Category: Human Resources

Common Causes of Miscommunication in Workplace Teams

“I thought that was obvious.”

“What did he/she mean by that?”

“I thought he/she was working on that!”

If you’ve ever been a member of a team in the workplace, the phrases above probably sound familiar. They’re all examples of common and frequent miscommunications and they can cause frustration, conflict between team members, and a serious roadblock to productivity.

A lot goes into running an efficient, positive team environment, but effective communication may be at the top of the list as the most important component.

Miscommunication can be blamed for a significant amount of conflict among workplace teams. It’s unrealistic to think all miscommunication can be prevented. After all, people are people and personality conflicts and differences of opinion are going to happen. However, awareness and understanding of the causes of miscommunication can go a long way towards decreasing the number and frequency.

Here are a few examples of the most common causes of miscommunication in the workplace:

  • Making Assumptions: This is the number one cause of miscommunication in the workplace! It starts with assuming that a particular need is obvious, others view a problem the same way you do, or someone knows what to do. If people don’t feel comfortable asking questions or speaking up, issues can escalate quickly.
  • Providing Only The Basics: It may save time to communicate only the bare necessities to team members up front, but you’re going to spend a lot of time cleaning up the results. Workers may be hesitant to speak up and just try to figure things out on their own – often with incorrect results.
  • Using Confusing Body Language: Not all communication is verbal and a lot is conveyed through gestures, facial expressions, posture, and tone of voice. If someone is distracted or having a bad day, a simple request or statement can be easily misconstrued.
  • Failing to Assign Ownership: Accountability is key and team roles must be defined and clearly understood. Otherwise, it can lead to workers dumping duties on others, incorrectly assuming another worker was responsible for something . . . and the list goes on and on.

Language is a tricky thing. It can be difficult to interpret at times, resulting in little misunderstandings that can quickly escalate into big problems. Is your team suffering from miscommunication issues? Or are projects running fairly smoothly, but have room for improvement? Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com and we’ll work with you to create a clear and effective communication strategy for your workplace teams.

Ways To Alleviate Miscommunication

If you’ve ever led or been a member of a workplace team, you’ve probably witnessed (or been involved in) a variety of miscommunication issues. What started as a simple question or concern may have quickly ballooned into a full-blown problem, resulting in frustrated, angry teammates. And you’re left scratching your head wondering how things got out of hand so quickly. Miscommunication is one of the biggest problems facing workplace teams and can cause missed deadlines, an erosion in morale, and higher turnover. Fortunately, it can be alleviated with the right approach. Here are some suggestions to help:

  • Address issues immediately and openly: Ignoring a workplace conflict will only make it fester. Address any issues right away and make sure you’ve gathered facts from all parties involved.
  • Set Clear Expectations: No one is a mind reader. Set expectations early, make sure all questions are answered up front, and be available for clarification as the project progresses.
  • Improve Your Listening Skills: Make sure it’s not “in one ear and out the other.” Active listening is an undervalued skill, but it can have a huge impact on how often conflicts arise.
  • Recognize and Respect Personal Differences: Keep in mind that everyone can interpret the same thing in a different way. Understanding how the members of your team communicate can help you diffuse any potential problems.

Miscommunication can happen anywhere at any time, but awareness of the problem and a strong plan can help put everyone back on track. The key is to give your team the right conditions to develop and grow. If nurturing a healthy team culture is important to your workplace, please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com and let’s work together to make it happen.

How To Create A Positive Culture Within An Organization

Glassdoor.com was founded in 2007 as a tool for workers looking to make career decisions. The website enabled both current and former employees to leave anonymous reviews of their workplace. Glassdoor still serves this function, but now it has become a key indicator of the cultural health of organizations. Other sites like LinkedIn and Indeed followed suit and encourage employees to share reviews and leave comments about the work atmosphere within their organization. “What is it like to work here?” is an incredibly important question for an organization. And look no further than your employees to answer it – after all, they’re putting in the hours day after day and place a premium on a positive work environment.

To create a positive culture within an organization, there needs to be a focus on the following:

  • Allowing for more transparency
  • Fostering an environment of kindness and compassion
  • Resolving issues of blame and finger pointing
  • Emphasizing meaningfulness of tasks
  • Encouraging gratitude and respect
  • Giving employees more independence and relying on their judgment
  • Investing time and energy into employee growth

Not every employee will be 100% each day, but a positive workplace culture goes a long way towards overall happiness, greater levels of productivity, and ability to recruit top talent. What are your Glassdoor or Indeed reviews saying about your organization? Are there culture issues that need to addressed and room for improvement? Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com and let’s discuss a strategy.

Why A Positive Culture Is Important

At some point in our lives, we’ve all had a job that made us dread getting out of bed in the morning. Whether it was unfulfilling work, an uninspiring and toxic atmosphere, micromanagement, or a combination of all three, there are few things worse than going into a work environment that you just can’t stand. On the flip side, when you find a workplace that feels like the right “fit” and it’s an atmosphere where you feel valued, challenged, and encouraged, it’s truly invigorating and inspiring. The culture of an organization is what makes the difference. It’s not a tangible element or a fixed asset, but rather the atmosphere – the environment, values, expectations, goals, and attitude of employees. Think of it as an organization’s personality! And it’s incredibly important for both employees and employers.

So, why should an organization focus on its “culture” or even care about it in the first place? It’s important because, no matter what your industry, organizations are made up of people. And people care about the environment where they’re spending the majority of their waking hours. Lack of attention to a positive culture can result in unhappy, unproductive, and potentially disloyal employees that will start costing your organization time and money. The benefits of a strong and positive culture include the following:

  • Employee Retention and Productivity: Environments where employees feel comfortable, motivated, and valued as individuals enjoy a boost in morale, which leads to increased retention and productivity.
  • Improved Communication and Teamwork: A positive workplace culture suggests an open atmosphere where workers feel comfortable and free to communicate their ideas or concerns without fear. Teams are built on respect for others’ ideas and lead to innovative problem solving.
  • Reputation and Brand Image: Want to attract the highest level of talent to your organization? Look no further than cultivating a positive work culture. It differentiates you from the competition and builds a solid reputation that adds value to your products and/or services.

Managers and executives have a direct influence on their organization’s culture since they generally set the tone and expectations. How would you describe your organization’s culture? Are you making strides, but still have some areas that need improvement? Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com and we can help you cultivate a positive culture that will benefit everyone.

How To Find Passion In Your Work

We spend the majority of our waking hours at work, but for many of us, not all of those hours are enjoyable. According to a Gallup study, only 32% of U.S. workers are engaged at work, meaning they are happy, driven, and enthusiastic about their careers. That leaves a large chunk that isn’t. Many people are working in jobs they once loved, but somewhere along the line, they lost the enthusiasm and passion they once had. Often, feelings of frustration and disengagement are the norm and people simply show up, put in the hours, and go home.

No matter what your career situation is, if you’re feeling tired of your job or dealing with burn out, there are things you can do to bring back that passion and enthusiasm again. A shift in perspective can be what it takes to get you back on track. Here are a few tips that can help you find enjoyment in your work again:

  • Understand The Problem: The first step is to understand where the true problem lies. Ask yourself, “Once upon a time, did I enjoy my work? What changed along the way? Did I look at this job as a stepping stone and I’m still waiting for a better opportunity?” Write your thoughts down on paper or talk it over with a trusted friend to help pinpoint the problem.
  • Set Goals and Stay Focused: Once you’ve identified the problem, you can establish goals and a plan to improve the situation. Whether it’s feeling like your job is not the right match for you or dealing with being overwhelmed and burnt out, determining an action plan can make you feel like you’re not “stuck”.
  • Take Some Time Off: Many think it’s a ‘badge of honor’ to never or rarely use vacation time, but even the best job leads to burnout if you’re working around the clock. Vacation time is there for a reason – it gives you a chance to refresh, renew, and think about the big picture of what you’re doing and where you want to go
  • Look for New Opportunities: Passion can certainly fade when you’re bored and doing the same thing day in and day out for too long. It may be time to start growing your skill set and seeking out opportunities that interest you, whether it’s asking to take on a new project or looking into additional training.

If you know that you fundamentally love your job, rediscovering your passion for it is possible by stepping back and thinking about your current situation. Often, it’s simply a matter of reevaluating your priorities. Do you notice a loss of passion and enthusiasm in your employees? Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com and we can work with your staff to help find them rediscover passion for their work.

The Importance of Passion In Your Work

When it comes to your career, it’s important to ask yourself the question, “what lights me up?”. Not every waking moment at work is going to be ideal and we all know there will be good days and bad days. But do you feel an overall enthusiasm for your job even when times are tough? There is a positive impact of loving what you do and a negative impact when you feel like your career is out of whack. Passion for your career not only makes the many hours you spend at work more enjoyable, but it also helps you do your job better. Why is passion such an important component? Here are some of the benefits:

  • Your have more energy for your job – and your life
  • You feel more confident
  • You’re less likely to “hit a wall” and can sustain your momentum
  • Persistence against obstacles is easier to handle
  • You enjoy the rest of your life more

For many people, when it comes to work, passion doesn’t even begin to enter into the realm of things. But it should and there are so many benefits, not only in increased productivity and work quality, but enjoyment outside the office. How can we help you put more passion and enthusiasm into your workplace? Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com and let’s discuss a strategy.

The Benefits of Kindness in the Workplace

Ellen DeGeneres ends her talk show each day with the same five words – “Be kind to one another.” It seems like a simple concept, but in today’s world, everyday kindness can sometimes seem elusive. Whether you’re driving on a crowded highway, grocery shopping, or just trying to cross the street, it often feels like kindness is becoming the exception and not the rule. But going to work daily in an office where unkind behavior is the day-to-day norm can be particularly difficult. It can impact motivation, productivity, attitude, and overall enjoyment.

In recent years, there’s been a lot of research on kindness in the workplace. Numerous books on compassion as a successful business strategy have hit the market, touting the importance of a kind culture rather than a cutthroat, win at all costs environment. The era of “success at any cost” is giving way to an approach where kindness, compassion, and teamwork are viewed as assets in organizations and not considered soft, squishy, and weak. Many workplaces are starting to embrace this strategy, while others are slow to adopt it and witness the repercussions in high turnover, resentment, and low morale.

So why is choosing kindness in the workplace such a competitive advantage? Research has shown that compassionate work environments consistently have:

  • Better customer service
  • Healthier employees and fewer absences
  • Less turnover and an easier time replacing employees when they do leave
  • Higher productivity
  • Increased employee commitment and engagement

Practicing compassion in the office sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? But in the face of multiple deadlines, obligations, and stress, it’s easy to look for shortcuts and overlook opportunities to put it into practice. Yet, it’s hard to think of many other places more in need of kindness than in the workplace. Whether it’s a cheerful greeting, asking about someone’s day, or simply delivering a harried co-worker a much-needed cup of coffee, acts of kindness set the tone for the office and are a simple and effective way to improve business.

When you take a look at your organization, do you see a culture of kindness? What type of feedback do you receive from employees and is there room for improvement? Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com and let’s discuss how to increase compassion in your workplace. You’ll see the difference in your employees.

One more thing – in March we’ll provide an outstanding way to get to know your co-worker. It’s fun, easy and a great ice-breaker – no matter how long you have worked together!

 

How To Practice Kindness in the Workplace

When we think about how to optimize success in your workplace, compassion isn’t always the first thing that enters our mind. We talk more about things like increasing efficiency, sales numbers, and billable hours. But studies show kindness makes good business sense and there’s a lot of research showing some pretty compelling numbers. For example, employees of companies described as having kind cultures perform at 20% higher productivity levels, are 87% less likely to leave their jobs, and make fewer errors, saving their companies time and money. The companies themselves have 16% higher profitability.

Whether you’re a manager or an entry-level employee, there are many ways to bring kindness into the workplace. Here are a few simple ideas:

  • Get to know your colleagues
  • Offer guidance to a co-worker
  • Build a collaborative environment with idea sharing
  • Check the motivation behind your words, decisions, and behavior
  • Acknowledge co-workers’ strengths and positive characteristics in front of others
  • Lend a hand to someone who is under a tight deadline
  • Encourage employees to openly communicate and share their thoughts
  • Organize occasional teambuilding activities and have co-workers submit ideas and suggestions

Creating a culture of compassion in the workplace is where many successful companies are placing their attention. And rightfully so. For ideas as to how to incorporate more kindness into your company and reap its many benefits, please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to discuss how we can help. And stay tuned for March’s newsletter, when we provide a really fun “get to know your co-worker” activity you can use in your office!

What’s Important To You In 2018?

A shiny new year is upon us, ripe with possibilities and opportunities to make changes. Most of us spend at least some time reflecting on the events of the previous year and what we can do to make improvements over the next 12 months. But too many of us are overwhelmed, disconnected, and feel like we’re going through the motions without a lot of purpose. It can be challenging to figure out what’s truly important in life and even more challenging to make an action plan for change.

If you’re determined to live a more purposeful life in 2018, now may be the time for a “life audit.” It’s a chance to be honest with yourself, think about what’s really important to you right now, and organize your life a little more. So, grab a pen, a pack of post-it notes, and block off an hour or two of time. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Write down every goal, hope, and life necessity on a different post-it note (for example: ‘look for a new job’, ‘move to a different city’, ‘start a family’)
  2. Organize the notes by category as themes start to emerge (for example: career, family, hobbies)
  3. Organize by time (for example: how long it will take to check-off each note)

You may want to set a goal for the number of post-it notes you fill out. Maybe it’s 100 in one hour or more over the course of a weekend. It’s not a revolutionary system, but the point is that you’re thinking about yourself, your future, and how to reach your goals. If you feel like you’re at a loss getting started, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What life do I want now? How about in 5, 10, 25 years?
  • What makes me feel satisfied at work?
  • What areas of my life could be improved?
  • What’s my motivation?
  • What do I believe in?
  • What do I consider essential?
  • When do I feel the most successful? The most energized?
  • How am I using my gifts and talents to help others?
  • What is my purpose?
  • What do I want to leave behind?

The great thing about writing all of this down on post-it notes is that you can hang them on a wall in your office (or wherever you’d like) and look at them everyday. You can move them around into an organizational system that works for you, perhaps by weekly, short term, long term, and lifetime goals.

A New Year is the ideal time to look at long term goals, what’s working, what’s not, and where there’s room for improvement. And we can help you every step of the way! Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to discuss your organization’s 2018 goals.

Finding Fulfillment Outside The Office

We’ve all watched a show or read an article where someone has an epiphany about their priorities and life direction, quits their job, moves to an island, and starts a new life running a bar or giving surfing lessons. Sounds appealing, right? For the rest of us, the mortgage, family obligations, and day-to-day responsibilities makes this type of dream impossible. You may feel like you have no way out or that you will never find happiness because of your career. You’re really good at what you do, but there’s no fulfillment. However, there are ways you can create purpose and fulfillment outside of the office. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Create it yourself: Whatever it is you want to do, make time for it! Join a class for beginners or a club with people who share a similar passion. You may even notice your attitude at work changes because you aren’t putting pressure on your job to satisfy every aspect of your life.
  • Make time: Work takes the majority of our time, but not all. Take control of your weekends and evenings again and cut what isn’t absolutely necessary. Make fulfilling activities a priority!
  • Give Back: Using your gifts and talents to help others can be one of the most fulfilling things you’ll ever do. Whether it’s mentoring or volunteering, sharing your talent may be the biggest gift you give in 2018.

Productivity in the office begins with fulfilled employees who understand the importance of a work and personal life balance. A New Year is the ideal time to lay the groundwork! Please call Leah M. Joppy and Associates at 301-670-0051 or email us at leah@lmja.com to discuss your organization’s 2018 goals.