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Leaders motivate and inspire respect by supporting employees, listening and showing they care. There is no need to rack our brains to figure out how to motivate others when simple things done in kindness and selflessness inspire our employees to do their best.
“Think about it,” said Heather Kruse, chief human resources officer at Viewpoint School in Calabasas, Calif. “Books are published focusing on hundreds or thousands of ways of motivating employees, but the truth is that workers motivate themselves. Your job isn’t so much to motivate your employees as it is simply to create a work environment in which they can motivate themselves.”
“What you want for yourself, give to another” is simple wisdom that is sometimes missing in corporate America. No matter where you work or what you do, you can be the best boss your staffers have ever had. “You can be that person who influenced and supported them to become better people and stronger contributors. You can be that caring [listener] that encourages, that experienced mentor who guides, and that engaged leader who motivates,” Kruse said. Ask yourself two questions:
What Being Someone’s ‘Favorite Boss’ Really Means
When someone describes his or her favorite boss, the description typically sounds something like this: “She always made me feel included. She challenged me to do things I didn’t even think I was ready for. She always had my back, and she was kind and fair but had really high standards.” Descriptions like these speak to that boss’s character, empathy and genuine concern to help the employee help herself. And while you may not have had many great bosses throughout your career, there’s nothing stopping you from becoming this type of influence on the people on your team right now.
Don’t overthink this. “People don’t typically describe their favorite boss by what [that boss does]; it’s really much more about who they are. ‘Beingness’ trumps ‘doingness’ in the world of inspirational leadership, and this critical insight will help your leaders focus on themselves and their own professional and career development, which will in turn benefit their subordinates as well as your company,” Kruse said.
It may be easy to simply write off the idea of inspirational leadership. You may reason that you work in a cutthroat industry in which people are out for themselves. And to a certain degree, this point may be valid.
But that doesn’t mean it has to be your experience. Change your perspective and you’ll change your perception. Look at the world through a different lens and, while the objective outcomes of your reality may not change, the way you experience those outcomes can change immensely.
“This doesn’t mean sticking your head in the sand and refusing to recognize reality,” said Robin Darmon, senior director of the career development center at the University of San Diego. “It does mean, however, that despite the supercompetitive nature of your industry or line of business, the challenges or disappointments with your own bosses throughout your career, or the constant pressure you face to produce greater volumes at faster speeds, you can shield your people from many of those complexities.”
You can reason that the buck stops with you. You can be the line of demarcation between the drama above you and what your team members get to experience under your leadership.
Change your mindset about who you are as a leader, motivator and talent developer. Make bringing out the best in each of your subordinates your goal—not to fix all their shortcomings but to harvest the best of the strengths they have to offer.
“You know intuitively that successful leadership focuses on building on strengths rather than shoring up weaknesses, so find new ways of bringing out those strengths and inspiring employee engagement,” Darmon said. “Have fun. Consider lightening up just a bit. Understand that life is a gift, and for a significant portion of your lifetime, working with others will engage you, frustrate you, disappoint you, exhaust you, and fascinate and inspire you.”
Work will touch all those emotions through your various experiences. But nothing will stick with you more than the people you’ve helped, the careers you’ve nurtured, and the people along the way who thanked you for all you did to help them excel and become their best. That’s why leadership is a profound gift that the workplace offers—because it enables you to touch lives and make the work world a better place.
Here’s the secret about inspirational leadership: It’s not the end that is most meaningful; it’s your experiences along the way. Make the most of your career and work life through people, not despite them. Teach what you choose to learn. Encourage others to take healthy risks. Be there when they make mistakes, and offer support when they feel vulnerable. Understand that your employees’ mistakes are likely not made deliberately, but when in doubt, err on the side of compassion. You can be the first domino in a chain of events that can change someone’s life for the better.
So go ahead and reinvent yourself. The world’s waiting to see—and receive—that gift of selfless leadership, personal and career development, and workplace wisdom that you’re about to display.
Courtesy of Paul Falcone (SHRM)
Every February a senior manager buys expensive jewelry and gives each women in his office one—on Valentine’s Day. The manager, who makes a lot of money, doesn’t consider the gift extravagant. He also doesn’t single anyone out, gifting the jewelry to all the women he works with, no matter their age or marital status.
Is it an appropriate gesture? Or does is it an unwelcome romantic overture?
An attorney who looked into the gift giving (after one woman complained to HR) said the manager thought it was a nice present, and he didn’t have any romantic intentions toward any of these women. However, each individual woman only knew about the gift that she received and did not know that he gave it to other women as well. Some realized he was just an extravagant gift-giver, but it was clear that some were uncomfortable with his gesture.
No lawsuits resulted from this example, but the episode demonstrates that HR professionals need to communicate clear guidelines about employee behavior on Valentine’s Day.
Office-Romance Policies Stricter
The manager might have avoided complaints had his company spelled out what is and is not allowed—in terms of gifts, cards and romantic displays among co-workers.
A labor attorney recommends if the manager wanted to give gifts on Valentine’s Day that they should have been small gifts and he should have gave them to everyone, regardless of their gender. She added “When you give the gift to one specific gender, you risk not only women coming forward and saying they felt this was harassment, but you also risk a claim of gender discrimination. Men do file lawsuits saying they’re being discriminated against.”
Company policies about office romance are a lot stricter today than they were just a few years ago, according to a September 2013 survey of HR professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The survey found that more than twice as many employers have written or verbal polices on office romances than did in 2005, even though the vast majority of respondents (67%) said the number of romances among employees has stayed the same over the past eight years.
Some employment experts discourage any Valentine’s Day card exchanges in the office. Another labor attorney recalled one instance of card-giving that led to a sexual harassment lawsuit: A manager gave a subordinate a card with a cartoon drawing of a person’s naked behind on the front.
“It wasn’t particularly romantic,” the attorney said, adding that the card might have been a thank-you gesture for the woman’s help on a project. “He thought it was cute, and he wanted to thank her, but it wasn’t the wisest move. The whole concept of gift-giving on Valentine’s Day has that romantic overlay. This is a romantic day, so you’re starting with the premise that any gift on this day may have broader meaning than, say, if it was given on the 4th of July.”
Couples in the Office
What about gift or card exchanges between married or dating couples in an office?
Although some employment experts discourage Valentine’s Day gifts delivered at work, gifts between office couples are appropriate as long as they’re in good taste. A bouquet of flowers delivered to the office is fine, however sexy lingerie probably is not.
Managers who date (or are married to) lower-level employees must be especially careful about Valentine’s Day demonstrations, even if they don’t directly supervise their significant other.
You can’t control what goes on outside the office, but, hopefully something in your company training informs employees that they need to be sensitive when they are in a personal relationship with a co-worker, because that may have an impact on the people around them. An extravagant gift that is given or delivered to work can result in an impression of favoritism in the workplace.
Forty percent of the SHRM survey respondents said employees complained about favoritism between co-workers in a romantic relationship. Such perceptions can damage workplace morale.
Plenty of companies forbid intimate relationships even when there are not supervisory concerns. About one-third of organizations prohibit romances between employees who report to the same supervisor or between an employee and a client or customer, according to a recent SHRM study. Almost one in 10 (11%) also don’t allow romances between their employees and those of competitor organizations. And more than one in 10 (12%) won’t even allow workers in different departments to pair up.
Respondents worry that office romances will lead to public displays of affection, inappropriate sharing of confidential company information between romantic partners, inappropriate gossiping among co-workers, less productivity from the couple and their colleagues, and damage to the organization’s image because the pairing may be seen as unprofessional.
Managers who want to acknowledge the holiday could bring in a treat or gift cards to share with all employees in a department. Cookies, candy and cupcakes are easily shared and generally appreciated. Another idea would be to take the whole department out to lunch.
It’s important for HR managers to customize their office-romance policies based on what’s happened at the company in the past. You can customize the training to deal with facts that are prevalent in your workplace. If you have a lot of young single people who are dating or hooking up, your training will probably look different than a workplace with older married couples.
On Sunday, March 10, 2013, most people in the USA will set their clocks forward one hour to start daylight savings time (DST). The loss of sleep brought on by the daylight savings time change may increase workplace accidents and injuries, according to researchers.
Most organizations have developed protocols for dealing with the technological requirements as a result of the time shift, such as adjusting the time on their computer systems and time clocks. Many employers, however, should be aware of the potential effects on employee safety caused by the start of DST.
Studies show that it takes most people a few days to adjust to the loss of one hour of sleep. According to a study in theJournal of AppliedPsychology, losing just an hour of sleep for those who work in a hazardous work environment could pose dangerous consequences.
Recent data collected by the Department of Labor found that the DST switch resulted a 5.7% increase in workplace injuries and nearly 68 % more workdays lost to injuries. Studies have shown that the loss of even one hour of sleep causes attention levels to drop off which can present a potential danger for occupations that require a high level of attention to detail.