5 habits that will sabotage your work week©

It seems like the majority of what we read or listen to, as executives, focuses on the habits we need to have in order to create the success we desire to achieve.  Which habits, though, are the most disruptive to our journey onward and upward at work?

Here are 5 habits that may be sabotaging your mental strength, at work, and that of your team:

  1. ENVY.  Not helpful.  Envy is defined as:  a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.  There aren’t even words in the definition of envy that are going to move you towards your richest outcomes.  Discontented.  Replace that with gratitude for what you have been able to accomplish up to this point.  Resentful. Give changing the image of the person or situation a shot.  If you resent someone for something they did, try reframing the situation in a way that allows you to see the person to be as human as you are.  Luck.  Not a word of a winner.  Everyone knows that the harder your work the luckier you will appear to be.  Waiting on or counting on luck will be a serious miscalculation towards successful outcomes.
  1. SHOULDING ON YOURSELF AND OTHERS.  Your should library, as I like to call it, those things which you say to yourself and others that aren’t based in the reality of a situation, but instead are statements of judgement, probably aren’t serving to move you forward and create more meaningful and productive relationships.  Thinking someone “should” or “shouldn’t” talk to you in a certain way;  that they “shouldn’t” use that tone;  that they “should” move faster… or move more slowly and thoughtfully, will not make it so.  Having a habit of constantly persecuting yourself because you “should” manage your time “better”, be more “effective”, or “better” at presenting your idea will not make those things become so.  What will make those things happen is focusing on them and building the skills to create better outcomes in those areas.  The majority of what you want can be obtained through focus on an outcome you have thoroughly thought through, passion to achieve it, and building the skills necessary to accomplish it.
  1. IT’s ONLY HAPPENING TO ME syndrome. There’s a disease known as “ain’t it awful”.  We all love to complain, rant, take time to simply wallow in our own miserable circumstances.  It feels good and is a relief to do that for a short period of time when we are hit with a situation that we didn’t plan for and never would have if it were up to us.  The habit of constantly finding things that are “awful”, staying in that state of mind, and worse, vomiting that dread all over others with our words and sentiments, is destructive.  Besides, almost anything that is happening to you has probably happened to someone else.  They got through it and if you are open to mentoring, coaching, and are curious about ideas on how to manage the situation, by someone you can trust, you will as well.
  1. USING COUNTER PRODUCTIVE WORDS.    I had a good friend who used to say, “I’m stressed for success”.  Most of us can be heard saying, “That person makes me crazy!”  My favorite in this category is “they threw me under the bus”.  Really?  That just seems really violent to me.  Stop a minute and think about that one.  If it were true, the result would involve law enforcement.  Our words create our worlds.  The habit of unintentionally speaking words that you have given little consideration to can sabotage your forward progress, keep you stuck in a situation you do not desire to be in, and completely derail your team members.

 

  1. TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for THINGS YOU DO NOT HAVE AUTHORITY FOR. This was probably the biggest lesson I had to learn to get to the next level.  I’m ambitious.  Big strength AND, it can be, when misapplied, a huge weakness.  I used to rush into situations and take responsibility for things right away.  I was the first to raise my hand and say, “Yes!” I will take that project on.  “Yes!” I will make sure that gets done.  “Yes!” I will lead that initiative or project for you. I had a habit of taking responsibility but not negotiating the terms of authority I would have in the situation.  It’s hard to lead a team of people when none of them are told that you have any authority to ask for things you will need from them.   The challenges are insurmountable when you are accountable for results, yet have no authority to choose your team, make even the most minor decisions in creating processes or execution.  Creating a habit of negotiating your authority, in each professional situation, can make things much easier when you go to execute tasks towards the outcome that was envisioned.

 

Any of these 5 habits can waste needed time and your energy.  More importantly, when they involve other people on your team they be wasting theirs as well.   Mental strength requires emotional discipline.  Building skills in these areas take focus and practice.

EXERCISE FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM THIS WEEK:

At your upcoming team meeting, take 15-20 minutes to discuss which habits are sabotaging each member and the ones that are effecting the forward progress of the team as a whole.

Do a round at the beginning of the meeting wherein each member shares for about a minute regarding one sabotaging habit they would like to replace with one that they can envision would lead to better outcomes.

If someone chooses the habit of ENVY.  Maybe that member can make a weekly gratitude list of the about what they appreciate in their peers, their boss or organization, and themselves.

If they choose SHOULDING ON YOURSELF AND OTHERS, maybe replace that habit with asking one more question, based on pure curiosity about someone else’s perspective each day.

The habit of IT’s ONLY HAPPENING TO ME can be replaced with making a habit of finding someone who has been through what they’re going through and being open to that person’s input on ways to manage through the situation.

The habit of USING COUNTER PRODUCTIVE WORDS can be modified by instead being curious about the words you and others are using and how they are effecting outcomes.  Simply having a raised awareness of the words you use can quickly help change them to ones that trigger your higher level thinking, rather than being in the “auto pilot” mode of thinking.

Finally, modifying the habit of TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for THINGS YOU DO NOT HAVE AUTHORITY FOR is a matter of having getting in the habit of asking about your boundaries of authority at the BEGINNING of a process or project, instead of halfway through it.

You might find this 15-min YouTube video on building mental strength helpful:  The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong/Amy Morin.  Other articles that can assist you in thinking through patterns and habits that sabotage your success are:

6 Bad Habits that will Sabotage Your Success

Overcoming Self-Sabotage

5 Ways to Work Well with Millennials©

 

MillennnialsThe first hint I can give you is this – DON’T CALL THEM MILLENNIALS!  The majority of them really don’t like it.  They often think that term has bad connotations and it boxes them into a stereotype. And its true- it does. But so does “Baby Boomer.” Millennials, however, were raised to feel like each person is an individual with special talents.  Putting them all into one category can seem offensive and near sighted– especially the one’s that don’t fit any of the stereotypes. So let’s just keep “Millennials” as our secret term and move on.

Here’s the 5 tips for working with Millennials:

  1. Take an interest in their professional development: Millennials need to pay for college. They want to pay for it as quickly as possible.  They are also a young and inexperienced. Millennials seek out opportunities for growth and greatly value employers who take an interest in their professional development. They want to KNOW what they don’t know. They want to know it immediately and they want to know it better than you do. Is that to say that after 3 months on the job they need to be promoted or they will quit?    All it means is that if you take an active interest in their goals and vision, and help them create a realistic path to achieve that vision, they will be far more loyal to you and your organization. They recognize they’re not at your level yet. They want your help to get there. Just be sure to make them understand their timeline may be from a science fiction movie. You can’t build Rome in a day- even with Javascript and HTML coding experience.
  1. Nothing “goes without saying”: Millennials are accustomed to challenging the social and corporate norms.  This may derive from the fast pace of technological and societal change they have experienced in their short lifetime.  What it means for management is that nothing “goes without saying.”  You will need to establish clear boundaries and structure if you don’t want them to create their own. It’s the idea of “if they didn’t say I couldn’t- I can!”. To them, this may be thinking outside of the box and ambitious. To you, this will likely be a human resources and management two-month headache. Just tell them the rules, honestly.
  1. Understand their need for information/feedback: They grew up with instantaneous information. It’s not surprising that they expect a similar flow of information from their coworkers and supervisors.  They are used to the instant feedback of social media. They have adapted to expect that from everyday interactions.  Be prepared for this and schedule time for them to receive feedback on their progress and development. This goes back to our previous point- if you don’t they will likely assume what you think. This could be a problem.
  1. Be transparent in your culture and expectations: Millennials are very aware of the different types of corporate cultures and what their peers are experiencing at different companies.  This can cause them to come to a position or organization with preconceived notions of what “work” will or should be like.  Be explicitly clear up front about what your culture is (and is not) and the expectations of their position. They consider this training and professional development. It will be appreciated.   
  1. Understand the new financial burdens they are facing: Millennials are without a doubt the most financially handicapped generation to enter the workforce.  With 50% of them leaving college with twice the amount of student debt as the previous generation, they are having an incredibly difficult time establishing a strong foothold on adulthood and independence.  Understand that they may exhibit some erratic reactionary behavior due to their financial stress.  Take time to understand the situation each Millennial that works with you is in and help them develop a realistic plan to achieve their career vision.

I have worked with many reliable, hardworking, and dedicated to high performance Millennials.  People like our newst Executive Coach, Courtland James, Samantha Steidle, Aerial Lev with the CoLab, JD Sutphin, Scott Duvall, Joseph Carleno, and others in our community.  There are too many standouts to name them all here.  Millennials are people. They have strengths and weaknesses.  They have preferences- some stereotypical, some personal. Sometimes they are difficult to understand and communicate with.  Sometimes they let us down.  Sometimes they do really stupid things. I think that pretty much describes any one of us. I think we can all relate to that.

A BIG THANKS to Courtland James for his major contributions to the creation of this article.

Family Services Fox appearance

 

 

This picture is from this morning when I was with Ruth Cassell, Chief Development Officer of Family Services of Roanoke Valley live on Fox 21/27 discussing their Celebrity Tip Off fund raiser.

5 Ways to Optimize the Calculators on Your Team©

Lynda’s High 5 for Leaders

5 Ways to Optimize the Calculators on Your Team©
By:  Lynda McNutt Foster

Melody and AllenI am a big fan of people who love to analyze data and thoroughly think through things.  My behavioral type as a high Driver/Influencer requires that if I am going to be successful, long term, I need Calculators.  It’s taken me quite a long time to learn the best ways to communicate with them.  I’ve had a big incentive though, my two favorite people on the planet, my husband, Allen and daughter, Melody are both screaming high C’s.

Calculators (the final letter in the DISC behavioral type we’ve been discussing for the last 3 articles in the series) tend to move at a slower pace.  They can be highly analytical.  Their strength on a team is that they ask good questions and normally are wonderful “theme masters”.  Ask them what the themes of a meeting they were just in were and they can usually boil it down to a sentence or two, no matter how long it was.  They are all about what is just and fair.  Their body language tends to be reserved and their tone, if challenged in an area that they feel educated and certain in, can be argumentative and direct like a Driver’s would be.  They will focus on your words, rather than your body language or tone during a conversation.

A Calculator type will frequently ask for more time to process information.  Their question tends to be “why”.  When given tasks to complete they would wonder why they are being assigned to them, why those tasks need to be completed by the deadline, and if there is a change, why the change is occurring.  They are perfectionists, so they will be hesitant to accept tasks unless they feel they are being given enough time and resources to get them done well.  Their motto is, “measure twice, cut once.”

  1. JUST THE FACTS:  Calculator behavioral types like data…raw, unfiltered data.  C’s like to let the data tell them what is true and what is not true.  When getting feedback from a Calculator, give them as many objective facts as possible.  They certainly are OK with reasonable opinions, but tend to start to tune people out who are giving them wild exaggerations or jumping to what they would consider unfounded conclusions.
  1. KEEP ITEMS RELATED:  Calculators tend to want to give a lot of thought to what you are saying.  That’s a good thing, but the side effect of that is that Calculators tend to have a harder time when you throw multiple unrelated items at them in a hurry.  You might be on item 3 and they’re still giving serious thought to number 2!  For getting the best results of a C’s logical thinking, give them a chance to think about one thing at a time, if possible.
  1. DON’T LET YOUR HANDS DO THE TALKING:  Calculators are not generally known for being outspoken and gregarious.  Think Mr. Spock from Star Trek.  They tend to be very good listeners, but if you are talking very fast or quickly moving to different topics, it doesn’t give them a chance to think about what you are saying (which they like to do).  Also, if you make a lot of gestures with your hands or are being demonstrative, it can be distracting to a Calculator who is trying to listen to what you are saying.
  1. BE PREPARED FOR THEIR FAMOUS “RESTING FACE”:  As stated earlier, C’s are fairly good listeners, and they like to think about what you are saying.  Unfortunately, the high C may listen so intently that they get what we call “the resting face”  This is the face that you get when you are focused on the conversation.  While a High “I” may have a smile on their face while they are listening, a High “C” might give you the furrowed brow or have their arms folded.  Also, remember that some C’s do not make eye contact as much when you are talking.  Often, this isn’t personally  directed at you, they are just trying to not be distracted, as they listen.  Try not to be offended or take the body language of the High C to personally.  They actually may be listening.
  1. KEEP A SAFE ZONE: Many Calculators may not like to be touched.  That is certainly not universal and if a C is very comfortable with you, it may be OK, but as a general rule, C’s will not appreciate someone putting their hand on their shoulder or hugging as a greeting.  They may not like it if you stand directly behind them and hover.   Also, for you Seinfeld fans, Calculators would not be appreciative of the “Close Talker”!

Possible reasons for conflicts with a Calculator:

Influencers are usually good with people, like to use their hands when they talk and many enjoy constant conversation. They have energy and enthusiasm which makes them exaggerate some times.  They also take cues of acceptance or rejection from other people’s body language.  This can come in direct conflict with a Calculator type who has a “resting face” that seems to indicate disinterest in what the Influencer is saying.  The Influencer type can feel like the C is not listening and is aloof.  That may not be the case, but the I may feel like it is.  The Calculator, on the other hand, can think that an Influencer type jumps around when giving information, is distracting with their high energy body language, and may come across to the C as emotional.  The C may literally look away, during a conversation, in order to filter out just the facts that are being conveyed.

TEAM EXERCISE:

Utilizing your smart Calculator types to create appropriate and relevant agendas for a meeting, keeping the meeting on time and on task, along with reporting out themes are strengths of a Calculator in these types of settings.

 

Will you let how much other people earn motivate you this week?©

Jealousy is a waste of time and emotional energy.  I haven’t coached a successful leader yet that focuses on it.  Knowing what other people earn and celebrating them for their accomplishments is what motivates many top performers.  Being realistic about your skills, resources and behaviors will help guide your activities and decisions and will lead to better career and financial outcomes.

Let money motivate youThinking that a position pays $100,000 when a top professional, in that job after 10-15 years, only makes $45,000 can help you plan better career paths.  Many people come out of college thinking they need to make $40,000 to pay their college loan payments, yet are only qualified for positions that pay $25,000-$30,000 because of their lack of experience and practical knowledge to perform the requirements of the job.  This isn’t anyone’s fault.  It’s simply a fact that can be navigated if professionals stay focused on their skills and market conditions.

So how do you find out what people in your industry make so that you can set and negotiate realistic goals?  (or, find out how good you have it where you currently are!)  There are a couple of options:

This site shows you 84 different people and what they earn

Want to know what more than 800 jobs pay?  Click here.

Career Profiles is a source for determining salary ranges.

Glassdoor – a social media site for employees where anyone can post a rating for their company, description of their job, review the company culture, their boss, or coworkers and state what they make, anonymously.  If your organization doesn’t have a page, you might want to create one before a disgruntled employee does for you.

Another way to determine what people make is to ask someone in that industry.  It’s surprising how much you can learn if you simply have the courage to ask.  I’m not talking about being inappropriate or crass.  Be strategic.  Many times someone in an industry knows what different positions pay.  At a conference, at dinner or while having drinks, you can inquire as to what people in certain positions usually make.  You can find out which firms pay the most, which ones have the best working environments, and what qualifications you will need to have to earn the highest rate of pay in that field and with that company.

Earning a good living is not luck.  The professionals I have coached and trained work hard for what they make.  Yes, some make LOTS more than others.  The truth is, though, those that earn more are usually willing to sacrifice more, have taken more risk, and may have some killer people and other skills and talents, along with the emotional discipline needed to motivate and engage team members, customers, and negotiate with vendors.

Do you want to earn more in the next 5 years?  Here are some tips:

  • Be willing to work hard… workers perceived as unenthusiastic and low energy aren’t usually the one’s to cross any finish line first, like being offered the promotion they desire.
  • Stay focused on delivering things that your organization values the most, not just for a day or week, but consistently over time.
  • Create credible connections, relationships, and study those people that are above you or earn more than you do – mimicking the highest performers’ behaviors will go a long way to you being one of them one day.
  • Work on the components of your executive brand/presence that you need to.
  • Read, read, and read some more to build your current knowledge base of your industry
  • Practice, practice, practice, the skills that will pay off the most in your organization or in your industry.
  • Get or maintain optimal health – people want to promote people who have energy and enthusiasm for what they do.

SUGGESTED EXERCISE FOR THIS TOPIC THIS WEEK:

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you earning what you want to be earning? If not, how much do you think you are worth?
  • Can you prove you are worth that amount? Have you been offered that amount of money, or earned that amount, by another company?
  • What skill would you need to obtain or build to be worth what you want to make?
  • Is what you want to make an industry standard for the position you want to have or are you guessing or know one person making that amount?
  • What types of perks and benefits do you have now that a different position, or even promotion might not offer you?

Be realistic about what you want to make for the position you are in, want, or will be qualified to do.  Make yourself known and create the relationships that you will need to land that position one day.  Trust me, you are capable, smart, and hard working or you would not be reading this, and especially not to the end.  Don’t let anything deter you from what you want to achieve.  Leadership is lonely and success is not sexy.  Not everyone makes it because getting what you want isn’t always fun along the way.  Celebrate today how far you have come to get to this point.  Use all of your strengths and those of others to build your success one day at a time.

At Cortex Leadership Consulting  we provide DISC, Motivators, Leadership Competency, Stress, 360 degree and Team Accountability assessments along with workshops and leadership programs to assist you and your team to reach your peak performance.  You can contact us at lynda@cortexleadership.com or (540) 776-9219 to book a workshop for your team, a customized leadership program for your organization or schedule a keynote speech.

How smart will your failures be this week?©

My big sister, when I used to call her crying over some huge failure I thought I had just experienced used to tell me, “It’s a million-dollar day, Lynda!”  I wanted to hurt her.  She was trying to get me to see that the lesson I just learned was going to make me a million dollars one day.

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Blah, blah, blah, right?  We all know that things can not always work out.  Yes, we know it intellectually, but do we embrace failure in ourselves?  Do we encourage others to fail?  Do we really lead our teams by looking at it’s members and saying, “If no one is failing then no one is probably trying anything new.”   After all, like Edison found, the faster you fail the sooner you find the right answer or solution.

Failure due to laziness, lack of accountability and effort or just being sloppy and uncommitted is not what I am talking about here.

I’m talking about innovation which can not happen without failure.  If you’re not willing to risk you are not going to innovate.  Lack of innovation is going to be the real failure for many organizations in the coming years.

In the article, Why you should encourage failure in the workplace, they explain why failure is necessary in today’s organizations:

  1. Encouraging risk-taking appears to top talent
  2. Risky behavior can yield huge success
  3. Mistakes are great learning tools

In Harvard Business Review’s article, To Increase Innovation, Take the Sting Out of Failure, Doug Sundheim suggests the following questions to help you and your team define if something was a smart failure in order to determine the right and wrong way to fail:

  1. What makes a failure smart in our organization?
  2. What makes a failure dumb?
  3. What guidelines, approaches, or processes characterize smart risk taking?
  4. What clear examples can we point to, to demonstrate smart failures?

How will you reward smart failures on your team or in your organization this year?  Will you only reward successes or can you create a “Dare to Try Award” which would go to the most thoughtful and well-executed failures?

Will you schedule a power hour for you and your team this week?©

In my new ebook entitled Time Mastery: 7 Simple Steps to Richer Outcomes I discuss the process of planning and executing a Sprint for you and your team.  These are 2-week long periods in which you hyper focus on a major deliverable that you want to accomplish.  These can be highly effective if you have defined the outcomes you want to achieve, have the authority to properly execute them and stay accountable the results you obtain.

As the holidays approach, you may find it helpful to schedule some Power Hours that are like mini-Sprints.  These microbursts of productivity, packed tightly into one hour of time, can help you and your team enter the holiday season with a clear task list and mind.

Here’s how:

  1. Schedule an hour of time this week that you are able to “rope off” completely.  If need be, you can let your team members know so that they can make arrangements to find assistance elsewhere during that hour.  An option is for you and a set of team members to schedule the Power Hour at the same time.  That way you are working in unison to get as much accomplished in one hour as possible.
  2. Determine which activities or tasks have been lingering around for days, weeks, or months that really need to get completed and haven’t. Things like clearing my inbox, scheduling health maintenance appointments, filing, running multiple small errands, and any number of things that have sat on the “side” of my desk fall into this category for me.  Which tasks do you have that you never seem to get around to doing, but that are not going to go away?  That’s your list.
  3. Schedule the hour for a time of the day and week that gives you the best chance at successfully executing it. When are the phones the quietest?  When do you have the least amount of interruptions?
  4. Celebrate when you have completed your Power Hour. Doesn’t have to be big.  Eat a Hershey’s Kiss if you like chocolate.   Declare to the world with fists in the air “I rock!”  The important thing is that you anchor the positive aspect of getting something done that you really didn’t want to do…and you had the discipline and fortitude to do it ANYWAY!

These Power Hours can be fun.  Put in your headphones and listen to music from the best times you can remember.  Challenge yourself to see just how many of the items on your list you can blast through with the laser focus of a Jedi warrior.

Will you plan for what you want in 2019 this week?©

Nope.  Not a typo.  I meant 2019.  I’ve learned from multiple sources and have come to experience it myself.  You can accomplish less in one year than what you think you can and much more in 3.

2019 imageSo, what do you want your outcomes to be in 2019?  Best to start thinking about it right now.  When you take that perspective you can release the pressure of needing everything to happen quickly and allow yourself to dream big and take the right baby steps necessary to get there.  If you want a better culture in your organization it will probably take longer than you think to accomplish, but the payoffs will be much bigger than you can probably predict.  If you want truly satisfying accomplishments, you need to think longer term otherwise you’ll be hitting tons of goals but they won’t mean that much in the long term.

Try asking yourself and your team these questions this week:

  1. What one or two small habits can you change that, over time, will create a big impact if done consistently for the next 3 years?
  2. Who do you need to deepen a relationship with that will result in an important mentorship or collaboration in the future?
  3. How will you plan each day, week, month and the next year to ensure that you are using your energy and talents optimally?
  4. Why do you want something different than what you have right now? Establish a strong reason that ignites your passion so that when things get tough you remember why you are making the changes and sacrifices in the first place.

 

 

 

 

 

How will you manage silos in your workplace this week?©

Silos are naturally and necessarily created in work environments to house team members into groups that form departments and that are designed to lead to the alignment of authority, responsibility, and accountability.  Silos allow for executives to manage smaller teams that allow for them to create communities that focus on areas of expertise and specific work product creation and implementation.

All sounds great, right? Yep, until you need to innovate or become customer centric and organizationally focused.

A silo mentality can be defined as: A mind-set present in some companies when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company. This type of mentality will reduce the efficiency of the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture.

 

Three aspects to consider in the organizational silo barrier are:

  • Non-aligned priorities
  • Lack of information flow
  • Lack of coordinated decision making across silos

When these aspects are occurring it will be difficult to make the changes necessary to remain competitive and get the ultimate results you may need to achieve.

What's your strategy?

In the Harvard Business Review Article, The First Two Steps Toward Breaking Down Silos in Your Organization, Vijay Govindarajan makes the statement, “Companies don’t change because they want to. They change because they are forced to by customers, by competition, by advances in science and technology, and by government regulation. Only when change is being forced upon the enterprise will people seek, give, and accept help.”

So if you need team members who currently operate in silos to begin operating in a way that will lead to the results you want to achieve, you’ll need to:

  1. Make a compelling case for why innovation is necessary to the organization and for each of its members. It will need to be an interactive experience for the leader and team member’s that occurs in as many different forums and formats as possible. Change can’t be “someone else’s” job or need to happen because it was posted in an email or there was one tell and sell group gathering that happened. Nope, you are going to need to lead the campaign throughout the organization and take some serious time to connect with other leaders and their team members to make the message and vision stick.
  1. Create an agenda that develops a step-by-step guide that team member’s can follow to reach the vision you will communicate. You need to not only communicate the vision for better communications you need to demonstrate it by clearly articulating, in multiple ways, what you want to see in the culture of your organization. You need to be the catalyst by being the change you want to see. If you don’t start crossing the silo lines by being more transparent with information that can be shared, being inclusive in your mindset and more effectively interactive in meetings, don’t expect others to execute what you aren’t doing yourself.

TEAM EXERCISE this week:

Before your next team meeting, distribute these questions so that your team members have an opportunity, as do you, to consider their answers. When you get together do a round and allow each member to comment on the one that they think is affecting your organizational progress the most.

  1. What priorities do you or your department have that are not aligned with another’s?
  1. Put yourself in the place of the other silo—what would make that silo realize that your need was a priority?
  1. What information do you or your department have that could be useful to others?
  1. What information or assistance do you need from another silo that you are not getting?
  1. In what areas would increased collaboration and giving up some autonomy be more beneficial for the company than maintaining your individuality?

(Questions excerpted from How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things by Neil Smith with Patricia O’Connell. Copyright © 2012)

Will your brain be on dopamine this week?©

It’s hard to ignore (well, I guess you could if you wanted to) the mounting brain and other research that is proving that appreciation, recognition and gratitude increases workplace engagement, motivation and retention.

One study from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found this:

“Researchers randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group—assigned to work on a different day—received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.”

 The part of the brain that is affected by appreciation and gratitude is the hypothalamus which controls dopamine – the “reward neurotransmitter”. Basically, when we show appreciation or receive it our brain make us feel good. 

Here are some ideas I found from a Forbes article entitled, 25 Low-Cost Ways to Reward Employees:

 

  • Just say thank you for the effort a team member as made recently.
  • Throw a pizza, cake or hummus (ha, I added that one) in their honor.
  • Grant a long lunch break, extra break or comp time.
  • Post a thank you note in the lobby with their name on it.
  • Have the entire team sign a framed certificate of appreciation.
  • Have the whole team give them a standing ovation at the beginning of the next meeting.

If you really want to know what will ring the appreciation bell for someone that you care about, try asking your spouse, child, friend or other family member to take the 5 Languages of Love free assessment. It will help you understand which of these 5 languages make them feel the best when they receive it:  

  • Quality time
  • Gifts
  • Words of Affirmation (that’s mine!)
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

It was incredibly helpful to our family when we realized that each one of us had a different language of love, but were constantly trying to give what we wanted to get from the other. I wanted words of affirmation so I gave those all the time whereas my daughter was happy with the most minor gift (even a cup cake counted) and my husband Allen, we found out, was all about quality time and couldn’t give a hoot about acts of service. The knowledge we got from one another, after taking the assessment, helped us more effectively give and receive appreciation to one another.

Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace could be just the right gift for yourself and your team this holiday season. 

 

How will you stay focused this week?©

Okay, folks. There’s only 7 weeks left of 2015. You still have time to make things happen for you and your team, but you are going to need to stay focused on the most important action steps that will help you arrive at the desired outcome you set for yourself this year.

Maybe you have reached that 2015 outcome already. Woohoo! Congratulations. It’s smooth sailing from here. Enjoy the holiday season and rest up for an amazing 2016. A relaxed brain discovers all kinds of amazing solutions.

If there are still a few things you want to accomplish, or that you are required to, you might find helpful a video from Brendon Burchard (about 12 minutes long). It points out some key ways to remain focused.

  1. Make fewer decisions. You want to be sure to remove any decision making from your plate that you can. Are there small decisions that are you making everyday that you can take off your plate and off your mind?   He points out that “mindlessly browsing consumes an incredible amount of brainpower; every new link and every new piece of information to pay attention to eats up your mental energy and reserves.” Save your brainpower for the highest-level thinking that really matters.
  1. Define mission. This one goes back to always start with the end in mind. What is your desired outcome today? This week? This year? 3 years from now?
  1. Say NO to everything immediately, as a first response, from now on. Rather than saying, “sure”, perhaps you could answer with, “That sounds great, but I need to check the other commitments I’ve made and get back to you tomorrow with an answer.”

The amount of binging and dinging that goes on in our world is endless, it seems. I don’t think Steve Jobs created some of the coolest technology every invented so it could control us. In fact, I’m quite sure it was so that we could use it to reach our best outcomes. What distractions can you remove tomorrow that will allow you to focus on the things you know that matter most to you, your team, and your organization?

TEAM EXERCISE:

At your next team meeting you could do a few rounds where each person discusses these three items:

  1. What decisions are they making everyday that they don’t need to be?
  2. What is their desired outcome for the coming year?
  3. What do they keep saying yes to that they need to be saying no to, instead?

Another good reference on this topic is an article from Harvard Business Review entitled, Train Your Brain to Focus.

 

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