New Year New You–Increase Your Leadership Effectiveness Resolution

New Year New You–Increase Your Leadership Effectiveness Resolution

Employee Engagement Leadership Leadership Effectiveness Motivation

When you think about a new year’s resolution, your first thought might not be one concerning your leadership effectiveness. This year, instead of the traditional:

  • Lose Weight
  • Join a Gym
  • Eat Healthier
  • Eliminate a Bad Habit
  • Take More Time Off

I propose you make a resolution concerning how you’re going to function as a leader, in both your work and personal life. Here is my suggestion:

As a leader, in 2017 I will focus first on relationships.

Relationships are the groundwork, the foundation, on which all of the rest of the work of leadership rests. Without positive relationships with your team, the people you serve and others who influence your success, the tasks of leadership are far more difficult.

Stephen Covey has a great metaphor for building relationships in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He talks about relationships as “emotional bank accounts” where the positive things we do, the ways in which we feed and nurture the relationship, are like making deposits in the account. When trouble arises or when trust is violated, there is a corresponding withdrawal.

As a leader, how will you make deposits in your relational bank accounts in 2017? Here are my top five tips for doing just that:

1. Invest time. Spend time getting to know your team beyond the tasks they perform. Learn what is important to them, what motivates them and who they are when they aren’t at work. Be genuinely interested – have conversations that have nothing to do with work. Taking the time for morning greetings and remembering an upcoming special occasion go a long way to building positive relationships.

2. Communicate openly. People need to know what is expected, where things are going and their role in the process. They also need to have the opportunity to express their feelings. Open communication is as much about listening as it is about talking. Seeking the input of your team on issues that affect them creates an investment in the outcome – and in the relationship. Open communication is also important in building trust and reducing conflict.

3. Express appreciation. Good, solid relationships are based in mutual respect and feeling valued. It is not enough to think good things about your team members – you need to say good things about them. Express appreciation directly and give accolades in public. When your people feel valued, they want to live up to your positive opinion over and over again.

4. Demonstrate loyalty. Loyalty is an essential ingredient in successful relationships. Support your team when things get tough and challenges arise from inside or outside the organization. When conflicts arise within the team, and they will, it’s important that all team members feel supported and valued. Your team needs to know that they can count on you in the good times and bad.

5. Deposit more than you withdraw.

Just like a monetary bank account, the stability of a relational bank account depends on positive cash flow. The cushion that will see you through rough times is ensuring you have more than the minimum balance in the account at all times. Give more to your team than you expect them to give to you and you will always have a solid relationship.

Having solid relationships is essential to your effectiveness as a leader, and developing successful relationships requires intention and attention. In 2017, resolve to focus first on relationships. I guarantee you will Increase Your Effectiveness.

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Leadership Effectiveness expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being wise, witty and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for developing effective leadership qualities that get results.

Effective Leadership Qualities: Shine Your Light

Effective Leadership Qualities: Shine Your Light

Achievement Burnout Leadership Motivation

Effective leadership qualities are a lot like light. They enable you to see a clear vision of a shared and positive future, illumine the path forward and shed light into dark corners where trouble might be lurking.

Leadership is an important calling, and those who do it best possess a high degree of self-awareness and self-care. Here are five ways to ensure you shine even brighter as an effective leader:

  1. Keep your focus clear– Make sure that the vision and mission of your organization is clear to you, so that you can make it clear for others.
  1. Keep yourself nourished – Having adequate light is a function of having sufficient energy. Making sure that you are nourished – physically, emotionally and spiritually – ensures that you have energy to share with others.
  1. Keep moving forward –Your forward momentum propels others. You cannot shine a light on the path to the future if you are standing still in the present.
  1. Keep asking questions – As an effective leader, you have to be willing to look at things that other people cannot see and to anticipate the perils and pitfalls that escape the attention of others. When you ask questions – even tough questions – you empower others to see a broader picture.
  1. Keep sharing the light – The knowledge and wisdom you possess as a leader is worthless if you do not share it. When you bring others into your circle of light, you ensure that it continues beyond yourself.

Effective leaders carry the light in three ways – in the lantern that lights the way and illumines the path; in the flashlight that brightens dark corners; and in the candle that, tipped to the next in line, keeps the light shining in a continuous and ongoing circle.

May your light burn brightly as you increase your leadership effectiveness!

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Leadership Effectiveness expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being witty, wise and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for developing effective leadership qualities that get results.

Great Leaders are Grateful People

Great Leaders are Grateful People

Leadership Motivation Uncategorized

Leadership experts (including yours truly) spend lots of time identifying the characteristics that great leaders have in common – vision, courage, charisma, energy, insight. I’ll bet you have your own list you measure yourself against, checking to see where you excel and where you still have work to do. Me, too.

Here’s something new to consider – Great Leaders are Grateful People.

Most leadership checklists don’t include this characteristic – but they should! Here’s why living in gratitude is an essential quality for effective leadership:

  • It makes you happy – Five minutes a day keeping a gratitude journal can increase your overall happiness quotient by more than 10%. That’s the same impact as doubling your income! Happiness attracts others – great leaders know this.
  • It affirms others – People like being appreciated for who they are and what they do. Great leaders make their team feel important and valued, which keeps them connected and committed to the goal.
  • It enhances resilience – Living in gratitude increases your ability to cope and adjust when things get rocky. Great leaders are able to change course without losing direction, keeping their team on an even keel, even when things feel uncertain.
  • It improves decision-making – Gratitude clears away the mental clutter and helps you focus on what’s important. Great leaders keep their eyes on the prize and help their team to do the same.
  • It expands possibilities – Living in gratitude creates a sense of optimism and an expectation of positive outcomes. When leaders believe they will succeed, their team follows suit.

Of course, gratitude is not just an inside attitude. Living in gratitude becomes an outward expression – the way we meet and interact with others in the world. Finding and naming points of gratitude in a relationship, whether business or personal, deepens and affirms the connection.

I am grateful for my connection to you. Whether I have spoken on your stage, trained in your boardroom or taught in your classroom – I am thankful for you. If we met as friends or colleagues, at a conference, in the community or online, I am appreciative our paths have crossed. If you found my blog on the web, I am grateful to be found.

Be a better leader– Live in gratitude and Increase Your Impact!

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Dr. Sherene McHenry, Leadership IQ expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being witty, wise and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies that get real world results.

Be A Better Boss

Be A Better Boss

Achievement Conflict Resolution Employee Engagement Leadership Motivation Stress

I’m sure you’ve already noticed that the world is full of two types of people: those who get things done early and those who put things off until the last minute. Those who get things done early prefer structure, deadlines and plenty of breathing room to finish assignments. Their mantra is, “Once it’s off my plate, I can relax.”

Those who procrastinate prefer freedom in how and when they approach tasks, time to passively noodle the assignment and gather as much information as possible, and the adrenaline that accompanies an approaching deadline. Their manta is, “Relax, the deadline isn’t here yet.”

Managing those who get things done early is a dream. You give them a job and it gets completed in a timely manner. Unfortunately, the strain is transferred to employees who can’t bear to have unfinished projects, and who run themselves ragged to finish jobs only to be assigned additional tasks.

“If you want something done, give it to a busy person,” is the adage of most business owners and managers. Wonderful for the business and the manager, but not so great for the dependable employee burdened with one more task. In addition to not being fun or fair, it’s demotivating to be repeatedly asked to pick up other people’s slack.

What your persistent, getter-done-or-die-trying employees desperately need is protection from you, other employees and even themselves. As a wise leader, knowing they will sacrifice and suffer rather than be late or fail to follow through, you’ll want to keep tabs on their workload and how they are holding up.

High performers who keep getting additional jobs are at huge risk for burnout. Once that happens, they either quit, find a different job, or take their heart out of the workplace. At a bare minimum they’ll start doing “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay,” nothing more.

All it takes for your Rock Stars and Steady Eddies to soar under your leadership is for you to protect them. Do this by monitoring their workload, dividing up assignments so everyone is sharing the load, and giving them a bit of breathing space before dumping another task on them.

I can almost hear you panic at the thought of spreading out the workload, particularly to employees who procrastinate, turn things in late and always have a good excuse. While panic isn’t necessary, you will need to manage and train your Last Minute Lucys and Larrys to meet deadlines.

While they might not like it, procrastinators need you to set and hold appropriate deadlines and work boundaries. Without them, they will drop the ball and needlessly cause extreme frustration and stress.

It’s helpful to understand that procrastinators actually need the adrenaline that accompanies a deadline. Deadlines propel them to work smarter, faster and more effectively. Deadlines kick in their creative juices. Working on deadline is their preferred and most effective work mode.

Here are seven tips for bringing out the best in your procrastination-prone employees:

1. Set clear deadlines.

2. Ask for their commitment to meet the deadline.

3. Ask when they would like for you to check their progress.

4. With clearly outlined expectations, allow great freedom to determine how and when they approach the task.

5. Refrain from doing it yourself or reassigning a task before the deadline.

6. Hold them accountable for missing deadlines by letting them know the physical, financial and emotional cost of their actions. If this doesn’t bring about desired results, set consequences. No matter how brilliant or charming, if they can’t meet deadlines, they aren’t a good fit for your company.

7. Lastly, recognize the immeasurable gift they bring your company by being able to nimbly respond to anything that gets thrown at them. You need and want them on your team.

While boundaries and deadlines are your best friends as a manager, remember to refrain from rewarding your persistent rock stars with yet another job. Effectively manage both types of employees and you’ll set yourself and everyone else up for long-term success.

Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, February 2015, http://www.gardencentermag.com/article/garden0215-managing-procrastination-prone-employees/

Are Your Dreams For Your Life And Organization Big Enough?

Are Your Dreams For Your Life And Organization Big Enough?

Achievement Dare To Dream Dream Employee Engagement Leadership Motivation

For as long as I can remember, my father has given me the gift of encouraging me to dare to dream big dreams. When an opportunity to win a trip to Europe through our middle school magazine drive was presented, I knew that would win it. All I had to do was sell a copy of Reader’s Digest and submit a 25 word essay on what I would learn from the experience trip abroad. No problem. I eagerly rushed home and asked my mom to buy a copy. “No, dear. Grandpa gives us a yearly subscription.”

Undaunted, I canvased the neighborhood. Everyone turned me down. Mom suggested I try doctor offices and helped by driving me around town. Repeated rejections followed from doctors and staff. Unwilling to give up, I pressed on. Finally, I sold the coveted subscription to Dr. Brown.

After batting about ideas as a family, I sent my essay off praying, “Please, Lord, let me win.” Months came and went without word, but deep inside I knew I would win. I even turned down an invitation to a prestigious competition, saying, “I think I’ll be in Europe.”

Then came the announcement. “All students please report to the auditorium.” Upon entering, I immediately spotted the man from Reader’s Digest. Someone had won. Heart pounding, I anxiously awaited my fate.

After thanking everyone, he declared, “Out of 13,500 submissions, we selected 17 winners. One is from here.” He paused for dramatic effect … then, he called my name. Overjoyed, I took the stage. While it may not happen every time, don’t let anyone tell you that dreams don’t come true.

As an adult I read Barbara Sher’s “Wishcraft: How To Get What You Really Want.” Promising good things would result, she suggested identifying 100 things that I wanted to be, have or do. So I created my first Top 100 List in 1996 with dreams ranging from the dramatic, to the mundane, to the fanciful and the heartfelt.

About five years later, I found my list. Amazingly, 40 of my wishes had come true with little or no effort on my part. I don’t even remember writing down one of my favorites, “Overdose on the theatre in London.” Mom and I had a fantastic trip and even got upgraded to first class on the flight over.

Before you’re tempted to think I get everything I want, I don’t. Several of the deepest longings of my heart, haven’t and won’t come true. I, like everyone else who walks the planet, have mourned unfulfilled dreams. The good news is we humans are incredibly resilient, and our dreams can change over time.

What about you? Do you have lofty dreams for your business? For the people you lead and serve? For your life? For your community? For your family? Do you have a Top 100 List? Do you encourage your staff to dream? To set grand goals for their departments and individual performances?

Or, have you forgotten to dream? Did you learn along life’s way that dreams are for other people? That it’s safest not to dream or expect good things? That if you don’t dream, you don’t get hurt? Worse yet, do you squelch the dreams of those around you, particularly those who work for you?

I encourage you to compile your personal Top 100 List. If that’s too daunting, do a Top 25 List. Additionally, create a Top 25 List for your business and/or department. Then, ask your employees to create a Top 10 List for the business, their department and/or their job.

Depending on the size and structure of your organization, combine appropriate employee groupings and work together to determine your priorities for the business and/or department. You’ll be amazed at the creativity, energy and teamwork that result. You’ll also know where to focus your energy, time and other resources required to turn lofty and yet worthy dreams into reality.

Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, January 2015, http://www.gardencentermag.com/article/garden0115-top100-priorities-list/

Resolve or Revolve Conflict: The Choice Is Yours

Resolve or Revolve Conflict: The Choice Is Yours

Conflict Resolution Employee Engagement Leadership Motivation Stress

As a leader, you and the individuals you serve are either going to resolve or revolve conflict. It’s that simple. Unfortunately, far too many leaders to engage in the same disagreements over and over again. Week after week, month after month, year after year. Equally bad are the leaders who bury their head in the sand, hoping disagreements and problems are going to disappear on their own.

Leaders with respectful and well-developed conflict resolution skills maximize employee engagement and performance by refusing to ride the Ferris Wheel. Leaders lacking these skills have unhappy and underperforming employees and continue to stay stuck on the ride. The good news is if you’ve tended to bury your head in the sand or keep reengaging in the same argument, it’s never too late to do things differently.

Dr. Arnold Lazarus in his Rules for Fighting Fairly offers the following tips to help you successfully address problems and resolve conflicts:

Use “I” instead of “You” messages. “You are lazy and incompetent. You never get your reports in on time,” is going to be received differently from, “It frustrates and concerns me that your report is late. I need for you to complete your work on time. Can I count on you?”

Formula for Sending “I” Messages:

It frustrates, concerns, scares, angers… me, (insert impact)

When you fail to follow safety standards(insert problematic behavior)

I need you to follow procedures. (insert desired behavior)

Can I count on you? (ask for their commitment to the requested behavior)

An opening sentence you will use over and over as a leader is, “It concerns me.” Other common impact words include frustrates, frightens, angers and disappoints. As a leader, you are responsible for what happens on your watch. If someone isn’t pulling his or her weight, is treating others poorly or is actively causing problems, concern, frustration, disappointment and anger are appropriate responses.

In one sentence, state the problematic behavior (i.e. tardiness, incomplete/subpar work, raising their voice in anger, etc.)

Again, in one sentence let them know the desired behavior. Just as knowing where the dartboard is greatly improves accuracy, you set yourself and others up for success when you let them know exactly where to aim their efforts.

Lastly, ask them to commit to the desired behavior. Then stay silent. It’s their turn to talk. If they say yes, great. If they say no, there is still a problem that needs your attention. Bottom line, a personal commitment significantly increases the likelihood the desired behavior will actually happen.

Be direct and honest. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Sending clear messages increases trust, cuts confusion and frees others from wasting time trying to figure out what you mean and want. Mixed messages confuse, frustrate and decrease productivity. Clear messages promote desired results. As productivity goes up, so does profitability.

Additionally, while it isn’t always possible or advisable to tell employees everything, if you want peak performance, everything you tell them needs to be honest and accurate. While your employees might not like what they hear, trust enables them to more easily roll with the punches.

All parties count. It’s not okay to win at another’s expense. Take the time and creativity needed to negotiate win-win solutions between individuals and departments. Can you always create win-wins? Of course not. There will be times you’ll need to draw the line. Your employees will respect and follow you even when they disagree if you regularly create win-win solutions.

While you can’t control how someone else responds, you significantly increase the likelihood of getting desired results when you handle conflict directly and respectfully. The next time conflict rears its head, what are you going to do differently?

Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, October 2014, http://www.gardencentermag.com/article/garden1014-positive-workplace-tips/

#1 Reason People Quit Their Jobs

#1 Reason People Quit Their Jobs

Bad Boss Burnout Conflict Resolution Employee Engagement Leadership Motivation Stress

A recent Gallup Poll of more than 1 million U.S. workers indicates the #1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or supervisor. Wondering if you or one of your managers is struggling as a boss? Look at your turnover rates. If they are low, you’re doing well. If they are in the middle, it’s time to start paying attention. If your turnover rates are high, you’ve got a problem. Unfortunately, turnover rates are often overlooked or explained away with a, “They’re leaving for more money.” Research indicates otherwise.

Your ability to communicate and resolve differences is key to your leadership success and employee satisfaction. For almost a quarter of a century Dr. Arnold Lazarus’s “Rules for Fighting Fairly” has been my go-to guide for teaching people to respectfully resolve conflicts.

If you want to maximize your effectiveness as a leader and strengthen relationships:

Rather than criticizing the person, address specific behaviors. While it may be accurate, telling someone, “You’re inconsiderate, lazy, or rude” only escalates problems. Instead of attacking their character and forcing them to either shut down or become defensive, state the problematic behavior. “When you are late,” “When you interrupt,” “When you leave customers waiting,” all clearly identify a problematic behavior without attacking someone’s personhood.

Addressing problematic behavior allows you to get to the heart of the matter quickly, decreases defensiveness and significantly increases your likelihood of being heard, which is critical to resolving conflict.

Refrain from telling employees what they are thinking/feeling, how they’re going to react or what they do/don’t know. Sentences that start with, “Now don’t get mad, but…” or “I know you think you know best, but…” are pretty much guaranteed to escalate into arguments. While you might be spot on, it’s not helpful or productive to micromanage another person’s emotions or thoughts. Instead of throwing gasoline on the fire, say what you need to say, then allow the person to respond.

Avoid saying, “You always” and “You never.” Unless you’re complimenting someone, “You always/never” is guaranteed to escalate emotions and derail disagreements. Instead of coming to a resolution, you’ll be hearing about the time(s) they did or didn’t do “xyz.” Drop these two phrases from your vocab and you’re well on your way to a productive disagreement.

Avoid right/wrong, good/bad categories. Most of how you desire things to be done as a business owner or boss are a preference rather than a rule that exists proclaiming there is only one way to do things. While cheating, stealing and lying are non-negotiables for most, how and when something gets done is generally a preference.

Determine your non-negotiables, values that are unshakable if someone wants to work for you and things that must be done in a precise way. Then, with clearly established goals and expectations, give your employees the freedom to determine how to best accomplish their tasks. They’ll be less argumentative, feel respected and be far more productive.

You’ll want to be prepared with appropriate consequences for employees who are chronically late, treat others poorly or do subpar work. As painful as it is, good leadership entails holding people responsible for their actions or lack thereof. Other employees take their cues about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior from you.

While conflict may not be pleasant, it doesn’t have to be destructive. These four guidelines are a great starting point for productive disagreements. If you’re thinking, “Wait, Sherene, there’s got to be more,” you’re right. Stay tuned. I can hardly wait for the next blog.

Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, August 2014, http://www.gardencentermag.com/article/garden0814-leader-employees-relationships/

7 Ways To Improve Employee Engagement and Productivity

7 Ways To Improve Employee Engagement and Productivity

Employee Engagement Leadership Motivation

How are you doing as leader? Is your enthusiasm high or are you feeling overworked, underpaid and in need of a vacation? What about your staff? Are they motivated or has their zest been zapped by being asked to do more and more with fewer and fewer resources? Unfortunately, the footprint of the average job has mushroomed over 30% since the recession started in 2007. How are you and your people doing? Has relief ever arrived, or are you all still being asked to continuously perform above max capacity?

Just as plants need fertilizer to maximize growth, employees need nourishment to stay motivated, engaged, and highly productive. Lots of books and articles address ways to motivate employees. Here are seven of my favorite easy, low cost ways to immediately improve employee engagement, morale and productivity:

Take time daily to interact with your employees. Walk about as they are working. Say hello and thank them for all they do. Look them in the eye, shake their hand or give them a pat on the back. You’ll be amazed at how valued they feel when they know you care and truly see them.

Ask what they need to be more successful. Regularly ask your staff if there’s anything they need to be more successful. Most will smile, say things are fine and get back to work knowing they have a great boss. Others will share concerns. Some you can take care of with little or no cost. Do so and you become someone they want to please even more.

If you can’t do something easily, but it makes sense, let them know you’ll work on it and when they can expect to see the request met. If it’s not something you’re ready or able to do, thank them for their input and let them know you’ll consider it.

Then follow up with them at a later time. If it’s not financially feasible, you can respond with “While it’s cost-prohibitive at this time, I appreciate your suggestion.” If it’s an outlandish request, you can laugh good-naturedly and say “Wouldn’t it be nice?”

Keep them informed. Good information is critical to job satisfaction and success. In its absence, the rumor mill kicks in and conclusions are drawn, often erroneously. The better the communication, the more effective your employees will be. Being in the know allows them to keep their focus where it should be, on their job.

Find out your employees’ passions. People who are doing what they love perform at the highest levels. Any time you can tie in their job to their passion, you’ll have a super motivated employee. Is this always possible? Of course not. And, when you can, you’re an ever bigger hero.

Let your people come in one hour late, or leave one hour early, one day a week. Your industry is demanding. Think how happy and motivated your people will be if one day of the week they have an extra hour. Their loyalty, motivation and productivity will far exceed the hour they are gone.

Have a contest. Create a contest for almost anything that can be measured and produces results. For example, largest increase in sales, best idea to cut out waste, the lowest accident rate… Couple it with a prize such as a trophy, plaque, pizza party or something reflective of the value added to your bottom line. Do this individually or by department. Post results, create a buzz and watch how a good-natured competition promotes productivity, fun and hustling to win.

Offer an incentive. Set a high but reachable goal for your individuals or departments, and offer a meaningful reward for those who accomplish it. Increased sales, employee safety, quality control and on-time deliveries all positively impact your bottom line. Pass some of the savings and profitability along, and your employees will work even harder.

While it’s not easy to keep your employees motivated, working hard and feeling valued. And, a motivated workforce is critical to success and a better bottom line. Think outside of the box and let me know what happens as you intentionally cultivate employee engagement.

Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, June 2014, http://www.gardencentermag.com/article/garden0614-motivated-employees/

Burnout Or A Better Bottom Line

Burnout Or A Better Bottom Line

Burnout Employee Engagement Leadership Motivation Stress

Run, run, run. Do more with fewer and fewer resources. Deal with difficult people. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. It’s another day in the life of a leader.

Depending on your position and personality, you might flourish working under the gun. If you’re like some, rushing around, rising to the occasion and problem solving brings out the best in you. There is no mountain you can’t climb. No obstacle you can’t overcome. Your biggest challenge might be turning off your brain long enough to get a good night’s rest before you dive in all over again.

Unfortunately, what you find stimulating, inspiring and exciting, can be overwhelming and stressful for others, especially those under your leadership. It’s one thing to create a vision and quite another to be tasked with bringing it to fruition. As a leader, it’s critical to look at stress and burnout and how you can create an environment that maximizes productivity and improves your bottom line.

Stress is generally caused by having too much to do, and the worry and anxiety that accompanies problems in and out of the workplace. Stressed individuals lose their tolerance for frustration, take things personally, and either become agitated or emotionally shut down. Not good for business, productivity or employee satisfaction.

Burnout, the collapse of physical or emotional strength or motivation resulting from extended periods of stress or frustration, also negatively impacts your bottom line as it leads to exhaustion, loss of motivation and ineffectiveness. Highly stressed or burned-out individuals are not good for employee morale or engagement, stellar customer service or the bottom line.

Here are quick tips you can immediately implement to minimize workplace stress and burnout:

1. Take care of yourself physically and encourage your employees to do the same. Get plenty of water, nutrient-rich food and a good night’s rest so that you aren’t burning the candle at both ends. Encourage your employees to do the same. Whether your people are engaging in outdoor labor or working in a temperature controlled environment, a hydrated worker is a more efficient worker. Think of your employees like athletes. Coolers full of Gatorade aren’t just for dousing the coach after a big win.

2. Express appreciation regularly. Employees who feel valued and appreciated are motivated to work harder and are far less likely to be stressed or burned out than those who are treated like expendable objects. Appreciation is a wonderful antidote to stress and burnout.

3. Make sure everyone carries their load. It’s tempting to not want to rock the boat with a temporary employee or someone who is slacking off. Unfortunately, overlooking the slackers puts a lot more pressure on your high performers. It also is incredibly frustrating and demotivating, and leads to stress and burnout. Why should your best people perform at their highest levels if others are allowed to lollygag?

4. Address problems as they arise. Problems are never pleasant and often ignored in hopes they will go away. Unfortunately, problems rarely disappear on their own. Taking care of problems is like weeding. Baby weeds are easy to pull, but once they take root, they can be a bear. If an employee is unhappy, have a conversation. Find out what’s wrong and if you can do anything to help. Unresolved and ongoing arguments drain energy and take a huge toll on productivity and work satisfaction.

Even during your busiest season, you have the power to minimize stress and in doing so significantly decrease the likelihood of burnout among your staff. Implementing even one of these tips will bring about good results.

Master all four and you’ll have the satisfaction of watching productivity, job satisfaction and profitability soar.

Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, April 2014, http://www.gardencentermag.com/article/garden0414-avoid-burnout/