Archive for the ‘ Performance ’ Category

If You Were a First Time Manager Again, What Would You Do Differently?

As we grow and learn as human beings we come across things in life which make us wonder how different things could have been if we knew then, what we know now. Working for a leadership company now, I often think about my first time manager role and how I really wasn’t as good of a manager as I could/should have been.  I wasn’t equipped with the right skills that I needed.

I want to share with you my experience about becoming a first time manager, here goes…..

I was 21 years old and worked for a very well known UK bank insurance call center,  I managed a team of 10-15 employees. I had previously worked as part of this team before I went to university and during  my holidays, so the team were my friends. I climbed up the ranks from individual contributor to team lead. When I became a manager of the team, needless to say things changed.  I was still everyone’s friend and I still went out with my close friends on the team Saturday nights, but at work there was a bit of “them versus me.” When people were performing I thought things were great, but when they weren’t being a first time manager was really tough. I remember many a night, going home and crying wondering what I had done to deserve people being so horrible to me, and thinking I never want to be a manager again.

Looking back, I brought some of it on myself. Below are some of the mistakes I made…..

  • I thought I needed to have all of the answers
  • I thought I needed to be authoritative and hard otherwise people wouldn’t respect me
  • I followed all of the rules & guidelines the company set to the T, 100% of the time
  • I never really listened or was open to be persuaded
  • I shied away from conflict, until it blew up in my face
  • The company set the goals which were very day-to-day focused, e.g., call handling times, etc. I never as a manager set any long term goals for my team or development goals, I simply followed the script, mainly because I didn’t know any different.
  • We didn’t celebrate achievements enough.

Knowing what I know now, there are lots of things I would have done differently in my first time manager role. I won’t write them all, because I could be here for days but I’ve noted just a few a below.

  • Breathe – You don’t have to answer everybody’s questions straight away. Take five minutes to reflect and stay calm even when stressed.
  • Listen – Not just for the sake of letting others talk, but really listen to what people are saying. Be open to being persuaded.
  • I wouldn’t have pretended to be something I wasn’t. I am not hard faced and authoritative, quite the opposite. People see through masks, I would have told my truth about who I am, and what I expect from the team.
  • I would have set clear expectations and goals for my team, to help them grow and develop. Worked hard to create growth opportunities for my team.
  • I would have told myself – Don’t take things so personally! I know that’s easier said than done but I used to beat myself up about not being everything to everyone. Remember you are only human.
  • When things weren’t going to plan with the team or team member, I would’ve dealt with the situation there and then and thought about my words very carefully. Asked them about what went wrong, ensure no judgement or blame.
  • Asked for help. Quite often in life, we are ashamed to ask for help. I don’t know why, because everyone in life at some point needs direction and or support.

My experience of being a first time manager, and feeling completely overwhelmed happens all of the time. People are promoted because they are good at what they do, many forget that a manager’s role requires a completely different skill set to that of an individual contributor.

What would you have done differently in your first time manager role?  Or if you haven’t been a manager yet, but looking to become one, what is your greatest concern about being a first time manager?

Sarah-Jane Kenny – EMEA Channel Solutions Consultant at the Ken Blanchard Companies

A Happier and Healthier You

https://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://watchfit.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/HAPPIER-YOU-ref.-beyondthedream.co_.uk_.jpg&imgrefurl=http://watchfit.com/small-changes-happier/&h=768&w=1024&tbnid=ftKyk6M0OrhUzM:&docid=7H74QuSeUzmimM&ei=JSKVVuDiBJPOjwPM04TgAg&tbm=isch&ved=0ahUKEwigiYnC0aTKAhUT52MKHcwpASw4ZBAzCCQoITAh

I am going to be open and honest – I don’t like New Year’s resolutions!

I do have goals each year, but I don’t get to January 1 and think up resolutions; there’s so much evidence they don’t work.

Forbes posted an article which drew upon the University of Scranton’s research which states that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. I have seen many articles listing an under 10% resolutions success rate. So why do so many of us make them?

Healthy Changes

I made a decision last year that in order to be more effective at work I needed to have a greater focus on my wellbeing which meant investing in my health, energy and productivity.

For too long I had been on the treadmill of sugary foods and caffeine hits to get me through the day. Rather than make me more efficient this sent me on a rollercoaster of insulin highs and lows.

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I didn’t start this at the beginning of the year only to give up after 2 weeks – I happened to start mid-year and read up on nutrition, exercise, and mind and body health. I then went about making small changes I could sustain and I am happy to report after about 6 months I have a lifestyle I can maintain and I am feeling so much better for it.

I am sure there are a lot of us out there that feel a career and family mean we have to opt for convenience. This just isn’t true.

What I Have Learnt

  • We are capable of so much more – There’s a great feeling when you are in control. You know what you are putting into your body and, through mental and physical exertion, what your body is capable of.
  • Don’t do ‘low fat’ – We are sold a lot of ‘food myths’ by retailers and manufacturers – ‘low fat’ regularly means high sugar and salt which retain body fat and make us feel bloated and sluggish.
  • Treat yourself to nature – A ‘treat’ should not be something sugary, a ‘treat’ should be a nourishing meal of natural foods that leave you feeling great and with the energy to be productive. Think about how eating that packet of crisps at 3pm really makes you feel.
  • Take a break – So many of us eat while working. It actually aids digestion and makes us more productive to take a break.
  • Brain Fuel – Water and exercise feed the brain. Staying hydrated helps our attention span (and it reduces ageing signs like wrinkles!!), as does stepping outside for fresh air and a little bit of sunshine (increasing our vitamin D levels).

Livestrong’s article ‘How Does Exercise Improve Work Productivity’ explains why exercise is so crucial for work performance,

‘When you exercise, you are also increasing blood flow to the brain, which can help sharpen your awareness and make you more ready to tackle your next big project. Exercise can also give you more energy. Having more energy means you will feel more awake at work. Being on top of your game will assure that you perform your work correctly and to the best of your ability.’

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Being healthy not only gives you a longer life to enjoy, but also improves brain function and makes us better at our jobs.

Give Your Routine a Healthy Overhaul

  • Prepare for your week in advance – I see so many of my colleagues buying pre-made lunches and breakfasts. There is a rainbow of vegetables and fruit out there that come without labels and the term ‘low fat’. A carrot does not need to say low in salt/sugar! I lead a busy life, but make the time for shopping for fresh produce and planning meals in advance. Believe me, you will feel the benefit.
  • Make time for food – I find it hard to eat away from my desk, but I do try to focus more on when and what I am eating; the taste, the smell and how the food makes me feel. So many of us suffer with poor digestion, make the time to chew food and give your stomach a chance to digest. Cooking can also be a family affair, get your spouse and children involved and make meal preparation fun.
  • Get some fresh air and/or move – I always feel more alive and productive after a run. This isn’t for everyone, but it’s important that we all ‘move’ for good health and wellbeing. Studies have shown that exercise can improve mental health, so pick a gym class you enjoy, a walk outside with friends or any activity that makes you feel alive. The key thing is to enjoy the movement and reap its rewards.
  • Ditch the labels – Try buying from the first couple of aisle of the supermarket. I see so many people with trolleys full of branded products, with barcodes and terms like ‘fat free’ or ‘low sugar’. See if you can make a meal with no barcodes, as the nutritionist Amelia Freer says don’t buy products with ‘tricks and promises to seduce you’.

Commit To Sustaining The Change

The key thing is to sustain whatever change you make.

To be a ‘healthier and happier you’ may take only one of these changes, keep these small and manageable.

A working mum or dad? Why prepare not commit to preparing your meals on a Sunday. Always rushing between meetings? Make a lunch that can be easily eaten and is easily digestible.

The most important thing is to look after yourself, no-one is going to do it for you and you will not believe the difference to your work day and home life if you just pay a little more attention to your own health and happiness.

Here’s some links for inspiration:

Madeleine Shaw’s top tips for fighting fatigue

Deliciously Ella’s advice for anyone who feels they can’t cook

Calgary Avansino’s blog – sharing a whole host of wellbeing guru’s secrets

I wish you all the best for 2016!

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The Leaders Guide to Mediocrity—Less Than a Million Ways to Maintain the Status Quo

“Proceed with caution in the direction of your hopes, and live safely, the life have.” —Hank Dave Locke

Mediocre is a good. Moderate quality is ok. “Average is the norm,” as Yogi Berra might say.

300x300Today’s world is complicated—every segment of society is continually changing and very little seems to be certain anymore, like it was two hundred years ago. No amount strategy, planning, or consulting can change this reality.

The great challenge for today’s leader at work, in sports, at home, or in academia, is to help everyone just hold on through the chaos and hope that things turn out for the good. We need to lower our expectations on what “greatness” really is. Our primary focus as leaders today is to maintain the status quo and not allow innovation, excellence, or a utopian idea of high-performance disrupt people from allowing people to get their job done the way they always have—for the most part.

The following are a host (who really counts how many points there are in articles like this anymore?) of ideas, or habits, or secrets, that will help leaders around the world avoid the stress caused by the quest for “higher levels” of performance and help maintain the status quo within your spheres of influence—if you have any.

Don’t Have a Vision

Visions are nothing more than “pie in the sky” dreams about the way things should be, not the way things really are. Having a vision for your organization only stresses people out and puts too high of expectations on them—expectations that are impossible to live up to in the end. And besides everybody forgets the vision after the town hall meeting anyway. So leaders need to save everyone the stress—don’t create a vision.

Don’t Set GoalsIMG_0517

Like vision, goals are a big stress in any area of life. People don’t need really need goals; it only sets you up for failure and disappointment. People come to work and know what they’re supposed to do and should be left alone to get it done—they don’t need a goal to tell them what they need to do. Without the stress of goals we don’t have to plan our week or take time every day to think about our activities we need to do. Without the burden of goals, people are free to just get straight to working—on something!

Don’t Give Feedback—And Never Ever Ask for Feedback

Feedback is just an illusion. It’s just someone else’s perception. By offering feedback you’re suggesting that something could be actually done a certain way—that’s pretty judgmental if you think about it. The reality is that everybody has their own way about going about doing things. By giving feedback to someone you’re know judging them, you’re insinuating that things could be done even better, and this is very disruptive to an organization—especially when you give feedback to someone that’s been leading people for 20 or more years. By asking for feedback you’re insinuating that someone knows how to do it better than you. That’s a no-no. You’ll look like a fool and people may begin to think that you don’t know how to do your job if you ask for feedback

Don’t Listen

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There’s only so much time in a day that you can sit around and listen to people’s complaints and problems. A leader that wants to maintain the
status quo and promote mediocrity, keep things flowing, should have no part of listening to somebody else’s challenges concerns or feedback. Time is of the
essence so don’t waste time listening to people’s concerns, and they’ll figure it out on their own—probably.

Don’t Solve Problems—Today

Like listening, problem-solving is another big waste of time. Problems exist, they always will, so what’s the point of trying to solve a problem when the reality is there will be 10 more, at least, that will spring up the next day. And if you really must try to solve a problem, sometimes you do, than the best strategy is to put it off until tomorrow. An average leader instinctively knows that today is all we have, and today’s troubles will take care of themselves; tomorrow.

Don’t Measure Performance

Yardstick-500x375Our society is beginning to understand this at a youth sports level—it’s time to understand this at a corporate level. If you hand out trophies and reward people for a “excellent” performance, what does that say to the rest of the organization? Measuring performance is just another way to discourage those who want to show up and work and just collect a paycheck. It’s another way to create distrust of the executives. Remember, your mission is to help your people survive, it’s not up to you to help them thrive—making the “scoreboard” irrelevant.

Feed Them Coffee and Donuts

This is a no brainer. Pavlov proved long ago that food, and now today, coffee, is a real good way to keep people satisfied. As long as people can come to work and know that donuts and coffee will be available, they will keep showing up. Sure it didn’t really work out with the orca whales at that Entertainment Park, but then again people aren’t really whales—food defiantly will satisfy humans. It’s not that complicated.

Which brings us full circle. Today’s leaders need to provide a safe environment with moderate expectations. The primary purpose of leadership is to help people survive and get through life in one piece—and enjoy the weekend. Leaders who follow these simple guiding principles will more than likely produce a culture of mediocrity and maintain a steady balance and certainty in an otherwise uncertain world.

Jason Diamond Arnold is a leadership consultant for The Ken Blanchard Companies. He is Coauthor of Situational Self Leadership in Action a real time, real work, leaning experience that develops effective communication and collaboration skills for individuals in the workplace. He works with Fortune 500 Companies, Small Business, and Start Ups developing Performance Intelligence strategies that are linked to research based, leadership development curriculums and cutting edge application software.

Top 3 Reasons Why Being a Great Leader Isn’t Easy

A few months back, I asked a group of leaders for a show of hands on who had experienced either oversupervision or undersupervision. Almost every hand went up. But then I asked how many had themselves oversupervised or undersupervised their direct reports. Only one or two hands shyly peeked out from the crowd.

So what’s going on? Well, leaders can sometimes be unaware of what they should and should not be doing. And this lack of awareness separates good leaders from great leaders. Great leaders know that leading is a never-ending journey that can be filled with treacherous obstacles.

So what do you need to know to become a great leader?
 
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