‘Tis the Season – Reflecting on What You Learned

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Welcome to December, friends!

How exciting that we have made it to the last month of 2017! What a ride it has been.

We’re not sure if you’ve ever dabbled in project or program management, and either way we’ve got a best practice from some of Coaching Right Now’s PM’ing team this week!

At the end of each project or program we love to capture our “lessons learned”. What are those things that either worked amazingly well that we’d LOVE to make sure we do again? Or, what are those things that did not work so well that we hope to never experience again?!

So for all of us, as we are closing up 2017 and moving into 2018, what if we were to take some time to think about our personal lessons learned?

Need some questions to get you started? Try these!

  • What are three things you are most proud of this year?
    • What made you proud of those things?
  • What is one thing that if you could do differently you would?
    • What is it about it that you’d want to change?
  • What are two things that surprised you about yourself, and would you want to do those things again?
  • What are two things that gave you a lot of energy this year?
  • What are two things that took away a lot of your energy this year?
  • What is something I wish I could have spent more time on this year?

Hopefully these will give you a starting place!

“The future depends on what we do in the present.” – Mahatma Gandhi

‘Tis the season for reflecting on what you learned!

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When Saying “No” is the Best Thing You Can Do

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Some of us have an aversion to saying the word, “no.”

It may be because of the way we grew up, our personality type, or something we’ve learned over time.

No matter why the word “no” is uncomfortable, there are times when it is the best thing you can do as a Manager.

Before we jump into when to say “no,” to successfully say the word “no,” we have to be honest with ourselves.

We have to be willing to look at and admit what our limitations are and what we can handle before we can successfully say “no.”

When you are honest with yourself, then you can say “no” when…

1. You cannot deliver on something in the way it is being asked of you

We’d all love to believe that we can meet every deadline, fulfill every creative idea, and keep all of the balls in the air all of the time.

And, if we are honest, sometimes the requests being made of us may not always be feasible.

If you cannot deliver, try something like, “That won’t work for me right now because… And here are a few ideas that are possible…”

Remember, having the intention of wanting to help, while being honest enough to say when you can and can’t, will help you and everyone else.

If you can’t deliver in the way that is being asked of you, try to come up with some solutions for how you can still meet the need and present those ideas.

This communicates that this option doesn’t work right now, and I have some ideas that can! 

2. When you aren’t comfortable doing something

Sometimes we are asked to do something that we aren’t comfortable with.

Maybe you feel a gut check, or a tension in your neck or throat.

If you find that you are feeling uncomfortable or uneasy about a request, allow yourself the ability to say “no” temporarily so you can pause, assess what’s behind you feeling that way, and then decide what is right for you.

If you still feel uncomfortable, you may want to share why with the person who is asking.

If that doesn’t feel doable, give yourself the permission to say “no” to the request because it is what is right for you.

And, this is a prefect time to give a couple of other ideas what are possible!,

3. When you are burning out and taking on too many responsibilities

 If you are reading this, you are probably an over-achiever.

One thing to know about over-achievers is that we say “yes” sometimes more than is sustainable, and we set ourselves up for potential burn-out.

When you find that you are stretched too thin, be honest with yourself and find things you can say “no” to.

When you do say “no,” and the work needs to get done, ask yourself, “who could successfully accomplish these extra things instead of me?”

This may be a great time for delegating and trusting others on your team to get the job done.

Enjoy Your Vacation (Really Enjoy It!)

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The first day of vacation is here! You’ve already prepared your colleagues and boss with how to fulfill your role while you’re gone, but have you taken the time to prepare yourself for days of fun, relaxation, and adventure?

You’ve developed a routine of staying on top of tasks in the office, but we want you to hone your skills related to personal time.

This guide, in short, will show you how to decompress without all the stress of worrying about work while on vacation.

Timing is everything

Peak season is commonplace in most organizations, so you’ll want to make certain your vacation coincides with the offseason, if possible, to maximize your efforts to unwind. By selecting vacation time outside of when you’ll be in high demand, you are better able to make plans around known information rather than a hazarded guess.

If you’re unsure when the busiest times of the year occur, speak with your boss or forecasting department, whose job includes maintaining appropriate staffing at all times, for guidance. Planning your vacation during a lull will ensure the likelihood that you’ll remain undisturbed with work and fully engrossed in enjoying yourself.

Unplugging from Technology

In today’s world, leaving your cell phone at home induces anxiety of the worst kind. Doh! How will you respond to emails, voicemails, and text messages if you don’t have your trusty device? Easy. You don’t. You’ve become so accustomed to always being “plugged in” that you are no longer in-tune with the most important contact – yourself.

It’s perfectly fine if you elect to bring your cellphone, laptop, or tablet on vacation, but be sure to utilize the “Do Not Disturb” feature when you really do not want to be disturbed. Pinging email notifications can put a real damper on a deep tissue massage. Disabling this feature will allow you to “loosen up” and enjoy the moment while remaining undisturbed.

If completely unplugging makes you uncomfortable, carve out a certain time of the day to devote no more than one hour to checking emails and responding to any urgent requests.

Putting yourself first

These days are devoted to no one else but you, so act like it! In order to be your best self at work, you’ll need to take the time to do all of the things you didn’t have time to do because of daily career demands.

When was the last time you were able to read a book, see the sights, or have meaningful conversations with loved ones? If this question takes you longer than a few seconds to answer, you need to make it a priority to do at least one of these things while on vacation.

You’ll also want to take this “make-time-for-me” mantra with you during your return to work. Pace yourself by using your first day back to catch up on emails and reacquainting yourself with your role. Block some time on your calendar to catch up so your coworkers will know that you’d prefer not to be disturbed while you’re getting back to business.

Now that you’re all rested up and refreshed, you’re able to seize the days ahead at the office!

Prepping For Your Vacation

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It’s Summer! You’ve banked those vacation hours, foregone taking an extended weekend for your birthday, and you’re ready to take some much-needed time off. Relaxation awaits just around the corner.

We’re here to make sure you’re laying out your beach blanket, rather than laying out step-by-step instructions to your colleague, with these tips for a fun furlough.

Cleaning out your inbox

You may never have been able to reduce your inbox to zero, but a good practice is to clear out any messages to the lowest common denominator before bidding adieu.

Go through each email and prioritize with Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Matrix:

  • Important and Urgent – Extremely High Priority
  • Important but not Urgent – High Priority
  • Not Important but Urgent – Low Priority
  • Not Important and not Urgent – Extremely Low Priority

For messages that are Important and Urgent, take time to address those emails prior to your leave. For those that are Important but not Urgent, use the starring/flagging system to ensure that the messages are your first priority upon your return. The Not Important but Urgent emails may be delegated to the person who’ll be covering for you while you’re gone. Not Important and not Urgent emails can be postponed until you’ve made it back to the office.

Oh, and don’t forget to turn on your out of office reply.

Daily tasks

You have job duties that must be done on a daily basis, and you’ll want to ensure that those duties are fulfilled in your absence. Find out if you’re able to pass your everyday responsibilities along to one of your colleagues. If so, carve out some time to meet with your backup to list and thoroughly explain what must be done and when it will need to be completed.

  • Provide your backup with your passwords to any applications that he or she will utilize daily
  • Leave contact information for important connections (e.g., tech support, clients, and vendors)
  • Identify the location of reference materials that will supply the answer to any routine questions that may arise

Since your colleague will be holding down the fort in your absence, you’ll want to make sure that the transition is as easy as possible. Leaving a detailed list of things that must be done and how to do them will eliminate your need to check your phone a trillion times while you’re away.

Organize your workspace

You know the Rockford files are underneath a pile of papers tucked inconspicuously in the paneling of your cubicle, but your colleagues might not. Taking time to tidy up your desk before you leave will guarantee an easy search.

A clean work area allows peace of mind during your trip. Put to rest the pangs of wondering if your coworkers saw all the crumbs in your keyboard or dust bunnies in the corners of your cube with the gift of tidiness. Double bonus – you’ll return to a desk that’s spiffy enough to be on HGTV!

Now that you’ve taken the time to prepare, get your motor running, head out on the highway, and enjoy your vacation!

So, You’ve Got a New Job – Part 1

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Whether you’re leaving to pursue a new career, trek across Tibet for sheer adventure, or take same personal time off from the workforce, leaving your current employer as respectfully as when you came in has benefits.

Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t jump ship until you’ve secured your anchor.

The Beauty in the Two-Week Notice

Even if your boss wasn’t the most gracious in giving deadlines, your ample notice of resignation will be a gift to your coworkers who’ll likely have to shoulder the load in your absence if a replacement isn’t found before your departure. Remember, there is no “I” in team.

Established a good rapport with those you’ve shared a parking deck with during your stint at your company? They’ll likely want to celebrate your new beginnings. A last hurrah after work is a networking opportunity in disguise, as many of your coworkers will likely want to keep in touch with you (added bonus – LinkedIn buddies!).

Giving two-weeks’ notice graciously can also allot time to speak with HR to find out about things like: payouts for unused vacation days, COBRA benefits to bridge your coverage if there is a lag in the time for open enrollment at your new gig, and implementing your suggestions for improvement via the exit interview.

Training the new “You” 

Now that you’ve submitted your notice to separate (in writing), use this as an opportunity to add to your repertoire and resume!

You may not realize how much you contributed to your organization until you’ve created the training agenda for the new “you.” Listing all of your responsibilities not only validates your capabilities (GO YOU!), it can also be used as leverage for a counteroffer at your new employer or a great incentive to update your resume. Another plus – this list may highlight areas where there are gaps in your skillset that you can, ideally, develop in your new gig.

You are the expert when it comes to your role so be sure to impart this knowledge to the person replacing you. Remember all of those times you wanted to bang your head into your desk from frustration? Be generous in doling out the metaphorical Excedrin by providing thorough training to your proxy.

Perks of professionalism

Who doesn’t love having proof of how fantastic they are? Good news! Your willingness to work out your two-week notice and train your replacement, just might move your former boss to pen you a letter of recommendation that will last throughout the ages.

ASK for a letter of recommendation as you are closing up shop if your boss hasn’t mentioned it – chances are they will be happy to write one for you!

Don’t be the person to eat and run. If you apply good manners at a host’s dinner table, be sure to apply the same courtesy to your employer when quitting your job.

So, I’ve Got a New Boss

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You got the job!!!! Congrats!

Which also means you’ve got a new boss. And there is that question in the back of your mind… what kind of boss will they be?

Micro-manage-y? Super hands off? Some type of balance between the two? Way too invested? Kind of aloof?

You know there is a chance for all of them.

And some people are great at expressing their expectations and others are not.

So, with that in mind, we’ve got a couple of suggestions on some types of conversations you may want to have.

First, learn about how you guys will be meeting.

  • Do you have weekly standing meetings?
  • Do you have meetings as things come up?
  • What’s their preference for how to schedule meetings?

Next, learn about their expectations on hearing about how things are going.

  • Do they want status updates? How often?
  • Do they only want to know when something has been completed?
  • Do they want these updates in meetings … or via email … or do they just want to be able to see what they need to in the tracking system you guys have?

Then, learn about how they want to be communicated with as issues arise.

  • Do they want to know as soon as you know there is a problem?
  • Do they want you guys to strategize on how to fix it together?
  • Do they prefer you to come to them with a strategy on how to fix it and they confirm?
  • Or, do they want you to try to fix it first and then come to them?

Let us know how these questions help you structure your new relationship with your boss- or if you have any additional tips you’ve found helpful during this exciting / fun/ and stressful transition time!

That Moment When You Want Your Team to be More Creative

That Moment When You Want Your Team to be More Creative

Have you ever had that moment when you’ve been sitting and listening to your team and you think, “I just want something more… something outside the box – something creative!”

This week we have Coach Keiko Akiba to share with us her thoughts.

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 9.57.16 PMWhen you’re sitting in the middle seat and watching how your team is working, you may ask yourself, ‘What can I do to help my team become more creative?’

And – what does it really mean to be ‘creative’?

You may think that creativity is a special talent that only some people have and others don’t have. But the next time you pass a park, you’ll see children making ‘play’ from seemingly nothing. It’s amazing how children create new games by making up their own rules without any equipment in the playground. They are free to explore and enjoy imagination and creativity!

Creativity is a gift that we all have naturally. However, as we grow older and learn what we ‘should and shouldn’t’ (or ‘the rules’), we unconsciously bury the creative mind deep inside of us.

So – what this means is that your workplace is full of hidden creativity!

What if we could unbury it just like peeling off the outer layer of an onion?

And how can you, as a Manager, help?

Start with these 3 “Let Go’s” that you can start doing now to spur your team toward creativity!

  1. Let Go of your judgement

Often, managers tend to have judgements or assumptions toward their team members and may underestimate their capability. However, these judgements may not be reality and it could make the team feel defensive and demotivated. So, try to let go of your judgement and fully trust the team, letting them know that you are here to support them.

  1. Let Go of the reins that you keep holding

Imagine a horse running freely across the field without any control by someone. What does the horse look like? When you keep holding the reins too tight, it often limits the actions and new perspective. People might feel pressure and less freedom by being too controlled. This is not where creativity is developed. Let go of the reins and let them explore and enjoy new possibilities!

  1. Let Go of your stereotyped behavior

It goes without saying that following the tradition and rules is important, and you may feel safe to stay inside where you are. But aren’t you curious to see what’s available and what will happen if your team gets off the existing path and does something different from stereotypical behavior? They will naturally use their creative mind and find something inspiring along the way!