Top Tips for Creating a Happier Work Environment

Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Kavitha Chahel (UK).

Toxic work environments are a major cause of staff turnover, and research by the CIPD found that only 7% of organisations actually calculate the cost of staff turn over to their business. It is no secret that an engaged workforce leads to an increase in efficiency and productivity. In the daily demands of running a business this can often drop in the list of priorities.

Business leaders often do not know how to create workforce engagement with the pressure of day-to-day work deadlines. They also face the added challenge of relating to and communicating with a workforce made up of people from different backgrounds (be it socioeconomic, educational, religious, cultural etc.). All with different values and expressing themselves. To top this off there are often up to three generations of workers with wildly different expectations of work that make up these organisations. The baby boomers, the generation X’s and those from generation Y.

This is where working with a coach is vital. Coaches can help business leaders go beyond the superficial ‘fix’ of team building days, offsite weekends or pizza lunches for example.

Here are three key areas of focus for business leaders to improve the way in which people communicate with one another within their organisations that will improve profits and do not cost a thing.

  1. Listening skills:

In order to come across as ‘clever’ and put the big kahuna act on, we hinder our own ability to listen. Like most skills in life, we literally pick up this skill from the people around us. However, very often we listen with the intent to respond and not to understand.

Asking someone a question and waiting for the response quietly is something all great leaders and sales people have learned to do well. There is richness of information that comes through when we allow people the space to express themselves. Try listening without judgement, which is easier said than done, seeing how much we all like to be judgmental. Free your head from queuing up another question before the other has finished speaking. If you allow information to just come in and give it time to settle, for you to fully understand it. It allows you to then gather further information. It is a skill we all need to cultivate in order to really hear what people are saying. A level beyond the space of listening from what we know, moving to a place of deeper listening of empathy and possibility of creating something new.

As business people we often ask clients cleverly crafted questions and before they are even done answering, we mentally start running through the next question. By doing this, little gold nuggets of information are being missed, because we weren’t fully present with them.

By being fully present you allow yourself to completely step into a persons issue and blocks, in order to help them identify solutions by working together.

2. Stepping into someone else’s shoes:

There is a very simple but effective coaching exercise known in NLP as perceptual positioning. This is a great exercise, as it gives us the experience of looking at interactions from different perspectives, our own and that of the other. It also gives us the space to observe our own behaviour, posture, tone, feelings and step into someone else’s shoes and experience what a situation might be like for them. This exercise gives us the power to improve the interaction simple by identifying what we could be doing differently.

3. Communicate with compassion:

Communicating with other human beings with compassion and empathy takes the sting out of difficult conversations. We then give space for something new to be formed. The conversation is transformed from destructive and stressful to constructive and generative.

We are all born with a capacity for love and empathy, it usually drains out of us as we go through life. That capacity is still available to us and it is possible to exercise your empathy and compassion muscles, by learning to stay grounded, using our deep listening skills and stepping into another person’s shoes when communicating. If your staff feels they are valued and respected, they will in turn show this same level of respect and value to your customers.

These are just tips that coaches can help leaders use to create mutually beneficial interactions with their teams in the shortest time frame. Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive.

I often ask my clients who know that they want to see a change within their organisation but are not entirely certain what that change is: ‘would you be happy for your children or someone else you really care about, to work in your business as an employee at a junior level?’ Eight times out of ten, the answer is ‘No, I would not’. If this is the case, then there are several questions that need answering:

  • What kind of culture and environment do you want to create?
  • What can you help improve on?
  • When will these improvements be made by?
  • How will you implement these improvements?
  • Who else needs to be involved and in what capacity?
  • What does the action plan look like?
  • What will be the measure of success?

The culture of, ‘us and them’, has to come to an end. A new culture of compassionate communication needs to be given the space and necessary action to take form and become normality.

About Kavitha Chahel

Kavitha Chahel is the founder and MD of Compassionism Ltd, a leadership coaching and training company focusing on helping business leaders create profitable businesses through highly engaged teams and by getting comfortable with their fear and vulnerability to connect with their compassion.

She is an experienced business coach and company director. For nearly 20 years she has worked in business development, marketing, business leadership and strategy across the corporate, public and charitable sectors. She is also a non-executive director of Asha Projects, a charity that provides safe housing to women and children fleeing domestic violence. She has worked with clients across EMEA, the Americas and APAC. Recently Kavitha published her new book ‘Compassionism’ which you can find here: https://goo.gl/2DTkE4

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