Management Toolbox

iP staff members understand that safety leaders have complex, time-consuming responsibilities. With that in mind, each Management Toolbox column is designed to deliver concise, easy-to-read content that will help you to continue developing your leadership skills.

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Kate Wade

December 2016 Management Toolbox

December 2016 Management Toolbox

5 Ways to Stop Procrastinating

There are myriad reasons why people put off doing the things they should do, or need to do: lack of time, lack of interest and lack of financial resources are a few that spring to mind. And when it comes to critical actions – such as making a career change or having a difficult conversation with a loved one – fear is often the greatest reason underlying a person’s hesitation to make a move. The causes of procrastination are not difficult to figure out, but if you regularly find yourself putting off work or other important tasks, following are five helpful ways to break the habit.

1. Start with small steps. It is not uncommon to procrastinate when you are staring down a complex job. If you feel overwhelmed by a project you need to complete, break it down into a series of smaller, more manageable tasks. Then, create a timeline and assign a deadline to each task. Seeing your work as a series of steps, each with its own due date, will help to calm your mind, keep you on track and provide encouragement that the work can be done.

2. Do the most difficult work first. Sometimes procrastination gets confused with laziness, but what commonly happens is that people put off doing the most challenging or unpleasant parts of their project in favor of doing other tasks that take less time, are easier to complete or are more enjoyable to do. That approach is understandable, but try thinking of the process like climbing a mountain. Once you make it through the toughest work – trekking to the top – you’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment, and the rest of the work – going back down the mountain – should feel like less of a struggle, comparatively speaking.

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Kate Wade

October 2016 Management Toolbox

October 2016 Management Toolbox

4 Tips to Delegate More Effectively

Perhaps the most common reason people avoid delegating tasks to others is that the process can be a lot of work. And that work requires a commitment of time – a precious commodity to nearly every leader. However, if done well, delegating not only takes work off a leader’s plate, but it also helps employees develop and strengthen their skills, enabling them to make greater contributions to the organization. So, what are some key points to remember when you are delegating responsibilities?

1. Know your employees. If you have a job that you want others to complete, it is best if you delegate the work to those most capable of doing it, provided they have the time. A great number of managers have made the mistake of handing off a task to someone who lacked the ability or willingness – or both – to do the work. That is why it is critical that you get to know the people who report to you, including their strengths, weaknesses, personality styles and commitment to the job. Even if no one on your team has the exact skills required to perform the task, by getting a handle on everyone’s talents and struggles, you can delegate to the most qualified person.

2. Be clear. In order for a person to execute a task well, he or she needs specific guidance. This is likely where you will spend the most time during the delegation process, but it is worth it to ensure that your employee understands exactly what needs to be done and how to do it. Ideally, you should provide the employee with a written procedure to follow, plus you should have as many in-person meetings as necessary to ensure the employee has a clear understanding of his or her responsibilities.

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Kate Wade

August 2016 Management Toolbox: 10 Books to Help You Strengthen Your Leadership Skills

August 2016 Management Toolbox: 10 Books to Help You Strengthen Your Leadership Skills

It has never been easier than it is today to access resources to help you develop your leadership skills. In fact, you may feel overwhelmed by all that is available. How do you go about selecting the materials that will be most valuable to you? If you aren’t sure where to begin, start with this list of books – and related resources – that can be found in executive suites and MBA programs across the country.

1. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Author: Simon Sinek
Read It Because: You want insight into what successful leaders and organizations – think Apple, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright Brothers – do differently to motivate others and achieve excellence.
If You Like It: Check out Sinek’s popular 18-minute TED talk (www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action) and follow him at www.facebook.com/simonsinek.

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Kate Wade

June 2016 Management Toolbox

June 2016 Management Toolbox

4 Ways to Become More Open-Minded
Open-mindedness is one of the greatest leadership traits you can possess. It means you are receptive to other people’s thoughts and ideas, that you are willing to look at a situation from all angles and perspectives in order to make decisions that best serve the company and its stakeholders. Managers who maintain an open mind also tend to have strong relationships with their colleagues because they approach their work with an attitude of flexibility, thoughtfulness, humility and objectivity. And yet, keeping an open mind is not always easy; like many other skills, it must be honed. Below are four actions that you can regularly engage in to keep your mind open to new ideas and different viewpoints.

1. Talk less and listen more. This is perhaps the best way to learn new information and better understand other perspectives. None of us learns much if we are always the ones doing the talking. So, the next time you are engaged in a conversation with someone, be present in the moment and listen without distraction. Make eye contact, ignore your electronics, and point your feet in the direction of the person who is speaking (that may sound strange, but it works). Simply focus on the other person and the information they are sharing.

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Kate Wade

April 2016 Management Toolbox

April 2016 Management Toolbox

Overcome Your Fear of Failure
Nearly everyone has been afraid of messing up on the job at some point in their career. Nervousness, anxiety and fear are common emotions, especially when so much may be at stake, including your professional reputation and livelihood. But while it’s normal to feel unsure from time to time, it becomes unhealthy when fear of failure paralyzes you, preventing you from moving forward and performing at your best.

Fortunately, there are ways to combat your fears. The first step is to identify exactly what it is that’s making you most afraid. Are you uncomfortable with how a particular project is going? Have you taken on a new role and don’t feel you have the skills to be successful? Figure out what’s truly bothering you and write it down, including the worst-case scenario. This might seem like a torturous exercise, but for many people, the simple written acknowledgement of their fears creates a sense of relief and helps to open up a path toward conquering what’s bothering them.

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Kate Wade

February 2016 Management Toolbox

February 2016 Management Toolbox

Help Your Employees Manage Stress
Stress is incredibly common in the workplace. During your years of employment, you’ve probably found yourself in a great number of stressful situations and thus discovered effective ways to manage your response to them. Now that you’re part of the management team, one of your responsibilities to your employees is to help them find healthy ways to cope with their own job-related stress and anxieties.

The first step to helping someone deal with a high level of stress is to recognize there’s an issue. Some on-the-job stress is normal, but if you’re in tune with your employees, you can usually tell when they’re not acting like themselves. They may be irritable or panicky, or their productivity rate may decrease. Essentially, if you notice that something just isn’t right, that’s the time to intervene.

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Kate Wade

December 2015 Management Toolbox

December 2015 Management Toolbox

Personal Development Exercises for Business Executives
As a manager in your organization, part of your role is to guide the development of others and encourage them to strive for excellence. But in order to successfully help others learn and grow in their careers, you also have to focus on your own development. As 2015 comes to a close, following are some activities you can resolve to engage in next year to become a better, stronger leader and role model.

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Kate Wade

October 2015 Management Toolbox

October 2015 Management Toolbox

4 Time Management Mistakes You Might Be Making
You’re busy. Your employees and colleagues are busy. Just about all of working Americans are incredibly busy, with perhaps more demands on their time now than ever before. And while some of us are great at handling all that life throws our way, others struggle with how to best manage their time at work. Are you making any of the following mistakes? If you are, not to worry – once you’ve realized what you could be doing better, you can begin to move toward more refined time management skills.

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Kate Wade

August 2015 Management Toolbox

August 2015 Management Toolbox

6 Ways to Be a Better Listener 
According to the Greek philosopher Epictetus, we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak. But despite our anatomy, some of us could stand to talk a little less and listen a little more closely to what’s being said – and what isn’t being said – by the people around us. This is hardly an easy feat, but it’s well worth the effort. By working to improve your listening skills, you’ll experience fewer miscommunications, learn more from your conversations and demonstrate that you care about and respect what other people have to say. Following are six ways to get you started on the path toward becoming a more active listener.

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Kate Wade

June 2015 Management Toolbox

June 2015 Management Toolbox

Pros and Cons of 360-Degree Feedback
Arguably the most common types of workplace performance reviews are those that involve only supervisors and their direct reports. However, there is another type of appraisal system that continues to gain in popularity: 360-degree feedback, in which individuals receive input about their performance from co-workers at all levels of the company, including supervisors, peers, subordinates and sometimes even external sources.

A number of benefits can be derived from the use of this type of feedback. Perhaps chief among them is the opportunity for employees to gain a more insightful, well-rounded view of their strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. When an individual is only being assessed by his or her direct manager, the outcome may not be as impactful or meaningful, and negative feedback can potentially lead to a rift in the supervisor-employee relationship. In a 360-degree feedback environment, in which performance data is often collected anonymously, feedback from a number of people may help employees discover blind spots and identify skills they need to acquire or better develop. Anonymity, however, is one of the downsides of 360-degree feedback; because employees don’t know who made particular statements, they can’t follow up to clarify and learn more about those statements. However, this type of feedback can be conducted via an open format that allows for discussion among workers.

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Kate Wade

April 2015 Management Toolbox

April 2015 Management Toolbox

Get a Grip on Group Dynamics
It’s no secret that working on group projects can be stressful and frustrating. You might have someone on your team who doesn’t want to pull their weight or is routinely late for meetings. Group dynamics can be tough enough to handle when you know your team members, but negative feelings can escalate when you’re working in a newly formed group with people you don’t know well or at all, and that can have a serious impact on the work you are trying to accomplish. Here are some tips to consider next time you find yourself in a new group situation.

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Kate Wade

February 2015 Management Toolbox

February 2015 Management Toolbox

What Are You Doing Differently This Year?

You can resolve to make a change any day of the week, but New Year’s resolutions continue to be popular as we start fresh with a new calendar. As 2015 begins, what kinds of changes do you want to make across the next year, particularly in your management career? Following are several potential resolutions to consider, whether you’ve already started your list or are still looking for inspiration.

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Kate Wade

December 2014 Management Toolbox

December 2014 Management Toolbox

Four Ways to Handle Criticism

You would be hard-pressed to find a leader who hasn’t faced criticism about his or her job performance. The higher someone climbs on the corporate ladder, the more responsibility he or she has, and the more likely that person is to hear from others who disagree with his or her choices or actions. Criticism is inevitable, and the sooner you learn to effectively deal with it in a healthy way, the better off you’ll be. Following are four ways to handle criticism the next time you are faced with it.

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Kate Wade

Storytelling as a Management Tool

Storytelling as a Management Tool

Never before have facts been so easily accessible. For instance, enter the phrase “utility injury statistics” into Google, and you’ll immediately have access to approximately 8 million search results. Facts, however, don’t persuade people to take action, and when people’s lives are at stake, managers must use all of the tools available to them to help encourage and improve safe work practices. Storytelling is one teaching and persuasion tool getting increasing attention in the workplace, and following are four powerful ways it can assist you in your management career.

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