Are you anxious about loosing momentum over summer on some key projects and initiatives that your team is working on? As employees really move into summer mode, the ability to keep things rolling can be challenging and trying for leaders.
Fear not! Here are 5 ways to use summer to gain momentum rather than loose it.
I'm distracted before holiday time
When I am getting ready to go on vacation, the final couple of working days are usually focused on tying up loose ends so that nothing unravels while I’m gone. My mind is on red flags and potential hotspots. I am not focused enough to be able to sit down and do the deep thinking that is often required on a larger projects.
I'm trying to get caught up when I get back
Upon returning from vacation, the following days are dedicated to putting out any fires that arose, catching up on the office happenings and trying to clean out my inbox. Once again, I am not usually in the right frame of mind to be able to dig deep on a project.
The day or two before we leave on holiday and certainly the day after
we come back are often considered write-offs for most people.
Combine everyone's time off and it seems like a lost few months
Therefore when someone is away for a week, you’ve basically lost almost 2 weeks of time to focus on a project. Add to that the sunshine, ice cream cones and the kids being out of school as distractions and it’s even harder over summer to get anything done at the office. With the summer season stretching for about 3 months, it’s easy to see how we can loose momentum in team projects as people alternate being away for summer vacation.
A leader can choose to see it differently
As the leader in charge, it can be disheartening for you to see a project come to a standstill. Projects do not have to get derailed over summer though. If you can step back and see the gift in this shift of office rhythm over summer, you can put it to good use!
Summer schedules can allow more focused project time
The truth is you can accomplish a lot over summer because in many ways there are fewer distractions. In summer, there are less people in the office, fewer meetings and generally a slower pace. Use this to your advantage to get ahead on some of the components of the project.
5 ways to use summer to gain momentum rather than loose it
Get excited and lead your team to a productive summer
Don’t throw up your hands now and say it’s useless. Instead, give yourself a knowing smirk as you set the intention that you will actually get more done this summer. Then get clear on what you are doing to do, when and who's responsible. Choose to lead productively through summer, rather than give up. Finally, make sure you and your team set a date for celebration to acknowledge the focused concentration over summer!
Question: What idea above really stood out for you as something new that you will try to keep momentum going in your summer project?
If you have ever sat through a dry, boring, longwinded staff meeting, you know the pain I am talking about. You too have felt the agony of trying to sit still and remain professional whilst you body is screaming at you to break free. If this sounds at all familiar and you are now the one running the meetings, keep reading. You likely know it’s time for you to try some creative ways to engage your staff and here are some quick tips.
I used to sneak to the washroom during meetings
Many times in a senior management meeting, I’d listen so someone drone on about something that we’d talked about a zillion times before. As they did, my mind wandered to all of the other things I could be doing if I wasn’t “wasting” my time in the meeting. I was less than engaged for sure!
I wasn't the only one looking for a distraction during meetings
When it began to feel like my fidgeting was becoming obvious and annoying to my colleagues on either side of me, I’d excuse myself to go to the bathroom. I’d drag the trip down the hall a little longer than necessary, to simply avoid the pain of heading back to the meeting. I wasn’t the only one who struggled. Others would excuse themselves to make an “important” call when they’d had enough.
Perhaps you the one now running the meeting
You’ve probably attended many of these meetings in your life. I bet you have felt that sticking a pencil in your eye might be less painful than enduring another hour of the required regular meeting. Yet, at this point in some organizations, certain meetings are mandatory. If you are now in charge of running some meetings, you might be unsure of how to get the necessary messages across without annoying everyone in attendance.
If you understand the true purpose for meetings, you will never run a meeting the same way again
Here is the thing, some meetings are necessary, that is true. However not all meetings are useful. The key to running engaging meetings is recognizing the true value of most meetings is relationship building rather than information sharing.
You could try to only share information, it might not work so well
Most information covered at a meeting could be covered in an email. Alternately, you could hand everyone a paper at the beginning of the meeting and say, “Please read this and sign off that you’ve read it.” You may include new information, some updates and you might possibly add a multiple choice question at the bottom for feedback on the one item that really needs feedback.
Attendees of a meeting are looking to build relationships
Now if you ran a meeting like that, it would seem cold. You would appear like a robot running the meeting. We don’t run meetings that way, because as I said, meetings are truly about relationships. We want to get to know employees. Staff are trying to build up working relationships with their colleagues. Often times, we are looking for employee’s opinions. Truthfully, we should also be trying to engage staff. Meetings should also be an opportunity for employees to feel that they do make a difference in the organization and that the work they do matters.
Knowing that, here are 5 ways to make meeting more engaging for your staff
Build relationships and you will have engagement
Employee engagement begins with relationship building . If your employees are not engaged in your meeting, you are wasting your time. Get the engagement by really including them. Be clear the meeting is about building relationships and structure it so that it truly can aide in that.
Question: Which one of these suggestions will you try at your next meeting? Make a comment below and let me know how it went.
Are you looking for employees that take initiative, can creatively problem solve and are dependable?
Those are only a few of the traits that you can grow in your employees when you spend time building them up, rather than tearing them down. In part, this building of their self-esteem can come through celebrating successes and wins with them.
Has your boss ever acknowledged your efforts like this?
Friday was pizza day for my husband Ernie and his highway repair crew. They’d worked hard on a project for a few weeks enduring night shift, the whims of Mother Nature along with office politics and the scrutiny of “Joe Public.” In spite of all this, they did what they needed to do, cleaned the big bridge in the Peace River valley. A daunting job for sure.
Tiny perks boost the mood of the team
In recognition of this, Ernie bought the guys and gals boxes and boxes of pizza for lunch. He took it out to the site and allowed them to take a bit of an extended break. The meal served to notice all of their hard work, commitment and determination.
When bosses give, they get it back
Although I didn’t talk to his crew, my experience has been, that when the boss recognized and acknowledged my commitment, determination and perseverance to get a job done, it felt pretty dang good! When I used to celebrate with my staff team, I could feel their reciprocal appreciation as well. Warm fuzzies all around! What I also noticed was how much harder they worked after and the increase in positivity.
When your boss overlooked you, where you resentful?
Can you think back to a time when you were not recognized? A time when you put in extra effort, but it seemed that no one noticed? I bet even thinking about it now makes your blood boil! You know that lack of credit for effort and work impacted your morale and likely the mood of those around you. Long-term lack of appreciation leads to increased apathy, a drop in enthusiasm and reduced effort of employees.
What you notice improves
Here is the way it works: what we notice grows. If we spend our time noticing where employees mess up, screw up and fail, we will continue to see more of that. In fact, it will show up everywhere we look. The employee will notice it too. They will be just waiting for the next stinging bite or painful reprimand from you, reminding them about how much of a screw up they are.
Be sure to put your attention on what you want more of
Instead, by noticing and commending both acceptable and outstanding work, we are able to see more of it. We notice little wins. We see effort. We pick up on attempts. Remarking on those slight things has employees perk up. Continued noting of the things they are doing right, affirms what you are looking for. Thus your employees get better feedback, they experience more positivity and the morale and productivity of your team is boosted. It’s a win-win!
5 ways to celebrate with your team
1) Have a team event:
A pizza party, BBQ, or a potluck lunch all serve to bring everyone together in a sense of comradery. The key is to make sure everyone knows why you are doing this. Make a public statement to the group. Be sure the invite is clear about why you are celebrating: “In celebration of our completion of accreditation, we are having a pizza party!”
2) Send a card, email or good old letter in the mail:
In print form, acknowledges the employee directly. Personalized messages are powerful, particularly when you are clear in the reason for it. A simply “good job” won’t do. You must be clear: “I want to personally thank you for the diligence you displayed on the reports…” On a side note, add it to their personnel file for an even greater impact.
3) Make a statement publicly
This can be done internally, at a staff meeting, or in an external meeting. For example you might say something like: “I was so impressed with Cindy’s hard work and determination on completing the proposal. She demonstrated grit on that one!”
4) Put an announcement on the company website or in the company newsletter
This is great for team accomplishments so you can promote the team efforts of a group. In it you can take time if the team is smaller to note each person's contribution to the big project. Make sure when it's published that you post it, share it and brag about it one more time.
5) Celebrate with the employee privately
Not everyone is up for public recognition. You may choose to share in a conversation or during supervision. Even a high 5 may be totally called for. “We did it! I so appreciate the way you dug deep helping me get that done.
Celebrating and acknowledging staff grows them and your team
Making someone feel valued and noticed is a huge boost to their self-esteem and confidence. In a work world where we want people to problem solve and take initiative, good self-esteem is critical. Make sure you are doing your part to build up your employees. When you do, they will respond in kind giving you the effort and enthusiasm you desire in your team.
What will you do this week to acknowledge one of your employees or a team of employees?
As a leader, you have probably taken some hard hits. I was challenged, pushed and even verbally attacked in my supervision of others. I learned to lean on a lot of people to get me through those times.
Who supports you on rough days?
What about you? When you've experienced those days, I’m curious, who helps you get through that? Sadly, I doubt that it is your boss.
The truth is you need your more than one person. In fact, you need a crew of people, to help you.
Here are 4 reasons why you need to get your own pit crew
Take a look at your crew around you
Last month I coached Melanie, who was preparing to leave her job. She was wondering what she was looking for in her new job. What would be important to establish? As I coached her, she realized that there was a variety of people currently supporting her that she would be loosing. She realized she would need to re-establish some of those roles in her new job.
The members of a crew
Melanie made a list of who was currently on her team. She had:
Only two of these people were outside her current organization. Melanie realized that she’d need to find new people to replace the vacating position on her pit crew.
Does your pit crew need a few more members?
When you look around, can you identify specific people that are on your team? I’m not talking about the people that you supervise. I’m talking about the people that are there, cheering you on. These are the people that will catch you when you fall. They are the ones that push, pull and drag you to being the great leader you really are.
I wonder if your pit crew is more like a skeleton crew. Perhaps it’s time to beef it up.
Don't think for a moment that you can just do it alone
No one can do it all by them self. We all need supporters. We all need people to help us and assist us in getting through difficult times. We need cheerleaders encouraging us on and giving us extra motivation. We need individuals who will slow us down to celebrate our big and little wins before we move on without even acknowledging that something good just happened.
Add a few new members to your pit crew
Developing your pit crew that is there for you through thick and thin will be critical to your success as a leader. Make sure you pick your crew carefully, that you have enough crew members and ensure that they are the best ones to cheer you on, refuel you, clean you up and fix you up.
In reading this which pit crew member are you missing and where will you look to find them?
1. You need refueling – Leadership is a grueling and demanding job. It can suck you dry if you let it. You will need someone to fill you back up, lift you up and energize you. Your pit crew is there to infuse you with energy and enthusiasm.
2. You will need new tires regularly – You already know that there’re many times when you spin your wheels in leadership. You work really really hard and feel like you’re getting nowhere. Sometimes you need some new grip, a new tread to help you dig deep try again. Your pit crew is there for you with some new rubber!
3. You will need your windshield cleaned off – A fresh, clear perspective is vital in leadership. When the mud and muck get thrown at you, and you work your way through difficult times having someone there to clear off the view will be important. Your pit crew will clean your view so that you can clearly see why you are doing what you do and the vision that pulls you forward.
4. You will need someone else sometimes the spot the damages that you don’t see – Some leaders have a tendency to push and push and push until their own breaking point. Burnout happens before leaders realize it. Having someone on your crew that points out and picks up on the potential problems is important. Your pit crew is there to keep their eyes open and to alert you of things you may not have noticed.
You know this already: Avoiding tough conversations does not resolve them. It only leaves them to worsen and often leads to deteriorating the effectiveness of your team.
It is not always easy to engage in these tricky exchanges. However, if you are one of the leaders who is acutely aware, that in order to reach your organizational goals you must learn to manage those tough conversations, then keep reading.
Jennifer (not her real name) came to a coaching call infuriated with her boss. Jennifer was a middle manager and found herself entangled in a triangle of sorts with her boss, herself and her team. Often her boss would undermine Jennifer in meetings. He would make a decision, without knowing all the facts, and announce it before conferring with Jennifer.
By the time we got onto our Coaching call, this had happened numerous times. Jennifer was noting not only how much it triggered her anger, but also prompted ineffectiveness in the team. The team didn’t know whom to believe anymore. Some staff members, who were loyal to Jennifer, kept doing things the way Jennifer had previously instructed them to do so. Others followed the big boss’s way. As such, it was all a big mess! Worse, Jennifer felt undervalued and unsupported.
Through coaching, Jennifer was able to get reconnected to why she needed to engage in this potentially intimidating conversation with her boss. She was passionate about her staff members being supported and wanted them to be given solid supervision.
Jennifer also realized that in a “perfect” situation, her boss would recognize incongruences in messaging and deal with it himself. However, life isn’t perfect. She knew she needed to be the one to tackle the problem head-on. She did just that. She arranged a time to meet with her boss and shared her concerns.
Now, of course (remember this isn’t a perfect world), he didn’t quite see the story the way Jennifer did. He did though become more aware of checking with Jennifer before he issued new standards of practice. For Jennifer, she felt more confident and sure of herself. Stepping into the arena, she found she could fight her own battles rather than hoping it would magically disappear.
I bet you can relate
Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, sandwiched between frontline staff and management. Other times you may have found it is the supervisor who isn’t dealing with their staff and you see the mistakes happening. In that place, the tough conversation needs to happen with your subordinate encouraging them to handle their reports more effectively. It could also be peer-to-peer where your co-worker is stirring the pot causing havoc on the team.
The Steps to Handling Tough Conversations
When you realize there is a storm brewing and you know it’s not going away, it is probably time to wrestle the tough conversation yourself. Below find the steps that will assist you in moving through the challenge.
Taking the Bull by the Horns puts you back in control
Dealing with challenging exchanges is not always easy. I encourage you however to take the initiative. You will no doubt need to find your confidence and courage to engage in these conversations. But by moving through difficult conversations rather than avoiding them you will find not only your team more effective but that you are able to enjoy your work more and find fulfillment in what you do.
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.