Work with a happy, healthy team — here’s how!

Care About Them (DUH!)

You don’t have to leave your humanity at home in order to be professional. It’s okay to show emotion and sensitivity at work. This is actually part of being professional. Do bring your whole self to work. Care personally about your team and connect with them on a human level. This creates understanding, empathy, and a desire for them to go above and beyond. The best way to show that you genuinely care for people is to genuinely care for people!

Have The Tough Talks

Work environments are filled with different personalities who all have their own lives, priorities, values, and agendas. It’s inevitable they will go through ups and downs and might even lock horns with fellow team members. (Who am I kidding…might is a nice way of saying, “they will”…)

When your team members are feeling down or off, they might not bring their best game so it’s up to you to care about them enough to challenge them. Yep, you read that right. Being in a rut is often caused by a loss of purpose or meaning, which is the result of not being challenged in a constructive way.

But there’s a place from which to challenge people, and it requires CARING.

You have to be willing to let go of the fear of pissing people off, because caring about them means telling them the truth they need to hear – no matter how scary it is for you!

It’s our job as team leaders and CEOs to have the tough talks — and it’s a moral obligation. Cultivate radical candor because you need to challenge and care for your individual team members at the same time. Why? Ruinous empathy is the most dangerous thing…we need to tell people when they screw up (trust me, they really do want to know!)

Pro Tip: You can’t hang out in “ruinous empathy” and then move into candor. Mixing the two will result in something like mixing baking soda and vinegar. POUF… Explosive and messy!

No need to be mean, just be clear.

Being candid isn’t about being critical or negative; it’s about shining light on the facts in a constructive way so everyone can do better. Don’t kiss up to your team only to kick them down because they’ll never trust you again. Caring personally is a must when you’re a leader. Everyone deserves common human decency and people crave the respect of their teammates and leaders — and respect requires candor.

This means people really do want to know if they’re off. They want to do their work with integrity, meet and exceed expectations, and feel an overarching sense of purpose and ownership with what they do. So go on and give praise that’s meaningful and not false reassurance.

Overall, people like to know where they stand and that’s only possible when you’re candid. Your candor will be welcome as you train your team to receive feedback in a way that is constructive.

Pro Tip: Judge performance, feedback, and conversations, not people (or even yourself as a leader).

Take The Heat

At work, the best way to get your team to be candid is through one-on-one conversations. Listen and solicit. Don’t ask directly as it can be awkward. Putting your team on the spot is never good.

For example: “Is there anything I could do or stop doing that would make it easier to work with me?”
“Tell me what you really think.”

Then listen with the intent to understand and respond as needed, not to defend. It’s about rewarding their candor; you’ve heard them and appreciate them. Whether you give or receive feedback, keep it to only 2 to 3 minutes in a conversation. Don’t delay. Say it right away. It should go without saying (but I will anyway!) criticism is always delivered in private.

Ditch the Gossip

Don’t let others talk about one another behind their backs — always encourage them to talk directly to the other. Encourage responsible and respectful communication while inviting them to be candid.

I challenge you, savvy entrepreneurs, to go whip up some candor and see what happens.

-Ashley

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