Self-Improvement at the Water Cooler

An examination of HR news for the week ending March 22nd, 2013:

The Micromanager

Okay, we’ve all been there. You know you should leave your employees alone, trust them to do their work well and not get so involved. But you can’t help it. You figured you could do whatever it is they’re doing—only you could do it better. Welcome to the world of micromanaging. Luckily, Inc. offers up four tips this week for how to avoid turning into that particular monster.

It all comes down to setting expectations for your employees. Workers need to know that they can’t just loop you in at the last minute and expect you to move forward with whatever plan they come up with. It will only lead to your greater involvement from the get go the next time around. If they have an idea, they need to speak up, but in advance. Be open about your idiosyncrasies so that employees can anticipate them and act accordingly. If it’s deadlines that trigger your micromanagement mode, create a system to make sure nothing ever gets missed. Finally, ask them to acknowledge all of your incoming requests. That will guarantee you’re never wondering if someone is working on something… and then just end up doing it yourself.

HR self improvement water cooler workout

The Dysfunctional Boss

What if it’s not you you’re trying to fix, but rather your boss? Inc. has you covered for that as well. Sometimes dysfunctional bosses just can’t be avoided. Spend some time trying to identify precisely what your problems with your boss are—and then make sure they’re her problems and not your own. Take your list and divide the issues into personal and professional (no, his ugly tie definitely does not count as a professional issue). Cross the personal issues off the list and focus your attention on the professional. Build a toolbox to help you deal with them. Say your boss has a habit of tying you down with menial tasks on Friday afternoon: Try running out for coffee or escaping through volunteering outside the office. Ah, avoidance. Sometimes it's a beautiful thing.

The Unmotivated

Irritations, like circular definitions, are irritating. But it turns out they may actually be good workplace motivators. Forbes reports this week on five common annoyances that can give productivity boosts. Receiving sarcastic criticism from a manager or client, for example, can motivate you to improve your work. Office gossip, too, has actually been proven to relieve stress and improve productivity.

Oddly enough, clutter and messy office spaces can help workers streamline their own thoughts. Similarly, background noise can help improve focus by forcing employees to hone in on the one thing they actually need to think about. Finally, that whole thing about rewards as a motivator? That might work, but the best ideas come from the innate desire to create. No reward necessary—stick to the recognition.

The Unretainable

Maybe you don’t distribute rewards. But to keep your best employees, you definitely need a competitive salary and benefits package. That’s according to TLNT in a post on things companies can do right now to hold on to their star employees. It’s essential to be clear about your expectations and employee policies, and then to actually uphold them.

Exceptions to the rules are a quick route to resentment. Get personal—taking a sincere and active interest in your employees will demonstrate that you care. Finally, show some respect. Think about how employees want to be treated, and treat them accordingly. When it comes to keeping employees happy, a little goes a long way.

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