7 Technologies to Improve Your Workplace

Adaptability has always been key to staying competitive in the market, according to Martin Reeves and Mike Deimler of the Harvard Business Review. Technology has introduced more changes to the workplace in the last 10 years than it did for almost a generation. Nowadays, companies have access to great innovations to help manage time and costs. Used alone or in combination with one another, these innovations benefit a business in ways that can hugely transform profits and productivity. 

Cloud Storage  

Collaboration is the name of the game when talking about the impact of the digital cloud on the workplace. This tool has played a huge role in automating office processes by allowing workers to edit, save, and upload files in real-time. For example, requests from management can be issued over messaging systems built into the cloud software, with changes made on the fly; multiple personnel can edit a document simultaneously instead of having to go back and forth between their workstations or via e-mail. Management can also keep an eye on how work is progressing without having to stand over anyone’s desk. It’s a lifesaver when juggling more than one employee with a flexible work schedule, as they can access the resources they need at their convenience. Any questions, concerns, or issues they have can easily be communicated and resolved at different times of the day. This technology also eliminates the need for expensive hardware-based data storage and protection by allowing a third party to shoulder the costs. 

Back-up Software

Few things are more costly to an organization than data loss. Countless hours and dollars are often wasted in trying to re-create records of client information, marketing/sales analytics, financial documents, and any number of other important office materials. Cloud storage can provide a quick and easy solution to your data protection woes, but if you have privacy concerns or want to be able to access it, you’ll need to acquire some back-up software. This is according to Fergus O’Sullivan’s Top 10 Major Risks Associated With Cloud Storage in 2022. It can perform several tasks cloud storage can’t, including scheduled back-ups and encryption. 

Online Voice and Video Calls

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)-based talk applications are replacing traditional methods of communication when it comes to business conferences and client meetings. Over-the-phone communications can be rendered somewhat cold and impersonal by the loss of body language and a human face to interact with. Videoconferencing allows you to regain some of the lost subtleties of conversation without having to waste precious time commuting away from the office or having to arrange business meetings on your off-time. It also allows you to engage more personally with clients that are otherwise too far away to meet in-person. Videoconferencing can also be a huge boon to any organization that has many employees working on a flexible schedule or from home. Workers can agree on a convenient time for everyone and involve them in discussion without needing to be in the same room. 

Remote Access

Not all jobs are created equal and trying to group them all under the same work structure is, too often, an exercise in futility and wasted office space. Many roles can be performed effectively outside of the traditional office environment if employees are given remote access to company computers and files. This is especially true for some technical, sales, and IT positions. Citrix Systems describes remote access as a great tool for providing technical support to clients, as it is infinitely easier to take remote control of a user’s computer and fix their issue personally than it is to try and coach them through the steps. While it’s not necessarily advisable, with this technology, a business could theoretically hire an entire support team without having to allocate a single desk to the endeavor. IT employees with flexible hours could also use this technology to ease their early exit from the office, ensuring that they’re still available to deal with emergencies remotely. 

Social Media  

There’s been plenty of bad press regarding social media use in the workplace, but with the right social media policies in place, it can be a great morale-booster for many businesses. Talent Culture’s Chris Arringdale explains how employees care about more than just how much money they make; corporate culture is important, and people want to establish a meaningful rapport with their co-workers. Company social media platforms and instant messaging can help foster deeper employee relationships, which is always a plus when it comes to retaining exemplary workers and building an awesome team. 

3D Printing

As technologies go, this one is still in its early stages. Cost-cutting benefits from this technology are leading to quick adoption by many design-based businesses. While employees mostly send out models drawn on paper to other departments or companies to create a physical prototype, with 3D printing, prototypes can be created and tested the same day by one or two individuals only. 

CRM Systems

Often keeping track of clients is as difficult a job as ganing new business. CRM (customer relationship management) systems make the job easier by tracking and recording all the information about new and existing clients. Many modern CRM solutions also provide detailed analytics and automate everyday aspects of managing sales, freeing up time to handle other areas of the business. A great CRM system doesn’t need to be expensive. Several web-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) systems are available at an affordable rate, even for small businesses.

Technology is always evolving, sometimes at a pace that can be difficult to keep up with. Luckily, these days, it is designed primarily with the consumer in mind, and it’s more accessible than it has ever been. With access to all these great tools, business owners can save money, reserve time for less mundane priorities, and rest more easily, knowing that their data is secure. If used to their fullest potential, they can do more than just save money; they can make work easier and more collaborative, increasing engagement and overall productivity. 

L. Wang | Contributing Writer

Best CMS Platforms

By 1995, the internet was well on its way to being in most suburban homes in North America. Those in the early days of AOL still amuse old friends with stories of dial-up tones and long upload times, but nobody back then had been unimpressed with the potential of the technology.

Building a website back then was akin to constructing a house from scratch. Blogging, the term first being coined in 1999, was a few years away. If you truly wanted a platform to voice your opinion, sell a product, or promote your brand, you needed a little technical savvy.

Today, CMS (content management system) platforms have made it easier to get the word out about your product, business, or yourself without the need for complicated code. It’s no longer entirely necessary to learn HTML, JavaScript, or the other programming languages in which websites are written.

There are plenty of options out there but finding out which one is best might depend on a number of factors such as cost, support, and data portability.

For comparison, here are three of the best CMS platforms out there.

HubSpot CMS Hub

HubSpot is the perfect platform for those in marketing and business as it’s specifically designed for such purposes. It makes it easy to run your business smoothly, relying on a great deal of marketing automation, operations tools, and customer service.

With its simple drag-and-drop editor, it’s a terrific platform for those just getting started. Most importantly, to maintain the ever-crucial security aspect, the software ensures round-the-clock support and regular virus scans to keep hackers at bay.

WordPress.org

To be clear, we are referring to WordPress.org, not WordPress.com. WordPress.org is the platform responsible for powering nearly 42 per cent of all the internet’s websites.  

WordPress.org is 100 per cent free and open-sourced. The key distinction between the two is that WordPress.com takes care of hosting for you. With WordPress.org, finding a web hosting provider becomes your responsibility, though it provides several recommendations. 

A hosting charge, however, is a small price to pay for the benefits that you otherwise are given completely free of charge. With thousands of plug-ins and add-ons, WordPress is one of the easiest-to-use platforms available. It’s exceptionally well-designed for SEO, has a great support staff, and is probably the cheapest way to launch a website, depending on which hosting provider you choose.

BigCommerce

Choosing WordPress is what businesses often do, but one of the best features is how well it interacts with other CMS platforms. It’s often ideal to mix and match.

On its own, BigCommerce is already an all-in-one platform, handling security, backups, and setting up easy payment options for customers with Apple Pay, PayPal, or Amazon as well as debit and credit. That’s more options than the much-touted Shopify.

Combining BigCommerce with WordPress can give you quite the advantage in business, which basically means combining the best-looking blog on the net with one of the most optimal e-commerce platforms.

Kenny Hedges | Contributing Writer

Work-Life Balance in the Era of Working Remotely

Many people are struggling with working remotely during the pandemic. The line separating work from personal life has not only been blurred; in most cases, it’s been obliterated.

The challenge stems from having a full house, all the time.

Why don’t we re-envision the work-from-anywhere mentality, intentionally transforming it to managing the day? Let’s face it, without a deliberate structure consisting of key tools, a successful work-life balance is unattainable. Trust me. As a fitness professional, writer and single mom with two dogs, the struggle is real.

Here are a few simple things you can do to calm the mind and get into the flow of your day.

Remote Work Tip No. 1: Create a Workspace

•        Dedicate a workspace in your home and pay attention to noise levels and proximity to distractions.

•        Watch the temptation to make do with whatever seems convenient, as it ultimately impacts your ability to perform.

Remote Work Tip No. 2: Create a Schedule & Identify Clear Boundaries

•        Set boundaries. Work hours should have a beginning and an end.

•        Schedule movement breaks in your daily calendar. Ten to fifteen minutes an hour is good.

Remote Work Tip No. 3: Reduce Distractions

•        Clearly define business hours to your family/roommates. Close the door during designated hours.

•        Eliminate temptations and distractions. Close additional computer tabs. Keep a pad of paper nearby for jotting down reminders instead of using your phone.

Remote Work Tip No. 4: Develop a Daily Ritual

•         Create a ritual to mark the start and the end of your workday, like having a cup of tea while reviewing the day’s to-do list.

•         Create tomorrow’s to-dolist before calling it a day.

Remote Work Tip No. 5: Utilize Tools

•        Have one central calendar for both personal and business schedules. Use colour-coding to mark out personal and business events on a physical calendar. You may rely on specialized apps like Google Calendar, instead, to schedule your life.

•        Implement time blocking. Working in 15-, 20-, or 25-minute blocks maintains focus.

Remote Work Tip No. 6: Plan Interaction

•          Maintain colleague connections. Try arriving at calls early to catch up.

•          Maintain a satisfying social life. Schedule virtual happy hours with friends and family.

Remote Work Tip No. 7: Get Your Family on Board

·                   You might not think that getting your family to agree to the idea of you working from home is a big deal, but it is. It’s up to you to ensure that everyone learns to respect your schedule by respecting it yourself first.

•                 Manage expectations. Let them know that just because you’re home doesn’t mean you’re not working.

Remote Work Tip No. 8: Don’t Be Afraid to Disconnect

•                 Working remotely, we can find ourselves distracted by the outside world. Don’t be afraid to disconnect when you need to focus and produce. Try turning off all notifications.

•                 Don’t check your email first thing in the morning. Instead, tackle one thing on your to-do list, first, and then check emails.

The same applies to your personal life. Prioritize yourself and practice self-care. This can mean many different things to many different people, however, the simple fact remains that you need to relax, recover, and revive for what comes next—no one else will do it for you.

Valérie Dubail | Contributing Writer

Local Business Leader Transition Research Finds that Businesses Could Lose Millions

The retirement exodus of about 3.3 million Canadian employees over the next decade will have an impact on business continuity, financial stability, and business growth.

Kathleen Ozmun and Marielle Gauthier, both experienced professional leadership coaches, conducted discovery research focusing on retiring and incoming leader transitions in Saskatoon.

“A change in leadership is a time of flux and change for everyone – the leader and the team,” says Marielle Gauthier, founder of Redworks Communications and Coaching. “These transitions create potential risks at every level of the organization and profitability, productivity and positivity can be negatively affected.”

The report found that the financial costs to the businesses if the transition failed were significant – from tens of thousands to more than $3 million dollars.

“When a transitioning leader struggles, the impact goes beyond individual performance,” says Kathleen Ozmun, CEO of Crossing Point Coaching and Consulting. “The leaders’ struggles and the lack of a transition support plan can affect the business services to the point that whole programs are in jeopardy.”

Based on the findings, there are opportunities for greater attention to better manage the transition for the retiring and the incoming leader and from one leader to another.
It is paramount that businesses look at decreasing and preventing some of the challenges as stated in the findings, to ultimately lower the risks, increase productivity and quality of work, and foster better stakeholder relationships, all of which impact the bottom line.

Ruth Kinzel, PhD, CPHR, Kinzel Cadrin & Associates Consulting says that the research provides rare insight into the lived experience of local leaders in transition. Kinzel also states there is a backlog of unaddressed transition issues in every sector, the costs of which continue to accrue and it is in the best interests of organizations and the people within them to move forward proactively.

“The stakes are high and the wave is upon us and these research findings can inform your way forward. Gauthier and Ozmun identify key issues as well as productive ways to address transition challenges,” says Kinzel.

The study findings included challenges and struggles of the leaders; impacts and potential risks to the organizations; levels and types of supports in place and the financial costs if transitions failed.

Business owners can create successful transitions for both their organization and their new leaders by establishing consistent key practices.

Download the full report at https://crossingpointcoaching.com/leader-transition.

Kathleen Ozmun | Contributing Writer

8-Point Startup Checklist

Opening a new business is always an exciting prospect. You spend months, if not years, thinking of all the fun things associated with a business, like calculating profits, being your own boss, and building the best team imaginable.
Before you earn a single dollar from your hard work, however, you need to make sure you have certain aspects squared away. As anyone who has gone through the process can attest to, the true essence of a startup is rolling up your sleeves to ensure the success of your business.
So, what does an entrepreneur need to do before cutting the proverbial ribbon on their new venture?

  1. Understanding Relevant Laws
    Building a foundation of relevant legal knowledge isn’t the most exciting part of being an entrepreneur; in fact, it can be quite daunting. Regardless, you need to spend time creating a better-than-rudimentary understanding of the laws that will regulate your business with respect to employment, taxes and anything specifically related to your industry.
    Consult with both a lawyer and an accountant to learn how to structure your business in a way that is compliant with relevant laws. When it comes to legal matters and protecting your business, details matter. Don’t be shy about asking questions, even if it costs a little more. It’ll be worth it in the long term.
  2. Own Your Business Name
    You need to register your business name with the Canada Revenue Agency and, if possible, secure all pertinent internet domain names. Depending on your type of business, you could look to register it as a trademark. This will give you sole use of your business name for 15 years, at which point you’ll have to renew.
    This is an important early step for every startup. It also reveals whether your business name is already in use, meaning you might have to come up with another clever moniker or pun, or shift to a slight variation on your original idea.
    And don’t for a second think that by using your own name as your business name that you’re in the clear. Your name doesn’t have to be “Tommy Hilfiger” for it to already be in use.
  3. Figure Out Your Personal Finances
    Launching a startup could mean living without a salary for a year or two. That’s the reality and you’ve probably already accepted it, which is great. But acceptance is only a small part of what you need to do.
    While your business is still in the planning phase, make sure your personal finances are in order. Get your savings and investments as high as possible since there’s a good chance you’ll be dipping into them at some point relatively soon. Additionally, make a new household budget that includes what you can spend on non-essential business expenses like lunches or coffee.
    You need to keep your non-work life operational and not fall into personal debt while your business ramps up. This will only compound stress, and there will certainly be enough of that in the early going.
  4. Develop a Marketing & Communications Plan
    Business hours should be devoted to sales and operations, so the best advice is to have your marketing and communications plans in place and ready to be executed on day one. These plans need to be comprehensive and involve tactics that will impact the bottom line for both the short and long term.
    These strategies should cover marketing and communications with respect to digital, print, experiential and community outreach. They should be constantly evolving as more opportunities present themselves. Taking your first year of operations to develop these plans could result in missing out on growing your customer base.
  5. Choose a Payroll System
    Unless you’re the only one working and wearing every hat, you’ll need to pay your employees. The last thing you want is to be so overwhelmed that you miss a payday, which can result in disgruntled employees or even disruptions to your operations.
    With the advent of digital payroll systems, your employees and vendors can be paid promptly and automatically. Before you launch your business – even if you’re the sole employee in those early days – choose a system and familiarize yourself with every aspect and feature.
    Some of the more popular ones are Wave Accounting, Payment Evolution, Quickbooks, and SimplePay. Each is different, so you’d be wise to take advantage of demos or free trials to discover which best suits your needs.
  6. Hire an Advisor
    Having an advisor can be invaluable. Ideally, this is an experienced person who understands your industry and knows how to navigate the challenges of running a startup. If you went through the early stages without a mentor or advisor, try to bring one or more onboard for your official launch.
    This is someone to bounce ideas off, to seek advice from, and to also help you make connections when needed. If you have the capacity, an advisory board can be even more valuable, but make sure you vet every person and use contracts to establish roles, responsibilities, and legal parameters.
  7. Secure Financing
    Opening your business with only one month of financing in your coffers could be problematic, especially when things get bleak around day five after you check your bank account.
    The best advice is to have all your loans secured and all your numbers crunched before launching. You would be well advised to have enough money in the bank to run without interruption for at least a year. If the funds aren’t readily available, you’ll be spending all your time worrying and hustling when you should be selling and managing.
  8. Hire Your Core Team
    It’s unrealistic to think you need to have every role at your company filled in the first week. What you do need is to have key hires ready to start immediately. During the pre-launch period, you should outline the roles that are most important for your daily operations and those that will enable growth. From there, start interviewing and get hiring. This is also a good time to create concrete hiring protocols.
    The Keys to Startup Success
    There’s nothing nobler than being an entrepreneur. Do everything in your power to give yourself the best chance at success so that your business – and you – can thrive. Even when things are tense prior to launch, keep pushing and making sure to take care of the small details. They matter.

Rob Shapiro | Contributing Writer

The End of 9 to 5? How Work Schedules Are Changing

Is the traditional 9-to-5 workday obsolete? Many would say so. There seems to be a consensus among both employers and employees that a shift needs to be made in how the traditional workday is structured. The present-day model doesn’t really promote a healthy work-life balance or stimulate productivity. Too much of a routine can be dangerous. Longer, more rigid hours don’t always equal more work being done. Employees may be coming in for 40-hour weeks, but if they aren’t using that time wisely, then businesses actually lose out in the long run.


The History of the 9-to-5 Workday 

The idea of working from 9 to 5 is a product of socialism during the 19th century. It wasn’t until 1890 that the U.S. government started to track workers’ hours. Up until that point, employees could work up to 100 hours a week and there were no laws protecting children. In 1926, Ford Motors was one of the first companies to adapt the 9-to-5 model and helped to make it more mainstream. In 1938, the U.S. congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act, which made the workweek 44 hours. In 1940, it was readjusted to the five-day, 40-hour workweek that remains the basic standard today.


The Mindset of Millennials and Entrepreneurs

A 9-to-5 simply isn’t for everyone. If you feel trapped easily, especially sitting in a cubicle, dislike routine and/or mundane tasks, and have a problem with authority, then maybe a job in a more creative setting, or of an entrepreneurial nature, would suit you better. At the top of the list, millennials seem to feel the most dissatisfied with the traditional workday structure, placing greater importance on factors like flexibility, impactful or purposeful labour, and economic security. They’re also more willing to seek employment on their own terms and work freelance.


Structured Benefits

The 9-to-5 model does, however, have some major benefits. While some find the routine repetitive, others may find the predictability comforting. Stability and financial security are two of the main reasons many people in years past stayed at the same job for decades. A 9-to-5 job gives people a set schedule they can plan around, as opposed to shift work, where employees don’t always know what their upcoming schedule will look like from one week to the next.


The Possibility of a 4-Day Workweek

One alternative suggestion that’s been gathering support in recent years is for a “compressed” four-day workweek. Employees would work four 10-hour shifts instead of five eight-hour shifts, with Friday becoming a third day of the weekend. Experts have argued for and against it; some say that it would motivate employees to work harder, doesn’t disturb workflow, cuts down on time-consuming commutes (which in turn reduces workers’ spending on gas or transit), eases burnout risks, and promotes other activities. The counterarguments to the new working pattern are that longer standard workdays would be more draining and stressful, and a revamped workweek would potentially affect working parents, who have to deal with things like daycare services.


Our lives are much more than just our jobs. “Work to live, don’t live to work” is a common mantra. The 9-to-5 model may have worked in decades past, but times are changing. Our world is constantly evolving, and so is society. Thanks to recent advances in technology, many businesses can run from a home or out of a remote location. The traditional ways that most workplaces have run are quickly becoming a thing of the past, as the workweek becomes increasingly fluid.


At the end of the day, however, work schedules hardly matter if you have purpose in your life. Regardless of the time of day or week, the hours will fly by if you’re doing something you enjoy.


Rhea Braganza | Contributing Writer

How to Conquer Business Plateaus

Do you have a business that was launched with tremendous success and maintained a steady growth but despite a continuous flow of customers, lately seems to have become stagnant? If your revenue chart has flattened and your company is struggling to increase its monthly bottom-line, it has likely reached a business plateau.

 

Almost every business will reach a static period at some point but only businesses that are able to rise above and move forward will thrive.  When business growth levels off, many owners and leaders find themselves perplexed and unnerved as to what can be hindering further development. Often hiring more employees or increasing marketing efforts are the ‘go-to’ solutions for an easy fix. However, simple solutions such as these don’t effectively solve the problem. In order to create a more permanent solution that will push the company forward, it is vital to thoroughly assess the situation and determine the underlying cause for this lack in momentum.

First and foremost, assess current processes to identify inefficiencies. Are your employees overly occupied with manual tasks that are limiting their output or removing them from time that could be spent on sales? As businesses grow, simple tasks that may not have consumed significant time as a start-up may now be dominating periods that could be used more efficiently. If tasks that can be simple are involving too many steps, they may be creating inefficiencies. For example, when information is input in a database, it should be integrated with other databases so that it need not be entered more than once. If this is not occurring in all facets of your business, more automated systems could be beneficial.

Get motivated. When a business is launched, founders are typically very motivated to make the business thrive. This sense of enthusiasm usually trickles down to all levels of the organization, creating a culture of highly driven staff. Once the business becomes more established however, owners tend to decelerate their momentum which can cause a more laissez-faire attitude amongst staff. If this is the problem, then the same determination and drive that existed when the company began needs to be injected back into the culture.

Finally, constantly seek improvements. There is always room for improvement and if you don’t find it, your competitor will. When businesses experience steady growth and revenue is established, leaders may start to decelerate the pace at which they seek improvement – seeing that the processes they have implemented brought them growth in the past. When this happens, a business is more likely to reach a plateau. To avoid this, it is important for leaders to acknowledge that in order to maintain continuous growth, constant improvements must be made. No business will ever be perfect and strategies must incessantly be revaluated to keep up with the times.

 

Safiya | DBPC Blog

Photo credit: Aisyaqilumaranas

5 Steps To Handling Criticism

Taking criticism is rarely easy and can oftentimes be downright unpleasant. But it’s a part of life, particularly in the workplace. To succeed in business – and life in general – you must be able to handle constructive criticism.

In an office environment, this can be feedback from a manager, a supervisor, a co-worker, or a colleague. Regardless of who’s giving it, constructive criticism is an important tool in any workplace, and how you handle it could very well determine the trajectory of your career, for good or ill. There’s no foolproof or guaranteed way to deal with criticism, but below are some steps to dealing with criticism in a positive and professional manner.

 

  1. Whatever Your Initial Reaction Just STOP

This is a tricky one, but it may also be the most important. A lot of times, when you’re being criticized, your first instinct will be to get defensive. Whatever your initial response is, do your best to stop it, immediately. Try to control your facial expressions and/or body language – no reaction is the best reaction – and don’t vocalize any knee-jerk quips or replies that pop into your head.

The natural human response to being attacked is to defend. But the absolute worst way to handle criticism is to attack the person offering it. Remember that criticism in the workplace is intended to help you improve, so don’t take it personally, and make yourself a silent promise to do better moving forward.

 

  1. Listen and Process the Criticism

Listen to what’s being said to you, rather than just reacting to it or getting defensive. Your boss (or colleague) is likely coming from a place of genuinely wanting to see you grow. Acknowledge the feedback (which is not the same as agreeing with it), and don’t look to lay blame or make excuses. Just take it in, and don’t interrupt.

Remember, evaluating staff is literally part of a manager’s job. Criticism is a crucial part of quality control in any business, and if you’re an employee who doesn’t handle it well, you’re marking yourself as a problem for management. Make it clear to your manager that you understand the criticism being offered, and pledge to improve your performance in that regard. Demonstrate an understanding of what needs to be improved upon and commit to making those improvements.

 

  1. Thank Your Critic

This may be tough for some folks, but it’s important. Taking criticism the right way has a lot to do with being a professional. Look your critic in the eye and thank them for the feedback. It shows that you’re a true professional, and it also shows that you acknowledge the time the other person took to share their thoughts and observations with you.

 

  1. Ask Questions

Now is the time for you to respond to the criticism, and a great way to do is to ask questions. Try to get to the centre of the issue at hand, and don’t focus on little details – it’s not a debate.

For example, if you’re being criticized for being too blunt with a colleague, ask if there was something specific that you said or did that was problematic, or if there are any other examples of that sort of behaviour on your part. It’s also crucial for you to acknowledge that you’re not disputing the feedback; in this example, admit that you could have handled the situation better, or that you wouldn’t necessarily appreciate being dealt with in that manner yourself.

Perhaps most importantly on this point, seek out solutions on moving forward. Ask for tips on how to deal with a similar situation in the future, or how to avoid a repeat incident. It shows that you’re sincerely engaged in the process and are making a true effort to improve.

 

  1. Follow Up

This last one is less crucial than the others, especially in a less formal constructive-criticism situation (e.g. from a colleague, rather than your manager), but in many situations dealing with constructive criticism, ask for a follow-up discussion. It will provide you with an opportunity to return to the issue, and for you to ask any more questions once you’ve had time to think about the feedback and truly process it, as well as think about solutions, and even ask others for advice. Once again, it shows engagement and a genuine desire to take in the feedback and improve your performance, which are traits that any manager would want in a member of their team.

It’s not always easy to hear constructive criticism, and for many managers, it’s not a lot of fun to give either. But this type of feedback is one of the best tools for improvement and development available to both managers and employees alike. Keep that in mind, and follow the steps outlined above, and you can become a better employee, colleague, and person.

 

Justin Anderson

 

How to Handle Feedback as a Leader

It’s impossible to get to the top – or anywhere else for that matter – without listening to suggestions or advice. When you’re put in charge of a team, it’s not because you’re perfect, but because direction is needed. But you can’t lead your team to success while operating in a vacuum; feedback is key.

A leader is responsible for making sure that their business has satisfied employees just as much as satisfied customers or clients. And there’s no better way to do that than by having a staff that feels empowered to speak openly and honestly.

But how does the person at the top learn how to listen to the people they’re charged with overseeing? Here’s a look at how to handle feedback as a leader while not taking it personally.

 

Think It Through

We’re often told not to be emotional at work, but most of us spend so much time at our jobs that it’s nearly impossible not to be. Whether you’re laughing at the water cooler (which fosters important bonds that strengthen collaboration) or having a disagreement, emotions are part of the job. But if there’s one time that you need to think more than feel, it’s that brief moment between hearing feedback and reacting to it. Take a moment to really listen to what the person is telling you, process it, and then frame your response in a professional manner, and as a leader it’s even more important to maintain control of your emotions. Remember, neither of you is trying to escalate the problem, you’re both working on a solution.

 

It’s Not About You

If you thought about your reply before reacting, then you likely know that the feedback, at least in most cases, isn’t personal. When people complain or express their concerns, it’s normally not for the sake of creating a problem; it’s often rooted in something, and as a leader it’s crucial to keep that in mind. It’s important for a manager to know how their workers feel and what they think of the business and how it’s doing. In a healthy work environment, what the staff is saying shouldn’t be seen as a personal attack, so there’s no reason to feel defensive or threatened.

 

Ask Questions

When receiving feedback, it’s important to ask yourself certain questions. Is there merit to what’s being said? Does the person have a point? Getting some constructive criticism should be seen as a learning opportunity, since no one is perfect. Debating each point raised will get you nowhere, and it can be exhausting, while also likely discouraging that person or others from providing more in the future. If the feedback is given respectfully and supported by evidence, then it’s important to reflect on it and find a solution. The point is to resolve the issue and grow, both as a business and a team. Take employee feedback at face value, instead of assuming that they’re wrong or being troublesome.

 

Say ‘Thank You’

Have you thanked your team, lately? When presented with good ideas, it’s important to give credit where credit is due. Taking ideas from your subordinates is never a good option and will likely lower morale and foster a hostile environment. The amount of good ideas coming from your team can actually be seen as a result of strong leadership; it’s not a competition. If you’re hearing good suggestions for how to improve the business, remember to thank those responsible – preferably in front of the rest of the team – and let them know they’re valued.

Managing a team isn’t easy, especially if it’s a group with different personalities working towards the same goal. Whether you’re giving feedback or receiving it, it’s always best to ask yourself why it’s needed and how it will help improve things. Letting others voice their opinions comes with the job, and it will make you a better leader and manager to simply listen.

 

Dontei Wynter | Contributing Writer

 

Bridging the Management Age Gap

Millennials are known as the generation of smartphones, over-priced coffee, and a reputation for entitlement and leisureliness. Despite this, the success of millennials is becoming increasingly apparent in the workplace. Look around your office and you’ll probably notice the ages of both employees and managers is decreasing significantly. A recent survey by office-equipment maker Pitney Bowes found that about 20% of mid-level corporate employees now report to a boss who is younger than they are.

However, in this age of entrepreneurial startups and advancing technology, different work styles and perceptions of those differences can create many challenges. For example, there is a stark difference between millennials and baby boomers. While older workers spend more time in the office within regular work hours, the younger generation often prefers getting their work done whenever, whether at home or from their laptop in a café. These kinds of philosophical differences can have negative effects on productivity. However, there are ways for younger people in authority to handle this gap. Below are a few tips on how to instill authority and respect in the workplace.

Be Mindful

Older employees can certainly be put off by having to report to a younger manager. It’s important to be aware of those feelings and acknowledge them. Don’t assume you have the upper hand due to your higher position. Express an interest in your employee and ask them for their opinions on how you can improve as a leader. They may very well have insights that can benefit you, and they will appreciate your respect for their experience and knowledge.

Give and Take

Give lessons, provide feedback, and offer firm and feasible guidelines for your employees. In return, take feedback as well. Older employees are often more knowledgeable about the company and its history. Take advantage of their deeper well of experience, both in the office and generally in life.

Do Your Job

It can be daunting being a young manager. However, instead of shying away from being an authoritative, strong leader, it’s important to keep your goals in mind and get the job done. Not confronting older employees who aren’t working to their full potential, or letting others take the lead merely to make them more comfortable, will only decrease productivity. You’re the manager for a reason; prove why.

Older employees should implement these tips in the workplace as well. Along with being mindful, providing feedback, and doing their own jobs, it’s important for older employees not to get too bogged down in ego and commit to working with a younger manager. The knowledge and experience of the older generation and fresh perspective and energy of the younger age group can be combined to contribute to the workplace in a positive manner. Getting past age discrimination – from both sides – will help everyone work together and be more productive.

 

Tasnia Nasar