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Enjoy this video transcript of this week’s Monday Moment episode.

Good morning and happy Monday! I’m Monica Wofford and this is your Monday Moment.

Worries. They keep us up at night, even as we start moving into this land of new normal and acclimating to the idea of getting back to work, as getting back to the swing of things is now starting to look imminent. This begs for many leaders, the question of do I focus on worries or work? Some personalities of those you have the privilege of leading will hang on to grudges, or resentment, or concerns, or scorekeeping from all that’s been happening. Some will find excuses to not adopt a new way of thinking, or not adopt a new way of doing, as is the case with so many. Your question then becomes, as a leader, do I let them continue to be worried or concerned, because I understand they’re reeling and I understand that their spouse may no longer have employment, or there may still be financial concerns, are there maybe even concerns of the health of their family in the coming months or weeks? Concerns are legitimate. Work is also legitimate and as a leader, sometimes it is necessary to make the tough decisions and the tough calls on where you’ll place your focus. So, let’s talk today just a little bit, about this potentially very serious, and certainly delicate, topic. Do you focus on worries or work? To help you make that determination and answer that question, for any number of situations, for yourself it may require taking a look at a few key specific elements

Acknowledge Concerns

The first of which is acknowledging concerns and how good you’ve become in that area. First and foremost, acknowledge the worries they’re sharing. Acknowledge their fears. Acknowledge their concerns. Acknowledge their legitimate either hardship difficulties, mere frustration with changes, or inability to seemingly get their feet back under them after everything we and they have gone through in such an unprecedented upheaval. Acknowledge their concerns. Acknowledge their emotions. Spend a lot of your time saying things like I hear you, I absolutely understand, if I were in your shoes I might have the same feeling, I’m here for you, and I support your decision and then there comes a time when the acknowledgement of the concerns will start to feel forced or perhaps even insincere. That’s your “danger danger, danger” sign that it’s time to shift from that step to this next one

Set Boundaries

Once you’ve acknowledged their concerns, the next step that will help you answer the question of worries or work as your key focus, is to start to limit the ability for one to use excuses. Set boundaries, much as you would with negative behavior or attitudes. Set boundaries around the ability to use excuses for poor work performance. Even if the situation is difficult, or dire, in some cases, it may warrant the oh so difficult, even more delicate, conversation that “perhaps this work location is no longer one well suited for your situation”. But, perhaps that’s premature. When you are trying to determine for you whether or not you focus on their worries and continue to give them grace and bandwidth to perform poorly, or do you shift now to expectations of work output and quality, it’s all very much a personal decision. And may, in some cases, be driven by the culture of your organization or top leadership, if you’re in a larger organization, may weigh in on their opinion about when it’s time to make that shift of giving them opportunities and or saying okay let’s giddy-up and get back to working. If you first will acknowledge the concerns, you’ll feel better about how you are handling the situation. And if second you will limit their ability to use excuses and therefore shorten long periods of time at what could be considered manipulation of the circumstances, you’ll feel better about what they’re doing and how, as a team, you and those you have the privilege of leading are working together.

Develop (or Adjust) a Process

The third step will also help with the question do I focus on worries or do I focus on work. And this one is more of an overarching step that would be applicable in almost any situation. Develop a process, or make adjustments to your current process, for how you will handle poor work performance. In many organizations it’s a verbal, a verbal written, a formal, and a termination conversation. In your organization, that may hold true or it may even be a more informal three strikes method. You come to work three times late in a row and you’re out. But also understand that some of those processes and some of those procedures will now need modification. Maybe today it’s the five-strike method. Maybe today it’s a verbal, verbal two, then verbal written, then verbal written two, then formal written process. Maybe we operate with a little bit more leniency or tolerance, or in some cases maybe we don’t, depending on the situation. Either way, develop your process that works in your organization, on your team, and under the guidelines in which you were working, especially if you’re part of a larger organization and if you’re not the owner, or on top of the company. If you develop that process, also keep in mind the need to communicate that process to others, the need to ensure, if you have an HR department, that they are on board with what you were doing, that all are aware of any changes, and that you also take the time to look at your rewards and your consequences.

As an aside, it’s so much easier to influence motivate and invigorate those who may be emotionally struggling or stuck in resentment or anger over some of the things that have been happening, with inducements and with rewards, working in concert with the very nature of human behavior. So much easier to motivate them with inducements and possibilities than it is with dire consequences, particularly when your organization has likely faced much doom and gloom, much mention of consequences, and might now be numb to consequences as a concept. If you take these options, as well as, develop a process, and keep in mind you’re different personalities are going to need recognition and rewards delivered differently…well, that’ a whole other Monday Moment… For now, when you ask yourself the question do I focus on their worries or do I work, you should have some viable answers.

I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday and yes, of indeed, your leadership is still contagious.

Monica Wofford, CSP is a celebrated leader who develops future leaders. CEO of Contagious Companies, her firm delivers and designs leadership training for managers who’ve been promoted, but not prepared, and the leaders who promoted them. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica and members of the Contagious team may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.

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