It’s 2:30 in the afternoon on a sweaty Wednesday. You answer what feels like millions of emails, check a few items off your to-do list and take a lap around the office to stretch. You look sure that enough time has passed to make it 5 o’clock. But it’s only 2:35. Only five minutes have gone by.
It’s easy to get stuck in a summer rut. Unless there’s a BBQ and lemonade stand in each of your employee’s cubicles, being in the office is probably not an employee’s ideal location on a summer afternoon. It’s harder to stay focused and on track with projects and assignments when it seems like virtually everyone is on vacation or taking on new shift hours.
Don’t let the temperature and the temptation of playing hooky to go to the beach get to your employees before you can. Here are a few tips to keep your team focused while still having fun in the office all summer long.
Go on the occasional field trip
During the summer, I like to take my team on a “field trip” every now and then. We’ll walk to the nearest frozen yogurt establishment for a cool treat or to our local Starbucks to get just the right amount of caffeine to finish out the day.
It’s a nice break in the day that everyone appreciates. Sometimes it’s all you need to get motivated to finish out the afternoon strong.
I make it a point to get the team talking on our outing — do a little team building together with some quick exercises. Last summer, I asked my employees to go around and each say a word they associate with starting a small business and their favorite summer memory. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Be understanding when it comes to time off
I am a firm believer in fully being a boss when I’m at the office and fully being a mom when I’m at home. As long as I work the absolute hardest I can during the day and get everything on my to-do list checked off, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to head out early to catch my son’s soccer game.
I apply that same principle to my employees. As long as they have everything done and done well, early dismissal and later arrivals in the morning every now and then is fine. During the summertime, it’s important to be flexible with everyone’s schedules and work around them.
That’s not to say your employees should get out of the office for every little thing that comes up. But when something important unexpectedly happens, try to accommodate around that moment as best as you can.
Keep the watercooler filled
Obviously, you’ll be doing this for hydration purposes, but what I’m getting at here is to make sure your office has a laidback, summer-friendly atmosphere. Keep plenty of water available for everyone, a steady stream of A/C (with plenty of fans on hand) and a nice refreshing fruit bowl for a healthy summer snack.
It’s the small gestures that let your employees know that you have their best interest at heart, especially when it’s 104 degrees outside.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.
The biggest misconception in corporate America is the thinking that vulnerability and weakness are synonymous. They couldn’t be more opposite. If you don’t think so, think about the kind of managers
you want to work for and respond yes or no to the following:
- Has all the answers.
- Does not ask for suggestions on the ability to lead more effectively.
- Refuses to confront sensitive interpersonal issues.
- Frequently keeps office door shut with a sign on it that says, “Not Now!”
This last one may seem like a joke. It isn’t. At a particular organization, this is promptly displayed for all direct reports and those who pass by to see. Yikes.
To clarify, vulnerability in leadership is not reflected by managers who are quivering bowls of insecurity that freak out twice a day, questioning themselves out loud on every decision. Vulnerability is demonstrated by managers who have both the confidence and courage to make tough choices.
Yet, in the process of these choices, they are willing to reach out for help, because it’s in the best interest of the organization as well their continued development.
The following are five areas that demonstrate the strong, vulnerable leader. Do a quick self-assessment as to how you measure against these:
Ask the opinion of those lower in rank.
Many managers view their competencies as milestones they passed, no different than a child who has learned to crawl then walk. Why look back? Yet, the perspectives of those under you not only builds morale and makes team members feel valued, managers may learn a fresh perspective they never considered.
Be willing to apologize and admit fault.
No one wakes up and thinks, “I can’t wait to screw something up so I can make a public apology!” Yet, the well-managed ego of a leader knows that both trust and character is on the line when it comes this one.
Get feedback from direct reports.
This is a distinction as the strong, vulnerable leader proactively seeks specific areas to be more aware and effective. This willingness to be enlightened is paramount for modeling continuous improvement.
Ask customers to critique your service.
Verbal critiques are best here so dialogue is involved. We have a propensity to bristle when those not making or selling our products or services chirp up. But the perch from which they view our approach to service not only offers a different vantage point, but one that may increase future business and referrals based on the openness of that relationship.
Tell colleagues to hold you accountable.
Empowering a circle of trusted advisers, above and below you in rank, creates a positive environment, one that knows higher trust, support and stronger likelihood of better performance outcomes.
Which one of these qualities resonates with you most? If you immediately have a couple in mind, that’s a good sign. If you are willing to openly discuss these with those you work with, that’s a great sign. Stay vulnerable, my friends.
Joe Takash is the president of Victory Consulting, a Chicago-based sales and leadership development firm. Joe is a keynote speaker for executive retreats, sales conferences and management meetings and he has appeared in many national media outlets. His firm, Victory Consulting, coaches executive teams and individual leaders, helping them maximize strategic execution. Learn more at www.victoryconsulting.com.
Peanut butter and jelly. Nuts and bolts. Lennon and McCartney. Love and marriage. What do all these things have in common? They represent great partnerships — things that go together, like, well, a hamburger and fries (when I’m not on a diet, of course).
Great partnerships epitomize the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Vanilla ice cream is great, right? And who doesn’t love an ice cold glass of root beer? But put the two together and you’ve created an American classic: the root beer float.
Business can be like this, as well. Your company may be doing fine, but perhaps it can do even better with the help of a well-chosen partner.
After many years of being an independent businessman, I’ve followed my own advice and taken on a partner for the first time ever.
I’ve always felt that to be successful, I had to genuinely believe in my products, so it’s safe to say that my high hits-to-misses ratio was precisely because I considered them all to be labors of love. The Gazelle, Body-by-Bison, Cheeks footwear — they’re like my children in many respects. Still, there are limitations to what one individual can do.
Look to expand
I’ve wanted to expand the reach of my products for quite some time, and the financial resources that a new partner brings are certainly a critical component to achieving this goal. However, the scope of the endeavor also means the partner that I choose must be able to provide more than just cash; they must understand the business I’m in, backward and forward.
Look at what a partner can bring to the table to supplement your strengths. If I approach things intelligently, I can work with my partner to get the right buyers with negotiation skills so we can source products at the best possible prices in order to make a decent profit.
Of course, having a partner who is also willing to put the money up to buy the products is also key because of the importance of having an equity stake in what you sell beyond just collecting royalties.
What makes someone a good partner may vary depending on the business that you’re in, but it’s critical to understand that a true partner contributes more than just money to the venture.
Decide if a partner is a good fit
At the end of the day, the decision to take on a partner will hinge largely on what you determine to be your ultimate goal for your business.
For me, at this stage of my life, it’s about expanding the availability of my products internationally and to broaden my retail distribution channels. Some of it is driven by my desire to be the best I can be — but it’s also fair to say that I’m looking at monetizing the value of my trademarks, copyrights and patents so that there’s a tangible value to the company that can be sold someday.
The thought of giving up 100 percent ownership and control of your business to have a lesser share might be difficult at first. I admit it, I like calling the shots. But I also know that I can’t do everything at that level. The key is to focus on the big picture and try not to let your emotions get in the way of success.
Don’t let anyone tell you differently — nobody wants to run a company forever. And if you can build your company up to the point where it’s functioning well and is highly desirable, there’s a great deal of satisfaction in that, not to mention a nice pay day, when you can relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor — especially if they’ve been labors of love.
Tony Little is the president, CEO and founder of Health International Corp., and executive chairman of Positive Lifestyle International. Known as “America’s Personal Trainer,” he has been a television icon for more than 20 years. After overcoming a car accident that nearly took his life, Little learned how to turn adversity into victory. Known for his wild enthusiasm, Little is responsible for revolutionizing direct-response marketing and television home shopping. He has sold more than $3 billion in products bearing his name. Reach him at email@example.com.