This is part 3 of the series Understanding the 21st Century Workforce and part two of Basic Do's and Dont's. Let's continue with this part of the series.

Don't take things personally all the time

Hear My Train A Comin'
Stephan Geyer via Compfight

A. Don't assume everyone can easily communicate their feelings to you. One of the problems with communications is that everyone wasn't raised the same way, in the same school, hometown or even country. We all use some words the same and others differently. There are some people who say sentences that end in questions even when they're not questions, and some people who state something that's actually a question. Sometimes you have to ask someone to clarify what they're saying so you won't take it wrong, and the same will probably happen to you as well.

B. You're the one in charge; sometimes you have to take one for the team. Sometimes there are management decisions made by upper management teams that you have to defend, even if you disagree with it because that's your job. Whereas I always feel employees should come first, every once in awhile the betterment of the people who pay you must come first. You'll eventually get the opportunity to clean the air.

C. If it is personal, take time before responding, and absorb what's said, whether you agree or not. Remember my post on criticism? Overall people don't have to take criticism from others, but at work it's probably a much different story. If you take point A above and add it to this one when someone is talking to you about performance or other work issues that you don't feel are putting you in a good light, you'll at least take the time to listen and form your response, if there's a legitimate one to give.

D. Recognize your own interpersonal faults and work on them. Unfortunately none of us are perfect. Many of us know what our problems are and even more of us ignore them, thinking we can work on them another time. How long will that be? For some people it's never, and the longer you let it go, the longer the dysfunction affects everyone. Figure it out, then fix it or get help.

E. If you set up interpersonal training for others, you MUST partake of it yourself. Some leaders will send employees for training that they also need. Even if you can't go through all of it, at least show up for some of it to show support. Many times employees won't talk freely with you there, which is something that must be considered.

Do attempt to understand the employees you already have?

A. Interact with your employees on a regular basis; at least say hello and know their names. This seems simple but I know many leaders who have no idea who the people are that they probably pass by every day. Some get so engaged in their importance that they forget that without everyone else, there is no company; don't let this be you.

B. Try to think as they do; put yourself into the jobs they're doing mentally. You all know the phrase "put yourself in someone else's shoes" right? It's always a smart idea to think of how you'd feel if asked or told to do something uncomfortable. This doesn't mean that you don't do it if it's needed, but perspective might help you find another way or find a way to reward those people for what they had to go through.

C. Show yourself as being a real person; but don't get too friendly or tell too much about yourself. The truth of the matter is that we're all human and at some point we're going to find one or two people who we communicate with on a more personal level than everyone else at work. Overall though, it's best if you can remain friendly but not be friends, and to separate your personal life from work. There should always be a line that's not crossed because at some point you're going to have to be strong enough to tell people what they might not want to hear.

D. Listen to their ideas; they do the work all the time after all. This was covered in the previous article but it bears repeating. Don't think you're the only one who knows how things run, especially if you haven't been doing it every day for a long while. Let others help; they'll be glad to do it.

That's it; more employee friendly advice to come in the next article in this series.