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Traci's 2017 Business Tips

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

December is a good month to practice inclusion in your thoughts and actions. Make an extra effort to be open to and respectful of the many different ways your employees choose to celebrate the holiday season. (Posted December 17, 2017)

Loyalty inspires loyalty. Generally, if your employees can count on you, you can count of them. Employees who experience consistent support from their supervisors tend to view their supervisors more favorably and utilize their critical thinking skills for the betterment of the organization. (Posted December 10, 2017)

Supervisors, your team should be able to fully function in your absence. They should be empowered and have the confidence to make sound decisions. If your presence is always required in order for work to be done correctly, take a step back and assess your leadership abilities and the quality of your training programs. (Posted December 3, 2017)

As a supervisor, how important is it that you receive the credit for the things that go right in the work environment? When things are going well, look around and recognize that others deserve praise for their efforts. When things are going poorly, don’t look to blame others. Instead, pull your team together to determine how to tackle the issues at hand. Playing the blame game usually does nothing to solve problems. (Posted November 26, 2017)

When the work environment is stressful and chaotic, one of the most important things you can do is pause and pay attention to the needs of your employees. Focus on what you can do to lessen the stress. Sometimes, all it takes is a willingness to listen to concerns and to consider new approaches to problem-solving. (Posted November 19, 2017)

Theory vs. practice. How much trouble has the disconnect caused your employees, customers, and other stakeholders? Build into your business practices a regular check of your procedures vs. what employees actually do. Align as needed to avoid confusion and ill will. Want more information? See Weeks of June 11 & July 23 business tips! (Posted November 12, 2017)

Your way is not the only way! One guaranteed method to kill employee motivation and initiative is to micromanage. Equip your employees with the training and guidance they need to succeed, and then trust them to get the job done. (Posted November 5, 2017)

What’s your communication style? Do you speak clearly, directly, and in a respectful manner? Do you expect employees to read your mind? Do you use negative words or tones that make it difficult to receive your message? Assess and adjust as needed to improve two-way communication! Want more information? See Week of October 1, 2017 business tip. (Posted October 29, 2017)

Supervisors, if your employee's work product is not consistently being completed to your satisfaction, ask yourself the following: Are my expectations reasonable? Have I clearly communicated my expectations? Have I followed up to ensure my directions were understood? Have I provided support if it is needed? If the answer to all questions is yes, you may have a performance/conduct issue that needs to be addressed. (Posted October 22, 2017)

When dealing with personnel matters, remember that all information is not for public consumption. Treat matters as confidential, sharing on a need-to-know basis only. (Posted October 15, 2017)

Conflict, when mismanaged, can create or exacerbate problems in the workplace. When conflict arises, don't explode or attempt to minimize or avoid concerns that are expressed. Instead, commit to recognizing, understanding, and responding to what matters to the other person. If conflict resolution is a priority rather than "being right", you are more likely to maintain a healthy and productive work environment. (Posted October 8, 2017)

Be mindful of how you speak to employees and what you say. Off-color language and/or dismissive or patronizing tones can lead to employees feeling disrespected and undervalued. Use your words to encourage those with whom you work and to create a professional and inclusive work environment. (Posted October 1, 2017)

Embrace diversity throughout your organization--age, race, ethnicity, physical and mental abilities, communication styles, work habits, etc. Watch employee performance and customer service improve when you appreciate, learn from, and build upon differences. (Posted September 24, 2017)

Employees should never be surprised by the information in their annual written performance evaluation. The performance appraisal process should be more than an annual "one and done." Throughout the year, communicate with your employees about the good, bad and ugly of their performance. Help them to celebrate their successes and work with them to shore up their deficits. (Posted September 17, 2017)

Work to build strong teams with shared values of excellence and respect. Foster teamwork and collegiality, and shun negativity and backbiting. Together, you can experience many successes that everyone can feel good about. (Posted September 10, 2017)

Don't take yourself too seriously. Be proud of the titles and degrees that you earned. Use them to build bridges, not to create borders. In the workplace we should all act as, and be treated as, responsible adults. (Posted September 3, 2017)

Don’t make a bad situation worse by blowing up when work pressures build. Before stressful reactions overtake a situation, practice techniques such as deep breathing, reflective thinking, and timeouts to gain control over your emotions and actions. (Posted August 27, 2017)

Build "think time" into your daily schedule. Each day, schedule 15-30 minutes to meetings, no phones, no emails. Regroup and review what you have already accomplished, and then prioritize items that are still on your daily "must do" list. (Posted August 20, 2017)

Take time to examine what attracts you to being a supervisor. Money? Power? Control? Desire to mentor, guide, or nurture others? Whatever your reasons, having a good understanding of the "why" can help you filter your decision making through the appropriate lens. (Posted August 13, 2017)

Spare yourself from embarrassment and hard feelings by getting into the habit of double checking the "To" line when sending or replying to emails. There is nothing worse than mistakenly including someone in an email response that was not meant for them! (Posted August 6, 2017)

Don't be afraid to respectfully speak up if you don't agree with or have concerns about a decision. Others may appreciate a different viewpoint, especially if it provides them an opportunity to more thoroughly vet an issue and helps them to prepare for similar questions or concerns from others. (Posted July 30, 2017)

Keep your business on track with written policies and procedures that are regularly reviewed and updated, as needed. Lack of written procedures can breed inefficiency because employees may be forced to "make it up as they go." Unwanted changes to established (and correct) practices can occur when employees do not have written documents that establish operational expectations and that guide decision-making. (Posted July 23, 217)

Supervisors should set an example of work-life balance. Employees need to see and believe that it is not only okay to practice self-care, but expected. Employees who achieve and maintain balance are happier, healthier, and more productive in the workforce. (Posted July 16, 2017)

Don't shy away from admitting you made a mistake. Learn and grow from your mistake by taking responsibility and having a plan to address it. These actions build credibility and engender respect from those around you. (Posted July 9, 2017)

Supervisors, don't be afraid to compliment employees for a job well done! Honest feedback does not negate your ability to address performance concerns should they arise at a later time. Employees need to hear from you when they do a good job just as much as when they have challenges with their performance. Strive to be balanced and sincere when providing performance feedback. (Posted July 2, 2017)

Supervisors, be authentic in your dealings with your employees. Employees should not have to wonder which personality (positive or negative) they will encounter when interacting with their supervisor. Most employees value predictability from their supervisors as well as a sense that they, as employees, are being treated respectfully and fairly. (Posted June 25, 2017)

Strive to start your day with an organized work area. At the end of each workday, pretend that you have a meeting with a big client early the next morning. Before walking out the door, determine if your desk area paints a picture of how you want to be viewed. Simply taking time to neatly stack papers can make the difference between looking professional and prepared, versus looking and feeling disheveled and disorganized. (Posted June 18, 2017)

Stay in compliance with your organization's policies and procedures. Minimally on an annual basis, schedule time for employees to review key organizational policies and procedures. Employees benefit from the refresher and organizations can determine if changes are needed to align practices with written procedures. (Posted June 11, 2017)

Do you have sticky notes, phone messages, and other random pieces of paper in your work area? If so, a composition book can help you keep and organize information, which you might need later, in one location. Stick or tape papers in the book as you receive them. If an action is needed, place a big check mark on the item after the action has been taken. On a daily basis, look through your composition book to determine what has been and what needs to be completed. (Posted June 4, 2017)

Don't assume that supervisors are born with the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to be successful…even if they were great workers. Allocate resources to their supervisory growth and development in the same manner as you would to their technical skills development. Structured training and support help them to establish and to maintain professional and productive work relationships with those they supervise. (Posted May 28, 2017)

Be prepared when employees leave the organization. With a two-week or even 30-day notice, years to decades of organizational knowledge can walk out the door. Establishing and maintaining an organizational knowledge management plan can help organizations document and keep track of critical information that may only exist in the memories of one or two employees. Formalize what information needs to be retained, how it will be retained, and who is responsible for maintenance. (Posted May 21, 2017)

Can't meet a deadline? Timely and honest communication is key. It is better to communicate up front that you are not going to meet a deliverable. If necessary, ask for an extension rather than miss the deadline and wait for the fallout. (Posted May 14, 2017)

Address employee performance issues as they arise. Don’t bury your head in the sand in the hopes that performance concerns will take care of themselves without timely and appropriate intervention. Be clear on your expectations and work with employees to develop concrete plans to improve performance. Follow your organization's written policies and procedures, and be consistent in your dealings with all employees--those you favor AND those you don't. (Posted May 7, 2017)

Don't let disorder in your work area hinder your productivity. When you have stacks of unorganized papers, files, and folders on your desk, medium to large sticky notes can be your friend! Take 10 minutes to do a one-touch process. The key is to touch each item only once, by either dealing with it (if it takes 30-45 seconds or less) or writing on the sticky note what action needs to be taken with a deadline. Group similar items, and then each day endeavor to take care of at least three (3) items until your pile disappears. (Posted April 30, 2017)

Good employer-employee relationships are a key component of business success. Leaders should take time to introduce themselves and get to know employees when they come on board. Building positive relationships early on can lead to greater civility and productivity in the workforce. (Posted April 23, 2017)

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