Take Some Time to Learn

As a learning and development professional I see the positive impact of people learning in the workplace all the time. Whether it is reading a good business article or blog, participating in a webinar, online learning or class, we leave refreshed with new thoughts, ideas and solutions to current challenges.

We all need to keep learning new things to grow in our careers. So what stops us? We get busy. Emails come in, clients, colleagues and managers want our time. So what can you do? Good time management helps. Also look for learning opportunities that are right in front of you. See a colleague do a great presentation? Note what was effective and think about what you can incorporate into your next presentation. See a manager diffuse a tough customer situation. Talk to her after and find out how she became skilled in that area.

For more formal learning? Make time on your calendar. Even if is reading a new business book 15 minutes a day you’ll get something out of it. Commit to your own development and see where it takes you!

I was wrong.

Three simple words. Yet so hard to say. No one wants to admit to having been wrong. Perhaps if we don’t say anything no one will notice? Best to be quick about admitting to a mistake and finding a solution to what you did and what you will do to prevent it from happening again. Be open to the feedback of others and the impact that it had on them. Why? It will show that you are accountable for what you do and you are a real professional for finding ways for preventing future mistakes. We’re all human but admitting it can be hard.

“Put Down Your Phone!”

  • Said one colleague to another.

This is a real issue for nearly all of us. You’re standing in line at Starbuck’s. You’re waiting at a stoplight. You’re walking down the street. You’re playing with your kids. You are in a meeting. You’re always looking at your phone.

You may be reading this post on your phone!

We can spend hours if not days on our phones without realizing it and it takes away from building business relationships.

One of your colleagues may be addicted to Twitter, others Facebook or checking to see if a response to that email has come in.

What can you do?

Set up team ground rules – some teams have baskets for cell phones in meetings. At the start of every meeting everyone puts their phone in the basket and collects it at the end of the meeting. It ensures that everyone stays focused and on task.

Try it at home too! You’d be surprised how many people are on their phones all the time too. Take a break, have a conversation, make eye-contact and build that relationship.

Our phones are very useful but sometimes we need to put them down.

Does a Tough Boss Get Better Results? When do They Become a Bully?

Are you a tough boss? Do you are you unpredictable or sometimes demeaning of the  people who work for you? Of course you can hold your staff to high standards but if your style demeans or humiliates you staff, you might go beyond a tough boss and be a bully.

Workplace bullying is a serious problem that can deeply affect the mental, physical and financial health of the bully’s target. The Canada Safety Council reports that in the workplace, one person in six has been bullied and one in five has witnessed a co-worker being bullied. (But does not say how many of those bullies were bosses.)

Some presume that tough bosses get results — and fast — compared with gentler leaders as there are famous leaders who are known to be tough such as Bobby Knight, the Indiana University basketball coach and author of “The Power of Negative Thinking,” was notoriously harsh, and enormously successful. So was Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple.

But researchers who study organizations, productivity and leadership styles attribute the achievements of such figures to exceptional ability. The research thus far has found no evidence to support the axiom that tougher bosses get better results.

Bullying bosses tend to undermine their own teams. Morale and company loyalty plunge, tardiness increases and sick days are more frequent.

“Productivity may rise in the short term,” Rebecca Greenbaum, a professor in Rutgers University’s school of management and labor relations, who formerly worked in the insurance industry said. “But over time the performance of the staff or team deteriorates, and people quit.”

Saying No – Not Easy but Necessary for Great Time Management

“The art of leadership is saying no, not saying yes.  It is very easy to say yes.” – Tony Blair. At work we want to be helpful and it is in our nature to say yes. Saying yes builds relationships and gives goodwill. The downside of saying yes too often is that we eventually become overwhelmed. Saying yes selectively will help you balance your time. So how do you say no?

You can politely reject the request outright, redirect the requester to someone else or delay it until you have more time. Saying no in the right way will give you more time.

The Importance of Guiding Employees Through Change

Change happens all the time, both personally and at work. When change is imposed on us it can lead to confusion, frustration and a decrease in productivity. Leaders who recognize the impact that change can have on employees can limit the fallout by helping employees with the change or transition.

Mishandling change — whether it’s a new boss, a change in office procedures, or a turn in the company’s finances — can prompt employees to leave or it may hurt their productivity. Change can also be more than a one-time event.

William Bridges in his book Transitions talked about three stages people go through when experiencing change.

The first step is to recognize that change or a transition starts with an ending. If a business goes through a merger, employees may need time to mourn the loss of how things were.

After letting go of how things were people enter what he calls the neutral zone. It is an in-between time when the old is gone but the new is not fully operational.

The last stage of his model is that of new beginnings. Beginnings are marked by a release of energy in a new direction – they are an expression of a fresh identity. Well-managed transition allows people to establish in new roles with an understanding of their purpose, the part they play, and how to contribute and participate most effectively. They are reoriented and renewed.

Try a Time Log!

There are a lot of time management tips out there. Just Google “Time Management” and you’ll get about 10,720,000,000 results. That’s a lot of material to have to wade through. One great way is to log your time.

You won’t know where you are being inefficient with your day if you don’t know where your time goes. Try this – for a week – write down everything you do in 15 minute increments, this includes evenings and weekends. This will give you insights as to where you spent too much time talking to a colleague, on social media or actually working!

One person who tried this said “Since I began logging my time earlier this year, I’ve also been tweaking how I spend it, trying to maximize my most productive time while continuing to knock out necessary administrative tasks during my less-productive hours.”

Develop Leaders for Your Success

“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.”
-John Maxwell.  

What does your organization to develop your employees? How good are you at giving and receiving behavioural feedback? Delegation? Time management. Communication skills? Developing employees at all levels is critical to business success.

Why Emotional Intelligence is Important At Work

Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) is a term created by two researchers – Peter Salavoy and John Mayer – and popularized by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name. EI can be defined as the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.” So why is emotional intelligence so important? It is critical for our ability to develop relationships with others and drive business results. The better we understand ourselves – our strengths and weaknesses the better we can understand the strengths and weaknesses of others and help build productive relationships at work.  A high EQ helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life’s challenges.

Getting Feedback From Employees – A Great Opportunity to Learn

Great leaders and managers give employees on feedback on a regular basis Employees want to know specifically when they have done a good job so that that performance continues. In the same way it is important not to let performance issues linger so that they become a problem.

What about getting feedback from your team as a leader? How comfortable are you with that? Your team will see your strengths and areas for development. How do you get feedback from them? Make it comfortable, set a tone where employees feel that two way communication will be welcome. If you want to make it really easy, a 360 degree tool can gather feedback not only from your team but also your peers and manager. Review the information you get from your team and get back to them with a plan on what you intend to do differently. Lastly thank them for their input. You may learn some important lessons and it will help create an environment of greater trust and openness.