AnnoyedWe've all had those days. Everything takes 7 steps longer than it should, and you feel like the universe is purposefully blocking your way at every move. What you really want is just one thing to go smoothly, but between the things outside of human control (downed servers; stale coffee; 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife...) and things that others can actually do something about, you're getting to that place that feels very 'stabby.'

Internal communications can't solve all of the problems surrounding days like this, but it can prevent a lot of the team-related friction that contributes to days like these.

Here are a few things that you can do with your team to make sure that human error isn't part of this 'Mercury in Retrograde' emotional mix:

  • Set Expectations Early and Often:  Employees, especially new staff, often have a hard time knowing exactly where to step in and assert themselves. If you are a leader who likes your needs anticipated or wants people to offer suggestions when you raise the white flag, be open about that. Let them know from the start when you say "help," you mean for them to bring their A-game to solve the problem.
  • Define Milestones and Goals:  When your day is already overwhelming, the last thing you have the patience for is a barrage of questions that you feel are repetitive. It's never easy to stay composed when you think you've outlined the plan and people ask you the same questions over again. For the sake of your sanity (and theirs), take the time to develop an annual work plan (or Strategic Plan) that includes quarterly goals and project milestones. Review it regularly with your team to know where they are with respect to the anticipated outcomes. This helps them make decisions and self-direct so that they can answer their own questions to a greater degree.
  • Create Visuals to Support Policy: People tend to ask questions before they read, and in today's environment, that can make for a lot of extra meetings, calls, and Zooms. Because many workplaces are missing the benefit of physical proximity, what used to be a brief question or hallway chat about goals, company priorities, or mission, has now turned into several hours of back-and-forth scheduling and production. The simple way to quickly share foundational information is to make visuals, or infographics, to instill this knowledge at every level. Do you want your team to understand how leadership assesses the viability of a project? Create a diagram and host it on the intranet, or add it to the company handbook.
  • Develop Decision Making and Workflow Maps:  To put a finer point on it (the previous point...), be explicit about the steps to follow when performing a task or making a decision. With visual indicators, including branches and gates of responsibility, process-questions can be resolved without additional outreach.
  • Model Initiative and Pro-Active Problem Solving:  And most important, be the initiative you want to see. Yes, if you as the leader take your team through some problem-solving scenarios and show them how to leverage their autonomy, they will understand better the difference between initiative and overreaching.

With your team fully informed and confident in their personal 'zone of genius,' your challenging day can take on a less ominous and overwhelming tone. When the people around you know how and when to help, you only need to worry about your patience with the universe.

And here's an apparent bonus for the year - according to this websiteMars does NOT go into retrograde in 2021. So good luck with that!

 

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About Lizabeth Wesely-Casella

Lizabeth Wesely-Casella is an internal communications corporate trainer and process improvement specialist. Her work has contributed to national health program restructuring, and she has helped businesses worldwide increase efficiency while improving staff experience. Lizabeth is an entertaining and informative speaker who shares actionable information with her audiences. To book Lizabeth for your event or podcast, visit her Speaking page.

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