Are you seeing the not so obvious signs?

Some may say it’s easy to recognize the things that are obvious. A great month on sales, target smashed, a direct advertiser secured, a great cup of tea and so on…Those people are right however lets be honest about it, how often do the simplest things that are easily praised go unrecognized? I think you’ll find it’s A LOT!

So if you are rubbish at recognizing the obvious things, how the hell are you going to pick up on the things that are less ‘In your face’? The things that people are dealing with everyday. 9 times out of 10, on there own. Without wanting to disrupt the ‘Vibe’ of a buzzing sales office.

Everyday, people in your teams are thinking about things that effect their work. Maybe it’s something going on at home with a loved one or child. It could be an illness they are trying to hide or even money worries that they simply cant bring themselves to discuss. It could be that someone in the team is unhappy with the way the team works. Maybe with a particular member but keeps it quiet for fear of isolation.

There are a million different things people think about when they are at work. All of them can effect their state of mind in various ways. Are you picking up on the signs?

Wearing headphones

In an office environment it is not uncommon for people to wear headphones from time to time especially when there is a pile of work and a deadline. When time to time turns into all the time however, then you need to take note. Why does this person want to drown out the noise from the rest of the team? Are they trying to take their mind off something? Have they got into a bad habit which is causing them to become more and more distant from their colleagues?

Reacting to banter

Banter is like a religion in an office environment. Very often if you can take it and give it out, you are very quickly embraced by all. Sometimes however, and without even realizing it, people can fall victim of the same abuse day after day, week after week, month after month.

For a long time these people will accept it as the norm. Unless it is picked up early, that same ‘Banter’ will start to eat away at those colleagues. There will come a point where they start to take the jokes seriously. We all love banter, but if its not policed from the top, your normally very hard working team members may start to be affected, leading to a decline in work quality, sickness and even resignations.

Increased communication about tasks completed

There are many tasks in a day that simply go under the radar as ‘Things you do’. People going about their business in an efficient manor, working through their task list, quietly cracking on until the list is complete. Every now and again however, someone starts to get more vocal about what they are doing with their team.

This could be a simple hint that they need some praise or it may be that they are looking for a promotion. Either way, some form of recognition is required or they will feel deflated pretty quickly

I hate Fridays…

Lets be honest, Fridays can be a struggle, especially after lunch. However there are people that use Friday as a prep day for the weekend and more importantly the following week. These are your super engaged people, your driven people and certainly the ones you want to keep on that ‘High’

Sometimes however, those people may drop in a ‘I’m really struggling today’ completely out of the blue. This is something that cannot be ignored as they are normally your best colleagues. Nip this in the bud early and confirm that complacency is not setting in following some successful months. Identify if that colleague needs a new challenge and keep them riding high, preventing an unwanted dip in performance from your star players.

Not responding to requests

How many emails do you send in a day to your teams that require a response? How often do you get the responses you need and do you follow up with those that don’t reply? Something to look out for is a sudden decline in the amount of responses you are getting from your team as it showing a lack of engagement in you overall.

The cause of this could be that your messages are going over old ground or that you have never acknowledged any previous replies so your team are now thinking ‘Whats the point’? It is very often down to the person sending the communication rather than receivers to change their approach. Some may say it shows a lack of respect but that respect only lasts as long as you are showing it back. Communication must be 2 way or its not communication.

No interaction in meetings

You will always have your loud mouths in a group situation. The people that dominate the conversation and interrupt everyone else to get their point across. You very often then have a colleague on the other end of the spectrum that says nothing, quietly sitting there waiting for the meeting to end. These people fit into one of 2 categories…

1) Disengaged and not really interested in the content of the meeting

2) Low on confidence and not brave enough to share their ideas.

Either way, it should not just be accepted that someone continually sits in silence in a group situation. This is not good for the colleague or the team members around them and needs to be addressed by finding out if they fit into point 1 or 2

False Smiles

This one really is about understanding your team and knowing enough about them as people. How often have you asked people if they are ok as a point of courtesy? How often do they say yes thanks and thats the end of the conversation? Very often by the time they say ‘Yes thanks’ you are looking the other way, thinking about the next thing on your list. Maybe next time, keep your eyes on the colleague a second longer and watch for the things they don’t say….The body language, particularly the facial expression!

Sick days

If you are like me, you hate sickness. I see it as a weakness that shows a lack of desire to come into work. However, I am stubborn old git that says what I think and remembers a time when phoning in sick was like signing your notice letter. You just didn’t do it!

That said, there are many reasons beyond having a dicky tummy or runny nose that people decide they can’t face work on a given day. Reasons that are in fact much more serious than any of these purely because they cannot be cured by a tablet or box of tissues. One of the biggest reasons for absence in the work place is the mental stress being caused by not recognizing any of the points above.

Remember, when people seem ok on the surface, that is not the whole story. As a manager, leader, coach or anything else you wish to call yourself, you must be able to see the signs that others don’t.

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