Blog, Business, Paul Saunders

How To Influence Others At Work

Getting ahead in your workplace can be difficult if you are not in a leadership position. However, if you use the right approach, you can influence others in your company and position yourself for more success. This will allow you to grow connections and be better prepared for when you want to become a leader. Here is what you need to know:

Connect With Others

Seek out others in your office that you can form a bond with. It doesn’t have to be your manager or anyone above them. Instead, you want to create connections with others. By doing this, people will be more likely to hear out your idea, or may even be willing to bring you in on a project if they need help. Sometimes, just making friends is a great start to your career.

Listen First And Speak Second

You should hear others out before rushing to talk. Take the chance to give someone else the power to be heard. Don’t interrupt them if they are in the middle of a thought even if you think you are going to help them. By allowing them to talk, you will be able to get a better idea of what they are trying to tell you, and you can base your response off of that.  If you are trying to persuade another, you can tailor your answer so that it targets their needs or what they are valuing. This will make them more receptive to your idea. Once you get into the practice of listening first, it will become a habit, and you will acquire a reputation as someone who gives sound advice. So use this to your advantage at every turn.

Develop Expertise

If you do not have an official title of influence within your company, take the chance to become an expert in a skill.  Take more classes or get additional credentials. When your coworkers need help, they know they will be able to go to you. Use this opportunity to not only help your coworkers but also to teach them, so that next time they won’t have to go to you. While this may seem counterproductive, it is not. You will be perceived as someone that is always willing to teach, and help others.

Volunteer

Take the chance to volunteer for more responsibility, or to take part in a new project. When you do something with no expectation or payment, you will stand out more. You are showing that you are just as committed to the mission and the future of the company. In the future, you will be considered for more work, because you showed that you were willing to put in the effort.

Take Charge Of A Project

You can’t expect everyone to be interested in the same initiatives as you. Map out a plan to enact a new strategy that could improve some aspect of the business and offer to do the hard parts. You are showing that you want to take the first step to better the organization and that you aren’t afraid of the challenges that come with it.

Influencing others is not easy. If it were, everyone would be the leader of their group or company. However, with practice and attention on getting better at influencing your peers and coworkers in the ways above, you can carve out a solid reputation and bubble of influence for yourself.

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Blog, Business

How to Prevent Burnout in Your Employees

There is no doubt that work can be stressful. Mix in the toll of one’s personal life and the risk of burnout is very real, and the impact even more so. Paying attention to the warning signs and taking action will make it easier to curb burnout and still allow for the motivation to make the necessary changes to get back on track.

With that in mind, let us highlight some effective ways you can help your employees if they are showing signs of burnout.

There is a loss of control

Individuals that start to lose control over aspects of scheduling and time management inevitably begin to feel helpless and hopeless, thus running the risk of major burnout. Therefore, it is important that employees do not have structures and policies that are inflexible, as such constrictions can make them feel trapped. Encourage employees to take 10-15 minutes every morning to outline the goals they would like to accomplish so they can regain a sense of control of their day.

There is a lack of transparency

When employees feel as if they are being overlooked for a promotion, are not being properly compensated for the work they are doing, or feel as if they are not getting the full story from upper management, they run a much higher risk of experiencing negative feelings and, ultimately, burnout. As a supervisor or manager, it is best to be open and honest with employees when communicating about decisions and giving reasonable explanations. Offering workshops and other resources to help employees cope could greatly curb burnout as well.

There is a shift in overall attitude

When employees are stressed, emotions can be difficult to control and it is easier for them to get angry or upset in a matter of moments. Burnout contributes to moodiness, negativity, and an overall lack of motivation. Talk to employees and offer support. Suggest taking up a new hobby and encourage disconnecting from work when out of the office.

There is a loss of confidence

When employees experience burnout, they often begin second-guessing themselves and the quality of their work. If an individual feels that they are not able to confidently do their job, they fully disengage and do not actively contribute to the task at hand. To mitigate such a situation, make a point to check in with your employees and help set a few reasonable personal goals to help regain their confidence. Also set small, achievable performance goals to help get them back on track.

Burnout has become a pervasive issue in Western societies, especially since the advent of mobile devices. Ensure you are doing all you can to set your employees up for long-term success. After all, their triumphs are also yours.

Paul Saunders is a founder and principal of James River Capital Corp. and its affiliated companies. In addition to those roles, Paul also serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of James River Captial Corp. and James River Financial Corp. To learn more about Paul Saunders and his professional pursuits, please be sure to visit his website.

Blog, Business

Simple Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

Contrary to popular belief, becoming an effective communicator is a skill set that is learned, not something embedded in a person’s DNA. While there are certain personalities that have easily obtained the qualities of astounding communication, there is no communication skill that cannot be learned through hard work and dedication.

With that in mind, let us review a few fundamental skills that will help improve one’s ability to effectively communicate and influence others as a leader.

Think outside of the box

To become an effective communicator, think creatively and do not immediately dismiss an idea because it seems outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes, the most inspiring ideas evolve upon reflection and adaptation. Therefore, smart leaders know they need to stretch their creative bounds to inspire and influence others.

Practice makes perfect

Organizing thoughts and ideas into a polished outline will not only keep them in order, but also allow for a more natural message conveyed in real-time — a trait that is especially imperative in large meetings and other professional gatherings.

Once one has completed this step, it is imperative they practice all they have put into place. Read each point of conversation aloud, as this will allow for the discovery of content that needs to be adjusted or re-worded. Rather than reading from a slideshow or stiffly reiterating lines on a sheet, the message will be confidently and naturally delivered to the audience.

Be an active listener

A speaker best communicates when they are actively listening, which ultimately allows for a more organic response and expands their understanding of the dialogue at the same time. Keep in mind that real communication involves an exchange between all parties involved, not just by one individual.

Engage in organic dialogue

Leaders that engage in organic and interactive dialogue will establish a trust and rapport that cannot be formed from an audience that is being talked at. When a speaker reads from a slide with little to no emotion, the experience is dull and most will not take anything away from the message. Engaging and connecting with the audience will convince them to show empathy and pay attention to the message.

Avoid using certain words

Using strong, effective words will contribute to better communication as a leader. There are words that should not be used often and some that should be avoided entirely. There are situations that are more cavalier, but profanity should be avoided.

Other slang words like “dude” and “guys” are informal and can come off as being immature. Words like “actually,” “but,” “assume,” and “fine” lead to a negative connotation immediately. Therefore, it is imperative you adapt your language accordingly, as co-workers and peers do not want to hear excuses or sugarcoating.

Finally, always be constructive, respectful, and positive when communicating with individuals inside and outside of the workplace. You may be surprised how small, seemingly meaningless changes will garner results.

Blog, Business

How to Create and Maintain Strong Mentor Relationships

This blog post originally appeared on Paul Saunders’ website.

Success is very rarely achieved alone. Instead, it is a product of multiple interrelated factors, such as support, advocacy, and receiving advice from the right people at the right time. More often than not, these above qualities are best found in mentors. Unfortunately, as more and more young professionals flood the workforce, the idea of finding a more experienced shoulder to lean on and glean insight from is quickly fading into the background.

However, we must shift our focus from encouraging these fresh faces from actively seeking mentors. Instead, we ought to encourage those with professional experience to step into such roles more freely, as they will not only be able to teach the next generation, but learn from them as well.

With that in mind, let us explore how one can effectively create and maintain strong mentor relationships.

Search your existing network

It is likely that you already work with, or at least know of, one or more young professionals in need of support. Therefore, the first step to becoming a mentor is getting to know each of these individuals. Take the time to discover their aspirations, goals, and learning styles. Once you have a better understanding of their long-term direction and goals, it will be much easier for you to engage with those you feel your expertise would benefit the most.

Be yourself

As a mentor, it is imperative you demonstrate every day that you are exactly who you say you are, rather than putting on airs and puffing up your previous experience to garner more awe and respect. This feat is achieved simply by being yourself. Behave, emote, dress, and speak exactly how you would normally. After all, authenticity and transparency are two key components to earning another’s trust.

Hold each other accountable

Sometimes, it is all too easy for these professional relationships to dissolve into average friendships. While this shift may be beneficial in interpersonal ways, it can seriously deter your ability to do more than simply pass advice back and forth.

Therefore, it is imperative you strive to maintain a strict balance between friendly banter and holding each other accountable for your actions and pursuit of professional development. Otherwise, your time and efforts leading up to this point may seem as though they served no purpose.

Clearly, there are plenty of stipulations to becoming a mentor, as it is not simply about forming a bond with another over work-related matters. Instead, mentorship provides a unique opportunity for mutual benefit and growth, meaning it ought to be treated with the utmost respect and seriousness.

Blog, Business

Mindfulness Exercises That Aid in Relieving Stress

This blog post originally appeared on Paul Saunders’ website.

In this day and age, it is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by one’s responsibilities at home and in the workplace. In fact, a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association revealed that this phenomenon is rapidly sweeping the United States, with upwards of 75 percent of Americans reporting symptoms of chronic stress. Furthermore, approximately 45 percent of the same participants reported experiencing regular sleeplessness.

Thankfully, there are effective methods of mitigating the draining impacts of everyday life. However, it is imperative to note that such a feat is not achieved overnight. Instead, reducing one’s overall stress level is a long-term commitment that often requires further lifestyle adaptations, like exercising more often, adopting a healthier diet, and so on.

With that being said, let us explore some mindfulness exercises that can aid in relieving stress.

Focusing on breathing

When we begin to feel overwhelmed, our bodies release a number of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which trigger your natural “fight or flight” response. Once this switch has been flipped, our hearts begin to pound, our muscles tighten, and our breathing quickens considerably.

To effectively combat the body’s initial response to stress, it is best to focus on controlling your breathing. This can be achieved by removing yourself from your stressors, closing your eyes, and making a concentrated effort to take deep, even breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Regaining control over your breathing will subsequently regulate your heart rate and reduce your body’s production of adrenaline and cortisol.

Practicing acceptance

As difficult as it may be to admit, our circumstances are not always under our control. Sometimes, traffic will make us late for work at the most inopportune times; babysitters will cancel and ruin our plans; and we will fall ill before a big deadline or event. However, there is little more we can do than accept the situation and our feelings toward it. Otherwise, we will cause ourselves to become unnecessarily angry and stressed.

Now, this is not to say that you should become complacent and simply accept every negative incident that comes your way. After all, you do have the power to alter situations that you do not like. However, in times of heavy traffic or altered plans, it is imperative we choose our battles and prioritize our personal wellbeing over a simple emotional outburst.

It is entirely possible, if not feasible, to take the reins and steer yourself toward a more stress-free life. However, accomplishing this goal requires patience, persistence, and the understanding you will fail from time to time. After all, you are only human, but showing yourself a level of gentleness and grace will only improve your mindset over time.

Blog

What is Workplace Wellness?

Over the years, individuals have become more proactive in caring for their bodies and trying to mitigate diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart failure. However, with elevated healthcare costs, a more demanding work schedule across the board, heightened physical inactivity and poor dietary habits, many find themselves floundering in their efforts as soon as they have begun.

In order to combat these negative factors, many companies have taken the time to curate workplace wellness programs, which are designed to reduce healthcare costs and improve employees’ overall health and well-being. While there are some mixed reviews on the efficacy of such strategies, some have genuinely garnered positive results, thus sparking the interest of organizations on a global scale.

Given these facts, it may be beneficial to further explore the topic of workplace wellness and the impact it could make on employees and corporations alike.

What does workplace wellness entail?

When one hears the term, “workplace wellness,” their minds may go straight to physical fitness and nutrition. However, these programs offer a number of other benefits, such as smoking cessation and screenings for high cholesterol, glucose tolerance, and diseases of the blood.

A workplace wellness initiative will also encourage employees to change their daily habits, mostly by providing standing desks and suggesting frequent stretch breaks to reduce physical inactivity. Furthermore, some programs go so far as to offer employees memberships to a local gym at a reduced price, or cover their fitness expenses entirely.

It is important to note, though, that workplace wellness does not just seek to improve employees’ physical well-being. Instead, its aim is to improve their mental well-being as well. After all, work-related stress is an epidemic that has swiftly swept nearly every Westernized country.

Therefore, these initiatives provide employees with new and innovative methods of combating stress, coping with tense situations, and maintaining a more positive attitude at work overall. Additionally, they may introduce more social activities in order to break the ice amongst employees and combat any feelings of loneliness that are associated with working in an office.

Although these workplace wellness initiatives do mean well, some are still skeptical or are wary of taking advantage of their benefits. Therefore, some companies may need to incorporate incentives to boost employee engagement and success, such as gift cards, an additional day of paid time off, or a premium discount to their favorite retailer.

Regardless of the tactics you choose to employ, it is evident that workplace wellness can make a positive impact on the modern workforce. Therefore, it may be beneficial to consider taking these steps to improve your employees’ long-term well-being.