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Why Wide-Format PSPs Should Encourage Mental Health Days

Plus, tips for dealing with drama and delivering effective feedback.




What’s the best sort of feedback?

The best feedback is actionable and immediate. Don’t wait until annual review time. Don’t even wait until your next one-on-one meeting. Whenever possible, deliver feedback within a day of whatever event you’re commenting on so it’s fresh in everyone’s minds. And don’t stress about formalities (unless it’s critical feedback on a loaded issue, in which case grab a private room). Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor, argues you need only two elements to provide effective feedback: show that you care personally and challenge the other person directly. Don’t sugarcoat a critique, but deliver it with compassion. Without the right mixture of empathy and directness, you’ll veer off into coddling, manipulative, or (eep!) aggressive territory.

How can I inspire my staff to be more energized, collaborative, and productive?

According to neuro-economist Paul Zak, a lot of it comes down to trust – and oxytocin, which facilitates collaboration and teamwork. In Trust Factor: The Science Of Creating High-Performance Companies, he details eight key management behaviors that stimulate oxytocin production and generate trust: recognize excellence, induce “challenge stress,” offer discretion in how people work, enable “job crafting,” share information broadly, intentionally build relationships, facilitate whole-person growth, and show vulnerability. Ultimately, Zak concludes, managers can cultivate trust by setting a clear
direction, giving people what they need to see it through, and then getting out of their way.

My best salesperson just gave her notice. How should I handle it?

Professionally. This is most likely not personal, so don’t react as if it were. Marching her to the door is simply bad for business, and a tad ungrateful considering the business she’s brought you. It will also hurt general staff morale, and there’s a good chance you’ll need the departing employee to tie up loose ends. Further, a hot or hasty response denies you the chance to make a counteroffer. Often there’s something other than money that can “make it work.” If the relationship can’t be salvaged, part cordially and then get to work on identifying what made her such a successful salesperson. Call up her biggest customers and ask what they liked best about working with her. Make notes that can go in your training manual or that you can use for hiring purposes.

What is a reasonable number of mental health days to offer staff?

Based on responses to a recent Brain Squad survey question, offering a single block of PTO to cover all purposes can be a simple answer to this common quandary.

Atchley Graphics is one of many examples of a company where mental health isn’t just a legitimate use of paid time off (PTO) – it’s encouraged. As owner Derek Atchley puts it, such time is essential to “clear the mind, recharge, and refocus.” Similarly, Linda Fong of Fastsigns Oakland and Fastsigns Hayward offers a “generous” PTO plan and encourages employees to take “as many days as they need.” Some adopt no formal approach at all. “We are a small company, so if a person needs it, we say yes,” says Rick Mandel of Mandel Graphic Solutions.

Find tips for managing anxiety at

We’ve been experiencing a lot of drama in the shop lately. What can we do to stop it, and how can we prevent it from happening in the first place?

According Martie McGhie, general manager of, the solution begins at the top: managers can ignore, participate in, or even foster unwanted drama. So, consider them to be your front-line defense and your best solution to recognizing negative situations early and putting a stop to them. Those responsible for enforcing accountability are also in the best position to build a culture of respect and professionalism to ward off unnecessary drama.

Read more suggestions from McGhie at

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Learn what roles our Brain Squad members have held that best helped them be the wide-format printer they are today at



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