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How to Deal with Difficult People
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Have you ever been in a situation where you asked a question and someone was rude to you for no apparent reason? If so, you are most likely feeling hurt from their condescending response. As a human being, no one likes to be treated as if they are incompetent for asking a question, especially if it is in your place of work.

If you have experienced a scenario like this in your personal life or the workplace, it can be tough to know how to deal with difficult people like this. Responding in situations like this is much easier said than done, especially if the person is a customer, co-worker or even a supervisor. You have to be careful how you go about confronting the person, and the confrontation could need to be handled differently depending on the individual. For this reason, we have come up with two different approaches to how you may want to address a difficult person.

Approach #1: Ask Questions

If you are dealing with someone who is a supervisor or customer, your approach may need to be a little more gentle. Start by asking open-ended questions that follow up to their difficult comments. Try asking them if there is something that you are missing, and let them know you sense something is off based off of the tone of their response.

Chances are, they may not even realize that they had a sarcastic tone, or if they did, you are now having an open conversation that can hopefully resolve the issue. Continue asking questions until you understand why they may have responded the way they did. Having this conversation can help to soften the situation. They may apologize, or you may say you're sorry and that you just wanted to make sure everything was okay.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” – Stephen Covey

Approach #2: Be Direct

If the difficult person is someone such as a colleague, your dialogue may need to change to have this conversation. In this situation, it would make more sense to be direct. Ask them why they answered the way they did or if they are frustrated. Their answer to you will most likely be a simple “yes” or “no” response. Either they are frustrated with you and your question and can explain why, or they aren’t and can realize that they should have answered in a less aggressive and sarcastic way.

Whichever way they respond, let them know that you understand they are frustrated or angry, and it is making it difficult for you to understand and communicate with them.  Let them know you respect them as a professional and would appreciate better communication in the future. Be honest about how you are feeling and specific in what they said. Consider your relationship with the person, and if you feel comfortable going more in-depth, then do so.

Having confrontational conversations with people is never easy, but sometimes need to happen to keep these issues from progressing. Keep in mind for the future not only the two different approaches you may want to use when dealing with difficult people, but also the 10 Keys, specifically Keys 5, 6, and 8.

5.    Requiring Accountability—Upholding and reinforcing individual responsibility to the organization. 

6.    Valuing What You Believe—Linking employees’ actions/behaviors to organizational values—building a healthy culture.

8.    Sharing Continuously—Establishing open and honest two-way communication.

Danielle McLaren
How to Manage Employees Who are Your Friends
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Being a manager can sometimes be difficult in itself, but the role can become even more complicated when the employees who report to you are also your friends. More often than not, people who become their friend’s manager, are promoted into a higher position, and were previously colleagues of their now new employees. This change in hierarchy can leave both you and your friends feeling awkward, and may have you questioning how you are supposed to manage them.

If you are a person who was promoted to management in your current company, this is something that should be celebrated. You should not question taking the promotion because you will now be your friend’s supervisor. Try following these simple steps that will help you maintain your friendships, while still being an effective supervisor.

  1. Have a Conversation with your Friends Upfront

    This new transition may have you feeling uncomfortable, but it will most likely make your friend’s uncomfortable as well. Clear the awkwardness in the air by having an upfront and open conversation about the new changes to come. Be honest about how you will be as their supervisor/leader, and set your expectations of them right away. Let them know that although changes are to come, that you do not think of them any differently and want to continue the friendship.

  2. Avoid Picking Favorites

    In some situations, a friend becoming someone’s manager could lead them to believe their life will get easier, and they can get away with certain things at work. If you communicate with your friend(s) that you will favor them over the other employees, this is not effective leadership and will create numerous challenges for you. When you are having your upfront conversation, make sure that it is clear to your friend(s) that you will not pick favorites. You don’t want them going into the new transition with that mindset, and if they do, they may be taking advantage of your friendship.

  3. Set Higher Expectations

    Because these employees are also your friends, you need to communicate with them that they are held at higher expectations for this reason. As your friends, they should want to help you be the best leader you can be. They should not be purposely trying to give you a hard time and make you look bad. Both you and your employees should be maintaining solid and effective communication with each other, to ensure these standards are being met. If everyone stays on track with their responsibilities, it will result in smooth sailing for both you and your friend(s).

This transition from a friend to supervisor isn’t easy, but with the right approach to this situation, it can make a world of difference. Try using the tips and tricks we mentioned when making the change to your new dual role as friend and manager, and also the 10 Keys, specifically keys 4,5, and 10.

4. Expecting Excellence—Setting high expectations for employees.

5. Requiring Accountability—Upholding and reinforcing individual responsibility to the organization.

10. Realigning Your Efforts—Evaluating your own efforts to determine if they match your desired outcomes.

Danielle McLaren
How to Reduce High Drama in the Workplace

As an employee, one of the most uncomfortable feelings you can experience within your place of work can be caused from conflict or high drama. Walking into your job knowing that there is tension, tends to give some people that “knotted stomach” feeling. Having drama at work is bad for everyone. Employees don’t feel comfortable doing their job, and because of this there is a lack of productivity in the company. Every company can take precautions to avoid this type of situation.

The realistic truth about drama is that there are some individuals who thrive off of creating it. Whether those people are power hungry, or opinionated about something and want to get others to be on their side, etc., there are some people who are willing to stir up trouble at work no matter what. Although high drama at work is inevitable, we can set three goals: decrease the frequency, reduce the longevity and minimize the severity. Here are some thoughts on how to accomplish these three goals.

Setting Your Company’s Values

If you have yet to define what your company's core organizational values are, now would be a good time. If your employees have a set of standards to live by at work, they will be more likely to keep them in the forefront of their minds as they consider the challenges and frustrations they face. An example of a company’s values could be an acronym like the “Four C’s.” The Four C’s stand for Caring, Compassionate, Creativity and Collaborative. These four words can easily be adapted into an organization’s values. It is critical to provide behavioral examples of your company values so every employee has a clear picture of what they look like on a daily basis. The values and behaviors should be established right away when a new employee starts, that way their behavior can correlate with the values right off the bat.

Provide Regular Feedback

Giving your employees frequent feedback can not only help them to see how they are doing in their role, it can also help us address behaviors that lead to or are involved in drama. When providing the feedback, be straightforward about their performance in the company, and if they are doing something to cause negativity, address that problem so they work on fixing it. Set clear guidelines for your employees to follow, so they know how they are expected to act at their job.

Respect Your Employees

As a leader in your company, you expect to be respected, but why would an employee do this if respect is not reciprocated towards them? Always be respectful to your employees. This will show them that you care and appreciate them, and it will also provide them with an example of how we expect everyone to treat each other.

As you try to stop or minimize high drama from happening within your workplace, it is important to keep the 10 Keys in mind, specifically Keys 2, 4, and 5.

2. Uniting Your Team—Building a culture of care and concern among and between employees.

4. Expecting Excellence—Setting high expectations for employees.

5. Requiring Accountability—Upholding and reinforcing individual responsibility to the organization.

By setting your company’s values, giving frequent performance reviews, respecting your employees, and following the 10 Keys, it will be easier to keep drama out of your company. Reducing the conflicts at your company will create a more positive and peaceful place for everyone.

Danielle McLaren
How to Reduce Employee Negativity in Your Company

For anyone that is in upper management in their company, have you ever noticed when one employee starts to have a negative attitude at work, that others start to become negative as well? This kind of behavior has a domino effect. The bad vibes are so much of a distraction that they start to make the company as a whole a very negative place.

It is commonly understood that people feed off of others energy.

If you are experiencing this, you have a major problem at hand. Not only can negativity cause lack of engagement and a hostile environment, but it can cause high turnover, something that no company wants for many reasons. Although employee negativity is not a good sign for the company, don’t panic.

With these tips, you have the power to create a more positive workplace.

First, evaluate your company culture. You can do this by revisiting your organization's core values. If you are unclear of your values or think it is time for some of them to change, include your employees in the process. Let them share what they would like to see as the values and how the company culture could improve to make them happy and want to stay employed there. Employees want to be involved in decision making and appreciate when they feel like they can be honest and share their opinions. Although it may be simple to address negativity, it certainly is not easy.

One reason, amongst several reasons, employees can start to become negative is when they feel like they are wearing too many “hats” that they aren’t supposed to be wearing. They want to know exactly what their job descriptions are, so that they can be held accountable for their responsibilities. If they are doing tasks that were never defined to them clearly as being their duties, they are going to be unhappy. Try sitting down with each of your employees and asking them what their current responsibilities are, and compare their answers to their job description. If things aren't adding up, it’s time to make some changes.

We at Rising Sun, break employee engagement into three different groups. There are the employees who are very engaged, those who are somewhere in the middle, and the ones who are completely disengaged. One major issue that companies normally have is they spend 80% of their time trying to fix the group of disengaged employees when they should really be putting more time and effort into the ones who are in that middle group. If you focus on those employees in the middle, they have just enough engagement that they are most likely going to become more engaged once they see positive changes. If you are spending most of your time with the people who are significantly disengaged, chances are they are not going to change. As we spend more time and energy with the middle group of employees, we will see their engagement increase. As their engagement increases, the impact on the organization by the employees who are significantly disengaged will begin to be mitigated.

As you plan out your strategy for reducing employee negativity in your culture, it is important to keep the 10 Keys in mind, specifically Keys 2, 6, and 10.

2. Uniting Your Team—Building a culture of care and concern among and between employees.

6. Valuing What You Believe—Linking employees’ actions/behaviors to organizational values—building a healthy culture.

10. Realigning Your Efforts—Evaluating your own efforts to determine if they match your desired outcomes.

By using these tips along with the 10 Keys, it will help make your work environment a happier and more cohesive place to be.

We were struggling with employee turnover rates. Safety and quality issues were higher than we wanted. We decided we needed to make some major changes with training of supervisors and managers. We teamed up with Jim and Rising Sun Consultants for this training. Over a period of about 9 months we worked closely with Jim to improve employee morale, teaching managers how to deal with situations and creating teamwork among managers. During this training we started to see major improvements in many areas and now the turnover ratio of employees is very low. Morale is much better both for employees and for managers. It has drastically reduced injuries and quality issues. I would highly recommend Rising Sun Consultants to help you train your management team. Jim has a very unique and positive way to get people to interact. We are very pleased.

Brian Wise, President

BWise Manufacturing LLC.

Danielle McLaren
5 Ways to Reduce Employee Turnover in Your Company
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The last thing any company should want is revolving door syndrome, better known as employee turnover. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national turnover average is 20%, which is very high. Turnover is a major problem, because not only does it show you your employees are leaving for better opportunities, but frequent turnover can be insanely expensive. Much research suggests the cost of turnover is about 30% of the employees compensation when they leave. The company must find a way to keep up with the loss of the employee, while also posting jobs, interviewing, hiring, etc., all which cost money.

Although turnover is financially expensive, the greatest cost is lost productivity. With employees constantly leaving your company, there is a loss of morale. There will be constant training which is beneficial, but not when the door is constantly revolving. The trainings are taking up the time that employees could be working.

If you are experiencing high turnover in your company, it is time to reevaluate how your business functions. If you don’t know where to start, this blog is for you. Here are five helpful tips to reduce employee turnover:

  1. Have a Well Defined Intensional Culture

    Hire well to obtain the people you need that will be ideal for the job. Instantly connect them to the culture through an onboarding process. This includes trainings and meetings where you get to know them more on a personal level, and find out how well they fit within the company. During the process, establish the mission of the company and connect with them, even before the I9 and W2 paperwork is filled out.

  2. Provide feedback

    It is important to provide both positive and critical feedback about their progress. This should happen regularly, at least once a month if not more. Make it a priority to schedule a touch base to let them know how they are doing and what you are pleased with, and give them a few things they can work on.

    Keeping your employee in the loop of how they are doing is beneficial. You never want them to be surprised. Annual reviews may leave them in shock about their performance if you only report to them during this time. Doing this gives them no time to “hit the mark” during the year. Frequent reviews will help employee correct themselves.

  3. Invest in Development

    You want to make it known to your employees that you want them to grow and succeed as professionals. You can do this by letting your employees go to conferences, hold discussion groups, let them join associations, etc.

    The other half of how we invest in learning is to give them opportunities to learn new skills through hands on work. You can do this by training them on a new software, or helping them learn a new trade, such as photography, if it is beneficial to their occupation.These are all good examples of growth and development.

  4. Value Their Opinions

    Give employees opportunities to be involved and to voice their opinions. Some employers struggle with this, but we have to remember to utilize peoples experience. Their experience and expertise is why they were hired in the first place. They should feel confident to speak up about certain things that would be beneficial for the company. Maybe they have a suggestion for a new software or piece of equipment that would make jobs easier. This lets your employees know you value them, and there aren't just leaders making all of the decisions inside a “vacuum.”

  5. Set Clear Expectations, and Hold People Accountable for Them

    Make sure people know their roles and their goals. Your employees should never have to guess what their job is. Establish what responsibilities are theirs right away, and do not change them unless they are properly notified. People want to be held accountable for their actions so they know what they need to get done. You can do this through deadlines, product quantity goals, money goals, etc.

    While you are trying to reduce employee turnover in your company, it is important to keep the 10 Keys in mind, specifically Keys 1, 4, and 5.

1. Supporting Growth—Providing support for employees’ personal and professional development.

4. Expecting Excellence—Setting high expectations for employees.

5. Requiring Accountability—Upholding and reinforcing individual responsibility to the organization.

By using these 5 tips and the 10 Keys, it will be easier for you to lower your employee turnover rate. You can now better understand the things that make employees want to stay in a company, so you can cure the revolving door syndrome once and for all!

Danielle McLaren
How to Interact With Staff on Your First Day as A Supervisor

A promotion is something to be proud of, but making the change from a frontline employee to management can be a major adjustment.

You are most likely very excited for your new role (which you should be), but also feeling nervous about the new responsibilities that come with being in a leadership position.

As a supervisor, you are there to guide your team in the right direction towards success in the company. This being said, you will be working very closely with your employees, and it is vital you build a strong working relationship with them.

*Always remember: relationships equal results.

Giving your new staff a good first impression will help you set the tone for how you are as a leader. In order to do this successfully, you must do some pre-first day preparation. You can start this by answering the following questions:

“What does it mean to be a supervisor?”

“Do I understand my new role?”

“Do I have the proper training for my new role?”

“What do I expect from my employees?”

“What do they expect of me?”

It is important to be the perfect balance of assertive and collaborative. You never want your employees to think they need to walk on eggshells around you, but don’t give them the idea that you are not prepared to be in management. Establish that you are confident in your ability to lead, but in a way that lets them know you are enthusiastic and are there to help them. You never want to give your staff the idea that you are aggressive or permissive.

It is never too early to start building your relationships

Get to know your employees on the first day. It is never too early to start building your relationships with them. Strong communication is key to establishing those relationships, so start off the day with an old school get to know each other chat session. Start by asking your team questions that will help you learn their strengths and weaknesses. Remember to ask more, and tell less. Let them do the majority of the talking at this point, which assures them you are good at listening and they will feel comfortable coming to you in the future.

After you get to know your new team, they now need to learn about you. Tell them about yourself as an individual first. Share basic information such as where you are from, your hobbies, favorite food, etc. This helps them imagine you are a REAL person, not just their boss. Then, start to introduce yourself as their supervisor. Share clear expectations right away. Let them know what you expect from them, and tell them what they can expect from you. Establish that you are there to support their development and growth. Share with them that you are going to provide them with support and feedback and that you are there to help them be successful.

As a leader, your main goal should be to get your employees to do what you need and want them to do WILLINGLY (keyword here). They should respect you enough to want to accomplish all the tasks that you are giving them. Establishing effective communication and strong relationships with your team will help you accomplish this goal.

As you are preparing for your first day, keep in mind the 10 Keys. They will help you stay focused on the kind of supervisor you should be and what you should expect from your employees. For this circumstance, specifically remember Keys 2, 4 and 6.

2. Uniting Your Team—Building a culture of care and concern among and between employees.

4. Expecting Excellence—Setting high expectations for employees.

6. Valuing What You Believe—Linking employees’ actions/behaviors to organizational values—building a healthy culture.

Always remember there was a reason for your promotion. You were chosen to move up to management because you are a great employee and have proven leadership skills. Show up on the first day prepared and confident that you are going to make a top-notch supervisor!

Danielle McLaren
How to Approach an Employee Who Doesn’t Respect You

In the workplace, respect is something that goes a long way.

It is important for the manager to have respect for their employees. It’s just as important for employees to be respectful of their managers. There may come a point in your role as a supervisor where you have an employee who is not respecting you. Having this sort of conflict can not only affect your working relationship with the employee, but the working relationship with other employees and the work that needs to be done.

Addressing this kind of conflict can be uncomfortable for some managers. For others, it may be easier to express how they are feeling towards their employees, but it is important to keep in mind the right and wrong approach to addressing the situation.

One of the first steps before addressing the employee about his/her behavior is to evaluate yourself as a manager. As a leader, this is something you should be doing frequently, a self-check of your own attitudes and behaviors. Think about the way that you would want to be treated as an employee, and evaluate how you, as a manager, accomplish those desired treatments. If you are finding some flaws in your own leadership, it might be best to start changing your actions and see if the employee’s respect for you starts to grow. If it does not, now is a good time to plan a discussion with the employee.

Before approaching the employee with this difficult conversation, developing a plan for your conversation will help prepare you and minimize the emotions during the conversation. First, answer these questions, to yourself, regarding the situation:

  • “What are they doing, specifically, that is disrespectful?”

  • “Why is this specific behavior disrespectful?”

  • “What specific behavior would I like to see instead?”

  • “Why is the preferred behavior more respectful?”

Coming into the discussion with these questions answered will help prepare you for initiating the conversation. It’s also important to provide specific examples of the employee’s behavior of how they are being disrespectful. After discussing their specific behaviors that send the message of disrespect, open the conversation up for them to explain why they may be showing these behaviors.

It is important to keep in mind the right and wrong approach to addressing the situation.

There may be an easy explanation as to why they are acting this way and a simple solution for improving their disrespectful actions. Throughout their explanation, refrain from repeating things you already have expressed. They know the reason you are having the discussion, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. They might be afraid to answer the questions truthfully, but ask questions and reassure them it is alright to express their answers honestly (as hard as it might be for you to hear).

Once you have heard the employee speak out about why they are showing this behavior, the discussion still may not be over. The disrespect from the employee could stop, or the issue could continue. Either way, it is time to evaluate the discussion and assess what issues the employee expressed. It would be beneficial to reflect on the ways their issues can be solved. This may mean you re-evaluate yourself as a supervisor, or even assess the company culture as a whole.

Throughout the entire process of approaching an employee who doesn’t respect you, it is important to keep the 10 Keys in mind, specifically Keys 4, 5, and 6.

4.    Expecting Excellence—Setting high expectations for employees.

5.    Requiring Accountability—Upholding and reinforcing individual responsibility to the organization.

6.    Valuing What You Believe—Linking employees’ actions/behaviors to organizational values—building a healthy culture.

By using the 10 Keys and planning out your approach before initiating the conversation, it can make the discussion a little less uncomfortable and will help you work towards improving the respect of the employee.  

Danielle McLaren