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Secrets of a Brighter Workplace

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Tips on how to understand, recruit and keep the best people for your business

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Why human nature is both the cause of and the solution to all our workplace problems

I, Robot

Ah, humans. Can’t work with them. Can’t work without them.

Ever had that moment where, perhaps unable to sleep in the wee small hours, dreading the day to come, you start to fantasise about a fully-automated future run on artificial intelligence? Where the vagaries of human irrationality, emotional behaviour, knee-jerk responses and counterintuitive actions are a thing of the past?

Leaving you with no disputes to resolve, no poor performance to address, no negativity to confront, no difficult conversations to be had.

Given the problems you said you were faced with in my recent survey (thank you to everyone who contributed) – frankly, I’m not surprised you feel this way!

Until that, not all that distant, future comes though, we must continue to tackle the challenges that a human workforce present. And we do that best by understanding what makes our people tick.

And that’s where the Work Brighter blog comes in.

Shining a light

My continuing aim is to shine a light on some of our most perennial people dilemmas, to make sense of the seemingly incomprehensible. To provide practical tips on tackling the seemingly intractable.

Because only by understanding the psychology of our employees can we help them perform better, be more engaged and improve their wellbeing – as well as our own. And in doing so make the most of those human traits that are so valuable and that, as yet, no robot can hope to emulate: creativity, passion, lateral thinking, empathy, kindness and collaboration.

In 2018 I will respond to many of the issues you’ve raised, getting into the real nitty-gritty of your day-to-day people problems. In the meantime, here are some existing blogs that could prove invaluable, right now.

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Right bum, right seat

The wrong person doing the wrong job can be the cause of many of the most difficult people problems you might face. All of which could be prevented by making sure that you have the right people in the right job right from the get go. But this can feel like a near impossible task in itself, what with all the different elements – from knowing what you want, attracting quality candidates to apply, the efficiency of your recruitment process to making the right decision – to get on top of.

In 2018, how to recruit the right people for your business will be at the top of my agenda. For now, here are a selection of popular Work Brighter blogs on the topic of recruitment:

Conflict resolution

Sometimes, however right someone is for the job, doesn’t mean they’re right for their team or for the organisation. Sometimes something as simple as a personality clash between two team members can be hugely detrimental to the productivity and welfare of everyone else.

A number of survey respondents said that a key problem for them was people falling out with each other or not supporting each other.

As regular readers will know, my philosophy is always to tackle the problem head on, not to ignore or sweep it under the carpet.

But conflict in the workplace needs sensitive handling. So I’ll provide some practical tips on how to do this best in a future blog. In the meantime you might want to check out these useful blogs on tackling negativity, addressing cynicism and helping teams work better together.

Passing the baton

Effective delegation appears to be a problem for many of you. When your people expect you to have all the answers, when work you give them is not done to your standards and when it’s difficult to get people to support new initiatives, it’s hard to know how to move forward. You feel stuck.

Here’s a starter for ten (or two) to help get you unstuck.

Building your team’s resilience

Resilience is a vital (yet under-appreciated) factor in how we behave, how we perform and how we deal with setbacks. And when your people need lots of support from you to cope with pressure at work, that’s not just hard on them, it’s hard on you too.

You can discover how to build your own resilience here and here. And for an insight into how I helped a team improve its morale, read this. I’ll return to how to help your team build their resilience over the next few weeks.

How to reprimand – in a good way

One respondent to my survey made a very specific request – one that I suspect will be a universal concern: how to tell someone they’re doing something wrong without making them feel they’ve been reprimanded.

It’s a good question. Because while we might feel that what someone needs is a good old fashioned telling off, we also know in our heart of hearts that this is unlikely to deliver more positive results in future. I will post a specific response to this question – but in the meantime you can read my thoughts on how to have a difficult conversation with someone about their performance.

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Humans are quirky. It’s what makes us interesting, inventive, innovative, creative. It’s also what makes us a right pain in the you-know-where. But by taking positive steps to address these issues, we can help to reduce the pain factor and help our people fulfil their true potential. Who needs robots!

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