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Being an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

 

Being an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Being an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Being an emotionally intelligent leader may sound like a challenge, or a farce or maybe a task that may not reward?  However, the evidence continues to build for emotional intelligence and how it impacts everything from productivity to rapport to leadership.   Here is an excellent business case for emotional intelligence.  For instance, according to the Center for Creative Leadership, one study shows that the primary causes for derailment in executives involves deficits in emotional intelligence.  This research points to qualities like difficulty working in teams, problems with interpersonal relations and challenges with handling change.

Being an emotionally intelligent leader doesn’t mean losing track of specific goals, directives or the hard data that often drives decisions.  Having emotional intelligence may mean changing how we communicate and engage with others.  First let’s define what emotional intelligence is –

What exactly is Emotional Intelligence? 

My short answer for this is that someone’s emotional intelligence is their ability to understand, communicate and empathize with their own emotions and other people’s emotions.  However, the standard definition is – emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior.

How to Improve Emotional Intelligence?

Often time’s organizations will bring in individual executive coaches or leadership coaches to work with employees within the organization on building emotional intelligence.  In addition, utilizing assessment tools with individuals and teams that help to build empathy and understanding of each other’s strengths is another way to build emotional intelligence in the individual or group.

Within the context of leadership, leaders may benefit from working towards building the following skills (all related to improving their emotional intelligence).

Three tips to improve emotional intelligence

  • Improving empathy towards employees through exploring their strengths and specific styles as well as how these styles can be complimentary to others within the team/organization.
  • Improving empathy towards one self through improving self-care practices, self-reflection, and self-awareness.
  • Exploring communication style and understanding strengths and blind spots in how they communicate as it relates to the leader’s ability to connect with employees.

Leadership is certainly not limited to the organization.  We can improve our leadership skills as individuals through understanding how we engage as friends, partners, relatives or parents for instance.  There is always opportunity to build our leadership skills.

Here are a few examples of how to improve your leadership in other avenues of life outside of the corporate world –

Emotionally Intelligent Leader as a Parent

Emotional Intelligence is quickly becoming recognized as a key factor that determines not only good leadership but also a crucial factor in how people communicate, interact and collaborate as adults.  The implications here are huge as children move into becoming independent adults. Consider these tips –

  • Teaching children to communicate their feelings at an early age can help with development of emotional intelligence.
  • Supporting children in expression of their own emotions, recognition of emotion in others and providing guidance in ways to be expressive can be helpful.

In my professional opinion, teaching children how to express themselves and recognize emotion in others is just as important as academics.  Given the later implications for how this may impact career and relationships, it seems that this is a crucial part of educational development.

Since we have seen such a rise in emotional intelligence being an important factor in an employee’s ability to lead as well as interact with others, the risks of not developing emotional intelligence may be great.  In addition, we see communication and ability to express one’s self being influential factors in relationships, both intimate and professional.  The risk of not developing emotional intelligence may be multifaceted for adults.

Emotionally Intelligent Leader as a Partner

Being able to improve our ability to empathize and understand our own emotions as well as others is particularly important with our significant others.  But how does one lead with these qualities?  Building a strong connection and leading with emotional intelligence in relationships can be expressed in a number of ways. Consider these tips to practice emotional intelligence with your partner –

  • Practice offering empathy, asking questions and being curious. Instead of making assumptions about your partner, remain more curious about truly understanding their feelings, perspectives and states of being.
  • Explore your own assumptions and sense of feelings. Being willing to be vulnerable with your partner shows leadership in emotional intelligence and offers an invitation to connect on a deeper level.

Emotionally Intelligent Leader as a friend

Even in our friendships we always have the opportunity to model what kind of relationship we are wanting to engage in and how we want the dynamic to exist.  Part of the challenge around this is first understanding what kinds of friendships you want to cultivate as well as how you want your current friendships to change, or not.

Being an emotionally intelligent leader among friends doesn’t mean you are guiding your friend’s behavior.   Being a leader is about setting example, inspiring and living congruently to your own values and principles.  This way of being is always possible in any relationship, leaving the opportunity to be a leader always an option.

Consider these tips for being an emotionally intelligent leader as a friend-

  • Understand your own boundaries, values and principles and be willing to communicate them. Some people may push back on this but the kind of friends that truly identify with you will resonate more strongly if you are clear about who you are and where you stand.
  • Communicate the kind of friendship that you expect. Being able to communicate clearly with friends about your own expectations, feelings and experiences will help to build stronger connections and model the kind of dynamic you hope to create.
  • Remain curious. When in conversations don’t wait until someone is done speaking so that you can respond.  Really try and remain curious about who they are and the message they are portraying.  Building curiosity rather than response will strengthen connection and impress upon your friends that you are truly invested in what they have to say.

 

How have you worked towards building emotionally intelligence in your life?

How was it helpful?

Did this shift any of your personal or work relationships?

Share in the comments below.

Have a great day!

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

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The Best Listener at Work

 

The Best Listener at Work

The Best Listener at Work

You may wonder why being a good listener at work is really valuable.  However, if you experiment with improving your workplace listening skills, you will see changes.   In the fast past, high demand jobs so many of us have, really good listening may be something of a novelty.  This may because of the ever-impending deadlines, the many distractions we have or the workplace stress.  If you commit to being the best listener at work, you may notice that some of these challenges shift.

So how might listening skills impact your work place experience?  Well, consider your experience now.  How well do you feel heard at work?  What do you notice about people how are really present with you when communicating vs. those that are anxious to move to the next “to do”?  I would imagine that when someone is really present with you that it is easier to talk to them, you may feel more connected or more at ease. What if you were that person for everyone else?  How might this impact your workplace experience if people knew that when they spoke to you, that they could count on you to really pay attention?

Particularly if you are a leader, really good listening skills go a long way.   Being able to connect, understand and communicate effectively with your employees is a crucial component of an effective leader.   According to a study in The Journal of Occupational Health, it was found that… “psychological stress reactions were lower in subordinates who worked under supervisors with high listening skill, while no statistically difference was observed among older subordinates.” 

So if we know that our listening skills have an impact on our overall work stress, it seems like a great advantage for us to actively improve these skills.  Below you’ll find three tips to improve your listening skills

1.) Offer more clarity

Repeating something back to someone in the way that you heard it will help to reduce miscommunication.  Repeating a statement also offers the opportunity for this person to add additional clarification if necessary.  This way of “active listening” ensures that this person is being understood correctly and shows them that you are paying attention.

2.) Focus

Sometimes we can get caught up in how we are going to respond to something.  Thinking of what to say next reduces our ability to listen to what someone is saying.  Attending to what someone is saying without focusing on how to respond will create stronger communication.  Remain focused on the present moment and really digesting what it is that someone is communicating. 

3.) Breath

Often times at the workplace we are moving a million miles a minute, which reduces our ability to take in information in any given moment.  Taking a few moments to breath as you speak with someone will help you to be more present and process what they are saying more effectively.  Before you speak or when you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and take a deep breath.  This may sound trivial but can do wonders for not only stress but your ability to communicate and listen effectively. 

After you’ve had the opportunity to put these behaviors to the test, I would invite you to make a comment below.   I would suggest that in order to notice results you may have to practice one or all three for at least four times a week for three weeks.   After you’ve practiced, consider answering the following questions –

How did they work if they did at all? 

What did you learn?  

How long did you practice each new behavior?  

Best,

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

 

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The Value of Showing Up

The Value of Showing Up

The Value of Showing Up

One of the first rules of life – show up.   What does this mean exactly?  I believe it can mean lots of things but perhaps first it means, give it your all.  Always be participating in your life rather than being a passive observer.   This is great advice, however, this article is more about the value of showing up in a literal sense.

Being actually present with someone rather than emailing, calling, Facebook messaging, Tweeting, texting or otherwise communicating.  I recently had the opportunity to be mentioned in an article in Entreprenuer.com.  This article goes in to great detail about the value of in person communication.  In today’s Vlog I want to emphasize three components that I find particularly important –

  1. Intention

  2. Subtleties

  3. Immediacy

For more information and detail about the value of in person communication, please see this article.   If you have questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out.  If you have interest in continuing the conversation, consider answering the following the questions and then commenting below –

What have you found to be valuable when communicating in person? 

How has in person communication impacted your personal or work relationships?

Cheers,

Michael

P.S. If you are curious to learn more about personal development, workplace challenges, interpersonal dynamics, goal achievement and a wide variety of other topics, sign up today! www.www.arcintegrated.com/newsletter.  It’s totally free.

You’ll also receive a FREE tip sheet with Five Strategies to Build Motivation!

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Inspiration and Engagement in the Workplace

Inspiration and Engagement in the Workplace

Inspiration and Engagement in the Workplace

I recently wrote an article for a website called inspiremetoday.com.  This article answered the question –

“If you only had 500 words to share, what wisdom would you want to pass on to humanity”

Of course this is a complicated question, but fun to answerMy answer consisted of ways to build inspiration, courage, congruence etc.  I wondered though, how does one hold on to inspiration?  I want to take this opportunity to discuss not only how to hold inspiration but particularly how to hold inspiration and engagement in the workplace, where most of us spend the majority of our time.

Inspiration is hard to hold on to sometimes.  However, this should be of primary concern to companies.  Here are three tips identifying why it may be beneficial to inspire employees and encourage employee engagement –

  • Employee turnover is expensive, unproductive and challenging.  Keeping employees engaged and enthusiastic about their work will reduce employee turnover and ultimately reduce costs and lost productivity for the company.
  • Most employees report that one of the most desired components of a positive work experience is being appreciated. One way to show appreciation for employees is making sure they are engaged in what they are doing, thus improving employee experience and reducing likelihood of turnover
  • Understanding the match between the company’s values and employee’s values is important.  If this is unclear, consider bringing in consultants or coaches that can evaluate and mediate this discussion.

So this may pose the question – how does a company get leadership to buy into this importance of employee engagement?

Companies can encourage leadership to understand the importance of employee engagement through modeling it. This means that HR and executive leaders should feel engaged in their work so that they can experience the value of what they will be teaching to other leaders in the company.

If leaders are experiencing a congruence between the values of the company and their own values, this will certainly inspire employees in the workplace.   This does seem relatively intuitive in nature, that if values match then positive outcomes will result. However, now there is a building mountain of evidence to support the importance of engagement, value alignment and inspired employees, as it relates to the successful business.

For example, according to Towers Watson, companies with a  highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2% over a 12 month period while companies with lower engagement saw a 32.7% decrease in operating income.

However, according to a study by Accenture, less than 50% of chief financial officers appear to understand the return on investment in human capital.   Even though this may be changing, continued awareness is important.  For additional evidence regarding the value of addressing engagement and other human dynamic issues, here is an extensive list of studies pointing to the value of improving employee engagement, culture and satisfaction.

How is your current level of engagement in your work?

What would it take to inspire you?

Best,

Michael

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The Best Way to Improve Productivity

 

The Best Way to Improve Productivity

The Best Way to Improve Productivity

There are an endless amount of resources out there for how to improve productivity.  In my search I did not find a definitive answer to the best way to improve productivity.  I think there is an answer to this question though.  The best way to improve productivity….is your way.

Finding out ways to hack your own laziness, distraction or “busy” lifestyle is tricky.  But the most effective way to improve productivity will be the one that is most connected to you.  A place to start when identifying what kinds of practices to experiment with may be the endless lists online, such as this one on – boosting productivity in real life.   As you may notice, I even wrote one of these tips.  The tips and strategies are definitely good to start with.

Experimentation and practice is where the rubber hits the road.  The next step is exploring the strategies in a way that answers the question of – how does those strategy resonate with me?   Using strategies that are most connected to who you are will yield the best results.

There are certainly some exercises and strategies that are more about self-exploration than others.  Here is a short list of strategies that may help to improve productivity, but more importantly offer the opportunity to explore what’s holding you back, and who you are.

Personal Development and Productivity

Take a vacation 

This may seem counter intuitive since taking a vacation is not necessarily the most “productive” of activities. However, letting go of some of the demands and hustle for a few days can help you to re-identify what is truly important, as well as give you a boost of energy when you return.

Create a daily practice

When looking at habits and common traits of successful people, one thing is usually consistent, they have some sort of regular practice. Having a daily practice helps to create mindfulness, discipline and routine – all things that impact productivity.

Practice discipline, everyday

Similar to the daily practice, focusing on ways to practice discipline can help to build routine and productivity in many areas in life. Discipline can be practiced in a number of ways through fitness, healthy eating, work duties, behavior in relationships, self-reflection and many other aspects in life.  The practice of the discipline itself may be just as important as the goal related to it.

Get up and move

You may have heard the recent commentary about sitting being the new smoking. There is substantial research to back up the idea of sedentary lifestyle greatly impacting health, wellbeing and productivity.   Exploring ways that help you to enjoy regular daily movement will make these little breaks easier to commit to and more likely to stick.  Again, this is about personal exploration of what works for you.

Explore your passions and purpose

Understanding what you are passionate about will help in building strategy around all of the previously mentioned tips. If you aren’t sure, that’s ok, start experimenting.  Start with these two questions –

  • What would I love to do every day if I had an unlimited amount of money?
  • If I had unlimited resources and I could only do one thing to help the world, what would it be?

How have you enhanced your own productivity? 

Thanks,

Michael

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5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

5 Strategies for Effective Boundaries in the Workplace

I was recently featured on Livestrong in an article about setting effective boundaries so that you do not become emotionally or even physically drained.  Sometimes not having clear boundaries can do this. Without good boundaries we can feel exhausted.  Since for most of us the majority of our time is spent at work, I wanted to elaborate on how to set effective boundaries in the workplace.

Having clear workplace boundaries not only impacts you, but all those you work with as well.  Having clear boundaries in the workplace helps to improve productivity, decrease stress, helps foster good relationships and improves motivation.   Although setting boundaries is complicated based on the nature of the work and relationship, a study that examined boundary setting in the workplace found that evaluating and setting boundaries did in fact impact relationships.  According to The University of California San Francisco, when boundaries are clear organizations work more efficiently and groups within work more productively.

 

5 strategies for effective boundaries in the workplace

 

  • Responsibility – Having a clear idea of roles and responsibility is crucial in a work environment. If this is unclear, then meeting with co-workers and supervisors may be important for clarification in order to understand who is responsible for what.

 

  • Self-Care Self-care may not seem as obvious when looking at boundary setting. However, this is more of a preventative measure.  It is easy to become unclear about where appropriate boundaries should be when we are run down, stressed out, irritable or overwhelmed.  Having good self-care practices will allow us to not only function at peak level but also remain clearer about where appropriate boundaries should be.

 

  • It’s not Personal – Remaining aware that work relationships may differ from personal relationships is an important perspective to hold. This doesn’t mean that there is not a certain level of familiarity or closeness with those you work with.   Some decisions in a work environment may be out your control.  In addition, there may be decisions that are made that don’t make sense due to components that you be unaware of or are not privileged to know.  Just like in all relationships – learning to not take things personally can be a game changing perspective to hold and a way to reduce stress and anxiety.

 

  • Clear and Friendly Communication – Setting clear boundaries does not mean needing to be dry, cold disconnected from your fellow co-worker. In fact, having a positive friendly attitude can generally impact the environment in a great way.   Remember that there can be a balance between clear boundary and a friendly, positive attitude.

 

  • Be the Leader – In an environment of unclear boundaries there is an opportunity. This opportunity is for someone to establish a leadership role and be a model for how to set clear boundaries of relationship and responsibility.  We always have the option of being in a position of either following the trend or stepping up as a leader, regardless of our position in any environment.

 

How else have you been able to set clear boundaries in the workplace?

Thanks,

Michael

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Meditation for the Individual and Organization

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

I have been meditating for some time, with more consistence recently.  I have experienced a wide variety of meditation practices.  Practices from basic breathing exercises to guided meditation to Chi Kung, a Chinese based practice of held posture or soft movements related to energy cultivation.  All of these have found to be valuable in particular ways.  Mostly I practice Chi Kung in addition to daily seated meditation.  See the link to learn more about my daily practice.   However, this post is not about my daily practice.  It’s about why meditation for the individual and organization are both so important.

Recently I came across a device call MUSE: The Brain Sensing Headband™ (affiliate link).  The device is a headband that gives immediate feedback on brain activity through a synced app on your device.  For a detailed account of the process see this link.

Basically, this device works through first calibrating your current brain state (different all the time of course) and sets that stage for how active your brain currently is.  From there you get to pick the length of meditation, from three minutes to one hour, and a scene (rain forest or beach) that is associated with your meditation session.  You get feedback through sound from the scene you choose.  For example, crashing waves when active, soft waves when your brain is calm.  In addition, you hear birds chirping when your brain is particularly calm.

When the session is over you get a detailed report of your session and how calm or active your brain was.   The detailed account is presented in an easy to read graph of the ups and downs of activity during the session.

So the question may still be – what is the point of meditation?  It’s a valid question, with many answers!  Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and even improve productivity.  Please see highlights below –

Meditation for the Individual

Meditation can have an impact on the body, mind and overall well-being.  Below are just some highlights of the impact of meditation on the individual.

  • Impact on Aging – According to a study at UCLA, they concluded that long term meditators had less age related gray matter in the brain.
  • Management of Health Conditions – The Mayo Clinic sites meditation as having a high impact on both emotional well-being as well as helping people to manage symptoms of Asthma, High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease and more.
  • Impact on Depression, Anxiety and Pain – In a meta-analysis last year at John Hopkins, researchers determined that mindfulness meditation practices had a moderate impact on depression, anxiety and pain.
  • Meditation and Self-Control – In a study in 2013 by three universities, it is suggested that meditation training can have an impact on self-control and smoking reduction.

Meditation for the Organization

The impact of meditation on the organization can be significant.  Implementing meditation can have an impact on productivity, absenteeism and even the bottom line!

  • Impact on Absenteeism According to an article by The Harvard Business Review – employees struggling with depression lose an average of 27 days of work per year. If we know that meditation can have an impact on depression, then this could be a way to improve absenteeism and ultimately save the company time and money.
  • Impact on Disability The World Health Organization estimates the depression will be the leading cause of disability by 2020 with heart disease as second. This means high cost to companies that don’t find ways to work towards helping employees reduce and manage such issues.
  • Impact on Healthcare Costs and Productivity Corporate mindfulness programs are on the rise. According to an article by The Atlantic, Aetna states that since instituting its mindfulness program it has saved $2000 per employee in healthcare costs and gained $3000 per employee in productivity costs.
  • Meditation More Common in the Workplace According to an article by The Society for Human Resource Management, meditation and mindfulness programs are being implemented into wellness programs more regularly because of the great benefits associated.

So how does all this great data relate back to MUSE™?  Well, for a few reasons –

Meditation for the Individual and Organization

  • Easy to Understand Feedback – The immediate feedback MUSE™ gives is unique when it comes to meditation. Often times when meditating it is harder to get immediate results, which is why it takes lots of practice. MUSE™ takes practice too, but offers a way to see the direction you are heading.
  • Fun in Competition – Meditation is not generally competitive. However, with integration into a company’s wellness program, using MUSE™ in meditation, could be similar to running a challenge of healthy eating, walking or drinking water. For example, a race to get to 75% relaxation or a meditation for 30 days challenge.
  • Measurable – For those individuals or organizations that want to see progress in a measurable fashion, MUSE™ could be a tool for this. Gathering data over time allows you to see where you started and how far you’ve come.
  • An Introduction to Meditation – If you have never meditated you may have views, opinions or an image in your mind. This device takes some of the mystery out of the practice and allows for a glimpse into what is possible through calming your mind as well as the relationship between your mind and body.  Any way to connect our understanding of how our mind impacts other aspects of our health, is a great opportunity for growth and development.

How have you found meditation to be helpful in your life or workplace?

Please share or comment below.

Thanks!

Michael

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Self Care

Self Care

 

Self care does not often come up as being a priority in our world of high expectations, busy schedules, constant distractions and technological bombardment. However, there is a shift happening with the awareness about the importance of self care.

As we build our understanding about the biology and neuroscience behind behavior, emotions, productivity, focus and fatigue we continue to bridge the gap between body and mind.  Some research implies that self care not only has an impact on one’s ability to perform but also an impact on organizations as a whole, as it relates to overall function.

Often times stress leads to conflict.  When we are stressed our patience is more limited.  So when we have conflict with loved ones, co-workers or the general public, our ability to respond appropriately is reduced.  The solution to this may be to take time out to care for yourself, so that you can reduce stress.

This is not surprising news.  When we feel better, can think clearly and are less stressed, we are more effective human beings.   So, regardless of what you do and what industry you are in, consider making your own care a priority.

I know that in my work, the better I feel the better I am at my work and relationships.   Since I initiated a more regimented self care routine, I have gained more clarity, productivity and a calmer presence.  But you shouldn’t take my word for it, or the research available.  Experiment, and see what you find when you start making yourself a priority!

Ways to Take Time Out for Yourself

Physical – Lifting weights, running, walking, snowboarding/skiing, surfing, take a class (spinning, cross fit, yoga, martial arts, Zumba etc.), hike, bike and sex.

Relational – Spend time with your family, partner and friends, go to a concert, get involved in a regular hobby or group oriented activity or sport.

Reflective – Journal, meditation, listen to music, go for a walk, deep breathing exercise, read.

General Health – 8+ hours of sleep per night, drink lots of water, eat nutritious whole foods.

What other ways can you take care of yourself?

Challenge of the Week!

  • List out your weekly self-care routine or goal.
  • Tag someone on social media that you think is interested in the challenge.
  • Share this post with the person you tagged.
  • Feel good about expanding awareness of why we should be taking care of ourselves so that we can take care of each other!

Cheers,

Michael

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Counseling Skills in Business

When considering how a field like counseling or psychology may be relevant in business, one thing that comes to mind is the idea of change.  In the fast pace environment that most companies exist in, change is one constant that we can count on.  Whether this means a merger, a management shift, an organizational restructuring or simply a new hire, the business’s challenge is how to adjust to these shifts regularly.  Those in a supervisory role are tasked with how they can improve management skills to impact employee performance.  The following is an example of a management skill that supervisors can utilize to impact change.

An orientation in counseling that also works as a people management skill, is an approach called Motivational Interviewing (MI). MI is defined as “A collaborative conversation to strengthen a person’s own motivation for and commitment to change”.  This approach focuses on ambivalence towards change and works with an individual to increase motivation for change.  When discussing the ambivalence towards a change, one strategy to consider within MI, is called “OARS” (Open Ended Questions, Affirmation, Reflections and Summary).  The communication style of “OARS” is only a small part of MI.  However, when working with employees, managers and executives, “OARS” can be utilized to help understand why/how a change is taking place and what obstacles stand in the way.  The idea behind “OARS” is that the person using this strategy is asking open ending questions, affirming what the other has to say, reflecting on their statements and summarizing what they are saying in order to build clarity.

For example, a manager is trying to decide the most effective way to approach an employee and address performance issues.  The communication style of “OARS” utilized in MI may be particularly helpful when looking at what kinds of changes this employee needs to make in order to get the expected results.  A challenge many managers face is how to elicit a change without making the employee resentful or offended.  If a manager is particularly savvy, they will understand the value of inspiring an employee to make a change, rather than coercing. MI can help make the process of inspiring change more effective, through reducing an employee’s ambivalence and address the advantages of making this change.  MI has been effective in helping people address a change they are uncertain of, as well as address how to go about making it.  For more information on MI, please see- www.motivationalinterviewing.org

Thank you!

Michael

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