Let’s talk about self-care

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“In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, please put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others.”

Flight attendants diligently remind us to suppress our instinct of wanting to help others before helping ourselves. After all, how can we help anyone while running on literal fumes?!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at the how, when, where, and why of self-care!

Don’t embrace the grind

Smart leaders make self-care their priority because they know it enhances productivity and success in themselves and others. Ignoring self-care mimics a state of oxygen deprivation: you make messy mistakes, and things inevitably grind to a halt.

The World Health Organization estimates stress related illness causes a loss of 300 billion dollars a year in workplace productivity. Often defined as “Presenteeism”, you are technically at work but your health problems choke any attempts at true efficiency.

On some level, you already know this to be true. Your job feels like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. Your body and mind are screaming to be tended to as you plow through the work day.

Self-care feels like another thing to do in your already overscheduled day.

Yes, you know that ideally you wouldn’t scarf a burger at your desk or shun sleep to respond to that one last email. And wait, wasn’t there a meditation app you’ve been meaning to download? It all feels like too much! Even the things that are supposed to help.

Taking care of yourself ends up going from #1 on your list to falling somewhere between organizing your desktop and getting your tires rotated.

Put yourself first

In this series, we explore what it means to put your oxygen mask on first.

How do you make it a habit? How can you quickly integrate it into what you are already doing? And most importantly: how do you know you are doing it right?

Don’t worry – you got this! For now, just take a moment to put your own mask on… and breathe.

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So, You’ve Got a New Job- Part 2

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 9.39.29 AMPreoccupied with the exciting possibilities of your new role, you’ve totally forgotten that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step – your first day. But not to worry – we’ve got your back! These tips are sure to keep you cool under the pressure of what to do when you’re new.

The Commute

During the interview process, your trusty GPS guided you to your new office in just 15 minutes. However, your route may have been contingent upon the time of day and weather. A drive at 1 pm on a sunny Wednesday could be much shorter than one on Monday at 8 am during a torrential downpour.

A good practice is to take a trip to the office beforehand to make sure you’ve accounted for traffic and detours. By testing your hypothetical drive, you can feel confident in the fact you’ll arrive at work early rather than late.

If your preference is to crank up Pandora while you get ready for work, you may have to put down the air guitar and devote a few minutes to listening to your local news or radio to find out if there are any road closures, accidents, or inclement weather that could impact your driving time. You and Pearl Jam can thank us later.

The Attire

You know those papers and/or booklets you received when you accepted the position? It serves well to read them, as these documents are often the keepers of clandestine information related to your new role.

Read your employee handbook thoroughly and carefully to ensure you’re in-line with your organization’s expectations. Of course, you’ll dress professionally, but your interpretation of sandals may be Birkenstocks, while your company’s expectation of sandals is open-toed dress shoes.

The Layout

While interviewing, you parked in visitor parking and stopped at the front desk to indicate your arrival. Easy, right? But now that you’re “official,” you’ll have to park in the fourth deck and ride the elevator to the 17th floor. Yikes!

No sweat. You’ve gained an extra fifteen minutes from properly planning your commute and can navigate your way to your new desk like a boss. An east and west elevator, or stopping to ask for directions from passersby, will be a breeze rather than panic-inducing since you’ve got time to spare.

The People

During your interview, you were congenial, charming, and attentive. Let’s let the good times roll! You’ll be inundated with new names and faces all day, so be just as authentic and personable as you were when getting the job as you are in keeping your job. Scientific research suggests that our facial expressions influence our emotions, so smiling and being pleasant when meeting your coworkers will serve both you and your new crew well.

Displaying a positive, can-do attitude not only signals to those around you that you are receptive and capable, it also breaks the ice when asking job-related questions. Those gray skies of uncertainty will clear up when you put on a happy face.

Well, look who’s survived the first day? Go you! You’ve given yourself a head start on fulfilling the expectations of your new role just by putting your best foot forward on day one.

That Moment When You Still Need Productivity to Increase

That Moment When You Still Need Productivity to Increase

Last week we started with some tips on what to do when you really need productivity to increase for you and your team.

Did you have a chance to try out any of the tips?

This week, we’ve got Caroline back with some more suggestions.

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 2.32.57 PMBuild Relationships – As a manager, you are building the bridges with other groups that will enable your directs to get things done.

Building trusted relationships within your group, and outside of your group.

What are some ways to do this?

  • Spend time with your peers
  • Find out what is important to them
  • Build strong relationships so you can reach out via email, text, etc., and gain a quick response

A lot of times, the slow down in productivity is due to a lack of response from another group.

Well, you are all in an environment where you receive a huge number of emails and texts, and are in meetings everyday…so how can your asks stand out? Is it a situation where you need to actually make a call? If you have a trusted relationship built, you will gain a quicker response because you are known and they trust that the request is actually needed and important.

Manage the energy – …yes, you are responsible for keeping up your energy and the energy of your group.

For creating a positive work environment.

When you are working in a really fast paced, intense environment, it’s hard to perform at your maximum and maintain composure when your energy is low. This is really important for managers when you are often moving from one meeting to another.

So I use my calendar. Keep it simple.

Your calendar is not just about scheduling meetings. That’s the least it can do. I usually recommend on a Sunday evening or Monday morning taking a look at your calendar for the week – 10 minutes of calendar planning.

So where are you really tight? Which meetings do you really need to be at your best? Which ones do you need to be in and for how long? How can you insert a short amount of time to regenerate a bit when you are a key player?

  • What can you delegate?
  • What are the top priorities?
  • What do you have to get done that day?

If you are stressed and performing at a lower level, this will make it difficult for your employees to perform well.

If you are introverted, then ensure you have enough quiet time here and there to regroup.

If you are extroverted, roam around – take the long way to the coffee room and interact along the way.

It takes only a few minutes and can make a huge difference if you purposefully build in “energizers” into your work day.

It’s not rocket science. It is less complex than all the technical issues you have solved so far in your career, and it will result in you accomplishing more in less time.

Lastly – Be inclusive.

When you are stuck on a challenge or need to be in too many places at once – involve your team. Discuss openly the challenges and have them get involved.

This will create greater trust, ownership, and buy-in so your team will work together more effectively – AND productivity will be higher with greater ownership and buy in.

A great leader once said to me … “even if you know the answer, ask for input”.

Input is not just for when you don’t know – it is to seek other views, to create involvement, and to create energy around a project.

A golden rule of mine is always err on the side on inclusion, not exclusion.

Interaction, inclusion, discussion…create those in your group.

They invite creativity and raise the energy of the group.”

Accountability Doesn’t Happen by Accident

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What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “holding your team accountable”.

Probably that phrase causes a number of different thoughts to flood through your mind.

For the next two weeks, we have another one of our great Coaches, Kristin Robertson, sharing about accountability.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 1.52.01 PMTake it away, Kristin!

As a manager, you want your team to perform at peak levels of productivity, excellence, and creativity. And you naturally assume that each member of your team is equally excited about and responsible toward the team’s goals. So you assign people different tasks to do, expecting the best possible outcome.

Then a deadline arrives, and the assigned team member doesn’t produce what you expected – or worse, doesn’t produce anything at all, missing the deadline completely. You naturally blame the team member for being lazy, incompetent, or worse.

Stop. Often, it’s not the employee’s fault for missing the deadline. It could be yours.

Typically, the problem lies in how you assigned the project or task. Did you describe the desired outcome? Did you lay out the steps needed to get there? Did you assign a deadline?

Help is here in the form of a delegation checklist. Let’s start with a few tips now, and then check in on a few more next week!

This is something you can use to assign tasks to your team members and hold them accountable to quality standards and deadlines:

  • Communicate the purpose of the project/task

Describe to your team member the overall purpose or objective of the project. For example, if you’d like Susie to purchase a new copier for the office, you’d say, “Susie, the purpose of this project is to replace the old copier and ensure that the team can make clean, readable, and inexpensive copies on a reliable machine.”

  • State the mission and core values the task supports

Explain how this task supports your goals & objectives and upholds the core values of the organization. It might sound like this, “This will 1) help save time and money, supporting our core value of company growth, and 2) reduce stress on our workers, supporting our core value of taking care of our employees.”

  • Explain the results you expect

Clearly describe the results you expect. What are your criteria for successful completion of this project? How will you measure the results and what metrics do you expect to achieve? In our copier purchase example, you might say, “Susie, I need better-looking copies, a reliable and easy-to-use machine, and the cost over 5 years should be less than what we pay now.”

In this step, be sure to use follow-up questions to ensure understanding. You might ask, “Susie, how would you state the problem we’re trying to solve and the success criteria for this project?”

So, try these out and let us know what works for you!

The End of A Quarter

The End of A Quarter

We made it through March — can you believe it?

2017 is already flying by, and at this point you’ve got a pretty clear idea (thanks to your fabulous KPI’s) of where you are trending on your 2017 yearly goals.

So, how are you looking?

Does it look like you’re right on track to be where you want to be?

As of today, are you looking like you’re a little ahead of schedule?

Or as you read the sentence above, did you have that sinking feeling in your gut of “Oh goodness — not another reminder that we are already looking like we are behind schedule?”

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into how to make sure you’ve communicated what success (for this year) is to your team, accountability, and on change.

Hang in there — you’ve got this, and so does your team!

Innovating Through Failure

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So, did you have a chance to think about your philosophy or failure?

If not, check out our post from last week to get you started!

Let’s jump back in!

To innovate, you must learn to fail well

How are innovators treated on your team?

How is failure treated on your team?

If your thinking is big enough, no failure should be total. You always learn something from it – whether it’s how to not do something, or maybe it’s extracting one piece of the project that did work, that was ingenious, and that can be salvaged for the next idea.

Don’t stigmatize the team that failed. The next innovators will be watching to see how the first team was treated.

Don’t get us wrong, failure is not the objective. Failure should not be celebrated – innovation and daring should be though; and often, the two come hand-in-hand.

Think about how you encourage or discourage innovation within your team.

Are you celebrating daring-ness on your team? Or are you the runner or the steam engine?

Do you stop and think about how your actions impact those around you and how you can improve?

Or do you blaze ahead – blindly and without thought or care for who and what is tossed in your wake?

This week, make a conscious decision to create something – to risk innovation. Because even if you fail, you will do so while daring greatly.

And — you just might succeed!

To fail is not really to fail – you’re merely collecting data points.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

 

First Block Quote from:  How Google Works. Schmidt, Eric and Jonathan Rosenberg. Grand Central Publishing, New York, New York. 2014.

Let’s Talk About Shame

Let’s Talk About Shame

“Are you intentionally trying to destroy this company?”

You slump further into your chair, staring down at your shoes as Adam, your boss, glares across the conference table. Adam probes again: “Are you? Or are you just an idiot? How could you make such a stupid mistake?”

You open your mouth to respond, but nothing comes out. You can’t feel your fingers.

You can barely breathe.

The room was painfully silent.

The five other men and women gathered around the table nervously shifted in their seats, boring holes in their notepads, as the silence continued to thicken.

Adam stood up.“Get out of this room. I cannot have idiots on my team, and we can all agree here… together…that you are an idiot. You are the worst mistake I’ve made in the last 14 years of building this company.”

Shame. Everyone has it. No one likes to talk about it. It affects everything that we do.

Have you ever worked in an environment that’s controlled or dominated by fear?

If you’re not sure, consider some of these questions:

  • Am I consistently afraid of not doing a good enough job?
  • Am I worried that my Manager or colleague is going to ridicule me?
  • Am I nervous that I am going to be undermined in a call or meeting?
  • Am I concerned that I’ll be blamed?
  • Is the value I put on myself (my self-worth) tied to achievement, productivity, or compliance?

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you may be caught in a work environment that uses fear to control, manage, or ‘motivate’.

It’s incredibly damaging. Shame crushes creativity, innovation, courage, and learning.

In her book, Daring Greatly, research professor at the University of Houston, Brené Brown says this about the subject:

Shame is the fear of disconnection. We are psychologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually hardwired for connection, love and belonging. Connection, along with love and belonging…is why we are here, and it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives.

While the story above is a dramatic case, these types of interactions happen in offices, cubicles, and around water-coolers all across the world.

They might not look the exact same. They might be more subtle or subdued:

  • Highlighting top performers in the company…and bottom performers
  • Criticism in the presence of other co-workers
  • Belittling of new ideas, projects, or initiatives
  • Blame: an inability to take personal ownership for failure

We have all experienced shame in our lives, in one place or another. It could be at your current job, or past job, or with friends – and even family.

This week, take some time to sit with some of the questions that shine a light on shame, and consider were in your life you’ve experienced shame before.

We’ll dive in next week on how to get a handle on it!