The stress of work and managing a team can build to overwhelming levels throughout the year. Business leaders are often so focused on deadlines and timelines that they lose sight of the people operating with them, director of Appriss software engineering Sue Freas told TechRepublic. Managers act as bandleaders, Freas said, and are responsible for providing the resources and motivation necessary for their team's success.
If a manager becomes consumed in the repetitive, day-to-day office routine, not only is their well-being affected, but that of the whole team. "If the executive seems overwhelmed, that's going to trickle down, and it's the last thing you want to portray to an organization," said Jimmy Carroll, partner and director at TetraVX, a company specialized in the management and creation of collaborative technologies.
That means that self-care is company-care. If the leader of an organization is unhappy, chances are their counterparts are too. Energy and mood are infectious in a work environment, and being in a leadership position gives executives the power to set the tone.
SEE: Digital transformation: A guide for CXOs (Tech Pro Research)
Summer, with its slower work and nicer weather, offers a particular opportunity to executives, according to Brian Kropp, an HR practice leader at Gartner. Between Memorial Day, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July, executives are given at least three free days off to step back and reevaluate their business. Summertime is a great time to brainstorm how to make yourself and your company better, and then implement those tactics in Q3 and Q4.
Here are five ways executives can improve their businesses over the summer:
1. Take time off
You have vacation time for a reason, so use it! Sometimes removing yourself from a stressful situation helps you to better see the overall picture. Both Carroll and Kropp agreed: Time off is vital to executives.
"Coming back gives you this different view of the organization, and you appreciate it a little bit differently," said Carroll. Returning to the office with fresh eyes can also give you new ideas for the coming year.
Additionally, "the decisions and behavior that you engage in as a leader send a signal to your teams and your workforce about they should be doing as well," said Kropp. If an executive is spending their summer drowning in work instead of spending any time with family, that is the precedent they are setting to the rest of the team. Yes, work is important, but so is a manageable work/life balance, Kropp said. Model your behavior on how you want your company culture to be.
2. Team building events
Summer is a great time to bring the team together. Executives usually spend most of their time in private offices behind closed doors, missing frequent interaction with their staff. Promoting a sense of community in the office is intrinsic to healthy team functionality, so it's important that those efforts start from the top.
"The bonding and the rapport that you can build with people you may not spend a lot of time with normally is extremely important to the organization," Carroll said. "It also reflects well on the organization, as a whole, where you still can portray that family-type feel to the employees who are really the ones that are keeping the lights on."
However, executives need to remember their audience, and be thoughtful about the activities they choose for their team, Kropp said. "You got an opportunity to do it, but [the activity] has to be the right one for the workforce that you got, and you need to pick things that people feel comfortable about doing," he added.
3. Learn from others
Bring new management strategies to your office by getting an outside opinion. Carroll and Kropp recommended visiting a symposium or a speaker focused on your industry. Learn how other business professionals organize their workforce and connect with their teams.
Good leaders evolve and change over time. Putting blinders on and always using the same management style not only burns out the executive, but also may not be effective for every employee. Speakers tour more during the summer months, with it being a slower season. Search the web for upcoming events in your industry and city. Even business leaders have room to learn.
No, not your email. Whether it is fiction, a magazine, the newspaper, read something that isn't directly related to your daily work. Carroll suggested taking time during the summer to go outdoors and read something for fun. Occupy your brain with literature other than press releases, work documents, or contracts. Not only will you be happier for it, but reading other materials also gives you something non-work related to discuss with your coworkers, and draw ideas from.
5. Try out new tech
"Summer is the time to experiment," said Kropp. Summertime is ideal for trying out new technologies, because you can declare a definitive end point. You can designate Labor Day as the end of summer, Kropp suggested, and try out a new program until that time. Even if you test a technology that doesn't end up working for your company, the slower summer months are a much better time to find out, instead of a hectic Q4. You may also discover a technology that helps your company operate smoother—perhaps one you learned about from a symposium or new book.
If business leaders are interested in implementing new tech, here are some of TechRepublic's recommendations.
- How to build a successful CIO career—free PDF (TechRepublic)
- Is the CIO losing their grip on tech decisions? (ZDNet)
- Project management certifications from PMI: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Executive's guide to implementing blockchain technology (ZDNet)
- 6 styles of project leadership and how to use them effectively (TechRepublic)
Macy Bayern has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Macy Bayern is a Multiplatform Reporter for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.