When We All Come Together

We’re in the throes of the World Cup right now. Excitement is high – and  it’s hard not to feel more united with the group you’re watching the game with, your country, and maybe even the world.

As people, we thrive when we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. We need to feel connected to those around us – to have a place of common ground.

It’s the same for the people you work with: they want to feel like they can relate to, and be connected with, each other.

Think about a way you can bring your team or co-workers together around a common purpose.

And, try it. You might be surprised at the response!

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Asking Empowering Questions

“Objection, your Honor! Counsel is leading the witness.”

As we watch Law & Order, L.A. Law, Boston Legal, or Suits (you choose your law-show guilty pleasure), it’s clear to hear when a “leading question” has been asked. According to Dictionary.com, a leading question is defined as “a question so worded as to suggest the proper or desired answer”.

Think back to conversations with your direct reports. Could you be guilty of the same thing? Or guilty of asking closed questions- where your direct report feels there is only one way to answer the question?

Wording questions to help your direct report think deeper can be difficult. Judith Ross from the Harvard Business Review gives some great practical tips on How to Ask Better Questions and create a culture that embraces questions.

Why should you ask empowering questions? Because an empowering question, “does more than convey respect for the person to whom it’s posed. It actually encourages that person’s development as a thinker and problem solver, thereby delivering both short-term and long-term value”.

Empowering questions, “create clarity, inspire people to reflect, challenge assumptions, and create ownership of solutions”, and much more!

What does the opposite look like? A disempowering question, “undercuts the confidence of the person to whom it’s asked and sabotages her performance”.

In a conversation this week, try to rephrase a question to be more empowering!

How’d it go?

Developing Others

Developing others – does taking the time to focus on the development of your direct reports make that much of a difference?

Studies have shown that employees are more likely to stay with a company when they feel like the company is invested in their future. When you support your direct reports in their development it will make them more effective employees and communicate that you and the company are interested in them and their career.

Where to begin? Reminder: without direction, people have a hard time thriving. In writing a development plan you have the unique opportunity to help give your direct reports direction.

So, here are a few simple tips on writing development plans and achieving goals with others.

Start with the long term. Where would they like to be 2-5 years from now? Identify a couple of growth or continued development areas that are crucial for reaching this goal.

Move to the shorter term. Select one of the areas discussed above to specifically develop in the next 6 months.

Make it tangible. From the one area selected, have your direct report brainstorm two or three ways they can specifically develop that skill. Maybe this is taking a free online class, attending a webinar, asking someone they respect for tips, completing research, engaging in coaching sessions, reading a book… the options are endless!

Insure all aspects are actionable and do-able. Have your direct report detail out a plan with dates of when they will complete each part of developing the skill. Schedule meetings with them over the next 6 months to follow up on where they are on their development, any areas they are stuck on, and how they can continue to grow.

Start now – schedule a meeting with one of your direct reports for next week!

Thriving on Encouragement

Marathon Runners

Ever wondered why thousands of people show up to watch people run a marathon? The runners will tell you that they don’t think they would have made it through if it wasn’t for all those people cheering them on.

Don’t you think it’s interesting how much we, as people, thrive on positivity and encouragement? We want to- we need to- know that we are doing a good job.

Sometimes, in the midst of everything else we are trying to do, we don’t make time to comment on the great work we see being done around us. Mary Wroblewski from Demand Media, has eight easy steps on how to inspire performance, in her article “How to Reinforce Behavior in Business”.

One of things Mary suggests to do is praise sooner rather than later- but also to keep praise sacred by only praising for times that really merit it. Think about the marathon runners again. There are people cheering them on the whole way (sooner rather than later). But – family members or friends of the runners place themselves at key miles during the race to give the runners the extra boost of confidence they need (keeping praise to times that really deserve it).

Your direct reports are running a marathon with you.

So, what specific task or accomplishment can you encourage someone on today?