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Definitions Matter

One of the easier communication problems to solve revolves around our tendency to think that others understand what we mean when we use a term. Let’s take “customer service,” as an example.

If you have been tasked with improving customer service, what exactly does that mean? How is customer service being defined?

If you’re in leadership and have young people on your team, where might they have even experienced good customer service? They may be thinking “the Apple store” with its controlled chaos while you’re thinking “Nordstrom’s” with its classical piano playing in the background. Not only do different generations differ in their understanding of terms, individuals within each generation do, as well. So when you are delegating or being delegated to, find out whether the definitions of the terms being used match. This saves a lot of wasted effort and frustration.

The Golden Phrase: “As Evidenced By”

Years ago a nurse manager told me a story that has always stuck with me:

When I work with my employees on performance improvement, I make sure they understand exactly what is required. I cannot simply tell them to increase the quality of patient care; I must say, “Increase the quality of patient care as evidenced by an increase in positive patient survey scores and a reduction in the number of formal complaints.” (For example)

Giving people edicts to improve something without telling them what it should look like is unfair and sets up a “no win” situation.

Always answer the unspoken question, “How will we measure success?” and make sure everyone is on the same page by defining terms.

Change Your Focus; Engage Your Team!

To schedule a FREE 20-minute phone consultation about how you can make your work communication more effective, call 480-560-9452 or email Silver@SilverSpeaks.com  

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Reducing Your Stress NOW

When I was 36, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and told by my doctor that I had been living with it for over 30 years.

Being a stoic and hardy New Englander, I was determined to figure out how to move out of depression as quickly as possible. Many of the lessons I learned along that path are applicable to quickly getting out of stress:

1. Ask yourself, “Is everything okay right this minute?” If the answer is yes, then you are likely engaged in forecasting the future or, as it’s more commonly known, worrying.

a. ACTION ITEM:  Turn your focus from hat could go wrong to what’s going right and your shoulders will

Smile on sand

2. Your brain does not know the difference between pretend and reality.

a. ACTION ITEM: Spend the rest of your day (even when alone) smiling. Your brain will get the message that you’re in a good mood and flood your system with some yummy chemicals.

3. I’m certain that, if asked, you could quickly come up with a list of 10 things you dislike about the current situation that’s causing you stress. Let’s reverse that.

a. ACTION ITEM:  Make a list of 10 things that are (or could be) good about the situation.

What I learned from battling depression is that I have a mind that, left to its own devices, will harm me. Therefore, I have to be proactive about feeding it thoughts that help instead of hurt.  I learned that I have a choice about what I can focus on but IT TAKES PRACTICE.

Using the tool of focus, I have turned around my natural tendency to look at what’s wrong and have re-trained myself to look at what’s right. Am I perfect at it? I wish! But think about this: what if you could shift the percentage of time you’re focused on things that make you feel bad? Instead of, say 85% of the time you reduced it to 75%? Then 70%? Then 65%? That’s what I did and I can honestly say that today (after over two decades of practice), I focus on the negative only 5-10% of the time. Would that be worth it?

You have a choice. Start today to focus on what makes you smile versus what makes you stressed and you will be blown away by the difference in your life—both at work and at home.

Change Your Focus; Change Your Life!

To schedule a FREE 20-minute phone consultation about how you can make your work environment less stressful, call 480-560-9452 or email Silver@SilverSpeaks.com

Click here for a PRINTABLE PDF

Not John Lennon’s IMAGINE

Imagine going to work every day, doing the best you know how and not knowing whether your boss agrees that what you’re doing is what s/he wants and needs.  

Imagine being surprised at your annual performance review (which is usually at least a month or two late) to hear for the first time that you’ve been doing it wrong.   

Imagine your leadership team’s surprise that their employees are profoundly disengaged.  

This is an all too familiar scenario at work places across the globe. Lack of useful feedback negatively impacts productivity and profitability, not to mention the over-use of employee health benefits due to stress. 

Most importantly, it is impacting the quality of people’s lives.  

When you spend the majority of your week in uncertainty and fear, life becomes burdensome very quickly. And the sad part is, it is neither expensive nor difficult to fix. Keep reading for how.  

Humans inherently want feedback. It’s why children want us to watch as they perform feats on the playground, why we look for clues in the faces of others when we talk, and why we want our immediate supervisors to let us know how we’re doing.  

Unfortunately, too many managers believe that a simple, “Good work,” will suffice. Or worse, in the absence of “good work,” a torturous silence. I use the word “torturous” deliberately – it feels that way when you’re on the receiving end of silence instead of feedback. (Silence is a form of negative feedback whether you mean it that way or not.) 

Whether it’s “good work” or silence, what your employees crave are details. What did you like, what could I do better, how can I improve? Even those employees you think don’t care want detailed feedback. If for no other reason, they want to know how to keep you “off their backs.” (Smile) 

The LB/NT Process is a simple, yet incredibly effective way to provide feedback.    

First, you use two questions to inspire your team member to evaluate their own performance:  (1) What did you like best (LB) about what you did? and (2) What would you do differently next time? (NT) LB/NT 

Once you’ve gotten their self-feedback, take it into consideration as you tell them the answers to the same two questions:  (1) What did you like best about their performance, and (2) what, if anything, would you like them to do differently next time?  

Not only does this process satisfy their strong need for feedback, it teaches them important skills like ownership of results. It is also a quick and easy way for you to develop them in areas where they need it.  

Click here for a printable PDF

Oxymoron? Fun & Productivity

Whether it is Disney characters singing, “Whistle while you work,” or the Nebraska volleyball team featured in the October 9th Wall Street Journal article, A Team That Digs Deeper to Have Fun, the idea of applying fun to make hard work easier (and more successful) intrigues us all—unless you practice, or are in a culture of, fear-driven leadership.

PLEASE don’t miss the point by being put off by the word “fun.” If it’s more appropriate, use the phrase ”enjoying yourself while working.” The point is that, when people are enjoying themselves, they are not stressed and are more productive.

Remember that The Law of Attraction dictates that you get more of what you focus on. When your team members are focused on what stresses them then they will attract even more of what stresses them – like being behind schedule. When they are focused on enjoying their work, they will attract more of what is enjoyable – like being ahead of schedule.

I once had an attendee at one of my programs report, “When we’re laughing at work, we get into trouble. Our boss thinks we’re goofing off.” That made me sad, especially since not only was she and her co-workers negatively impacted by this, so was that fear-driven boss. He was missing opportunities for his team to increase productivity and lower stress.

More than ever, it’s important to pay attention to the impact of high stress/no fun on productivity WHY?

  • It’s costing you BIG bucks – low productivity is a huge crisis for U.S. businesses. When productivity is down, money is flying out the windows. Think about what even a 1% increase in productivity might mean to your bottom line.
  • Your top talent can walk – The unemployment rate is way down in the U.S. That means workers have options and don’t have to stay at a job that’s high stress/no fun. If they’re talented, they are being sought out by your competition. Heck, even if they’re middle-of-the road they’re likely getting calls. Hiring and training their replacements costs you dearly.
  • The mediocre workers will stay – The workers who stay are usually less talented. Their stress certainly makes them less productive when they are present and probably causes them to be absent a fair amount. Take a look at how much sick leave is being used. And what is health insurance costing your company?
  • It’s causing YOU stress – when your team is stressed, so are you. When they are behind schedule, your boss is not happy. It becomes a negative vortex that can pull you under.

It’s so simple to allow people to enjoy their work. It requires leadership that is fun-driven as opposed to fear-driven. Asking yourself every day, “How can we make this more fun?” will pay off in ways you cannot fathom. Try it for a week. Just one week. And watch what happens.

By the way, that Nebraska volleyball team I mentioned earlier?  Their motto is:  Laugh Together, Win Together! In December 2017 they won their FIFTH NCAA title.

To schedule a FREE 20-minute phone call about how you can make your work environment more fun, email Silver@SilverSpeaks.com

 

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