Take A Summer Vacation This Year

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by Jeff Wolf

How many times have you heard your boss tell you that? In fact, how many times have you told your employees that?

Come on, fess up. Either case is as rare as a drenching rain in the Sahara. Let’s face it. Too many bosses discourage employees from taking more than a day off or a weekend here and there. And even then they don’t discourage a barrage of phone calls from work and many will expect employees to check their email several times a day. A two-week getaway to the Far East? Not a chance.

Every year, the media reports on surveys showing that large chunks of U.S. workers don’t plan on taking all their vacation time. Why does this happen, when it’s part of a worker’s compensation package? Large percentages of workers wouldn’t pass on a company-sponsored life insurance plan, or forgo a paycheck for all of December, so why are so many people willingly (or perhaps not so willingly) giving their paid time off back to their employers?

Forbes Magazine contributor Kristi Hedges nails the explanation: “The idea of a skimpy vacation as a worthy sacrifice or badge of honor is culturally embedded. The U.S. is the only rich country to not have legally mandated paid vacation and holidays.” She goes on, “science tells us that this is a very bad idea. Increasingly, studies are showing that breaks of any kind are not only good for you; they can actually increase productivity and well-being.”

Long Vacations Benefit Both Company and Employee

To create a lasting change in their organization, and maybe even greater society at large, leaders must fully embrace the practical benefits of vacations. Good leaders will be more inclined to not only grant, but also encourage employees to take not just a couple of long weekends here and there-and maybe a week off in the summer-but longer vacation time. Employees come back from a full week (or two or three) of time off when they were able to truly disconnect from work energized and recharged, with better ideas, a fresh perspective, lower stress-levels, and genuine excitement to tackle work challenges that can become overwhelming without time to recharge. Truly effective leaders recognize the value of paid time off, and understand it’s key to a productive and engaged workforce.

Here are specific steps leaders can take to make sure this happens:

  • Issue specific company policies that encourage all employees of the organization to take all vacation days due them, and in any increments they prefer.
  • Be clear the time off must not interfere with mission critical work, but also be clear that one person’s week off shouldn’t incapacitate a well-run department, and that while every department has busier times on the calendar, it is normal and expected that departments will experience slower times periodically throughout the year.
  • Require that all managers and supervisors conduct short meetings with their employees explaining the vacation policy.
  • Ask employees for feedback regarding perceived problems with the vacation policy. Since many employees may feel constrained to speak up, use a suggestion box where they can offer suggestions or voice complaints.
  • Assure that all complaints and suggestions are answered by a third-party, such as Human Resources.
  • Follow-up yearly to make sure the new vacation policy is working.

As we head in to the height of the summer, when friends and family frequently plan reunions, couples get married, families with children have the freedom to travel, as leaders it’s our job to help facilitate these getaways. Your employees will thank you for it, and ultimately, your bottom line will thank you for it too.

Jeff Wolf is the author of Seven Disciplines of a Leader and founder and president of Wolf Management Consultants, LLC, a premier global consulting firm that specializes in helping people, teams and organizations achieve maximum effectiveness.

Contact us today to discuss how we may partner with you to develop your current and future leaders or to have Jeff Wolf speak at your next meeting, conference or convention: Michael Adams madams@wolfmotivation.com 858-638-8260 or www.wolfmotivation.com

 

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Practical Thoughts on Leadership

By Jeff Wolf

  • Leaders maintain credibility by being honest, forthright, and open; their values, allegiances and priorities are beyond reproach
  • Leaders establish shared values among teams, instill confidence in followers, create organizational excitement and are not afraid of change
  • When strategies, objectives, and paths to success are clearly defined, individuals, teams and organizations will be motivated, inspired and energized
  • Great leaders listen with empathy and speak with honesty to gain and maintain trust with people
  • Customers are vital to your success. As a leader, you must continually enhance and reinforce the ideals of customer satisfaction from top to bottom of the organization
  • Motivated people give you a competitive advantage. As a leader, you can make the difference between those who care deeply about their roles versus those who simply show up for work every day (if you’re lucky), and go through the motions while collecting a paycheck
  • An effective leader motivates employees to work together and achieve greatness, instilling confidence and trust as they go about their everyday business

Contact us today to discuss how we may partner with you to develop your current and future leaders or to have Jeff Wolf speak at your next meeting, conference or convention: Michael Adams madams@wolfmotivation.com 858-638-8260 or www.wolfmotivation.com

Did You Know

  • According to a Stanford Study: Nearly 66% of CEOs do not receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches, while 100% of them stated that they are receptive to making changes based on feedback. Nearly 80% of directors said that their CEO is receptive to coaching.
  • A global survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Association Resource Center found that the mean Return on Investment in coaching was 7 times the initial investment, and over a quarter of coaching clients reported a stunning ROI of 10 to 49 times the cost.
  • A Deloitte University Report found:Leadership development and succession planning was identified as an “urgent need” by 86% of those surveyed but only 13% believe they do an “excellent job” of preparing individuals for future leadership roles. Building a leadership pipeline demands multiple resources throughout the organization, but perhaps the most challenging aspect is the range of resources required for leadership development by the HR department.

Building an Optimal Team – Team Health

By Jeff Wolf –  Seven Disciplines of a Leader

All the competitive advantages – strategy, technology, finance, marketing – that we’ve pursued in the past are gone. The disciplines haven’t disappeared, but they have lost their power as meaningful competitive advantages, as real differentiators that can set your company apart. Why? Virtually every organization has access to the best thinking and practices on those topics. As information has become ubiquitous, it’s almost impossible to sustain an advantage based on intellectual ideas.

However, one simple, reliable, and virtually free competitive advantage remains – team health. Healthy teams all but eliminate politics and confusion from their cultures. As a result, productivity and morale soar, and good people almost never leave. For those leaders who are a bit skeptical, rest assured that none of this is touchy-feely or soft. It is as tangible and practical as anything else…and even more important.

Even the smartest team will eventually fail if it is unhealthy. But a healthy team will find a way to succeed. Without politics and confusion, it will become smarter and tap into all of the intelligence and talent it has.

Team health requires real work and discipline, maintained over time, and the courage to objectively confront problems hindering true team achievement. Leaders must confront themselves, their peers, and the dysfunction within their teams with honesty and persistence. Persistent leaders walk into uncomfortable situations and address issues that prevent them from realizing the potential that eludes them.

Four Disciplines

To get healthy, leaders need to take four simple, but difficult, steps:

  1. Build a cohesive leadership team. Get the leaders of the organization to behave in a functional, cohesive way. If the people responsible for running a team, department, or organization are behaving in dysfunctional ways, then that dysfunction will cascade down and prevent organizational health. And yes, there are concrete steps a leadership team can take to prevent this.
  1. Create clarity. Ensure that the members of that leadership team are intellectually aligned around simple but critical questions. Leaders need to be clear on topics such as why the organization exists and what the most important priority is for the next few months, and eliminate any gaps between them   Then people who work one, two, or three levels below have clarity about what they should do to make the organization successful.
  1. Overcommunicate clarity. After the first two steps (behavioral and intellectual alignment), leaders can take the third step: over-communicating. Leaders of healthy organizations constantly repeat themselves and reinforce what is true and important. They err on the side of saying too much, rather than too little.
  1. Reinforce clarity. Leaders use simple human systems to reinforce clarity in answering critical questions. They custom design any process that involves people from hiring and firing to performance management and decision-making to support and emphasize the uniqueness of the organization.

Healthy teams get better at meetings. Without making a few simple changes to the way meetings happen, a team will struggle to maintain its health. Healthy teams rarely fail. When politics, ambiguity, dysfunction, and confusion are reduced to a minimum, people are empowered to design products, serve customers, solve problems, and help one another. Healthy teams recover from setbacks, attract the best people, and create exciting opportunities. People are happier, the bottom line is stronger, and executives are at peace when they know they’ve fulfilled their most important responsibility: creating a culture of success.

Applying the principles of great performance is hard, but the effects of deliberate practice are cumulative. The more of a head start you get in developing people, the more difficult it will be for competitors to catch you.

–Jeff Wolf

Contact us today to discuss how we can partner together to help develop and grow your leaders and teams: jeff@wolfmotivation.com, 858-638-8260 or www.wolfmotivation.com

Follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffWolfUSA

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How Visions Become Shared

How do individual visions become shared visions?  A useful metaphor is the hologram, the three-dimensional image created by interacting light sources.  If you cut a photograph in half, each half shows only part of the whole image.  But if you divide a hologram, each part, no matter how small, shows the whole image intact.

Likewise, when a group of people comes together to share a vision, each person sees an individual picture of the organization at its best.  Each shares responsibility for the whole, not just for one piece.  But the component pieces of the holograms are not identical.  Each represents the whole image from a different point of view.  It’s something like poking holes in a window shade; each hole offers a unique angle for viewing the whole image.  So, too, is each individual’s vision unique.

When you add up the pieces of a hologram, the image become more intense, more lifelike.  When more people share a vision, the vision becomes a mental reality that people can truly imagine achieving.  They now have partners, cocreators; the vision no longer rests on their shoulders alone.  Early on, people may claim it as their vision.  But, as the shared vision develops, it becomes everybody’s vision.

Building a shared vision involves these five useful skills:

  1. Encouraging personal vision. Shared visions emerge from  personal visions.  It is not that people only care about their own self-interest; in fact, people’s values usually include dimensions that concern family, organizations, community, and even the world.  Rather, it is that people’s capacity for caring is personal.

 

  1. Communicating and asking for support. Leaders must share their own vision continually, rather than being the official representative of the corporate vision. They also must ask: Is this vision worthy of your commitment? This is hard for people used to setting goals and presuming compliance.

 

  1. Visioning as an ongoing process. Many managers want to dispense with the vision business by writing the official vision statement.  Such statements often lack the vitality, freshness, and excitement of a genuine vision that come from people asking: What do we really want to achieve?

 

  1. Blending extrinsic and intrinsic visions. Many energizing visions are extrinsic, focusing on achieving something relative to a competitor. But a goal that is limited to defeating an opponent can, once the vision is achieved, easily become a defensive posture.  In contrast, intrinsic goals, such as creating a new product, taking an old product to a new level, or setting a new standard for customer satisfaction, elicit more creativity and innovation.  Intrinsic and extrinsic visions need to coexist; a vision solely predicated on defeating an adversary will weaken an organization.

 

  1. Distinguishing positive from negative visions. Many organizations only pull together when their survival is threatened. Similarly, most social movements aim to eliminate what people don’t want; thus, we see antidrugs, antismoking, or antinuclear arms movement. Negative visions tend to be short-term and carry a message of powerlessness.

Retaining Top Performers in a Competitive Economy at The SHRM Blog


Logo for SHRM, the Society for Human Resource ManagementThe recession of 2008 is well behind us. Since then the economy has been steadily improving with companies growing and expanding and looking to staff openings with talented managers. It’s also the end of the year and the start of a new year coming soon, a time that companies set their hiring plans in motion. Count on executive recruiters putting on a full court press to steal your top performers, many of whom may be considering a change in the new year. And they’ll succeed unless you take the necessary steps needed to prevent a company brain drain.

See my full article at The SHRM Blog.