Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the first topic in the Dear Oaks 2020 Supervisor Excellence Webinar Series. The series this year is focused on advanced communication skills for leaders. Today's topic, of course, is Entitled Advanced Communication Skills that Improve Employee Motivation, I'm looking forward to our conversation today.
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All right, so let's start with talking about the benefits of improving our communication skills. It's interesting, there's so much focus in the world today on technical skills, and technical skills are certainly important. And what I mean by technical skills is the technical part of the work we do. So if you're working in IT, the technical skills and information technology. If you're an engineer, the technical skills and being able to be a successful and skilled engineer. If you're an accountant, the technical skills you need to crunch numbers and analyze data.
And so whatever your function is, right? Whatever your technical function is on the job, whatever your job description is, that's what I mean by technical skills. Now it's interesting, there's a lot of research that shows that our interpersonal skills-- some people call them soft skills, others call them, of course, communication skills, our ability to communicate with others and get along with others really is a greater predictor of someone's success on the job than their technical skills.
Now again, technical skills are important, we obviously have to be able to fulfill the functions of our job requirements-- of our job description, but what folks are finding nowadays is people's ability to get along with others and communicate effectively, interact effectively, that that's even more important than our ability to fulfill the technical part of our jobs.
And that's particularly true when you're a supervisor or a manager. And again, when I'm talking about being a leader, it doesn't matter what your title is. You can be coordinator, lead, supervisor, manager, director, senior director, vice president, whatever the case may be, but if you're responsible as part of your job for leading people, that having great communication skills really is a-- it's a tipping point in your ability to be successful.
It's interesting. Bob Nelson, who is a pretty well-known leadership trainer, he has a famous quote that I love. It says, "An employee's motivation is a direct result of the sum of their interactions with their manager." Interesting, because now think about that. The technical skills involved in leading people, right? There's managerial skills, there's holding people accountable, there's inspiring people, there's motivating people, there's critiquing people, there's training people. There's a lot of functional technical skills in leading, right?
But really, what the research is showing, that a supervisor's ability to get along with others, to interact effectively and to communicate effectively with the people that they're leading is one of the most important determining factors of their success as a leader. And leaders that have great interpersonal skills, leaders that communicate effectively, that communicate respectfully with their employees, that communicate in a caring way, in a supportive way, that those folks generally have more engaged and motivated teams. And that's what today is all about. Today is to talk about how we can utilize our best communication skills to truly have a motivated team that will be engaged and want to do their best work.
So I truly now believe that the research is pretty clear that it really is a top predictor of career success as an individual employee and as a leader, is to be an effective communicator, someone that knows how to get along with others, someone that can communicate and in a way that bonds them to other people, that inspires other people to do their best work.
It's also being a great communicator is also a main reason for job satisfaction. People that have the best communication skills, the best ability to interact effectively with others, to listen well, to communicate effectively, to interact in respectful ways, people who do that well, leaders who do that well tend to be pretty satisfied on the job because they have fulfilling relationships. I want you to think about this. To bond with others, we've got to be a really consistently effective communicator.
And we'll talk a lot about how to do that today, but it's interesting, because oftentimes, supervisors get focused on task management, and that is part of the requirement to lead people, right? I mean, we do have to-- we've got a coach and lead people and we've got to manage the successful completion of tasks and projects. And so that's a part of it, but those that also do-- that can do that well, but do it in a way that where they're interacting and communicating respectfully and effectively and in a supportive way day to day tend to have folks that are more motivated to do their best work, and we'll talk more about how that works here in a moment.
And so it is a main reason for job satisfaction and effectiveness. And as I mentioned, it's the primary driver of employee motivation. It's interesting, the Gallup-- many of you are probably familiar with the Gallup polling organization, right? That does a lot of workplace employee engagement studies.
There is a book out there by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman from Gallup, it's called, First, Break All the Rules. Interestingly, right up front in the foreword of the book or in the opening of the book, they make a statement-- and this is after a million US workers, public and private, were surveyed to see what are the factors that lead them to be fully motivated and engaged in their work, that lead them to being highly productive. And what they concluded from the research is regardless of why an individual employee joins an organization-- good benefits, interesting work, part of their career path, whatever the case may be, how effective that individual will be in that job, how long they'll stay and how motivated they'll be to be productive has most to do with how they get along with their direct supervisor.
I want us to see, folks, that the supervisor-employee relationship, and that relationship truly is built and maintained by great communication by both the employee and the supervisor, right? That that's a driver of employee motivation. Again, employees who have supervisors that communicate respectfully and effectively with them, that are supportive and caring towards them on a day-to-day basis, and that all comes across through how we interact, right? Those employees are going to be more motivated to be engaged and do their best work. And of course, when employees are engaged and doing their best work, they're going to be highly productive.
So let's talk about the barriers to that, though. I mean, obviously supervisors and managers are very busy people, right? So if we're agreeing that it's really important for us as leaders to interact and communicate effectively with our team, with our individual employees, what gets in the way? And first and foremost, I think it's time, more than anything else, to think about the barriers, right?
We're busy. Anyone who's managing people is a busy person, there's no question about it. Think about this. Whenever-- even if you have only one direct report, you're going to be a busy person, because most of us nowadays in the 21st century are working managers, right? Or working supervisors, so most of us have our own-- we have our own tasks and projects to do, and then we're also responsible to make sure that everyone who reports to us gets their work done effectively and at a high quality.
And so think about that. If you're busy, we may not have as much time as we'd want to to sit down and have conversations with people. One of the biggest mistakes I made early in my management career-- and I've been leading people now for about 26 years, it's been a long time-- early on, my focus was my priority really was task management. I thought-- and this was before I got some better training, but I thought that when I got promoted to my first management position, now I've got these people working for me, my job is to make sure they get their work done, and my focus really was task management. It was--
So I would go from person to person very focused on, did you do this, did you do that? Don't forget to do this. Do this this way. Here's your assignment, and make sure you do part A, part B, part C, and then trying to hold them accountable and follow up and coach them around that. And I did some good things, right? I was pretty good at training back then and those kinds of things, but where I was missing the boat was I was way too business-like and way too focused on what people were doing and not focused enough on building great relationships with those employees, I wasn't focused enough on the quality of the interactions, I didn't listen very well, I did a lot of the talking when I was interacting with people.
And because I was prioritizing tasks and my own agenda, which really was to get stuff done, right? Instead of focusing on quality relationships with my team, I had some morale issues on those early teams, I had some turnover. And at the time, I didn't realize that some of it was happening because of my management style, but as I got some better training over the years, I started to realize, hey, wait a second, I need to slow down a little bit and focus a little bit more on the quality of my interactions with people, because that really-- and as I got better at that part, I started to notice that people tended to want to-- to be more motivated to do their best work, morale on the team would be better, and I had much less turnover.
And so I want us to think about that. If you're the kind of person that tends to be overly task-oriented, you might want to take a step back and think, am I doing a good enough job of interacting with people and am I-- do people realize when I interact with them that I care about them, am I spending enough time making sure that my communication is very effective?
Another barrier to interpersonal communication is insensitivity and interpersonal differences. Now this-- nowadays, when you talk about interpersonal differences, we could talk about just about anything, right? And I'm not just talking about cultural differences, which certainly is an issue that we have to account for, but I'm talking about different personality styles-- so I'm an extrovert. I mean, I have to be careful when I'm talking to an introverted-- someone who's more introverted that I don't talk too much, that I don't dominate the conversation.
Sometimes it's generational differences. We now have five generations in the American workplace. And so, I mean, being a Baby Boomer, I've been around for a long time being a Baby Boomer, and for example, I very seldom texted anybody for a long time, and I started realizing some of my younger colleagues were more comfortable communicating via text. They would text me and I wouldn't reply via text. And I had to realize, wait a second, I need to learn to be an effective communicator, and think about this-- the most effective communication is when the sender of the communication adjusts their communication approach to what's comfortable for the receiver of the communication.
So I learned how to be a texter, because nowadays there's a lot of younger folks in the workplace and that's a way that they like to communicate, and so I had to make that adjustment. So we need to make sure we're not being insensitive to how other people like to be communicated with.
In addition, another barrier to good interpersonal communication is people that are not managing their stress or emotions very well. This was another problem that I had early in my management career. I oftentimes would overreact if I was on deadline or I was stressed out, and sometimes I'd get-- I would overreact a little bit when I was talking to staff members. And I didn't realize that it's important for employees to have-- to want their leaders to be calm and to not be an emotional roller coaster, right? Because if you're working for someone who is an emotional roller coaster, you tend to walk on eggshells, right? You tend to be really careful how you talk to them, because you don't know what you're going to get.
And so I had to learn how to better manage my stress and to stay more in control of my emotions so I could be more consistently calm and be that stable leader for my team. And that took me a while to learn those skills. All right, so let's go through some additional communication skills, that as we can as we can work them into our own management approach, can really have a positive impact in having your employees feel more cared about, more respected, and then when that happens, more motivated to do their best work.
And so first and foremost, I truly believe that it's incumbent upon all of us in leadership to build the best possible bonds and relationships with the people that report to us. I did not put anywhere near enough focus on this early on, because as I mentioned, I was so task-focused. But I've come to realize that we need to-- people need to-- there's a great saying out there in management circles that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care, that the best managers and leaders take the time to get to know their people.
There was a Forbes magazine article that talked about small talk isn't small. Small talk on the job-- now I'm not talking about frittering away the day with small talk, I'm talking about a little bit of bonding at the beginning of the day, a few times a week, but I didn't invest in that early on in my career, I was so focused on just getting stuff done.
And so it was interesting, because I noticed that people weren't as comfortable around me. Nowadays, I think people are a lot more comfortable around me because I make sure that I invest time in bonding. So I ask people about their lives, about their families, after yesterday, talked about the Super Bowl, ask people you know what their career goals are, what kinds of tasks and projects they most enjoy doing, what kinds of things do they not enjoy doing, what their career goals are-- I just-- I feel like it's really important, and there's a lot of research that supports this, that when an employee feels like their boss cares about them as a person, truly takes the time to spend time with them and get to know them, they're going to be more motivated to work for that person.
There was a great employee engagement study done by the Carnegie Training Company that said that the number one driver of employee engagement-- and again, I'll define employee engagement as an employee that comes to work motivated to give you 100%, do their best work-- occurs when an individual employee knows their boss cares about them as a person.
Now the only way an employee's going to get to know that you care about them as a person is if you spend time with them, if you show interest in them, if you ask questions about what's important to them, if you give them input into the work, if you ask their opinion-- and we'll talk a little bit more about that when I get to a coaching slide here in a minute.
But I've come to find that that's a really important piece, is that the most successful leaders nowadays are very skilled at taking the time-- and again, I'm not talking about wasting time and I'm not talking about spending 30 minutes doing small talk, I'm talking about just focused, stopping by someone's desk, asking them how their weekend was, how are the kids, did you see the game, or talking about whatever issue they've come to know that is important or of interest to that person. That's a really important part of bonding and building those relationships.
And then also, asking their opinions a lot. A lot of supervisors are very directive in their communication style. They like to do all the talking. Again, this was a big problem for me early on. When I would talk to staff members back, back in the day-- I'm talking 20 years ago, I was doing 80% of the talking or more. I wasn't asking people for their input very much. It's interesting. The number one thing American employees want-- this is from a SHRM-- Society for Human Resources Management survey from a few years ago-- is respect.
When a supervisor regularly asks their employees for their input, like if there's a problem going on, taking the time to say to the employee, here's what's going on, what do you think we should do here? Or when they assign work, ask the employee, how do you think we ought to get this done? Can you give me your advice on this or that? That when a supervisor regularly asks employees for input, employees feel respected, they feel like the supervisor believes in their capabilities, cares about them, and is interested in their ideas.
So it's really important that we slow down a little bit. See it as an investment. Again, if the reason you're not slowing down to bond with people on a regular basis is because you're just really-- you're jammed, you're busy, and it takes too much time to do that, see doing that for five minutes here, five minutes there as an investment. What I've come to realize, because now I've been doing it this way for the last eight or 10 years pretty consistently, in my team nowadays, I've had no turnover in years, seems to be much more motivated, we've got some pretty-- we've got good relationships. We've created kind of a work family, we really enjoy working together. But that takes time. It takes time to build those bonds, to get to that place, but it's really worth the investment.
Next, let's talk about becoming more sensitive to interpersonal differences. And so what I mean by this, folks, is when you're getting ready to talk to someone else, I think it's really important to just be sensitive-- are there any cultural, personality, language, generational, or any other differences between you and that other person that could impact your communication with them?
And so one of the things I like to do nowadays is I love to-- in team meetings, I like to bring people together and go around the room and-- this is part of bonding, but it's also part of team bonding and helping us get on the same page together and helping us learn to communicate more effectively together-- go around the room and say, let's go around the room and have everyone talk about how they most like to be communicated with. What modes do they like? Do they like email? Do they like face-to-face? Do they like telephone calls? Do they like texts? And even drill down to say, if we're sending you an email, do you want all the information or do you want just the highlights? So to really kind to get to know what kind of information that people like.
Do a little-- there's little personality assessments you can do, you don't have to get into a formal Myers-Briggs, although those are always very helpful. But I've got a very simplistic little four-slide presentation on basic interpersonal differences-- interpersonal personality differences. And me and my team did that, and it was really interesting. And there's someone on my team that's more introverted, and through that little exercise, I realize that that I was putting her on the spot during team calls. And one of the things as you get into interpersonal differences with folks that are more introverted, a lot of times, folks that are more introverted, they don't like to be put on the spot in front of groups.
And so I went up to her afterwards and I apologized. I said, does that make you uncomfortable when I put you on the spot? She said yes. And I said, I apologize, and since then, I've been careful not to put her on the spot in team meetings. When I want her input, I try to do that more one on one.
But those are the kinds of things we need to be thinking about. You can do exercises in team meetings, like I mentioned, to have everyone get more comfortable and then to learn more about how each individual likes to be communicated with. You can do little exercises to find out who on the team is an extrovert, who on the team is an introvert, and then ask people, now that we know you're an extrovert, how do you best like us to communicate with you? And it's a great way for you to get to know your team better and for your team to get to know each other better and to really enhance team communication.
But I think more than anything else, the rule of thumb really ought to be, if you want to be an effective communicator, is just be thoughtful of when I'm getting ready to communicate with someone, what's the best way for me to communicate with this person? What mode of communication will be most comfortable? Should I text this person, should I send an email, should I get up and go talk to them based on what I know about them from the past?
And then what differences are there between them? I mean, if they're a much younger person, maybe I ought to consider what generational differences might be there. I mean, if there's something cultural involved there, maybe I ought to just be aware of that-- because they're from a different culture, that there might be different ways we might understand things, just so I can be more aware and cognizant of that. But really, a best practice in communication is to try to adjust your approach to what's most comfortable for the other person. And then be patient with the other person. Listen patiently, give them an opportunity to share what they're thinking about and let them fully communicate.
All right, next let's talk about being a collaborator. Collaboration is an awesome communication skill. I wish I'd have known more about the importance of being a collaborator 20 years ago. Think about this-- many supervisor-employee relationships are directive where the supervisor's telling employees what to do and how to do it, supervisors are telling employees how to fix problems, supervisors are coaching employees on how to correct performance deficiencies.
Now those are all important parts of what employees-- or what supervisors need to do, right? Those are the functional parts of managing staff, absolutely. But what I've come to realize-- and this, again, is based on that SHRM research around-- and that Gallup research around what really motivates people to do their best work, is employees want their supervisors to work with them instead of talking at them and bossing them around. They want them to collaborate with them, to work with them. They want to feel like the supervisor respects their input, respects their ideas.
And so collaboration is a wonderful way to do that. And so to be a good collaborator, a couple of things have to happen. Number one, we have to recognize that just because we're the boss or the supervisor, we don't know at all. That we have to have some humility and realize that two heads are better than one and regularly ask people for their opinion. I mean, I just-- I'm thinking about 20 years ago again, I was so directive. Most of my conversations with people was me talking at that person.
Now I wasn't doing it in a mean-spirited way, but my communication style was not effective. And it's interesting, there was a research study that came out in 2018 that basically said that nowadays, highly directive management styles are still pretty prevalent, that 54% of-- in this one survey or one research study, 54% of manager-employee communication is directed where the manager is talking at the employee. It's not a collaborative, respectful communication.
And if you truly buy into the premise of what we're talking about today, that being an effective, caring communicator that's really respectful in how they communicate with employees creates more motivation and inspires employees to do their best work when their boss communicates with them that way, moving more towards being a good collaborator really makes sense, it really does.
And so the number one skill-- and I know you all would know this naturally-- the number one skill in collaboration is to ask people for input. And so whether you're solving a problem, whether you're assigning a task, whether you're following up to correct some performance deficiency, the number one collaboration skills is to say, hey, what do you think we should do in this situation? Hey, we've got a problem over here, how do you think we should fix it?
That supervisors that regularly ask a lot of questions-- again, their teams are going to feel more respected, and it's interesting-- and also, they're going to have a chance to buy in more. When you ask people for their input, they tend to take more ownership in whatever you're working on with them, whether it's solving a problem or completing a task if you give them input into that. And so it just makes a lot of sense that to really hone our collaborating skills or our collaboration skills. I'll talk more about that here in the coaching slide.
And along those lines, you can do one-on-one collaboration, which really is coaching-- and I'll talk more about that specifically. But you can also be more of a team collaborator. I've started just becoming or-- the last few years, I've increasingly facilitated more brainstorming conversations with groups, with my direct reports, with other groups, with teams that I've coached, because I've just kind of recognized that again, people feel more respected and will be more motivated to do their best work if they feel like their opinion matters, that their capabilities are respected, and that they have the opportunity to give input into whatever is going on.
And that only happens when the leader facilitates conversations and welcomes people's input. Facilitating a brainstorming meeting, I used to-- when I was doing team meetings 20 years ago, I'd usually make the agenda and I'd be doing 90% of the talking. Nowadays, when I facilitate team meetings, instead of doing my agenda, I'll have a couple of things I want to discuss that day, I'll introduce what I want to discuss, and then I'll just facilitate a conversation where every one-- a brainstorming conversation where everyone on the team gives input.
My team meetings nowadays are so much more effective and people seem so much more engaged. And then afterwards, people tend to be a lot more bought into what we were talking about or whatever work we're doing that's coming out of those meetings, because they had input-- people tend to support what they help to create. And so it really does help foster motivation and engagement.
All right, so next let's talk about coaching. And so I know all of us know what coaching is, right? So coaching basically-- if you think about it, coaching is focused collaboration between a supervisor and their employee. And what I mean by focused collaboration, so a coaching conversation is a conversation where a leader is looking at assigning a task, solving a problem, correcting performance, or anything along those lines. And they're going to facilitate a conversation to try to work together to have the best outcome in that scenario.
So an example would be, if I was assigning a task, my old directive approach was I would tell the person what to do and how to do it, and it would typically be a pretty quick conversation. And I would see it as a means to an end to get this off my plate, move towards task accomplishment, and move on to the next thing.
I've come to realize that when I would tell someone what to do and how to do it, they wouldn't be very motivated to go out and do a great job with it. I was talking to a young city planner a couple of years ago. He said, I've been working for this one guy for about two years. He says in two years, this guy's never asked me one question. He's never asked my advice about anything, and he looked at me-- he was a young guy-- and he says, dude, he says, I got a brain, I've got a master's degree. He says, I feel like a tool. This guy, anytime he ever talks to me, just tells me what to do. He never once asked my opinion, never asked for my input. And he said, honestly, I don't know how long I'm going to stick around here, because I don't like working for this guy.
And I want us to take that example and recognize that if you're telling people what to do and how to do it, they're not going to typically feel inspired and maybe not even buy into the work, they may feel like you're just assigning things to them and then you're dumping your work on them, they may not even buy into the importance of the work. Whereas if you use a collaborative approach, a coaching approach, you go to the employee and say, hey, here's the task, I think you'd be great at this because of your experience in x, y, and z, and what do you think we should do to get this done? What do you think the plan should be? What should the work plan be?
And really listen to the employee. Show them that you value their ideas and their input. When you can coach that way, in a focused way, typically the employee is going to be more bought in, right? They're going to-- because they're going to feel that you respect their capability and their opinion, and you're typically going to get more motivation from them and get their best work.
Same thing would be if you were correcting a performance deficit. If you did it the directive way, you could tell the employee, hey, that report you turned in, as an example, that wasn't your best work and I need you to take it back and do another draft, I need to see your best work, where the employer might come away feeling like, wow, I thought I did a good job there, and feel kind of demotivated, right? I mean, they'll go back and fix it because they have to, but they may not be very motivated.
Versus having a collaborative conversation where you say to the employee, hey, I noticed that the monthly report you turned in wasn't as comprehensive as you normally turn in. Can I ask why? And let's say the employee says something along the lines of, I just had a really busy month this month, I had a lot on my plate, and I just don't have as much time to be as detailed as usual. I apologize.
And then for you to say as the supervisor, OK, I understand that. I mean, there's months when I'm kind of jammed, too, so don't feel bad about that, but I really do need this report to be more comprehensive. If I could give you a little extra time, what could you do to go back and maybe beef it up a little bit? And to let the employee come up with the ideas for what they could do to make the report more comprehensive. Typically, then, the employee is going to take more ownership to go back and do a better quality job on that work.
And so I want us to think about that. I want us to-- if you're someone that tends to be directive, you're someone that is very bottom line-oriented, tends to just tell people what to do and how to do it, tends to be the person that's always telling people how to fix the problems, tends to be the person that's always correcting the performance deficits, you're kind of directing traffic-- and I was very much that 20 years ago, just remember that employees typically don't receive that kind of management as inspiring.
They can almost-- sometimes they'll feel, especially if it's particularly directive, they may even feel like they're being micromanaged, and so you typically won't have employees coming away from those interactions with us feeling motivated to do their best work. So if we could take a step back, slow down a little bit, have more collaborative conversations with our employees, and get their input about how the work should be done, how the problems should be solved, how the performance issues should be resolved or corrected, you're going to find employees feeling more respected and more bought in and typically more motivated to do their best work.
All right, last but not least, let's talk about managing our stress and emotions. And so I've come to realize after all these years, right? 26-some odd years of leading people, I've come to realize that task management should not be my priority. Yes, getting tasks accomplished is still very much important, right? Because a supervisor is responsible for the productivity of the team. But how we get productivity is the key.
If I'm task-oriented and I'm not interacting with people in positive ways where I'm not taking time with them, I'm not bonding with them, I'm not letting them know through spending time with them and through showing an interest in their ideas that I care about or respect them that much, I'm not going to typically get their best work like we've been talking about throughout this whole session today.
Where if I slow down a little bit-- and to do that, you've got to keep your stress level under control. If you're the kind of a supervisor that I was 20 years ago that's running around all day long in a hurry-- and that was an issue with me, is I wasn't pacing myself real well, I wasn't managing my stress real well, and as a result, when I would interact with people, I would be impatient, I wouldn't be-- I wouldn't listen as well, sometimes I'd just be in a hurry to get on to the next thing. As a result, I wasn't having quality interactions with staff. They were coming away from conversations with me not feeling respected, not feeling cared about.
And remember, it's the quality of the interactions you have with your staff. The research is overwhelming nowadays. That leaders that are great communicators, that are patient, that are caring, that give people input, that show respect for their ideas, those are the folks that have the motivated, highly productive teams. And so if you're someone who's stressed out-- and most managers have a fair amount of stress, right? You've got to slow down a little bit, manage your stress, and see the interactions you have with your staff as really important investments into their motivation, into the culture of the team, and ultimately into the productivity that they and the team will accomplish.
All right, I know we covered a lot in a very short period of time today, folks. If we could please-- if you have any questions today, if you could please type them into the question box in the GoToWebinar software on the upper right-hand corner of your screen, we've got time to do many questions today.
Again, if you have any questions today, if you could type them into the question box in the GoToWebinar software at the upper right-hand corner of your screen. OK, got our first question, and this is a great question. All right, how do you manage your stress? That's a great question. I truly believe, because every single manager in the world, right? Every supervisor, every manager is a busy person. It comes with the territory. I mean, even if you only have one direct report, you still have a lot on your plate, right? You have to get all your work done and make sure that the people that are reporting to you get all their work done. It's busy.
And so stress management becomes important, and I didn't do a good job of that earlier in my career. And so my first management job, I had a handful of direct reports, and all of a sudden I had this long to-do list, and I was overwhelmed. And so I was ending up being-- I didn't even think about stress management, I just went through days as quickly as I could trying to get through as many tasks as possible, which really predisposed me to being more of a task manager.
And when I finally got some better training I realized, wait a minute, I have to manage my stress so that I can patiently have good kind quality conversations with my team members when they need my help or when I'm working with them, when I'm interacting with them, and I realized-- so a couple of things you have to do. Number one, I try to make sure I take some breaks every day. I used to work 10 hours straight through every day back in the day because I thought that was my only way I could survive because it was just too much on my plate. I've come to realize now that you really have to take some breaks. You've got to take your lunch if you can. I mean, if you're on a deadline, you might have to work through lunch, I get that, but we need to take our lunch breaks, we need to take some breaks during the day.
A lot of times I'll slow down a little bit just to go and chat with someone, so I'll kill two birds with one stone. I'll de-stress a little by going to have a follow-up conversation with someone. Hey, how was your weekend? And I'll leave and integrate some of those bonding conversations as part of my stress management. So get a chance to unplug from the work that we're doing just to kind of visit with a colleague.
Again, I don't do that more than five minutes or so, give or take. Five or 10 minutes maybe, and I do a couple of those a day. And I try to make sure I do a couple of those everyday now just to stay connected to my folks. I mean, I want them to know that I care about them, I want to stay bonded with them. I want to make sure that our culture is positive, that they feel cared for and cared about. I want them to know I have their back and that I'm interested in them, and that I respect their capabilities. And you can only accomplish that by having those conversations.
But it's really important, knowing that all managers are busy, that you make sure you're keeping your general stress level under control so that when you have those conversations with people, you can be patient with them, you can use your good listening skills, and you can be there for those folks. Good question, folks.
Someone is saying-- someone was also asking if they can get a copy of this presentation. By all means. If you want to get a copy of this presentation, just hit Reply to the GoToWebinar invitation for today and request a copy, we'd be happy to send it to you. All right, next question. Let's see. How are you able to change? That's a good question. Because I really did go from a highly directive communicator to more of a collaborative communicator. And it wasn't easy. It took me several years.
So basically I got training, like the session that you're a part of today. So I just made it a point to get more training, to learn how to be a better communicator. That was very helpful. I learned some new skills. But I also made it a priority-- for me, because my priority 20 years ago, as I mentioned, was getting tasks accomplished-- so I thought my goal was to get through as many things a day as I could. And so therefore, when I'd interact with people, I'd be as brief as possible, get to the bottom line, move on to the next thing, thinking I was being efficient. But what I didn't know at the time was, I was actually-- those brief and effective connections or conversations with people actually were frustrating to people. It made them feel like I didn't care about them, that the only thing I cared about was what they would do for me, what work they could accomplish.
And when I came to realize that bonding and spending quality time with people is important, I slowed down a little bit. So now my priority every day is-- and so it starts with priorities, is to have as many effective conversations as I can. I want everyone coming away from talking with me to feel respected, cared about, and supported. And so you can only get that across if you slow down and have good conversations with people.
And along the lines, the technical piece that I had to do to change was I had to realize that I was talking at people and not asking enough questions. And so at one point, I actually put a yellow sticky on my computer to say don't tell, ask. I really had to practice asking questions. Nowadays I'm a better collaborator because I've become much more skilled and much more practiced at asking people for their input. Almost every conversation I go into, I'm asking, what do you think about this? What are your thoughts? What do you think we should do here? And I had to learn to do that. And I had to break the old habits of always telling people what to do. Now I ask, what do you think we should do? And that's really made a difference, and it's made me a more collaborative communicator.
All right, let's see. Here's a good one. This is a good point, and this is-- one of your colleagues is making a good point here, and this individual's saying, I believe that overreacting on occasion to to stress or emotions as a leader I believe is OK, we are all human. And I totally agree, and I'm not suggesting that we try to be perfect.
And so certainly I still overreact sometimes emotionally, absolutely. And then I still get defensive every once in a while because my emotions are out of control. And so you're right, we're all human. I'm not saying that we have to be perfect, not at all. I guess what I'm suggesting is, if you're someone that just wears their emotions on their sleeve and doesn't manage their emotions very well, there was interesting study that said on a scale of 1 to 100, that the top leadership skill was emotional intelligence, and that was rated at 84%, so it was number one on successful leadership skills.
And basically what they're saying was someone who's got emotional intelligence, someone that is sensitive to what they feel and can somewhat manage what they feel-- not perfectly, because we're all human, we're all going to get overreact sometimes, but like you said. But that someone who has a high degree of emotional intelligence just recognizes the importance of when they're upset, for example, maybe taking a step back and calming themselves down before they have a conversation would be an example of emotional-- emotionally-intelligent response. Where early in my career, oftentimes if I was mad or upset, I just run into the conversation and my emotions would run away with me and I wouldn't be as effective.
Nowadays if I'm upset or I'm angry, I try to, and it doesn't always work, because again, I'm human, but I try to take a pause and breathe a little bit and calm myself down before I go have that conversation so I can be effective and not have my emotions spill over into that conversation. But you made a very good point, thank you.
All right, next question is, what are some books you recommend for new leaders? That's great. I do recommend First, Break All the Rules. I'm going to give you two books. First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, I mentioned this earlier. So I'll say it again, it's First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. It's a very good book.
And then my favorite leadership book nowadays, whether you're a new leader or someone who's been a leader for a long time, is The Leadership Challenge. That book, again, is The Leadership Challenge, it's written by Kouzes and Posner. Again, that book is The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner, it's a great book. It really talks about best practices in leadership behavior.
All right, let's see. Beyond checking in with staff, do you use any other methods to bond and connect with staff? That's a great question. That's a really good question. By all means, one-on-one meetings is the best practice, folks. Really, I mean-- and when I'm talking about one-on-one meetings, is if you have a big team, you might not be able to do it every week, but one-on-one meetings would be dedicated time where you and each team member can get together and you spend a few minutes just focusing on that person.
I spend the first few minutes when I do my weekly one-on-one-- I've got a small team now, I've got three, so I can do it once a week. If you've got a bigger team, maybe only do it every other week or once a month. But having one-on-one conversations where the first part of the meeting is catching up with that person-- because we're all busy, right? Is, hey, how's it going? We haven't-- I haven't talked to you much the last few days. How are things? How are things going? How's your family? Or how's anything else that's going on in that person's life that you know about? Just catching up with them.
My colleague and I on Friday spent a little bit of time-- she likes football, I like football, so we talked about the Super Bowl a little bit for about two or three minutes and it was fun. So it gives you a chance to bond again, and the one-on-one meetings are a great kind of a structured opportunity to stay connected. So even if you are busy and they're busy and you don't really see each other much for a week or two, if you have those one-on-one meetings scheduled, you're still going to have an opportunity to catch up and work on the bonding, make sure you're on the same page priority-wise, and those kinds of things. So that's a good way to strengthen the bonds.
All right, folks, I've got time for two more questions. Let's see. Let's see. Here's a good question. How do you help employees who are stressed out? That's a really, really good question, because-- and we'll all have people like that. We'll all-- so first and foremost, I think modeling is important. So if we can stay calm when we're with our team-- again, we're human, so you're not always going to stay calm, but if we can model taking lunch breaks, model not overdoing it, model not running around like a chicken with their heads cut off, try to you know let people know-- and if you've got someone who's kind of high strung and-- and we all know, some folks or more apt to get stressed out than others.
But to be able to be that calming influence to say to that person, I can tell you seem kind of stressed, is everything OK? To pull them over say-- pull them aside and say, is there anything I can do to help? And you can actually-- you can coach-- or you can encourage people to-- like I had a situation with a direct report today where something I thought was relatively minor happened, they thought it was the end of the world, and I'm being respectful because-- just because I don't think it's a big deal, if the other person thinks it's a big deal, you have to respect that, right?
But because-- I said of that person, I said, I can tell you're upset about this, but I want to let you know that we can get through this together. It's going to be OK. So reassurance is helpful, we can get through this together. I mean, if I can-- is there any additional support I can provide for you? But sometimes it's just being that calming influence to say, you know what? This, too, shall pass, we'll get through this. And even if there's not an easy fix, to say to the employee, I promise I'll support you through this. I know what you're dealing with is very difficult, and I don't blame you for being upset, but I just want you to know that I'm here for you and we'll get through this together. We're going to make it, it's going to be OK.
And it's interesting. In The Leadership Challenge, one of the things that it talks about is that people want leaders to inspire them. And what they meant by that was leaders-- people want leaders people they report to that can encourage them that tomorrow will be better than today, that we'll get through whatever problems are going on right now.
So when you get people real upset, when you can give them that reassurance that I'm with you, we'll get through this together, I know this is hard, but we'll get through this together and there's light at the end of the tunnel. And so as you can do that, that can often help someone who is prone to getting easily stressed out to calm down a little bit and then feel more supported. Great question. All right, time for one more question, folks. Thank you all for-- almost everybody stayed on til the end, we had a big turnout today. Let's see.
Actually, I want to share something one your colleagues was saying, which is awesome. So one of our colleagues is saying, a friend gave me a dangly bracelet to wear to remind me to listen to people, listen to the ding of the bracelet, and listen to people. You don't always have to say something for-- I think that's awesome. That's your version of what-- I had to-- if you're someone that tends to talk a lot, right? And tends to be directive, like I was-- and part of it's my personality and part of it-- that was a habit I had gotten into, is that I had to put a yellow sticky on my computer that reminded me to stop and ask questions.
And this individual, your colleague here with the awesome example is saying, they wear a bracelet that reminds them to ask questions, and so to not just do all the talking. I think that's wonderful. So I think it's really, really important, folks, that we remind ourselves to ask questions and to-- because that is-- that's the best way to have a collaborative conversation is to ask people a question or to ask for input.
All right, folks, I apologize that we don't have more time today. Thank you so much for staying on towards the end. So I want to remind you that this is a quarterly webinar series again in 2020. Our next session is How to Become an Effective Manager. That's going to be on April 27. If you need the information about how to register for that session, when you hit Reply to your GoToWebinar invitation for today, just ask for the registration information for the upcoming sessions in the series, we'd be happy to send them to you.
So again, folks, thank you so much for your time today and the thoughtful questions. Hope you have a great rest of the day today and I look forward to being with you on a future webinar. Take care, thank you so much.