Hello, everyone. Welcome to Building a Culture of Respect-- The Keys to Creating a Collaborative and Engaged Work Team. I'm Greg Brannan from Deer Oaks EAP Services. Glad to be with you today. This is the fourth topic in our 2021 Deer Oaks Supervisor Excellence webinar series that was subtitled Supporting Your Team During Difficult Times. So we've got a pretty good attendance this afternoon. So thank you all for joining us.
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So folks, again, this is the fourth topic in the 2021 Supervisor Excellence webinar series. We've been doing this series now for, I believe-- I think this is our eighth or ninth year. And we will be running it again in 2022, of course.
Just to remind you of the different topics, during this year's series back in February, we started with How to Effectively Supervise a Remote Work Team. That was followed by, in May, we did How to Help Your Staff Cope With Change and Uncertainty. We came back in August with Helping Your Team Find Work-Life Balance During Stressful Times. And of course, today we're going to be talking about building a culture of respect.
If you are interested in getting the recordings of any of the previous sessions, all you have to do is hit Reply to your GoToWebinar-- or excuse me, hit Reply to your GoToWebinar invitation or reminder for today. And just ask our staff when you hit Reply that I would like to have the recording links from a previous program. Again, those three previous programs were How to Effectively Supervise a Remote Work Team, How to Help Your Staff Cope With Change and Uncertainty, and Helping Your Team Find Work-Life Balance During Stressful Times.
All right, folks. So let's move forward with today's presentation. I've got four objectives for our time together today. Number one is I want to help us all to better understand our unique position as supervisors and managers or whatever your leadership role is with your organization to be a positive influence on your organization and on your department's culture.
And I've talked to a lot of supervisors over the years that work for larger organizations. And sometimes they've expressed a little bit of frustration that they felt like they didn't have a large enough span of control to really have an influence on the greater organization's culture or workplace environment. And although that can be true when you're working for a large organization, as supervisors or whatever your leadership position is, we can have a lot of influence on the subcultures that we're responsible for-- your team, your department, your greater department that your team is a part of, if you're part of a project team where you're working on a project with a group of employees.
I just want us to recognize that-- it's funny. Gallup, the polling company, does so much research about employee engagement. Some of you might be familiar with it. They've really identified that some of the drivers of employee engagement-- really, some of the primary drivers-- have to do with an individual supervisor or leadership's relationship with the folks that they have influence over, whether it be their direct reports or folks that are working with them in a department.
So I want us to really come away today with a little bit more of a strong feeling that, hey, I can make a difference, maybe not in my entire organization's culture. But I can certainly make a difference in my department, within my work team. And really, according to Gallup, supervisor influence is one of the primary drivers of improving culture and increasing engagement of staff.
I also want to talk about the barriers that inhibit the development of a positive culture within our teams. There are certain circumstances, as we all know, that can create more of a negative culture. And so I want to talk about the barriers and how we can approach those.
Next, I want to talk about how can we-- again, as leaders, how can we practice more regularly? And how can we model the attitudes and interpersonal skills that can truly improve employee motivation, can improve culture, can improve team morale? And then last but not least, I want to talk about strategies for encouraging more effective teammate-- excuse me, strategies for encouraging more effective teamwork within your department, within your team, and also within the greater organization.
All right. Let's start by talking about the paradigm shift that has to take place for culture to start to change. There was a really interesting article when American Airlines and US Air-- when they had merged several years ago. It was an interesting article from leadership talking about that organization wanting to-- as those two giant airlines became one large organization, talking about how to start to change the culture, how to start to create a new culture with that combined organization.
And I want to share some perspective here. When you start thinking about, I need to change my culture. I need to improve my workplace environment, supervisors, obviously, as I talked about a moment ago, can have a lot of influence over that. But the supervisors have to have a really good leadership approach and able to maximize their positive influence on improving culture.
And part of that is their approach to leading the team day-to-day. If supervisors tend to be really directive and maybe even overly controlling or take a micromanagement approach, that approach to leadership or the day-to-day supervision and management actually can inhibit the culture from becoming more positive, more collaborative, more motivating. And so I want us to recognize we have to shift our management approach.
So if you tend to be kind of directive in your approach-- and this was one of the struggles that I had early in my leadership career. I've been managing people now for over 25 years. But early in my career, I was pretty directive. When I would assign work, I'd tell people what to do and how to do it. When there were problems, I was the one always suggesting how to correct the issue or fix the problem. If an employee's performance was subpar, I was the one always recommending the performance improvement plan.
What I came to find out, though, is that one of the best ways supervisors can influence employee motivation and help to create an environment where employees feel really supported and respected is to be less directive and more collaborative and more supportive. And so we're going to talk today about how we as supervisors can-- by just making sure that our leadership approach or our management approach day-to-day is less directive, less controlling, and more supportive and collaborative and what a difference that can make in the overall culture of our team environment. And so that's the paradigm shift that I want to suggest supervisors consider.
For staff, obviously, when staff members are very self-focused-- and I know we've all worked on work teams where people seem to be-- they don't feel-- they're not very bonded, where everyone seems to be doing their own thing. And people are focusing on their own agenda.
For the staff of a team to start making an impact on improving the quality of the environment and improving the positivity of the culture and making the workplace just more welcoming, more inclusive, more supportive, staff really has to go from, I'm just here to do my own thing, to, I'm here to be a part of something, to be part of a work family, to contribute to the organization or the department's mission. And so when that happens, when staff members really make a commitment to bonding and to supporting each other and to working together more effectively, the staff can help to improve the environment, improve the culture as well.
All right. Let me spend a couple of moments talking about barriers to a more respectful culture. And I know most of you probably have worked on multiple work teams over the years, right? And so we've all had experiences and exposure to different cultural-- different workplace environments, different workplace cultures.
And so sometimes you've probably worked in environments where stress levels were high. Or you've worked in environments where a lot of the individual employees on that particular team were kind of negative. There's been other situations where we've worked on teams where people didn't get along very well. They didn't have great interpersonal skills.
And then other times, there's low engagement. People just are not committed to the team's vision, to the team's goals. And people aren't giving 100%. They're just not as motivated as they could be day-to-day. So I'm going to talk about those areas, folks, because they can be addressed just by intentional leadership.
And so one barrier, of course, to a respectful workplace culture is when people are negative or when people have a lot of emotional baggage. And after working in an organization that has long-term tenure, that can be challenging along those lines as well because then you can have people that have been in that organization for many, many years. And people can end up, over time, starting to resent, starting to have some emotional baggage, like maybe some jealousy, feeling like they're not getting the same opportunities that other people are, or resentful about the way they've been treated over time by certain individuals.
I just want us to recognize that if you're in an environment right now where there's a lot of negative attitudes, where people are maybe self-focused or they complain a lot, that they get real negative, obviously, working in an environment like that, that can really hurt the energy. It can hurt the vibe. It can hurt the environment.
Negativity, especially if you have a handful of negative people on a team-- I know we've all been on teams like that at one time or another, probably. It can pull people down around them. And it can really damage the overall environment and the overall culture to the point where people-- they don't get excited about coming to work every day.
What I want to point out as we get into some solutions here at the end that a positive supervisor, a supervisor that comes to work every day with a smile on their face, shows a lot of support and concern and care for people, interacts in a very positive way with folks, can have a significant impact on reducing the amount of negativity within a team or within a workplace environment. We'll talk more about that here in a moment. But that's one barrier that I know some of us have seen from time to time.
And sort of a concurrent barrier when there's a lot of negativity is, again, emotional baggage. So you might have people that are dealing with a lot of anxiety or fear.
There have been some workplace environments that probably some of us have worked for in the past where maybe the direction from the top wasn't as positive as we wanted it to be. Or there's just been maybe a lot of competitiveness or, again, some jealousies that are there. Or people have gotten angry. Maybe there have been a lot of stressful circumstances, a lot of big changes. And people have gotten really angry and resentful over time.
And so, again, when there is a lot of negativity and a lot of strong emotional-- or a lot of negative emotions that people are expressing or feeling as a result of how things have gone over years and over the time, that, again, can get in the way as well. We'll talk more about some ways to mitigate that here in a moment.
Now, of course, high levels of stress-- and we are, folks, obviously, in this pandemic. We're in one of the more stressful times in American history. I think most of us know that. Gallup, the polling company, again, came out with a survey earlier this summer that basically said 2020 was the most stressful year in history.
And obviously, we were already in a pretty stressful society right before the pandemic started in early 2020. And now the pandemic, with all the change, all the changes we've all had to adjust to, both in our personal and professional lives-- there's just been so much and all the things we've had to do to keep ourselves and our families safe. And as we've been dealing with all of those things-- or if it's not pandemic-related, just talking about a lot of change happening in workplace environments.
You can have workplace environments where people-- I've talked to a lot of people during the course of the pandemic who've talked about having to pick up extra responsibilities just because the staffing has not been the same throughout the pandemic as it was before the pandemic. And so they've been exhausted by just having too much on their plate. Still other folks have complained about not having enough work-life balance as they're trying to stay on top of their work responsibilities.
So if your environment has high levels of stress for a long period of time, it makes it harder for people. The World Health Organization talks about chronic workplace stress over a long period of time that's not managed well can lead to burnout. And high levels of stress over a long period of time can also get in the way of people getting along well together.
When people are stressed, it's harder to use our best interpersonal skills, to patiently listen to one another, to be kinder and more courteous to each other. And so, again, high levels of stress-- if we don't manage them well from a leadership standpoint or manage the stress level well within our teams, that can lead to or can be a barrier to having a positive and respectful workplace culture.
Also, as I mentioned a moment ago, if your team does not particularly get along well, sometimes it can be just because of competing priorities or high stress levels. But other times, it can be because folks just don't have great interpersonal skills. And sometimes I think there's the assumption that because we're all adults in the workplace, typically, sometimes there's the assumption, if we're adults, we'll all have good interpersonal skills. I think most of us recognize that that's not necessarily true.
Some individuals, even though they may have a lot of experience and have a good technical skills or be good at the technical part of their job, they don't seem to have the ability to listen well to others, to be respectful as they interact, to use good interpersonal approaches. And so I'm going to talk a little bit more about that later.
But again, an effective leader who can coach team members about being respectful to one another and using good interpersonal skills, being patient with one another, minimize blaming and being highly critical of each other-- they can help. Those leaders can help teams that don't seem to be getting along well start to get along better and start to improve the overall culture of that environment.
And then last but not least, if the staff's not empowered and engaged, again, a supervisor has a lot of impact over that. One study from the Carnegie Training company said that a caring supervisor that's really connected to their team is the number one driver of employee engagement.
And so if a team is not engaged, the supervisor, just by spending a little bit more intentional time bonding with the individual team members and doing more team building, bonding the team together-- and we'll talk more about that here in a minute. They can go a long way towards improving the engagement level of the team, which, again, an engaged team tends to create an energized workplace environment that people are motivated to be a part of.
All right. I'm going to share-- for some of the skill development piece of today, I want to share four different steps that any of us could practice as leaders. And I know a lot of you are already doing some of these things, if not most of these things. And so for some of you, this will serve as a reminder. For others, hopefully you'll pick up maybe another thing or two that you can add to your toolkit as you continue to try to work towards maximizing the effectiveness of your workplace environment or your team environment.
But step one really is to empower and engage the team. And so one of the drivers of that, again, is your relationship with the employee. So make sure that you as the leader-- make sure you're regularly communicating consistently with each individual employee and the team as a whole.
Kevin Kruse-- and Kruse is spelled K-R-U-S-E-- wrote a book called Emotional Intelligence 2.0. And I thought it was great. What I loved about that book-- I'm trying to think of the-- yeah, I'm looking at the exact title of the book. But yeah, what he was talking about basically-- oh, I'm sorry. Forgive me. That's what I missed on. I'm crossing two different books.
So Kevin Kruse wrote the book Employee Engagement 2.0. Let me say that again, folks. It's an important distinction, obviously. So Kevin Kruse, K-R-U-S-E, wrote the book Employee Engagement 2.0.
And what he talked about was a consistent communications rhythm with the team is crucial to keeping people connected, bonded, and working well together. And when that happens, people are more likely to get engaged, which means, again, to give their best effort, to want to be want to be a part of the team, helping the organization and the department and the team achieve its goals, and wanting to be there every day, wanting to give 100%.
And so he really talked about the importance of having regular team meetings. Some teams don't have regular meetings. And I know employees oftentimes complain about too many meetings. But having at least one meeting on a consistent basis with a team, whether it be weekly, biweekly, or monthly-- Kevin Kruse talks about that's really important for team bonding, for the team to have a unity together. Because if the team's not meeting together as a whole, at least periodically, a lot of people-- the tendency with human beings-- I think we all know this-- is to do our own thing.
And so, sure, individual cliques will form. Individual team members within every team will bond together a little bit based on commonalities. But you want the entire team-- so if there's seven people on a team, you want all seven people to feel part of something. That's the ideal. There's a lot of research that's very conclusive that says that when teams are bonded together and they care about each other-- and it doesn't just happen. It really takes good leadership effort to make that happen. When that happens, teams are markedly more productive.
The Leadership Challenge book cited one study that said teams that care about each other as individuals that see themselves belonging to a work family and really care about each other as people-- that they are as much as 70% more productive than teams that just see their coworkers as colleagues. But they don't really relate to being part of something.
So I think it's really important that we make sure that we're connecting the team as a whole regularly and then you're meeting regularly with each individual. I do one-on-one meetings once a week with my team at Deer Oaks. I'm a supervisor at Deer Oaks.
And the reason I do that is there's a lot of evidence that shows that when individuals have regular standing meetings with their supervisor, they bond more effectively. They're more likely to be on the same page. And they're more likely to feel cared about by their supervisor. And when that happens, they're, again, going to tend to be more motivated and engaged day-to-day.
And to enhance that, to empower and enhance the engagement of your team, you want to give team members as much input as possible on what you're doing as a team. So if you're assigning work, make sure that the people you're assigning work to have some input into how that work is going to be done. If you're setting goals for the team, make sure that you're giving people an opportunity to have some say in those goals. People support what they help to create.
If there's problems that need to be solved, rather than you as the supervisor just dictating what the solutions are, brainstorm with your teammates or with individual employees and give them input. People support what they help to create, again. And so do whatever you can to have good, collaborative conversations with your staff on a day-to-day basis. Give the staff as much input as possible. It's empowering.
And to follow on to that, the second step I want to talk about is really making sure that you're as collaborative and courteous in the way you communicate with your individual employees and with the team as a whole as possible. It's funny. Gallup, in one of the reports that came out when they first did some very significant employee engagement research, they talked to over a million American employees, all industries, public and private.
And what they found was that the number one influencer of how long an employee stayed in an organization and how productive they were while they were there was their relationship with their direct boss, if their direct supervisor is someone that they really enjoy working with, that they feel respected by. And respect, oftentimes, between supervisors and employees is created by how they communicate.
So for example, again, if a supervisor is too directive, like I mentioned earlier in the presentation today, and when they assign work is always telling the employee what to do and how to do it instead of giving the employee input into developing that work plan. Or they're always looking over people's shoulders and double-checking all of their work. And they're always dictating, again, the performance improvement plans and how to deal with issues rather than showing respect for employees' ideas, giving them input, asking for their advice, employees are going to be less likely to be motivated and engaged in the work that they do.
And so to be a collaborative communicator as most of you work, it's about asking more and telling less. That was one of the big changes I had to make in my management style and my communication style over the years. Early on, I was way too directive. I was telling people what to do and how to do it too much. Again, I was talking too much.
And I got better training. And through trial and error, I've learned how to be more collaborative in my communication. And so, for example, when I'm assigning work now, I try to talk with the employee. Instead of telling the employee what I think they need to do and how they need to do it, I brainstorm with them. I'll say, here's the scope of the project. And I think you'd be great at this.
And then I'll ask them some questions like, what do you think we should do to get this thing done? What's been your experience with these kinds of projects in the past? How do you think we ought to approach this? And I can always tell the more I give people input and ask for their ideas, the more motivated they seem to be in following up and doing the work.
And that's a coaching skill. And think about coaching. We've all heard that term many, many times, right? If you want to kind of boil it down, coaching is a collaborative conversation with an employee focused on a targeted issue or a targeted goal.
For example, if you're assigning work and you're doing it in a coaching way, you're working with the employee to come up with the best possible work plan or project plan. If you're correcting employee performance, coaching is collaborating with the employee and giving the employee input into how that performance is going to be improved. So try to be as collaborative as you can. Employees respond really well to collaboration, much better than to being directed and told what to do.
Also, let's not forget common courtesy. I have witnessed over the years so many supervisors either talking at people-- and I've done a fair amount of this at times myself, too. And so I'm trying to remember that I've made those same mistakes many, many times. But I've witnessed a lot of supervisors talking at people or talking down to employees.
It's almost as if they feel like they're wearing the boss's hat. And they feel like they're higher up in the food chain and that they can just kind of talk down or walk up to someone and just start talking because of their position and instead of taking the time to be courteous. We wouldn't walk up to someone on the street we've never met before and just start talking at them. We typically would be courteous. Excuse me, ma'am. Excuse me, sir. And be courteous to start the conversation.
But I've just witnessed-- and again, made this mistake myself way too many times. But I've just witnessed a lot of people in the workplace, a lot of supervisors not using enough common courtesy with employees. Employees, again, want to be treated respectfully. They want to feel like they're valued.
I'll never forget talking to a county employee in a local county saying that one of the reasons she's this motivated to work for that organization and has been there over 20 years-- she said that the county administrator, as busy as she is, she always walks up to her and says, hey, I need your help. Do you have a minute? Is this a good time to talk?
And she said that here's a very powerful, very important person in her organization. But she always takes the time to treat her with respect. And she says, I'll do anything for this lady. So let's remember not to forget our common courtesy. And it's easy to forget it sometimes when we're stressed or when we're in a hurry.
The next step I want to talk about is encouraging better teamwork. And so, again, make sure you're creating opportunities for your team to bond. As I mentioned with the research earlier, it's really worth our while to do team building, to be intentional about team building. Now, team building-- to me, the best team-building exercise is regular team meetings where you facilitate people getting to each other better.
And so, for example, every Tuesday night, my team and I meet. And we try to keep it to 30 to 45 minutes. And it's a small team. There's just four of us. But I look for opportunities to do team bonding.
We do icebreakers at the beginning of many of our meetings. We take turns leading different icebreakers. One time we went around the virtual room. And we were talking about what's the best concert you've ever been to and why. And we all had some laughs as we got to each other's musical preferences. Other times, we get creative and talk about, if I were to come back as an animal, what animal would I be and why? And we'd laugh and get to each other.
But part of the bonding for teams has to be getting to each other, giving people an opportunity to get to each other as people. Because the more people bond together and start to care about each other and encourage people to work together on projects so that people-- so the people feel more comfortable with each other.
I got to tell you, after doing these meetings together with our team at Deer Oaks now over the years, we haven't had any turnover in the last five years. People seem to genuinely care for each other. And our team meetings run long. And the reason they do is because the team's so engaged with each other. I'm doing a lot less talking nowadays during those meetings and just listening. And I enjoy seeing how everybody wants to work together and wants to be together and spend time together.
So try to create an environment where people-- and you can start that through icebreakers in regular team meetings. And of course, you're going to have a business agenda in your team meetings as well. But you can also talk to people about how they like to be communicated with. I like to have a conversation with everyone to go around the virtual room and say, what's the best way to communicate with you? What time of day? What mode of communication do you like?
Other times, I like doing a "creating a culture of respect" conversation, like what we're talking about today, where I say, I want to make sure that this culture or this environment here within our team is the most respectful possible, and go around the room. Give everybody an opportunity to say, how should we treat each other every day that would make you feel respected? Great conversations.
And as a facilitator, as the person in leadership facilitates those conversations, people will be more mindful to treat each other better and more respectfully interpersonally. They'll get to know each other, become more comfortable with each other. And over time, they'll bond better together.
All right. Last but not least, of course, we want to be a positive leader. Let's remember, folks, that more than anything else-- I have to remember this-- is that we set the tone. Every leader sets the tone for their team, just like children look up to their parents. The parents set the tone.
If mom or dad comes home from work and they're not in a good place and they're stressed or they're negative, you can see the energy sucked out of the room. And you can see that the children start to respond to that, either going off into their rooms and staying away or walking on eggshells, because there's a lot of tension in the room. And it's the same thing in a workplace environment.
When a supervisor comes in and they're not smiling, they're not friendly, and maybe they're just too direct and too intense, again, that can cause people to feel uncomfortable. And it can create more tension in the environment. We want to remember, folks, that if you're in a leadership role, it comes with the territory to set a positive tone.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from a longtime supervisor in a municipality that I got to know. And she said that she came to realize that every time she walked into city hall that recognizing that she's a human being-- so sometimes she has bad days. Sometimes she's got personal problems, like we all do-- that when she walked into city hall, she would touch the Welcome to City Hall plate on the door.
And she would envision herself checking her baggage at the door. And then she would go in, put a smile on her face, and say to herself in her mind, it's showtime. And I love that. That really got my attention. I thought that was a very profound way to look at our responsibility as leaders.
Even though we are human, we're going to have good days. We're going to be stressed some days. We're going to have emotions to deal with some days and personal problems hanging over our heads some days. But we still have a responsibility every day we walk into the workplace.
When you're in a supervisory role, we still have a responsibility to set a positive tone. So make sure you're setting a positive tone. And then when you are communicating with employees, be as optimistic as you can.
The Leadership Challenge also had a-- that's a great book, by the way, The Leadership Challenge, if anyone's interested in a good leadership book this year. It's called, again, The Leadership Challenge. It's written by Kouzes and Posner. It's a good evidence-based book with a lot of leadership tips that are research-based. It's really excellent. And it's very practical.
And they were talking about, in that book, what employees want-- even over the last 40 years, what employees want is still the same. As the generations have changed, one of the core things every employee wants from their leader is to be inspired. They want to know that we're going to get past whatever's bogging us down right now or whatever problems we're currently faced with. And just hang in there. We'll get past this.
And even if we have to learn how to-- if it's not going to go away and we have to-- if circumstances are going to be with us now moving forward, we'll be able to deal with it effectively together. Then I'm here for you. So let's make sure we're doing the best we can to stay as positive as possible and to communicate positive messages. We're going to get through this together. I'm here for you.
All right, folks. I know we covered a lot in a very short period of time today. Let me open it up for questions. If you have any questions, please type your questions into the question box in the GoToWebinar software in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.
Your questions will be confidential. What I mean by that, folks, is I'm not going to be reading the names of anyone who asks the questions. I'll just be reading the questions aloud and then answering them for all of our benefit here today. So again, if you have any questions, please type your questions into the question box in the GoToWebinar software in the upper right-hand corner of our screen.
I'm scrolling down to see the questions coming in.
I hear some questions starting to come in now, folks. So first question is, what would be one recommendation to start engaging staff? That's a great question. I appreciate that. Thank you very much for that question. That's a good one.
And so I guess one of the first things I would say is make sure your relationship with each individual employee on your team is as strong as it can be. Again, I had mentioned earlier there's some research from the Carnegie Training company. And what they were talking about is that the relationship between the supervisor-- a caring relationship between a supervisor and an employee. If an employee feels cared about by their boss, by their supervisor, they are much more likely to be engaged. That's a driver of engagement.
If you're feeling like your team right now is not engaged as you'd like them to be, and you want to improve the engagement of the team, the first thing I would do is just make sure you're spending enough time with people. And make sure the quality of your relationship with each staff member is good and that the relationship is as strong as possible.
And obviously, by spending time with people-- that's why I'm a big advocate of one-on-one meetings, like I mentioned earlier. I do one-on-one meetings with my team once a week. Before we get down to business, we always talk about-- we always talk about what's going on in their world. And I'll follow up and ask people about things that they've talked about that were important to them in the past, how their family is, whatever.
As you get to your staff over time, you get to know about what's going on in their world. And you can ask follow-up questions each time you meet with them again. So I think that's one of the key ways to improve engagement-- is just to make sure that you're regularly meeting with every staff member, showing an interest in their lives, making sure that employee knows that you care about them as a person, as well as you care about the work that they're doing. Because when we do that, people are more likely to get engaged.
And then number two, make sure the quality of your conversations with people-- the quality of your interactions is as collaborative and positive and respectful as possible. Bob Nelson, another leadership guru that I really admire, he had a saying once that I really wanted to put up on the wall. And it basically said, an employee's motivation or engagement-- you can use "engagement" and "motivation" sometimes synonymously-- an employee's motivation is the end result of all of the different interactions they've had with their direct supervisor.
So when we as people's direct supervisor-- when our relationships with those individuals, with the people that we're managing and supervising-- when those relationships are great and when our day-to-day conversations are supportive. They're respectful. They're collaborative, where the employee feels cared about. They feel like they're being treated well interpersonally-- when that happens, people will naturally tend to be more motivated and engaged. That's a great question. Thank you.
I've got a few more questions coming in, folks. Thank you for your question.
Here's a good one. How do you suggest to approach employees who are being defensive because of how their previous supervisor treated them? All right. Let me read that again. How do you suggest to approach employees who are being defensive because of how their previous supervisor treated them? That's a great question.
So I'm, I guess, gleaning from that question that you're probably new to that team. So you came in as a newer supervisor to a team that was already in place. And they had a previous supervisor. And you're trying to build a good relationship with those staff members now that you're responsible for leading.
And some of those staff members are acting kind of defensive towards you because they maybe weren't led effectively by the previous supervisor. And so they're maybe kind of nervous about how you're going to lead them. And so they're acting defensive.
And I think that's human nature. If you've had a bad experience with a supervisor in the past, especially in the immediate past, you may be a little bit anxious about your relationship with your next supervisor or your future supervisors. And so one of the ways we can help employees get more comfortable with us and help them to get over that negative experience they had with the previous supervisor is to just spend a lot of time with them.
And so, again, those one-on-one meetings are so key to spend time with employees. Make sure that employee knows week in, week out. And if you've got a big team, maybe you can't do one-on-one meetings every week. Maybe you do them every other week, biweekly. But when you have those meetings with your team, with those individual employees, make sure that you're really spending time bonding. That's crucial.
And I think we all know. We've all worked for supervisors in the past that were not very supportive, that might have been a micromanager or maybe were hard to work for, were difficult to work for. We probably all had that experience.
And so, again, if you're a supervisor coming and taking over a team that had a negative experience with their previous supervisor, again, they may be a little nervous that working for you might not be easy either. And so you can help them get over the negative experience with the former supervisor just by spending a lot of quality time with them, getting to know them, making sure that they know that you care about them as people, making sure that they know that you're there for them, that you're a supportive supervisor, making sure that your day-to-day conversations with them are caring and collaborative and respectful.
And over time, employees will start to let go of the baggage from the former supervisor and start to get comfortable and then start to get motivated working for you. Thank you. That's a great question. I've got several more questions that have come in.
Any strategies for promoting a positive morale within your team when upper management-- and I'm going to try to-- I'm going to paraphrase this question because I don't know the exact circumstance as the context of this question. But it's a good question to ask.
Remember I said earlier, I mentioned earlier at the very beginning of the presentation today that sometimes individual supervisors will feel like they don't have a whole lot of opportunity or a whole lot of influence over the greater culture of the greater organization. Let's say you're working for a municipality that has 1,000 employees or a company that has 1,000 employees. And you have a team of seven in your department.
So although you may not be able to have a direct influence on the greater culture of all 1,000 people-- and let's say some of the leadership above you in the organization maybe is not very supportive and maybe isn't doing a lot of what we're talking about today, isn't intentionally creating a more positive workplace culture and focusing on making sure that employees are empowered and motivated. And that's going to happen sometimes in some organizations.
But I want you to remember that even if the people above you in your organization are not doing some of what we're talking about today, you can still have an impact. Again, it's hard to move a greater culture. It's hard to get 1,000 people moving in the same direction. It can be done. And there's a lot of senior leaders that have great skills in this area.
But if you're in an organization where you feel like some of the folks above you are just not doing those kinds of things and you're feeling like-- you're feeling kind of frustrated maybe with the leadership that you're getting from them, you can still have a dramatic positive impact on the people that you're responsible for by doing the things that we talked about today. And really, subculture's where it's at. Again, it's like turning an ocean liner around to turn around an organization with 1,000 people. It takes a long time.
But if you've got a team of seven within that, you can-- by doing what we talked about today, a lot of what we talked about today, you can have a very positive impact for your team. You can insulate your team from some of the other things throughout the organization that might be happening that you don't feel like is supportive. And you can still create a very positive environment and a positive culture for your direct team.
Thank you for that. Thank you for that question. Time for a few more questions, folks.
Well, here's a great question. I was recently promoted to manager of an existing group. When I was a team member, I developed friendships with them. This is great. This is what I call going from buddy to boss. Now that I'm a manager, I've heard conflicting guidance related to the relationship with your staff, not necessarily be friends, but to form personal bonds with your employees. How do you balance this?
That's a great point. That's a really great point. And I asked that question specifically of a CEO, a very wise CEO that I worked for about 20 years ago. And I asked him specifically. I said, I want to have good relationships with my team, but I don't want to get too close.
You go to a lot of management training. And they talk about supervisors have to have professional boundaries. And we do. We do. And what I'm talking about today is we also have to have good relationships with employees. And so I'm really glad you asked. How do you balance that?
So this CEO gave me the best way to balance it. And I've been practicing it ever since. He said, you want to be friendly with everybody. He says, show them that you care. But you can't be best friends with the people that report directly to you because you need to maintain some objectivity in case you have to have hard conversations with them.
And so the balance that he taught me was being friendly means showing interest at work professionally. You'd be friendly within your work relationship. Show an interest in their lives. Be interested in what's important to them, whether it be their families, their hobbies, what's going on in their world, showing interest.
But don't become their best friend. Don't go to lunch with them every day would be an example of that. Don't go to their house for barbecues every weekend. That would be crossing the line from showing interest professionally in people that you're working with and being caring about who they are as people within that to all of a sudden hanging out with them at their houses every weekend. That would be crossing the line from the professional relationship to being their best friend.
That stayed with me throughout my career. It's been a very helpful guide. And so I do what I can to be friendly and helpful and supportive and show that I care. But I draw the line to make sure I just don't get too close.
And so I don't get overly involved in people's lives. I don't spend an over amount of social time with people outside of work because, again, that would be crossing the line to more of that personal friendship relationship. Thank you for that. That was a great question. Got time for a couple more questions.
Here's a really good one, folks. And all of these have been great. I just get excited about these questions. Any recommendations on how to reset slash reboot a program who's had high turnover to provide a positive culture as new people come in, as they learn from the senior people that the culture isn't positive, and the cycle just continues?
And I appreciate you asking that question. That's a very, very important question to ask. And so if you're on an existing team, and the culture is a certain way, let's say you're-- let's do a hypothetical. Let's say you're part of an existing team. And the culture of that team is kind of negative.
Let's say there's probably-- let's say it's a team of, again, seven people. And let's say three of the people on that team tend to be negative. They've been there for years. And they've got kind of a negative clique. And they're regularly putting down upper management and complaining all the time about the organization. And as new people come in, some of the new people get kind of pulled into those negative conversations.
And so you're right. It's hard to reboot from that. But what I want to share is there's a couple approaches to chip away at that. So as a new supervisor on that team, I would start working more closely one-on-one with every member of the team, again, to create those bonds and connections with those employees. And I would have coaching conversations with those three individuals that tend to be really negative.
And what I mean by coaching conversation is a collaborative conversation with each of them independently, separately. And start talking about what you're trying to establish. You're trying to establish a positive energy within the team and a positive culture within the team. And you've noticed that there's a tendency for people to get together and do a lot of complaining.
And ask that employee's advice as to, what could we do together as a team? You've been here a long time. And so I really value your opinion about this.
And engage those individuals that tend to be a little negative and being part of the solution to say, I really do-- as the supervisor of the team, I really want the team environment, the team meetings to be more positive, to be more upbeat so we enjoy our workdays more. And I've noticed there is a tendency for people to complain a lot. And I recognize sometimes things aren't great.
And it's like any organization. Every organization has its negative sides and problems to deal with. But I want to ask you. How could you help me? What advice could you give me to make this a more positive team environment?
Or what could we do together to make this a more positive environment where there's less complaining and more positive reinforcement, more encouragement among the team members, more brainstorming things we could do to make things better rather than just complaining about what's not working? And try to engage those individual employees in being part of the solution. That's a helpful approach that you could take.
Time for one last question, folks. I appreciate everyone. Almost everyone stayed on all the way through the Q&A, which I really appreciate today.
Oh, here's a good final question for today, folks. I appreciate this one, too. With consistent vacant positions, what do you recommend to motivate and keep staff? Thank you for that question. That's a very important question.
So one of the things that I do want to share is, again, the collaborative communication approach with staff is important. Right now in human resources, research around employee retention-- like keeping employees, having employees that we hire stay as long as possible. Now, I think we all know that with the younger generations in the workforce today, on average, people are changing jobs more quickly than they did years ago.
I've been in the workforce 40 years now. And so back in my day, people were staying an average of 7 to 10 years. Nowadays, with some of the younger generations, folks are moving, changing jobs every three and a half, four years. And so the demographic has changed. But that doesn't mean that we should just accept that.
When we create a good workplace culture and a good environment and create good relationships with our staff and make people feel respected and valued, the number one word that's coming up lately-- or at least one of the top words that's coming up lately- in human resources research around employee retention-- is value. If people feel valued and collaboration creates value-- remember I was talking about when you talk with employees, make sure you're having good two-way conversations. And you're regularly giving people input into the conversation.
If you're talking about a goal, give the employee input into what that goal is going to look like or at least, if it's a goal dictated from above, how we're going to implement it in our area. Give them some input. If you're creating a work plan or a project plan, give that employee-- show interest in the employees' ideas about how to put a good work plan together for that.
Or again, if there's a problem that's going on, there's an issue, go to the employees. And engage them in giving-- show interest in their ideas about how these issues can be resolved or how they can be dealt with effectively or how these problems can be solved. The more we do that, the more you show employees that you value their thinking, you value their capabilities-- make sure you're not micromanaging.
When we micromanage, it makes people feel like we don't trust them. So make sure you're not micromanaging. But make sure you're having as many collaborative conversations, giving people as much input as possible. When that happens, people tend to feel more valued. And they tend to stay a little bit longer.
The other part is when people are new, when they're coming into an organization that has turnover, make sure that those new people are welcomed by the existing people. Make sure they bond with their teammates. Meet with your team. Meet with the team ahead of time and say, I got a new person starting next Monday.
Let's brainstorm how we can work together to make this person feel welcomed and valued and that we're glad that they're with us. Because again, when a new employee comes into an organization, if they bond with-- if they bond with their boss and feel cared about by their boss, their supervisor, and they feel welcome and included in the team and they bond well with the team, they're much less likely to leave in the short term. They're more likely to stay longer. So I hope that helps.
Folks, I want to thank you. Thank you for your time today. I really appreciate that. I understood that we had some issues with the PowerPoint slides today, and I apologize for that. I saw some of those texts that were coming in about that, so I apologize for that.
If you do want a copy of the PowerPoint presentation, we're happy to send it to you. Just please hit Reply to your GoToWebinar invitation for today. We'd be more than happy to send you a copy of the PowerPoint slides so you can see them and have those for your help for later on. So happy to do that.
Again, remember, if you missed any of the previous programs in this year's Supervisor Excellence webinar series, How to Effectively Supervise Your Remote Work Team, How to Help Your Staff Cope with Change and Uncertainty, or How to Help Your Team Find Work-Life Balance During Stressful Times, just again hit Reply to your GoToWebinar invitation for today. And ask our staff to send you the recording links or the PowerPoint presentations for those. We'd be happy to send you those as well.
So thank you, folks. I appreciate everyone being involved, again, in our series in 2021. Be on the lookout. We're about to send out the topics and the schedule for our 2022 Supervisor Excellence webinar series. So please be on the lookout for that
Thanks for being with us today and, again, throughout the series. And I hope all of you have a wonderful rest of the year. We're heading into the holidays, folks. I hope you all have an incredible holiday season. Please continue to stay safe and healthy. And again, thanks for being with us today. Take care, everybody. Talk to you soon. Bye-bye.