Taking time out to smile, laugh and just breathe is something all successful people do and in particular for leaders to be seen doing. Remember the saying about all work and no play?
In the workplace, it is not only important for staff motivation to remember people’s names and greet them personally, but also taking a few minutes to have a laugh and a joke can work wonders.
If there really is no time in the schedule to socialise, some leaders use other techniques – such a including a regular joke in emails or pinning it on staff notice boards. A fun photo can also convey that you are human.
There is some scientific evidence that exercising the smile muscles regularly can actually create a more positive mood.
Fresh air and exercise are also good for decluttering the brain. A long walk with the dog can do wonders for creating thinking time as well as for recharging the energy.
Taking time to relax both with colleagues and alone is as important for leaders at any time but perhaps more important when things are stressful and business problems seem overwhelming.
Most crucially it can help to put things in perspective and arguably also to find creative solutions to problems.
Very few people have been taught how to deal with or manage staff so it is not only staff on the receiving end who are terrified of appraisals, they can also be an ordeal for the managers who have to conduct them.
But effective communication and staff management are skills that can make all the difference to the growth potential of a small business.
In our view a properly constructed staff appraisal system is an essential tool for both staff and for business growth.
So what are the key elements?
When setting up an appraisal system there are a number of things to consider.
Most importantly, what is the required outcome: staff motivation? Setting goals? Staff development? Identifying training needs and skills gaps? Planning the development of the business? An opportunity for staff to give feedback? An opportunity for management to give feedback?
Identifying the goals of an appraisal will help to set it up in the right way to meet them and may also identify who should carry them out and how frequently.
But the basics of any appraisal system are that the outcome for all involved should be a positive experience and not an intimidating one that causes fear for all concerned.
And finally, appraisal ought to be carried out by line managers as it is a matter of leadership. It is not an HR function although HR may be useful for advice on how to conduct the interview and support with technical matters.