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Operational Leadership

By Madison Hanscom, PhD When it comes to doing the job well, people need to know what is expected of them. Ambiguity can be a very stressful experience, and a great deal of individuals are in a working situation where they would like to know precisely what they should do to be considered a high performer. Unfortunately, for those working in remote positions, this is particularly difficult. A team of researchers recruited 1135 participants to take place in a study that collects information on their work experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic over time. The data collection began in April of 2020 and

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By Madison Hanscom, PhD Let’s say you are about to start your workday. Imagine two scenarios: • A day in which you will be doing the same task repeatedly for 8 hours• A day in which you will rotate between a variety of tasks for 8 hours Which would you prefer? Although it feels great to get really good at a particular task, over time this can take a toll on motivation. Research has shown that individuals with variety in their work tasks are more satisfied with their jobs (1). Repetitive tasks with little variation can also contribute to complacency and attentional issues,

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By Madison Hanscom, PhD Recovery and downtime are important for a happy and productive workforce. As a leader, you should consider your role in this process. Reflect on how you contribute to the climate surrounding recovery in your workplace. A study from the American Psychological Association recently showed when companies encourage people to take their vacation time to disconnect, employees come back feeling more refreshed, motivated, and productive than companies that do not encourage taking time off (1). This shows the value of building a culture that allows people to disconnect without feeling guilty or mentally tethered to work at all times.

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By Madison Hanscom, PhD There are a great deal of conflicting perspectives when it comes to leadership training. Many individuals do not think it is worth the time because they believe leaders are born and not made – that genetics and personality are more influential in determining a great leader than the knowledge, skills, and abilities someone can build and sharpen during training. Others think training is a valuable tool that leads to a better workforce. But what does the research say? A group of researchers (1) decided to dig deep into questions about leadership training by conducting a meta analysis on

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By Madison Hanscom, PhD Take care of your own stress and work with employees to build a “stress management toolbox”. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series, the right solutions are going to depend on the source of stress, and the best solutions are primary solutions that address the root of the problem. As a leader, you often have more power than employees to make changes that reduce stressors, so consider what you can do first to create a healthier work environment (see the second blog in this series). Sometimes we have to use secondary solutions for things we cannot change. This is

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By Madison Hanscom, PhD Leaders are in a unique position where they can make positive changes that influence the lives of their employees. Consider the following strategies: Continually take a pulse. If you don’t check in with employees regularly about their workload and experience, you won’t have any idea about stress levels. When things are overwhelming and more stressful than usual — listen and understand why. This way you can isolate the factors that cause a negative experience. When things are less stressful than usual — also understand why! Particularly in times when workload is high, but stress is low. Those are

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