Archive for the ‘Employee Engagement’ Category

Leaders Unleash the Power of “Yes”

11107790 - voting concept: set of green yes signs isolated on white backgroundAs a leader, have you unleashed the power of yes with your team?  In particular, are you offering unequivocal “yeses” as often as possible? Every leader or manager knows that saying “yes” to an idea, proposal, or request can positively impact morale, engagement, and performance. The power of a “yes” is that it encourages more problem-solving, initiative, and proactivity in a team and among team members.  Unfortunately, many leaders are sabotaging or minimizing the impact of a “yes” by using phrases such as:

  • “Yes, this is good and we should also…” 
  • Yes, I like it.  But, could you also…”
  • “Yes and I would suggest that we…”
  • Yes, but first…”

While these forms of “yes” are still positive (and have their place in the language of leadership), they are also a form of yes with diluted or diminished impact.  When a leader adds a term or condition to their “yes” they are saying to the team or team member that the proposal or idea isn’t good enough to be implemented as it is. Or, at least not good enough yet.  Or, that it could be much better. This “qualified yes” can be disheartening and can decrease motivation and commitment.

Of course, there are times when the “qualified yes” is the smart choice.  As long as it is a choice and not a habit. If you constantly, habitually, or unintentionally qualify all of your positive responses, you may be missing out on the power of the “unequivocal yes.”

When I conduct programs for organizations and associations on leadership and communication, I often ask attendees what behaviors do their leaders engage in (or fail to engage in) that enhance employee engagement or decrease employee engagement. One of the consistent “engaging behaviors” is the “unequivocal yes.”  A “yes” with no conditions, no added value, no tweaks or adjustments.  A “yes” that says to the employee or team “I trust you.” These “yeses” sound like:

  • “Yes, go for it!”
  • “I like it.  Make it happen.”
  • “Great idea. Let’s do it.”

Think about it. Wouldn’t you feel great if your leader simply said “yes” to your next idea, proposal, or initiative? As a leader, ask yourself if you are using this simple engagement technique as often as you could.  Or, out of habit, do you qualify most, if not all, of your “yeses?” I encourage you to look for an immediate opportunity to give a “yes” without condition or constraint.  Unleash the power of the “unequivocal yes!”

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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Want to Be a Better Leader? Stop Solving Problems.

team problem solvingDo you want to be a better leader? Would you like to be the kind of leader that others like to work with and for? Do you want to lead a team that is engaged and collaborative? Are you looking to enhance buy-in and commitment to projects? If so, here is a rather counterintuitive recommendation.

Stop thinking of yourself as a problem solver and start being a problem giver.

Great leaders know that people are more committed to solutions and plans when they have an active role in creating them. Great leaders know that people like their own ideas the most and strive to let team members participate in problem solving as much as possible. There is wisdom in sharing with your team the problem as you perceive it and turning them loose to come up with creative and insightful solutions.

Obviously, this approach requires trust in your team. The good news is that when you turn problems over to your team, they will feel that trust and often rise to the occasion.  This approach also requires that you are able to instill critical thinking skills within your team so that the solutions they present are realistic and take into account constraints such as budgets, time, policies, etc….

Turning a problem over to your team doesn’t mean that you abandon your leadership role. Your role will be to guide. Ask open-ended questions such as, “How will you handle x?” or, “What’s the timeline look like?”  Asking smart questions of your team members and allowing them to answer, instead of answering those questions for them, allows your team members to develop their critical thinking skills. This will help them grow and develop as professionals.

When you stop thinking of yourself as a problem solver and start being a problem giver you also increase your return on talent investment. Each team member has unique strengths, talents, insights, experiences that they can put to good use in your organization if given a chance.  They will come up with powerful solutions that may never have crossed your mind. And, they will be more committed to implementing those solutions.

What problem are you currently facing that you could turn over to your team or a team member? Start small if this is a new approach for you.  Build trust as you build skills.  Give your team members a chance to be the problem solvers and experience greater buy-in, commitment and employee engagement.

For more powerful communication resources, visit Pamela’s success store.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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Slackers, Clock-Watchers, and Chronic Complainers: How to Spot Disengaged Employees

clock watchingIt is no secret that employee disengagement, both active and passive, takes a toll on productivity and the bottom line. Often, it’s all too easy, as a leader, to wait until an employee is actively disengaged and exhibiting obvious signs before addressing the issue.

High caliber leaders are aware of the “not so obvious” signs that an employee is becoming or is disengaged. And, high caliber leaders address the issues promptly rather than waiting until they have blossomed into full blown active disengagement.  Here are some significant things to be watching for. They are the subtle signs of disengagement.

  • Not attending “optional” functions or gatherings.  Obviously, not everyone will attend every gathering. However, if you have an employee who exhibits a pattern of not participating in group activities, team builders, potlucks, or other “optional” activities, it might be a sign of a more serious issue.
  • Not taking initiative for self-growth or development.  When an employee rarely, or even never, asks to attend a workshop, participate in a webinar, check out a resource from the lending library or is even “sick” on training days, you might have someone who is disengaged. Never asking to take on a challenging project or work on something new can also be a sign that they are checked out. While they might participate when “mandatory,” never displaying any initiative towards growth can be troubling.
  • Failing to ask questions. An engaged employee is curious. An engaged employee will want to fully understand an issue or idea. A disengaged employee will assume “if you wanted them to know, you would have said something.”  This passive attitude and resulting lack of curiosity and questions, particularly when new ideas are being launched or discussed, can be an early warning sign of disengagement.
  • Have a “flat attitude.” Flat attitude is neither positive or negative.  While the actively disengaged can be overtly negative, “flat attitude” is not displaying any enthusiasm or energy for anything… ever. Again, an early warning sign.

High caliber leaders watch for these signs and intervene early.  Early intervention done in a non-threatening way can actually boost engagement, uncover hidden barriers to success, and reveal coaching opportunities.  Sometimes, having a leader take an interest or make an attempt to find out more about the above behaviors can be enough to stop the downward slide to active disengagement and might even be a boost towards engagement.

If you could benefit from more tools to be a high caliber leader and engage your employees, listen to this webinar called “High-Caliber Communication: Chart a Career By Choice, Not Chance?”  Download the on-demand version now.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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3 Keys to High Caliber Communication – Are You Using Them?

words_have power_SQHave you ever noticed that some people seem to naturally communicate in a confident and engaging way without coming on too strong or being a pushover? Do you know professionals who are able to present their ideas and solutions in ways that get attention, authority and respect while others seem to flounder or fail to persuade?

Would you, or members of your team, like to  communicate in a more compelling fashion for greater credibility, influence, and impact?  If so, the upcoming webinar “High Caliber Communication” is a fast-paced and content-rich program you can easily access.

The live broadcast is on February 18, 2016 at 12:00 PT (1:00 MT, 2:00 CT, 3:00 ET.)  Every registration comes with a complimentary downloadable version of the live event, so no need to fret if the live broadcast time doesn’t work for you.  You can learn (and review) at a time that is convenient for you!

In this hour-long event, we will discuss 3 very important things high caliber communicators do differently from average communicators.

High caliber communication is:

  1. Positive
  2. Future focused
  3. Specific

Learn how to integrate these 3 key factors into all types of communication.

Boost your communication effectiveness and drive results

  • Discover the words to choose and the words to lose to give more effective directions, instructions, and delegation for enhanced results.
  • Master the art of feedback that moves people, even poor performers, to behavior change and improved performance.
  • Enhance your ability to ask high caliber questions that uncover hidden barriers to success and high performance.

Leverage High Caliber Communication for Enhanced Leadership and Career Success

  • Learn what high caliber leaders and communicators know about the relationship dimension of communication and make that insight work to boost employee engagement no matter your job description or title.
  • Uncover 5 communication bad habits that might be sabotaging your leadership and credibility.
  • Discover how to effectively communicate your value to your organization, without being pushy.

Pump up personal and team productivity with high caliber communication.

  • Stop the tyranny of the trivial. Master the art of setting limits and boundaries to focus on strategic goals and objectives.
  • Enhance your critical thinking and decision-making skills and start getting (more) credit for contributions.
  • Keep teams on track and on target with better communication during meetings and group conversations.

Whether you are a seasoned leader or a team member looking for enhanced career success, high caliber communication skills can be your ticket to success! Join us February 18, 2016.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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3 Easy Phrases to Use in 2016 to Communicate More Effectively

2016It’s that time of year again.  The time we set goals, make resolutions, and promise ourselves to be better in various ways. We often set big, audacious, life-changing, career sky-rocketing plans in motion and then as “real life” kicks in, we often lose momentum or get sidetracked. What if there were a few easy things you could do in 2016 that would help you be a more effective leader and a more promotable and engaged team member? Good news!  There are.  Resolve to make these small and easy changes to your communication and begin to reap the rewards of higher employee engagement, better relationships, and stronger teamwork.

  • Stop “Kathy works for me” and start “Kathy works with me.”  As leaders, when we introduce someone on our team as working with us, it implies that we value and respect them. It can help team members feel “part of” the team and also implies that we, as leaders, don’t set ourselves above or apart from our team.  This is a small and easy change that can make a big difference.
  • Stop “are you busy?” and start “is now a good time to talk?”  As leaders and team members when we ask “are you busy?” we may unintentionally insult someone or trigger defensiveness.  The question may imply we don’t think they work hard or are doing anything important. This is, obviously, not the message we wish to send.  By asking “is now a good time to talk?” we imply that we are aware they are busy. It is a message of respect. And, we don’t risk anyone misinterpreting our intent and becoming offended or defensive. As an added bonus, it also is a message of empowerment because it implies that we, as leaders, are aware that those we lead are in charge of their own time and are not always at our beck and call.
  • Stop “does anyone have any questions?’ and start “what may I clarify?” If you are looking to increase engagement and participation in meetings or group discussions, changing “does anyone have any questions?” to “what may I clarify?” can make a big difference. The former is a closed-ended question while the latter is an open-ended question. Open-ended questions invite far more participation. Also, “what may I clarify?” puts the responsibility for any confusion or missed pieces on you, the speaker and leader, instead of shifting it to the listener or team members.  This is another small change that can result in better communication and results along with enhanced teamwork and engagement.

Becoming the best leader and communicator you can be can happen one easy change at a time.  Which will you resolve to focus on in 2016?

Pamela Jett is a communication skills and leadership expert who knows that words matter! In her keynote presentations, workshops, books and online learning programs, she moves beyond communication theory into practical strategies that can be implemented immediately to create the kind of leadership, teamwork, and employee engagement results her clients want.

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Looking for a Speaker in 2015?

 

Get a head start on booking speakers for your 2015 conferences and events.  It’s not to early to starting thinking about how to give leaders and team members alike the communication tools they need to be better leaders, enhance employee engagement, deal with difficult people, and drive results.  Pamela Jett specializes in:

  • Keynotes that are energetic, humorous, and loaded with content that get your meeting off to a positive start and generate tons of “hallway conversations.”
  • Breakout sessions that are interactive and loaded with practical tools to solve real world problems.
  • Training sessions that are tailored to meet your specific needs and challenges.

Here is what a few satisfied clients have to say.

“Your speaker evaluations were off the wall! According to 3,000 attendees, your marks were excellent – probably the best speaker evaluations we have ever had!
–Susan Forrester, Central CA Women’s Conf.

“Our off-site was the very best ever! Your presentation was a large part of the success. You made an effort to understand our group’s unique needs and you tailored a session that was just what I was looking for!”     –Phil Marquis, Ameriprise Financial

“Pamela was absolutely wonderful and well received by all! She started the conference on such a positive note – and a sure way to guarantee its success. As I anticipated, her educational session was standing room only. Speaking personally, the information I took away from both her presentations was worth its weight in gold! And more importantly, her advice and suggestions are realistic.”     –Linda Berkerian, NAACO

To book Pamela or to get more information, contact Aimee at 866.726.5388.

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3 Simple Skills to Improve Your Communication (part 3)

by Pamela Jett, CSP

It’s no secret, communication is the #1 skills set professionals at every level ought to be polishing.  Research reveals that 80% of problems in most workplaces are caused by poor communication.  Whether you are a support staff person, a mid-level manager, or a C-suite level leader, better communication skills will help you achieve your goals and make a positive difference.

So, how can we begin to communicate more effectively starting today?  By following a few simple rules.  In previous posts I shared that rule #1 is to communicate in the positive and rule #2 is practice future focused communication.  Here is rule #3.

Communicate with an “Effective” Focus.  Almost every person I know, myself included, likes to be right.  We like to get in the last word.  We like to win.  We are tempted to say “I told you so.” We don’t like to admit when we are wrong. And we often struggle to apologize.  Many of us dig in our heels.  We become stubborn.  We might be a “my way or the highway” type of leader.  We even become difficult to work with and for.  This approach to communication can have severe consequences:

    • Conflict can escalate or turn destructive.
    • Minor issues can cause major relationship damage.
    • Even inconsequential things become a battle.
    • Relationships can suffer, teamwork suffers, and turnover increases.

One simple way to alleviate these consequences is to focus on effectiveness instead of being right.  A focus on effectiveness means that sometimes we sacrifice our need to be right in order to achieve a greater good or higher objective.  One simple way to do this is to replace the phrase “I disagree” with “I see it differently.”  “I disagree” sets up an “I’m right – you’re wrong” dichotomy.  “I see it differently” doesn’t create that dichotomy and is less defense or confrontation producing.

Communication is a vital tool for our success.  And, by following these simple rules for better communication, you can be a better communicator today!

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3 Simple Skills to Improve Your Communication (part 2)

by Pamela Jett, CSP

It’s no secret, communication is the #1 skills set professionals at every level ought to be polishing.  Research reveals that 80% of problems in most workplaces are caused by poor communication.  Whether you are a support staff person, a mid-level manager, or a C-suite level leader, better communication skills will help you achieve your goals and make a positive difference.

So, how can we begin to communicate more effectively starting today?  By following a few simple rules.  In a previous post I shared that rule #1 is to communicate in the positive.  Rule #2 is:

Communicate with a Future Focus.  How many times have you sat in a meeting where past mistakes or issues seem to dominate the conversation?  How many countless hours have been spent talking about the way things used to be done?  How much time do you spend in your relationships, both personal and professional, bringing up the past?  Chances are, the answer is too often, too many, too much!  When too much time is spent focusing on the past several things happen:

    • We don’t make much forward progress.
    • We can experience frustration because we can’t change the past and hopelessness can set in.
    • We might feel constantly “punished” when others refuse to let by gones be by gones and this can damage relationships.
    • We aren’t given the chance to learn, grow and evolve which can lead to disengagement.

Great communicators know that while it is important to acknowledge and learn from the past, including past mistakes, in order to foster an environment where productivity, creativity, and innovation thrive, a future focus is best.  And, a future focus also helps foster better, more positive relationships – a plus in any environment.  One simple technique you can experiment with today is to add the phrase “next time” to your conversations, especially those conversations that revolve around errors.  For example, if a problem occurs you can say “That is a problem.  What can we do next time to make sure it doesn’t happen?”  This small change can keep things moving forward and not stuck in the past.

Continue reading Pamela’s blog for rule #3.

 

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3 Simple Skills to Improve Your Communication (part 1)

by Pamela Jett, CSP

It’s no secret, communication is the #1 skill set professionals at every level ought to be polishing.  Research reveals that 80% of problems in most workplaces are caused by poor communication.  Whether you are a support staff person, a mid-level manager, or a C-Suite executive better communication skills will help you achieve your goals and make a positive difference.

So, how can we begin to communicate more effectively starting today?  By following 3 simple rules.  Here is rule #1.

Rule #1 – Communicate in the Positive.  So many of us spend time communicating in the negative.  Think about it.  How many of your conversations, especially if you are in a leadership or supervisory role, revolve around what went wrong, errors that need correcting, what you don’t want employees to do?  For many professionals (and even parents) negative communication is the norm.  “Don’t do that.”  “This is incorrect.”  “You’ve made a mistake.”  When we as professionals are bombarded with negative messages several things happen:

    • We can start to feel unappreciated which can lead to disengagement.
    • We might stop taking risks or trying new things because it isn’t safe to fail.
    • We don’t enjoy coming to work and might start to show it with a bad attitude.
    • We don’t do the right things because we’ve been told what not to do, but not what to do instead.

This last consequence points to the solution.  The next time you are tempted to tell someone what “not to do” ask yourself “what do I want them to do instead?”  And, communicate that!  Stop telling people what not to do and start telling them what to do instead.  This is one of the easiest way to begin to communicate in the positive, today.

Continue reading Pamela’s blog for rules #2 and #3.

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STOP “Will you do me a favor?”

by Pamela Jett, CSP

 

Many of us are unknowingly sabotaging our credibility, influence, and employee engagement by asking one simple question – will you do me a favor?  In an attempt to be polite and gracious, we often are sending a message that is less than powerful and confident.  When we ask someone to “do us a favor” we are making the professional… personal.  When we ask someone to “do us a favor” we run the very real risk that that will not take our request as seriously as we would like them to.  And, if we are in a leadership position and we ask those we lead to “do us a favor,” they may not feel very respected, appreciated and engaged.  You run the risk that those you lead might believe you only ask them to work on things that are small, trivial, and not very important.  They won’t feel as if you trust them with serious business issues.

Here are a few options for you to choose from instead:

  • I could use your expertise (insight, perspective.)  Would you be willing to work with me on this?   (Note:  “work with,” not “help me.”)  With this option you are asking someone to partner with you which can help them feel valued, respected, and will enhance engagement.
  • If you ____ (insert former “favor here), I will ______ (insert what you will do for them here.)  With this option you are negotiating, a powerful tool, and it is a great option to use with peers.
  • I’d like to partner with you on this project.  Are you open to that?  This is a very direct request and can reinforce your ability to be a team player.

This is not an inclusive list, nor will every option work in every situation.  And, you can “tweak” or adjust the language to fit your particular situation and your personal communication style.  By removing “will you do me a favor?” from your professional communication and replacing it with a more powerful confident, and respectful option you increase the likelihood that others will assist you and that they will be engaged in the process.

Pamela Jett is a communication skills expert who specializes in helping leaders communicate in a way that enhances employee engagement.   You can preview her latest book here EmployeeEngagementBook.com .  To bring one of Pamela’s powerful keynote presentations or workshops to your organization or event, contact Aimee@Jettct.com or call 866.726.5388.

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