12 Challenges First-time Managers Have

1to1_000015424612Small

 

An individual contributor or professional getting promoted into his or her first formal leadership position in an organization is one of the biggest and most difficult transitions for any leader. Far too often, the leader and the organization take for granted just how difficult that transition is.

And the numbers prove it: 20% of first-time managers are doing a poor job according to their subordinates, 26% of first-time managers felt they were not ready to lead others to begin with, and almost 60% said they never received any training when they transitioned into their first leadership role.

No wonder 50% of managers in organizations are ineffective. Their ineffectiveness may be the result of not realizing what they are getting themselves into when it comes to leading others, not being supported in their new leadership role, and not being given the opportunity for training and development early enough in their careers as leaders.

Think of the time and money that has to be spent on replacing these ineffective leaders, not to mention dealing with the low morale and disengagement of employees working under these ineffective leaders. This inevitably hurts your leadership pipeline and may eventually hurt your organization’s bottom line.

First-time managers have as much of a right for leadership development as others, but their voices, time and time again, go unheard. They want to do well but so often are struggling at making the transition from individual contributor or professional who does the work and does it well, to a leader who must continue to do the work and more importantly, leads others doing their work. Many first-time managers feel that no one understands what they are going through.

So what can you do to help?

Here’s a simple and doable solution: Understand the struggles first-time managers have and help them overcome the challenges relevant to their new leadership role.

This white paper backs the effort by:

    1. Presenting the 12 challenges first-time managers have, as found by researchers from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) and Davidson College.
    2. Specifically providing detail with the three most-often mentioned challenges:
      • Adjustment To People Management/ Displaying Authority
      • Developing Managerial & Personal Effectiveness
      • Leading Team Achievement
    3. Offering ways for you to help first-time managers effectively deal with these challenges.

The information from this white paper will help you understand the perspective of first-time managers and the struggles they have. You can use the information to support first-time managers
in the most difficult transition they have made so far in their careers, develop them as leaders, and ultimately, strengthen your leadership pipeline.

Introduction

“As my role transitions from one where I was responsible for my own work as a chemist to now being responsible for leading a team of chemists (in addition to finishing out the current project which I started previously) I find myself lacking the internal tools to effectively do my job. Before I was a good-to-excellent chemist. Now I am an OK chemist and OK manager. Further, many of the attributes which gained me recognition as a chemist are now hampering me as a manager.”

This is what it feels like to be leading other people for the first time in your life in organizations. These quotes from first-time managers (FTMs) give you a glimpse into the difficulties, struggles, and challenges that FTMs face every single day. Their technical savvy, the stuff that helped them get that promotion to management in the first place, won’t fix everything anymore. They can’t concentrate solely on their own work anymore. Now, they are the boss. Now, they have to understand, motivate, and meet the needs of others, many of whom they worked alongside with previously. And these difficulties, struggles, and challenges are not from just a few people.

Many FTMs are part of the largest population of leaders in your organization right now: frontline managers in entry- or first-levels of management. FTMs are your next generation of leaders, the pipeline for the top leadership positions of your organization, and represent the leadership bench strength of your organization. Clearly they are an organizational imperative to success. Yet, the numbers suggest they aren’t treated that way.

Click here to read the full White Paper

“Successful leaders see the opportunities in every difficulty rather than the difficulty in every opportunity.”- Reed Markham

5 Easy Ways to “Pay it Forward”

man reaching for sky

We’ve all heard the phrase “Pay it forward”, haven’t we?

We’re all busy with jobs and families therefore sometimes we don’t have time to “pay it forward” in a big way.

But paying it forward doesn’t have to be something big!  As leaders in the workplace and in our communities, it’s the little things in our days that we can do to take the initiative to encourage those we interact with on a daily basis to make a difference.  Our acts of encouragement, big or small, can have a profound impact on the people in our lives.

Our actions often speak louder than our words so thinking about how you can encourage someone else, such as offering someone your place in line or simply opening the door for someone, are small acts that not only make others you encounter feel better but make YOU feel better also.

Five easy ways how we can encourage others:

  • Be specific when praising someone to make it credible, such as “You really did an awesome job organizing the recent XYZ Project.
  • Mail a handwritten note with words of encouragement or send flowers to show you are thinking of someone even when they’re not around.
  • If someone is discouraged, offer specific, practical help, such as “Would it help if I….”
  • Take time to learn the things – words and actions – that make those you care about feel appreciated.
  • Challenge and encourage someone specifically. For example, tell them, “You should go after that new position, I think you would be really good at it.”

Seems pretty simple, right? Try “Paying it forward” at least once a day for the next week. And then notice how others return the encouragement to you. What a great “Pay it Forward” cycle you’ve now created!

Courtesy of Printer’s Press

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams

Join us for Ignite the Leader Within Summit

 

We are excited to be a part of Ignite the Leader Within Summit!  

From February 13 – February 26, you are invited to participate in this online training summit to learn how to become a better leader, improve team performance and boost your profits from 30+ International Leadership experts! 

Once registered, mark your calendar to listen to our very own Robyn Marcotte’s interview on February 23 with her presenting her biggest Aha! moment as a leader and how she continues to improve her leadership strengths.

Click here to register for this free event!

 

IgniteYourLeadershipBook

Don’t have time to listen to the online summit, but still interested in learning more?  You can order Ignite Your Leadership: Proven Tools for Leaders to Energize Teams, Fuel Momentum, and Accelerate Results by clicking here.

 

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” –Douglas MacArthur

5 Ways to Be a Leader Everyone Adores

1to1

 

Like any skill, the ability to lead successfully has to be developed and nurtured. First-time managers, especially those with little or no training, may find it counterintuitive that the “script” they’ve relied upon until now – “My skills, my talents, and my technical knowledge have led to my success” – is no longer their ticket to success as new leaders.

In fact, sticking to the same script will actually make them less effective.

Instead, new leaders must “flip their script” in the way they think and act in these 5 Key Areas:

  • Mindset
  • Skillset
  • Work attitude
  • Perspective
  • Integrity

 

1. Start learning like a leader

Center for Creative Leadership faculty member William Gentry, author of Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work For, explains that successful first-time managers are able to flip their mindset from “being a great individual contributor” to “being a team leader who motivates others to succeed.”

Gentry’s research found that such leaders tend to have a more open approach to learning than those stuck in the individual contributor mindset.

“Their motivation to learn because it was fun, exciting, and engaging…far outweighed their motivation to learn because it would bring them rewards, recognition, and would impress others.” Gentry even found that effective new leaders talked to themselves differently, using second-person pronouns (you and your) and not first-person pronouns (I, me, and my).

An old script might read, “I’ve never been a manager before. How can I possibly do this?”

A more constructive inner dialogue for effective new managers is: “You have the ability to learn about leading others. You can be a great boss.”

 

2. Build skills for team success.

According to Gentry’s research, effective leaders are those who make the flip from the skill set that has worked for them in the past to learning new skills crucial to managing others:

  • Communicating with others the way they want to be communicated with
  • Influencing others to move work forward and gain support for their decisions
  • Building and leading teams successfully
  • Developing others’ skills by assigning them challenging tasks and providing ongoing feedback

In Gentry’s research, leaders who relied solely on the technical expertise that landed them their promotion were unsuccessful in their new leadership role.

 

3. Delegate — don’t do it all.

Productive leaders drive team results by delegating tasks. They set goals for their team members, and they give positive and negative feedback to help them develop.

“Do it all” bosses who haven’t flipped their script still define themselves by the amount of work they alone do.

By not delegating, they convey the message that they don’t trust their team to do a good job. Team members stagnate, productivity slows, and the company suffers.

 

4. See the bigger picture.

New leaders face an abrupt change of perspective, from “outsider” to “insider” when it comes to company politics. In his book, Gentry explains that first-time managers who accept politics as a necessary part of the big picture tend to be more productive and satisfied with their jobs.

They work with the system by:

  • gathering information about the thoughts, behaviors, and needs of coworkers and stakeholders
  • observing what is appropriate behavior for each situation and acting on that
  • connecting genuinely with a diverse group of people to build support for their team’s and stakeholders’ goals and gain new information

New leaders who don’t expand their perspective will likely view politics as a chore and won’t garner any of the benefits.

 

5. Focus on what’s “right,” not what’s easy.

With leadership comes responsibility — to always act on what is “right,” rather than what’s easy or self-serving. Strong leaders have flipped their focus from themselves to how their actions could affect their team, the organization, and everyone involved.

Developing integrity takes time and practice. Gentry advises:

  • When making important decisions, ask, “What would Mom or (important others in your life) think about this?”
  • Be honest about what you can and cannot do — and when you can deliver.
  • Don’t let a relationship, time pressure, or monetary rewards cloud your judgment; take yourself out of the equation to fully understand the consequences of any decision.

New leaders who focus on integrity build trusting relationships with their team and are more likely to enjoy long-term success.

Courtesy of Center for Creative Leadership

 

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

4 Positive Changes for 2017

Step to success

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions?

Are diligently sticking to them? (Or do you already need a nudge…)

We do encourage you to seriously consider the “new year, new me” mindset to all aspects of your life.

“One key to successful leadership is continuous personal change.  Personal change is a reflection of inner growth and empowerment.”                                 – Robert E. Quinn

It’s important to have goals for your personal life, fitness, family, and finances and it’s also important to rededicate yourself professionally in the New Year.

                1. Reflect on Your Habits
                2. Set Goals
                3. Ask for Feedback
                4. Evaluate on a Regular Basis

This is the time to audit yourself and make steps to become your personal best this year. Take this seriously, follow these 4 key steps and you will be off to a great new start!

 

  1. Reflect on Your Habits

Be your own critic and go through your typical schedule, whether it’s daily, weekly, or monthly, and identify areas of strength and weakness. Maybe you come in Monday mornings feeling ready for the week, but by Thursday you’ve hit a slump. Try to brainstorm ideas on how to help yourself when you’re feeling unproductive, such as treating yourself to a latte, taking a break and stretching, or creating a small, but manageable to-do list to get yourself pumped up for other tasks.

Read through your emails. Are you getting lazy about replying, not reading the whole way through a message, or replying with vague or easily-misinterpreted wording? Commit to better communication this year.

Be kind to yourself and take note of things you do well. If keeping Post-it reminders on the wall helps you stay organized, commit to continuing that habit this year. Maybe you see yourself as the motivator of your team. Give yourself a pat on the back for being such a good team player and keep it up. Although self-criticism is necessary for improvement, so is self-kindness.

  1. Set Goals

Realistic, measurable goals are essential to making a change in the workplace. The formula for writing a goal should include what you want to achieve, a quantification, and a time period. For example, if you want to contribute to your company blog more often, your goal might be to write one entry for the company blog every other week.

After you’ve solidified your goals, save a list of them on your computer for safekeeping; also write them down and display them in a visible place so you can reflect on them daily. Identify small steps you can take each day to achieve your goals so you are always moving forward.

  1. Ask for Feedback

When you have identified your strengths and weaknesses and set goals, ask your supervisor if you can meet to discuss your objectives for the coming year. Talk about your strengths and weaknesses, and explain how your goals will help you focus on the kind of worker you want to be.

Your supervisor may have comments and suggestions, so be sure to keep those thoughts in mind. Remember though–these are your personal goals, not anyone else’s.

  1. Evaluate on a Regular Basis

Once you have set your focus for the new year, you need to periodically evaluate yourself to see if you are on the right path. Every other month, carefully read through your goals as a reminder. Maybe you’re doing really well with one and need to make it a little harder, but another goal needs some adjusting because it is too far out of reach.

It’s okay to edit your goals as long as you leave yourself something realistic to strive for. Evaluation is essential because it shows growth and helps you determine a direction for the future.

 

Courtesy of Emily Moorehead – www.AllBusiness.com

 

“Success is…knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others.” – John Maxwell

4 Mental Habits to Reduce Stress and Burnout

Aha Leadership Peer Group

 

The holidays seem to bring an extra layer of stress in the workplace and at home.  Holiday parties, year-end deadlines, goal and budget planning for the upcoming year in addition to finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list, all add extra stress to our lives.  Read below for some tips to help you avoid the holiday burnout this season.

4-Mental-Habits-to-Reduce-Stress-and-Burnout

1. Wake up. The first step gets you about 80% of the way! To reduce stress and become more resilient you need to recognize how much time you spend ruminating. People spend as much as 70% of their daytime hours in a half-awake state, on autopilot or daydream mode. This is where all rumination takes place and all stress is generated.

The alternative is to wake up and focus on where you are and what you are doing in the present. Don’t let your mind drift into worrying about the past or the future.

2. Control your attention. People often feel stressed about their lack of control. The one thing you always have control over is your attention. Once you have woken up, you can use and direct your attention. Practice consciously putting your attention where you want it to be and holding it there.

3. Detach. Detachment is the ability to maintain perspective. A lack of detachment and the tendency to ruminate are intertwined in a spiral of stress: When you ruminate, things balloon out of proportion, and when things are out of proportion, you’re more likely to ruminate.

If you can detach from the situations you are facing, you can distinguish between care and worry. It allows you to reflect and plan rather than ruminate.

4. Let go. To maintain perspective, you need to let go. But that doesn’t mean doing nothing or letting go of the work or tasks or effort. What you let go of is the negative emotions that have become entangled with your situation or issue.

Of course, because of the strength of habit, negative and worrying thoughts will return. When they do, instead of blocking them out or fixating on them, observe and acknowledge them as just thoughts, and let go of them by not continuing to feed them with attention.

 

Stress-Reducing Tactics to Try

How do you put these ideas into practice, especially at work? Here are a few tactics to try on your own and as you lead others:

-Interrupt a pattern. Stand up. Clap your hands once. Stretch in your chair. Do something to get back into your body and out of your head. If you are in a meeting or other space where you are constrained, just move in a small way and focus on the movement for a moment. Rub your finger and thumb together, or wiggle your toes in your shoes, or move your tongue around your mouth.

-Re-focus on something you can control. People who don’t ruminate do this naturally, saying, why worry about things I can do nothing about? Think about what is in your circle of control.

-Put things in perspective. Play with scale or time. What is the problem or challenge that is happening now? Shrink it down relative to other things you have experienced or stretch out in time: how much will this matter in 12 months?

-Ask direct reports questions about right now. Many people in workplaces suffer over things that are not actually happening. They are imagining the worst possible outcomes. They’re ruminating.

When you see people caught up in the future like this, you can help short-circuit their thinking. Don’t dismiss their feelings, but bring the conversation to the question, “What problem are you experiencing, right now?” This offers something actual and practical you and they can work on directly.

-Start doing walk-and-talk meetings. People often get stuck talking about the same problem over and over, without moving to a solution.

One of the most effective ways to break your direct reports from this pattern is to get them to stand up and go for a walk and talk. Just 5 to 10 minutes walking inside or out breaks people out of a physical pattern. When the body moves, the mind will follow and cognitive patterns will shift, too.

Courtesy of Center for Creative Leadership

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another” – William James

The Power of Gratitude

Robyn Marcotte Gratitude does more than make us feel good, it does us good. What’s more, it’s good for other people too. So, thanking the people we’re grateful for increases happiness all round.

Research has shown that thanking others and explaining why we’re grateful, is one of the most powerful ways of spreading happiness. In fact, the study showed that if you write one letter of gratitude to just one key person in your life, you will experience a month’s worth of happiness.

In spirit of “Happy” Thanksgiving, I want to thank all of you…thank you for your business, sharing yourselves, and being open to new ideas and ways of leading others. We learn as much from you with your passionate stories, challenges and opportunities as you learn from us!

Okay, now it’s your turn – whom are you going to thank? Go ahead, see how this is the gift that gives back. You will make their day…and yours.

Robyn Marcotte, Founder and CEO, Aha! Leadership LLC

Overcoming 4 Challenges for Top Leadership Teams

A top leadership team isn’t just another team.

The best practices and conventional wisdom of effective teams are just not sufficient to create a high-functioning team of C-level executives. The role and realities at the top create unique challenges.

Here are four (4) challenges that senior executive teams often face when they turn to Center for Creative Leadership for help:

1. The game has changed. Something is new and shakes up the team’s equilibrium. It could be a new CEO, a new team member, or new strategic challenges.  Whatever the shift, the team struggles with focus, collaboration, and trust.

2. The battle to achieve both functional and company goals has multiple fronts. Senior executives typically play a dual role of leading their own function, while being responsible for the high-level goals of the business as a whole.  This tension is constant, and can easily lead to lack of alignment and political infighting.

3. Conflict is either too intense or underplayed. Egos and disagreements overshadow substance. Alternatively, discussions are “too polite.” Either way, important conversations happen outside the room, difficult topics are avoided, and decisions don’t stick.  At the senior team level, the ability to be transparent, give constructive feedback, and address team dynamics is crucial for success.

4. A “good enough” team is no longer enough. The team has been effective up to now, but they want to up their game. There is untapped potential among them.  They are holding back, not challenging themselves to become a fully functioning, high-performing, best-in-class leadership team.

What Senior Teams Need to Do to Overcome These Challenges

  • Senior executive teams need to invest in their own development.
  • Make understanding and improving team dynamics and processes a priority; they are not secondary priorities to running the business.
  • Without the ability to manage how they work together, top leaders will undermine the direction, alignment, and commitment needed to drive performance and see results.

The Power of YOUR Mindset on YOUR Results

As a team member or leader, you may find yourself asking the question: “How can I make the biggest impact on my client and achieve faster results?”. Answer: change people’s limited thinking, help them adjust their standards, or even change their habits, in order to support their goals. This may begin by encouraging clients to pursue thought-provoking relationships and opportunities, resulting in more thought-provoking results – Big results come from smart thinking.

Below is a simple self-assessment that will trigger thought and action. Think about each question and rate yourself 1 to 10 (1 being low; 10 is high). Next, brainstorm actions you will take to improve yourself in response to your answers. By changing your own habits and mindset, you may also begin to impact those of your clients. This will help you achieve better and faster results.

  1. How is my life working out?
  2. How is my daily attitude; how happy am I?
  3. How are my relationships with my family, friends, co-workers, coaches, and mentors?
  4. How is my health? (weight, overall wellness, self esteem, stress levels, etc.)
  5. How effectively am I feeding my mind? (How many books have I read in the last six months? What do I wish to become? Am I studying productively?)
  6. How do I rate my lifestyle (my satisfaction with activities such as travel, exploring, attending fun events, etc.)?
  7. Where is my income in comparison to where I want it to be?
  8. How often to I give back to others?
  9. How is my goal setting? How satisfied am I with how many goals I have manifested in my life?

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Thoughts are things! And powerful things at that, when mixed with definiteness of purpose, and burning desire, can be translated into riches.” ~ Napoleon Hill

Tony Jeary- Success December 2015

9 Easy Ways to Improve Your Day

Many of us begin our day feeling rushed and stressed- feelings that persist throughout our busy days. Being better organized, prioritizing, and just taking care of yourself can lead to a more successful and focused day. Here are nine easy steps to reducing stress, improving your mood, and feel more organized:

  1. Prepare your things the night before: Decide what you are going to wear, make your lunch, and pack a snack. By taking a few minutes to plan ahead, you can start your day less rushed and stressed.  Having a routine for basic tasks, leaves margin for more creative thinking in other areas.
  2. Make a list of things you need to do and prioritize them. Do your most important tasks first every day and get them over with. “Eat that Frog” by Brian Tracy is an excellent book on this subject.
  3. Learn to say “no”. Acknowledge that you can’t do everything. When you say yes to everyone, you will leave yourself trapped with little time. By saying no, you will have more time to focus on your top priorities and obligations.
  4. Make your bed every morning. Not only can making your bed create a calm environment, it can help you start the day feeling productive and organized.
  5. Wake up 15 minutes earlier. Give yourself time to make a good breakfast or take a longer shower, reflect, etc.
  6. Listen to music that makes you happy. Music can not only boost your mood, but also reduce stress and help lower your blood pressure.
  7. Turn off your electronics for at least an hour or two a day in the evenings. You may also consider using the “Do Not Disturb” setting so you can check emails and texts at your leisure, rather than feeling as if you must address every notification that comes through your devices.
  8. Organize and declutter your desk- at least the surface. Clear random papers cluttering your work space to help increase focus and concentration.
  9. Do something nice for others. Whether you hold the door for someone or offer a sincere compliment, you can boost you own mood by boosting the mood of others.

 “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows” –Anonymous

Leadership Breakthroughs – 5 Secrets to keep getting better!

Leaders are defined by their ability to achieve breakthroughs. They can quickly adapt to changing conditions, spot new opportunities, and create innovative solutions to overcome whatever obstacles they face. Here are some best practices of a leader:

  1. Identify your make or break. Go through your objectives and strategies to identify the critical factors that will lead to success. Next, clarify the actions required. Make sure your team knows not only what is required, but why its vitally important.
  2. Look through your customers’ eyes. Identify their expectations at each phase and the key actions both you and your client must take.
  3. Connect with employees. Engage energetic and passionate employees with questions such as, “What do you think?”, “How do you think we could solve this problem?” or “What would you do?”.
  4. Learn from dissatisfied clients. Always begin by acknowledging their point of view. This is not the time to fix or explain but simply to listen. Engage with them to gain their perspective. Identify new ways to pursue client feedback.
  5. Know when to recharge and re-energize. Encouragement, optimism and confidence are hallmarks of energized employees. Monitor your energy and that of your team.

Source: Amy Fox, Success Magazine

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” –Ronald Reagan

Exciting News!

Robyn Marcotte We at Aha! Leadership are excited to announce we have entered into a partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) in order to provide clients cutting-edge leadership development resources that are researched and designed by a top-ranked, global provider of leadership development.

In the spirit of continuous development that we inspire in our clients, we, too, model such – creating a strategic alliance with one of the world’s most respected leadership development institutions — CCL.

CCL also recognizes the value of partnering with Aha! Leadership because it helps further CCL’s mission of inspiring greater leadership in businesses and organizations.

I am excited about our relationship with CCL because it allows us to broaden the services we provide our clients, including ground-breaking cultural assessments, or offering new topic-specific workshops for leaders.

Want to hear more? I would love to share more about how our expanded capabilities will enrich and provide exceptional leadership development programs for you. I welcome your call or email.

Robyn Marcotte

Robyn.marcotte@ahaleadership.com

248.882.2354

 

 

 

Serving Children Through Backpack Buddies

Every year Aha! Leadership organizes a community service ministry called Backpack Buddies.

This year we have worked with local churches and five high quality community organizations to deliver 1100 backpacks right into the hands of the children who need them by September 1st. This school supply collection drive helps children begin the school year in a positive way. Just $20 sponsors a child and provides them with a backpack filled with all of the supplies they need to start the school year off right.

 

Backpack buddy logo

This program is truly exceptional and we believe in it wholeheartedly. Please consider sponsoring a child this year – $20 provides them with everything they need on the first day of school. …AND for every child that one of our friends sponsor, Aha! Leadership will sponsor one in kind. It’s easy and impactful:

Girl picture backpack buddy

6 Steps to Building Relationships with a Simple Note

Writing and receiving handwritten notes are becoming a lost art in today’s society. Yet this tradition of notes is a timeless act of appreciation in both our personal and professional lives. How unexpected and welcomed when you receive a note of appreciation from a client, teammate, etc.? It just feels good….and when you acknowledge and thank others, it’s a simple way to build relationships. You will stand out in that person’s mind, and it will make you feel good as well.

Here’s how to make the most of your thank you notes:

  1. Set the right mood. Select a salutation that matches the formality and intimacy of your relationship with the recipient. Make sure you address the recipient correctly.
  2. Be specific. Reference the exact gift or act of kindness in which you are thankful for. Express how it touched or affected you. Avoid referring to the specific amount of money given as a gift.
  3. Be authentic. Express genuine appreciation in a personal way. Strive to use the same tone you would use if you were speaking to the recipient in person.
  4. Use quality paper. Beautiful stationery shows the recipient that you care and also provides a more pleasurable writing experience.
  5. Write legibly. Take you time and use a good, smudge-free pen. If you’re not sure of what you want to say, write a draft before beginning the final version.
  6. Close with affection. “Sincerely” is a classic option, but you can use a warmer, more personal closing for more well-connected relationships.

 

Source: Experience Life- September 2015

5 Tricks for an Efficient Morning at Work

Do you have trouble being productive in the morning? Eva Wisnik shares her advice on how she gets more done before lunch than most people do in a day! Here’s how you do it:

  1. Get your head in the game. Some people keep their brain shut off until the moment they reach their desk. However, you’ll be more productive with some morning forethought before you start working. It is helpful to sketch out your plan either the night before or on you morning commute. If you’re going to be chained to your desk for 8 hours, treat yourself before work. This will give you an energy spike and help you start your day in control. This could be wearing your favorite shirt or stopping for your favorite morning treat.
  2. ID your to two. Identify the two most important things that must get completed that day. Write out small manageable steps for completing these important tasks and get to work! Aim to complete these tasks before lunch.
  3. Do the worst things first. Avoiding dreaded tasks from the beginning can lead into a day filled with procrastination. Completing these tasks first will allow you too move through your to-do list rapidly.
  4. Focus on critical emails. On average, only 30% of emails require an immediate response. Flag these important emails and work your way through them before lunch!
  5. Stop interrupting yourself. When distracting tasks pop into your head such as, text messages, appointments, or online orders, it feels as if they must be completed at that moment so they won’t be forgotten. However, these interruptions will eat up your morning. Keep a piece of paper handy where you can jot down these non-urgent personal to-dos and complete them at a later time. Minimizing these interruptions will increase efficiency in your morning.

 

Source: Yelena Moroz Alpert

6 Steps to Happy Customers

In today’s interpersonal world, extraordinary service and relationships are the keys to earning repeat business and attracting new customers. A dissatisfied customer may not only cost your business revenue, but also damage your reputation as well.

Here are some great reminders on how to keep your customers happy and coming back:

  1. Keep your word. Your ability to deliver on your promises to a customer speaks highly to your character and credibility. This is something customers look for and appreciate.
  2. Be honest. If you misrepresent yourself to a customer, your credibility will suffer. Create a reputation based on honesty and trust with customers.
  3. Show up on time. Punctuality is a reflection of your organizational skills and dedication. Being late will reflect poorly on customers or potential clients. If you can’t be on time, be early.
  4. Acknowledge your mistakes. Clients will generally be flexible and forgiving if you quickly acknowledge an error and work to fix it. Attempting to cover up a personal mistake will never work out in your favor. Also, don’t make excuses or blame others. Take responsibility and find a solution to make your customers happy.
  5. Handle conflicts gracefully. If a client or employee tests your patience, criticizes or questions your authority, do not react with hostility. Keep you disposition under control and remain on topic – stick to facts.
  6. Don’t burn bridges. Never respond emotionally or hostility if your business is threatened. Instead, remove yourself from the situation and return to the conversation when you are calm. You never know when you may need someone that will be hard to reach if you have burned bridges.

 

 

Source: Jacqueline Whitmore, Poised for Success

300 Daily Emails is YOUR fault!

Ever feel overwhelmed with an overflowing inbox? Do you spend more time navigating a cluttered inbox than you should be? Have you ever considered that it may be YOUR fault? Don’t worry, there are some easy tips you can follow to take control of your inbox and no longer feel it is controlling you.

  • “Reply to All” does not apply to all situations. Be careful to use this feature only when it is absolutely necessary. Replying to all can create lengthy email chains that are not always needed. This can contribute to an overflowing inbox.
  • Make sure you address each question in an email reply. The way you respond to emails can also affect the size of your inbox. If you diligently respond to each question asked in an email, you prevent further emails asking the very same things.
  • Share your calendar!  Sharing your calendar with your team is another effective way of communication and planning. By sharing your calendar, your team members are able to check your availability and use meeting requests instead of emails to plan meetings or conference calls. This feature removes these types of requests from your, already cluttered, inbox.
  • Set parameters with your team. By this simple task of designating tasks within your team, members will know whom to “cc” on which emails.
  • Have a good email signature.  Your email signature is a very important feature. It should contain all of your contact information so no one will have to ask for you phone number, email, website, mailing address, etc. This information should be presented in a clear and concise way and be easy to copy/paste.
  • Use subject lines wisely. By using specific subject lines that directly reflect the content of your email, the recipient’s attention can be obtained sooner. This allows for a quick response to emails and helps when you are searching through your inbox for a particular set of information.

Success Magazine -November 2015

3 Steps to Become the Leader YOU Want to Be

1to1Many leaders come about the role and title by accident. Due to good technical skills, a great work ethic, seniority, or the unexpected exit of a former leader, a new leader is promoted. Without warning, and often without support or development, the new leader goes from “one of us” to “one of them.”….and oftentimes results in poor team dynamics.

It begins with you – take control of your path. Three steps to developing yourself, becoming the leader you want to be.

Step 1: Define your leadership.

Step 2: Make friends with reality.

Step 3: Build a plan to close the gap.

Step 1: Define your leadership

This first step is the fun part. Decide who you want to be as a leader. Here are seven (7) simple questions to help you start defining your new vision:

  1. What are your top two or three values?
  2. In order to lead by your stated values what is required of you?
  3. What tough decisions might you have to make in order to set a good example?
  4. How do you handle poor performance?
  5. What do you do to manage your anger and frustration?
  6. How do you speak?
  7. How do you inspire others?

After you answer these questions on paper – You are the creator of this experience. There’s no one stopping you from developing a vision of who you want to be, how you want to be perceived, how you want to feel, and how you perform your role.

Step 2: Make friends with reality

Telling the truth is the difficult part. This step is second in the process for a reason. If you start with facing reality before you define your vision you may get discouraged. Telling yourself the truth about where you are takes courage, maturity, and a certain amount of character. As you look at what you want to create, where are in in comparison? Do you tend to allow bad behavior from your employees? Do you lose your temper? Do you make promises you can’t keep? Are you a poor planner? Now that you have completed step two, you probably have a big gap between where you are and where you want to be. In short, you have a lot of work to do.

Step 3: Build a plan to close the gap

As a leader you need to be a good planner. There’s no better way to test and train your planning abilities than to start with yourself. Your plan includes shoring up your weaknesses, developing new skills and building empowering habits. Start thinking more like an entrepreneur — hire your own coach or go to a conference.

Conclusion

It’s great when your company invests in your growth and development, but why wait or rely only on that avenue? You have choices because you are a creator. You were chosen to lead because of your character, your initiative, your work ethic or other wonderful qualities. Don’t let any company determine your worth or your ability to elevate your leadership—embrace an entrepreneurial mindset and commit to your own leadership journey. No matter how much you invest in yourself, that investment is never wasted, and always gives you a return on investment.

Expert from Smartblog on Leadership, May 2, 2016

10 Questions to Ask when Choosing Leaders

One of the most painful mistakes of leadership is choosing the wrong leaders. The difference between success and failure begins with choosing the right leaders. (And ejecting the wrong.)

It’s foolish to define leadership as getting things done. The focus of leadership is people. You earn leadership opportunities by getting things done. You become a leader when you get things done through others. When someone steps into leadership they leverage the talent of others:

  1. How do they make people feel?
  2. How do they maximize the skills and talents of others?
  3. How are they instilling a sense of mission?
  4. How are they developing others?
  5. How are their values, not urgencies, guiding decisions?

10 Questions to Ask and Answer…

  1. What is their definition of leadership?
  2. How are they expressing curiosity?
  3. Where do they fall on the scale of optimistic vs. pessimistic?
  4. How are their values?
  5. How do they appreciate the impact of their behaviors on others?
  6. What makes you believe they can focus on “what” needs to be done without getting lost in “how” things get done?
  7. How are they able to see the world through the lens of others?
  8. How are they including others in decision-making?
  9. How do they respond to failure or correction?
  10. How do they respond to authority?

Bonus: Do they aspire to lead?

Exploring the answers to these questions, will provide you insight if you are choosing the right leader of people (and not a ‘boss’).

 

Excerpt from Leadership Freak – April 20, 2016