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Tags: Deliver Constructive Criticism, Deliver Proper Criticism, Delivering Constructive Criticism, Delivering Criticism, National Staffing Agencies, National Staffing Firms
Ever been criticized at work?
Was the feedback delivered in a constructive way, or did you feel like you were being personally attacked? The answer probably has a lot to do with how that criticism was delivered.
Providing constructive feedback is an integral part of successful employee management. When the feedback is positive, it’s a pleasure to offer. But when it’s critical, how can you deliver feedback effectively, without making the recipient so defensive that they completely ignore your advice?
Below, our team shares some practical tips to make your employees receptive to feedback, even when it’s critical:
Stay Away from Absolutes
“You always.” “You never.” Begin your feedback with either of these two phrases, and you might as well shout into a vacuum – because your employees won’t listen to a word you say afterward. A more productive tactic? Stick to facts. Use specific examples. And try leading with a phrase like, “I’ve noticed that [X behavior] is occurring more frequently…” A softer approach will keep your employees from tuning out your feedback.
Move Beyond Generalities
Don’t leave employees guessing what remedies you expect; engage them in specific solutions. Instead of providing general guidelines like, “I’d like to see you be more proactive,” ask recipients to help you brainstorm and agree to specific actions they’ll take. When employees are involved in creating solutions, they’re more likely to follow through by changing their behaviors.
If you want employees to be receptive, hold your emotions in check. Keep your demeanor calm, your mind open and your behavior professional. Withhold judgment and interpretation until after you get employees’ input. And most importantly, don’t tell your employees that they’re being defensive – it’ll only make them more defensive!
Tie the Criticism to Something Important to Employees
Before you speak with them, consider what matters most to your employees. Are they driven by respect from peers? Money? Landing a promotion? Find out what’s important to them, and then frame your criticism in a way that relates to those values.
Balance the Negative with Positives
Employees will be much more open and responsive to criticism if they regularly hear praise from you – so recognize your employees’ accomplishments (both large and small) frequently. Giving a well-deserved “pat on the back” isn’t just a nice thing to do; it builds a more positive culture that supports growth, drives engagement and reinforces company values.
For more practical tips, read this earlier post on how to get employees to accept feedback.
Have Some Feedback for Us?
As a national staffing service, Exact Staff understands and appreciates the value of constructive feedback in maintaining a productive business relationship. So, tell us what you think! Please contact our national staffing service with your comments, questions or suggestions.
Your organization had a great Q1 – congratulations!
Now do it all over again.
No pressure there, right?
Creating short bursts of high productivity is relatively simple to accomplish: offer a cash bonus or some other type of highly desirable, tangible reward, and employees will typically boost their efforts.
But how do you sustain high productivity quarter after quarter – without burning out employees or eroding your bottom line? Today, Exact Staff shares four tips for having the most productive Q2 ever (which you can also use in Q3, Q4 and beyond!):
Encourage employees to use downtime.
Findings from a recent survey show that 59% of millennials feel a sense of shame for taking or planning a vacation, and that 40% of employees left five or more vacation days unused the previous year. What’s wrong with this picture?
Time away from work is essential for employees to recharge, refocus and renew their enthusiasm for their job – and not surprisingly, that translates into higher, sustainable productivity. Make sure your organization:
- Communicates that taking time away from work is condoned.
- Explains the benefits of time away from work, including the ways it reduces work stress and heads-off job burnout.
- Provides adequate support to “fill in the gaps” vacationing employees leave.
- Sets a good example (i.e., that leaders take time off, too.
Even if employees don’t take a vacation during Q2, encourage them to plan one. Just having a break on the horizon can be enough to motivate an individual.
Stop the nagging.
Endlessly repeating “motivational messages” isn’t the best way to get peak performance from your employees. In fact, they’ll just wind up tuning you out. To truly motivate your workforce to crush deadlines, use the tips offered up in this earlier post.
Teach employees to build better to-do lists.
Effective list-making habits can keep employees on task and focused on their top priorities – but only if they use them correctly. Here are a few tips for success to share with your team:
- Write your list at the end of the day (so it’s ready to go the following morning).
- Prioritize your list, so you’re sure to accomplish your most important task each day.
- Keep your list focused on what you can realistically finish in a day.
- Break down larger to-dos into smaller tasks, and include time estimates for each (so you’re not overwhelmed by the items on your list and can better plan what you can accomplish each day).
- Use the right tool. Whether it’s an app, a leather-bound planner or a good-old-fashioned notepad, use what works best for you.
Promote health and wellness at work.
Effective wellness programs have been shown to decrease absenteeism, increase engagement and improve job performance. In this post, “Promoting Health and Wellness at Work to Improve Overall Productivity,” we share tips to increase employees’ effectiveness by focusing on wellness.
Another great way to have a productive quarter?
Provide extra support when your employees need it most. When deadlines are tight and the stakes are high, Exact Staff can quickly deliver talented people to help you get your work done. Bring in our temporary employees to increase your capacity or perform non-core activities. We’ll keep your team focused and productive so you can have the most productive Q2 ever.
Small changes can have a dramatic impact.
Take the quality of your life, for example. You don’t have to give up all your worldly possessions, permanently drop off the grid, or become an environmental vegan to be happier. In fact, drastic changes can increase your stress levels – and they’re usually not sustainable.
If you want to dramatically improve your life, think small. Start by adopting just one of the habits outlined below:
Practice Positive Thinking
This is the foundation upon which many other productive habits are based. Why? Because thoughts, mental images and internal dialogue all influence your actions. If you discipline yourself to view failures as temporary, forgive yourself for mistakes, picture positive outcomes and look for the best in situations, the way you act will be more intentional and productive.
Multitasking doesn’t work. When it comes to the brain’s ability to pay attention, it focuses on concepts sequentially, not on two things at once. So, work with your brain – not against it. By dedicating your full attention to one high-focus task at a time, you’ll be less stressed, more productive and happier throughout your day.
Eliminate Technology in the Bedroom
The blue light screens emit has been proven to interfere with sleep quality, because it halts production of melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone). And honestly, do you really want work emails or random Facebook notifications dancing around in your head while you’re trying to unwind for the night?
To make kindness a lasting habit, make a goal to do one kind thing for someone each day. Be mindful in your daily interactions, looking for opportunities to soften your language, offer help or just be friendlier. It’s easy, it’s free and it creates good karma.
Which of these suggestions sounds the most appealing to you? Choose one, and focus on adopting that single habit. Once you’ve made one improvement, move onto another. By making small, serial changes, you’ll quickly gain momentum, improving your happiness and overall quality of life.
Looking for more ways to increase your life and job satisfaction?
- Be kinder to yourself.
- Surround yourself with optimistic people.
- Get your Zzzzs.
- Make your social feeds more positive.
Read the full post to learn more about any of these habits.
Related Post: Prevent Negativity from Creeping into Your Workplace
Want to dramatically improve the quality of employees’ work life?
Provide the support they need. As a national employment agency, Exact Staff can:
- Offload non-core activities that distract you and your staff;
- Alleviate overwork and the burnout it causes;
- Improve your team’s focus, productivity and effectiveness;
- Allow you to confidently tackle new or pressing projects.
What can we do for you? Contact your local Exact Staff office today.
You’re intelligent. Savvy. And an expert in your field.
But could the words and phrases you use in everyday work conversations make you sound like Lloyd Christmas?
Right or wrong, people judge you based on the way you converse, and a seemingly innocuous comment can easily be misinterpreted (and forever impact a co-worker’s perception of you). Think before you speak! Keep your foot out of your mouth by avoiding these things smart people never say:
Potentially insensitive phrases:
Articulate, emotionally sensitive professionals choose their words carefully. Prevent misunderstandings and demonstrate your EQ by thinking through the way others may interpret what you say. Start by eliminating these phrases from your conversations:
- “As I said before…” This phrase subtly implies that the person you’re addressing has forgotten something. It may well be true, but using language like this reflects negatively on you – by making you sound insecure or hinting that you think you’re superior to the “forgetter.”
- “You look tired.” An observation like this isn’t compassionate; it’s insulting. Choose a sentence like, “Is everything okay?” This is a more neutral, sensitive way to show your concern for a co-worker.
- “You always…/You never…” Rarely does someone ALWAYS or NEVER do something, so don’t reduce their actions to absolutes. If you want to be taken seriously, stick to the facts, especially when it comes to the frequency of another’s behavior. Try a phrase like, “It seems as though you do this often,” to point out something someone else does which bothers you.
These words have little or no value. And in a business context, they’re not just worthless – they make you sound less intelligent than you are. If you’re in the habit of using any of these words, work to eradicate them from your vocabulary:
Crutch words help fill awkward silences and give your brain a chance to catch up with your mouth when you’re speaking. If you rely on them to introduce or bridge ideas, resolve to change your ways.
There’s nothing wrong with an occasional pause during a conversation or presentation. In fact, a moment of silence is vastly preferable to listening to someone use crutches like these over and over:
- Like I was saying
Unnecessary prepositions/prepositional phrases:
Elevate your speaking by finding more concise ways to express yourself. Eliminating extraneous prepositions and prepositional phrases is a simple, effective way to sound as intelligent as you truly are. Here are a few examples of unnecessary prepositions:
- Where are you at
- I’m going off of
- I’m about two seconds away from
- In the process of (try using “while” or “as”)
- At the present time (you can typically eliminate this phrase entirely without changing your meaning)
Show that you really understand the meaning of the words you choose by dropping verbal redundancies like these from your speech:
- Close proximity
- Estimated at about
- Past experience
- Very unique
- Whether or not
Searching for articulate temporary employees or new hires?
Exact Staff moves beyond job descriptions to uncover what candidates truly need to thrive in your organization. Whether your requirements are local or national, temp or direct-hire, we’ll deliver the exact talent solution you need.
Is your corporate culture unifying – or unintentionally divisive?
Before you answer, you should read this Harvard Business Review post by John Traphagan.
Most of us accept the common definition of “corporate culture” as a shared set of values, attitudes, standards and beliefs that characterize how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.
But, according to Traphagan, viewing culture as a unifying thing (albeit an intangible one) is neither accurate nor useful. He makes several arguments to support his position:
- Culture isn’t merely a unifying force that brings people together; it’s also a tool people use to wield power and draw proverbial lines in the sand. As such, culture provides a basis upon which employees can contest or counter certain ideas or values – making culture as much about division as it is about unity.
- Values that are presented as “commonly held” by members of an organization aren’t really all that common. What’s more, people may agree that a certain value is important, yet fundamentally disagree on what that value really means. For example, values like “freedom” or “hard work” or “social responsibility” are incredibly difficult to define – and even more difficult to garner unilateral support for.
- Values espoused specifically to unite employees might not actually achieve their intended purpose. Research cited in the post indicates that, rather than making everyone feel included/appreciated, common values such as diversity can actually make people feel singled out or even threatened.
Could our Thinking About Corporate Culture be all Wrong?
To the extent we view it as a unifier, perhaps. Any attempt to unite employees with organizational culture is an act of power. Individuals will react to that exercise of authority differently, based upon how closely the espoused values align with their personal beliefs.
Looking for Ways to Improve Your Organizational Culture?
Read this earlier post on how to prevent negativity from undermining the success of your team. Then give our recruiting experts a call. We will quickly and cost-effectively refer candidates with the personality traits and soft skills to help you build a more positive culture. Contact our national employment agency today to get started.
Chicken or beef?
Wouldn’t it be great if all leadership decisions were as simple as choosing which entrée you’d like? But as you know all too well, most business decisions carry greater weight and are much more convoluted:
Take on a huge client that doesn’t quite fit your strengths…or take a pass?
Stay the course…or pivot your business?
Hire more employees…or outsource a function?
As an executive, the decisions you make impact your employees, customers, stakeholders, and sometimes even the world at large. No pressure there, right? And when the stakes are high, time is of the essence, and you have several equally good (or equally bad) options, making sound decisions becomes even more challenging. And more vital.
There is no “magic formula” for making effective, high-stakes decisions, but you can use these four tips to consistently make the smartest choices:
Get Comfortable with Being a Little Uncomfortable
When you have to make decisions based on limited or conflicting information, don’t let the lack of clarity paralyze you. Nobody has a crystal ball (well, not one that can predict the future, anyway), and making decisions in the face of uncertainty is simply part of doing business. The best leaders are comfortable with take calculated risks – and the only way to gain that comfort level is through practice.
This one sounds simple (because it is), but it’s extremely effective. When an important business decision creates a pressure-cooker environment, press the pause button and take a moment to calm your mind. Closing your eyes and taking a few slow, deep breaths engages your parasympathetic nervous system. Focused breathing not only calms your nerves, it gets your mind out of reactive mode and into responsive mode – which allows you to engage the higher order brain functions that yield better decisions.
Apply the “4R” Test
Once you’ve gathered available intelligence and laid out your options, consider the following questions to determine your best course of action:
- What will you regret if you fail to take any action at all? The higher the potential regret, the sooner you should make a choice.
- How tough will it be to reverse course? The easier a decision is to repeal, the faster you should make it.
- What will the repercussions be? The broader the impact, the more carefully you need to tread.
- How will the decision impact your organization’s resilience? Give more weight to decision options that will build your company’s resilience.
Avoid Binary Thinking
Making tough decisions in high-pressure situations typically intensifies caution and limits creative thinking. Instead of framing options with yes/no questions, take the blinders off. Assemble a cross-functional team to examine the issue; fresh perspectives may lead to new alternatives you hadn’t previously considered.
Make a Great Decision: Make Exact Staff Your Staffing Partner!
Whether you need to engage great decision-makers or give yourself more time to focus on decision-making, the experts at your local Exact Staff office are ready to help.
They insist on bringing their exotic pet to work. Every day. Off leash.
They converted their cubicle to a nail salon – and business is booming.
Their daily “lunch break” has devolved into a five-hour nap.
Firing these (thankfully fictional) employees would be a cinch. But in the real world, deciding to terminate an employee is rarely as cut-and-dry. Typically, managers are forced to make tough judgment calls, believing that coaching and rehabilitation might turn around a problem employee. Fear of lawsuits and genuine concern for the employee’s well-being make it even more difficult to pull the proverbial plug.
When it comes to making a firing decision, every situation and individual is unique. Still, seeing one or more of these signs from an employee will make your decision to let them go a whole lot easier.
Coaching and Training Hasn’t Helped
You thought that your employee’s performance issues could be attributed to a lack of job skills – but working with them to improve their abilities hasn’t helped at all. In fact, it’s made things worse. Instead of boosting their performance and attitude, the training you’ve provided has only made them surly and defensive.
Their Behavior has Gone from Bad to Worse
When you confronted your employee about their unacceptable work behavior (e.g., arriving late, inappropriate conduct, excessive absenteeism), you expected them to react by fixing the issue and trying harder on the job. Instead, your request for change was met with disinterest. And their bad behavior hasn’t just continued – it’s become worse.
They’re Bringing the Whole Team Down
In the past, you’ve been able to contain the damage your employee has created. But lately, their bad behavior and attitude has produced a nasty ripple effect – negatively impacting everyone who has to deal with them. Instead of having one problem employee on your hands, you now have a whole slew of upset co-workers. And frankly, you can’t blame them.
They Can’t Handle Change
Change is unavoidable, especially in your successful, fast-paced company. But instead of embracing that change and making the required adjustments, your otherwise hard-working employee has railed against it. Their obstinacy has completely eroded his performance, which has only caused them to dig their heels in further – and fall further behind.
Hate Firing People?
Navigating employment waters can be tricky, and it becomes even more difficult when workflow is unpredictable or your company is tackling a critical project requiring specific, short-term expertise. How can you avoid the risk of a firing-related lawsuit, while still finding the people you need to get your work done?
Put the Exact Staff family of companies to work for you. When you engage temporary employees through us, you get the capabilities and capacity you need – right when you need them. Since we are the employer of record for temporary staff, your company also avoids a potential quagmire if it becomes necessary to replace a temporary associate.
If you need flexible access to true professionals, or simply need to replace a problem employee, give our national employment agency a call.
Ever come out of a presentation feeling energized and ready to take on the world?
What was the speaker’s secret?
How did he keep you engaged and effectively deliver his message?
It could’ve been his or her gestures.
In public speaking, the way you express yourself nonverbally is just as important as – if not more so than – what you actually say. In fact, well-known (but often misrepresented) research by Dr. Albert Mehrabian, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, UCLA, shows that:
- Nonverbal elements (things like posture and gestures) are particularly important for communicating feelings and attitude.
- When deciding whether we like someone who’s delivering an emotional message, body language is more important than the speaker’s words or even tone of voice. Body language accounts for 55% of our decision, while words and tone account for just 7% and 38%, respectively.
- For emotional communication to be effective and meaningful, nonverbal aspects must support a speaker’s words and tone of voice.
In a nutshell?
When it comes to giving a motivating speech (especially an emotional one), the nonverbal stuff is really important. So once you craft your message, here’s how to use gestures to deliver your presentation in an engaging way:
Adopt the Right Base Posture
When you’re giving a speech, you need to have a comfortable framework for your body when you’re not gesturing. The best resting position for your arms is hanging naturally from your shoulders, with your thumbs resting gently on the side of your legs. It may feel initially awkward, but it looks just fine to your audience.
When you adopt this comfortably neutral pose, any gestures you make require significant movement – which makes them more noticeable, even to people in the back of the room.
Choose the Right Gestures to Support Your Message
Effective gestures fall into three main categories. Use these sparingly to boost your confidence, support your message and enhance the meaning of your stories:
- Symbolic gestures (e.g., thumbs up, pointing up/down) are useful for reinforcing numbers, position or other words.
- Descriptive gestures (e.g., using hands to define a shape or approximate distance) help you better communicate abstract ideas and/or movement.
- Emotional gestures (e.g., clenching fists, wringing hands, fist pumping) reinforce your feelings.
Don’t Overdo It
Every time you make a gesture, you require your audience to shift attention from your words to your actions. A certain amount of gesturing will enhance your stories, but overusing them will only undermine your effectiveness – and make you look manic. Take a “less is more” approach.
Avoid Distractive Gestures
When you’re uncomfortable with public speaking, that discomfort is naturally reflected in your gesturing. Unconscious reactions like the following may be misinterpreted by your audience:
- Placing your hands on your hips (may come across as condescending or parental)
- Crossing your arms (may read as being disagreeable or defensive)
- Thrusting your hands in your pockets (may be misconstrued as nervousness – and can lead to other distracting behaviors like jingling change or keys)
Be mindful of what you’re doing with your hands and arms to ensure your nonverbal cues complement your message.
Need More than a Great Speech?
Sometimes, an effective, motivational speech is enough to rally the troops and boost productivity in your workplace. But for those times when you need extra help, Exact Staff’s temporary employees are here to provide support – keeping your staff happy and working at their peak for you. To learn what our national staffing agency can do for you, schedule a free workforce consultation today.
“Balance” is out. “Blend” is in.
In recent years, technology has virtually erased the boundaries separating home and work. The same tools which have allowed employers to enhance workplace flexibility – things like email, mobile tech, videoconferencing and the Cloud – have also allowed employees’ work life to spill over into home life.
Instead of completely disconnecting from work at days’ end, employees are remaining available to employers, clients and customers. In fact, this national, workplace-flexibility survey of 1,087 professionals by WorkplaceTrends and CareerArc shows that:
- Roughly 20% employees spend an average of 20+ hours per week working outside the office on personal time.
- 64% of HR professionals expect employees to be reachable outside the office on their personal time.
The reality? The boundary between home and work life is dissolving. It’s time to stop helping employees strive for “balance” – and facilitate a healthy “blend,” instead. Here’s how:
Encourage a new mindset.
Give employees a broader range of what’s considered acceptable each day, as long as their overall goals are achieved:
- Focus on target “ranges” instead of target “points.”
Determine the ultimate goal, and then allow a little latitude to accommodate the realities of employees’ workflow. For example, if an employee is supposed to spend 10 hours per week on sales activities, permit them to break those 10 hours up as they see fit – instead of requiring two hours per day.
- Take a longer-term view of progress.
While it’s still imperative to track results daily, measure employees’ performance over a longer term to determine if targets are achieved. Giving employees just a bit of wiggle room alleviates persistent stress, accommodates natural swings of time and energy, and produces better long-term results.
Permit “homing at work.”
Research cited in this Inc. post shows that allowing employees to do personal chores (e.g., scheduling appointments, shopping online) at work actually boost productivity and reduces work/life stress.
Be proactive about hiring needs.
Candidate shortages are at critical levels in many industries and job functions, which is dramatically increasing time-to-hire. When positions often go unfilled, existing employees bear the extra burden until hires are made.
To promote a sustainable work/life blend, proactively manage talent acquisition. Partner with a national employment agency like Exact Staff to develop a plan that stays ahead of hiring needs. You’ll help employees preserve a healthy work/life mix that ultimately promotes happiness, high performance and loyalty.
No matter how progressive your culture is, or how blurred the line between home and work becomes, all employees need time off. Make sure your business is prepared to handle short- and long-term absences with support from Exact Staff. Whether you require a single temporary for a day or an entire project team for a month, we provide a range of staffing and placement services to increase productivity, promote a healthy work/life blend and create a healthier bottom line.
Would you describe your business as nimble? Innovative? Flexible?
Or stuck in the mud?
Organizational agility helps your business adapt to its changing environment, by deftly executing initiatives in support of your overall strategy. It’s what allows your business to:
- respond quickly and effectively to urgent issues and risks;
- stay profitable in turbulent markets;
- identify and capitalize on emerging opportunities – before your competitors do.
Stagnancy is death in business. So if your business is slow to adapt or respond, it’s time to get unstuck – by identifying and removing the following obstacles:
Willingness to change is critical to agility. Yet despite working in a volatile, uncertain environment, many leaders refuse to let employees test new ideas. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure and especially fear of financial setback prevent them from giving their teams the freedom to experiment. The result? Zero innovation. Leaders in agile organizations empower their employees to take calculated risks and systematically test new concepts – and they have their employees’ backs when they fail.
Too often, employees are so focused on meeting their own department’s objectives that they have little communication with, or appreciation for, other departments. Over time, a lack of cross-functional communication leads to silos that bog-down processes and make change extremely difficult. Agile companies thrive on sharing information and ideas. By effectively managing knowledge organization-wide, these organizations capture, share and use information better than their competitors.
Processes and channels are important (especially in larger organizations, but excessive bureaucracy and structure delays decision-making and slows reaction time. Agile businesses understand the need to plan AND execute simultaneously when speed is essential. Does this lead to mistakes on occasion? Sure. But breaking work into small segments – and assembling cross-functional teams to execute it – allows agile companies to fail fast and quickly make changes.
Lack of Work/Life Balance
Too many businesses are stuck in an “all work, no play” mentality, still buying into the fallacy that more hours worked = better results. Agile employers like Google and Apple, however, realize that people are their most focused, creative and productive when they have adequate time to lead a fulfilling life. Instead of focusing on running a tight ship, these organizations focus on amplifying the human element of their employees – and the results speak for themselves.
Want to make your business more agile in 2017?
Start with a flexible staffing strategy.
The right staffing strategy can make your organization more responsive, resilient and innovative. With a national presence and a full complement of talent solutions, Exact Staff is the ideal partner to help you become more agile – and successful – this year.
Give us a call to discuss your goals – we’ll help you achieve them.