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

 

Workplace Bullies and Abrasive Leadership Coaching

The following is a guest post by Frank Faeth. Workplace Bullies and Abrasive Leadership Coaching first appeared in Wolf in the Workplace, the newsletter of Wolf Management Consultants, LLC.

Workplace bullying is rampant. According to a Workplace Bullying Institute survey, “more than a third of adult Americans report being bullied at work, and 15 percent witness it and are made miserable.”

Sadly, most of us don’t know how to counter the bully’s bad behavior. Oftentimes, the bully is a star performer, making it even harder for both management and human resource executives to confront the looming problem. Employers frequently don’t act, even though keeping an abusive leader onboard is often more risky and costly than pursuing solutions.

The first thing human resource executives can do is to understand what makes a bully tick, and know when calling in an executive coach is a viable course of action.

Abrasive leaders at any level can inflict deep wounds and intense suffering in employees. The organization often experiences the pain of working with an abrasive executive, manager, or supervisor as well, eroding effectiveness and paralyzing productivity. Few of us have escaped the pain of working under, over, or with an abrasive leader.

An abrasive leader is someone in a managerial position whose interpersonal behavior causes emotional distress in coworkers sufficient to disrupt organizational functioning. The intensity and extent can be wide-ranging, from minor and infrequent incidents to more extreme manifestations of aggression.

Abrasive leaders tend to:

  • Perceive coworker incompetence as a direct threat to their own competence
  • Employ aggression to defend against the perception of incompetence
  • Believe use of aggression is not just necessary to achieve organizational goals, but noble as well
  • Deny any role in generating negative perceptions about themselves
  • Be entirely unaware or only minimally aware of the nature and degree of their destructive impact on coworkers

Research indicates that abrasive leaders do not intentionally commit harm as is commonly believed, and are not fully aware of their action or the wounds they inflict.

Coaching abrasive leaders is not straightforward. Any perceived threats to their professional competence will be vigorously defended against with the fight mechanism and interpersonal aggression. Because they need to demonstrate their superiority, in the classic coaching process they experience immediate and intense anxiety and defend against these threats.

By the time a coach is called in, the leader’s interpersonal incompetence overshadows his or her technical competence, and the organization’s negative perceptions now threaten the leader’s professional survival. This leads to two difficulties for the coach: 1) Forming a trusted coaching alliance; and 2) Engaging the client despite their denial of a need for coaching.

So what does a coach do?

The client engages the coach as his co-researcher, interviewing coworkers to discover the negative perceptions and identifying what causes them. The findings give the coach and client an opportunity to develop strategies to eliminate negative perceptions and to manage them out of existence. The data collected informs the client of the nature and degree of the distress generated, helping remove the blinders blocking the client’s awareness of other’s emotions.

The key difference here versus more classic executive coaching is that we’ve moved from eliminating negative client behaviors to eliminating negative coworker perceptions. By doing so, the leader can fight against perceived threats to his competence and help them

3 Easy Ways To Motivate Your People To Step Up Their Game | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Be sure to check out this excerpt from Seven Disciplines of a Leader over at Fast Company.

Years ago, I followed Tiger Woods for several holes at the Buick Invitational Tournament in San Diego, and I marveled at his concentration and skills. I asked myself: “Does Tiger Woods need a coach to be a great golfer?” The answer: Probably not, but he has become a better golfer by working with one.

 

In Tiger’s case, coaching helped him succeed beyond his then current level of play and elevated his game. His coaching wasn’t intended to fix a problem, and likewise a qualified coach can turn excellent employees into true powerhouses.

 

3 Easy Ways To Motivate Your People To Step Up Their Game | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.