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Brilliant in the Basics

We do extensive work with surveys here at DecisionWise. A survey is an excellent tool for assisting leaders in gathering and utilizing employee feedback of all types. However, surveys have some limitations. They do not capture everything that surrounds communication, such as nonverbal cues.

How do we account for the fact that nonverbal communication accounts for the majority of a person’s communication (i.e., gestures, facial expressions, vocal tonality and pitch, sighs, etc.)? Assessing nonverbal cues in a survey context is extremely difficult unless we use video to capture survey responses. Nonetheless, surveys can be used to assist leaders in understanding the impact their nonverbal communication has on their communication styles and overall effectiveness. Today’s Brilliant in the Basics will discuss how to use employee feedback to raise a leader’s awareness of their nonverbal communication patterns.

Next time you train your leaders or put them through a 360 Degree Feedback assessment, consider using the following types of questions for self-evaluation, potential derailers, or behavioral statements.

  • Self-Audit: When someone makes me angry, I deal with them while still angry.
  • Regular 360: Keeps their emotions in check when communicating with others.
  • Derailer: Engages in tit for tat behavior.
  • Self-Audit: I become impatient with people who do not express their thoughts and opinions clearly.
  • Regular 360: Stays patient during the communication process.
  • Self-Audit: I watch for the other person’s nonverbal cues, such as expressions and gestures.
  • Regular 360: Looks for and uses nonverbal communication to help him or her make a point.
  • Self-Audit: I try and use nonverbal communication to help me make my point.
  • Derailer: Fails to consider others’ underlying interests or motivations.
  • Regular 360: Considers the underlying interests or motivations when dealing with others.
  • Self-Audit: I can get to the solution of the problem without regard to underlying interests or motivations.
  • Derailer: Sees others as an opponent during the negotiation process.
  • Self-Audit: When I am negotiating, I view others as an opponent.
  • Derailer: Ignores the nonverbal cues he or she sends to others.
  • Self-Audit: I try to control the nonverbal cues I am sending.
  • Regular 360: Controls the nonverbal cues he or she sends to others.

Because nonverbal communication is such a significant part of the overall communication process, it is important that we use leadership feedback to help leaders understand, manage, and improve their nonverbal communication skills.

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In our previous newsletter, we focused on ways to measure employee burnout in an effort to combat quiet quitting. Today, we will highlight ten suggestions on how managers can guard against burnout in their teams and organizations. 

Consider the following 10 tips:  

Number 1. Remember that we hire the “whole” person. We must be aware of the impact work has on a person’s family and personal life. We do not “own” an employee, even if they are exempt and salaried. It is easy to constantly ask for more, but if we want a genuinely happy, productive, and engaged employee, managers have a responsibility to help protect and promote personal time. 

Number 2. When work gets busy, stress creeps in. This stress is amplified when employees cannot see the end in sight. Help them know when things will return to normal. Employees can hunker down when they realize increased hours will not become the new normal. Just remember that you must absolutely honor your promises and make sure that life returns to normal after busy season. 

Number 3. Excellent communication is vital. Your job is to manage expectations through frequent, crisp, and transparent communication.

Number 4. Break tasks down into achievable milestones. Get your team focused on the next task instead of worrying about how they will ever get to March’s final deliverable. During Navy Seal BUDS training, those who survive the ordeal do so not by focusing on making it to the end of “hell” week, but by focusing on the challenge immediately in front of them, and then the following, etc.  

Number 5. When stressed, limit the niceties and the social functions that sometimes feel like a burden. This does not mean stop having lunch in the breakroom, but do not ask employees to attend extra evening events, optional trainings, unneeded client development functions, etc.  

Number 6. Use commander’s intent. This concept is discussed in the book, Primed to Perform,. The idea is to give your team a picture of what success looks like, and then get out of the way. Let them work together and use their autonomy to achieve the objective. Do not micromanage. 

Number 7. Stay objective. Do not overload your best performers simply because they are able to “get things done.”  

Number 8. Be aware of incentives that may go awry. If you promise a weekend off once certain tasks are completed, you may be creating the conditions where the team prioritizes completion over quality.  

Number 9. Do not forget that hours worked is not the right metric to measure progress. Quality work should be the badge of honor, not quantity. Consider a few lessons from the Vietnam war – read more here.

Number 10. Decompression is a real human need, and it does not happen just because someone gets a day off here and there. Evidence of decompression is when an employee can disconnect from work on a regular and consistent basis.  

There are certainly other ways to manage burnout and stress on a team, but I have found this list to be a suitable place to start. If you have other suggestions on how to manage burnout and stress, please send them to us at info@decisionwise.com.

Or, feel free to post them in our LinkedIn group that is focused on The Employee Experience. Use #preventingburnout. 

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UPCOMING WEBINAR: October 12, 2022 | Register below

webinar how 360 feedback for executives improves leadership

Everything senior leaders do is compounded and cascaded throughout the organization. Their attitudes, behaviors, and decisions shape the organizational culture and employee experience. 360-degree feedback is an opportunity for leaders to understand what experience they are creating for others.
This webinar qualifies for SHRM and HRCI credit.


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