Minimizing the Conference Craziness

Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 2.12.23 PM

You made it! You’ve been looking forward to this conference for a long time.

The only drawback to the last conference you attended was that you went back to work completely exhausted from trying to make it to all the sessions you were interested in (which, let’s be real, were most of the sessions they had!).

This conference, you’re already torn between a couple of the break out sessions and the keynote speeches. Each day looks fantastic!

As you’re planning out your week, we’d recommend a couple of tips!

Be intentional about where you spend your time.

Take a couple of minutes to look at your schedule, the time you’ll be spending in different sessions, and prioritize.

Even if you make it to all the ones that look interesting, we all know your brain will be mush by 3pm, and dinner will not be fun!

Think about your year ahead, the team or corporate goals you’ve got, and what you know the most (or least!) about. Where is there a gap, or where do you need your thinking challenged or pushed a bit?

Choose what you attend strategically verses just what looks interesting.

Meet someone new.

 At these types of conferences, it can be easy to flock to those you know (maybe team members are there with you or you know other people in your region who will be there).

Even if meeting new people gives you the hives, try it out. In addition to the knowledge you’ll learn while there, just as impactful (and sometimes even more so) can be the people you meet.

Grab lunch with someone sitting in-front of you at a session, or choose to sit with someone new for dinner (even bring a colleague along with you!).

Communicate back

It can be so easy to go to a conference and then share these little bits and pieces with some of your team. When that happens, we sell ourselves short of the impact we can have of all growing towards the same thing together.

Even if you’re not sure that anyone would care that you learned about “x,” consider taking a little time to share some key learnings or next steps with your team.

HAVE FUN!

Cultivating Gratitude

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 5.23.36 PM

How many times have you said thank you without actually feeling… well… grateful? Muttering thanks to the person who held the door for you earlier, the barista who made your latte, and even your sign off “Thanks!” on all your emails can sometimes ring hollow. The sentiment, and most importantly, the good feelings you have behind the words are lost.

Honestly, if you did keep track of “moments of gratitude”, you would have a dozen things to be thankful for just in that morning on your way to work!

Don’t worry. You don’t have to keep track of ALL of it. How about five things? That sounds almost doable, right?

Putting your problems in perspective by focusing on the positive is the first step in overcoming them. And, there’s so much more. Here are some more unexpected benefits to starting a gratitude journal:

1. Good things DO happen and you finally have the “receipts” to prove it! A gratitude journal is literally your important paperwork of life.

2. You keep only memories that bring you joy. Have you ever gone through your old teenage journals and think … “What was I so upset about?! I had free food and wifi!”? If you want a happy life, record only the happy memories and let the bad times slip into oblivion along with your high school locker combination.

3. It’s the perfect way to end your day. Who doesn’t want to have their stress levels lowered right before bed? Skip the Tylenol PM and grab your gratitude journal instead.

4. Your future self will thank you. This is a little bit meta, but by writing out what you are grateful for now, you give your future self something to be grateful for. Gratitude is simply happiness you recognize at a later date.

5. You will find that you go through life extra attuned to “gratitude inspiring” events. How cool is that?

Starting and maintaining a gratitude journal sounds daunting, but it is so worth it. Here are some handy tips and tricks to get started.

1. Keep a small notebook and pen next to your bedside table. You can later invest in a fancy personalized journal. Whatever you have on hand will do just fine.

2. Write – don’t type. Research shows that the physical act of writing is soothing in and of itself.

3. Take a moment to think through what you are grateful for today. Just today. It may not make sense to anyone who is reading it, and that’s okay!

4. Stay the course. This isn’t a journal of events. This isn’t a place to write out your frustrations. Stay positive and keep out the negative.

5. Keep it secret. Don’t share it with anyone. It will only stymie your true thoughts and feelings. Your gratitude journal is a judgement free zone.

Are you ready to smile at the end of every work day? Keeping a gratitude journal is a hidden life hack for being healthier, happier, and more productive.

Try it!

 

Setting Business Objectives

Setting Business Objectives

Last week we looked at how we hit the end of a quarter!

As you’ve jumped into this next quarter you know you’ve got to set some specific business objectives.

You feel you’ve been crystal clear about what your Team’s goals are and how to reach them. What just became VEEEERY evident in your last Team meeting was that, well, they weren’t.

Now what? We have Coach Michael Lim, a seasoned business Coach who has been on the Coaching Right Now Team for over 3 years, to help us out.

Take it away, Michael!

Mike

 

In setting Business Objectives, we are building a picture of a ‘Target’ for the Team to take aim at. The target provides FOCUS and ATTENTION for the Team to successfully achieve their goal(s). The Target may be easy to see for some. However, how do we ensure that the whole Team knows what success is when the Target is hit?

As I was pondering on the question, I remembered an acronym about S.U.C.C.E.S.S. that I once had on my desk.

S: See your goal

U: Understand the obstacles

C: Create a positive mental picture

C: Clear your mind of self-doubt

E: Embrace the challenge

S: Stay on track

S: Show the world you can do it!

For managers, we can use the same idea to help Team members understand what success looks like.  Here are my thoughts:

S:     Spell out the deliverables clearly using S.M.A.R.T. objectives that can be measured and defined so that they see what a successful goal looks like.

U:    Utilize each individual’s capabilities and understand their limitations so that you can mitigate any obstacles that the team member may present.

C:     Construct a roadmap of milestones and communicate periodic successes so that the team can navigate clearly each step of the way.

C:    Continue to coach, encourage, and motivate team members when self- doubts arise as they face difficulties.

E:     Entrust the tasks to your team members to build ownership and accountability so that they can embrace the challenge.

S:    Schedule milestones and celebrate ‘milestone successes’ to keep the    momentum on track.

S:    Stretch your team’s potential by training, coaching, and building their    confidence so that they can do it too!

 Using this simple SUCCESS model, I believe that you are able to lead your Team to see what success looks like in achieving your business goal(s). At the same time, you are helping your Team members experience success for themselves.

 “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” 

Henry Ford

Creativity at Work: Coloring Outside the Lines While Thinking Inside the Box

creativityatwork-01

Imagine this: you are sitting on your normal Monday morning conference call being grilled about hitting the weekly benchmarks—sales, profits, team expansions. You have implemented all of the suggested tactics, but the old solutions just. aren’t. working. anymore.

You have new strategies to try, but they fall on deaf ears. Sound familiar?

You aren’t going crazy. There is a barrier against creativity in the workplace – even if we don’t mean to have one! According to research from Cornell University, this creativity bias is a subconscious reaction to avoiding risk and minimizing uncertainty in the face of the unfamiliar. Even if your boss wants (and emphatically states a desire for) new, creative ideas, this creativity bias actually prevents novel suggestions from being recognized, encouraged, and accepted.

So, what can you do to convince your boss that your creative solutions are viable, while toeing the company line?

  • If your company is devoted to developing innovative ideas, try tying innovation to embracing a certain amount of uncertainty. After all, being new, different, or improved requires changing the status quo. Cite exciting, risk-taking thinkers. Think Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Sergey Brin.
  • What if your company has an aversion to all things new? Try reducing the uncertainty and risk for your boss and decision-makers. Are there studies that support your suggestions to improve efficiency, morale, or productivity? Present them as evidence that your suggestions are proven and effective.

Either way, you can color outside the lines while thinking about what’s inside the box.

How have you exercised creativity at work? Share your comments below.

Eyes on the Prize

Eyes on the Prize

 

We recently watched this TED talk by Emily Balcetis on perception and found it FASCINATING.

By focusing their eyes on the prize, “people who had committed to a manageable goal, and believed they were capable of the goal, actually saw [the task at hand] as easier”. Net net? Mind over matter – literally.

So, where you do need a slight mindset shift? Commit to a manageable goal and believe you are capable this week!

There is so much to do!

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 5.53.42 AM

It feel likes you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off (literally running between departments and meetings and/or mentally churning with all the projects you’ve got to get done!).

It would be GREAT if you could set priorities – but how in the world do you do that when you can’t even seem to get your thoughts straight?!

This week, we’re going super practical on some tips!

Tip 1: Make and keep a list

At the beginning of each day start out by writing out all you’ve got to accomplish.

And, as more things get added onto your plate, update your list!

Feeling a little sad about the length? That’s ok! It’s better to have all those tasks identified in one place than scattered around your brain.

Tip 2: Mark all your items in order of importance

My guess is that almost everything you are working on is urgent (or you wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed) and you probably feel like everything is important, too.

But, there are only so many hours in a work day and you can only get so much done. So, pick out those 2 or 3 or 5 things that you HAVE to get done today and mark them one color.

Mark those next 5 or 7 times that would be great to get done in a separate color and take all the remaining items and mark them a 3rd color.

Now you’ve got your starting place!

Tip 3: Set time goals for yourself

Look at those items that you have to get done today and think through the following question: if you are at your best and totally focused, how long should each of those take you?

Now, plan out when you’ll work on each of those items and set your goal to be to finish in a specific amount of time.

Zone in, get your coffee in hand, and set your mind to execution mode!

Now – get it done!

Staying Engaged in your Work

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 11.01.24 AM

In wrapping up our tips for working from home we’ve got our team member, Audra Brown, on how to stay engaged while working at home. Take it away, Audra!

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 11.08.19 AMThere are days when I can honestly say I miss my life in a cubicle, when getting my job done required little more than the subtle motivations of the workplace: my boss sitting in the glass office across from me, my co-workers entrenched on similar projects, and the constant team meetings, lunch, and water cooler breaks.

Working from home with two small children means that getting my “office” work done with excellence is a whole lot more exciting to accomplish! My role as a work-from-home mom requires me to operate in an environment of constant demands and a timetable that is variable at best.

Although organization (what’s that again?) and time management (wait, you can manage time?!) are key pieces to meeting my deadlines and ensuring I am focused and engaged, I have also found that motivating myself properly is a significant piece in achieving success in an otherwise, as I like to call it, hostile work environment.

It has been said that the best jobs are the ones you love and happen to get paid for. Who doesn’t want to have the best job? I try to make mine just that by finding ways to love what I do, even if that connection isn’t naturally there in the beginning.

Here are some ways I try to engage myself with my work:

  1. Find the areas of each project/task that play to my strengths. How can I exercise my strengths to not only do a good job but possibly take it to the next level?
  2. Define why I care about the outcome and/or the people that will be on the receiving end of it
  3. Discover pieces of my work in which I can incorporate slices of fun, interest, color, or insight
  4. Figure out if I can grow myself as a person through this task and come out more skilled or learned on the other end
  5. Reinforce my vision of the end goal and how I want to feel at the end of it. Recognize what it is going to take to get me there

Lastly, I would add that remembering that I control this project and my attitude towards it (and not the other way around) always takes a bit of the pressure off, allowing me the freedom to truly enjoy my work and take it where it needs to go no matter what hour of the day, night, or weekend I’m working on it!

Working At Home

Working At Home

As the world gets more and more virtual, so does our work. Studies have shown that 3.7 million employees (2.5% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time and more and more companies are moving to be totally virtual.

Sound exciting? We agree – at CRN, we’re proud to be in those ranks as well.

BUT – if you have worked from home for even a small portion of your week, you might have found some interesting traits about yourself and home/work style:

  1. You are so PRODUCTIVE. When you’re not concerned about the commute home, worrying if you locked the front door, or if you have to sign for that delivery – some of the typical stress of being away from your dwelling is completely out of mind and taken care of. You also don’t have the social cues to head to Starbucks with a colleague, or spend a bit more time at the proverbial water cooler, so those extra minutes are spent knocking things out!
  2. Some days, it’s harder to stay focused on the tasks at hand. AND stay motivated. The joy of working from home is that you’re, well, at home. The not-so-joy? All of the off-work distractions are front and center – and there’s no one physically there to hold you accountable.
  3. I’m kind of lonely. It’s harder to fulfill that basic human interaction need when all you’re doing is staring at a computer screen!

What other aspects have you found out about yourself while working from home?

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at a few of our Team’s tips and tricks on how to keep the work-at-home productivity rockin’ and the distractors at bay – to have the most productive, work-at-home day ever.

Stay tuned!

Think More Like A….

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 8.14.33 PM

It’s probably safe to say that we have all had a moment like this… someone who you work for calls you into their office and says “I want you to think more like entrepreneur”.

What does that MEAN?! Entrepreneur is ambiguous, unclear, and you feel like you don’t have the freedom/power/authority to do what your boss is asking. You walk away wondering what is it that they are actually asking you to do?

Frustrated yet? Me too.

And your boss is frustrated too.

Now what?

The next time you are asked to think more like an entrepreneur, merchant, sales man, lawyer, or like your customer – we’d encourage you to ask some of the following questions:

  • Can you tell me a little more about what that means to you?
  • How can I demonstrate the quality you are looking for?
  • If I were thinking more like [a sales man] how would you know?
  • I am totally on board with working towards this – can you help clarify what success would look like here?

By asking clarifying questions you are engaging the other person to help define what they would like to see changed.

And, maybe think about being a little more descriptive the next time you ask your direct reports to change something they are doing too!

Social Media, Switching Jobs, and Your Team?

MillimilasAs your company continues to grow and hire new staff, you recognize a trend: your company is getting younger. More and more of the staff you walk by in the hallways (of course sending a slight smile their way because you don’t want to be that guy) seem to be millennials, and a lot of them are now on your team.

And they give you a run for your money! Calling online conversations being “social”, shopping more online than in stores, feeling like they should always be considered for the next promotion, and if they aren’t moving up the ladder quickly enough – switching jobs to get to the job title/pay they are looking for (all before age 30!).

Millennials are the future of your organization, but sometimes it feels like you’re at a loss on how to connect with them at a base level.

If this is you, listen up! We have Coach Mary Murphy joining us to bring a little more insight into how to connect with (and motivate!) a younger generation.

Take it away Mary!

Mary jpeg“One key tip that millennial team members tell me that motivates them is – ‘Ask us what we need to perform at our best and then engage us in making this happen.’  What they say frustrates and de-motivates them is when they are asked for their input by the team leader or their manager and then there is no follow-up!

 From an article in the Globe and Mail (Canada’s national newspaper) entitled “Five Things I Learned from Millennials, the author Nicole Gallucci shares and expands upon top recommendations:

  1. When in doubt, Google it
  2. Seize the moment 
  3. There’s no excuse for not connecting
  4. Call it as you see it
  5. Do what you love or don’t complain

I love tip number #1 and often recommend it to the individuals I coach.  For example, when I hear, “I want to increase my executive presence”, I ask the individual what skills they would need to develop in order to achieve this goal.  Often the coachee is unsure of what executive presence really means or looks like for them.  So, we check Google to learn more about the behaviors and skills which help to successfully demonstrate executive presence.”

Thanks for the tip, Mary!

Try out some of these tips for connecting with millennials and let us know how it goes!

PS. We’ve got some millennials too, so we’ll let you know how these tips work for us!  🙂