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February 2017 Round Robin

In February’s online workshop, Robin discusses two of the nine Behavioral Traits measured by the ProfileXT assessment, specifically Pace and Assertiveness. You will learn the strengths and benefits of both ends of the scale and how it impacts an individual’s work style and interactions. Even if you aren’t using the assessment, the information will be valuable in understanding how this impacts our effectiveness for work performance and communication.

If you cannot attend live the Round Robin workshops are always recorded. Catch up on old workshops in the archive found in the Library under ‘Round Robin.’

Are you making this common leadership mistake that erodes your trust and competence?

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It's a crucial leadership mistake to make disparaging comments about others in the organization. When problems arise, handle them directly and respectfully. You will earn trust from others and demonstrate your competence in handling tough situations.
It’s a crucial leadership mistake to make disparaging comments about others in the organization. When problems arise, handle them directly and respectfully. You will earn trust from others and demonstrate your competence for handling tough situations.

Sometimes this mistake happens behind closed doors. Other times within earshot of others. It often happens nonchalantly, like when two colleagues are having a casual chat that develops into a full-blown venting session. It might seem like a valid stress-relieving technique at the time, or at least innocent without ramifications. But never will this mistake provide a good outcome.

The mistake? When a manager makes a disparaging or off-handed comment about another person in the organization. Or worse, when a leader publicly and purposefully denigrates the performance of another. There are few things that will erode trust and competence faster than this common occurrence.

Why is this mistake so costly to your trust and competence?

There are several reasons.

  • If a manager is talking about someone behind their back, the chances are high that everyone is a target at some point.
  • Effective leaders support their team, at all levels of the organization, rather than berate them. They find ways to work through an issue constructively instead of assigning blame as an excuse.
  • Talking about a person behind their back indicates that the manager is not addressing the issue directly and respectfully.

Everyone can play a role in removing this behavior from your workplace

Sometimes you can get caught up in the moment, whether you are the one spouting or perhaps you are simply agreeing with someone else’s remarks. The latter is not any better. When you are on the receiving end of hearing something that sounds more like gossip or an ill-placed critique of someone, back out as graciously as you can. Here are some ideas for what to say:

  • “I’m not sure about that since I wasn’t there.”
  • “You probably have good reason to be upset but I think you should discuss how you’re feeling with [the person’s name] to figure out how to avoid this next time.” Then move quickly to another topic!
  • “Probably good to speak directly with [the person’s name] so you can clear up the miscommunication.”
  • “I’d feel better staying outside of this one as I think you two are in a better position to work through the problem together.”
  • “Let’s focus on something that we have control over.”

It takes ‘two to tango’ so participating in the behavior is just as problematic as starting it.

Everyone can play a role in removing this type of dialogue from your workplace culture. By doing so, you eliminate high levels of negativity and increase trust, loyalty, job satisfaction and outcomes. Which environment would you rather work in?

Moving fast doesn’t guarantee fast (or effective) results

The popular animal fable of the tortoise and the hare helps us see that the slow and steady one can cross the finish line first. Beware of that hare!
The popular animal fable of the tortoise and the hare helps us see that the slow and steady one can cross the finish line first. Beware of that hare!

With never-ending pressure to get results out of yourself and your team, it’s tempting to move fast. Why shouldn’t you forge ahead like a steam roller? The more you do, the more you can achieve. Right?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Moving fast does not guarantee fast results, nor effective outcomes. 

There is a real need to be efficient

Businesses are constantly faced with the realities of accomplishing a boatload of work in a short amount of time. There is a real need to be efficient, fast, and productive in order to compete in today’s marketplace. However, savvy managers know how to prioritize and how to work a project plan at a pace that matches the needs and stakes involved. 

The first step is making sure that you don’t have too much stacked on your plate. I often see fast-paced managers take on too many projects at once. This can burden a team who doesn’t have the bandwidth to accommodate all the work. Instead, keep your eye on the need for all projects, but tackle them in priority order.

Next, be clear on the pace in which an individual works best. Every one has their own unique way, ranging from methodical and focused to rapid, even chaotic, with many of us falling in between the ends of the spectrum. The slow and steady approach, like the tortoise in the popular animal fable, can get results. On the flip side, a fast-paced work style is often lauded in our work cultures and there is something to be said for those who can constantly crank through tasks. Speed and quality need to be balanced, for sure.

Many ways to reach the finish line and the best way is not always fast

There is not a better way, though best results come when the pace matches the situation. Moving quickly makes sense for simple things that only involve a minimal number of players, and the stakes aren’t high. Conversely, a leader should move more carefully (and slowly) if a decision is multi-faceted, impacts a large group of people, or has significant ramifications. Planning a new product design or revamping existing company-wide policies should require more consideration.

For many, it seems counter-intuitive to slow down when you want to get fast results. However, that’s exactly what will give you a better chance of fast — and successful — outcomes, especially for large initiatives.

Moving too fast results in resistance. Managers then claim that “people hate change” but the adverse reaction is usually just a result of being on the receiving end of an aggressive stance without having an opportunity to offer a different perspective. Managers with the best intentions can set off fireworks unnecessarily by moving too fast. They need to realize that others can help them make a more informed decision while still working towards a common goal. The backlash can happen for a number of good reasons, including the following:

  • Some people need more time than others to adjust to change
  • Those most involved with the change have the best insights into what can go wrong and how to avoid complications
  • Engaged employees want to have a say in their work

Your job as a manager — whether of projects or people — becomes easier when you slow down and involve others in the process. You show your respect for your team when you ask for their input, opinion, and recommendations. Move fast when you can, but recognize when you need to beware of the hare!

Take Stock of Your Achievements

It’s December and the end of the calendar year, so it’s a natural time to reflect on the past 12 months and think about all the things that occurred. Far too often we get stuck in thinking about what we didn’t accomplish, which leads to disappointment or frustration.

In the video, I’m going to share why it’s important to take stock of your achievements, even small ones, and to remind you that you should be doing this any time of the year!

Take Stock of Your Achievements!

It’s December and the end of the calendar year, so it’s a natural time to reflect on the past 12 months and think about all the things that occurred. Far too often we get stuck in thinking about what we didn’t accomplish, which leads to disappointment or frustration.

In the video, I’m going to share why it’s important to take stock of your achievements, even small ones, and to remind you that you should be doing this any time of the year!

Moving Beyond an Annual Evalution

Acknowledging an individual’s accomplishment sounds like part of the process you undertake to conduct an annual performance evaluation process. That’s true, but what I’m suggesting here is separate and different, even though there is some overlap. The goal with focusing only on the achievements is two-fold: intended to ensure that you and others are clear on the good things happening and it will boost productivity and excitement because of that recognition and appreciation.

There are other benefits as well. When you set aside a time to review your accomplishments, it forces you to think about your goals. So if you didn’t even have any targets that you were trying to meet, well, this is a great time to put some in place!

I once had a most interesting conversation with a person who worked in a public school system. His administrator would have an annual requirement for each of his staff members to set an annual personal and professional goal for themselves. The administrator put no specific expectations on what the goal should be, only that the person really wanted to achieve it. This employee was filled with success stories he shared with me that he pursued and accomplished over the years because of this initiative that was started by the administrator. As managers, remember you have a lot of power to help people achieve their dreams.

A Closer Look at the Process

What does this process look like? It can be as simple or complex as you like. But here are my guidelines:

Be consistent. Establish regular check points when you make a concerted effort to take stock. Maybe December works best for you, and that’s great, but ideally it would be more frequent. No matter how often, make sure you are keeping track of events real time. Maybe it’s joting down a record of something you see in a notepad or an electronic file or database. That makes your review more accurate and easier to pull together.

Capture specific behaviors as well as outcomes. Remember it’s important to recognize the effort in addition to any specific results someone has accomplished.

Here are some examples:

  • Someone who has initiated a huge project outside their comfort zone.
  • Someone who learned a new software program.
  • Someone who offered to help a co-worker for a much-needed task even they dreaded it!
  • Retained 100% of key clients this last year.

We want to help reward and recognize those things that are challenging to an individual, that help or support another person and ultimately the organization.

Reap the Benefits of Taking Stock

Why is it so important to take stock of your achievements and the accomplishments of others? Because it’s too easy to get caught up in everyday work and lose track of the good things happening around you. By doing so, you’re going to be boosting productivity and increasing morale for future good things to happen in your organization. So do it now in December, but if you’re watching this another time of year, don’t wait! You get going right away; there are tons of good things happening in your organization that need to be recognized. You go get ‘em!

Be sure to check out other videos in the Learning Resource Center, available to you as a member. Here’s to your Graceful Leadership!

 

 

Finding appreciation in a partially decorated tree offers management lesson

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My holiday greeting this year was planned with a backdrop of a fully decorated tree. I added the beautiful white lights and cranberry strings, but time got away from me and here we are, weeks into December, and I’m still not finished. After walking by the tree for several days in that incomplete state, I realized that this situation offered an important lesson for managers in the workplace — as well as recognizing one of the best gifts you could give to someone this holiday. Watch my short video to discover what I learned.

Happy Holidays!

I had grandiose plans of a festive holiday message in front of a fully decorated Christmas tree. But as you can see, it’s not quite ready yet! I always decorate the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving because I love to enjoy it the entire season. But this year we were traveling over that time and one thing led to another and here we are weeks into December and I’m still not finished.

I started to get overwhelmed feeling like I was never going to finish all the things I need to accomplish in time, and interestingly, as the days went by, I started to realize how beautiful the tree actually is in its current state. I love the simple white lights, and the red cranberry strings, and the smell of the balsam Is so rich. Yes, I still love my ornaments, that when I take them out of their carefully stowed packages and hang them onto the tree that they transport me back to memories: times and places that I cherish.

But this tree in its current state is different, and it’s ok! It’s a wonderful reminder for us in our workplaces as we’re striving to build healthy workplace relationships. Appreciating a situation or a person for who they are in the moment and not expecting them to be different in order to be better. That’s the best gift you could give to someone this holiday.

Grace and I wish you the best of the season and joy all year long!

Do you know where you’ll be going in 2017?

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Nature always provides examples that inform and inspire. Look at the amazing strength and resolve needed for the plant to force its way up through the sliver of space in the crack of this rock.
This is a simple rock my husband and I stumbled upon during one of our walks and I was immediately drawn to the plant growth in a most unlikely spot. Nature always provides examples that inform and inspire. Look at the amazing strength and resolve needed for the plant to force its way up through the sliver of space in the crack of this rock. Things that seem impossible can really happen when you strengthen your physical and mental capacities.

As 2017 looms just ahead, it’s the perfect time to undertake some planning activities. As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Do you know where you’ll be going next year?

In late January of this year, I wrote of my new year’s aspirations for 2016. I was a bit late in doing so, with 1/12 of the year already in the books when I figured out my plan. So this year, I’m feeling a bit giddy at working this out before mid-December!

Before I get too smug, I should mention that there are a boatload of other items that remained unfinished on my to-do list, such as final Christmas shopping, holiday cards, and even decorating the tree (something I always do the weekend following Thanksgiving). Somehow, it still feels right to think ahead even though I have things to do now.

My planning process isn’t onerous and it helps me stay focused on the important things all during the year. Instead of making any new year’s resolutions, I pick #oneword that synthesizes my ideas clearly and simply. This idea appeals to me for several reasons, including forcing me to prioritize and get real on what I want to do. I wrote about this in 2015. In that year, my #oneword was ‘create,’ and it helped me launch the Learning Resource Center (LRC). In 2016, my #oneword was ‘produce,’ which propelled me to crank out lots of new videos and content for the LRC. I don’t think about my #oneword on a daily basis (but I probably could), yet it does help direct me during those periods of time when I can get lost in the weeds and need to be reminded of my goals.

Strengthen is my #oneword for 2017. There are two specific things driving this interest of mine, but the list is virtually endless. I can’t imagine anything that wouldn’t benefit from becoming stronger.

First, I want to strengthen the Learning Resource Center. After creating and producing so much content, it’s time for expanded membership and deepening of the engagement. I will need your help, as I value your input on what is working and what would make the library stronger for you!

Second, I want to strengthen myself. Improvements to other aspects of my life aren’t going to happen without looking inside first. This is both exciting and intimidating. It’s easy to say I want to do this, but it will take commitment and resolve to actually take action and move outside of my comfort zone. Putting it here is one way to hold myself accountable.

I’m ready. I’m eager to strengthen whatever I can next year. Your participation here makes me stronger as I always learn and grow with support of those who are also striving for excellence in their workplaces. Thank you, I am grateful every day for you.

Are you ready? Tell me what your #oneword is! I’d love to help support you, too.

Remember Yogi Berra’s words and don’t leave 2017 to chance. Make a plan so you know where you’re going and you’ll have a much better chance of getting there.