Tag Archives: Management

7 signs you might be laid off – and 7 ways to protect yourself

A friend of mine was recently laid off, which came as a huge relief after months of toxic interaction at his company.  We had chatted a few weeks earlier about his suspicions that “something was up in the office”.  No surprise, then, when a termination letter and severance package were handed to him one Monday morning.  The signals?

1)  Budget cuts – Management formally decreased their budgets, and increased the frequency of “we need cost cutting” and “we’re losing money” conversations

2) New, impossible-to-achieve performance targets – the boss required a doubling of sales targets (higher than ever before) with less resources

3) Management insisted that employees formally sign-off on impossible performance targets

4) Computer security changes –  an unusual amount of time was spent by IT technicians updating certain PCs and changing passwords

5) rewrite of the current job position – management removed 30% of the existing job and transferred those responsibilities to another position.  The decreased role also took a corresponding pay cut.

6) Other employees were asked to train and learn existing positions for future “backup”

7) Frequent closed door meetings –  By themselves, a series of closed door meetings may be unrelated to layoffs (an acquisition, someone’s medical issues, a new strategy).  But coupled with the above signs, the odds of a staff reduction in the office may increase.

What can you do about the situation?

1) Stick to factors within your control.  Outside circumstances such as the recession or economy may be driving factors of your company’s business problems; a layoff is not necessarily “personally” directed against you.  Don’t mistake hard-edged but difficult business choices as personal vendettas.  There is no point worrying about what is outside your control.

2) Consider what you can do to help the situation as an employee:  suggest areas for cost reductions, business efficiencies and improvements, etc.   Stay calm, courteous and professional even if the office politics become heated.  Overreacting at any level will put your behavior in the limelight and could contribute to management’s choices on the layoff list.

3) Continue to seek clarity of expectations in your job.  Ask for clarification if you are not sure what is expected of you during changing budgets, job descriptions and work situations.  Always be respectful in your communications to upper management.

4) Keep your health maintenance up to date, in case a layoff is imminent.  Get dental work done, renew the eyeglass prescription.  Keep up a healthy lifestyle (exercise, eat properly) to reduce your stress level.

5) Cut back on personal financial spending where you can.  Stick to “needs” and ignore the “wants” to keep debt levels down.

6) Develop a vision of the better job that you can move to.  A wise mentor once told me, “Don’t run FROM a lousy job, run TO a perfect job!”  Refocus your mind on positive career opportunities.

7) Start taking small steps toward the better job (i.e. take a night course, develop contacts, join a networking group, etc).  Whether you remain in your current position or move elsewhere, shifting your mind onto positive forward thinking options will dilute the toxic emotions that may be swirling around you in your work environment.  Remember:

Luck is opportunity meeting preparedness.  

Good Luck!

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Boiled Frog Syndrome – Are you needing to change?

Once upon a time there was a frog who hopped into a pot of nice, cool, clear water.  He sat in that pot and decided “Life is okay here – no need to change.”   Behind the counter, however, a kitchen chef noticed that a frog had landed in his pot of water – “What a nice surprise, I could make frog soup for dinner!”   So the chef  turned up the heat on the burner ever so slowly.

That frog sat in the pot, not noticing the change in temperature.  After a while, little bubbles in the pot indicated that boiling was imminent.  Still that frog sat and contemplated life as the water became hotter and hotter.  Eventually, the water reached boiling point and the frog perished.

The chef scratched his chin and recalled the last time he tried to make frog soup – setting the water to boiling point first, he dropped a frog into the pot, but upon hitting the boiling water the frog jumped out of the pot and clear across the kitchen.

What lessons can we take from this story?  Are you living with unacceptable conditions, but they came into your life so slowly and in such subtle ways that you haven’t even noticed them?   Would you have walked away from these conditions if you had encountered them in their entirety at an earlier point in your life?

Work life – Have conditions in your workplace evolved over time and slowly become toxic to your health?  Do you dread getting up and going to work each morning?

A wise executive once told me:  if you get up more than three days in a row and dread work, you need to CHANGE SOMETHING.

– Maybe you need to change your attitude.

– Maybe you need to speak with a boss or coworker to correct a problem situation.

– Maybe the culture at your work will not change and you need to consider alternate employment options.

Personal life – have you remained in a relationship that is profoundly negative and draining your energy?  Consider what you can control in your situation and what is beyond your control.

Above all, think of the your life as a blank canvas:  you alone have the power to create the “picture” and determine the destiny of your future.

– Remember who you used to be before ending up in a symbolic pot of boiling water.

– Don’t be afraid to dream about the future and where  you can take your life.  You’ve only one life on this earth, life it to the fullest.

– Change is part of every process in life and death.  Work with the possibilities of change, and use them to enhance your life and your future!

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Using Stories to Make Your Point

The following is a guest post from Dave Marr at t2 Managment Training in the UK.  t2 is a specialist management consultancy, established to provide strategic leadership training and development for company directors and management training for their teams.   t2 is one of only a small number of leadership and management development providers to have achieved the prestigious Training Quality Standard.

Using Stories in Order to Make Your Point as a Manager

Prolific leaders and high profile managers have often got a few stories to tell in order to get their point across effectively to their staff.

Why are stories effective?

Stories are processed by a different part of the brain to that which we use to follow instructions. Most people have an aversion to being told what to do, but stories can subdue those feelings by giving us indirect instructions that we don’t mind following. A good story often has a moral or a lesson to be learnt and it is this which drives many people to listen and follow suggestions.

Points and examples work in the same way too. They give people information about how things are supposed to work in addition to what is expected of them. This gives clear focus.

From time to time, you might hear a great story. Try to remember the key points and how it might benefit your staff. Then you can pull it out of the hat when you need to motivate and empower your staff to follow specific instructions or to hit a particular deadline. A good storyteller is always at an advantage, but as long as you remember the main points of the story and the point you are making, you’ll be fine.

You can also find a lot of resources online on how to tell a good story and get your point across effectively.  Find some opportunities to practice this technique. You can use previous employees or employers as examples if they are relevant to your anecdote. This will also help you relate to your own story if you use people you know. As you proceed with the story make sure you integrate those all-important indirect suggestions (in addition to the desired outcome).

Be careful, when you begin relating your stories, that you don’t repeat them or explain too much about them. The power of storytelling is to allow your staff to take away the moral or contents of the story and think about it from their own personal perspective. Ambiguity is often more powerful than direct suggestion and can really make a difference to how your staff perceive you and how they work.

Very often people will ‘listen’ to a story’s message that they won’t listen to in another form. The great thing about a story is that it motivates and gives you something to aim for – if they could do it, wouldn’t can’t you?!

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3 Things I Learned from My Subordinates

Some days I feel like I’m on walking upward on a down escalator — my 25 years of supervising and managing experience isn’t getting me the results I want.   This past few weeks, the managers in my own department have been teaching me a few things:

1)  Know the “style” of the decision-makers in your business

When implementing change in the workplace, key decision makers are critical to have “onside”.  These key players may have different ways of gathering information, processing the facts, coming to conclusions and implementing changes or improvements to the business.

Some styles include:

      – the thinker:  he/she needs information a day or two ahead of meetings so they can mull over and think about the issues and facts at hand

      – the idea driver:  he/she wants the issues articulated but not solutions – they prefer to come up with their own solutions

      – the skeptic:  he/she is very unsure of input from anyone except close, trusted colleagues and advisors.  You will waste your time trying to convince this person of business issues until you spend a considerable length of time building trust and credibility on a personal level.  You may need to demonstrate either loyalty or high technical competence to gain this person’s trust.

     – the bottom liner:  he/she wants the problem and solution summarized quickly and succinctly.  Don’t waste their time (just watch their eyes glaze over) when you go on and on with lots of details and discussion

Adapt your approach to the appropriate style of the business decision-maker who you wish to influence.  Watch for clues as to each person’s style, and if necessary try different techniques until you find approaches that work.

2)  Prioritize your list of issues / initiatives using a mix of business agendas

Consider that your high priorities might not be the same as others in your business, especially leaders in other departments.  Pushing your highest ranking issues at all costs can isolate you and create subtle resistance to everything you are working towards.  Put yourself in the shoes of other departments:  what are their key initiatives?  How can your goals link with their likely goals?   Try finding common goals that you can build as winning initiatives for other stakeholders in the business; this will give you more likelihood of success.

3)  Be patient and work toward success in very small steps  

Executives can be very impatient, wanting results NOW!  (okay, yes, that’s me!)  One of my managers very wisely pointed out to me this week that my timing for pushing an initiative may not be in sync with the timing of others.  Sometimes, others are not “ready” for the changes involved.  Some leaders may need mulling or processing time to consider the risks and alternatives.  Some leaders will want more personal input into ideas or initiatives so they feel they have ownership of the results.  Some leaders will resist all suggestions and help until their own trusted colleagues support the initiative.

The key to success?  Know your customer and your colleagues.  This will help you create win/win opportunities with common goals / solutions, use a pace of change that is relatively comfortable for all parties, and develop approaches that encourage positive acceptance whatever the style of your key decision-makers.

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How to Use Imagery for Better Coaching Results

The following is a guest post from Dave Marr at t2 Management Training in the UK.  t2 is a specialist management consultancy, established to provide strategic leadership training and development for company directors and management training for their teams.   t2 is one of only a small number of leadership and management development providers to have achieved the prestigious Training Quality Standard.

How to Use Imagery for Better Results When Coaching Your Staff

A lot of management and executive coaching techniques use imagery that uses NLP (neurolinguistic programming). It’s an excellent communication tool that can help people to change their habits. However, it’s essential that you break this technique down into manageable ‘chunks’ so they can be used by managers every day.

We all process imagery in a different way to other types of language. An image can be really powerful serving to motivate and move us when they are presented well.

Think of the taste of sticky toffee pudding and now compare it to the recipe. There really is no comparison. Taste wins out every time!

Try to use similar techniques in your communication. Use compelling, sharp images to get your staff imagining experiencing or doing something. Help them to picture how it would feel to learn something new or to achieve an important task. Get them to imagine how they would feel on achieving that task and the satisfaction it would bring.

Below we’ve listed some examples on how to use imagery effectively with your staff:

Mastery or Coping Imaging – this kind of imagery is particularly effective when dealing with challenging tasks or situations. Get your staff to imagine how they would successful deal with a situation. You can project general images or small images with lots of detail. Detailed imagery really assists those who are learning something new.

Modelling Images – This is another useful technique used for coping with challenging tasks and situations. Ask your staff to picture somebody who has a firm grasp on a desired skill or task and go over the steps the person would take to reach their goal. This is a great transitional learning procedure and often assists with problem solving and trouble shooting situations.

Idealised Future Images – This is a brilliant technique for promoting positive learning. Ask your staff to imagine what their life will be like in 5 years. Where do they picture themselves? Where do they want to be? How do they feel? Help them to use their imagination to guide them and to really feel the future that lies in store. This can really make them focus making them more accessible.

Levelling Images – This can be used for dealing with difficult situations and people. It is also very effective for overcoming fear of public speaking or making presentations. Get your staff to picture their audience in their underwear or a particular client in their casual gardening gear or at an informal BBQ with their children around them.

Corrective Images – Another great confidence booster! This can be used especially after somebody has made a mistake. Get them to review the situation and imagine how they would do it again.

Worst Case Scenarios – These are excellent for coping with intimidating situations. Get your staff to imagine the worst situation and the worst outcome. Help them to make a decision on the outcome and if they could cope with it. Now ask them to take an alternative view and to determine a more realistic worst case scenario. Work out how bad the situation would be and whether they need to prepare for it. Now ask them to go ahead and develop a plan of action in the knowledge that they can cope with any imaginable result.

Empathy Images – These are useful for developing the skills needed to read other people. Ask your staff to imagine being in the shoes of another person and to go over the situation from their point of view. What are they thinking or feeling? This is a great way of growing into a better manager capable of reading people more effectively.

Imagery is one of the many executive coaching techniques that work very well. These techniques help managers to lead staff better and to help bring about positive change.

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