Insights from the “Facing Challenges” Tweetchat

Last week I hosted my final tweetchat of 2012 on the topic of facing challenges in the workplace. I started the discussion with a question: “What is the number one challenge you face in the workplace?” Three key challenges emerged, and along with them, many ideas for overcoming them.

The 9 to 5, or 6, or 7, or…

The combination of mobile technology with increased work pressures and expectations has contributed to more people working more hours. While we appreciate increased flexibility, the additional workload can be daunting and at times even paralyzing.  However, there are strategies we can implement to manage our workloads, improve overall performance, and even make time for the little people (AKA your children). Managing your workload is really about managing your time, for example, setting appropriate boundaries for work and personal time or what I called in a previous post, managing “work/life imbalance.” Those in the tweetchat also had good ideas for time management. Strategy Consultant, Alan Howze, had recently been experimenting with “Living Your Calendar,” which takes your traditional to do list to the next level by helping to prioritize and set aside time for specific tasks, instead of focusing solely on urgent tasks while pushing aside important ones (a critical distinction).  The tweeters at Online Business Degree suggested breaking down projects and setting time limits on individual tasks. Moral is, if your workload is burning you out, and you find you don’t have time to do the things you love or really need to do, then take a good, hard look at your calendar, chances are it could be better organized.

Fear of Failure

“What will my boss think or say or even worse, do?” Often employees are afraid to speak up or take action, because they are concerned about the recourse. But as David Williams wrote in his recent article, “Employees who are afraid of something or someone in the organization will naturally close up to protect themselves, and can no longer perform at their full capacity.” Plain and simple, fear is a performance and innovation killer. However, leaders can play a significant role in reducing employee fears. As leaders, we should advocate for and truly live an “open door” policy. Give your employees the opportunity to get to know you and what you stand for. Walk the halls and introduce yourself to people you don’t know. As employees get to know their leaders, they become less afraid of them and more willing to contribute new ideas. As for the individual, consultant, Brianna Lux, had a whole different suggestion: Improv. Yes, I mean the “stage, mic, random acts of comedy” improv, and it turns out, Forbes agrees.

Employee Dissatisfaction

One of the greatest challenges an organization can face is employee dissatisfaction. Low morale contributes to equally low performance. I thought it would be better to ask the group what would improve employee satisfaction rather than propose ideas myself: “Provide a clear career path and encourage employees to engage mentors who can assist with their development,” wrote Adam Jelic, Workforce Transformation Lead. “Find what motivates your teams!” interjected Senior Managing Consultant, Bill Kirst.  While Alison Nickerson suggested, “Let people feel they can contribute and be a part of something.” Three very different ideas that prove there are many ways to overcome employee dissatisfaction – and for more ideas start by asking your employees.

For a conversation about challenges, and trust me, it wasn’t difficult for participants to name a few, it had a distinctly hopeful feeling. I think this gets at the question of why even have a conversation about something seemingly unpleasant? Hiding challenges will almost never make them go away, but acknowledging them and then collaboratively addressing them will not only eliminate the problem, but build camaraderie too.

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