So, I’ve Got a New Direct Report

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You are so excited because you (finally!!) have someone new you are bringing onto your team!

You’ve been waiting a LONG time for them – and want to make this transition as smooth and seamless as possible.

As you are prepping to bring them on, we’ve got a couple of tips on things to think about!

First, they don’t know what they don’t know. You’ve been here for a while. You know the ins and outs of the company. You know that Bob never has matching socks and that on Friday’s, everyone goes to happy hour at 6.

Take a couple of minutes this week to really think about those things. Reflect on your days and weeks and think about those “things that you just know” and try to capture them.

Next, identify your expectations—because you’ve got ‘em (we all do!)

Schedule some time in your calendar this week and think about this:

  • What are the “shoulds” that you think of for this person?

That is, when you think about them, do you think “they should know this”, or “they should be ready for their first client call by X date”, or “their primary resource for questions should be Sally”.

Write all those out and then think about what is the best way (and time) to communicate all those to your new direct.

We’d recommend to not do it all at once, and also to make sure you ACTUALLY communicate all those expectations.

Last, consider the experience you want them to have.

Yes, this will all be new and it will likely be overwhelming. And in the midst of that, what do you want them to remember or experience?

Maybe you want them to know that they’ve got you as a support, so you’re going to coordinate team lunches once a week for the next few weeks to help the whole team get to know each other better.

Or maybe you want them to know that you really value their opinion, so every couple of days you’ll set up structured time to ask them what is going well and what else they would like or need.

You have the opportunity to create the experience you want them to have. So think about what that overall experience is and then a couple of practical ways that you can make that happen!

We’re excited for your new direct and would love to hear your best ideas in on-boarding someone new!

Stop

No really… stop.

 

When is the last time you actually stopped to think about your direct reports?

I recently came across this info-graph below. Now, before you stop reading because it seems slightly cheesy, I’d like to challenge your thinking.

How to lead....

When was the last time you considered each of your direct reports individually and thought about the most effective way to empower them to be the best that they can?

As Managers, it can be so easy to just continue “doing”. When we bring someone new onto our teams, we focus on getting to know them. But once we’ve been working together for a year, or two, or five – it becomes much more challenging to s.t.o.p. and r.e.f.l.e.c.t and c.o.n.s.i.d.e.r what they really need.

We know you’re busy but this week, take 5 minutes for each of your directs and think about:

  • Where are they thriving?
  • Where are they struggling?
  • What is one thing you can do this week to support them where they are?

You may be surprised at how even just those couple of minutes can create a mind set shift in how you all interact this week.

Cutting In Line

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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!

Conflict Hit… Now What?

You were hoping for an easy day, weren’t you?

You know… those days where you get to work, know what you need to do, put out a couple of “small” fires, cross off most things on your list, and are able to leave feeling accomplished.

Instead, you came in, started on things like you had planned, and then it hit.

The conflict.

Really, this conflict could have been anything – personality differences among team members, non- compliance with policy, performance review issues, differences in goals… and the list goes on.

As the leader, you play a key role in resolving conflict. Knowing your conflict style, the general flow of how teams work, and how to promote collaboration are all key in how you assist in resolving conflict. We’ll be looking at these tools in the coming weeks.

But for now, here are a couple of key questions to think through when conflict arises:

  • What is the literal situation you have been presented with?
  • What could be at the root of the conflict? (fear, insecurity, anger, confusion, etc.)
  • Who does the conflict involve?
  • What are different concerns, hopes, and fears?
  • Who needs to be present during resolution conversations?
  • What could potential resolutions look like?

We’d suggest considering these questions before addressing the conflict.

Openly identifying the situation, your position, and what resolution could look like will help to create a sense of peace and clarity – even in some of the most difficult conflicts.

Leading People First

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has really taken off in the past few weeks raising awareness about ALS but also giving people a feeling of unity for a common purpose.

When we lead from knowing where we are going and what we are doing it brings unity (and also encourages peoples to do some pretty crazy things… like pouring ice water on their heads!)

But, sometimes it’s easy to get distracted by all the tasks that need to be accomplished that we lose sight of the people we are leading.

With deadlines looming, new goals being added, and the lingering feeling that your boss is going to want to have that conversation with you- it’s no wonder your team can get overlooked.

So, what is something we can do to manage the things to allow you time to look at the bigger picture?

Entrepreneur has 10 helpful suggestions for managing your time in ways that work. What’s one place to start?

Try starting every morning by taking some time (15-30 minutes) to plan out your day. Identify a couple of items that have to get done, incorporate time for interruptions, and schedule in a little time to plan for your team and their development. We recommend even blocking that time on your calendar, so it doesn’t get lost or taken up by other things.

Having a better handle on what to expect for your day will give you the ability to manage each task.

From there, it is easier to balance the tasks that need to get done and spending time with the people you are leading.

(Im) Perfect

I know, I know… just the title makes you cringe.

And, if I’m honest, it makes me cringe too. You mean something may not be perfect? Not on my watch!

What have you done to make sure that it is true? Everything. Literally… everything.

And, how do you feel? Overworked. Stressed. Exhausted. The list goes on.

We heard from Trish Brooks, a couple of weeks ago about the concept that “we don’t delegate because of a fear that the employee may not meet our (sometimes perfectionist) standards.”

So, Trish, how would you recommend working past this fear?

First, connect with a time when you were given the responsibility for a project that was slightly over your head.

Think about how great the learning was, how engaged you were, how grateful you were for the trust of your boss.

Remember that you were successful!

Are you willing to give that same gift to your employees?

Your role as a people leader is to lead the people first (not the product – the product work will be good if you lead the people).

Developing people is a huge part of your role; one of the most important parts!

Take a moment to let those last two lines sink in… maybe even read them one more time.

When we think about delegating a task in terms of giving the gift of developing the people around us, it creates different perspective.

Choose one direct report who you would like to begin (or continue!) developing.

Now, look at your workload and choose one task that you can [deep breath] delegate to that person.

But, What Will I Do?

You have your (long) list of tasks that needs to get done this week. Yet, in reality, you know you can’t do it all (and, well, sleep at some point too). Then again- if you delegate what is left for you to do?

Last week we heard from Jennifer Jones that one of the reasons we don’t delegate is because we wonder what our job will become if we “give away” all the tasks we are doing.

Here’s her advice on how to work past “what you will do”.

Jennifer Jones “The technique is to determine what you will “do” instead.

Explore the role of leader and manager.

See that, in addition to “doing,” there are many important things for leaders to engage in (vision, strategy, inspiration, motivation, training a successor, etc.).

It’s also important to have the perspective that it’s the leader’s job to develop the skills of their people through delegating with guidance.

Thanks, Jennifer!

As a manager, your job is so much more than simply checking off tasks on a to do list.

So, here’s this week’s challenge:

1. Choose one task you can delegate… and do it!

2. Then, in your newly found time, start thinking about what the purpose of your team is.

It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3…

You can’t get everything done that you need to and you have a team for a reason- so, you delegate.

We’ve all heard the word…we all know what it means.

So, how do you do it? It’s easy as 1, 2, 3:

Step 1. Decide what you will delegate.

Look at all the work you have and separate out the tasks that only you can do with the tasks that others can do as well.

Step 2. Determine clear expectations and tangible results.

Sit down with your direct report and explain what they will be doing and your expectations for how the task gets done and when it is to be competed by.

Step 3. Monitor results.

Schedule a follow-up meeting to ensure the task has been completed, review how completing the task went, and answer any questions.

It’s that easy, right? … YEAH, RIGHT!!

If delegation really was as easy as A, B, C – we would all be doing it flawlessly. And, there would be no reason for hundreds of books, articles, and trainings on the art of delegation.

Over the next weeks we will be digging through what holds us back from delegating and what we can do to overcome those things.

Between now and then- think about one task you can delegate. And, try it!

Reason, Emotion, and You

You live for spreadsheets… order… logic. You have just finished your list of things to accomplish today (and the amount of time you can spend on each task)… It’s one of those full days. And then, your direct report comes into your office crying and needing to talk.

Or, you are driven by emotion and sometimes that drives how you make decisions. You have set up a meeting to talk to your direct report about their career goals – you’re looking forward to brainstorming and working together to really hash out a plan of attack. They come in with a list of two things they want to see changed in the team and three things they would like to accomplish. It feels like there is no conversation to be had.

How do you talk?

Understanding the psychology of how you and your direct reports think can bring insight both in how to talk with each other and how to ask questions to engage with different parts of the brain.

People who predominately use the left side of the brain usually solve problems logically and sequentially- looking at all the parts of something individually. People who to use the right side of the brain more often, solve problems with hunches- seeking out patterns and looking at the whole.

There are different ways you can word questions to engage different parts of the brain – asking why a presentation went the way that it did will typically create a sequential response vs. asking how can you change the presentation next time will typically cause someone to think about creative and new ideas.

Here is a 30 second brain test that can be used as a base line of which side of your brain you tend to use more (maybe see if your direct report can take it too!). This can give you a starting point in understanding how you and your direct reports will more naturally respond to a situation.

Understanding more of how people think (and the psychology behind it) can help to bring clarity on why people say or do the things they do.

If you are interested in learning more about right and left brained thinking, Dr. John Robert Dew from the University of Alabama wrote this fascinating academic article.

Developing Others

Developing others – does taking the time to focus on the development of your direct reports make that much of a difference?

Studies have shown that employees are more likely to stay with a company when they feel like the company is invested in their future. When you support your direct reports in their development it will make them more effective employees and communicate that you and the company are interested in them and their career.

Where to begin? Reminder: without direction, people have a hard time thriving. In writing a development plan you have the unique opportunity to help give your direct reports direction.

So, here are a few simple tips on writing development plans and achieving goals with others.

Start with the long term. Where would they like to be 2-5 years from now? Identify a couple of growth or continued development areas that are crucial for reaching this goal.

Move to the shorter term. Select one of the areas discussed above to specifically develop in the next 6 months.

Make it tangible. From the one area selected, have your direct report brainstorm two or three ways they can specifically develop that skill. Maybe this is taking a free online class, attending a webinar, asking someone they respect for tips, completing research, engaging in coaching sessions, reading a book… the options are endless!

Insure all aspects are actionable and do-able. Have your direct report detail out a plan with dates of when they will complete each part of developing the skill. Schedule meetings with them over the next 6 months to follow up on where they are on their development, any areas they are stuck on, and how they can continue to grow.

Start now – schedule a meeting with one of your direct reports for next week!