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As a business owner, what do you do when you suspect that there might be workplace bully in your team? In this video, I explore the effects of bullying in the workplace and why it makes business sense to stop it in its tracks. I also provide tips on how to mitigate bullying in the workplace. 

How extensive is workplace bullying?  

According to a University of South Australia study, two-thirds of Australians experience bullying, but only 10% of those surveyed self-identify as a victim of bullying. This study finds worrying implications: 

  • That while bullying exists in most if not all workplaces, many instances of bullying don’t get reported. 
  • Many managers misconstrue incidents of bullying as a different issue, often an interpersonal problem between staff members. 
  • Bullying is possibly more widespread than what most people in Australia think. In fact, Australia ranks 6th in workplace bullying, compared to 31 European countries studied. 

How does bullying affect your business? 

The cost of bullying at work in Australia is estimated to be $36 billion per year. Think about it. Bullying contributes to performance issues. Bullying victims experience having trouble making decisions, an incapacity to work, difficulty in concentrating, a loss of self-esteem, and a decline in productivity.  

Bullying affects not just one person. It also affects you, the business owner. Bullying in the workplace creates a hostile work environment, it promotes absenteeism, it impacts workers compensation claims, it reduces overall productivity, and it may result in a costly and even possibly embarrassing legal issues. 

As a business owner or a leader, it is our responsibility to mitigate bullying in the first place. That’s because aside from its dollar costs, bullying has been shown to have lasting effects in the organisation, which affects the growth and development of your employees and your business.  

What contributes to workplace bullying? 

There are many factors that contribute to bullying, but here are three of the most common factors: 

  • How workplace performance is managed, monitored, and appraised. A lot of bullying issues surround policies that affect how an employee is evaluated and how this evaluation affects their progress in the company. A lot of bullying happens in performance evaluations, particularly when an employee is being evaluated at the close of a project, for a promotion, or for a raise.  

How do you hold performance evaluations in your company? How many people get to evaluate each employee? Are the same people involved in every performance evaluation? How transparent is this process? 

Bullies love having the control to make sure that their victims are rendered helpless. Subtle forms of bullying include berating people, stealing credit, or unfair criticism. 

  • How entitlements are managed. Exclusion is a common manifestation of bullying. Victims of bullying claim that bullies are likely to exclude them from recognition or rewards that they are otherwise entitled to receive.   
  • How you manage your emotional culture. In a previous video, I discussed what emotional culture is and why it is important, especially because it affects productivity. An organisation with a positive emotional culture is one where employees are treated not just with respect but where there exists psychological safety, which is a crucial factor in building high performing teams.  

On the flip side, an organisation with a negative emotional culture is one where bullying is allowed to persist. Where people are allowed to blame others for failures, even if they themselves have contributed to this failure. An organisation with a negative culture allows people to threaten others, or to speak in a threatening language.  

How do you mitigate bullying?  

Now that we know what contributes to bullying, how do we mitigate it? The key to mitigating bullying is to nurture a healthy workplace culture and to put healthy systems in place.  

Bullying isn’t caused by just one person. Persistent bullying in the company is often the result of broken systems and a negative workplace culture that either enables or allows the behaviour to persist. For example, bullies will abuse vague policies and take advantage of loopholes to allow them to continue such behaviour. They also take advantage when authorities do not respond to repeated complaints about them. 

Here are six things you need to note to help mitigate bullying in the workplace: 

  • Do not tolerate bullying. Be consistent both in words and in action.  
  • Don’t ignore complaints of bullying, especially when it forms a repeated pattern. 
  • Train managers to handle complaints. Often times, the inability to respond to complaints isn’t for lack of concern or intention but because managers do not have the knowledge or skill sets required to manage this situation. 
  • Have a bullying reporting protocol in place and ensure that your employees know these steps. We need to observe due process, to be transparent, and to be thorough at every step of the way. Remember, false complaints are also forms of bullying.  
  • Promptly take action. When a formal complaint is lodged, carry out swift action. Remember that bullying has a cost, and it affects the organisation as a whole in the long run. 
  • Learn proper performance management. Performance management, in general, should have a specific scope, focused on priorities, and be balanced. The process should also be transparent and made known to all stakeholders.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great. 

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As business owners, we go through a high level of stress as you try to manage your business and work with your team during this period of time.   

In this video, I explain why it makes business sense to help team members struggling during this pandemic and what you can do to help them manage the challenges they are facing. 

There are many benefits to nurturing an environment that genuinely takes care of your team. As I explained in a previous video, emotions drive productivity—and positive emotions result in increased productivity. On the flip side, negative emotions and stress decrease productivity.  

In yet another video, I explained that having the right kind of environment, where people feel respected and where members of the team are confident that others have their back, is key to developing a high-powered team. Most importantly, remember that your business is operated by your team. When they struggle, your business struggles, too. Richard Branson famously said, “Take care of your employees and they take care of your business.”  

What can you do to help your employees manage during the Covid-19 pandemic? 

First, it helps the most to shift your mindset and remember that this is not business as usual. Nothing will work or appear as usual. This is a pandemic that will likely stretch out for months or even years to come. For some businesses, this may mean making many drastic measures with how they do their business, how they run their operations, and how they serve their customers. 

While change is the only thing constant in the world, adapting to change can still be a struggle—some more than others. Your business isn’t the only one experiencing this change. Many things are changing, too, in people’s households. Everything looks very different from the normal that we are used to.  

It will help your employees if you help them change their mindset, too. Check-in with your employees regularly. Ask them how they are coping. Work with them on how to provide the necessary tools and support so that they can succeed not just in their work but also in adapting to the new normal. 

It is also important to provide guidelines on how employees can take care of their physical and mental health during this time. If you haven’t already, take swift action to implement recommended public health measures. 

Second, be transparent. People experience a lot of stress, which comes from a lot of uncertainty and changes. Everyone who needed to work remotely has had to juggle their home life with work life. Being in a pandemic, some people fear getting sick, or having a loved one fall ill. This pandemic has also affected economies and businesses, so there is also the fear of losing jobs. 

As employers, we can address their uncertainties with their jobs by being transparent with how the business is going and, more importantly, what measures you are doing to help keep things afloat. It will also help your employees if you communicate what you need from them so that everyone knows what they should be doing to help the business going despite the uncertainty. 

Be transparent with your customers, too. Again, this is not business as usual. Some things will take longer to process, produce, or deliver. Let your customers know about any supply or service issues that you are experiencing. This will help manage their expectations. This will also help your employees who deal with your customers—you don’t want your customers to take their frustrations out on your employees if they don’t receive the same level of service that they are used to. 

Thirdly, train leaders, managers, and colleagues on how to support employees. Sometimes, the lack of support is not a result of the lack of intent to provide support. Many times, it is brought by the lack of understanding on how to provide support. Some managers may not understand how supporting a struggling employee looks like. And some policies or tools that managers would typically lean on may no longer work during this time.  

If your business can afford it, you may seek help from a consultant or business coach to train managers on how to manage during Covid-19. If you can’t, you may want to meet with your managers as a group to conceive a plan on how you provide support to each other at this time.  

Lastly, offer flexibility. If your business allows employees to work remotely during this time and your employees will feel safer or they feel that this is the best option for them in the short- to medium-term, please do so.  

The important thing is to make work expectations clear. What do they need to accomplish at a given period of time? Or, what kind of turnaround time do you expect from them? For example, you give them something to work on at the beginning of the week, when do you expect them to turn over the work? Do you expect them to turn in work at the end of the week or the beginning of next week? Please be as clear as possible  

It’s important that expectations are clear as this affects morale and productivity. It especially affects employees who may not be working remotely—they may feel that they are not offered the same level of flexibility. In a previous video, I explain how you can boost morale and motivate a team that is comprised of both remote and in-house employees. 

How about you? How are you helping manage your employees during the Covid19 pandemic? Send me an email or leave a reply below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.  

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great. 

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Great leaders motivate people. What do great leaders do repeatedly and consistently to motivate their team?

As leaders, we want motivated people to work in our teams because they’re productive and perform at their best.

Everyone is motivated by their ‘WHY’. Our ‘WHY’ explains why we do what we do. In a previous video (Understanding our WHY—and why that matters), I explored why entrepreneurs and business owners need to know and understand their ‘why’. The answer is because our purpose as business owners guides us on what we should do and how we should do it by providing a very good reason on why we should do it.

Employees are also motivated by their WHYs. The common advice is to lead employees in a way that aligns with their WHYs. This is important—because if we miss out in understanding what that WHY is, we run the risk of rolling out policies that, although well-intentioned, will run contrary to motivating people.

Let’s take a very well-intentioned attendance reward program that recognised and rewarded employees who came to work on time every single day for oneentire month, which I discussed in a previous video. On the flipside of this program was that if anyone came in tardy at any time during the month, they will not be eligible for this reward. At the end of the program, the company found that the policy became counterproductive. In fact, the company discovered that they lost 1.4% of daily productivity!

The problem with this program is that it tried to motivate people through an external motivating factor, like money, which they found out does not effectively motivate people. What gets people motivated instead are internal factors—which is essentially our WHYs or our PURPOSE.

So what should you do instead?

In another video, I discussed examples of policies designed to align with employees’ internal motivating factors. One company focused on providing employees with a reasonable amount of autonomy through reducing working hours. This, in turn, gave employees a greater sense of responsibility. Another policy focused on continually providing opportunities for professional development. It aligned with the employees’ desire to develop their skills.

These policies were designed through a significant course in time and suited the kind of business that the companies were involved in. These certainly require long-term planning prior to execution.

Perhaps the more pressing question for you is: what can I do consistently and repeatedly starting today so that I can build and nurture a team of motivated individuals?

Here are some practical tips to motivating people in your team that you can do on a regular basis.

  1. Be more engaged with people.

People, in general, appreciate it when other people take an interest in their well-being. They particularly appreciate it when they know that their bosses care for them and are working to provide support. Schedule time with your employees to check in on them regularly, whether weekly, fortnigthly or quarterly. Check on them—how are they doing? Do they have any issues that you need to address? In some organisations, top bosses schedule 15-minute catch up meetings with their subordinates at the end of the week to check up on their progress and general well-being.

  • Make it a habit to ask when an employee is facing a problem or challenge at work: what do you need to help you do your job better?

Often, the people who cause problems have the knowledge and ability to solve them. Many times, too, these problems can be resolved more quickly when employees are provided with some level of support by the organisation--perhaps tweaks in the process, provisions of additional resources, or designing better policies. But we can’t find solutions if we don’t understand the problem, and so it is always a good idea to ask.

  • Help employees find meaning and purpose in their work.

Not everyone will have the privilege of knowing and understanding their WHY—or even find meaning in their work. This is more common with people who perform repetitive tasks. To me, one of the best ways of motivating them is to make them understand how important their tasks are in the whole scheme of things.

Let’s say you have an employee who is responsible for filing boring paperwork. The task itself can be tedious, and repetition can make it boring. For some, menial tasks can be disheartening, and this can cause people to make mistakes. One of the best ways to motivate people to do this task is to make them understand the repercussions of sloppy work. What happens if he or she files an important document in the incorrect folder? What if that document is important and required by, say an important regulatory agency or a key client? And what if the document was urgently needed but could not be found merely because it was filed incorrectly?

When people understand how important their job is, it will be easier for them to understand how important it is for them to do it well.

  • Train! Training comes in many forms: formal training, mentoring, shadowing, or even cross-training in different departments. Find opportunities where employees are allowed to train and be trained.
  • Praise publicly, criticise privately.

No one is perfect and we’re all prone to make mistakes. Feedback is crucial so that we know whether we’re doing a good job or a bad one. The key to motivating employees is knowing how to provide feedback. Recognising employees publicly results in two things: (1) it provides feedback to that employee that the bosses see the good work, which motivates the employee to continue doing good work, and (2) it provides other employees with behaviour that they can model so that they, too, can be recognised.

On the other hand, providing negative feedback privately is also important because it provides the employee with an opportunity and a game plan to rectify his or her mistake. It is also an opportunity for you, as leader and business owner, to understand certain issues and concerns that contributed to this mistake—and provides you with an opportunity to correct it. It’s also a learning opportunity for both you and the employee to learn from this.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

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The global pandemic is set to affect not just public health but also the economy. As business owners scramble to do what they can to keep their businesses afloat, provide support to their employees, and cater to their clientele during these challenging times, it is very easy to focus on others that we tend to forget to take care of ourselves.

In this video, I explore practical things that we can do to take care of our mental health while working to overcome the challenges we are facing during this health crisis.

How are you doing? I hope that this video finds you well, and despite what’s going on today, that you are taking care of yourself. As a business owner, it is easy to put others ahead of yourselves, especially the team that works in your business.

However, your business cannot survive without its most important asset—and that’s you. I have discussed the importance of taking care of yourself in a previous video, calling attention to the need to rest and recover, because doing so makes you a better business owner, a better boss, and a better person overall.

While the advice in this previous video still applies, I would like to provide specific examples on how you can take care of your mental health during this crisis. It is also important to focus on ourselves—because we cannot help others if we don’t help ourselves first.

Here are a few practical tips that we can do to take care of our mental health.

  • Find a supportive community

It is important to remember that we are all in this together and that, if we work together during this crisis, we can prevail over its negative impact. This means looking for and reaching out to likeminded individuals who may share our worries and, more importantly, the resolve to find ways to make a positive impact in spite of current circumstances.

This is the time to surround ourselves with people who have a positive outlook and who are motivated to not just survive but also to succeed and even make a positive contribution to others. This is especially important if we get easily affected by negativity that we find around us, especially in social media.

  • Exercise our brain

If your current circumstances allow you some downtime, maybe it’s time to use this gift of time to exercise your brain. If there’s an online course you’ve always wanted to take or a book (or books) that you’ve always wanted to read but never had the time for, this is the time to go for it.

Perhaps this is the best time to reinvest time for ourselves. Also, focusing on learning puts us in a position of being in control at a time when many of us feel insecure or may have feelings of helplessness. During these times, it is best to redirect our energy into something that can produce positive results, such as reading or learning. Most of all, and best of all, it puts you in a position of being in control.

  • Remember self-care

On the flipside, some of us may be pre-occupied with many challenges in our business. Maybe our customers or even our employees are looking to us for more support, which means we work more hours to address these concerns. Perhaps the problem is that we do not have time to spare at all.

Whatever the case, please remember to find the time for yourself and practice self-care. It is tempting to focus on our productivity during this pandemic—it seems like we are given more time than usual as the world slows down and many industries come to a halt. But mental health professionals warn that this is not always healthy—and that it is perfectly fine to be unproductive.

These are exceptional times. It’s OK to not expect too much of ourselves and instead focus on being kind to ourselves. Take a walk. Meditate. Find a new hobby—or pick up an old one. Listen to soothing music. Maybe skip work altogether in the middle of the week if you need to.

  • Separate work from home

As governments around the world call on its citizens to stay home to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, this move has introduced the largest experiment on working from home. And it has also introduced a lot of disruptions and challenges, especially to those who consider their home a place to rest, relax, and decompress.

The first rule of working from home is to establish physical, emotional, and mental boundaries. Set up a routine—and if you can, follow your usual routine. Wake up, eat, and sleep at the same time. Work the same hours if you can. Don’t work if it’s time to rest. Put those phones and laptops down at the end of the work day.

I recognise that this becomes a challenge when you have a family and have kids. This is why routines matter. At the same time, we also need to leave space for flexibility and accept that things won’t always go as planned—this is something new, after all. We didn’t expect this and we couldn’t have planned for this. It’s OK if things aren’t perfect. Do NOT expect them to be. Like in your business planning, be flexible as you work from home to get things done.

  • Help out: volunteer or donate

There is a lot of research that show how volunteering and helping others promote psychological well-being. It helps relieve stress and anxiety. Volunteering and helping out has also shown to help people find purpose and meaning, which brings them feelings of optimism.

And if all else fails, perhaps it is time to reach out and seek help from people who have the experience and expertise in managing mental health. These are extraordinary times—and some issues may need extraordinary measures.

Thank you and keep safe.

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What are some of the unique and fun ways to recognise employees? In this video, I explore some of the more unconventional ways of rewarding them.

There is a consensus on the importance of rewarding or recognising employees who do exceptionally great work. The rationale is that if you reward them, they will be motivated to continue doing great work.

The contention on this belief arises when we talk about finding the right rewards. As business owners, we want to make sure that we are generous enough to make the employee feel appreciated but not too much for everyone to expect that all exceptional work should be rewarded, even if such is a regular call of duty. We also consider our financial ability to sustain such rewards. It can’t be too generous that it affects the bottom line. Ideally, it should be simple and easy to implement—and one that can be sustained for many years to come.

Best of all, we should be transparent and have firm guidelines on who is eligible for these rewards, so that everyone feels that they have a fair chance of being a recipient and that we are not playing any favourites.

Note, however, that not all policies or rewards that aim to motivate behaviour work as well as one plans it to be. In my video, How an employee reward system can curtail productivity, I explored how one well-meaning employee rewards policy led to a decline in productivity. The key is to understand that employees are best motivated when the rewards are aligned with their internal motivation, just as I discuss in my video How to motivate employees the right way.

I’ve worked with business owners who struggle to come up with the proper incentives to motivate their employees. They are usually too busy with the business to think clearly about how to reward exceptional behaviour. But what they fail to realise is that their employees are one of the reasons for their business’s success. Ignoring their contribution may lead to demotivation and to employees doing only the bare minimum. This, in turn, can impact the morale and productivity of the team.

Here are some simple employee rewards that I’ve discovered align with internal motivation and are simple to do:

  1. Kudos Board! Perhaps the simplest but one of the most effective recognition programs. Managers, team members or even clients can give feedback about someone they feel who did exceptional work. This can be published either in the organisation’s bulletin board or social media for everyone to see. It’s good because employees are publicly recognised, at the same time, it gives other employees concrete examples of exceptional work that they can model.
  2. Write a simple Thank You note. Sir Richard Branson has been known to do this. It is simple but heartfelt, and lets employees know that you notice their hard work. While it takes time to do and it may be difficult to write the note, this brings more value to your employee than any monetary value. And, it’s a cost-effective measure, too!
  3. Throw a pizza party! This is great especially when you are celebrating not just the achievement of one team member but the collective effort of an entire team. It’s a fun way to build team camaraderie, too!
  4. Give a special perk for a limited time, maybe a paid day off or the opportunity to park at the best spot for a few days. It’s a simple reward but note that selection criteria should be clear and transparent to prevent any indication that you are playing favourites!
  5. Dinner for the family on you! Large corporations have been known to provide this reward. This is to recognise that families also make sacrifices, especially when their family member has been working very hard on a project that has taken time away from them. It also makes an employee feel especially valued because rewards are extended to their family.
  6. Career-based rewards, such as sending employees to out-of-town training classes or even just online classes of their choice.

How about you? How to you recognise and reward your employees?

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

Read more >