Four Things to Do Before You Write That Retort

We’ve all been there. A coworker, a client, a manager, an employee, a parent, a friend, a colleague has done something that really ticked you off. They forgot an important deadline, messed with your project, or ignored your request.

And now you’ve got a huge email written out that might contain some words in all caps, a few exclamation points, and maybe a couple ultimatums. Or maybe, if you’re a little quieter, you left out your usual happy exclamation points, word softeners, and cheery salutations. Your finger is hovering over send, but before you jump down the rabbit hole, there are a few things you should do first.

1. Take a breath

It may be obvious, but that doesn’t make it easy. When we’re angry, it’s easy to react in one of two ways: passive aggression and open aggression. Passive aggression usually comes from those who don’t like or fear confrontation. We’re all familiar with the one-word response to a long email: the dreaded “Ok” devoid of punctuation and supporting language.

Open aggression is a result of anger unleashed without restraint in an attempt to hurt or halt someone else. Open aggression often comes in the form of sarcasm, blaming, shouting, or name-calling.

While they may be satisfying in the moment, neither of those responses will help you in the long run. What you want to be aiming for is assertion, not aggression. A message that is clear, thought out, direct, measured, and open-minded.

2. Decide on a goal

If you want your response to make a difference, then you need to clarify what you’re hoping to get out of it. Do you want the person to change their behavior, or just understand and appreciate why you’re frustrated? Do you want to change how things are going forward? Do you want an apology or an explanation?

Define your goal and then integrate that intention into your response. This will help you identify what you want and guide you in finding a solution. It will also create an opportunity for closure. Once your defined need/goal is met or addressed, you’ll have an easier time moving on. No one likes to hold grudges. Or at least they shouldn’t.

 3. Look at the bigger picture

Sometimes widening your perspective can be the best thing for a relationship. Take the time to ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there something going on with them in their personal life that might be affecting their behavior at work?
  • How might they see this conflict? What has your role been in their eyes?
  • How do they seem to prefer to communicate?

Maybe they have a personal issue stopping them from following through or communicating effectively. Maybe they are dealing with other problems at work that are drawing their attention and energy. Maybe they don’t feel understood by you or feel you’re not holding up your end of the bargain.

Remember, everyone brings their whole lives to each conversation, fight, and relationship. More often than not, people react to you based on their perceptions and internal stories rather than your actions. So trying to understand the other person’s actions from their point of view can be invaluable in helping you see the situation more clearly and find a solution. It may also highlight areas where you had misconceptions about them and their situation.

Finally, if you’re able to meet the other person where they are most comfortable communicating, you’ll be more likely to make headway. Maybe this isn’t a conversation for email. It might be more effective to have it in person, or over the phone, or with a moderator.

4. Come up with actionable follow-ups

To prevent this sort of thing from happening again, it can be useful to come up with a few clear steps you can take to avoid future conflicts.

  • Once you’ve settled your disagreement, set up a follow-up meeting in a couple of days to talk about how things are going. Meeting after you’ve both had a chance to process feelings may allow you to come together with less volatility to talk about what worked/didn’t work and what changes you can make for future interactions.
  • Define how you could have improved your end of the conflict. What can you do better next time? What did you learn from this?

Go forward, but with caution

You may be angry and rightly so. But if you let your anger speak for you, you’ll end up regretting it. Stop. Breathe. Reflect. Do yourself a favor and step back before responding.

You’ll thank yourself in the long run. Especially as we are all navigating the difficulties of self-isolation, working from home, and communicating remotely, it’s more important than ever to deal with conflict productively and thoughtfully. Just make sure that you do respond eventually. Hanging on to anger builds grudges, communication gaps, and lowers morale for everyone. Be proactive. Be patient. Be kind. You’ve got this.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by SHOTPRIME STUDIO

Nurturing an Inclusive Workplace

Your employees are your greatest resource. Your biggest asset. Your power. Your drive. Your agility and foundation! You’ve created a great team–you’re sure of it. But when was the last time you checked to make sure you’ve got the diversity of talent your company needs? 

Are you sure you have everything you need in your proverbial toolbox? Having one full of just hammers is going to be useless unless you’ve got nails. And screws, and levels, and safety glasses, and saws, and…you get it. When you hire a bunch of people with the same skills, the same backgrounds, and the same experiences, you’re selling yourself short and weakening your potential. The more diversity of thought, experiences, strengths you have on your team, the more successful your business will be.   

Ensure you’re putting an emphasis on protecting and nurturing diversity within your workplace by consistently and objectively assessing where your company is falling short and where it’s excelling. The following are some key areas of operations to consider.   

Inclusive language 

Every business has a voice. It comes across in every communication aspect of your company, from external marketing to internal communications. The atmosphere of your business to your employee handbooks, internal surveys, data collection, and emails are all opportunities for communication. Consider how you use language that can apply to the broadest range of people. Some example to consider: 

  • Disabled vs. person with disabilities  
  • Deaf vs. hearing impaired 
  • Spouse vs. wife/husband
  • Salesman vs. salesperson 

Learning to identify language differences can feel subtle and takes practice. In the past, you may have unknowingly assumed gender, forced someone to choose an incorrect personal identification, or otherwise left out or incorrectly referenced a marginalized group of people. Don’t dwell on the past, look ahead, and persistently ask yourselves and your team how you can improve.
 

Accessibility  

Identify areas where you can improve your company’s accessibility to people experiencing different forms of disability.  

  • How accessible is your workplace to people using wheelchairs?  
  • Is your office equipment (printers, copy machines) accessible from a seated position? 
  • Do you offer accessible employee desk space? 
  • Does your office space have ramps and elevators? 
  • Does your company offer alternatives to phone calls for people with hearing impairments? 
  • Do the signs in your office have brail and raised lettering? 

To make working at your company more accessible, consider offering remote working positions. You may be surprised that remote employees tend to be more productive and engaged than those working from an office.  Whatever you do to improve accessibility to your office, know that solutions are evolving and developing, so what might have been unattainable five years ago may be possible for your company now.  

Representation 

Chances are, your company has a website and social media presence. Take a look at what demographic your online presence represents. Do all your photos depict the same type of person? Are the only photos representing people with disabilities directly related to content about disabilities? That’s problematic in itself.  

The key is to choose photos and language that speak to the broadest range of people and not just to who you might think your customer is. Use your messaging to help build connection and understanding, reaching a greater variety of people and giving a voice and representation to traditionally marginalized groups.  

The more people your brand speaks to, the more comprehensive the range of prospective job candidates and customers you’ll attract. Seeing is believing. The more diversity you use in representations of customers, employees, and leadership, the easier it will be for people to see themselves in those roles. 

Hiring process  

Creating an unbiased hiring process can be a difficult task. Everyone’s got biases, and it’s a challenge to remove it from any process where humans have to choose other humans. So how do you go about minimizing bias from your hiring process? There’s a crazy amount of information on this topic, but here are four of the most common points.  

  1. Educate your hiring managers about bias. Give them opportunities to learn how to identify their own and other’s prejudices.  
  2. Review your job description. Consider how you can eliminate adjectives that are associated with one gender, ethnicity, or body type.   
  3. Standardize, standardize, standardize! Make sure you’re approaching each interview with the same set of questions and expectations.  
  4. Consider using blind recruitment strategies. Try removing identifying characteristics from the hiring process such as names, age, education, etc.  
  5. Internal assessment. Constantly ask questions to stay on top of your game.  
  • Are my employees trained to identify their own biases? 
  • Do we require qualifications that might not be necessary? 
  • Is our ideal candidate defined? If so, what are the qualities that might be based on bias? 

Leading with inclusivity is a constant learning process and not a one-and-done check on your to-do list. Prioritizing diversity within your hiring process takes regular evaluation and improvement.  

Leadership 

Take a look at your company: how many people in leadership positions are the same sex and ethnicity? Hiring and promoting based on sex or ethnicity is obviously unethical. But the demographics of your leadership team could give valuable insight into your promoting and hiring practices. Take pains to make sure that people with the same titles are paid the same amount. Take a critical eye to your company hierarchy.  

Make your moves 

When you’re evaluating where you can improve, the best thing you can do is be honest with yourself and your employees. Understand you can never learn too much. Set an example as a leader who is always willing and devoted to nurturing a diverse and accessible workplace. The better you become at it, the higher the potential of your workforce will become. Your culture will thrive with varying experiences, strengths, and points of view, and your company will follow.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Leigh Prather

Giving and Receiving During A Crisis

As COVID-19 continues to strain the world’s resources, there has never been a better time for organizations to lend their support to those in need. Organizations that partake in charitable giving and community efforts have an opportunity to impact more than just those who are receiving the charity, though that in itself is enough to make it worth the effort.  

Whether your employees have seen their jobs change, or watched their family members get laid off or furloughed, or been unable to visit their loved ones and friends, everyone has been affected. There is no shortage of people suffering, which means that no matter how small, every gesture of giving matters.  

Adding value for everyone 

There are plenty of articles breaking down the numbers that demonstrate how corporate giving can positively impact employee engagement and loyalty. Still, the real value is clearly seen with common sense.  

People want to be a part of something important. They want to feel like they’re giving back and making a difference. It’s easy to see value in giving to those in need. When your organization offers ways for its employees to give back, you are demonstrating your values and providing an opportunity for your internal community to connect with them in an authentic way. Plus, giving simply makes people happier.   

Although obvious, it’s also critical to mention that the world needs all the help it can get right now. This isn’t just about your employees or your company values. It’s about doing what you can, when you can, because you should.    

Purpose, on purpose 

When we become an active participant in finding a solution, we gain a sense of control. This is true across the board for problems big and small.  

In a time when so much of our daily lives feel threatened, finding purpose and value in your actions can make a huge difference. By providing an opportunity for your employees to engage in becoming part of the solution, you’re giving them that precious sense of control and purpose they’re missing.  

It comes back around 

There is something wonderfully karmic about being a company that gives back. People remember it when they see you stepping up . It allows them to feel connected to your values and recognize your willingness to take action.  

Your company can inspire people! The community that you affect will remember you. You have an opportunity to speak out and encourage others to follow in your footsteps—to become a leader in your community. 

You don’t have to have a bunch of money sitting around to help out. Whether you’re a huge company or a small business, there are endless ways you can make a difference. Take the opportunity to step up and become a source of purpose and value to your employees and your surrounding community. It’s worth it.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by kieferpix

 

Nurturing Employee Wellness in Uncertain Times

Two years ago, a report by Gallup found that nearly a quarter of the 7,500 full-time employees they surveyed felt burned out “very often or always” with another 44% who reported feeling burned out some of the time. You’re probably aware of the massive costs, increased risk, and decreased health of both individuals and organizations that suffer from burnout. It’s not something you want in your business in the best of times.

But what about when your company, community, and economy is under immense pressure from an external source you can’t control? Do you double down on what you believe most critically demands your attention and put things like employee wellness aside?

Although you may be feeling pressure to cut down on extraneous programs to conserve effort, time, and money, it’s critical to remember that your employees are going to make or break your success during this trying time.

The ability of your employees to successfully navigate particularly stressful situations is deeply influenced by the ability of your company to support them. It wouldn’t be a reach to suggest the interaction and experience employees have within their role in your company has a significant impact on their quality of life. Especially now, when employees are struggling to find a new balance of working from home, often with children, and isolated from their communities.

Assess the tools available

As a leader during a challenging time, it’s crucial to take stock of what resources are available. Now is not the time to get tunnel vision. Keep your mind open to new and different solutions than you may be used to. Employee wellness isn’t just built from having enough time off or fair compensation. Wellness is a multifaceted thing, with many different aspects your business can focus its influence on.  

Outsourcing employee wellbeing programs

There are several organizations whose sole focus is to help businesses develop and nurture their employees’ wellbeing. Here are a few examples:

  • Thrive Global offers a multi-pronged approach to improving employee wellbeing and productivity through behavior change programs, educational content and resources, and digital solutions designed to help individuals make positive changes.
  • Whil is a platform that provides goal-based resilience training for individuals through targeted courses focusing on twelve aspects of employee wellbeing.
  • RestoreResilience provides stress-reduction and lifestyle improvement programs targeted to specific groups of employees. Their programs use a combination of smart technology and individualized coaching outreach to help employees make small meaningful adjustments and improvements in their lifestyle.

Getting creative

If your company isn’t set up to incorporate larger programs, there are numerous ways you can make smaller, yet still impactful changes to your employee experience. To help, let’s break down employee wellness into a few categories with examples for each.

Nutrition

  • Consider helping your employees boost their nutritional health by working with meal delivery services like Blue Apron or Sun Basket to offer food at a discounted price.
  • Offer discounts to online cooking classes and resources from services like the NYTimes Cooking subscription and ChefSteps.
  • Purchase gift cards from local restaurants (a great way to support your local community) to give to your employees. If you’re a local business, promote this idea to employers in your area and provide incentives. (i.e., purchase $1,000 of gift cards and receive $100 free!)

Mental Health

  • Remote counseling services have skyrocketed recently. Consider working with companies like Talkspace and BetterHelp to provide your employees with mental health services that will help them navigate this challenging time.

Fitness

  • Consider reaching out to local fitness instructors and yoga teachers to offer virtual training sessions and classes to your employees every week.

Financial

  • Consider implementing a program like Compt to provide your employees with a monthly stipend they can use towards their wellness. This is a great way to find something that fits your specific budget while providing employees with the freedom to choose what they will spend it on. This increases the chance they will actually use what they purchased. A win-win!

Their wellness is your wellness

However you choose to help your employees maintain their wellness during this challenging time, be sure that you are doing something. Even the smallest acts make a difference. Remember, how you treat your employees now will influence their relationship with you for the rest of their employment. By giving them what they need now, you’re ensuring their long-term loyalty, engagement, and productivity. Think healthy employees = healthy business. It’s good for everyone.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by racorn

Fostering Emotional Wellness for Your Remote Workforce

Whether you’re new to managing remote employees, or you’re an old hand at it, understanding how to meet the individual needs of newly remote workers is central to ensuring your team is functioning successfully. Now more than ever, it’s critical that employers take extra steps to help their employees navigate the fear and uncertainty posed by COVID-19.  

With many businesses just becoming acquainted with the ins and outs of remote work, its too easy for business owners to get wrapped up in smoothing out the wrinkles in functionality and forget that their workers are facing an exceptionally challenging time.  

Chances are, your company and employees are facing some of these challenges yourselves. It’s important to remember that it’s going to be your employees who get your company through this. By supporting your employees, you’re supporting the very foundation your business sits on. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.  

Start with care 

It’s easy to laugh it off, or insist that you don’t have time, but first things first: take care of yourself! If the leaders of your company are tired, stressed out, and suffering, your teams are going to feel it.  

Connect with your leadership team often and check in with them repeatedly. You may have to ask how they are doing more than once. Their first instinct may be to brush off their anxiety, doubt, or frustration. But if you follow up your first “How are you?” with “So how are you, really?” you may get a very different answer. The same goes for the teams they manage. 

These conversations may seem daunting but go into them recognizing you don’t have to have solutions to their feelings. Often just a listening ear or some words of encouragement is all they need to feel relief from their stress.   

Listening to these answers can be draining, too. If you checked in with five people today and four of them expressed anxiety and doubt to which you had to respond, it can quickly burn you out. So have a way to take care of yourself as well. Meditation, exercise, or peer discussion groups can be a great release for your own built-up anxiety and stress.   

Remote work is touted as a great solution that can raise productivity and employee engagement. Still, for some employees, it’s exceptionally challenging, and to most people who are new to working remotely, it takes time to adjust. The stress of navigating a new working situation compounded with the anxiety of dealing with the pandemic may be putting employees in a particularly challenging position.  

Acknowledging this is the first step to supporting your employees. Working remotely can cause feelings of isolation, so ensuring they don’t feel alone in their struggle or experience is a vital part of helping them navigate the change.  

Connect, connect, connect 

Connecting through check-ins and one-on-one meetings in an employee-manager relationship is a great place to start. If you usually have monthly check-ins, consider bumping it up to a weekly occurrence.  

Manager-to-employee check-ins are essential, but making sure your teams are connecting as well is also critical to helping them combat feelings of isolation and encouraging team building and engagement.   

  • Consider setting up weekly group happy hours where the only thing on the agenda is connecting with peers and catching up. Keep them casual and encourage people to eat and drink. Bring your employees together by sharing funny stories from the previous week and celebrating successes.  
  • Be a source of reliable information for your employees to depend on. At the beginning or end of each week, provide them with local resources and information that may help them address personal challenges brought on by the virus.  
  • If your teams are substantial, consider setting up a buddy system, or support groups of up to three employees. Encourage them to meet with each other throughout the week. Encourage them to work on challenges together and to keep leadership informed of any particular needs that arise.  

Take the lead 

Remember, your workforce is a living, breathing animal. It needs connection, encouragement, and time to care for itself. If you want to ensure your team is prioritizing these needs, you must lead by example. If your productivity or work quality drops, respond with care and understanding.  

A steady hand and even voice now will mean a more durable and healthier workforce later. The whole world is in this together, and we must be patient as we find solutions to the challenges we face.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by luckyguy123