5 Ways to Finally Stop the Email Madness©

Lynda’s High 5 for Leaders:  5 Ways to Finally Stop the Email Madness©
By:  Lynda McNutt Foster

(Be sure to check below to see if you are the winner of March’s High 5 prize)

Courtland & Lynda April 2016It’s madness. The amount of emails executives are processing a day is nuts!  I was with one last month that gets about 300 a day.  Email is not the best place for conversations.  It’s really a medium to transfer information and it’s not really ideal for that if there is a pattern to the information and an app could organize it more effectively.

I can not count the amount of coaching sessions I have had where a manager or supervisor had spent the last day or two trying to interpret an email they got from their boss or a peer.  Maybe they hadn’t heard anything back from their boss on a request for a decision they sent via email.  Sometimes they received a response back but aren’t really sure what their boss meant by it.

Research taken from the book Conversational Intelligence by Judith Glaser notes that conversations are interpreted by us in this way:  7% by words, 38% by tone, 55% by non-verbal or body language.  In email, 93% of the interpretation is LOST.  If you do not have a relationship with someone, or worse, if you have a bad one, the way you interpret their tone is probably how you will label their intention and therefore the meaning of the email.

An email as simple as:

“Thank you.  What exactly do you mean by that?”

Depending on the relationship of that person with you, the positional power that person has over you, the culture of your department or company, could set you off on a quest for tone that could send the gerbil wheel off in your head for a day or more.   (Try reading it putting the emphasis on a different word each time, like, WHAT exactly do you mean… or what EXACTLY do you mean…or what exactly do you mean by THAT)

Email is costing most companies and organizations hundreds of thousands a dollars a year in lost productivity.    As I have been collecting data by taking surveys in our leadership classes for the last year, the average time that leaders say they are spending, during working hours, sorting and managing email threads is at least 2 hours a day.  If the cost of that leader with all of their benefits added in is only $50 an hour, that cost is $100 a day, $500 a week, and if they have 2 weeks vacation, that’s $25,000 a year… managing email.  Many of my client’s time is worth well above that hourly amount.  Some as much as $500 or much more an hour.  What’s interesting to me is that executives are believing they are being efficient by not having an assistant and handling all correspondence themselves.  The cost to the leader’s productivity and increased stress level of managing upwards of 100+ emails a day is hard to calculate in exact numbers.  It would appear to be very high, though.

So how do we work together to stop the madness?  Here’s 5 things to do this week to reduce stress, increase productivity, and manage your time more effectively when it comes to email:

  1. Create, if you have the power to, and if you don’t, suggest it to the powers that be, that you determine a list of “Rules of Engagement” for email with your department or organization as a whole.  Determine when email is required to be responded to, the boundaries around what should and should not be put in an email, who should be copied and who shouldn’t.  This is a big one.  If you send an email out that takes 2 minutes to read to 10 people that is 20 minutes of productivity time that has been eaten up not to mention the time it takes to understand whether or not each of the people is supposed to respond to it.  Some of the most successfully run companies in the world now have Rules of Engagement for email which they strictly adhere to.
  2. Stop, thinking you know the person’s tone or intention in sending the email. If you need interpretation, pick up the phone… yes, that dusty thing you only get texts and emails on now, and call the person for clarity.  It will actually save you time so you can work on the task being requested rather than trying to interpret what they mean.
  3. Start, creating a task list or better yet, put tasks on your calendar so you can start tracking how long they take. Don’t use your email inbox as a to-do list past a few days.
  4. Set times to check your email. Responses to people don’t have to be perfect.  Waiting days and days to get back to someone can delay processing of important projects and tasks.  If you don’t know and need to get back to them, say that and put it on your calendar to respond to them.
  5. Turn off the bells and noises that alert you that a text or email has come in. The sound is triggering your lowest level thinking in your brain stem/amygdala.  Not good.  Those bings and dings are actually lowering your IQ by 10-15 points during the day according to the research shown in Your Brain at Work by David Rock.

There is probably little chance you have not heard some of these before.  Why aren’t you doing it?  Why is everyone still so distracted by email?  You may not have the power to create the change you want to see.  I understand.  Perhaps passing this on to the folks that do could go a long way in starting a new wave of focus in your department or organization.

Suggested Team Exercise for this week:

Get serious about creating a list of “Rules of Engagement” for email within your department.  This may take a few shots at it to get it in alignment with your culture and it will certainly take quite a bit of follow up and policing to ensure compliance.  I can assure you that the effort will be worth it when you see the productivity increase and stress levels go down.

 

Courtland James, Executive CoachCourtland James, an Executive Coach with Cortex Leadership, did a fantastic job facilitating an open forum discussion with a panel on the Generational Divide event at the CoLab last Wednesday night.  Thank you, to each of you that attended.  There wasn’t a seat left!  Courtland was also interviewed on Fox21/27 in regard to the event. Thank you, Becky Freemal, for the great story.

Courtland also got married recently and the picture you see at the top of article is from his reception at the Colonnade Club at the University of Virginia on Sunday afternoon.  Congratulations, Courtland, you rock!

 

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.

 

5 things Supporters would ask from you this week, if they weren’t so nice©

5 things Supporters would ask from you – if they weren’t so nice©
by:  Lynda McNutt Foster

(Read below to find out who winner was for the High 5 Monti prize.)

Lynda McNutt Foster Sheila Umberger

Lynda Foster/Sheila Umberger

We all know the type of people that are just plain nice.  They are the one’s that are always asking how they can help. As leaders, Supporters are the type that consider how procedures and policy changes will effect everyone on the team.  Supporters tend to be pretty hard on themselves if they don’t get a task done properly that you were counting on them for.  They are kind.  Thoughtful. On a team, they tend to be the most loyal members.  They have a good tone when speaking to others.  There’s no sense in telling them you have an open door policy because they would never want to bother you.  Supporters, as described in the DISC behavioral model, are the true Superman and Superwomen of the workplace.  They tend to be behind the scenes of a lot of success stories.  They are more than capable of leading.  They may just be waiting to be asked.

They tend to move a little slower than the Drivers or Influencers that we discussed in the last couple of articles.  When being assigned tasks they tend to like to gather as much information, first, and then be allowed to asked questions, later, to be sure they have everything they will need to complete it properly.  There question is “how?” meaning, “How can I help?”  “How would you like to have that done?”

If you aren’t familiar with DISC, it’s a behavioral assessment that measures HOW you behave and your ability to interact effectively with others in work and life, as well as how you respond to challenges like problems, influencing others, the pace of the environment you are in, rules and procedures.  You can find out more here.  

Here are 5 ways to help support your Supporter this week:

  1. HAVE A PERSONAL CONVERSATION:  A Supporter will really appreciate it when co-workers take an interest in them on a personal level and get to know them.  Supporters aren’t as gregarious as the Influencers.  They tend to form fewer bonds with people, but have really strong bonds with the few people that they do interact with.  They like to go a little deeper in interpersonal relationships.  This also can make a Supporter more at ease at work and it feeds their sense of loyalty.
  1. TAKE TIME TO ANSWER QUESTIONS: Supporters REALLY want to do a good job for you and if they feel like they are not sure how to best do that, it can cause a lot of anxiety.  Supporters tend to ask a lot of questions about how you want things done.  This can frustrate a Driver or Influencer because it’s “slowing down the process”, but realize it is normally coming from a place that really wants to do the project well.
  1. ASK FOR THEIR OPINION: Supporters are notorious for being the “quiet one” in the room.  They tend to be very polite and do not want to “bother” you with their opinion.  This does NOT mean that they do not have opinions!  Often, since Supporters tend to be the best listeners and observers, their feedback is incredibly insightful, as they may see things others do not.  If you make a Supporter feel safe and comfortable (see “have a personal conversation above), they may offer insights that others have not seen.
  1. LET THEM TALK: We just established that Supporters can be quiet and polite.  For this reason, in a meeting it can be very easy to “bulldoze” over them.  When you are talking to a Supporter this week, make an effort not to interrupt them.  They often allow interruptions because they tend to be more passive, but slow down and listen for great results.
  1. CLARIFY ROLES: Supporters LOVE to have a sense of stability.  Having clarity on what their role is and what successes they are having at their job feels very good to an S.  Remember, they like to know how they can help, so if their role is clear and they have a good understanding of HOW to do their job well, they will feel a great sense of security and safety.

APPRECIATE A SUPPORTER ON YOUR TEAM THIS WEEK:  Supporters will not ask for appreciation and in fact, they may shy away when you express it to them.  IGNORE how they react and be sure to amply appreciate them!  It’s food for their soul.

TEAM EXERCISE:

Be sure to use “rounding” in an upcoming meeting this week to be sure that all are heard.  The Supporters on your team may not speak up unless you use this method.  Rounding is a technique wherein each person, in a meeting, is given at least 30 seconds to express their thoughts or opinions on a topic or agenda item.   Many times, only the Drivers or Influencers are heard because they are more likely to speak up… this does not mean that everyone else doesn’t have an opinion.  It simply means that they may need to be asked to share in order to feel safe and comfortable to state what’s on their mind.  Their insights might just surprise you.

WINNER of MONTI for February:

Ryan Brooks of Excel Truck Group is the winner of a $25 Amazon gift card.  Ryan, you should have it waiting in your inbox!

(Each month we will be awarding one winner from the top tier most engaged participants of goMonti.)

A HUGE HIGH 5 goes out to the amazing team at the City of Roanoke Library system!  They just opened their newly renovated Raleigh Court location.  It’s a must see.  Their training room, that you can rent, is gorgeous and even has a small kitchen area along with small, 2-seater glass rooms for quick sessions or breakouts.  Congratulations to Diane McGuire, the Branch Manager, and her team along with the fantastic Sheila Umberger, Director of  Libraries, who is truly a Wonder Woman for her talents and abilities that are transforming the library system in Roanoke.  (The picture is Sheila and me at the grand opening last Monday (that’s Ken Cronin in the back!)…yeah, that spray tan I got is always way to intense on the first day or two!)

You can reach me at (540) 815-1300, directly, the Cortex Leadership Consulting office at (540) 776-9219, at www.cortexleadership.com or find previous articles at www.lyndamcnuttfoster.com.

5 Things Influencers would love for you to do this week©

Lynda’s High 5 for Leaders:  Do you know 5 Things Influencers would love for you to do this week?©

By:  Lynda McNutt Foster, CEO
Cortex Leadership Consulting

Lynda McNutt Foster

Lynda McNutt Foster appears at CoLab

It’s easier to treat people the way they want to be treated if you have some idea of what they want.  DISC helps with that. DISC is a behavioral assessment that can be used to help predict how you will act in certain situations, how you may respond to others’ interactions with you, and can also be used to discover people’s strengths when it comes to workplace challenges.  The I in DISC stands for Influencer.

An Influencer is someone who tends to be friendly, smile frequently, move at a faster pace, likes to interact with people, connect with them and build relationships.  They like to have fun and enjoy work environments where people laugh and get along with each other.  They tend to avoid conflict if they feel like to will create discord in a relationship that they deem is important to them.  They are often people who talk with their hands and jump from topic to topic, in a conversation or meeting, with ease.

If you are not familiar with DISC, click here for more information.  Last week’s article, 5 ways to get what you want from a Driver, provided some helpful hints on how to best communicate with the D part of DISC.

Here are 5 things Influencers you work with would love for you to do this week:

  1. HAVE FUN. Influencers love to have fun!  Just saying the word fun in a sentence can make them smile.  The mere discussion of a party or a way to get together that could lead to people laughing and enjoying time together will endear them to you.
  1. EMBRACE CHANGE. Influencers love change.  Doing the same thing over and over again in exactly the same way doesn’t seem like much fun to them.  Variety and doing something that is new and exciting will motivate them towards doing even the most difficult of tasks or assignments.  They like to be challenged, it just needs to be towards something that will lead to something they will enjoy.  They tend to have lots of new ideas they want to share and have others consider.  They are okay if you don’t want to take all their ideas for changes, they just like to feel heard.
  1. LISTEN TO THEM. Influencers love to talk to people who listen to them and talk back.  They want to know you like them and enjoy their company.  They can get uncomfortable if you stare at them with a blank gaze for too long.  They need to know you like them and enjoy their company….I mentioned that already, right?  Yeah, it’s because they disconnect quickly when they feel like that is not happening with you.
  1. SAY GOOD MORNING. As simple as this sounds, an Influencer can take it quite personally if you walk right past them with no smile, “hello”, “good morning”, or acknowledgement of any kind.  They find it rude and unfriendly.
  1. SEND THEM ON A TRIP. The vast majority of Influencers we’ve studied love to travel.  They love to see new places, meet new people, try new things, experience new surroundings.  They are the first ones, normally, to raise their hands to go to conferences, and usually have just come back from someplace fun or are planning their next adventure.

Quick leadership tip to engage and motivate an Influencer on your team: 

Assign them something that requires positive interaction with people.

THIS WEEK’S EXERCISE FOR YOUR TEAM:

Consider doing something this week that will connect and energize your team.  Get ideas for what that activity would be from one of your Influencers.  Ask them what they think that people on the team would like to do together.  Have them poll the group and see which type of activity people would be open to and get excited about (although tell them that the C’s  – Calculators, won’t really get too “excited” but it’s a win if they simply agree to do it with the team).  Give them a budget and an amount of time the activity can take.  They usually have lots of ideas so you’ll need to make time to hear them and help them decide on the best one.

Influencers love team building activities because it gives them a chance to connect and get to know everyone better.  Remember, they just want everyone to get along and have fun!

BIG HIGH 5’s go out to the following professionals and organizations they serve this week:

Ariel and Fe at the CoLab.  They are two, big ole I’s, who love to have fun and are doing a bang up job leading new initiatives that serve the business community, in our region, in important ways.  We had a blast facilitating a discussion at their (X)po Wednesday event last week about self publishing and appreciate them inviting our team.  We were able to explain how Joseph Carleno, all things digital for Cortex Consulting created the digital version of the Time Mastery book and Sean Eddy of Eddy Communications coached, recorded and edited the audiobook version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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