Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category
Christina’s work eats an unhealthy portion of her life. The past 20 years she intensely pursued her career. More recently she carried a heavy load with a start-up of epic proportion.
The cost? It’s taken a toll on her relationships and leadership … yes, conflict and unnecessary stress. The demand and pace squeeze out self-limiting behaviors that have minimized trust, disengaged the team, and created frustration.
Business eats people
The nature of business is to consume – not right or wrong – just the nature of business, which includes eating people. Business consumes, produces, exports, depletes the inventory … and then, asks for more. One leadership function is to determine how much of an employee’s life is consumed to do business. That leader is you.
As a self-managed leader, you stand at the mouth of the “beast” (no judgment, just descriptive) and must determine how much of your time, your energy, your creativity, and your life you will feed it. Whether you are an entrepreneur, small business owner, frontline worker, new manager, middle manager, vice president, or CEO … How much will you feed the beast?
The beast likes to snack and technology makes it easy. Yes, this is about drawing boundaries … a line between work and personal time, family, recreation and rest? To stay engaged requires life harmony (the new work-life balance.) Setting work boundaries is critical to engagement, as reported in a recent Harvard Business Review article entitled “Using a Smartphone after 9 pm Leaves Workers Disengaged.”
Smartphones fit work activity into life outside the workplace. Easy access to email, the web, video conference calls, webinars, text messaging – even old-fashioned voice calls – all allow work to be done anywhere, anytime. How much work has invaded your non-work hours?
To stay engaged and productive research indicates we need space …
This greater connectivity comes at a cost: using a smartphone to cram more work into a given evening results in less work done the next day. The reason for this … is that smartphones are bad for sleep, and sleep is very important to effectiveness.
…that a well-rested employee is a better employee is well established by research. To note just a few recent studies, insufficient sleep has been linked to more unethical behavior at work, cyberloafing, and work injuries, and less organizational citizenship behavior.
Predictable time off
Considering the research and the undesirable outcomes of insufficient sleep, how you are you doing? How well to you create space for life outside of work? When do you create space for reflective thinking? How committed are you to taking time off? Where are your boundaries? Simply put, what’s your bedtime?
It was a new experience for Christian, she “took advantage” of days off at Christmas. Returning to work she noticed a difference in her perspective, the reward of “time off.” To pursue greater life harmony, she committed to the following:
- Daily appointment – for 30 minutes the door is shut, devices muted, a little music is added, and she creates space to think
- Business hours – she is leaving the office at a reasonable time to go home
- Disconnecting – she does not log on and work from home during the evening, unless it’s an emergency
- Time off – she plans to enjoy days off in 2014
For you to think about:
- If you establish predictable time off, what would that look like in your story?
- How is your sleep affected by your work habits? Load? What can you do about it?
- What boundaries do you need to set up?
Here’s to your breakthrough in 2014,
Smile. Think. Be present …
Next Generation Leaders 2014 – Tulsa
Most businesses expect employees to turn into leaders with a title. They load them up with responsibilities and a diverse team of people to manage. Conflicts arise. Pressure builds. People leave. Managers crumble. Those who navigate their way to success seem to have leadership planted in them at birth.
But the study of truly effective leaders reveals that leaders learn to lead. Their success depends on whether or not they become self-managed.
Next Generation Leaders turns employees into self-managed teams and leaders,
Get more details on Team-Based Coaching.
Photo credit: Ian Britton via Compfight
For over 20 years, Toni’s career has moved forward. Respected for her technical expertise, she is an “outstanding contributor.” But the feedback on her people skills is another story. Relationships are strained. While “brilliant” she is seen as unapproachable. Her personal influence is restricted by impatience and no tolerance for incompetence.
How much stress do you think Toni experiences and adds to the workplace?
The Wall Street Journal reports “Stress is the number one workforce risk issue, ranking above physical inactivity and obesity” when it comes to health and productivity. However, employers and employees disagree on the causes of stress. Towers Watson’s recent Staying@Work Survey reveals the differing views.
The employer view of the top 5 causes of employee stress:
- Lack of work/life balance (excessive workloads or long hours)
- Inadequate staffing (lack of support, uneven workload or performance in group)
- Technologies that expand availability during non-working hours
- Unclear or conflicting job expectations
- Fears about job loss; too much change
The employee view of their stress:
- Inadequate staffing (lack of support, uneven workload or performance in group)
- Low pay or low increases in pay
- Unclear or conflicting job expectations
- Organizational culture, including lack of teamwork, and tendency to avoid accountability and assign blame to others
- Lack of work/life balance (excessive workloads or long hours)
If your goal is to reduce stress, the employee’s message is: “Pay me adequately. Support me on the job. Guide me on my job priorities.”
What does it take to thrive in today’s stressful, lean and mean workplace? At least part of the answer is self-managed teams and leaders. Check out a few of their characteristics to see if you agree:
- Gets the business of people (understands who they are and the behavior styles of others)
- Communicates and engages others effectively
- Sets clear expectations
- Establishes and builds trust
- Accepts personal responsibility
- Accountable to self and team
- Creates less stress and unnecessary conflict
- Engaged and highly productive
Imagine your workplace experience as you and your team show up like that. The reward? Engagement, productivity, performance, less stress and unnecessary conflict.
How committed are you to leadership development?
Toni is fortunate her company supports personal and professional growth. Executive coaching created space to activate her ability and willingness to learn and change unproductive behavior. She gained insight into the “why” of her behavior and picked up a few new tools. Her performance improved bringing less stress and unnecessary conflict.
The organization did not change. She changed. Now she is more engaged, productive, and is expanding her personal influence. Work is less stressful for her and her colleagues.
So how stressful is your workplace? How much do you add to the stress? What can you do to reduce the stress?
Now, about your performance improvement plan for 2014 …
Here’s to your Next Level,
Improve engagement, performance, and productivity by developing self-managed teams and leaders in 2014. Check out the support offered with team-based coaching or executive coaching.
Photo credit: Fabio Gismondi via Compfight
Going the extra mile counts.
What happens when someone gives more effort than is expected? And when your waiter does more than required?
People who go the extra mile are in the minority in today’s workplace. Gallup’s recent worldwide survey reports that only 13% of employees are engaged in their jobs.
Where are you?
Here are Gallup’s definitions. What do you see?
- Engaged. You work with passion and feel a profound connection to your company. You push innovation and move your organization forward.
- Not Engaged. You’re checked out – sleepwalking through your workday – putting your time in but not energy or passion.
- Actively Disengaged. You aren’t just unhappy at work you are busy acting out your unhappiness. You undermine what others are accomplishing.
Harvard Business Review reports engagement levels for the United States. Only 30% are Engaged or “emotionally invested in and focused on creating value for their organizations every day.” Those Not Engaged account for 52% of the workforce and 14% are Actively Disengaged. Where are you?
Why does your engagement matter?
Yes, employee engagement leads to business growth and higher profits. But what if you don’t own the business? Why does it matter?
Who do you want to work with? Engaged employees collaborate and contribute to the good things happening at the office. They are involved, enthusiastic, and committed, accountable and responsible. They not only understand their assignment but also look for new and better ways to achieve outcomes. Productivity is high.
Gallup’s study also reports characteristics associated with engaged employees:
- They are more optimistic about the economy.
- They describe their life as thriving.
- They have more positive daily interaction.
The path to engagement
Here are four mile markers adapted from Gallup’s research. Where are you on the journey?
- Just Starting: So, what’s in it for me? Feeling secure.
- Moving Forward: How do I make my contribution? Feeling valued.
- Gaining Speed: How am I connected, is it a good fit? Feeling accepted.
- Got Momentum: Where is the opportunity for my development? Are my ideas being considered? Feeling confident.
Going the extra mile is a good thing. Life is better for everyone when you do more than just show up.
Here’s to your Next Level,
Improve engagement, performance, and productivity by developing self-managed teams and leaders. Check out the support offered with Next Generation Leaders team-based coaching.
Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon via Compfight
How many times have you said, “I can’t wait until…” or “I’ll be happy when I …?”
Something has zapped the happiness of our workforce. According to the 2011 version of The Conference Board Job Satisfaction Survey only 47.2 percent of the respondents reported “satisfaction.” The first year for the survey (1987) a 61.1 percent satisfaction rate was recorded … yes, 61 percent!
The chicken or the egg?
So, which comes first happiness or success? Is it that …
- People who work hard will be successful and successful people are happy people? Or,
- People who are happy become more successful?
What do you think?
The advantage of happiness
Shawn Achor, in The Happiness Advantage, reveals the following:
Optimistic salespeople outsell their pessimistic counterparts by 56 percent. Students primed to feel happy before taking math achievement tests far outperform their neutral peers.
It turns out that our brains are literally hardwired to perform at the best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive. (p. 15)
Fifty-six percent? Sounds good to me. So what makes the difference?
The curiosity of youth
Optimistic people experience life as an adventure. They face the day with joy, gratitude, appreciation, and … curiosity.
Curiosity is inquisitive thinking. What if…? How could we make it better? What could we do differently? Notice the thinking encouraged by these open-ended questions. They brim with untapped possibilities and potential. Life is to be explored.
After reading, “What if “they” fire the unhappy people?” Jeffrey commented from his Story:
I was blessed to spend a week at camp with 7-9 year old boys and just returned late last night. I saw wonder and curiosity in most boys and I saw unfathomable happiness in these boys. I also saw a dark cloud around some boys who rejected new adventures and were in the rut of being “fed” their entertainment at home.
What characterizes your life?
Are you feeding yourself “wonder and curiosity” or “easy entertainment?” The unhappy campers were in their comfort zone.
Which path are you taking?
What could happen in your Story if you are more optimistic … more curious?
Here’s to your Next Level,
PS: Enjoy this brief video (2:09) featuring Shan Achor answering the question: “What is the Happiness Advantage?” If you prefer more content (12:29), here is Shawn Achor’s at TEDxBloomington.
Photo Credit: Katie Harris via Compfight
“I finally figured out how to improve employee morale,” David McInnis said to Roy Williams.
“Productivity skyrockets and everyone loves coming to work. It’s program that never fails. Works every time.”
I stood there looking at David.
He stood there looking at me.
Finally, I raised my shoulders and turned my palms upward.
Looking steadily into my eyes, David said, “Fire all the unhappy people.”
Liberty to explore
Unhappy people seem to experience life as unfortunate, hopeless, ill fated, doomed, unsatisfactory or sad. What do you think … want to bet your success on the productivity of unhappy people?
In “What Happy People Do Differently” Todd Kasdan and Robert Biswas-Diener write:
Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that sustained happiness is not just about doing things that you like. It also requires growth and adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. Happy people are, simply put, curious.
Curiosity, it seems, is largely about exploration — often at the price of momentary happiness. Curious people generally accept the notion that while being uncomfortable and vulnerable is not an easy path, it is the most direct route to becoming stronger and wiser. (Psychology Today July/August 2012 p. 53)
Freedom requires truth. How willing are you to explore your Story for truth (the facts and reality of your life)? How curious are you?
Go for it!
More than negative vs. positive, happy people seem to experience life as an adventure. They face the day with joy, gratitude and appreciation … curiosity. Life is big and designed to be explored … including their leadership development.
People who know their purpose and live with passion while serving others are happier. Overcoming fear, they challenge comfort zones and go for it. Who do you want on your team?
Welcome to “Spacious Place”
What would happen to “employee morale” if you and your team work as free people … living with purpose and passion while seeing and serving others?
- Purpose – Why you work beyond making a living. What’s the difference you want to make in the world? Why are you here?
- Passion – What do you love to do?
- Seeing others – How well do you see the people around you?
- Serving others – How do you help others achieve success?
Imagine how engagement and productivity would soar if you and your team enjoyed the freedom and happiness that comes with “living life with purpose and passion while seeing and serving others.”
Sure, you can have “one of those days” but on the whole, how do others experience you at work?
If the unhappy people were fired, what would happen in your Story?
Photo credit: Aaron Hockley via Compfight
Her control-oriented manager was frustrated letting Sara know all that she was doing wrong. The emotion was equal to the frustration, “It’s a good thing I didn’t come to your office yesterday or I would have walked you out the door right then.”
Martin Gommel via Compfight
Sara’s manager represents another hostage of “out-of-control” behavior. However, as Sara reflected on the Story the application became clear because Sara likes “control”, too.
The drive to (try to) control others pushed her thinking, self-limiting behavior, and performance. Recognizing her desire to control, she began the journey to letting go.
The affect on relationships and productivity from people trying to be “in control” is harmful. My last two posts: “What if you don’t let go?” and “What if you care too much?” generated a lot of conversations. This derogatory term for wannabe dictators struck close to home.
Why control trying to control others?
Keith Ayers, in Engagement is Not Enough, writes about how managers can unintentionally increase the disengagement of their employees. His short list includes:
- An obsession with financial results
- An obsession with control
- An obsession with avoiding responsibility
- An obsession with logic
He correctly observes the lack of research to support a control-based approach to leadership and management.
How does a control-oriented leader show up? Ayers points, summarized here, are insightful. Such leaders…
- Assume that people cannot be trusted and send that message to their team
- Micromanage employees, believing that tasks will not be completed to their standards unless they are checking in on their teams
- Assume employees do not really want to work, and therefore they need to continue to drive them to achieve results
- Believe that, as the manager, they have all the knowledge and experience, and therefore they need to make all the decisions about how to improve performance
Note how leaders who seek excessive control display out-of-control behavior, all the while living with the illusion of being in control. What does that look like?
Consider the emotional statement Sara’s boss made to her about firing her on the spot. Yes, it was out of control. (To this manager’s credit, she did apologize later.) Apology accepted. Nevertheless, how do you think this exchange affected Sara’s engagement as an employee? How would it affect yours?
How committed will Sara (an emerging leader) be in an environment where the potential of “one wrong move and you’re out of here” is at least implied? Furthermore, how does such behavior create an obstacle to Sara’s ability and willingness to support her manager’s success?
Influence vs. Control
Leaders who release control demonstrate self-control and expand their influence. Influence allows support to flow to you … it is about collaborating instead of commanding.
- Influence is the freedom to have a positive effect on others
- Influence allows you to capture the devotion and allegiance of others
- Influence allows you to achieve your goals
- Influence is the freedom from trying to prove you are in charge, allowing everyone to contribute and enjoy success
Great performance comes from an environment where great people have an opportunity to contribute their unique perspective, talent, and voice to the process, project, or job. You cannot control the process but you can direct it as you communicate vision, set expectations, and define outcomes.
To release control – “Let it go!” - is an act of liberation from a self-imposed burden. The power to accomplish more is immediate as you tap into the creativity of others and allow collaboration. Trust, improved morale, open communication, employee engagement, and improved performance are your reward.
How does it happen?
It requires a change in leadership behavior.
The irony is that leaders who release control demonstrate self-control and expand their influence.
Sara (who wants to be in control) is learning how to take a deep breath, evaluate what she is thinking, and release control. Let it go! Her performance is improving, and she has the freedom to use her strengths as she gets out of her own way.
Everyone is capable of this.
However, when unaware, Sara is reactionary and unintentional in her behavior. Her need to control pushes an out-of-control use of her strengths, resulting in unproductive behavior and people conflict.
As Thomas á Kempis wrote,
Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.
The objective of leadership is not control but influence.
Where do you see this paradox in your Story? Where are you caring too much? What if you don’t “Let it go?”
Here’s to your next level…
Remember the story of The Little Engine that Could?
A little railroad engine was employed about a station yard for such work as it was built for, pulling a few cars on and off the switches. One morning it was waiting for the next call when a long train of freight cars asked a large engine in the roundhouse to take it over the hill.
“I can’t; that is too much a pull for me,” said the great engine built for hard work.
Then the train asked another engine, and another, only to hear excuses and be refused. In desperation, the train asked the little switch engine to draw it up the grade and down on the other side.
“I think I can,” puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, “I—think—I—can, I—think—I—can.”
It reached the top by drawing on bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”
The challenge to bust free of comfort zones comes regularly. So does opportunity.
blmiers2 via Compfight
You can’t reach next level performance and achievement without exiting your comfort zone, the place where status quo thinking, behavior, and performance produce a non-threatening life.
Fear screams to keep you in “your place”. Your comfortable sense of security locks the prison door. Adventures end and mountain peaks remain picture postcards purchased at a government run rest area. You resign to life as a little engine, doing “such work as it was built for … limited” to pulling a few cars on and off the switches.
On the way to celebration
While others better built for the challenge refuse to go, the question remains: “Will you go for it?”
Advancement forces us to move in to the safety zone. Facing a calculated risk, you go for it. You could call this self-efficacy. Simply put, it’s believing that you’re capable of high performance. You can do what needs done … “I think I can.”
Something clicks. The wheels turn. You believe. “I can do this.”
Remember my own story last week…
Higher than expected bids rolled in. [Call to action and opportunity.] But so did knowledge and understanding of the solution. I milked each conversation for knowledge of stairway systems and solutions. Google “research” provided more inspiration and knowledge. Knowledge becomes power.
Buoyed by previous successes I became bold as Tool Time Tim. Experience builds confidence.
Last weekend, it all came together (in my mind) and I believed, “I can do this!”
What do you believe?
What you believe about your ability and how much you trust yourself will allow you to take “it” on. Research shows that self-efficacy beliefs…
…influence how people feel, how much effort they invest in actions, how long they persevere in the face of obstacles and failures, and how resilient they are to adversity (Salanova, Llorens, & Schaufeli, 2010).
As well, this same research in the Journal of Applied Psychology explains that efficacy beliefs indirectly impact our motivation and level of engagement in activities by influencing emotional state of mind.
What we believe about ourselves clearly influences how we perform. “I think I can.”
The thrill of victory
There’s nothing like it. Staring into the hollow eyes of fear. Silencing the whispering shout of doubt. Stepping into what is really a safety zone, you go for it. You persevere, fully determined to see it through until you’re “There.” Ah, the thrill of victory! “I thought I could, I thought I could.”
It is familiar territory. You’ve gone for it before.
Time for action; you’re Here and you can see There. You have knowledge and experience (power and sufficient confidence). It’s time to express your belief and go for it.
You’re built for greatness.
While others hear excuses, you raise your hand and chant: I think I can, I think I can. When the going gets tough, you prudently stay the course and persevere. While you may experience the “agony of defeat” you’re more likely to taste the “thrill of victory.”
What’s your call and opportunity?
It’s your mountain to conquer…