Prepping For Your Vacation

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It’s Summer! You’ve banked those vacation hours, foregone taking an extended weekend for your birthday, and you’re ready to take some much-needed time off. Relaxation awaits just around the corner.

We’re here to make sure you’re laying out your beach blanket, rather than laying out step-by-step instructions to your colleague, with these tips for a fun furlough.

Cleaning out your inbox

You may never have been able to reduce your inbox to zero, but a good practice is to clear out any messages to the lowest common denominator before bidding adieu.

Go through each email and prioritize with Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Matrix:

  • Important and Urgent – Extremely High Priority
  • Important but not Urgent – High Priority
  • Not Important but Urgent – Low Priority
  • Not Important and not Urgent – Extremely Low Priority

For messages that are Important and Urgent, take time to address those emails prior to your leave. For those that are Important but not Urgent, use the starring/flagging system to ensure that the messages are your first priority upon your return. The Not Important but Urgent emails may be delegated to the person who’ll be covering for you while you’re gone. Not Important and not Urgent emails can be postponed until you’ve made it back to the office.

Oh, and don’t forget to turn on your out of office reply.

Daily tasks

You have job duties that must be done on a daily basis, and you’ll want to ensure that those duties are fulfilled in your absence. Find out if you’re able to pass your everyday responsibilities along to one of your colleagues. If so, carve out some time to meet with your backup to list and thoroughly explain what must be done and when it will need to be completed.

  • Provide your backup with your passwords to any applications that he or she will utilize daily
  • Leave contact information for important connections (e.g., tech support, clients, and vendors)
  • Identify the location of reference materials that will supply the answer to any routine questions that may arise

Since your colleague will be holding down the fort in your absence, you’ll want to make sure that the transition is as easy as possible. Leaving a detailed list of things that must be done and how to do them will eliminate your need to check your phone a trillion times while you’re away.

Organize your workspace

You know the Rockford files are underneath a pile of papers tucked inconspicuously in the paneling of your cubicle, but your colleagues might not. Taking time to tidy up your desk before you leave will guarantee an easy search.

A clean work area allows peace of mind during your trip. Put to rest the pangs of wondering if your coworkers saw all the crumbs in your keyboard or dust bunnies in the corners of your cube with the gift of tidiness. Double bonus – you’ll return to a desk that’s spiffy enough to be on HGTV!

Now that you’ve taken the time to prepare, get your motor running, head out on the highway, and enjoy your vacation!

So, You’ve Got a New Job – Part 1

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Whether you’re leaving to pursue a new career, trek across Tibet for sheer adventure, or take same personal time off from the workforce, leaving your current employer as respectfully as when you came in has benefits.

Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t jump ship until you’ve secured your anchor.

The Beauty in the Two-Week Notice

Even if your boss wasn’t the most gracious in giving deadlines, your ample notice of resignation will be a gift to your coworkers who’ll likely have to shoulder the load in your absence if a replacement isn’t found before your departure. Remember, there is no “I” in team.

Established a good rapport with those you’ve shared a parking deck with during your stint at your company? They’ll likely want to celebrate your new beginnings. A last hurrah after work is a networking opportunity in disguise, as many of your coworkers will likely want to keep in touch with you (added bonus – LinkedIn buddies!).

Giving two-weeks’ notice graciously can also allot time to speak with HR to find out about things like: payouts for unused vacation days, COBRA benefits to bridge your coverage if there is a lag in the time for open enrollment at your new gig, and implementing your suggestions for improvement via the exit interview.

Training the new “You” 

Now that you’ve submitted your notice to separate (in writing), use this as an opportunity to add to your repertoire and resume!

You may not realize how much you contributed to your organization until you’ve created the training agenda for the new “you.” Listing all of your responsibilities not only validates your capabilities (GO YOU!), it can also be used as leverage for a counteroffer at your new employer or a great incentive to update your resume. Another plus – this list may highlight areas where there are gaps in your skillset that you can, ideally, develop in your new gig.

You are the expert when it comes to your role so be sure to impart this knowledge to the person replacing you. Remember all of those times you wanted to bang your head into your desk from frustration? Be generous in doling out the metaphorical Excedrin by providing thorough training to your proxy.

Perks of professionalism

Who doesn’t love having proof of how fantastic they are? Good news! Your willingness to work out your two-week notice and train your replacement, just might move your former boss to pen you a letter of recommendation that will last throughout the ages.

ASK for a letter of recommendation as you are closing up shop if your boss hasn’t mentioned it – chances are they will be happy to write one for you!

Don’t be the person to eat and run. If you apply good manners at a host’s dinner table, be sure to apply the same courtesy to your employer when quitting your job.

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!

That Moment When You Want Your Team to be More Creative

That Moment When You Want Your Team to be More Creative

Have you ever had that moment when you’ve been sitting and listening to your team and you think, “I just want something more… something outside the box – something creative!”

This week we have Coach Keiko Akiba to share with us her thoughts.

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 9.57.16 PMWhen you’re sitting in the middle seat and watching how your team is working, you may ask yourself, ‘What can I do to help my team become more creative?’

And – what does it really mean to be ‘creative’?

You may think that creativity is a special talent that only some people have and others don’t have. But the next time you pass a park, you’ll see children making ‘play’ from seemingly nothing. It’s amazing how children create new games by making up their own rules without any equipment in the playground. They are free to explore and enjoy imagination and creativity!

Creativity is a gift that we all have naturally. However, as we grow older and learn what we ‘should and shouldn’t’ (or ‘the rules’), we unconsciously bury the creative mind deep inside of us.

So – what this means is that your workplace is full of hidden creativity!

What if we could unbury it just like peeling off the outer layer of an onion?

And how can you, as a Manager, help?

Start with these 3 “Let Go’s” that you can start doing now to spur your team toward creativity!

  1. Let Go of your judgement

Often, managers tend to have judgements or assumptions toward their team members and may underestimate their capability. However, these judgements may not be reality and it could make the team feel defensive and demotivated. So, try to let go of your judgement and fully trust the team, letting them know that you are here to support them.

  1. Let Go of the reins that you keep holding

Imagine a horse running freely across the field without any control by someone. What does the horse look like? When you keep holding the reins too tight, it often limits the actions and new perspective. People might feel pressure and less freedom by being too controlled. This is not where creativity is developed. Let go of the reins and let them explore and enjoy new possibilities!

  1. Let Go of your stereotyped behavior

It goes without saying that following the tradition and rules is important, and you may feel safe to stay inside where you are. But aren’t you curious to see what’s available and what will happen if your team gets off the existing path and does something different from stereotypical behavior? They will naturally use their creative mind and find something inspiring along the way!

Communicating for Results

Communicating for Results

Have you ever talked to someone and thought you all walked away clear on what needed to happen … and then it didn’t happen?

We can all probably think of a time like this.

As you are working to hit your yearly goals, we have Coach Steve Schmitt with us sharing some tips on how to communicate more clearly with your team!

Thanks, Steve!

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 1.05.58 PM.png“The key to achieving performance personally and professionally is repetition.

I think the best quote to illustrate what we all know to be true but sometimes don’t full acknowledge is by George Bernard Shaw that says, “the biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has happened.”

Just because we said something does not mean that they heard, understood, or agreed specifically. What’s the solution? I have three tips for you:

1) Communicate your messages many times through different methods. This can be through different mediums, in different venues, or with different words. This is where Leaders really get a chance to make a difference.

When you communicate your messages about your goals and results, be sure to be very specific, succinct, and simple.

2) Make sure to lead with what’s in it for them (why should they care or want to listen?). It’s extremely common to lead our conversations with what we want and the fact is – people take action when they know how they will benefit from it!

A helpful lens to use when we communicate our goals and desired results is that we are actually marketing. The essence of marketing is getting people to take the action we desire, and good marketing communicates the benefits to the buyer. Another way of looking at this is we’re getting buy-in. Let’s motivate our Team to produce the best results they are capable of by getting them to want to.

3) Our biggest and best communication medium is our actions, Your Team is listening to your actions (many times more so than your words), so let’s act in congruence with our marketing messages (oops, I mean business communications). To modify a saying from Ghandi, “be the action you wish to see in the organization”. Your actions are your words, your appearance, your expressions, your mannerisms, your behaviors, and oh yeah, your actions.

Let’s think of it this way, three simple words caused shampoo sales to skyrocket – “wash, rinse, repeat”. Do you think maybe we can cause performance to skyrocket if we “communicate, act and repeat”?”

This week, try out some of Steve’s tips and let us know what worked for you!

The Slump

The Slump

You’re over half way there!

To where, you wonder…

You’ve almost made it through the January 2nd — Memorial Day SLUMP.

Have you even noticed that in March (and sometimes April too) you and your team feel a little on edge, and you are just longing for a day (or week) off?

WE HAVE!

And, we call it “the slump”.

You are on the longest stretch of the year where you and your colleagues don’t have a common day off. So even if you’ve taken a day (or two), everything else in the organization kept rolling.

So, what can you do to keep morale up?

Change it up!

Need some ideas:

  • Bring in bagels and coffee one morning
  • Create a count down for SOMETHING (even if it’s a small, common task that all of your Team has), and then celebrate when you hit it!
  • Let everyone go home early one Friday afternoon

It doesn’t have to be fancy. It is the little things that bring everyone’s experiences back together and say “I see you … thanks for ALL you do!”