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!

Seeing People’s Strengths

StrengthsYou know those weeks where it feels like professionally or personally (or both!) the people around you are just trying to push your buttons?

It becomes really easy to focus on the negatives.

So, if you are having one of those weeks- we want to encourage you to take a step back and gather a little more perspective.

  • Step 1: Take a deep breath and let it out slowly, counting to 5 (we’re serious… you will begin to think more rationally!)
  • Step 2: Ok – now, think back to what was pushing your buttons, but try to think of the situation with the lens of the other person’s strengths

For example:

Someone on your team seems to be impatient and wants to take action on projects quickly. You don’t feel like they are giving enough thought to the project as a whole. But maybe your employee’s strength is taking thoughts and instantly turning them into action. So, this is a teammate who you know you can rely on to help get things done!

Or:

Everything feels like it has gone wrong this week… the deadline wasn’t met, the client or executive team was not happy, and then there was the one person on your team who was upbeat and positive. You were feeling like this was not at all a time to be positive. This teammate is able to easily get others excited, rallying a team together, to have the encouragement to keep pushing onward!

See, your frustration, when seen in another light (may still be frustrating but) makes a lot more sense and puts value back on each member of your team!

Celebrate Your Wins

Celebrate Your VictoriesWe’ve got some goals. And, we know what is driving these goals.

How do you feel? Nervous? Excited? Ready to jump in? Anticipating the busyness of life to pick up soon? We feel all those too.

It is exciting to set goals. Sometimes, though, I feel like it takes a lot to reach them.

This week, we have Coach Teresa Wallace back to share another tip about setting goals.

Here is her encouragement:

Teresa Wallace“Build small wins into your larger goals. 

 

Remember, a journey of a thousand miles starts with just one step. 

 

Celebrate that one step, because now you only have 999 more steps to get to your ultimate goal!  Hey, that’s less than 1000 steps!

 

As you celebrate each small win, your confidence builds, your motivation soars, and you reengage with the larger goal. 

 

A great way to do this is by setting goal levels. 

 

What’s the minimum you can accomplish on the goal and still feel like you’re moving forward? What’s in the middle (a realistic stretch)?  What’s the big goal? 

 

Even if you don’t meet the big goal right away, you’re still taking steps forward!”

 

Take those goals you have written and add in “mini” goals along the way.

And, don’t forget to let us know once you’ve made some of those. We would love to celebrate your wins with you!

What If…?

what-ifDeadlines. Projects. Holiday celebrations. Family events. More projects. Children’s plays. More Deadlines. Rise and repeat.

Right now, it probably feels like your focus is to make it to December 31st. Then you can go home early, celebrate the new year, and have a day to breathe before going back to work in 2015.

But, what are your plans when you get back?

Many times the new year is filled with resolutions and goals, determined by who we think we should be.

But, what if we started thinking about things differently?

Instead of determining our goals from feelings of obligation, what if we started to ask questions starting with what if?

What if I want to be better than I currently am? What would that take?

What if my staff knew that I was committed to their development? How would the team change?

What if I got the promotion I’ve been working for? How would that benefit my company/career/family/etc.?

Starting with what if gives us the chance to start to dream again.

So, what is your what if question for next year?

Stop and Refocus

PHD ComicsDo you feel it yet? I do.

The holidays are so close and yet so far away. They are close enough where the bit of cold weather (or snow) is almost exciting. But far enough away that the routine of every day is still mundane.

The next two months are filled with excitement and family celebrations along with pressure and deadlines.

Sometimes it feels overwhelming to manage it all.

So when you are having one of those days when the deadline feels all too close, your direct report needed to have that conversation with you, and it feels like there just isn’t time to get is all done, here are a couple of suggestions.

Stop.

For just a few minutes.

Get up.

Take a walk.

Go get a cup of coffee.

Look out the window.

Think.

Remember why you do what you do.

Picture the celebration of the season.

Remember the feelings of accomplishment you’ve had before.

Know that you will get it all done.

Sometimes taking a 5 minute break from all the pressure can create the mental space we need to get the job done!

Let’s Collaborate Together!

Last week we considered the stages of teams (forming, norming, and storming). Did you peg where your team falls?

Whether you are working at creating norms or are in the middle of a storm, collaboration (one of the conflict management techniques) is a great way to bring the team together.

Dr. Terry Hildebrandt, Professional Certified Coach and co- author of Leading Business Change for Dummies, is back this week with 7 helpful tips on how to successfully collaborate as a team!

Here is what Terry suggests:

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 1.14.22 PM“Collaboration holds the promise of a win-win outcome, which is more creative and robust than solutions we might be able to come up with on our own.  While we often talk about the virtues of collaboration, actually doing it is often more challenging than we think.

Below are seven steps to collaboration along with key tools and techniques that leaders can use to facilitate a group through collaboration.

  • Raise the Conflict Issue– Be willing to surface and name the issue. Once you do, we can move to the next step.
  • Get Curious– Holding an attitude of curiosity enables us to move away from defending our own position to exploring other’s perspectives with an open mind.
  • Identify Underlying Concerns– We may think that we understand the root of the issue – but often times we are incorrect or have partial understanding. On Terry’s blog, he has some best practices on how to do this, which will help you move to greater awareness.
  • Develop a Shared Purpose Statement– This is the essence of collaboration – we move from having my concerns and your concerns to our concerns. Create common goals to rally around. This sets the stage for creative brainstorming.
  • Generate Solutions– All parties work together to brainstorm solutions that can meet all the needs, address the concerns, and reach the goals defined in the Shared Purpose. And, be sure to use brainstorming rules to avoid premature judgment of ideas.
  • Rank the Options and Agree on the Best Solution that Works for Everyone– Using the brainstormed list of solutions, rate each idea based on how well it meets the Shared Purpose criteria. Decide on a decision making process as a group. This could be consensus with qualification or a formal process such as Kepner-Tregoe Decision Analysis.
  • Devise a Plan for Implementation and Evaluation– The hard work of collaboration can really pay off at this step, since you have strong alignment and support for the plan of action. Take advantage of the momentum from the collaborative exercise to quickly develop an implementation plan to see the fruit of your labor!”

How can you use collaboration this week to either bring team unity or to help resolve a conflict?

Forming, Norming, and Storming

10:00AM: Your team meeting is scheduled to start.

You look down at your watch. It feels like the second hand is moving so quickly – precious seconds you could be using to respond to emails and finish that presentation seem to sprint away.

10:05AM: Everyone else on your team is with you in the conference room except for one person.

You know, that one person on your team who is ALWAYS late to meetings. You don’t like to put people in a box, but seriously – they are always late. And you can tell the team is just as annoyed about the situation as you are.

10:10AM: The late (and flustered) team member sprints into the conference room, ruffles through their papers to get the clean sheet out and pen ready for the meeting that was scheduled to start 10 minutes ago.

ARGH! How do you handle situations like this? Or even deeper rooted aspects of conflict?

We asked Coach Helen Cooper, with over 20 years of experience in coaching leaders of large companies and start ups, about conflict management in teams.

Here is what she had to say:

Helen Cooper- BlogTeams go through a normal formation cycle of forming, norming and storming. To minimize the ‘storming’ (the conflict), ‘norming’ is VERY important.

Engage as a team to really talk through and agree on team values. As a leader, you must be willing to facilitate and work with (collaborate!) the team… not dictate.

This creates a safe way for the team to talk through the specific behaviors required for success and to not put individual team members on the defensive.

An example of a team value might be, ‘we will listen to each other and not talk about each other.’ The value of listening to each other could help the team to talk through this behavior and ask ‘why’. Then, that individual has a chance to explain why.

Another value could be that when issues surface the team can’t successfully resolve among themselves (the example of being late), the team can expect the team leader to intervene and resolve these behavioral issues on behalf of the team.

So, after the conflict has resolved what do you look at next?

The ‘now what’ implies that the team continues to mature. If assignments change or the team scales, the cycle of team development of norming, forming, storming will repeat.

Teams must continually work on their team evolution when environments change. Time is required to discuss not just ‘what’ the team must deliver but also ‘how’ they are going to continue working together.

Take a look at your team this week. Is your team currently forming, norming, or storming?

Also, think about if your team has established “norms” for team behavior. If not, look at scheduling a meeting to talk through some of these things.

It may help you to navigate the storm that will eventually come!