Celebrating Success

Celebrating Success

There is no doubt that the city of Chicago is on day two of consistent celebration in honor of the Cubs winning the World Series.

While many of those living in Chicago are likely hoping for the fireworks to stop, there is a level of energy that is created by seeing someone celebrate an accomplishment.

As the year-end pushes are starting, take a moment (or two) each week to look at what your team has accomplished.

Need somewhere to start?

  • Have they recently finished a project?
  • Is there something that they finished early to set your team up for success?
  • Has someone been speaking up or risking more than they did 6 months ago?

When you see one of those successes, take the time to mention it in a meeting or grab lunch together to celebrate.

It may create some more of the positive energy you are wanting!

And, p.s. #flytheW

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

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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.

Interviewing: Finding the “Right” Candidate

Interviewing: Finding the “Right” Candidate

You’ve got a new position added to your team – yes!

Now you’ve got the challenge of finding the just-right person to fill the role.

Historically, interview questions center around how the candidate has the best skills for the job or what they think sets them apart from all the other candidates.

But how can you be sure they have these skills?

Try interviewing FIRST for character, personality, and culture fit for your organization!

Ready to try it? Here are some behavior-based questions to get your juices flowing:

  • Tell me about a time you set a goal for yourself. How did you go about ensuring that you would meet your objective?
  • If you could choose to have any superpower – what would it be?
  • We are sometimes confronted with the dilemma of having to choose between what is right and what is best for the company. Can you please give me an example of a situation in which you faced this dilemma and how you handled it?
  • Walk me through a time you were able to be creative with your work.
  • Tell me about a situation in which you have had to adjust to changes over which you had no control. How did you handle it?
  • What does your best day ever look like?
  • Give me an example of a time you discovered an error that been overlooked by a colleague. What did you do? What was the outcome?
  • We’ve all done things that we regretted. Can you give me an example that falls into this category for you? How would you handle it differently today?

Try some of these out and let us know how they go!

We’d also love to hear some of your best interviewing questions!

 

Interviewing: Tips to nail it

Interviewing: Tips to nail it

To be honest – the past couple months at your job have been R.O.U.G.H.

You know that you want more out of your work- and where you are working just isn’t cutting it right now.

You started applying for some jobs that looked interesting, and much to your delight you’ve got an interview set up!

All those nerves are starting to come back about how you “make sure” to impress them and hopefully walk away with a job offer in the next few days.

This week, we’ve got out top tips on how to nail your next interview.

Stay authentic!

People can tell when you are being yourself and when you are just trying to say, “what they want to hear”. As hard as it is, try to prepare yourself to not give “the RIGHT answer”. Just be true to who you are!

Be prepared for the “trick” question

This can be “what do you see your biggest challenge with the job being” or “what is your biggest weakness”? Think about the intent of the question- why is it being asked in the first place?

Usually, people want to see how you are continuing to grow and change. Think about a way you can talk about your weaknesses or challenges while also highlighting how you are growing from them.

Here’s an example: “One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I tend to assume the best in people. I trust they will get the job done and I tend to struggle in following up on accomplished tasks. I’ve learned to become more consistent in follow-ups. I set calendar reminders for myself the day before something is due. This gives me the accountability structure to help me be the most successful”

Come with your OWN questions

 …And not the “why is this a great place to work” question!

Think about the aspects that are actually important to you in the job and/or company. A few questions to consider:

  • Are you passionate about working for a company with great culture?
  • Do you want a job where the role is extremely defined or one where you are getting a new project each week?
  • Do you feel that regular 1×1’s with your boss are key to your success in your role?

Center your questions around the things that are important to you. This shows that you really care and also give you some information you may need to make sure you are making the best decision for you!

The Art of Influencing: Executives

The Art of Influencing: Executives

This week, we have one of our Coaches, Terry Hildebrandt, PhD, with us to share some tips on how to influence executives (or those above your Boss!)

Take it away Terry:

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“One of the most common topics that comes up when I am coaching mid-level to senior leaders is giving presentations to executives. Having observed executive presentations for over 20 years, I have come to the conclusion that 90% of what you need to cover can be outlined in five questions. These include:

  1. What have you done lately?
  2. What should I be worried about?
  3. What are you going to do to address the risks/issues?
  4. What do you need from me?
  5. What other creative ideas do you have?

Let’s go a little bit deeper into each of these questions.

  1. What have you done lately?

This first question gives you the opportunity to update senior leaders on your accomplishments and your lessons learned. This should always include celebration of successes, even if there have been significant problems. Your lessons learned from the challenges or issues should also be included. Many organizational cultures value learning from failures as much as learning from successes.

  1. What should I be worried about?

The second question is about elaborating on risks and providing updates on problems. Risk management includes not only identifying potential problems but also analyzing harmfulness and likelihood of each risk occurring. You should also be prepared to discuss issues and roadblocks.

  1. What are you going to do to address the risks/issues?

This question should address your plans to mitigate risks and to address problems. This may include contingency planning and preventative actions to prevent certain risks from occurring. You should also address the likelihood of successfully addressing the concerns and what management can expect to see during the next review in terms of progress.

  1. What do you need from me?

This question allows you to ask for additional resources, changes in scope, or approval of modified timelines. Also consider asking for political or relationship capital support in driving changes within the organization, especially with departments where you may have no direct oversight to drive action.

  1. What other creative ideas do you have?

This last question is often overlooked; however, it has the potential for breakthroughs in innovation and creativity. Allowing time in your agenda to explore new approaches and brainstorm possible solutions enables executives to consider alternate strategies and enables you to exhibit your brilliance.

Before going into any executive update, make sure you fully consider the answers to each of these five core questions. I highly recommend you structure your slide deck and agenda to address these five questions any time you are providing updates to senior leaders.”

Thank you, Terry!!

The Art of Influencing: Your Boss

The Art of Influencing: Your Boss

You know that you’ve got the next big idea for what could really help your team.

You’ve played this scenario over and over in your mind and are only more convinced that this idea is the way to go.

Now the hard part – getting buy-in from your boss.

Learning how to influence your boss is an art!

As you are preparing, check out this article from The Muse.

Below are two of Jo’s suggestions that we really resonated with!

“1. Understand your leaders and their goals”

Really take the time to think about your boss.

We recommend to ask yourself: What have I seen my boss value or what are those key phrases or points I always hear them coming back to?

“2. Communicate in a style that they find persuasive”

Try out a couple of different communication techniques to learn what your boss REALLY hears. Maybe try:

  • Assertively asking for what you want using “I would like ___ so that ____”
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Prep your Boss with material before and then discuss

Leverage what you learn to communicate in the best way for them!

We’d also recommend to leverage your meetings strategically.

If you already have regular meetings with your boss, think about how you can use those as an opportunity to influence, where you come prepared and ready with ideas!

Setting Priorities when Things are Crazy

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We’ve all had those moments… you know, those moments when you are happily sitting at your desk knocking things out and then your phone rings and you hear:

“Heyyyy, so we’ve got a new project that we’ve got to get done by tomorrow” YIKES!

Instantly it’s all hands on deck and your to-do list is totally thrown out the window.

BUT – there are still things on that list that you need to get done! You can feel your heart rate start to heighten and your palms get sweaty – now what?!

How do you deal with the fires?

Step 1: Calm it down!

You know you’re not at your best when you are stressed. Nothing productive gets done well when you are in that space.

Do what you need to do to get back to a place of thinking in your logical brain verses thinking from your stress. How do you actually DO that?

  • Take a couple of long (6-8 second) deep breaths
  • Get out of the office for a minute, go walk across the street to grab a cup of tea or coffee
  • Plan for a quick run during your lunch break

Step 2: Take a step back

Make a list of all of the items that HAVE to get done today or tomorrow. Look to see if there is anything that you can push out another day or two, or delegate to someone on your team (need tips on how to delegate effectively? Check out here, here, and here).

Communicate with those around you of what came up: tell you boss that you’ve been handed this last-minute task and you’re prioritizing it, let your team know that you’ve been handed a huge project and that you’ll probably be a little more on edge today. Being transparent with those around you will serve you all well!

Step 3: Set Realistic Expectations

You know you can’t do everything, so start thinking through your to-do’s in buckets.

Bucket 1 – Quick knock-outs: Is there an item or two that you can complete in the next 20 or 30 minutes? Do those quickly – spend no longer than 30 minutes on each. Feeling better as things start to be checked off your to-do list? Great. Move to bucket 2.

Bucket 2 – the biggies: Buckle down and knock out the most important/time sensitive item. Is someone waiting for a piece from you to be able to work on theirs? Tackle that now.

Bucket 3 – Finish it up! Circle back to those important items that take a little longer.

Try these out and let us know your best practices in dealing with fires!

Making Time for You

Making Time for You

Last week we talked about setting priorities at work but what about your personal priorities?

The busyness of life has a way of creeping in – it’s not just that there’s so much to do at work, but there’s just so much to do in GENERAL!

Just like taking the time to set priorities at work is hugely important to your job, setting priorities for you, personally, is hugely important to the quality of life that you experience.

We all have “that thing” that we would “love to change” if we could.

Here are a couple starters we’d love to:

  • Eat healthier
  • Read a new book or two
  • Work out more often
  • Be less stressed out
  • Travel to Europe
  • Become more meditative

It is great to have that “thing” you’d love to do!

So, now what? Just like we had some tips for setting priorities for your work, we’ve got some for your personal priorities as well!

Tip 1: Start small

It is so great that you want to work out more but don’t feel like you’ve got to run your first 10k in 6 weeks!

Take it slow. Set a realistic goal. Maybe you can commit to finding a 5-minute workout routine on Pinterest to do twice a week.

Set your goal to be something you know you can do so that you feel empowered to keep going and not discouraged!

 Tip 2: Find a friend!

I know, this title is slightly reminiscent to the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire’s” phone a friend, but in all seriousness, find someone who you can do this with!

Maybe it is someone who has wanted to read more and you can read the same book together or someone who you share meals with often and you both can go on a healthier- kick!

Just don’t go at this change alone!

Tip 3: Create a reward for yourself

This is really exiting that you are taking the time to do something for you!

What can you do as a “great job!” once you accomplish it?

Maybe you’ll buy a fun bottle of wine to celebrate 30 days of healthier eating or have a new meal planned after you’ve taken 15 minutes of meditation for 10 days.

Choose something to honor all the hard work you’ve done – you deserve it!

There is so much to do!

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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!

Developing You

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If you could have more of one thing in life, what would it be?

…………

Did you answer with time or money? If so, you are right up there with about 85% of Americans.

We are all. so. busy.

And now, we are suggesting that you take more time out of your day to develop you. If you haven’t been with us the last few weeks we’d encourage to check out our past two posts on why to spend the time and where to start.

This week, we’ve got the VERY exciting chance to talk about WHEN to actually do this.

Some days it can be so hard to find the time to make a pit stop in the bathroom, let alone take a class or work with a Coach!

But, if you just continue to do what you have been, chances are you won’t continue to grow in the ways you hope to. (I know… this post is getting all serious!)

The best way to find the time to develop you is to set aside the time and don’t let anything get in the way.

I can almost feel the eye rolls happening and hear the “But….”

Maybe you need to schedule yourself to “leave” work an hour early once a month but instead of going home, stop by the library to work on your class.

Or maybe instead of hanging out in the break room for lunch, go down by the park and read.

LITTLE tweaks can make a really big difference.

Whatever it is you’ve chosen to do, it is time to make the choice that you continuing to grow is just as important as you getting your job done.

So.

Take out your calendar and choose a time- block it off.

Then, go talk to whoever you need to help keep you accountable to that (maybe it’s your team so that they know they really can’t bother you during that time or your boss or your spouse or trusted friend).

But, tell someone what you are committing to.

We are excited for you to continue to grow and we’d love to hear about what you’ve committed to!