motivate your team. Feedback regularly in constructive ways, and encourage feedback to flow two-ways. If there are successes or updates within your organisation, share these with your employees and make sure everyone is kept on the same page.
- Take a time-out when necessary: You will be a less helpful and effective manager if you are over-worked and over-stressed. You will be less tolerant to employees and may snap more, creating tension in the office. You’ll have less time to spend with individual employees and this will really come across to them. They might begin to feel neglected. So take a break and give yourself time to relax and recharge your batteries. When you return you’ll be more productive, and will be able to help and support your employees much more effectively.
- Be open to suggestions and alternative ways of thinking: A great manager is agile, adaptable and open to seeing things from others perspectives. New opportunities are always to be had and if we have great employees, and we encourage their thoughts, we open ourselves up to great business possibilities. Being static prevents progress. Don’t be scared to move away from the overused excuse, “Well this is how we’ve always done things here.” Just because things have been done in a certain way for a long time does not mean that way is the best way.
- Make sure your employees know where their focus should lie: Managers should set well thought out, defined and measurable objectives for each individual employee. These objectives can be used as a long term guide for employees and managers. For the short term, really encourage employees to use Motivii’s Top3 focus section to inform you about where their focus lies week on week, because as a manager you should always be aware of what your direct reports are doing.
Effective communication with your manager is crucial for yourself, and your company, but it really starts with you. You must approach it and deliver it in a particular way in order to get the most out of each discussion. Follow these tips to ensure that you and your boss communicate as effectively as possible:
- Schedule your meetings: First things first you need to find some time to figure out with your boss what is the most effective method of communication. They may prefer a monthly catch-up, or they may decide to implement an open door policy. Either way, working out when and what is best for both of you is really crucial, and it will provide structure to your communication.
- Start at the bottom line: Once you have a set meeting schedule in place get straight to the point at these catch-ups. Start your story at the end, and work backwards if necessary. For example, as a marketer you may say, “We have 50 more leads, and this is why…” This helps to keep the conversation streamlined and focused , and you’ll both get much more out of the brief catch-up. In short, don’t beat around the bush.
- Always use data if you can: Words can be interpreted in many different forms; data, however, speaks for itself. To ensure clear and concise communication always opt for data and let the numbers speak for themselves. Data is facts, and these facts will then spark communication and conversation. Aesthetically speaking, visuals always go down well. So if you can include visuals or images do so – the information will be much more pleasant to read.
- Don’t shy away from problems: If problems arise at work don’t shy away from them; face them head on. Tell your boss when things aren’t going right, and communicate to them the solutions you have prepared. This will generate a faster, problem-solving conversation between you both and will nip the issue in the bud before it spirals into something much bigger.
- Communicate what you’re thinking about the business: If you have particular concerns or success related stories about the business, inform your manager. A good manager would enjoy hearing how his employees feel about the organisation. Speaking to your manager about the company will help them to see things from someone else’ perspective. Feedback should be a two way process; it’s important to feed back up the chain about your own thoughts and feelings.
Good communication is essential for informing people at work what is happening and where the business is heading. Here are some quick tips on how to boost communication with your employees:
- Schedule catch-ups into your monthly routine: Town Halls, or simple monthly meetings, are a great way for everyone to share what’s happening and ask questions. This helps keep everyone in the loop. Motivii has recently launched a ‘Meeting Mode’ which would be really useful for these meetings; it summarises everyone’s weekly reviews into one page which you can all discuss together.
- Look to the future: Weekly meetings often focus on what’s happening week-on-week. However, what’s also important is having a plan around where you want to go as a team and a business. Everyone should know about the longer term plan and how they can contribute to its success.
- Make internal knowledge and documents easily accessible: Especially important for newer employees, making internal documentation easily accessible is a great way of boosting communication and can even acts as a training programme for new staff. Sharing files via Google drive or making them accessible on your company intranet is a good start.
- Have an ‘open door’ policy: An open door policy encourages open communication, feedback and discussion about any matter of importance to an employee. It also shows that you care about their feedback, and are willing to listen at any time. So, if you have the time, this is a great one to implement.
- Personalise your communication: Send round a personally written email each week to each employee about important topics for the business, or things that you are concentrating on. This will help you to truly connect and engage with your direct reports, and will enable communication in your organisation to flourish. Also, when employees email you about something try to think of them as clients. How quickly would you like to respond to a client question? Within 24 hours? If so, have the same mentality for employee emails.
When we think about our careers most of us do not think past our current role or next promotion. Yet we spend around 40 hours at work each week, so naturally we all want to make our work better and develop as individuals. Here are some tips that will help broaden your short-term thinking:
- Engage your manager in a career discussion: Talk to your manager about your thoughts for the future, and come together to create a clearly defined career development plan. Involving your manager in the career planning process will help to clarify your visions for the future and may also help you focus.
- Learn about broader roles: It is always a good idea to increase your knowledge about career options and the other areas within your business, especially if you are unsure. To do so, request one-on-one meetings with colleagues and managers and ask them to share success stories and advice. You could always job shadow colleagues to learn about different roles, or seek a mentor from a different area of your business that you’d like to explore.
- Investigate the requirements: If your career goal is to become the Head of Sales, investigate and understand the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to achieve this. Develop interim career plans to achieve this goal.
- Attend courses to broaden your skills: Once you have investigated what is necessary to achieve your career goal, start broadening your knowledge immediately. Attend courses and workshops that help deepen your knowledge and naturally accelerate the process to achieving your goals.
- Identify and solve an organisational problem: A great way to advance your career is to identify a problem within your organisation and propose a solution for it. By offering to put your solution into effect you will increase your visibility as the problem-solver within your organisation, whilst expanding your skills along the way.
Finding and retaining great talent is difficult. Unless you frequently reinvest in developing your employees, and aid them in reaching their full potential, they might leave the company and search for opportunities elsewhere, and you’ll be back to square one. Here are some tips to help ensure you are continually reinvesting and developing your existing employees:
- Create a development plan for each individual employee: Creating a development plan is the first step in the development process, but individualising it for each member of staff is crucial. It is important to sit down with each employee and discuss their interests and goals for the future. It will help you identify the things that the employee should be doing to reach their goal, and will act as a roadmap to ensure they get there.
- Ensure feedback is constructive: Constructive feedback does not mean critical or reproachful feedback. Instead, it should applaud employees for good work whilst including specific suggestions for further improvement and development. It should be delivered regularly and tied to the individual development plan. This will help employees to know how they are doing in relation to their long term goals.
- Create an open working environment: If your organisation’s structure is rigid it can be more challenging to put cross-functional development and training into practice. Managers should remove barriers and design a more open system where learning is encouraged and facilitated. Open work environments come hand in hand with opportunities to explore and grow, so eradicate the organisational barriers and watch people thrive.
- Develop each employee’s professional network: Help employees access additional contacts that will enable them to grow. Introduce them to other professionals that could be their mentor, and research and attend networking events and talks with them. Connecting them to a broader professional network will provide them with extra opportunities to develop, and it shows to the employee that you care about their career.
- Help them to gain new skills: An employee is an investment, but to ensure they have opportunities to develop you should make further investments in them along the way. Research training opportunities, online learning programmes and workshops to send employees on. See these as investments too and thoughtfully align them with the organisation’s goals, and the individual employee’s development plan, to gain the most benefit from them.
Both the mind and body need to be looked after at work. Increased wellbeing leads to increased productivity, financial performance and job satisfaction. Here are some top tips to boost wellbeing for yourself:
- Drink lots of water: Water is the key to a healthy mind and body. Make sure you drink enough and you have access to it at work. Get into the habit of having a glass or bottle at your desk at all times – you’ll find yourself naturally sipping it throughout the day.
- Stay away from public transport: A recent ONS report revealed that almost every measure of our personal well-being decreases with each successive minute of travelling by public transport, except for levels of anxiety which increase with every minute. So, if you can, opt for a bike, or your own feet, as as your preferred method of travelling to work.
- Promote a healthy lifestyle: Adopting a healthy lifestyle is a key element in improving your workplace wellbeing. Begin to log which foods affect your productivity. For example, if you’ve got a busy afternoon a heavy lunch probably isn’t the best option. Nor is skipping it completely. Understand yourself and find balance.
- Make an effort with colleagues: Forming and maintaining a healthy relationship with colleagues is very important. Even if some days you feel like zoning out making an effort with colleagues is likely to improve your mood. Think of ways you can help them at work. Are they stressed and over-worked but you have plenty of time on your hands? Help them out, and they are likely to reciprocate this back. Little things like this will deepen the relationships between yourself and your colleagues.
- Get walking: It’s proven by science that we are only able to concentrate for short periods of time. So every half hour to an hour, get up, stand up, do some stretches or go on a brief walk if you can. It will increase blood flow to your brain, so upon return you’ll be more productive.
The wellbeing of your team goes hand in hand with the level of productivity that your team is achieving. Employees with a healthy mind and body are key to success within your team, so here are some tips to boost your team’s well-being:
- Feedback regularly: When staff feel involved and well informed about what’s happening in the organisation, it increases motivation and helps people understand how their role fits into the bigger picture. A culture of openness will boost employees motivation and will encourage them to turn to you in case they have any concerns over their wellbeing as well.
- Adopt the ‘flexible working’ craze: Giving employees flexibility around how they work can be a key motivator, and it is something that costs very little to implement but has huge benefits. Allowing them to choose their work hours, or even allowing early finishes on a Friday is a great way of boosting motivation and general well being in the office. Your company culture will improve too.
- Make the office a nice space: Allow employees to decorate their desk in any way they like, so it feels more homely for them. For the office in general, get to know your colours. Studies have shown that specific colours even help some chronic illnesses in minute ways. Orange is seen as a happy colour, but only in small amounts. Blues and greens may help to subdue stress. And whilst yellow is often perceived a happy colour, bright yellows should be avoided in places where you spend a lot of time i.e. the office.
- Organise group exercise: It’s fun when you do it together, plus it’s a great way of team building. Get a ping pong ladder going, or challenge each other to a game of football. If you have the facilities, organise a weekly yoga class that employees can attend. You’ll get fit together, but you’ll also foster deeper relationships between your team which will help other things like employee retention and job satisfaction.
- Promote a healthy lifestyle: Help your employees to be the healthiest version of themselves. Swap vending machines for free fruit and provide water dispensers where you can. You could even post healthy recipes in your company intranet and newsletter or offer discounted membership at the local gym.
We spend around a third of our lives at work, and so a lot of our time is spent around the people we work with. Forming great work relationships can help to make work fun, and you won’t be feeling like you’re constantly waiting for the end of the day or the weekend. Here are some tips to improve how you feel about your team, and to help you work better together:
- Explore your feelings, and your own behaviour, towards your colleagues: If your colleagues seem to be difficult or hard-work, they may actually be reacting to signals that you are giving off. Perhaps you are not meaning to give off these signals, as much of our communication is subconscious. It might be difficult to face, but you may be the very root of the problems within your team and the first step to improving this is by discovering it.
- Encourage and welcome advice: If relationships are suffering, or you’re finding it difficult to work well with your team, ask your manager for advice. Rather than complaining about your colleagues, which likely won’t go down well with your manager, ask them for advice on how they think you could improve certain relationships. They will appreciate the fact you are trying to improve the team dynamic and will demonstrate to them that you are a true team player.
- Learn to realise that humans reciprocate things: If you are willing to happily help people straight away, they will naturally feel a necessity to return the favour. Ask your colleagues directly if they need help with anything if you aren’t too busy, or engage in another random act of kindness towards them. Your colleagues are likely to reciprocate this, and it will improve the way your team works together.
- Make an effort with your team: When people don’t seem to get on or work well in a team it could purely be down to the fact that they don’t really know each other. The best way to solve this is to spend time together outside the office. If your manager arranges a team night out or social activities outside of work make the effort to go along. Or if they don’t, suggest it to your colleagues. Find out what you have in common away from the office.
- Discover people’s challenges and obstacles: Everyone is different, and personal reasons are not the only things that may prevent a colleague from working well with you. Maybe they don’t have the necessary training to do a great job, and if this is the case offer to train them or help them in any way you can. Understand that some people are extroverts whilst others are introverts; some people simply don’t get their energy from constantly being around others. Making an effort to understand each of your colleagues different needs, challenges and traits is key to improving relationships with them.
A high performing team operates much like a small business, and teams that work well together can do wonders for the business as a whole. Here are some tips to get the most out of your team:
- Share information and engage your employees: Employees should know their company’s strategy, purpose, values and mission. Engage with employees and show them where the business is heading. Tell them how the business is performing against competitors and keep them up to date with developments. If you share lots with your employees your team will feel valuable, and naturally they will develop a deeper connection with the business. Help them to look at the bigger picture and how their roles contribute to this. If you show your team the link between their daily efforts and how they contribute, your team will actually want to work harder and perform better.
- Organise team building sessions: People work better together if they get along. It’s just part of our natural human instinct. As a manager it is up to you to organise events that will help foster relationships between your team. Big or small, formal or informal, everything counts. Organise sporting events or days out doing activities together. Monthly lunches or team nights out are another more relaxed way of building and strengthening your team.
- Align your team: Individuals within teams can easily end up going in different directions, even though they are trying to accomplish similar things. As a manager it is your duty to align your team into a single direction. Seven people working together and charging in the same direction will succeed more often and more consistently than seven disjointed people doing their own thing.
- Set the pace: Set attainable targets and goals in small quantities, then add in more as your team accomplishes them. Do not set an overwhelming amount at once; you’ll know if you’ve set too many as some will lay dormant with no action.
- Make your team’s job easier, not harder: To allow a positive mindset to flourish amongst your team, avoid criticism and hard control. Support their creative processes and, where possible, provide them with the tools necessary to do a better job. As a manager you should remove as many hurdles as possible and help your team to achieve their goals as quickly as possible as well. It will also enhance their confidence to know and recognise that their manager is behind their ideas.
Everybody wants to feel good about the company they work for, as it will make us feel like the work we are doing is more worthwhile. Here are some tips to help you feel better about the organisation you work for:
- Look at the bigger picture: Sometimes all we need to do is refocus and look at how our role, and what we’re doing, really matters. You should understand what your organisation’s mission is (if you don’t, then you really need to bring this up with your manager). Then it’s a point of thinking about how you fit into that mission and how you are helping to achieve broader goals. Connect yourself, and your day to day tasks, with your larger organisation to understand how you are an important cog in the wheel of their success.
- Ask for more of what you enjoy: Ask yourself whether there are elements to your job that you enjoy more than others. Your manager might not know this, but they could be open to you doing more of them. If there’s an area you really enjoy then sit down with your manager and see if you can do more of that; you’ll enjoy your job more, and will feel better about your company.
- Build your skills and knowledge: Sometimes boredom at work can disguise itself as unhappiness. Do you dislike your organisation, or are you simply bored? Research has proven that most people are happiest when they are at an optimal level of engagement. This means, when they are neither over-challenged, nor under-challenged. If you don’t have enough interesting tasks to do, think about what skills or knowledge you could learn to make your job more interesting and make you feel more valuable to the organisation.
- Put in more effort and work harder: If you’re someone who watches the clock, leaves at 6 on the dot and sneaks a longer lunch than allowed, you might feel like you’re being clever. In reality, this is all likely to have a backlash effect on you. Humans find two things in life the most motivating; discovering a meaning in what we do, and mastering it so we become really good. By gliding through work you’re robbing yourself of both. Instead of working out how many minutes it is until you can leave, spend the time thinking about how you can give your job more purpose or become better in what you do. If you enjoy helping others, coach your juniors. Much of our life is spent at work, don’t waste it by wishing it away.
- Exercise your creativity and come up with ideas: If you find yourself thinking “That’s not how I’d do it,” don’t just think about the ways you’d approach something differently – suggest them! Be polite always, but be bold, and present your thoughts to your manager. It will demonstrate to your manager than you are passionate about improving the business and you’ll be focusing on how to make the negatives positive, rather than just the negatives. If your ideas are put into practice you’ll get a huge confidence and find more joy working for your organisation.
As a manager, one of our responsibilities is to try and ensure that employees feel good about the organisation they work. Why? Because quality, engaged employees are key to a businesses success, and losing them equals financials losses too. Here are some tips to help your team feel better about your organisation:
- Understand and define your company’s values – and live by them: Your employees should be able to recite company values off by heart, but they can only do this if you have made them known. Lead by example – employees should be able to see you act on your company values through interaction with your customers and themselves. A 2014 Millennial Impact study found that a positive company culture plays a huge role in employee retention, satisfaction and recruitment. Publish your company values for all to see, discuss them in team meetings and help keep your employees happy and loyal.
- Recognize and reward successes: If a member of your team does a job well, make sure you acknowledge them; it will make them feel great about themselves and their work, and inspire them to do more. Overall they’ll feel more positive about their job, and their productivity levels will increase. A Gallup poll found that managers who focus on strengths, rather than weaknesses, can almost eradicate active disengagement amongst their direct reports. Recognition can come in a variety of forms as well, from something as little as a hand-written personalised note, to something more fun like offering an employee a lunch out at their favourite restaurant if they meet a certain goal.
- Set big goals for your team, and celebrate together if you meet them: To ensure employees feel good about their organisation, you have to make them feel like an important part of the business. If someone closes a big deal, celebrate together in a company get together. If an employee deals with an issue according to your company values, thank them publicly. Employees will feel like a more critical part of the business if you all work towards a company goal together.
- Deal with problems: According to a paper by Harvard Business School, managers who take substantive action to resolve employee issues, rather than simply collecting information and dealing with them frivolously, may improve the organisational culture and climate. A second benefit discovered in the research found that employees became more engaged with the business and were less likely to leave their job.
- Practice flexibility: A recent CareerBuilder survey, deduced from data provided from nearly 4,000 workers, found that giving employees added flexibility was one of the biggest drivers of retention. In fact, flexible working got 51% of the results followed by recognition, eased workloads, promotions and casual dress. Workplace flexibility comes in many forms, from allowing a parent to take a few hours off to watch their son play a football match, to allowing employees to work from home if they’re not feeling great or just need a rest. Think of the ways you could incorporate it into your organisation.
The recognised benefits of Mindfulness are vast; improved focus and attention, an improved immune system, improved relationships and a reduction in symptoms relating to stress, anxiety and depression all form part of a long list (Gotink, 2015).
Mindfulness simply means awareness and being present in the moment without judgment and draws on techniques used in meditation and yoga. Trying to incorporate Mindfulness into your working day can be a challenge but just a few minutes of mindfulness each day is enough to obtain many of the benefits so it is definitely worth giving it a go.
The good news is Mindfulness at work will not require you to take up the lotus position on top of your desk. In fact, no one need know that you are taking a few minutes out of whatever you are doing to be present in the here and now. Here are a few ideas that might help you fit in Mindfulness to your working day.
- A great way to start your working day is by taking a few minutes on the bus or train to close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Count the breaths if this helps. You will be amazed at how relaxed you feel afterwards.
- Set a reminder to take a two-minute break to repeat this breathing exercise at some point in your day. Don’t worry if you get easily distracted by your thoughts whilst doing this exercise – just gently bring yourself back to focus on the breath again.
- When you are eating your lunch, spend a few minutes to think about what you are eating; the taste and texture. If you are drinking a tea or coffee, spend a few moments thinking about how it feels to hold the cup.
- When you leave your desk to take a walk, focus your attention only on the contact of your feet with the ground and if your mind wanders, bring it back to this sensation.
Focusing your attention in the present and will allow you to recenter and recharge your energy for the rest of your day. Don’t forget to get in contact with us at Motivii to share your favourite Mindfulness at work tips! (firstname.lastname@example.org).
An amazing 75% of people fear public speaking, or “presenting”! As the CEO of Motivii, I’ve given hundreds of presentations and often hear feedback that I must not get worried or nervous about presenting nowadays. But here is the the thing… I do! I still feel slightly sick before each presentation, my heart rate rushes at the start, sometimes my mind goes blank and sleeping is somewhat a challenge the night before.
For a while I fought to get rid of and master these negative challenges around presenting. I read a lot, I talked to lots of people, I tried many different things. And then I had a lightbulb moment… these things are good! Without them I would never experience massive highs at the end of my presentations. I needed the nervousness to show myself that I cared, and that what I was presenting matters.
Based on my experience, here are some of the top tips for being a good presenter:
- Welcome the butterflies when they appear, it shows that you care about what you are presenting, they are normal.
- Relax, try and speak slowly. Your nerves normally make you talk faster than you realise.
- Own the moment. You’re here, you’re doing this, so don’t back down when you stand up. Try and embrace the moment.
- Pick one or two people to focus on in the audience, it helps calm you down and feels like you’re talking to an individual.
Finally, savour the moment at the end, well done and enjoy the rush.