Tough Times Offer Opportunity To Build Better Leadership Skills

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As we all have discovered, unique situations sometimes require that we just buckle down and get the job done. In today’s workplace we need every bit of energy and creativity our employees can contribute to remain competitive in the fast moving, highly competitive business world.

Some employees like change, some don’t and some say, “change is inevitable so it doesn’t matter if I like it or not.” I don’t know about you, but change is good if it’s change I want, even if there are struggles along the way. We resist change when we don’t understand it or how it impacts us.

As leaders, our goal should be to align the necessary changes that will provide the growth and sustainability of our organization with the goals and desires of our employees. When this happens the perceived barriers to growth merely become the conduit that allows us to move from where we are, to where we want to be.

Change will not occur overnight at your company, no matter what you do. Yet, if you take the following steps, employees will notice the difference:

• Build a core team of leaders in the company. These leaders should be drawn from all ranks and responsibilities, not just top management. Choose the natural leaders as well as those in highly influential positions.

Our job as leaders is to convince this group of the need for change and to agree on how the change will occur.

• Communicate the importance of your vision. Make every employee responsible for the changes you will be implementing.

Your core team will simply be the role models. Explain in a clear and certain way the value the company will see because of this vision.

• Listen to the employees. We all listen to our employees, so the challenge is to take this a step further. Hold meetings with your employees. Announce an open-door policy and stick to it.

Listen to every idea that’s presented without criticizing it.

• Prioritize your goals. We all want to achieve many things. Make a list of everything you’d like to see happen. Get the input from your employees as mentioned above. Then put those thoughts into four categories – urgent, very important, important and unneeded.

Again, ask for advice from your employees if you’re not sure how important something is; remember it is not a sign of weakness to admit you don’t know the answer, yet it is a sign of weakness not to ask for help.

• Ensure respect for the individual. A major challenge in the workplace today is that employees feel a total lack of respect. Begin with praise and encouragement. Let each individual know how much he or she contributes to the company; when there is a problem, make it seem easy to correct by taking the attention off the individual and focusing it on the system that created the problem.

• Create teams. If we want our employees to be contributors as opposed to just workers, creating teams will help foster the change. Create cross-functional teams that meet to discuss and resolve problems in complete processes.

This will not only allow the employees to begin to feel the respect mentioned earlier, it will also allow them to feel valued and learn to trust their co-workers.

• Reward success. We now must keep our staff and ourselves motivated to accomplish the change we need in spite of all the potential shortcomings that happen in the workplace.

I find the strongest motivator is to reward the success each time a goal is met. It might be a lunch out, a gift card or a simple yet very effective hand written note. As leaders when we do these things it allow us to help our people see how much we value them and their contributions to the organization.

When we tap into the full potential of our greatest strength – our people — we will accomplish great things.

(Seth Mohorn is Managing Partner for Dale Carnegie Training of the Mid-South offered by Howard Mohorn & Associates, which provides Dale Carnegie Training services in Southwest Missouri, Northwest Arkansas, Little Rock and Memphis, Tennessee. You can reach him at 888-578-7873 or at www.arkansas.dalecarnegie.com.)