Thank you Thursday, Water Cooler Edition

Posted March 27, 2014 by El
Categories: Business, Leadership, Thank-You Thursday

Tags: , , , , ,

Well, it wasn’t actually a water cooler.  But it was a quick conversation in a break area at work . . .

Everyone, at one time or another, feels worn out.  It might be an unusually stressful period as you try to overcome high hurdles along the path to a goal. Maybe you’re dealing with an unexpected turn of events prompted by someone you thought was on your team. Or, you might be facing a downturn in your overall health and wellbeing.  Even the most positive person can have a day during which doubt creeps in.

Some moments, we all wonder, “Am I really making any difference at all?”

Today, I’m thankful for an unexpected but timely reminder that, yes, I do.

As we were both getting a refill for our water bottles, a longtime co-worker started laughing out loud and said something along the lines of:

I just had some of our new people sit with me for observation. I tell every one of them how years ago my attendance wasn’t too good, I was placed on a final warning and I had to come to your office to talk about it. [chuckle] You told me to sit down and relax, we were just going to talk. [another chuckle] And, here I am, still here! [more chuckling] But, I’ve never forgotten that meeting.

It has been about five years since the conversation she references.  She’s been promoted since then and is one of our strongest customer service reps.  I can’t remember the last time her attendance was an issue.

I’m thankful she remembers our conversation, that she shares her experience and lessons learned with our new staff, and that she shared her thoughts with me this week.

I’m thankful to know that for her, I made a positive difference.

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What are you thankful for?

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Tuesday Tidbit inspired by Performance Reviews

Posted March 25, 2014 by El
Categories: Business, Leadership, Tuesday Tidbit

Tags: , , , ,

Ahh, performance reviews. Meaningful exercise or meaningless chore?

In our company, performance reviews are an annual formalized summary of feedback conversations that were, hopefully, ongoing all year. We discuss successes, missed opportunities, strengths, and key behaviors. We create goals and agree on action plans to achieve them.

If we’ve been providing appropriate feedback all along, then the review is really a simple conversation. However, that simple conversation can be a difficult one, especially if we are recapping lapses in performance, failure to meet goals, or discussing action plans to improve unacceptable performance or behaviors.

We might worry about how to present the criticism with an eye toward succcess.  We fear the person may get emotional. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, yet need to deliver a clear message.

One of my favorite quotes about critical feedback discussions comes from an April 5, 2013 NY Times article by Alina Tugend titled “How to Give Effective Feedback.” In it, Tugend wrote:

If we look at feedback as an opportunity to make someone work better rather than feel better, we’re more likely to do it successfully.

It’s about the work and how to make the work better.  Stay focused on the work performance or the on-the-job behaviors that need to improve.  If your team member realizes that critical feedback is not a personal attack but is aimed at improving their performance with an eye toward professional success, a healthy conversation can take place and a positive outcome is more likely.

What tips can you share with team for successful performance discussions?

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Tuesday Tidbits are weekly messages I send to my leadership team. They are generally short & sweet, often focused on leadership or teamwork, always positive and, hopefully, motivational. I hope you also find some meaning in them.

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Tuesday Tidbit inspired by March Madness

Posted March 18, 2014 by El
Categories: Business, Leadership, Quotes, Sports, Tuesday Tidbit

Tags: , ,

With the NCAA Basketball Tournament starting this week, I thought a few quotes from some famous college basketball coaches might be in order.  And, of course, they relate to what we do at work everyday.

There are five fundamental qualities that make every team great: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride. I like to think of each as a separate finger on the fist. Any one individually is important. But all of them together are unbeatable. -Mike Krzyzewski

To me teamwork is a lot like being part of a family. It comes with obligations, entanglements, headaches, and quarrels. But the rewards are worth the cost. -Pat Summitt

Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished given your talent. -John Wooden

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Tuesday Tidbits are weekly messages I send to my leadership team. They are generally short & sweet, often focused on leadership or teamwork, always positive and, hopefully, motivational. I hope you also find some meaning in them.

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Thank you Thursday, Inspired by #BanBossy

Posted March 13, 2014 by El
Categories: Current Events, Diversity, Leadership, Possibility, Thank-You Thursday

Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s interesting how much ruckus the #BanBossy movement has stirred up.

To me, it’s very simple.  #BanBossy is not about encouraging or tolerating bossy behavior in little girls (or boys). It is not about equating bossyness with leadership (actually, the message is the opposite).  It is not about saying that everyone wants to be CEO.  It is not about banning a word without addressing the behavior.

It is not about the word.

It is about how the word is used.

To me, #BanBossy is not demeaning girls for the same behavior we admire and encourage in boys, simply because they are girls.  It is about telling boys and girls that your curious inquiry is welcome, that your thoughtful ideas are needed, that your appropriately shared dissenting opinion is important. It is about sending the message that your dreams are valid (whether or not they seem possible today) and your goals are worth striving for, regardless of whether you are a boy or a girl.

And, yes, it is also about saying that little girls can grow up to be women who can be the boss without being bossy.

boss-y [baw-see, bos-ee] adjective, boss-i-er, boss-i-est.

given to ordering people about; overly authoritative, domineering.

Today, I am thankful for the #BanBossy conversation.

True conversation creates a platform for discovery.  A willingness to respect – while not necessarily agreeing with – the opinion of others is part of the engine that moves civilization forward. Conversation unites us and highlights our differences.  It challenges us and comforts us.  It opens doors before us and closes doors behind us.

Engaging conversation is good exercise.

It has been interesting to read some of the reaction to #BanBossy.  It is clear that some people did not go to the website and explore the great resources for girls and those of us raising girls.  Some people are against the concept simply because of the celebrities affiliated with it. Some people on both “sides” of the movement are so sure that their world view is “right,” they aren’t listening to the other side of the conversation at all. And still others have offered interesting and thoughtful commentary, trying to open hearts and minds to yet another view.

The conversation will likely linger for a little while.  Who knows what will change, but change begins with awareness. I’m sure that passionate opinions will continue to be shared, at least for the short term. And, hopefully, meaningful discourse will take place.  For now, though, whether we do or don’t agree with #BanBossy, can we agree on and commit to this:

Encourage and support little girls and little boys to reach for and grow to their full potential and however they choose to apply that potential to make a positive impact on the world.

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What are you thankful for?

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Tuesday Tidbit inspired by Reflection

Posted March 11, 2014 by El
Categories: Business, Leadership, Tuesday Tidbit

Tags: , ,

What were you doing at work two years ago and how were you doing it?

While putting together two presentations over the last few days, I had the opportunity to pause and reflect on how much has changed over the last couple years. What became clear was how much better we’ve become.

Writing “The Role of the Team Lead” helped me consider how important that position has become since its introduction.  Now, I can’t imagine the organization succeeding without them.  Gathering our “Pay for Performance” story highlighted the positive impact a performance-based culture has on quality, production and personal accountability.

In our normal busy-ness, we are often caught up in the issues of the day and planning for tomorrow.  We don’t stop and look at the progress we’ve made.  I challenge you to think about the question in the first line. I dare to say that nearly all of us are doing something different and/or doing our work differently and, for most of us, it’s been a pretty good journey.

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Tuesday Tidbits are weekly messages I send to my leadership team. They are generally short & sweet, often focused on leadership or teamwork, always positive and, hopefully, motivational. I hope you also find some meaning in them.

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Tuesday Tidbit inspired by the Passing Time

Posted March 4, 2014 by El
Categories: #Doing2014, Business, Quotes, Tuesday Tidbit

Tags: , ,

Can you believe the first quarter of 2014 is already in the home stretch?  Now is
a good time for a gut check.  Are you being who you want to be? Doing what you want to do?  Are you moving toward your 2014 goals or are you stuck? Are you prioritizing all the “stuff” or overwhelmed by it? 

Here are a few related quotes for reflection.

Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it.  -Lord Chesterfield

The ability to concentrate and to use your time well is everything if you want to succeed in business–or almost anywhere else for that matter. -Lee Iacocca

To comprehend a man’s life, it is necessary to know not merely what he does but also what he purposely leaves undone.  -John Hall Gladstone

The more business a man has to do, the more he is able to accomplish, for he learns to economize his time. -Sir Matthew Hale

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Tuesday Tidbits are weekly messages I send to my leadership team. They are generally short & sweet, often focused on leadership or teamwork, always positive and, hopefully, motivational. I hope you also find some meaning in them.

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Thank you Thursday; There’s No Place Like Home

Posted February 27, 2014 by El
Categories: Thank-You Thursday

Tags: , , , ,

I have rarely had to travel for work.  In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve traveled for work in the last five years (until this past November!).

In 2014, however, I’ve hit the road every other week, flying to Tampa on Monday and flying home on Thursday.

Today, I’m thankful that travel is being paused.

I learned yesterday that the every other week schedule is being put on hold for March, for a variety of reasons.

I texted the hubby right away.  I’ve already thought about the positive impact to my quarter marathon training.  I even get to attend our monthly neighborhood ladies event which I’ve missed for the last four months!  And, my home office team will get a little more consistent attention from me.

The travel will return, and that’s OK. It has solid purpose and value. For now, though, I truly understand what Dorothy meant when she closed her eyes, clicked her heels, and said,

There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.

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What are you thankful for?

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