Last week, I wrote about why leaders should encourage their employees to take their vacation time. Following my own advice, I’m taking a vacation break this week from writing for my blog. As such, I would like to present this guest post written by Jessica Edmondson.
Have you ever worked in a place where you didn’t feel confidence in whether or not you were performing your job properly and never felt comfortable enough to ask your manager for his/her opinion? What if you are the manager and don’t feel too comfortable approaching employees to talk about things you’d like them to change?
At one time or another we’ve all been in a position where a lack of open dialogue has left a dreadful feeling of anxiety. Getting rid of that anxiety and finding the ability to perform your job confidently can be a challenge. But when it comes to your job, it’s how you choose to handle opening the lines of communication that can make all the difference in the world.
Of course, many believe that if they are not in charge, then it’s not their place to be assertive or take action to open the lines of communication. The reality, though, is that this couldn’t be further from the truth as all of us have the ability to influence others and foster change that would help move our team forward.
To this end, here are three ways of how you can seize the moment and help encourage change in your workplace, regardless of what role or position you have in your organization.
1. Take notes and share thoughts
When you see a situation arise that you know can benefit from better communication, take notes and share your thoughts with the appropriate people at a later time.
One scenario that would especially benefit from this type of note-taking is a project lifecycle. As you start on a project, keep notes of what happens (both good and bad) all the way from the planning process to completion. While taking notes, remember to insert your own thoughts on what could be improved, as well as why you think something did or didn’t work.
After you’ve gathered all of your notes, organize them into a short presentation and call a meeting for key players to attend. In some arenas this is called a post-mortem. These types of meetings have proven to be beneficial in helping co-workers to bond over their project’s successes and pitfalls, as well as to get them to feel more comfortable in communicating with one another when the next project starts.
Chances are some of your other co-workers wanted to express some of these same feelings and ideas, but never felt comfortable enough to do so.
2. Have weekly or monthly meetings
This type of meeting allows a group of co-workers who work on projects together to communicate directly with their managers and each other about their workload and performance. This is a great way for everyone to have a “check-in” and see what projects are being worked on while building up a little camaraderie. It’s also the perfect avenue for team members to voice concerns if they need help with something or feel a deadline may be threatened.
Another use for these meetings is to perform exercises that help strengthen job skills – from team-building exercises to brain teasers. They also allow for a little stress relief while still exercising the brain.
If you are a manager, create a time slot for this meeting and invite your key players. If you are an employee, go ahead and suggest this to your manager. If you don’t feel comfortable making the suggestion directly, you can always send an email. While crafting the email, insert a bit of supporting information about why having this kind of meeting will be beneficial to the team. Even if it doesn’t work out remember, it never hurts to try.
3. Do not speak with your actions
This may sound strange at first, but the saying is true, “Actions speak louder than words.” If a negative issue begins to present itself, do not let an odd facial expression or poor body language lead to an uncomfortable situation with your co-workers. If there is a problem in the workplace, not talking about it will likely cause more issues in the long run.
These are just three simple ways to help give and receive feedback that can facilitate positive change within your organization. Of course there are many more, so think of implementing one or more of these suggestions as a kick start to forming a more cohesive and enjoyable working environment.
Jessica Edmondson works for Bisk Education, a division in the University Alliance, which collaborates with educational organizations to develop online education programs. Some of their partners include Florida Tech, University of Notre Dame, and University of San Francisco. Currently, her work focuses on the Strategic Leadership and Management certificate now being offered through Michigan State University.