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!

So, I’ve Got a New Boss

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You got the job!!!! Congrats!

Which also means you’ve got a new boss. And there is that question in the back of your mind… what kind of boss will they be?

Micro-manage-y? Super hands off? Some type of balance between the two? Way too invested? Kind of aloof?

You know there is a chance for all of them.

And some people are great at expressing their expectations and others are not.

So, with that in mind, we’ve got a couple of suggestions on some types of conversations you may want to have.

First, learn about how you guys will be meeting.

  • Do you have weekly standing meetings?
  • Do you have meetings as things come up?
  • What’s their preference for how to schedule meetings?

Next, learn about their expectations on hearing about how things are going.

  • Do they want status updates? How often?
  • Do they only want to know when something has been completed?
  • Do they want these updates in meetings … or via email … or do they just want to be able to see what they need to in the tracking system you guys have?

Then, learn about how they want to be communicated with as issues arise.

  • Do they want to know as soon as you know there is a problem?
  • Do they want you guys to strategize on how to fix it together?
  • Do they prefer you to come to them with a strategy on how to fix it and they confirm?
  • Or, do they want you to try to fix it first and then come to them?

Let us know how these questions help you structure your new relationship with your boss- or if you have any additional tips you’ve found helpful during this exciting / fun/ and stressful transition time!

Prepping Your Team for the Holidays

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Each day we knock out is one day closer to the end of the year!

You know, as well as your team, that there is a lot to get done this time of year. Not to mention the uncommonly large number of personal festivities we all have going on!

One suggestion that rings true throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, is to stay transparent with your team on expectations and deadlines..

You want your team to have a great time with their friends and family AND you want to maintain their fabulous performance! Transparency will help.

What does that mean?

Think about what expectations you hold for your team. These could be things like:

  • Having v2 of product development complete by December 31st
  • Continuing to provide the same level of customer satisfaction your brand is known for
  • Holding a strategy meeting to look into what you can do differently in the first few months of 2017
  • Making sure your team actually takes a couple of days off to avoid burnout

In your next 1×1 or team meeting, share what you want to see happen over the next few weeks.

By openly discussing your expectations and timelines envisioned (or promised!), you’ll avoid hearsay and allow your team the opportunity to ask questions to help further clarify what you need from them (and how you can help them knock it out of the park!).

Try it out and let us know how it goes!

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!

The Pressure We Face

The Pressure We Face

Emails…. calls to make… deadlines… more emails… meetings… last minute projects.

It can be a real challenge to not overwork. Overwork? What does that even mean? What does that look like in this day and age?

If you are worn a little thin, either by expectations by your boss, expectations you have on yourself, or for some unknown reason, we highly encourage you to read about long hours from Sarah Green Charmichael.

Whether the pressure is coming from your boss, yourself, or someone else the effect that working the long, extra, or stressful hours is the same.

What’s the proof behind this? “In a study of consultants by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to. While managers did penalize employees who were transparent about working less, Reid was not able to find any evidence that those employees actually accomplished less, or any sign that the overworking employees accomplished more.” (Charmichael, Long Hours).

If you’re feeling the pressure, take a couple of minutes to read through Sarah’s thoughts.

Are you overworked? What are you going to try this week to cut back on your hours or make the most out of the hours you are spending?

Pacing

camp_0905_02+1969_z11_camaro_official_pace_car+indy_500Do you ever have themes appear in your life? I do. Pacing (not the walking nervously back and forth kind) has been a recurrent theme since the beginning of 2014 for me.

More specifically – the pace at which I work, play, run and how it affects, influences, pleases, and annoys others. Some examples occurred over the last few weeks:

– I ran with friends that invited me to exercise with them. They’re training for  a 10K. I’m thinking about registering for a local 10K. Apparently they’re running to win their age class. Running for me is recreation and exercise. I practically killed myself keeping up with them and barely did. Boy did I pay the next day.

– Not having learned my lesson, I ran with another friend having expressed my dismay at my recent experience. She is what I’d call a jogger, not a runner. I ended up running most of the trail backward to challenge myself and engaged in reverse running face-to-face conversation with her. I think she felt deflated and I know I felt that I didn’t get much of a workout.

– I volunteered for a committee formed to define an important job description. I and other volunteers were assigned tasks at the close of the last meeting. I emailed my findings to the other committee members the following week, expecting that it would be useful for others to see the work done already and to get feedback. I heard nothing back for more than a week. I was told today that I should’ve waited to present the findings with the others at the next meeting to be held in a month. I feel under appreciated.

– I went shopping with a friend. We are the kind of friends that don’t see each other for years and then fall back into step and in sync as if the time never passed. We’re impatient at the same things and dawdle over the same things. We had a fantastic experience.

I realized that the not-so-good experiences and the great ones relate to pacing. I worked (or ran) too fast or too slow and it was frustrating for all involved. The last experience was, as Goldilocks might say, “just right”.

As a manager, the pace you set is crucial to having an effective team. Neither running laps around your team nor moving slower is rewarding or productive. There is no perfect pace, but the right one is one that you communicate and support for your team.

Frenetic is just fine if there’s an urgent situation, but not for sustained periods of time. Slow and steady is ok if consistency and long-term effectiveness is what you’re after, but not good for fast-paced project deadlines.

Communicate up, down, and sideways about the pace you’re setting; set expectations clearly, check in on deliverables and you’re much more likely to have a great experience.