Working Dynamics Newsletter   
April 2004 

April and the long-awaited start of spring are here -- an ideal time for reflection and renewal. Why not take a few moments and look at where you are with your team's productivity and where you are with your work relationships -- with those who report to you, with your peers, and with your boss. The dynamics of the relationships we have at work are always changing and sometimes fragile. For success, we need to manage our own emotions and individualize our communication with others on a continuing basis. In this issue, we focus on a few ways to communicate with others and build stronger relationships in our professional lives. This often means venturing into less familiar territory, experimenting, and learning as much about ourselves as we learn about others. Best wishes, Working Dynamics.

P.S. If you like our newsletter, please use the "Forward Newsletter" link at the bottom of this page to send it to your colleagues.

In this issue...

  • Love Your Work? What Could Be Better!
  • Keeping Your Meetings on Track
  • Managing Anger in a Business Situation
  • Reaching Out: The Personal and Professional Payoff
  • Leading within a Context of Difference

  • Keeping Your Meetings on Track
    Are you accomplishing what you want in the meetings you lead? Are your meetings productive and do they use everyone's time well? If you answer "no," your frustration level may be high and those who attend your meetings may be even more discouraged. First, identify the causes. Do you have a goal for each meeting you hold? Do you lead meetings in a way that involves attendees as true contributors? Are you getting sidetracked by disruptive behaviors of others? The dynamics of a group are important factors in the success of meetings. Keeping everyone involved is your respsonsibility. Allowing others to derail your meeting costs you in productivity and raises everyone's frustration level. You also lose the respect of those who come to your meeting with energy and willingness to contribute. Meetings can be an important communication tool when used properly. When misused, they waste time and put you at risk of being viewed as ineffective.

    How to not get sidetracked ... »

    Managing Anger in a Business Situation
    Anger is an intense emotion that naturally follows a triggering action or event. Anger comes when we sense our needs are not being recognized and met, when we think we are being treated disrespectfully, and when we feel we've been betrayed by someone we trusted. These, as well as other examples, are legitimate and understandable reasons for anger. Behaviors trigger our anger. Our responsibility is to understand the reasons that give rise to our intense emotions and let them become a source of learning and growth. We can't say we'll never get angry (and be realistic). However, we can attempt to understand what actions and events trigger our anger.

    Ten ways ... »

    Reaching Out: The Personal and Professional Payoff
    Since conflict is an inevitable part of our work and personal lives, we are faced often with opportunities to reach out and rebuild after an emotional situation. Perhaps the situation calls for calming someone down, soothing hurt feelings, or making amends. Experts have determined that the ability to reach out to break down barriers and build bridges is one of the most effective behavioral responses a manager can exhibit in a conflict situaiton. Reaching out has the effect of de-escalating the conflict, reducing tension, and keeping the conflict focused on ideas rather than personalities. Doing so not only builds and retains relationships worth saving, but it is a key indicator of successful leadership.

    How to begin ... »

    Leading within a Context of Difference
    Whether the difference is being a woman in a male-centered culture, an African-American in a white-dominated environment, or a white male from New York working in Japan, the experience of being an outsider has a powerful effect on one's leadership development experience. The thoughts below are excerpted from "What's Different about Different?" by Ruderman and Livers, February 2004 CCL e-newsletter, with the permission of the Center for Creative Leadership. Suggestions are from "Get Going: Ways to Deal With Difference."

    VALUE DIFFERENCE. Understand that differences really do matter in the workplace.... GET EDUCATED. Learn as much as you can about difference in terms of race, gender and culture. But be sure not to limit your view to generalizations or make broad assumptions. Educate yourself about individuals as well as groups.... GO OUT ON A LIMB. Be willing to be uncomfortable. Seek feedback about your own behaviors in dealing with difference.... GET TALKING AND WALKING. Engage racial, gender and cultural issues through discussion and action.

    Do you have other ideas? Tell us. »

    Love Your Work? What Could Be Better!
    Knowing the employees who report to you also love their jobs is another great satisfaction.

    Research says that employees are willing to give their best, including their discretionary effort, when they feel their manager cares about them and when they are given challenging work. Also important is a sense of fairness, availability of training, opportunity for advancement, and a sharing of responsibility for decisions and outcomes. Pay, benefits, and other perks have roles in employee satisfaction, but they have less impact on productivity than previously thought. In reality, the front-line manager is the key to attracting and retaining talented employees. The impact managers have is felt in productivity, profit, customer satisfaction, and the rate of turnover.

    When you think about what motivates you, don't you want to feel your workplace is one where your special talents will be put to good use? Isn't feeling appreciated imperative to your motivation to contribute more?

    The Gallup Organization in a massive research study found that the quality of the employee's relationship with the manager determines how long a talented employee stays with an organization and the employee's productivity. As a manager, what can you do to be sure that conditions are optimal for attracting, motivating, and retaining talented employees? And for your own career, what conversation should you be having with your boss so that you'll be inclined to give your best and not choose to leave because you feel unappreciated?

    Let us know what you think ...

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