The Battle for Focus

The Battle for Focus

We’re on week two with your chatty team! Did you have a chance to reflect on some of the questions Trish asked last week?

We hope those gave you a place to start. This week we’ve got Coach Sue Oliver based out of Texas on how to leverage the camaraderie of your team to get things done.

Take it away, Sue!

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“The ‘battle for focus’ is one we all wage daily.

We want to motivate and inspire our teams to operate at their best; yet, there are so many opportunities for distractions.

We all know a team in conflict can easily lose focus. A team that gets along well socially and has positive chemistry can also be impacted.

How? The camaraderie and enjoyment of being part of a team that gets along well together can pose a challenge in getting things done.

So, how do you harness the best of what a good team with positive chemistry can achieve without falling victim to unproductive distractions?

One tip is to draw on the positive chemistry of the team to involve them as solution owners.

What does this actually look like?

  • Begin by gathering the team together and laying out the situation transparently
  • Let them know you see the team’s camaraderie as a strength, except when it poses challenges to getting things done
  • Share with the team what the lack of focus looks like
  • Let the team know that you want them to have a stake in the solution
  • Challenge the team to identify the top 1-3 ways they can more clearly focus on achieving their performance goals while preserving the positive spirit and camaraderie of the team

At the end of the meeting or deadline set for team ideas, decide on the top few things the team can do to heighten their focus while preserving the positive atmosphere among the team.

This inclusive process will enable your team to be problem solvers and owners in the solution. You will have solved a problem through motivation and engagement – yielding a much more sustainable solution.”

Thank you, Sue!

By considering the questions from Trish last week and some of Sue’s suggestions this week, we know you’ll start to see some different results soon!

Motivating the Chatty Ones

Motivating the Chatty Ones

You’ve finally decided to connect with your team members on Facebook.

And now, you get new notifications of your team members tagging each other in photos every Friday and Saturday night.

You knew that they were chatty at work but you didn’t realize that all their socializing was encouraged by them hanging out together outside of work too.

Sometimes, the chemistry of your team can seem to take away from their productivity. You don’t want to kill the camaraderie but your team has got to get the work done. Over the coming weeks we’ll hear from two Coaches on some strategies on how to work with your sociable team.

This week we have Coach Trish Brooks from Ottawa, Canada with some suggestions and questions to motivate your team so that socializing doesn’t get in the way of results.

Let’s check out what Trish has to say!

“This is a multi-faceted problem, and there may be several interventions that the manager must make. Today let’s look at one important one – is the team fully engaged with their job. Research has shown that the social part of the job is not a significant reason people come to a company, or stay with a company – it’s not a ‘motivator’. Employees typically leave companies (even though they have great social connections) because the work is not stimulating and they are not developing. If employees are not ‘getting things done’ it means they are likely not motivated to do the work.

So, the first question to ask is ‘are my employees motivated in their jobs?’

  • Is the job aligned with what is important to them?
  • Is their work interesting and are they learning and growing in their job?
  • Are they being recognized, and feel valued? Are they feeling a sense of accomplishment day-to-day?

If the answer is ‘yes’ to all of the above, then it is unlikely that socializing is getting in the way of the work. If employees are bored with the work and are not growing, then socializing will be what they do instead of work.

The best way for a leader to determine whether or not their employees are motivated is to have a discussion that asks questions like:

  • What are a couple of recent accomplishments you feel especially good about?
  • What part of your work interests or challenges you the most and least?
  • What’s important to you and what do you value at work? Is there a good match between what is important to you and what this organization provides?
  • Do you feel valued and recognized for what you accomplish here?

The manager can then determine what the next step is. For example, the manager could:

  • Modify the job objectives so there is more challenge/accomplishment/growth for the employee or help the employee move to a job that is better aligned to their interests
  • Ensure that people are not hired that are overqualified for the job (because they will likely get bored within the first year)
  • Recognize the accomplishments of employees
  • Hold employees accountable, and provide feedback, so they know what is expected (and know what accomplishment looks like)
  • Move people before they get bored in a job. Typically people need a new challenge every three years.

If employees are energized about their jobs, they will still socialize, but it will be aligned with the goals of the group. People get energized, and have fun, when they have common goals that they accomplish together.”

Thanks, Trish! Let’s try these tactics out this week and see what we uncover. And, make sure to come back next week for some more tips!

Beginning Collaboration

Beginning Collaboration

You’ve just received a multi-layered and pretty complex project from management. *deep breath*

You know that if you break up the work each team member can get the job done but you’ve really been wanting to encourage your team to work together more.

This week we have Coach Mike Lim with us on one tip he would recommend to start bringing that change!

Take it away, Mike!

Mike“Great individuals need an inspiring leader to garner them together. First things first, you need to be the ‘beacon’ to get them excited about the project.

One tip is to share the benefit of how this project can help the team members build visibility in their work and as a team. Hence, you need to be able to articulate purpose and benefit statements such as:

  • This is a critical project that requires the team to …
  • When this project succeeds, this creates more visibility to the work that we …

As this may not be a high performance team just yet, you will have to ensure that you communicate the outcome and set clear guidelines on roles and responsibilities. You may need to have an open discussion to know each individual skills-set and what they can bring to the table in this project team.

It is certainly useful for you to understand the Tuckman’s team model. Teams go through the stages of Forming, Storming, Norming before Performing.  Keep an eye open to how the group interacts and ascertain the stage(s) they are in throughout the project timeline. This being said, you will have to steer the team through the ‘waters’ to become a high-performing team.”

Thanks, Mike!

This week, try sharing with your team why working together will be beneficial to their career! And, let us know how sharing this encourages the mood of the team!

One encouragement, what you are hoping to do is change the culture of your team and this will take some time. Stick with it!

As Yoda would say… “Great manager, you are! And, more collaboration in your future.”

Your Ever-Changing Team

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Whether you’ve been a manager for 2 weeks or 20 years, I think we can all agree that building teams that work well together is an art.

Teams are always changing – even if you’ve had the same people working for you for a significant amount of time, the individuals are continuing to change and grow, and in turn, your team changes and grows.

Over the next couple of weeks, a few of our great Coaches will share suggestions on how to promote more collaboration and encourage efficiency with chatty members.

Before we dive into how to grow as a team, spend 10 or 15 minutes this week thinking about your team.

  • How would you (or others!) currently describe your team?
  • What do you want your team to be known for?
  • How do you want your team to grow over the next year?

Thinking about where you want to lead your people to is the first step in getting there!

The End of Summer Blues

The End of Summer Blues

On the last day of July, we can all feel it. The summer we were longing for is feeling like it has slowly begun to slip away and soon enough it will be September again.

Most of us probably did not get to sit in a hammock above a beach and just relax for a few days.

So, how do you engage with your team as they are beginning to feel the “end of summer blues” too?

One tip is to give them something to look forward to for the rest of the year! What does this actually look like?

We’d suggest taking 30 minutes over the next week or two to meet with each team member.

Begin by asking engaging questions about them.

How are they doing? What are they enjoying about their job? Why? What would they like to do more of? What are they passionate about?

As they are talking, really listen to what they are saying and seek to understand more of who they are and where they are coming from.

At the end of your time together, decide on one thing that they can do as a result of this conversation.

This won’t necessarily take away the blues of another summer that has slipped away but it probably will give each team member something to look forward to in the weeks to come!

Progress!

nice lunch!

Can you believe that 2015 is half way over?! This year has been flying by.

Harken back to January when we were diving into creating actionable, thoughtful, and meaningful goals for the year.

How have those been going? Have you been making some fabulous progress? Have your goals been getting lost in the end of quarter goals?

Next week, to celebrate that you’ve made it to July, give yourself a little break to celebrate you!

Take your self out to a nice lunch or an afternoon coffee break. Spend an hour thinking about your goals for the year and what is one action step you can take to keep the momentum going (or jump start your focus again!).

Even when things are busy, you still deserve to spend some time on you.

But They are Boring….

Bored

There are SO many things on your plate right now that having another conversation with [insert that person’s name here – oh, you know who they are!] seems unbearable.

Yes – they deserve your respect, and you DO respect them. But talking to them is just. so. BORING. It feels like you have nothing in common and you’d rather undergo a root canal than getting stuck talking with them at the company happy hour again.

This week we have the treat of having Coach Brooke O’Shea with us to share some tips on what to do if you are talking to someone who you are finding boring.

Take it away, Brooke!

Brooke O'Shea-  Word BubbleDear “Bored”,

From time to time we all find ourselves in scenarios where it is difficult to make meaningful connections with others.  I would encourage you to ask yourself a few questions when in these situations:

  • First, what is your desired goal of engaging with this individual?  
  • Second, what is your counterpart’s potential goal of engaging with you?  
  • Third, are the difficulties you are experiencing based on language barriers, personality types, beliefs, gender, generational differences, etc.?  
  • AND finally, have you considered all options in finding common ground?

Assuming that you and the other party have mutual benefits for connecting, the next step is to consider what barriers you are encountering in finding a common interest.  

While exercising caution to avoid becoming an interrogator, continue to ask open-ended questions around topics you enjoy until you find that thing that the other person’s eyes light up about! I personally find that by asking more questions, I can typically find a topic we both find passion around.   

My “tip” for those who find small talk awkward, prepare a few subjects that interest you ahead of finding yourself in those difficult social situations. Plan to discuss a current book you are reading, a TV show, an exercise routine, upcoming travel plans, the town where you grew up, or where you hope to retire – those can get your juices flowing!

Thanks, Brooke!

Let us know how these tips work for you!

Talk to me

Talk to me

You hate it to admit it, but you’re… well – shy.

That word makes your cringe – but it’s true. Working up the courage to speak when you’re in a meeting is a challenge. You’d rather not go to that company happy hour because it seems like you have NOTHING to say the minute someone comes up to talk to you. And you’re just not that person in the front of the room telling the engaging story at the start of company events.

Today, your day has been busy running in and out of meetings.

As you are on your way back to your desk, your direct report stops you saying, “hey, I have been meaning to talk with you about….”

As they are talking all you can think about is the next thing you hope to say.

This week, we’ve got one of our great Coaches, Karen Coplan, here to share some recommendations to do if someone is shy and finds it hard to respond to what the other person is saying.

KarenFirst, know that you are not alone! You likely work with many shy or introverted people, but may not realize it because they have found ways to ‘flex’ their styles. Being shy doesn’t mean that you don’t have important or interesting ideas to share, but it may mean that it is more difficult for you to do so.

There are a few tips that may help you to feel more comfortable in talking with others.

  • Before a meeting or a networking situation, try to identify a few topics that you could bring up in conversation. For example, scan business periodicals or websites (eg, Wall Street Journal or Harvard Business Review) to identify a few interesting or thought provoking topics.

  • Come up with a brief summary of what you are currently working on – and practice talking about it – OUT LOUD.

  • Also, try to keep eye contact during the conversation, nod, and look interested. Many times people don’t need a response; they just want to know that they are being listened to!

  • Finally, I recommend that you watch the Ted Talk by Susan Cain called The Power of Introverts. It will likely help you to feel less alone in your shyness and to realize that you bring a lot of value!

Thanks, Karen!

So, try out one of these techniques or watch the Ted Talk Karen suggested and let us know what was impactful to you!

Cutting In Line

Interrupting Image

Your day has been busy running in and out of meetings.

As you’re on your way back to your desk, your direct report stops you saying, “hey, I have been meaning to talk with you about….”

As they are talking all you can think about is the next thing you are going to say. You even find it hard to let them finish their point because you are so ready to jump in.

If this is you, then this week we’ve got some tips for you!

One of our great Coaches, Helen Cooper, is here to give us some tips on what to do if you tend to think about your next point while the person you are talking to is still finishing.

Take it away Helen…

 

Helen Cooper- Blog“Thinking ahead is a natural response in a fast-paced environment.

It requires focused behavior to understand and acknowledge another thought/opinion.

I use a couple of tricks to ‘slow down’ mental responses.

  • Try to engage differently by ‘listening’ more intently.
  • Focus on the key points the person is trying to make.
  • Don’t formulate a response immediately.
  • Use visual cues, they are really helpful.
  • Try to maintain eye contact when the person is speaking.
  • Don’t be distracted by texts or devices, stay engaged in the moment.
  • Check your understanding by paraphrasing the key points.
  • Think back to research or school days when trying to understand the key learning points in a lecture (really try focusing on content!) before thinking about a potential application!

Thanks, Helen!

If this is you, then this week then try out of Helen’s tips and let us know how it goes!

Listening… Even When You’re Busy!

No body hates a listener

You can see your colleague’s mouth moving, but the words are starting to drift off…

*ding, ding*

Your phone busses with an email from a client

No… focus, what was he saying again?

*Knock, knock* at your door… it’s your boss –

“Hey, quick reminder, we’ve got that business development meeting in 10 minutes, don’t be late”.

“I’ll be there!” you say quickly.

Ok – refocus… You look at your colleague and say, “I’m sorry, so in wrapping up….”

Ultimately, we want to listen – but in the busyness of life, it is so easy to get distracted.

And, for some of us, really listening can be challenging.

Over the next few weeks, we will be hearing from some of our great Coaches on tips on how to listen well, even when it’s hard!

Need help right now? If you’re finding it difficult to really focus on what the person you are talking to is saying, here are a couple of tips to start with:

  1. Put your phone on silent (this is such an easy distractor when it’s buzzing!)
  1. Prepare yourself to listen (relax and get comfortable)
  1. Try to really understand the other person’s point of view (ask “how” or “what” questions to gather even greater understanding)
  1. Listen to both words AND tone to gauge a deeper understanding of what they are thinking or feeling
  1. Watch for non-verbal communication cues for other feelings or reactions (these can be facial expressions, eye movements, or gestures).

Try these out and let us know how they go!