brain

Don’t Discount Covid Brain

After a brief hiatus from writing – I am back!  While I planned a short time away for personal reasons, my extended leave was not expected.  This novel Covid-19 virus decided to attack the world and, unfortunately, made it into our home.  I must clarify that I am only a presumptive case of Covid-19.  I’m a nurse practitioner with the knowledge and resources to manage my symptoms safely at home, and I’m a bit stubborn and didn’t want to leave the comfort of my house to get tested.  That being said, I had all the classic symptoms:  sore throat, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle pain, dry/hacking cough, and a SEVERE headache.  I am a migraine sufferer and have never endured anything close to the severity of this headache.  Worse yet, no medication could take the pain away.  It’s been just over twelve weeks since I became ill.  Fortunately, I’ve recovered from most of the symptoms but I still suffer from intermittent headaches, easily fatigued, and a heightened sense of anxiety/agitation.  All of these symptoms are consistent with brain trauma, referred to as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

So I’m In the 30%

As we all know, Covid-19 is a new virus that is sending the research world into a high-pressure, time-sensitive environment. Governments are demanding data, new treatment modalities, and a vaccine for the deadly virus. As brains of the deceased are studied, and data is compiled, researchers can give us more information about the virus.  An estimated 30% of Covid-19 patients develop neurological symptoms. Initially, it was thought that the virus could not cross the blood-brain barrier meaning that it didn’t directly affect the brain.  As more data is received, however, it was discovered that it can and does cross into the brain.  This shouldn’t be a surprise as many other respiratory viruses  (influenza, measles, RSV) create havoc in the brain.

As research continues and more answers are found, there are many questions that still need to be answered.  Of special interest to me is how long will this “Covid Brain” last? I’m talking about more than the headache and fatigue here.  I’m talking about the loss of short-term memory, inability to focus, intermittent confusion, and days like yesterday that I just can’t focus on anything.  My husband asked me what I was thinking, and my reply was “nothing”.  And I meant it.  There was absolutely nothing going on upstairs.  That’s frightening for an educated, intelligent person to experience.

So Why Does This Matter?

As the world begins to re-open businesses after this virus has devastated lives and the economy, they will struggle with getting the business back on its feet.  This may mean downsizing (even if temporarily), restructuring, and for some, closing their doors forever.  But what about those staff that were infected with Covid-19?  Many of them will suffer residual effects from the brain trauma.

A healing brain is a delicate organ.  In most traumatic brain injury cases, the healing is slow, and the person may not get back to the full function they had before the injury. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough evidence with Covid-19 yet to fully understand the residual effects on the infected brain.  Fortunately, there are ways to promote healing and support your staff as they recover. Always keep in mind how frustrating this is for the person struggling to get their brain back.

Brainline.org provides some excellent tips to help your staff transition back into their position while still encouraging a healing environment.

Visie – Lighting is important – change the fluorescent lights to high intensity, white lights, and increase natural lighting.  Provide an anti-glare computer screen and large print on reading materials.

Focus– Concentration is going to be a constant struggle.  To help with this, provide a quiet work area with little distraction (a private office or work enclosure if possible).  Allow for white noise.  Break down large jobs into smaller, manageable tasks.  If necessary, restructure their role to include only the essential functions.

Fatigue – Maintaining stamina throughout the day is a challenge.  Offering flexible schedules, longer or more frequent breaks, and part-time work schedules are all viable options.  Schedule more challenging tasks at the beginning of the day, leaving more mundane tasks for the end of the day when fatigue is more likely.  Most importantly, encourage your employee to acknowledge their fatigue and rest when they are to that point, even if it means going home.

Stress– Handling stressful situations and managing emotions is more difficult while the brain is recovering. Acknowledging this includes sensitivity training for other staff and providing a positive work environment. Encourage the employee to access any available Employee Assistance Programs and coaching services.

Awareness & Acknowledgement

As a leader, it is important that you are aware of these symptoms and remember that not everyone that had Covid-19 was tested and confirmed. You may have staff that had/have the symptoms that aren’t confirmed with testing but may still suffer the long-term complications of the disease.  Acknowledging their struggles will go a long way to support them during their recovery. Hopefully, the recovery time will be a matter of weeks, but for some, it is turning into months.  This can be frustrating to management and the staff member. Patience and understanding will be key.

broken plate

Why Does Accountability Matter?

Acknowledging our mistakes is a sign of strong character. It is a primary component of accountability and is essential for effective leadership.  Accountability isn’t the same as responsibility, although the two terms are often interchanged.  We all have responsibilities at work, the tasks that make up our job.  Responsibility can be shared, divided up amongst team members.  Accountability, however, belongs to only one person.  It is what happens after an incident and how you respond and take ownership of the results.

Accountability is essential for building trust in the workplace.  If staff are worried about getting thrown under the bus or are unsure of their leader’s support in the event of an incident, they are not going to exude creativity. They will work for the company but not with the energy and passion that they would if they know that mistakes won’t end their career with the organization. Obviously, I’m not talking about repeatedly making the same stupid mistake but rather the kind that happens on occasion.

Why Is It Important?

Despite the importance of owning our mistakes, and the fact that every human makes them, it becomes more evident that so many people in positions of power are not accountable themselves.  How many of us have worked for a manager that never had our back?  Or that took credit for success but was quick to blame when something happened? Everyone knows this scenario – the real question is, how are these individuals put in any position of influence?

There are so many reasons that businesses benefit from accountable leadership.  Not only can accountable leaders quickly identify problems, but they can find solutions just as fast.  Just like other characteristics of good leadership, the other members of the team will follow suit.  Accountability will inspire accountability.   It also breeds trust and loyalty, both of which increase productivity.

When Accountability is Lacking

Of course, you can’t discount the consequences of no accountability.  When the blame game starts with management, it festers among the team.  This will no doubt create division among the staff. There are those that will accept the blame, those that will fight back, and those that will become one of the brown-nosers to the boss in hopes of avoiding the blame.  Either way, division of the team occurs.  I have seen it happen to the best of them.  Naturally, productivity declines, as does loyalty to the manager and the organization.  Whether it’s the blame game or lack of leadership, employee engagement is sure to decrease.

Lack of accountability also affects the customer experience.  Due to its profound effect on employee engagement, it will affect the way the employees treat customers.  This will lead to first-time customers not returning, regular customers not returning, and those that do leave negative reviews.  We all know that more people complain about a bad experience than shout out about the good ones.

How To Encourage It

Bent tracks

Two approaches are often taken when someone shirks accountability.  One is to ignore the problems, and the other is to remove the person from their team. Realistically, neither approach is ideal.  Ignoring the problem will likely make it more significant or recurring, and you don’t want to terminate someone or shuffle them if they have the potential to be an asset to the team.  First and foremost, lead by example.  Again, accountability inspires accountability.  Make sure that your staff has the tools and equipment needed to do their job efficiently and effectively.  Ensure that there is a continuous feedback loop.  Too often, feedback only happens when something goes wrong, but it’s essential to have feedback when things are going well.

Most importantly, provide them with an environment that makes it easy to own their mistakes.  Working in a safe environment encourages creativity and productivity.  We learn more from our mistakes than our successes, as it’s our mistakes that keep us growing.

Stress

Trauma At Work

How Does Trauma Happen?

A few years ago, if you asked me about trauma in the workplace, I would have thought of a major incident akin to the planes crashing into the Twin Towers or a disgruntled employee opening fire on colleagues.  Fortunately for all of us, these major types of traumatic events in the workplace are rare.   More often, trauma is caused by working in a persistently toxic work environment.  This type of toxicity is costly to the individual as well as the organization.

Unfortunately, I worked in a toxic work environment for the past two to three years.  It wasn’t always toxic.  In fact, it was one of the best places I had ever worked until management at three levels changed in rapid succession.  When circumstances afforded me the opportunity, I finally left the organization.  The choice came with an enormous amount of guilt – guilt that I was leaving the patients that meant so much to me, but even more was the guilt for the work-family that I left behind.    I had spent the past two years fighting for my team at a cost to me professionally as well as mentally and emotionally.  By the time I left the organization, I was damaged and truly felt like a failure.  I was unable to successfully lead my team through some very difficult times and, after twenty years of service, felt like I had been dishonorably discharged without actually being fired.  Feeling completely defeated and like I had let my work family down, I walked away.

There were many factors that contributed to the hell that I called work.  First and foremost was the lack of leadership at the managerial level.  Bullying behavior was not only supported but encouraged by the management.  This created a work floor with snitches that were more than happy to report any infraction, regardless of how small, to the manager.  She then took great pleasure in belittling staff, yelling, threatening, and emulating basic bullying behavior.  Bullying alone can contribute to a toxic environment, but when coupled with narcissistic, manipulative, and condescending management, workplace trauma is guaranteed.

Cost to the Organization

The trend in recent years is organizations asking more from their staff with fewer resources.  While organizations may feel this increases productivity, it actually increases stress among the team, causing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and social isolation leading to an increase in sick leave.   In fact, it’s estimated that 60% of sick leave is due to stress-related illnesses, in turn, having a significant impact on the bottom line.  A study in Canada showed that unaddressed mental illness in the workplace costs businesses more than $50 billion in lost productivity each year.  Interestingly, a third of managers have no formal support or resources to support their employees.

Eventually, as in my case, when employees are given the opportunity, they will leave the toxicity.  Staff turnover is challenging, but it is also incredibly expensive.  For every employee that leaves, someone new must be recruited and trained to fill the position, not to mention the lost productivity during the transition period.  The cost of one employee leaving an organization is upwards of $20,000.

Cost to the Employee

Repeated exposure to a toxic work environment can cause a variety of issues.  According to clinical psychologist Dr. L. Michael Tompkins, bullying in the workplace can be emotional abuse and can cause the symptoms and/or diagnosis of PTSD.  Employees can experience a loss of problem solving ability , may be poor at making rational decisions, and may take risks that they normally wouldn’t and consider it normal behavior.  Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear of suicide as a result of repeated exposure to a toxic work environment – the ultimate cost to the employee.

So Now What?

When CBC News published an article in November 2019, “Workplace Mental Health Programs Deliver Healthier Bottom Lines”, all I could think was ‘no kidding’.  We know that for every dollar spent on mental health in the workplace, the return is $1.62.  This makes great business sense.  But having worked in Primary Health Care for nearly fifteen years, my mind tends to focus on prevention.  How can we create environments at work that minimize the stress that creates the anxiety and depression that so many employees face?

Relationships Matter

A key to a healthy workplace is the relationships that are developed among colleagues and with management.  If an employee is absent, a caring, empathetic manager should reach out to see how they are doing, if they can support them in any way and to provide them the opportunity to remain an integral part of the team while they are off, if they are physically and mentally able to.   Employees are the most critical asset that a business has and as such, need to be cared for.  Developing relationships with employees should remain a priority.

Education

Management must have the basic skills to lead their people.  They need to be trained to identify and manage trauma among their staff.  The key to mental support begins with transparent and supportive relationships between the manager and the staff.   This helps management with early identification of mental and stress-related difficulties.  Organizations need to invest in the mental health of their staff, going beyond the basic employee assistance programs.  Considering that we spend the majority of our day at work, it’s essential that everyone has a safe environment to work in.  Organizations should encourage the development of relationships between staff and encourage what I call the “work family”.  This allows for more support and increased resilience to stress.  Encouraging self-care such as ensuring break times, adequate lunch breaks, encouraging physical activity, and stress management are all ways the employer can help build on an individual’s resilience.  Empowering employees to develop and grow as individuals and as professionals only strengthens this resilience.

Organizations that invest in their employees and foster an environment that is safe, supportive, and encourages resiliency will find that the payoff is far greater than the investment.  Happy, resilient employees are more productive and will give 100% knowing that the organization has their back.

cherry tree and water

Embrace The Good

For years now, I’ve been intrigued by a short article I read about an African tribe and how they deal with each other’s mistakes. I took a screenshot of it and have kept it on my phone ever since.

In this African tribe, when someone broke a rule or made a mistake, they take the person to the center of the village where the whole tribe comes and surrounds them. For two days, they will tell them all the good that he did over the past years. The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as good. In the beginning, everyone desires safety, love, peace, and happiness.  But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes.

The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help. They then unite to lift man up, to reconnect him with his true nature, and to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he had been temporarily disconnected: “I am good.”  (May 17, 2014, the good men project)

Dealing with Difficult Employees

Not until recently, I actively connected this article to leadership and managers dealing with difficult employees. Difficult employees are often a challenge for management. Some situations like a violation of company rules such as stealing are less difficult to deal with than unpleasant behavior between or towards colleagues. In the last situation, it might seem tempting to wait and see how it develops. Inaction, however, can harm those involved, general workplace morale, and productivity. It might become a reason for other valued members of the team to leave the department or even the company. Management needs to intervene; it’s their responsibility. So don’t brush people away, take them seriously. Make sure there is confidentiality. Address the employee in question immediately so that the situation is still fresh in their memories!

Punishment

So when employees misbehave, do you punish them? If you do, keep in mind that it only has a short term effect and stops a specific action. It won’t change people’s behavior in general. It only teaches people how to avoid punishment. Think of a police camera that stops you from speeding as you pass it, after which you start to speed again. You want your employees to develop and have a sustainable and effective contribution to the team and its results. Not only when you are around but as a standard bar. To reach that state of collaboration, it’s better to create an environment where people want to do their job and feel safe to do so. That way, the need for punishment is way less.

Compliments

But how do you create that environment where people feel safe, appreciated, and empowered to develop? Your three basic golden rules come close to Skinner’s behaviorism theory:

  1. Embrace the good, give compliments for positive behavior;
  2. Ignore little everyday mistakes and incidents unless you see a concerning pattern;
  3. Only punish excessive behavior that needs to stop immediately.

I’m a firm believer in a complete focus on positive behavior. If you give three compliments and punish once, you have made a tiny step forward in building a relationship. Can you imagine what would happen if you gave more compliments?  Even though at times it is so tempting to focus on the mistakes of others, you don’t want to feel like a cop, do you?  And honestly ask yourself the question if that “cop behavior” would work on you! You want to give your team what they deserve, your full attention, constructive feedback, and coaching.  Don’t lose your eye for the good in the members of your team, embrace it, and give them compliments!

Compliments are so powerful because they make people happy. When someone feels appreciated, they are willing to work harder to keep others happy.  The happier someone is, the more meaningful their life gets. It confirms that you are seen, accepted, and loved by others!  It will make them give their very best.

What do you do to inspire your team to develop and grow?

Dog - loyaltly

The Essence of Loyalty

“Being a leader means creating a safe environment for staff to be who they truly are and give their best.”

 Staff Commitment

In my career, I have received a lot or commitment from my staff. They were determined to give all of themselves to me as a person instead of to the business. The fact that people point out that detail felt quite overwhelming at first, but as time passed by, I started to appreciate that gesture more and more as I ground to realize what made them give me their loyalty. I spent many hours overthinking how this loyalty thing worked. I had to stay close to who I am as a person to figure it out. I did what made me who I am, I communicated and simply asked them, “Why?” The number one answer:

“Because you are good to me and you are always there for me whenever I need you!”

I couldn’t really wrap my head around it at the beginning because I thought I was always very aware of my actions and the effect they have on others. I really missed this higher level bringing me closer to the essence of leadership.

I can hear you think, “we found ourselves a yes man”, however, nothing is farther from the truth. Giving your very best doesn’t mean you can’t say no or have a decent discussion. But before I give an answer, I ask and listen. Then I try my very best for my staff! Because don’t we all just love to give that yes and help them to get that day off or make the next step in their career and see them grow! And if something isn’t possible or doesn’t seem to work out, I give an honest explanation and some free advice! After all, that would be what I would have wanted from my manager

Rowing teamwork

What did I really do to get their loyalty? I always gave them my very best;

  • They knew what I expected of them;
  • I treated them with respect;
  • I offered them a listening ear;
  • I treated them as human beings;
  • Even when the chances of giving them a yes were smart to none I tried;
  • When they walked in for the same time for the same concern, I would still take them seriously but tried to manage their expectations.

Leadership means taking care of your people by creating ideal circumstances for them so they can give their very best to your customers, your business, and If you are lucky enough, to you. To manage your expectations, when people give you their very best, it doesn’t mean they won’t make mistakes or never call in sick.

Mistakes make people human and offer a valuable opportunity to grow. Mistakes happening; taking responsibility is a choice! A very wise choice as people tend to forgive you and your mistakes more easily if you take responsibility, apologize, and offer solutions to prevent this from happening in the future. To reach that stage of cooperation is amazing, not common, and worth embracing.

Turning Point

It’s not always easy, and I believe there is a turning point. Because it’s not always just you and your staff members, there are colleague managers, there is your manager or your director, and they have expectations, targets, and they rely on you and your team to meet those! I figured it is hard at times to find that balance and pick to put what first. But if you treat your employees as proper adults, take them seriously, inform them right and treat them with respect, 99% of the time they will give you their loyalty and their very best. Lead with trust and respect!

What triggers your loyalty?

Productivity

4 Principles for Increasing Productivity

Want more productivity from your employees?  Read this…

Multiple things influence productivity on the work floor.  While there are external factors that are beyond the company’s control, there are many internal factors that can be manipulated on the personal and organizational levels. It is often thought that the internal factors affecting productivity rest solely on the shoulders of the employees.   In fact, management has a more significant impact due to their influence on their teams.

Employee Health

Investing in employee health results in staff that come to work mentally and physically prepared with an increased stamina and focus.  Regular exercise gets the blood pumping, increases oxygenation to the brain, and helps clear the mind.  Employees who exercise regularly will be healthier, more efficient, and in the end, more productive.  Investing in an employee wellness program is something every organization should aspire to.

Environment

In addition to encouraging personal health, the organization needs to provide a healthy environment.  Having a workspace with proper ergonomics will keep attitudes more positive, and people focused on work instead of aches and pains from a poorly arranged environment. The short-term investment of a proper ergonomic assessment will pay off in the long run with decreased time away from work to manage neck, back or shoulder problems, fewer WCB claims, and overall healthier employees.

Temperature is a factor that contributes significantly to productivity.  If the staff is too cold, they will spend time trying to get warm. Conversely, if the staff is too warm, they are sluggish.  Either way, temperature affects productivity.  The perfect temperature for the office environment is between 60-70 Fahrenheit or 15.5-21 Celsius.  Something to keep in mind, but out of our control, is the outdoor environment. Employees are likely to be more productive on bright, sunny days versus dreary, dull days.

Listening to music may also have a profound effect on productivity.  Music has been shown to improve mood, focus, and endurance. Playing music in the background may significantly improve productivity. Beware, however, if someone doesn’t usually listen to music, it may hinder their productivity.

Training, Equipment, and Systems

Regardless of their position within the company, all staff will benefit from training of some sort. Whether it is initial training to ensure they can do their job or ongoing training, employees must be encouraged to continue their professional and personal development.

A major factor in productivity is ensuring that the employee has the proper training and tools for the job.  Nothing is more frustrating than performing a task with the wrong tool.  Whatever the business, there are tools customized to the organization to reduce waste and increase productivity.  Even when trying to cut costs and maintain overhead, there is a point that some investment is necessary.  The cost of equipment upgrades will outweigh the loss of productivity due to substandard equipment.

Even with the right equipment in place, productivity can be stifled by inefficient workflow processes.  It’s important to review processes from time to time and change them as needed.  Ask for and reward employee input on a regular basis.  They often will have creative ways to improve workflow and productivity.

Employee Satisfaction

When employees are no longer engaged at work, their productivity declines.  Likewise, employees that are passionate about their job will work to their full potential.  Therefore, organizations that want to optimize productivity need to focus on employee satisfaction.  This is truly the core of Oteos.  Happy employees equal increased productivity resulting in happy customers, regardless of the nature of the organization.  Developing relationships, providing an ideal work environment, encouraging professional and personal growth, autonomy and empowerment and open, two-way communication are all methods of improving employee engagement.

In summary, if productivity remains the goal, then it is necessary to identify the factors that are affecting it.  It starts at the hiring process, and the expectations remain for the term of employment. That said, it is the organization’s responsibility to provide the right tools and environment to facilitate a continually improving rate of productivity and efficiency.

I challenge you to identify areas of improvement in your organization.  What can you do to boost productivity?

Scrolling

Slack – What does it mean?

What do you do when you identify slack?Slack

The other day I was listening to Craig Groeschel’s podcast about slack amongst leaders in the workplace.  He defined slack as anything that doesn’t move us towards our goal. I was surprised by the amount of slack time that the typical leader engages in during an average work week.  Now slack can come in multiple forms, including excessively long breaks or lunch hours or excessive visiting or chatting on the work floor.  Note that I said excessivevisiting.  We know that strong teams are developed more by the connections made out of the workplace than those made at work.  That is why some visiting about kids, husbands and lives outside of work is actually good for the team.  I have many more thoughts on team building that I will share in later articles.

The stat that really resonated with me was the 3.8 hours a week that leaders spend engaging in mindless activities like scrolling Facebook and Instagram or streaming YouTube.  According to Groeschel, this is done to give them a mental break.  Think about that – 3.8 hours per week for mental breaks at work.  I am in no way saying that mental breaks are not necessary during a workday but what happening that this is adding to the average 20 hours of slack in a week?  Or is this a practice that should actually be encouraged?

The Tork poll done in spring of 2018 showed a large disconnect between the management and employee perception of breaks, specifically lunch breaks.  Tork showed that management often considered the lunch break when evaluating job performance or view staff that took a regular lunch break as less productive. This despite the evidence that regular breaks, including lunch breaks increase creativity, productivity and focus. A common trend is the 30 minute lunch break.  While 30 minutes is enough to inhale a sandwich, is it really long enough to give someone a true break?  The hour long lunch not only gives your staff room to breathe but it can discourage poor habits like getting fast food or encourage positive health habits like exercise, meditation or other forms of self-care.

There are many ways that organizations can encourage regular breaks.  Yes, you read that correctly – organizations should encourage regular breaks. Mutually important is the body’s need for regular fuel throughout the day and the minds need for intermittent rest. Healthy snacks in a comfortable environment can help decrease the mid-afternoon slump and help your team continue strong until the end of the day.

One easy way to encourage regular breaks is to take a break yourself.  I am a firm believer in leading by example.  This is something I practiced as a parent and as a leader on the team. Just as we cannot expect our kids to be healthy eaters as we are eating a Big Mac, we cannot expect our staff to take breaks if we don’t practice it ourselves.

Don’t confuse busyness with productivity.  When I first started nursing many years ago, we were encouraged by older nurses to look busy.  That way the head nurse would not think you were slacking.  Of course, today this practice is obsolete – in nursing anyway.  Just because staff is not scrolling on their phone does not mean they are being productive. If you notice their focus is absent or weak, it may be time for a break – scheduled or not.

Aside from encouraging regular breaks to encourage mental and physical health, leaders should view slack in the workplace as an opportunity for improvement.  Perhaps something has changed within the team, a staff is facing something difficult on the home front or is experiencing poor job satisfaction. Either way, identifying the why behind the slack can be an opportunity to provide support to your team and identify ways to encourage growth.

Even amongst your best employee slack is always going to be present to some degree, it’s how we utilize it that matters.  Encourage your team to practice good self-care, take their breaks and lead by example.  Do you take your breaks?  How do you lead your staff to decrease slack and increase productivity?

Lion Pride

How To Be A Great Leader

Have you always wanted to know how to become a great leader? For many years people assumed that effective leaders were born with certain traits. Therefore, the majority of research focused on trying to answer the question “what is an effective leader”? Maybe it was height, physical strength, or perhaps dominance or intelligence. Researchers like Stogdill (1974) and Lord a.o. (1986) demonstrated conflicting outcomes proving that there was no such thing as a shared set of traits as a predictive factor for effective leadership. Researchers then started to focus on the leader’s behavior, showing what they did became more important than who they were. I can already hear you “here’s hoping” because that means that anyone can learn how to become a good leader.

That, in fact, is very true! If you look at the underlying meaning of the word in a dictionary, it means “a person who leads”. There are so many types of leadership. And the basic foundation of leadership is the ability to influence. But what makes a leader a great leader? Throughout the years, many leadership styles have been reviewed. Let’s go through some of the most important ones before I come to the secret of great leadership.

Effective Leadership

Models that try to define leadership focus on the leader’s behavior. Researchers approach leadership by task focused, and person / relationship focused activities. Blake and Mouton’s Managerial Grid (Blake and Mouton, 1964) is one of the many models that can be used to define types of leadership and what’s most effective, including that “a participating way of leadership is the most effective.” But what does that mean? It means that an effective leader should be able to:

  • delegate decisions
  • give employees a chance to develop
  • communicate accurately with all people in the organization.

Situational Leadership

Let’s say a participating style is the best way to lead your employees. Would you be able to handle any situation holding on to just that style? I think the answer to that is no! Every situation is different. What does your team look like, how are the dynamics in it, what’s your relationship with your team, what’s the environment, what’s the task, and who are you as a person? Those are just a number of the essential factors that can have a significant influence on the effectiveness of a leadership style. Leadership seems to be precision work.

The model for situational leadership (Hersey & Blanchard, 1992) suggests that the best leaders need to be flexible in the style they choose, adapting to the stage of maturity of their staff members. Task maturity is very much a matter of wanting and being able to, in which confidence is an essential factor. To make situational leadership a success, leaders really need to know their staff members and how they work under a variety of circumstances and what they need to get the job done.

Charismatic Leadership

The most modern approach to leadership is the one focusing on the emotional effects of leadership behavior and the appreciation of staff members. Leaders need to share their vision and motivate their employees passionately, making sure they truly feel connected with the organization and its targets. Those that reach this state of leadership are referred to as charismatic leaders, a catching conclusion defined by Bloemers and Hagendoorn (2006).

Great Leadership

Becoming a great leader is very much about who you are and, more importantly, about who you want to be!  Great leadership means giving your very best in every situation and having an eye for individual needs and achievements in your team under all circumstances! Although to remain successful, you, at times, have to be hard and make decisions that won’t be easy and that affect your team. You can still do it with respect and empathy. Empathy is one of the essential skills to possess as a leader. It’s not just a matter of being cold or warm; it is the ability to understand another person’s experience, perspective, and feelings.

If I have to be honest, aside from the great enthusiasm, doing my work with empathy brings me closest to my definition of great leadership. What’s your secret to great leadership?

Team Relationships

A Strong Team – Helping You Get There

Developing your team In and Out of the office.

Relationships outside of the office are as crucial to developing a strong team as team building activities held in the office.  These relationships build trust and loyalty amongst the team and with the proper leadership, to include the organization.

After having worked with a close, cohesive primary health care team for over thirteen years, we transitioned into a new building.  This move should have been an exciting opportunity for us to develop our team further and improve the care we provided to our patients; instead, it began the demise of a team that was once held in high regards by the entire province.

This transition began nearly eighteen months before the actual move date that included moving a hospital, medical clinic, and nursing home into one unified facility. Having been already a part of a high functioning team, we encouraged (or begged) for team building and preparation of staff to integrate.  This move took us out of our offices and into one “bullpen” with cubicles that were intended to increase communication.  Not only did the three facilities remain in their silos with lack of management to facilitate integration, but management actually encouraged the disintegration of our team.

Our team was like our extended family.  We developed friendships outside of work through informal team building.  These included lunch on one of our decks in the summer, Monday soup lunch together at the local senior center, birthday cakes for each staff member’s birthday, coffee breaks twice a day, celebrations of family events and support during each other’s difficult times.  These were paired with official team development in the form of quarterly meetings and weekly huddles where concerns amongst the team were brought forward in a safe environment and problem-solved by the team.

After the move, coffee breaks were a thing of the past.  Lunch breaks were staggered and rotated.  Huddles were eliminated as were any problem-solving opportunities for the team.   Decisions made by leadership not only diminished our capacity to work together as a team but decreased the interpersonal relationships that we formed outside of work.  We were not allowed time to keep up with each other.  This led to frustration, feelings of isolation, and simply missing each other, despite now sitting in the same room.  The result was a decrease in commitment to the organization and communication with management, lower productivity despite longer days, and a turnover in staff.

I genuinely hope that in the future we at Oteos can work with the region to help build this team and community’s health care back to the standard to which it was once held. I want to help my former colleagues enjoy their job again!  With just a few adjustments and some repair strategies, I believe they can get their “family” back.

How would you feel about developing relationships among the team outside of the office setting? How do you balance the personal and professional relationships?  Let me know your thoughts!