Sometimes I’m embarrassed to admit at work for fear of not being viewed as “professional” or “business-like” but I’m a Dr Phil fan…..yes that Dr Phil, the American psychologist and TV personality. His common sense, down to earth manner resonates with me and his pithy sayings stick with me and help bring clarity in business situations as well as life in general. One of these is “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”.
This past week, I’ve been reflecting on the types of issues that may need to be confronted or acknowledged in a workplace, the types of things that are uncomfortable and don’t fit neatly into action plans. The good news is that they’re also common to many workplaces and once identified they can be changed with courage. Here’s five to start with:
1. Lack of skills and knowledge
Industries, workplace practice and technology change so quickly now that you can be so busy doing what you’ve always done, that you forget to take the time to look around. What’s happening with your competitors? What’s the government and your industry association saying about the future for your workplace or industry? Are your skills and knowledge and the skills and knowledge of the people around you up to date? Is it time to make the time and investment in some further training before you get left behind?
Somewhere along the way, stress seems to have become normal in workplaces. Stress can be great sometimes, it can give us the energy to get things done and to be able to focus on a task or project. Sometimes though, stress can become unhealthy. Occasionally we need to check in with ourselves and the people at work…has stress started to be harmful to individuals or the workplace. Has unhealthy stress levels become the norm? www.headsup.org.au is a great place to start looking for assistance and resources.
3. Leadership Styles
What are the leadership styles of the leaders, managers and supervisors in your workplace? Are they empowering or hindering staff? Effective leaders need to be able to use different styles to suit different situations. There are two leadership styles that can cause workplace problems when they are over-used – one of these leaves people with no guidance and the other provides too much direction.
4. Work systems
I have a special passion for systems and work practices. Systems, like leadership styles, can either empower or hinder people at work and have a direct impact on the success of the business. Is it time to review your systems? What are the systems in your workplace? Also consider, do workers have the resources required, are there clear and documented procedures, is your organisational structure effective, are there clear and reasonable timeframes and how is work measured?
5. Poor Performance or Behaviour
This would arguably be the most difficult issue to honestly assess and acknowledge. It can be difficult because it involves people and it can seem easier at times to ignore performance or behavioural issues in the false hope that they will resolve themselves. Unmanaged performance leads to cultural issues, more poor performance and conduct and always causes a negative impact on people and businesses. What poor performance or conduct do you need to confront and address?
I’m challenging myself to be courageous in acknowledging issues….to have courageous conversations, to courageously investigate issues and to courageously push forward to work with people to bring about change. Will you join me? What are your thoughts? What are other areas in workplaces that should be examined?