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?

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How Are Your Goals Coming?

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 6.58.30 AMIt is almost the end of the first quarter of 2015! Can you believe it?!

This year is flying by.

In the busyness of work and life, it can be so easy to forget about some of the things that are most important because of all the things that come up each day.

If you are where I am, you haven’t made quite as much headway as you were hoping to on your goals for this year. Now what? Throw in the towel?

NO!

We recommend:

  • Pull out (or find) that piece of paper with your goals for this year
  • Choose one part of one of the goals that you can accomplish in the next two weeks
  • Keep this at the top of your mind for the next two weeks
    • Write it on a sticky note on your desk
    • Set reminders in your phone
    • Ask someone to ask you how it’s going

And, let us know what you accomplish!

More Action Planning for Your Goals

ODL- ImageHow’s your week been? Did you get a chance to try out Wunderlist? What’d you think?

Maybe you wished the app was similar to a weekly planner – if so, we’ve got just what you need!

Let’s check out App #2: Opus Domini Lite

Who tested it?

Spencer- Blog ImageSpencer Haney

  • Project Coordinator for multiple internal, high-visibility projects with dispersed stakeholders
  • Fast learner who loves crossing things off a to-do list and staying ahead of colleagues and clients
  • Husband, Sport Enthusiast, and avid Board Gamer

Why I like it:

  • Works like an easy day- by- day planner, just like your paper one would look!
  • The search function pulls up different buckets to narrow down the results
  • Easy to track tasks with the selectable status icons
  • Syncs with google calendar and you can create new calendar appointments on the app
  • Simple goal tracking, with a fun progress bar to show how far you’ve come
  • Cool “compass” to help you keep tabs on your physical, mental, social, and physical goals
  • Ability to forward tasks to a selected date
  • It’s free!

What could be better?

  • No alarm feature for tasks
  • Not able to share lists or tasks
  • Only available for Apple products

Our bottom line:

Opus Domini Lite provides the chance to keep tabs on goals in all different areas of your life. It is a solid one stop shop for calendar and task productivity.

Try it out—let us know what you think!

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!

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!