Welcome to the August roundup.

In our new series, in which we look at articles from around the Web on a variety of topics in the management and leadership industry and, as well as discuss the news, opinions and insights they contain, offer our own perspective. Continuing on from our July roundup, we share articles with you to support your learning and enable you to expand your knowledge in this challenging industry. 

We begin proceedings in this second edition with a look at a finding by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), an independent public body funded by the Government that works with employers to improve workplace relationships. The body found four in ten people have been taking less time off since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Four in ten British employees taking less time off during the pandemic

ACAS has been encouraging people to take time off from work after it found four in ten British employees (39%) have been taking less off during the pandemic. In 2020, the Government introduced a law that allows employees to carry up to four weeks of annual leave into their next two holiday years. Research suggests workers are making the most of it. 

ACAS advises workers to take their annual leave during their holiday year and to make their holiday requests as soon as possible so employers can plan cover for them. The body warns, however, that employers are unlikely to let employees all take time off at the same time, and highlights the importance of rest for mental and physical wellbeing.

Meanwhile, HR experts have pointed out that the re-opening of businesses is going to create problems for employers, who may face lots of clashing holiday requests. They recommend devising a clear policy that encourages workers to take holidays, and to sit down individually with employees who have accumulated a large number of holidays and work out a plan. They warn of the resentment the plan may cause if it doesn’t fit in with the employee’s plans.

We agree people should be taking time off from work. The pandemic has placed people under a lot of strain, and holidays are necessary to prevent burnout. Our warning to employers would be that if they’re unable to grant holidays at the time the employee requests, they then have to contend with a disgruntled employee (or more) who could be burnt out or about to burn out. In general, we suggest taking steps to support employees, but at this time it’s especially important to do so. At this point, we’d like to recommend our course Strategic Wellbeing and Resilience Programme, which helps organisations understand the impact of stress and how they can foster a culture that supports employees and fosters wellbeing in the workplace. 

The four words killing your credibility

In this article in the online version of the business publication Inc, the writer, Jason Aten, focuses on the four words ‘We’ll see what happens’, uttered often when bringing a particular subject of conversation to a close. According to him, this throwaway phrase kills your credibility for three main reasons:

  1. They make you sound as if you’re not directly invested and that you’re just waiting for something to happen. This is in the best-case scenario.
  2. It can appear as if you just want the conversation to be over.
  3. If you and the other person see the same matter differently, the phrase can seem defensive, as if you’re waiting to say ‘I told you so’ later.

To solve the problem, he proposes the following corresponding alternative phrases or similar ones to them:

  1. ‘I honestly haven’t given that much thought, but I’ll definitely look into it. In the meantime, I’d be interested in hearing what you think.’ This is upfront and shows you validate the other person’s perspective.
  2. ‘It sounds like we’ve covered that topic pretty well. Let’s move on to the next thing we need to talk about.’ This prevents you from sounding desperate to be somewhere else and keeps the conversation moving. 
  3. ‘You know, that’s a really good point. I hadn’t looked at it that way.’ You don’t need to say anything else after that.

We’ve discussed the importance of active listening for leaders recently on our blog. The purpose of active listening is to capture the speaker’s whole message and make them feel they’re being heard. The four credibility-killing words above have the opposite impact, which can breed mistrust, harm morale, and lower productivity. Mistrust of leaders can even persuade members of teams to look elsewhere for employment. The phrases above illustrate sincerity, engagement, and acknowledgement of the other person.

Ultimately, this is all about communication, and courses such as our Level 5 and Level 7 coaching and mentoring programmes can help you improve your communication skills. Coaching itself has become a key skill in leadership. The days of managers and leaders just delegating tasks have given way to a more coaching-based approach in which, additionally, leaders offer guidance and support. Active listening is a major part of coaching, and if you’d like to improve your own coaching skills, and by doing so, your communication skills, we’d suggest registering for one of our Level 5 or Level 7 coaching and mentoring courses.

Why do so many third-sector organisations fail?

This is a question asked in one post on the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) website, and the writer, Paul Growney, the chief executive of a Merseyside Charity called Caring Connections, holds a simple perspective: third-sector organisations fail because they don’t have a culture of performance management, which means they’re not able to illustrate their value. He believes they don’t have the systems in place to monitor what the organisation is achieving.

To remedy this, Mr Growney advises that systems don’t have to be complex and that organisations should build systems as they grow. Examples would be data collection sheets, customer surveys, and feedback reports. He believes organisations need to show how inputs lead to outputs. Charities require funding, and people who provide it will want to know how the organisation is spending their money.

In our opinion, monitoring performance is essential in any sector. If you’re not monitoring outcomes and performance, how do you determine what’s necessary to drive the organisation forward otherwise? In effect, not monitoring performance means you’re leading and operating blindly. Data is very persuasive. By not collecting it, you’re weakening your own case for funding or investment, for any change initiatives, and for strategies to carry the organisation forward. 

We offer a range of courses that can help you. Our Strategic Leadership Programme can assist you in analysing the success of strategies and in developing or revising them. The Senior Leadership Programme will also look at planning and strategy development, and our Executive Mini MBA Accelerator also provides managers with a solid base for making a range of important decisions, including technical and financial ones. We’d suggest visiting our Courses page and browsing all our courses, some of which will support you in making strategic decisions and others in implementing the changes or initiatives necessary to improve organisational performance. 

How to ensure buy-in from your senior team

In this insightful article on the Entrepreneur website, the contributor, Felix Velarde, recounts his success in top-level management, but how, despite the success of the businesses he operated in, employees resisted change. They perceived change initiatives as being change for the sake of it, and, in spite of their initial enthusiasm for them, they’d revert to old ways of doing things later in the project.  

Mr Valarde believes the key ingredient in achieving change is buy-in. He suggests choosing the A-players, who will step up to challenging goals and deliver results, and not necessarily the senior team, who are more invested more in how things are done now. The A-players are your best people and will strive for change. Crucially, after telling them the goal and what you want to happen, you let these employees do the research into how they’ll achieve it, the requirements and the consequences, and ask them to work out how to bring about the vision.

We understand. Change is difficult, challenging, and uncomfortable, which is why you want players who relish challenges and are comfortable with the venture into the unknown change brings. As we’ve discussed in previous posts, employees’ expectations have changed. They’re seeking more from their work than a paycheque at the end of the month. Providing them with the opportunity to contribute to change not only meets this objective but also engages them, which is a step towards reducing resistance to change.

Managing change, however, is no easy task. Neither is implementation. We suggest our Leading Through Change programme to help you lead your organisation confidently through change. You’ll cover issues such as self-management and organisational resilience, and be able to return with a plan to negotiate periods of change head-on. For further thoughts on leading through change, why not read our blog post on change and the growth mindset?

Book a course with us

The articles above offer valuable insight into getting people on board with change, the importance of monitoring performance to avoid failure, ensuring people feel heard, and the need for annual leave and employers to consider wellbeing in the workplace if they have to deny it to workers. This now becomes an opportunity for you to:

  • Ensure your employees are feeling heard, and keep them motivated and engaged.
  • Secure buy-in from the people who are truly invested in change initiatives and drive successful change.
  • Illustrate concern for the wellbeing of your employees, and devise and implement policies that foster wellbeing in your workplace. 

You can explore our training courses, and book or find out more about them, by visiting our Courses page and clicking on the relevant course, or by emailing us at enquiries@inpd.co.uk, messaging us via the form on our Contact page or calling us on 0161 826 3139. The leadership and management industry is a demanding one, but with the right skills, you can thrive. We’re here to advise and assist you on that journey so you can navigate the demands of your role successfully.

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