energy management posts
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April 19th, 2011
Emotional Intelligence is a critical component for healthy teams and productive meetings.
When working with others, I develop my emotional intelligence by practicing a high level of self-awareness. This came in handy the other day when I was on a conference call with two experts on my team to develop a new, web-based tool.
When I say experts, I mean that each one of these individuals has specific strengths that I do not possess. Therefore, when we are on a conference call, it’s really important that all three of us have acute listening skills. In order to be effective in our collaboration, we need to understand the other person’s position as much as we understand our own.
On this particular day, I was quite stretched. It was late in the afternoon and I could feel a cold coming on. At the 60-minute mark into our call, my concentration ability had flatlined.
Instead of hanging tight, I stated “I am full, I need to end this call because I can no longer listen or take in any of the details that are being discussed…are you willing to continue this conversation in the morning?” I then shared the information about my cold, etc.
The next day, one of my colleagues told me that he really appreciated how I ended the call. He admired my ability to be straightforward and stated that, in the past when he had been in similar situations, he often toughed it out in order to get through the meeting. He now realized the consequences to himself and others in doing that.
When you feel full, make sure you let others know so that you can get back together and have another effective meeting at a later date. With this behaviour, you will raise the bar for meeting engagement on your team.
Have you been in a situation where you zoned out of an important meeting because you were overloaded? What did you do? What did you miss? Or maybe you’ve been able to speak your truth and end a meeting before your brain shut down. How did that feel? How did your colleagues respond? We’d love to hear from you!
November 02nd, 2010
Is a lack of focus preventing you from getting the most out of your business meetings?
If you find yourself running from one meeting to the next and suspect you’re not being as effective as you could be, you’re not alone. A client recently contacted me asking for advice on successfully managing multiple meetings:
“I am often in back-to-back meetings with heavy topics. With no time to mentally release from one topic/meeting and switch to give my full attention to the next topic/meeting, listening becomes difficult. I know the next meeting is as important as the previous one. Are there any tips to clear ones brain to truly focus? Is there a polite way I can transition into the new meeting/topic without seeming disinterested?”
Whether itʼs swooping into business meetings with that final decision everyoneʼs waiting for, checking off tasks on their to-do lists, or navigating conflicts in between, leaders and executives are multitasking all day long. But instead of keeping teams on track, this type of behaviour can significantly derail team effectiveness and individual productivity.
It’s not how much running around you do that’s important. It’s how focused you are while doing it.
Productivity expert Jim Loehr sums up the importance of being fully focused during business tasks like meetings:
“If youʼre present but disengaged, youʼre doing the exact opposite of your intention. Itʼs not how many hours you put in with a client or on a project. Itʼs the quantity and quality of your energy—your focus and force—that determines whether that time is valuable. We call that ‘full engagement’… the acquired ability to intentionally invest your full and best energy right here and now.”
Successful business meetings require focused energy. The key to staying engaged, present, and interested is to take a moment at the beginning of each meeting to connect with your team. This process is called a check-in, and it’s an effective way to help each person in the meeting refocus and recommit their energy to the meeting at hand. (Read my post “The Secret to Aligning Teams for Fast Results” for more information on this applied emotional intelligence technique.)
So next time you feel rushed and overwhelmed, take a breath. Set aside time at the beginning of each meeting to check in with your team. Practice makes progress.
What methods have you used to refocus prior to a successful business meeting? I’d love to hear about them.
October 13th, 2009
CEOs & leaders try to create a workplace culture to match their brand identity. However, management of productivity and results can sometimes set employees into a flurry of activity which, in turn, can detract from the espoused cultural norms.
The brutal fact is that in some workplaces the real cultural norms are – if you want to take a break, you need to start smokin’!
I received an email in response to my “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the most unproductive of them all” post. The commenter (let’s call her Suzy) had the courage to blow the whistle on the unspoken norms in her workplace.
Suzy said the culture did not support the idea of taking a break here and there, going for lunch or just taking 5 minutes to walk around the office. Instead, she described how she found an outlet for a break with one of her smokin’ co-workers. She realized that the smoker took regular smoke breaks throughout the day. So she decided to share an outdoor break with the smoker. It was almost as if the habit of smoking allowed people to take a pause. During these short breaks, Suzy could re-group, re-energize and return to her desk being more focused and productive. The smoker has now left the team.
Suzy no longer has a reason to take a break, not being a smoker.
After reading my blog, Suzy checked her assumptions about the unspoken workplace norms with a couple of her co-workers. They agreed. One gent sheepishly revealed he felt the need to hide if he wanted to take a break.
What are the brutal facts of the workplace culture within your company? Are you allowed to take little breaks so you can be more productive? If you can’t, is your culture contributing to people burning-out?
Do you, CEOs, leaders and executives, have the courage to question the brutal facts of your espoused (this is what we say we do) workplace culture vs. the real culture (this is what we actually do)? Do you think that your culture is burning people out? If you want to find out, ask people anonymously. If the answer is no – great!
If you find out that your company has a burn-out culture. Are you willing to make the necessary changes – promoting individual productivity and team sustainability ?
And finally, please don’t start smoking just to take a break.
October 01st, 2009
Right now you’re probably buried with work, right? Even so, you took a quick break to check out this post. But if you’re like most executives, you probably need more “time out” from your workload to recharge, build relationships and trust, and maintain maximum productivity.
Believe it or not, most executives are not nearly as productive as they could be. So if you have another 80 seconds right now, check out this video on the importance of increasing productivity and building trusting relationships by simply taking a time-out within each day.
- For 30 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon. shut off all electronic devices. Unplug from the business imperative that you must always be in touch. Instead be in touch for energized pockets of time,
- Make personal contact with people. Have 5-minute check-ins. Walk around, say “hello”, “how is it going?”,
- Peak at the ‘paper’ in the reception area – get the scope on who is waiting for a meeting with one of your colleagues and why?
- Take a colleague for a coffee or lunch. You can re-energize, build relationships, solve business problems and have fun all at the same time!
What else do you do during the day to recharge and improve your productivity? Let me know.
September 24th, 2009
When I’m working with teams to improve communication, the issue of email generally produces stressed faces, furrowed brows, and sweaty foreheads. It’s astounding how depressing and chaotic our inboxes have become. But it doesn’t need to be that way.
When I sense stress around the issue of email communication, I ask teams “Have you ever sat down together to discuss how you will send and receive messages to one another?”. Most teams respond with a clear “No, we haven’t done that and we don’t have a clue of how to start that type of conversation.” Fortunately, it’s not a difficult conversation to start.
We just roll up our sleeves and discuss these issues:
1. Subject lines norms– Create agreements within your team regarding what goes in subject lines. For example, if the message concerns a client, start the subject with that client’s name – that simple step will help recipients identify the purpose of the message and effectively catalog it.
2. Set up mailbox rules - Set up rules and filters to organize your inbox. (See my Tuesday post for more on rules and sorting.)
3. Establish team norms around who’s taking an action, who is supporting an action who is to be informed on an action. The team should clearly identify an owner’ to respond and handle the issue.
- TO: if I ‘own’ a particular task and somebody wants to send me an email notifying me of an action that I need to take, my name will be in the TO: area. I will immediately know that I am responsible for taking action.
- CC: means that I am “supporting” someone else’s action and,
- BCC: means that all I need to be is keep myself “informed”.
4. More Rules Emails that have my name is in the TO: area – those emails can be sorted as action emails. Really really helpful!!
5. Discuss the use of high priority, moderate priority and low priority.
If you set aside to have these types of email norm conversations, you’ll help your team become more productive and save them from inbox stress!
September 01st, 2009
There are incredible benefits to leveraging diversity in organizations. Broad expertise, knowledge and judgment can create major communication challenges or outstanding opportunities!. To benefit from diversity, we need to work together and be effective in navigating our differences. We can do this by taking more ownership of our side of the communication, our side of the two-way dialogue.
I recently worked with an extremely talented CEO who was visually impaired. To improve communication and team effectiveness within his organization, I facilitated a number of teaming experiences in which his associates were blind-folded. Once they experienced what “visually impaired” truly meant, they started to utilize different ways of communicating to complete the task at hand. They also started to recognize how their CEO had to work differently to get things done. They had more empathy for him. End result, they became more aware of how they could increase their communication with him by being more responsible to their side of the dialogue.
I’m now working on a team with a deaf woman, and it has been a most incredible learning experience for me. I’ve learned to adjust my own communication style, to apply different techniques in an effort to respect the wonderful diversity she brings to the group.
- I have realized our ‘communication loop’ reflective listening competence; in which the receiver of the communication re-phases what they heard from the sender, is as effective when she re-types as when we re-phase,
- I have learned how ‘instant chat’ can trump email for effective communication,
- I have learned to write more in my blog posts as opposed to simply uploading a video,
The most important thing I’ve learned is that I have to be responsible for my part of the communication, for my part in this relationship. So I’ve started to learn expressions in sign language. Even though I am not great, not perfect, she can still understand when I say, “Good morning, how are you?” She can understand when I say, “Can you repeat, I don’t understand.” She starts to be able to communicate with me because I am working to improve my side of the dialogue. As a manager, leader and co-worker I have to draw people out and help them understand the message I’m delivering.
For me, diversity just means we are different. We’re different because we have limitations. We’re different because we have strengths. We’re different because we come from different places and we have been brought up with different norms.
It takes self-awareness and initiative to recognize these kinds of communication challenges and courage to make them opportunities. When you consider the diversity in your teams, can you see opportunities to improve the way you communicate? Can you take more ownership of your side of the dialogue and become more effective in the process?
June 19th, 2009
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke of Reneevations discuss self awareness and choices that each of us can make to heighten our emotional intelligence. How you manage your energy really impacts how successful and fulfilled you are in your professional and personal life.
Choices to manage/move your energy:
- Make More of the Situation = be creative in the face of adversity – create a solution that serves you better,
- Make Less of the Situation = direct your energy toward a more positive outcome in lieu of being ‘stuck’,
- Make Nothing of the Situation = CrisMarie discusses how she made less of and then nothing of her 1988 Olympic experience.
Life is an energy game – make your best choice today!