3 Questions To Ask Yourself When You Have An Overwhelmed Employee

So you thought you were hiring someone with the grit and confidence to tackle it all head on, but now the hire that seemed so promising is caving under the stress. Here are three questions to ask yourself so you know what changes you need to make to prevent a repeat:

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#1 Do you know the personality types of each person you hire?

You may not give much weight to personality assessments and tests, but they’re oftentimes spot on and can provide some value to you as the leader in your business. The DiSC behavior assessment tool is a very popular option and it essentially breaks people down into four personality types using a number system. With the DiSC assessment, you’re left with a snapshot that shows where your employees score high and where they score low, which can help you identify what they like and don’t like in regards to, not just the tasks they’re performing, but the environment in which they’re performing those tasks and the way they’re being told to carry those tasks out.

The four personality styles that make up the DiSC assessment are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Why would knowing which traits are highest in your employees help you prevent overwhelm and burnout? Because when you know which personality types you’re leading, you’ll know how to adapt your management and communication style to better fit each employee. You’ll be able to craft your interactions to each individual in a way that speaks to and supports their needs and preferences.

For example, an employee with a high C score likes to have all of the details before getting started and has a fear of being wrong. Knowing this, you could ask that employee if they have all the details they need or if there’s anything else they need from you before they can confidently move forward with the job or project they’re working on. Someone with a high D, on the other hand, may become bored by all the details and just want to jump right in. How you present a job to each would and should differ so you can be a more effective leader of each individual.

#2 What expectations have you created?

No one wants to screw up, but for some personality types (like high C’s, for example), the fear of failure can be paralyzing and prevent them from taking any steps or actions. On top of considering the innate traits and levels of pressure that are self-induced by each personality type, you need to consider the type and level of pressure that you’re consciously and subconsciously placing on your employees. Ask yourself what your attitude towards failure is and what you’ve expressed to your team regarding failure. Have you presented failure as something that’s undesirable at all costs and apocalyptic in nature or as something you can learn from? Failure often leads to innovation and improvement and teaches us more than our successes, but no one wants to be the one to fail or take risks that could lead to failure if management portrays failure as something to be avoided if you want to keep your job. Yes, put systems in place to prevent mishaps, but don’t make mistakes the unforgivable sin in your business. How you approach failure will largely determine how your employees do, and without that big lurking F hanging over their heads, they’ll be freed up to focus on the task at hand.

#3 Do you encourage open communication?

When an employee is overwhelmed, you have to consider whether or not it could have been avoided if you had a culture in place that encouraged open and honest communication and mutual support. If your employees can come to you when they first start to feel overwhelmed, the escalation that leads to breakdown and burnout can likely be avoided and you can get your employees the support they need to do the job with confidence.

Is transparency a word or a practice in your business? Do you encourage teamwork and support? Can your employees come to you or another person in management when they’re feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, or in need of more support? Even if it’s not you, make sure your employees have someone they can go to to talk it out and get the support they need.

Better Leadership Is Within Your Control

Look, HR stuff can be frustrating and time-consuming, but knowing your employees and creating a culture that encourages transparency can help you better lead your team, provide a better work environment, get more value and productivity from every employee you manage, and prevent burnout, overwhelm, and other common workplace problems. Take the time to understand your employees and adapt your leadership style and culture, and you’ll find it saves you a lot of time and a lot of frustration in the end, which is what we all want, isn’t it?

The Grateful, Thankful Leader

Thanksgiving is a funny holiday. It seems today, it’s more about marking the start of the Christmas shopping season than anything else. Yes, we might get together with family and friends, have a good meal, eat and maybe drink too much and, if we’re lucky, get four days off. We might also participate in the annual “What are you thankful for?” tradition and be very sincere. But we have one question: why do we wait for this one day in November to give thanks?Pumpkin-Apple-Pinecone-Harvest-Fruits-On-Table

We ask that with something specific in mind: the growing attitude that being grateful and gratitude in general plays an important part in our lives, our leadership, and our businesses. The opening paragraph of “Gratitude: The Leader’s Most Underused but Powerful Tool” located here asks the question,

Gratitude? I mean, yeah, it’s great, but not really crucial for a leader. Why gratitude? And specifically, why would it make the list in a list of leadership tools?”

Answer: “A growing body of research has uncovered the extraordinary impact of gratitude in every area of life…Gratitude not only elicits behavior in the person who is expressing it, but it also elicits response in the person who is receiving it.” In other words, gratitude is beneficial for you, as well as others in your life. It’s good for your person. It’s good for your relationships. It’s good for your business.

It’s easy to spot a grateful leader. In fact, we can identify them long before we even meet them. How? We observe their company culture. There are always signs.

The first sign is the way their social media presents to the world. It’s full of praise for employees. It’s full of thanks for every customer who mentions them or reviews them. There are encouraging words and shares and likes. This is a pleasant person to follow on Facebook and they usually live up to their online persona.

The next sign of a grateful leader comes from the employees themselves. Walk into this place of business on any day, at any time, and you are likely to see employees going about their work with a smile. They are cooperating with co-workers, being helpful, and always expressing appreciation for the way others contribute to the work. There is probably a board somewhere, which tracks company wins. There is a drawer with stationery and stamps for writing quick thank you notes to customers and vendors. The whole place just feels steeped in sincerity and appreciation. And that’s before the leader ever shows up.

The signs of a grateful leader are found in everything he or she touches. That’s because gratefulness spreads over everything, like a warm blanket, insulating us from the chill of the world. It holds us and keeps us. It buffers our interactions and lifts our spirits. There is no doubt, gratitude is good for all of us, and the grateful leader can make it possible for others to benefit. A grateful culture starts when the leader intentionally cultivates gratitude.  

So for this year’s annual Thanksgiving post from us, Carter and Taylor, we want you to know that not a day goes by that we are not grateful for all of you: clients, employees, family, and friends. Without you all, Spark Marketer would not be what it is today. We also hope, for those of you who are the leaders in your business, that you take gratitude to heart, knowing it is good for us all.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Taylor & Carter

Keeping The Peace: How To Manage Interoffice Conflict

As our very own Taylor Hill put it: some people are like cats, some people are like dogs. And cats and dogs have different personalities, different likes and dislikes, different ways of thinking, and different ways of handling things. But what happens when these differences lead to interoffice conflicts? As the leader of your business, what do you do when employees on your team are fighting like cats and dogs?
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Address each individual involved separately and privately – Every story has two (or more) sides, and you need to have private, one-on-one discussions to get the full scope of the problem at hand. Addressing each person individually will also help to keep the conversation cool and open.

Verbalize the problem & the reason it’s a problem – Even though the problem might be clear to you, when emotions are high, it can be difficult to zoom out and really pinpoint the true issue at hand. Verbalizing the problem and the reason it’s a problem will save a lot of time, ensure everyone is on the same page, and help you get to the bottom of things faster.

Avoid accusatory language – You want to get past this problem, and the only way to do that is to have open communication. When accusatory language is used, the individuals involved will feel personally attacked, which isn’t conducive to openness and growth. Stay focused and clear everything out of your mind but the problem at hand. Avoid bringing past situations or issues with the individual back up as a sort of “list of grievances.” Remember, you’re here to solve this problem – and if the individual feels personally attacked, they are likely to shut down instead of working with you to resolve this issue.
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Listen – Pay careful attention to the wording used by the individuals. It may come out that one of the involved individuals is having trouble outside of the workplace and a comment or tone was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. As the leader of your company, it’s important to remember that we all have a life outside of work, and sometimes outside issues can bleed into our 9-5.

Act fast – Whatever you do, don’t let a problem escalate by ignoring it or letting too much time pass before addressing it. Nip it in the bud! If any of the involved parties need a minute to cool off, that’s one thing – but ignoring it is not an option.

Ok, so now you have the tools to mediate and diffuse interoffice conflict, but what you can do to prevent it altogether?

Foster A Respectful Company Culture & Encourage Communication

As the leader of your company, there are two big things you can do to prevent interoffice conflict:

Foster a respectful company culture – One of the things we all love about being a part of the team here at Spark Marketer is the company culture. Our leaders have made it very clear to each and every one of us that, no matter what is going on, we are to respect each other, PERIOD. And we do! We have several different personality types with several different innate communication styles, and enough sarcasm to make Lewis Black look like the Pope. But another thing we aren’t lacking is true respect and appreciation for each other. Sure, we joke around and we’re pretty laid back, but coarse jesting and passive aggressive, intentionally hurtful remarks are 100% absent from our work environment.

Encourage communication – Oftentimes, interoffice conflict arises as a result of miscommunication, poor communication, or a complete lack of communication. The more you do to prevent communication breakdown, the less you’ll need to worry about office conflicts. Encourage your employees to develop systems for communicating and to be open, direct, and polite about it. But remember, communication isn’t everyone’s strong point – be mindful of which employees might need a little push and direction, and give them a little nudge when they need it. With time, your guidance, and a little positive reinforcement when you notice them exhibiting excellent communication skills, it’ll only become more and more natural.

The good news is: once your company culture is in place and your employees start working on open communication, for the most part, they should keep the peace for you.