The Election and Your Team

The Election and Your Team

WHAT AN EMOTIONAL WEEK.

Regardless of which political candidate you supported in the recent United States election – YOU. HAVE. HAD. A. WEEK.

Your team is likely filled with extremely strong thoughts and emotions (both positive or negative or a confusing mix of both). And sometimes, it feels like tension is so high that it could explode if a pin poked it.

What is a Manager to do?

In times like these, one of the most important roles you play, as Manager, is to hold your team together.

How?

Give your individual members of your team the space to talk it out, if and only if they want.

If they want to – choose to ask and actually listen without judgment. Something that often plagues us is judging (or assuming) and not asking, and really being curious about others and their thoughts.

The goal should not be to change opinions, but to allow people to really share their opinions /struggles /thoughts /challenges. These skills can be helpful when talking about the election and in your daily work.

Need a place to start?

First, make sure this is a 1:1 conversation.

Second, ideally this conversation takes place where the person you are talking to is comfortable and relaxed. This is not the time to corner them in the crowded break room or over the water cooler with their peers!

Third, the key is to NOT to argue or ‘fix’ their opinion if you don’t agree with their thoughts. This is the place to give your direct report the space to share their thoughts and ideas. In fact, don’t even say what you think unless they ask you.

Here are some conversation starters:

  • I’ve noticed I haven’t heard your voice as often in meetings during the last week. What’s up?
  • I remember you mentioning your support of [insert political candidate here that you’ve ACTUALLY heard them mention that they support]. What is intriguing to you about them?
  • I’ve noticed recent posts you’ve made on (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat) around the election. What’s been coming up?

Choosing to mention what you are seeing (noticing or observing) and then asking a very open-ended question inviting your direct report’s opinion is extremely powerful.

This may be a new approach for you! So, try it out and let us know what you think!

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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!

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!

Connecting with Your Team

Tired Team Image

Patience is wearing thin in meetings, pod-mates are starting to bicker, and a lot more coffee has been flowing from the office coffeepot than you’d like to acknowledge.

We’ve all had those days/weeks/quarters – you can tell your team is tired.

There have been pressing deadlines and long days and exciting things happening in the business, but you can tell that something more is needed than just thanking your team for all their hard work.

This week we have Coach Bonnie Davis with us to share a tip on how to help motivate a tired team.

Take it away Bonnie!

Bonnie Davis“One tool that I have found works well to motivate a team that has a high degree of trust with each other and their manager is an exercise called “Hard Truths.”   This can be led by the manager or a neutral facilitator.

 

I would open the exercise by first acknowledging the current work environment, share how it’s been impacting me personally, also share what I see as the positive aspects, and then ask them to share their “hard truths” about why they are tired.  

 

Hard truths are facts that are difficult that we deal with. and though we often can’t control them, we can do our best to lessen their negative impacts. 

 

The goal?

 

To give the team the time and space to explore what is difficult at work so they feel someone is listening and cares, and then they can figure out how to move past it and support each other.   

 

Each person should share something that is difficult in the current environment, such as customer demands, organizational change, new leadership, too many projects, and so on. There are no “wrong answers” — everyone’s perspective is valid. 

 

Then, the group should select 2-3 of these “hard truths” as focus areas that they feel could make the greatest impact once solved. 

 

Finally, they should do a brainstorm on 1-2 solutions for each focus area. 

 

The manager should close the meeting by once again acknowledging everyone’s hard work and where it’s paying off, reiterate his or her support, encourage each team member to follow up directly if they’d like to talk about it some more, and then set a follow up meeting for about thirty days later when the group can hold themselves accountable for the actions and see how they’ve progressed.”

 

Thanks, Bonnie!

What a great suggestion on how to encourage you team to talk about what has been tiring and brainstorm solutions on how to move past it together.

Try this with your team and let us know how it goes!