Tag: team leaders

It is imperative for anybody in an organisation, whether at a leadership level or employee level, to manage their responses to tense situations. There are times when an individual will feel annoyed, frustrated and stressed. Each of us will express that differently. The challenge for us as adults is to recognise our triggers – things that make us angry, frustrated and stressed. Finding effective approaches to handling those triggers will depend on the individual and the context in which they find themselves.

Here are 3 simple steps you can take to better manage your anger in the workplace.

1 Pause and walk away
Pause for a moment before responding in any situation. Very often we respond immediately but once the words are out we can’t retrieve them and we regret the words we said. So taking a moment to pause before responding is a critical skill. It’s difficult to do in the heat of the moment when employees are engaged in a task that’s causing problems, but the more you practice this response the better you get at it.

Pausing can be as simple as suggesting to the team that you take a break for an hour and return to the issue again with clearer heads. This gives everyone a chance to calm down and gather their thoughts. Or pausing could simply mean excusing yourself to use the bathroom. This gives all of you a few minutes to step away from the situation and break the negative cycle that was happening.

2 Acknowledge that emotion is affecting the situation
When we get stressed we often find ourselves in a cycle where we are responding by getting caught up more and more in the issues and becoming more and more stressed about it. The more stressed and frustrated and angry we get, the more we talk from the heart rather than the head.

If an individual is talking logically to me, talking from the head but I’m frustrated and angry, I’m going to respond by speaking from the heart. This often leads to difficulties in communication as these two approaches don’t speak well to each other. A simple acknowledgement of the person’s frustration or anger or irritation and a request to discuss how to address that emotion can lead to a more productive discssuion.

3 Return to the issue with a clear logical approach
Once the individuals involved have managed to lower the emotional intensity they you can have a more logically, structured and thoughtful conversation. When the person is thinking logically they are more open to hearing constructive ways to address the issue. This means that the person is now focusing on results. We have moved beyond expressing frustration and anger.

Does the same logic apply to email communication?

Definitely. You should never use email to express anger or frustration or any emotion because it’s hard for the person receiving the email to understand all the emotion behind it. It can end up as a table tennis match with both sides responding emotionally and comments are very easily misinterpreted which can escalate the situation.

 

If there are issues that have the potential to be emotionally charged they need to be addressed face to face or at least over the phone but certainly not by email.

So if your natural response is to get angry at something in an email then as a rule of anger management, a manager needs to pause and acknowledge their own anger and ask themselves, ‘why am I angry about this?’ At least when you acknowledge that the situation has triggered something in you, and you recognise what it is, then you can ask yourself ‘what can I do now to progress and resolve this?’

You can try to put forward some constructive solutions. Sometimes you will be able to do this quickly, other times you will need to walk away and take some time to think about it.

What should a manager do when two employees just cannot resolve their issues with each other?

Well of course a decision has to be made with regard to their suitability within the team and in their particular roles. You cannot have an atmosphere where two people don’t get along and hold the whole team back. Or if it’s a case that the manager and a team member cannot resolve their differences, then the business owner, or some other third party, may have to step in and figure out how to resolve the issue.

You cannot afford to ignore a situation where two people in the same team clearly don’t get on. If the issue persists it may even involve some kind of disciplinary action being taken to resolve matters. So in volatile situations remember the anger management steps to take:

1. Pause and walk away from the immediate situation

2. Acknowledge that your heart is speaking not the head – emotional not logical

3. Give yourself sufficient time to calm down. Postpone meetings till another day if necessary. Return to the issue again with a logical mind and offer practical solutions.

There are other small practical steps that individuals can take to manage anger

• Take physical exercise to reduce stress. It’s harder to be angry when you feel physically good
• Meditation can help control stress levels and promote clearer thinking
• Yoga helps to keep you mentally and psychically fit which aids clear logical thinking
• Eat a healthy diet and reduce sugar and caffeine intake
• Get adequate sleep

All these actions can help the individual manage themselves and their anger more effectively.

Case Study

Operations ManagementWe had a situation between two individuals in a company where one was involved in operations and the other was in purchasing. They had reached the unfortunate point of no longer talking to each other. Now clearly you could not run an organisation with these two key individuals not working together effectively. Everyone was impacted by the tension and expressions of frustration.

So LEAP worked with the larger team and in the process also worked with the two individuals. We used a psychometric testing tool to help them both understand each other and appreciate their differing perspectives. The insight they gained from using this tool allowed them to recognise that not everyone is the same and people need to work differently. They recognised that the way the other person was operating wasn’t deliberately negative or unhelpful it was simply that they viewed issues from a different perspective and worked differently to their colleague.

That freed the two individuals up to understand themselves better, each other better and find a way to resolve their differences. They eventually figured it out and continued working together and did so quite effectively. They wouldn’t necessarily be best friends, they wouldn’t socialise together but they did prove they could work effectively together and that was a good outcome for them and the company.

So often we see companies resolving these types of scenarios by separating the two people involved and placing them in different departments. But that’s only because nobody has invested any time in trying to understand the issues that are at the heart of the matter. Transferring people isn’t always the right option and sometimes it’s not an option at all. Helping people understand how to respond with the head as opposed to the heart can often be a better solution.

Key Takeaways
Anger management is something that has to be practiced. With time and experience managers can learn to respond positively to all kinds of difficult situations. The more the individual practices it, the better they become at responding with their heads and not with their hearts. Pausing and walking away from stressful situations can give people the necessary time and space to calm down and think logically as opposed to emotionally. Return to the issue with a clear and logical mind. The same method applies to email communication. Give yourself time before responding and never use email to express anger.

Recommendation
Try reading First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham. Subtitled ‘what the world’s greatest managers do differently.’ It’s worth reading for advice on management practices and disciplines that lead to better overall employee and manager satisfaction.

Interview by Des Kirby


Tricia Cunningham, senior partner at LEAP. Learn about our management development programme

Tricia Cunningham

 

 

 

 

Contact us to talk to a business advisor
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E: info@leapleadership.ie

You may have heard the term Personal Effectiveness Programme or Personal Development Programme, but what exactly are they and who are they for? Is there an employee at your company you feel has the potential to contribute more to the organisation? Maybe they have the key skills to do their current job but lack the confidence to move up to the next level within your organisation. Mike Gaffney is adamant that with the right support system in place, those employees can learn new skill sets that will increase their personal effectiveness and help them transition into a leadership role.

Here’s where a personal effectiveness programme comes in.

Personal effectiveness programme for your workforce

When we discussed the Capability Development Framework (CDF) with business leaders around the country we looked at the area of personal effectiveness for the general workforce. They said ‘yeah we should do something there,’ but they were a little hesitant. However once they introduced the idea to the general work force, universally the response was fantastic.

The sentiment is ‘finally we get a chance to develop our skills and knowledge.’ They also appreciate the fact that it’s a certified training programme, assuring them that the programme is run in a very supportive and professional manner. During the workshops time is allocated to help people acquire the certification, so the enthusiasm and commitment of participants in the general workforce on these programmes is a joy to behold.

When it comes to motivated and engaged workers it’s not about the amount of money they get. It’s about addressing key questions; am I respected here? Are my thoughts and ideas being listened to? Do I belong in this organisation?

The Personal Effectiveness programme is saying to them; not only do you belong but we want you to develop your skills, your knowledge and your capabilities and become a critical and important contributor to the ongoing development of our organisation.

Who is the personal effectiveness programme for?

The usual participants are the people directly below the first management tier. They are people with potential who could, in a relatively short length of time, progress into a management role. They are key people in the organisation who have important responsibilities, but are not in a management position yet. They are the most common type of employees that companies are sending forward for the Personal Effectiveness programme.

So staff members with the potential to be future managers of the business.

What they currently do as individuals is critical for the organisation, but management have recognised their potential to contribute even more and progress further within the company.

What will the programme do for participants and their organisation?

It will greatly increase their confidence and their willingness to actively contribute ideas to the organisation. For some people there may be great potential but also a slight lack of confidence in stepping out beyond the boundaries of the role they currently have. This programme addresses that lack of confidence.

Why should an organisation invest in a personal effectiveness programme?

Because despite our best intentions, each of us can become stagnant or stale in our current roles. We see the world in a certain way and we become comfortable with the way things are, because this is how they’ve always been done. We tend to slow ourselves down with these artificial constraints we place on ourselves. The programme helps people to freshen up and learn new approaches, new ideas and new skills. It’s a more natural way to re-commit to a company and re-engage with the daily activities in a more thoughtful manner.

The programme will:
• Increase your confidence when moving into a new role in the organisation
• Increase your skill set to effectively manage the new role
• Engage more effectively with your team and senior management
• Re-energise yourself within the organisation
• Help you develop a greater awareness of your own behaviours and how you impact others

Is the programme accredited?

Yes, it comes with the Quality and Qualifications Institute (QQI) Level 5 certification.

What is the structure of the programme?

There are typically 4 one day workshops covering the key areas; managing self, time management, working with internal customers, and effective team player. Running in parallel to the workshops there are specific assignments that have to be completed. There is also ongoing mentoring support from LEAP’s business advisors and executive coaches, to ensure each participant can successfully submit the body of work required for certification at QQI Level 5.

 

In this part of John Raftery’s series on visual management he addresses the problem of team meetings that lack purpose, and have little effect on performance. Due to a lack of delegation and accountability meetings will often drift off the agenda, with team members no better off after the meeting than they were before it. What can managers do to correct this? Here John explains how to make team meetings more effective, and how a simple visual aid like a Gantt Chart can transform meetings.

Team leaders must track performance

‘What companies need are not meetings for meetings sake. Meetings do have a bad name and the reason they have a bad name is because they go on too long and tend to go off track. People often come in ill-prepared for the meeting, then minutes are taken and issued out. People don’t look at those minutes until just before the next meeting takes place, so nobody really takes any action. The meetings just go on and on indefinitely, without really achieving anything. There is no tracking mechanism to see how effective the meetings are.

Visual Management

The simplest and most effective way to make meetings useful and efficient is, once again, to introduce the concept of visual management. If you were to do a Google search on work plans you will probably see lots of different examples of plans which are basically Gantt Charts. Instead of issuing minutes to the team after a meeting, all you need to do is take your weekly or monthly meeting and divide it up into 4 or 5 core areas.

Creating accountability

Under each of those core areas you will have different lines of action in the left hand column. The next column will show who the owners of the lines of action are, in other words who’s responsible for implementing those actions. Then divide up the right hand side of the page with a timeline of 12 months or 52 weeks. There you track the activities by colour coding them using green, orange and red. Green indicating actions completed successfully within the timeline, orange indicating actions delayed or postponed and red indicating actions incomplete within the timeline.

How to make team meetings more effective_visual managementYou can then print this Gantt chart out on an A3 sheet of paper, and this can act as a very effective tool in managing team meetings. Not only does it show what people should be working on and what’s coming up next, it also helps you to track the things you have achieved over the year. As more and more items are shaded green, you get a good overall picture of the progress that’s being made. It’s a very simple but effective tool that gets away from the standard process of meetings that can often drift off course, and where no real progress reporting gets done.’

John Raftery is a business advisor and executive coach at LEAP.