How to Survive the Company Holiday Party

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.19.06 AMTHE HOLIDAY PARTY!!!!

Or.

The. Holiday. Party………………

Do the three words ‘company’ ‘holiday’ and ‘party’ in the same sentence make you break out in hives? Or do you look forward all year to being able to hang with your work friends in a pretty cool (or different) location?

Now that you’re here (and lookin’ mighty festive, I might add!) – now what? How do you survive (and thrive!) at your company holiday party? We’ve got some conversation starters, stoppers, and stallers to help!

Starters: Need a topic to talk about? People LOVE to talk about themselves. Try these questions!

Don’t know the person you’re talking to very well?

  • What are you doing for the holidays/new years?
  • We’re trying to figure out what to do for next year’s summer vacation – what’s your favorite vacation spot? Any recommendations?
  • I’m in-between books (or TV shows) – what have you been reading lately that you really like?
  • My cat has been CRAZY this time of year with all of the travel and work hours! Do you have any pets?

Worked with them on a few projects, but want to get to know them more?

  • The holidays are always when I start reflecting on the year – what is the coolest (most exciting / impactful / rewarding) thing you did this year?
  • I’m starting to marinate on what to have as my new year’s resolutions – what are thinking about putting on your resolutions list for this year?
  • What did you learn about yourself (workstyle /personal motivation / personality) this year that was most surprising?

Stoppers:

  • Politics: As the election is coming closer, the candidates (and some in particular!) are on everyone’s mind. While this can be quite the (maybe not so joyous) conversation starter we’d recommend steering clear of this one!
  • Religion: Most people believe something and most people don’t want to hear all about what everyone else believes. If you find yourself telling a story where religion is as essential part, make it approachable. There is a way to present what you believe while not sounding like it is your way or the high way.

Stallers: In the middle of a conversation that’s not going well? Try these!

  • Use the bathroom as your friend. Excuse yourself, head to the bathroom for a quick moment, and then rejoin a different group.
  • Use the dance floor as a distraction.
    • Love to dance? Use it as a way to get you and your friend out of the convo and onto boogying!
    • Don’t love to dance? Not a problem. You can always see who is across the dance floor and remember a topic you have to go to talk to them about!
  • “It was so great to meet you!” or “it was so great to see you again!” is a great line to insert in when you can feel a conversation starting to run dry.

We hope these help you survive (and thrive!) at your company’s holiday party.

Have an awesome time!

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Take a Break- Relationships Matter

Take a Break- relationally

We spend so. much. time. at. work.

Sometimes it feels like there is no time for anything else… especially friendships.

When you are going from work to trainings and then you have that new project added on your plate (that you kinda, really want to take on) and your friends are experiencing the same thing – sometimes making time for each other feels near impossible.

Tim Leberchet, from Harvard Business Review, brought some intriguing insights into the Age of Loneliness we seem to be in. Tim had some great suggestions about how to make some more connections at work.

But building relationships outside of work is important too. Even if we don’t feel like we have the time, we need those non-work related friends!

This weekScreen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.39.42 AM, we have Spencer Haney with us on what he loves to do [with friends] and how he makes the time!


What is that thing that you love to do?
I love watching and attending sporting events. You can’t beat a good baseball game on a nice summer day!

Why do you love to do that? Sports have always been a passion of mine. It’s more of my place to “get away” and turn off my brain to recharge. It’s also a great way to connect with other people, so it fulfills that need that I have to be social.

In the midst of a busy schedule, how do you find time to do it? Isn’t that why they invented DVR? And yes, yes I do pay a premium to record, watch later, and fast forward through commercials.

What is one tip you’d make to someone who wanted to create a little more space to do something they enjoy? Be intentional about it. Schedule time in your day or calendar to do what it is that you love and don’t be afraid to turn off your phone or leave it somewhere. This way you won’t be bothered by emails, texts, or calls. You can come back at least twice as refreshed and ready to go!

So, this week, make a choice to take a break and engage in your relationship with someone you value!

Would You Ask For It?

Would You Ask For It?

Feedback.

It seems like so many times we only think about feedback when we need to have a hard conversation with someone.

We gather the facts and then “say what we need to say.”

Can you imagine how different your team would be if they were asking for feedback? If they gave you the opportunity to share what you were thinking or seeing?

Crazy. Right?

Well, to get to that place it starts with us, as Managers, to begin that journey of asking for feedback.

Peter Bregman wrote a fabulous article called How to Ask for Feedback That Will Actually Help You.

One of his tips was to probe more deeply with questions. Asking questions in different ways helps you to get a fuller answer – painting a clearer picture of what the other person is trying to ask for.

Having trouble thinking of a couple of questions to even begin with? We’ve got a couple of ideas:

  • What is one suggestion you have that I can do to better support my team?
  • If your boss were to give me one suggestion, what would it be?
  • What part of my leadership or management style concerns you the most?
  • How well do you feel I communicate? What can I do to better communicate with those I work with?
  • What specifically could I have done better on X project?

Maybe one of these questions sparked an idea!

So, gather up your courage and go ask for some feedback!

You’ll be a better leader because of it!

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!

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!

Find Your Conversations

 

lostandfound

There is so much to get done today. And, in the middle of your rushed morning where the line for coffee was too long, you just remembered that project you needed to finish by the end of the week (yikes!) and there is that lingering feeling that you should debrief with your direct report about her presentation to the Executive team and her career goals with her recent promotion.

With two very different topics to cover and a time crunch – how do you not lose the conversation?

We asked three expert Coaches, with over 50 years of combined experience coaching Middle Managers and Executives what their most effective strategies are on how to have more meaningful and effective conversations with direct reports. Let’s meet these Coaches and see what they have to say!

Coaches

Now, for the good stuff!

Mary

 Mary: So, what is a “meaningful “conversation? I believe that a meaningful conversation will differ from one person to another, depending upon their situation, values, and perspective on the issue or opportunity. What is common is that a meaningful conversation creates a feeling of being heard and respected, motivates the person to take action (which might be a new and/or courageous activity), acknowledges and reinforces values, and overall results in a feeling of fulfillment and energy. This is a “two-way conversation” where both parties contribute, listen, and co-create what needs to happen.

Scott

Scott: One comment related to effective communication techniques is the importance of first being clear in your own mind and then articulating to the recipient the purpose of the communication, e.g. is the intention of the communication to positively reinforce desirable behavior or is it to provide constructive feedback to modify/improve undesirable behavior? It is critical that those two different types of messages not be combined during the same conversation because it diminishes the impact in both directions, diluting the motivational benefits of positive feedback and undermining the importance of required behavior change. Further, it puts at risk the perception of others regarding your managerial courage and your ability to have difficult conversations when required.

Karen

Karen: I have often recommended that the Managers ensure that they schedule 1:1’s with each member of their team to talk about their career interests and personal drivers/motivation (i.e., what’s important to them personally). Sometimes Managers make assumptions without taking the time to have a more meaningful conversation with each person. This process also helps to build the direct report’s trust with the Manager.

To prepare for the conversation, I will sometimes suggest that Managers track their time for a week or two. This helps them to gain a clearer understanding of how they spend their time – and thus, consider what they might be able to delegate to members of their team.

Mary

Mary: A strategy that Managers find effective is to use open-ended questions in their conversations that begin with “What” or “How” rather than with “Why“. What is the difference? The “Why” question causes people to analyze, explain and defend their position because the “rational left brain” has been engaged. Questions that begin with “What” or “How” engage the right brain and enable people to consider broader and more creative possibilities as well as the bigger picture. From here there is a greater willingness to explore what is needed going forward rather than defend a current position.

Thanks for your insights on conversations Mary, Scott, and Karen!

So, how do you find your conversation today?