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Quick, practical management tips and ideas from HBR.org
Updated: 20 hours 30 min ago

Help Your Employees Feel Less Lonely at Work

Fri, 2017-12-08 12:30

More and more people are feeling tired and lonely at work. No manager should want their team members to be disconnected and disengaged. You can help counter these feelings by encouraging your team to forge bonds with their colleagues. Tell them how important it is to have a developmental network — a small group of coworkers they routinely turn to for advice or emotional support. Connect employees with coaches and peers, and assign new employees a mentor. Offer to introduce employees who you think have things in common, including hobbies and interests outside work. Make sure everyone knows that you believe friendly relationships are a worthwhile use of time so that they don’t hesitate to go out for coffee with a colleague or block out time on their calendars to chat and catch up.

Adapted from “Burnout at Work Isn’t Just About Exhaustion. It’s Also About Loneliness,” by Emma Seppala and Marissa King

Start a Difficult Conversation by Focusing on What You Have in Common

Thu, 2017-12-07 12:30

When you’re broaching a tricky topic with a colleague, your first few sentences can make or break the discussion. It’s normal to be defensive, and even to put blame on the other person, but implying that your counterpart is wrong will make the tough conversation even worse. Set yourself up for success by establishing common ground between you and the other person. State what you already agree on — where your goals overlap. You might say “We both want to make sure our patients get the best care possible” or “We agree that the new email system should integrate with our existing IT systems.” If you aren’t able to pinpoint common ground, or you’re not sure what your counterpart’s goal is, the easiest way to move forward is to ask questions. Explain what’s important to you and then ask, “Is there any overlap with what you care about? Or do you have another goal?” Questions like these set a collaborative tone.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Dealing with Conflict, by Amy Gallo

Praise Your Star Performer, but Not Too Much

Wed, 2017-12-06 12:30

When you have star performers on your team, you may be tempted to lavish them with praise. After all, managing a supremely talented person is a boss’s dream, so why not tell them how much you appreciate them? But be careful that you don’t feed their ego too much, or they’ll constantly be looking for that level of adulation, which can be hard to maintain. So give them an appropriate amount of positive feedback and acknowledge their contributions. If they executed a project beautifully or made a stellar presentation, say so — but leave it at that. And be sure that high performers recognize and acknowledge the work of the other team members who help them be successful.

Adapted from “How to Manage Your Star Employee,” by Rebecca Knight

Remind Your Boss That You’re Doing a Great Job

Tue, 2017-12-05 12:30

We’re all busy. And while we’re preoccupied with ticking off our to-do lists and wishing there were more hours in the day, we often forget to be our own career advocates — to remind our managers of what a great job we’re doing. Put your accomplishments back on the boss’s radar — without bragging — by sending a brief email update. Nothing fancy; a sentence or two is fine: “Just wanted to let you know that xyz project continues to go well, the client was pleased with our draft, and next steps are to finalize the numbers, which we will have for your review by Thursday.” The update doesn’t have to contain any real news. But in sending it, you’ll look competent, communicative, and on top of things — all attributes of a top performer.

Adapted from “7 Simple Ways Working Parents Can Simultaneously Improve Their Careers, Their Families, and Themselves,” by Daisy Wademan Dowling

Look at All Your Options Together Before Making a Decision

Mon, 2017-12-04 12:30

We make thousands of decisions every day, some simple and some more involved. To improve the chances that you’ll make a “right” choice, try looking at all of your options together rather than evaluating them one at a time. For example, if you’re deciding which job candidates to interview, it’s better to lay out the résumés of all applicants on a table, evaluate and compare them, and then decide whom to interview — instead of looking at one candidate’s résumé, forming an opinion about it, and then moving on to assess the next one. Recent research shows that viewing options together like this makes you more likely to choose the objectively best one. With all of the information in front of you at once, you can compare the options more thoroughly.

Adapted from “To Make Better Choices, Look at All Your Options Together,” by Shankha Basu and Krishna Savani

It May Be Time to Pull the Plug on That Outdated Project

Fri, 2017-12-01 12:30

It’s hard to let go of a project or objective that you’ve invested time and effort in. But it’s important to put those emotions aside to judge each initiative on its merits — and kill projects that may be holding you or your company back. Simply put: If the value of what you are doing now is lower than the value of what you could be doing instead, change course. Don’t wait until everyone agrees that there’s no harm in abandoning the project. Make the initiative prove its value, taking into account other options and alternatives. Doing something that brings in $1,000 of value may seem worth doing, for example, but if it’s keeping you so busy that you can’t put resources into endeavors that may add $10,000 of value, you are saving dimes but losing dollars.

Adapted from the HBR Guide to Thinking Strategically

Use Potted Plants and Natural Light to Create a Healthier Workplace

Thu, 2017-11-30 12:30

Have you ever responded to an overwhelming moment at work by closing your eyes and imagining yourself lying on a beach or strolling down a forest path? You may be onto something. Research shows that exposure to green spaces reduces stress and boosts general health. One study found that greener office environments increased employee productivity by 15%. Fortunately, there are easy ways to incorporate some nature into your day: Hold walking meetings outside. Use outdoor spaces for your lunch breaks. Open blinds to let in natural light. Tape a photo of your favorite nature scene to your cubicle, or listen to ambient sounds on your headphones. If you have a say in office decoration, suggest hanging nature photography or bringing in potted plants. These small investments in a more natural work environment pay off in terms of increased happiness, relaxation, and even stronger connections to your coworkers.

Adapted from “Why You Should Tell Your Team to Take a Break and Go Outside,” by Emma Seppala and Johann Berlin

Share Stories That Reinforce the Organization’s Values

Wed, 2017-11-29 12:30

Too many companies rely on a vague, generic statement to articulate what matters to it. If you want employees to embrace and express your organization’s values, use stories instead of a mission. Look for stories about coworkers supporting one another, representatives providing excellent customer service, and customers being delighted by your products. Then find unique ways to spread those stories. You could invite a customer to share their stand-out experience at an all-staff meeting. Or you could play a video of one of your best stories at employee orientation. Storytelling teaches your employees to pay attention to the experiences of real people and helps employees feel good about the values your organization stands for.

Adapted from “Use Stories from Customers to Highlight Your Company’s Purpose,” by Erica Keswin

Manage Your Stress by Identifying What Triggers It

Tue, 2017-11-28 12:30

We all have things that set us off — particular triggers that cause a less-than-helpful knee-jerk reaction. Understanding what stresses you out can help you improve your emotional intelligence and resilience. One way to identify your triggers is by completing statements like “I become overwhelmed when…,” or “At work, I wish people would…,” or “I think it’s rude to…” You can also pay attention to your stress symptoms, such as sweaty palms, headaches, or tightness in your chest. Start watching for patterns in the situations that cause these symptoms. Maybe your manager learned that you missed an important deadline, or your colleague embarrassed you at a meeting. Once you’re aware of your triggers, you can actively manage how you react to them — instead of letting them control you.

Adapted from “Handle Your Stress Better by Knowing What Causes It,” by Anne Grady

When Changing Your Company’s Culture, Celebrate Small Wins

Mon, 2017-11-27 12:30

If you’re trying to implement a new culture in your organization, employees are more likely to buy in if they see that the change is already sticking. Demonstrate small wins early on and showcase examples of how the new culture will help the company achieve its goals. Here’s an example. Before the pharmaceutical company Dr. Reddy’s rolled out the company’s new mission, “Good health can’t wait,” leaders redesigned the product packaging to be more user-friendly and recast its sales reps as knowledge hubs for physicians. When the cultural shift was introduced, leaders could point to projects already under way to show how it was succeeding. Celebrating the first small steps toward a new vision helps your employees understand what the new culture should accomplish — and gives them models to follow when making their own contributions to the shift.

Adapted from “Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate,” by Bryan Walker and Sarah A. Soule

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