Random Acts of Kindness for Leaders

Random acts of kindness are powerful ways to brighten someone’s day… help them feel visible… help them feel they matter… and are often completely free.Ramdom Acts of Kindness for Leaders

Random acts of kindness are also powerful opportunities for leaders.

We know the top few criteria that improve job / company loyalty are most often not salary… but instead aspects like feeling valued, feeling appreciated and making a difference. Translation… your random act of kindness may do far more than make someone’s day… you may also be improving loyalty, productivity and team spirit.

Improve the morale of the people at
your company even if they don’t report into you!

No matter how high or low in the company you are, I always recommend thinking about how you can be aware of the world around you and take ½ a second to see if you can improve someone else’s day while also improving the morale of the people who work at your company even if they don’t directly report into you!

Here are a few easy (mostly free), random acts of kindness at work suggestions that will have great impact:

  1. Surprise a teammate with a treat on their birthday. $ will cost a little
  2. Watch what your secretary or other administration staff drink or snack on. Bring them one – randomly. I’m sure they’ve saved you more than once and you may not even known it, so yes… they do deserve it. will cost a little
  3. Hold the elevator for someone – especially if their hands are full or if they seem in a rush. This also means you have to choose to be aware of your surroundings.
  4. Bring a coffee or lunch to a co-worker who is working hard on a deadline. will cost a little
  5. Give people positive feedback. Tell them you really appreciate what they did if they helped you and/or when you see they’ve done something great for someone else. Even consider a hand-written note!
  6. Share positive feedback you heard about someone’s work or attitude.
  7. If someone is at home sick, write a quick message hoping they feel better. Do this even if they are staying connected and are working remotely from home.
  8. Ask a team member to go for a walk for no other reason than to get out of the office and clear their (and your) head. You don’t have to talk about work.
  9. When you see a meeting that lines up with those future goals but not their current job responsibilities, ask them to come along with you as an observer. You will blow their minds and increase their loyalty and respect for you and the company 100%.
  10. Similar to #9, when you see a training opportunity or a conference internally or externally, that lines up with their future goals suggest they attend. Again, you will blow their minds and increase their loyalty and respect for you and the company 100%.
  11. If you can give them a junior role on a project team that lines up with their future goals even if it is outside their current responsibilities, again… you will blow their minds.

You can see here that of the 11 examples I have shared above, most of them are intrinsic motivators and only three might have a cost associated.

As a leader, one moment of your time can have great long-term impact.

Bruce

Conclusion

Almost nothing annoys me more or makes me feel more invisible than when someone enters through swinging doors in front of me and lets them swing shut… on me… especially if my hands are full. This happens all the time walking through Toronto’s business underground. Alternatively, nothing is quite like the feeling when someone sees me approaching and waits ½ a second to hold the door open as they go through so that the door doesn’t swing shut on me.

Little things like random acts of kindness do matter.

Happy communicating, leading, mentoring and learning.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management training, leadership skills, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

How to be productive in a toxic work environment

Does work feel like torture? Do you feel you are being consumed in a toxic work environment or by a toxic boss?

You give. And, as your boss takes they make you feel like you’ve missed something important that would have been clear to a five-year old… except you didn’t miss anything. What did happen is somewhere between 8PM last night and 7AM this morning they changed their mind about project deliverables or one of a thousand other project changes they could have dreamt up. Either way they blame you and everyone on the team for not anticipating their abrupt change of plans.Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 5.30.20 PM

Certain toxic personalities make work very unpleasant.

So, you work harder, stay longer, triple check your work and you try to be a buffer for your team. But still, the more you give the more they push and the more they micromanage or become passive aggressive.

Toxic work environments aren’t fair to you and the people who report into you and who are trying to jump through imaginary hoops to satisfy the ever evolving demands of a passive aggressive boss (I won’t call them leader). This situation is also not fair to your friends and family.

Eventually, one of you will have to go. And for the sake of your health, don’t let it go on too long since stress like this can have quick negative impact on your health as well as your personal and professional relationships (and professional reputation).

If you do have to be the one to leave, don’t think of it as you giving up or a personal defeat. I’d actually suggest leaving a toxic work environment shows tremendous courage and may be one of the most difficult decisions you will make.

But for now, you are both still there, and for now you want to do the best work you can. So, how can you stay calm and feel proud of your work and hope your toxic boss is the one to go? I have some suggestions, and while I’m afraid they won’t put a full stop to the frustrating storm you are experiencing, they will help you experience less turbulence and greater pride in your work. Here are my 12 suggestions

  1. Get agreement on the company and your departments short-term Goals.
  2. Be clear of the company and your departments longer term Vision (future goals).
  3. Be clear of the company Mission.
  4. Be clear of the company Values AND what “living” those values should look like.
  5. Understand what YOUR goals are and measurements of success.
  6. Realize there is more out there than your current project or job. That when your boss creates a toxic environment it’s more of a reflection on them… not you. Your work is still something to be proud of, especially if you are focused on the first 4 points mentioned above.
  7. Document as much as possible. Try to get them to give you goals and instructions in an email – or write them an email confirming ‘your understanding’ of key goals, outcomes and timelines.
  8. Don’t become paranoid or paralyzed at work. Keep making decisions and keep projects moving forward. Be cautious – sure. But keep your eye focused on the project goal, vision, values and company / marketing language to keep you safe.
  9. Be careful not to slander anyone. Don’t get a reputation as a complainer. Either manage the challenge or get out.
  10. Now more than ever its important you have other work / a hobbies you can be proud of:
    • Volunteering
    • Creative outlets like painting, cooking or exercise (exercise helps decrease stress)
  11. Eat healthy and get as close to 7.5-9.5 hours of sleep as you can.
  12. Never lose focus on what is really most important:
    • Family / children / parents
    • Friends
    • Health

Good luck. Stay positive. Remember it’s not you.

I do hope these twelve strategies help you manage your toxic environment with a little more calm, sensitivity and ability to buffer your team as much as possible from the storm raging above you.

Bruce

Happy communicating, leading, mentoring and learning.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management training, leadership skills, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

Are you bored at work… or are you still building your career?

Remember your first week at your job? How exciting it was to learn about the new projects you’d be working on, the influence you’d have and the new people you would meet. And now you find your work boring. On Sunday evenings, instead of looking forward to Monday morning you now routinely say (or think), “Ugh, I have to go to work tomorrow.” If someone was to ask you, “Are you satisfied with your current job?” you’d almost certainly say, “No”.Are You Bored At Work?

It’s not just Millennials and GenXers who crave satisfaction, meaning and a healthy work-life balance. And yet, I believe far too many people stop paying attention to the importance and excitement of their career and get far too lost in the day-to-day tasks of their job. And when this happens they become bored. But what if:

  • You choose to approach every day as an opportunity to learn something new… to make a difference and an opportunity to meet someone who might be a mentor?
  • Instead of dreading having to update the Monthly Sales Spreadsheet yet again, you noticed an unexpected pattern emerging from one of the sectors and shared that opportunity with your boss?
  • You choose to see every meeting was an opportunity to think strategically, to consider the corporate values and to think outside the box?
  • When faced with a crisis you choose to keep your cool and stay professional and thereby come out the other side with grace and a reputation for a cool-head?

If you are feeling bored at work it’s important for your career that you take this seriously. Whether you realize it or not, bored people often drag down the mood and the productivity of the team and few companies can let that go on too long.

So, let’s look at how can you reset.

Be Curious / Say ‘Yes’ More Often

Feeling bored at work is often a natural emotional response to insufficient stimulation. Reignite the days when you were new in your job and didn’t know all the answers by looking for opportunities to take on more responsibility and to stay relevant.

Whatever you focus on you will feel. If you focus on being bored, you will be bored. If you focus on being engaged and what you can learn, that is what you will feel and that is what people will see. Your work is an opportunity to build your career, to prove yourself and to get ready for the job you might not doing yet but is part of the career you are planning.

Feeling bored may even be a sign it’s time for you to make the transition into leadership – or if you are already in a leader position to increase your responsibilities. How about taking on a special project?

Experts agree one of the best ways to prepare for your next job is to demonstrate you have the passion and the ambition to grow into that position. When you take on more responsibility your dedication and enthusiasm will also open a lifetime of opportunities as the economy and workforce changes around you.

Get Clear On Your What You Want To Feel When You Are At Work

If you are dealing with meaningless assignments, unreasonable bosses who don’t care or never-ending politics, then maybe it is time for a new job. But, jumping from one job to another is never a good solution to boredom. If you don’t have a clear idea of why you are leaving and most importantly what you want for your future, you will find yourself bored again soon enough. 

Get clear on what you want. Purpose isn’t found in a job description, it’s found in how you approach the work you do and what value you feel from your contribution. Aside from money (which is an extrinsic motivator), everyone strives for their own personal balance between four (4) intrinsic motivators no matter what type of work they do. From doctor to plumber, you will be motivated by some combination of:

  1. Learning new things
  2. Being seen as an expert
  3. Making a difference
  4. Having flexibility / control of what you do and when you do it

These four intrinsic motivators may seem high-level, but I assure you exploring your motivators is important to understand what matters to you and your career.

Take Pride In Your Work

If you are like most people, when you are bored at work you get careless and start making mistakes. If you think this is you, be careful, your reputation is on the line. One quick hack is to start exploring how can have greater impact? For example, can you use your vast experience to re-write all of the current templates your department uses or begin training / orienting new employees? The trick is to turn up the challenge on your day.

I am channeling my mother as I write this tip (she will be so proud when I tell her). Don’t appear to be lazy or negative. If you start coming in late and leaving early your coworkers will notice and it might sour the mood of your team and begin to isolate you. If this happens it will only amplify the unpleasant feelings you have.

Sometimes, getting motivated is as easy as remembering the people whose lives you change – whose lives you influence every day. Your smile, your compassion and your expertise give you great power – power you should be proud of.

I have one more suggestion for you to bring life back into your work and your career. If you know me you will not be surprised when I ask you to take care of yourself and your energy. Get plenty of exercise, sleep and eat well. Also, consider speaking with a career or leadership coach or mentor. When we are bored at work we can sometimes let important parts of our lives slip. This will only push us further into the hole. Live your life in a healthy and sustainable way.

Conclusion

Be curious. Believe in your future. As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

We live in a world of quick fixes but it’s important to remember that many of the things that matter most and will have the greatest impact need time and require our commitment. Show that you value your work and the people around you.

You are the one who has to create the life you want. Work is not a place or a job unless you choose it to make it onlya place or a job. Take pride in your work and your career. Your reputation matters. Show everyone you have both talent and passion.

I hope these tips help you find work-life balance if you are feeling bored at work.

Bruce

Happy communicating, mentoring and learning.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management training, leadership skills, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

Work-life balance: How not to be buried in email when you return from vacation.

One of the challenges of work-life balance is getting ready to go on vacation… and coming back from vacation.

First, lets look at how you can prepare to be away. Then, we will look at what you can do while you are away (and not checking your email), so that you are not buried in email when you return from vacation.Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 5.48.04 PM

Before You Are Away

Two best practices that I like to use to prepare to be away are to:

  1. Notify all of your important contacts a few weeks before you go.
  2. Use an Out-of-Office email notice while you are gone.

Notifying your important contacts is a great best-practice. This lets you and your network either take care of important tasks before you leave – or plan to take care of these tasks when you are back. In short, you are managing their and your expectations – and I don’t think there is a better way to show respect to your network than managing their expectations.

There are two relatively easy ways that I like to notify your important contacts before you go on vacation:

  • One of the easiest is to remind people when you are speaking with them. I like to create a list of important people to tell and then check their name off as I go. This way I am not telling the same people over and over again – which can sound like I’m bragging about being away.
  • Another is to add a short message to every email you send – just before your salutation. Again – this is a note you add to the email you write for the week or two before you go. This message can be as simple as, “Please note, I will be on vacation from X to Y and will not be accessing email or voicemail during this time. Please contact Amy or Bob while I am away. Thank you.”

While You Are Away

Use an Out-of-Office email notice is pretty easy as well… but this is one place where you can make your work-life balance so much better upon your return. Here is a trick of the message you might like to write,

“Please note, I will be on vacation from X to Y and will not be accessing email or voicemail during this time. Experience tells me most issues will be addressed / taken care of by the time I return, therefore I will be archiving and not reading any of the many email I expect will come into my mailbox while I’m gone.

If you do need me to act on something when I return on Y, please send me a new email on Y. This will help me address your email as quickly as possible because it will not be buried in a very full in-box. 

If you need immediate information / help, while I am away Amy or Bob will be covering my main files. Thank you.”

This last approach seems a bit extreme. The beauty is that this approach stops you from reading weeks worth of email and an endless number of long email strings only to discover the issue has been resolved and/or is no longer important. In short – archiving and not reading any of the email really that come in while you are away will help you manage people’s expectations and help you be productive quickly and efficiently. The one thing I want to clearly point out is that you make sure you archive the email / not delete them. For some situations going back and reading the email string will be important.

I hope these tips on how to keep a sense of work-life balance both before you go and after you return from vacation.

Bruce

Happy communicating, mentoring, learning and vacationing.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management, leadership, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

“Talk About Emotions But Don’t Be Emotional.”

Talk about emotions but don’t be emotional.” This is one of the things I discuss in my Difficult Conversation training workshops.

When I do talk about emotions people often squirm in their seats. I know – emotions are scary… especially:

  • At work
  • When we are feeling vulnerable already
  • If we are a leader

But, what do I mean when I say, “Talk about emotions but don’t be emotional“?

Example:  Lets say you are a leader and your employee named Peter let you down. Here are two options on how your first sentence can go.

Option A: Sitting down and saying (not shouting), “Peter, I’m disappointed you missed your deadline – this has put the whole team behind schedule.

Versus

Option B: Standing, shouting and looking red-in-the-face, “Peter, you missed your deadline and put the whole team behind schedule.

What do you think the results of those two scenarios are? I suggest:

Option A:

  • Keeps communication open.
  • Keeps Peter focused on how he let you and the team down – does not distract him with your anger.
  • Gives Peter time and space to feel remorse… immediately.
  • Can be transitioned to solution.
  • Keeps your reputation as a level-headed strategic leader.

Option B:

  • Shuts down communication.
  • Lets Peter feel scared of you… and perhaps gives him a reason to visit HR.
  • Peter will be distracted from the real issue.
  • Is difficult to transition to a solution.
  • Establishes you as a hot-head, out of control reactionary boss

And… let’s face it, if you are a woman leader and if you ever started shouting you would be labeled as – well – I do not want to discuss that ridiculous double standard.

I promise, if you calmly but seriously / confidently tell an employee you are disappointed in them missing their deadline and that they let down the team, they will feel every ounce of pressure you are putting on them. I bet you will see their behaviour change for the good – very quickly. And, if you don’t experience better results you have a very good (and I hope well documented), history YOU can share with HR.

Emotions are still tough to talk about

I know – emotions are still a bit uncomfortable to discuss, but I promise they do not show weakness – they show honesty. When you are confident you can talk about emotion and you don’t have to be worried about being seen as “soft”.

Leadership takes courage – it takes courage to discuss uncomfortable situations. Leadership is not about being a boss or a bully or about instilling fear. The strongest leaders are comfortable talking about emotions and positioning themselves as strategic thinkers and inspiring / motivational mentors.

One last thing

If you have to have a difficult conversation, don’t put it off too long. The further you get away from the undesirable behaviour, the weaker your position becomes and the more you are rewarding their undesirable behaviour by them… and by the rest of your team who see them getting away with it.

Happy communicating, leading and mentoring.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

 

 

How Busy Professionals Improve Work-life Balance: Time Management Tips for home and work

The sacrifice is worth it” says many professionals who take pride in being dedicated workaholics. They even take their smart phone on vacation with them. And then they suddenly realize they’ve put on 50lbs, haven’t seen their partner or best friends in a year, don’t know their children’s favourite colour, book, food or sports team and likely can’t even remember the last time they socialized in a meaningful way (weddings and funerals don’t count). In short, their work-life balance is out of balance.

I’m not knocking working hard. As an entrepreneur I love what I do and don’t expect to retire; I hope I’m still delivering keynote presentations and communication skills training when I’m 65. I also totally agree there are crunch times when sacrifices must be made. But, when sacrifices go on for most of a year or two or more, many people who study organizational behaviour and productivity believe long-running sacrifices rarely benefit us personally, financially or professionally – or from a healthy living perspective.

Really? Perhaps you think “If I work hard I’ll make more money and be more successful?” For a sort time, yes… that is often the case. But, if we work all the time and are chronically exhausted, we are likely:

  • Not going to make the best strategic decisions
  • Going to make some mistakes we would not otherwise have made
  • Short tempered – perhaps hurt important relationships
  • Building a work environment that Reacts not Responds to client needs or business opportunities
  • Putting our mental health at risk
  • Dramatically increasing our risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes & more
  • Growing apart from our family and/or friends
  • Creating an invisible barrier called unfamiliarity with the people who should be close to us
  • Causing resentment in our family and/or friends
  • Losing our family and friends trust that you care… and will be there for them when needed
  • Missing important dates / occasions causing resentment, disappointment and further emotional distance

Question 1:
“How does a busy professional find work-life balance that involves all aspects of their lives?”

Answer: We must all make time for each (not some), of the following:

  • Work responsibilities
  • Home / living responsibilities
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Personal interests

Question 2:
“Why should bosses care about work-life balance for their employees?”

Answer: When we feel valued, respected and supported in our work life and our family life we feel more loyalty to our boss and to the company. When we feel our contribution and our time are respected we also care more about the quality of work we do (and we make fewer mistakes because we are not chronically exhausted).

When our personal and professional lives are in balance we are happier, more positive, more creative, more collaborative (I can go on), in both our work and family lives. This balance also enables us to pursue our professional goals which is again, benefits the company and our family.

Question 3:
“How do we make time?”

Answer: We also have to take more responsibility for our schedule than most of us currently do. We also need to recognize we all do better when we follow routines. Not only do routines help us manage our expectations and the expectations of others, they help us build memorable experiences with important people. Routines also help us save time by letting us prepare in advance and put hardware, software and support systems in place to help us with our routines. So:

  • Have a morning routine
  • Have a predictable routine at work
  • Have a routine in the evening
  • Have a routine for Saturday
  • Have a routine for Sunday

One ‘event’ many professionals feel helps balance work and family promises is committing to family dinners. Breakfasts might be out of the questions if you leave early for work, but a 6:30PM family dinner should be manageable for most professionals most of the time; especially if you get to work early in the morning.

Dinners with your partner and/or family are amazing for many different time management and relationship building reasons. One significant time benefit from a pre-scheduled meal routine is it makes grocery shopping efficient. It can also save you money because you know what to stock up on when they are on sale. Other benefits include:

  • You are not wasting time dashing out for last-minute items or making bad ‘fast food’ choices.
  • You may be able to make extra and freeze left-overs saving you time and effort in the future
  • You can bring left-overs for lunch giving you a healthy and cost saving alternative to food courts

Family dinners enable you to involve your children in all aspects of meal planning including meal choice, shopping, cooking and cleaning up. Not only does this teach children how to cook, involving your children teaches them responsibility, social skills and how to confidently care for themselves. Involving children in meal preparation also can develop a sense of pride… and can exercise their creativity if they start experimenting with recipes – adding ingredients they love or finding alternatives for ingredients they dislike… like Brussel Sprouts).

For example, a family end-of-day meal schedule children can participate in is:

  • Slow Cooker Stew Mondays
  • Homemade Veggie Pizza Tuesdays
  • Burger Wednesdays
  • Mexican Chicken Veggie Stir-fry Thursdays
  • Spaghetti Fridays
  • Surprise Saturdays (you might even go out)
  • Roast Sundays

Three More Things:
Three more things busy professionals with a family can do to improve time management both at home and at work:

  • Prioritize your to do list – plan your week not your day. Possible solution, spend 5 minutes planning at night and then 5 more minutes first thing in the morning.
  • Have discussions at work and at home about expectations, values and responsibilities.
  • Embrace delegation – share responsibility – and accept responsibility with your coworkers and family. When you delegate, use it as a mentoring, learning experience.

Conclusion:
One of the best ways to start your day is to get a good night sleep – that means get to bed at a decent hour. This helps you wake up refreshed in the morning.

Some of the most successful professionals believe it’s critical to have a good morning routine that includes some exercise and a healthy breakfast. For example, Sir Richard Branson says, “I seriously doubt that I would have been as successful in my career (and happy in my personal life) if I hadn’t always placed importance on my health and fitness,” says Branson to FourHourBodyPress. Branson continues,“I definitely can achieve twice as much by keeping fit”. Mark Zuckerberg (who usually exercises first thing when he wakes up) says, “It keeps the brain functioning well”.

Every morning might be slightly different but routine helps you, your children and your co-workers manage expectations, increase productivity and experience work-life balance. The following is a sample morning schedule.

Time Management Morning Schedule for Professionals

Routine is critical as well as calendar management. Let either of these out of your control and you can kiss productivity away.

Final Note:
Have a weekend schedule: For example, on Sunday:

  • Sleep in
  • Family pitches in together to streamline:
    • Everybody helps clean the Kitchen, Family room, Bedroom & Bathroom
    • 50% of you do Laundry
    • 50% of you go Grocery Shopping
    • Everybody helps on Pre-Meal Preparation
    • Reward Brunch in a restaurant with the kids and friends
    • Sunday night – no plans
    • Schedule some downtime
    • Schedule 30 minutes to get acquainted with the next week.

Happy communicating and training… and taking responsibility for your schedule and work-life balance.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Leadership, Motivating Employees, Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Having Difficult Conversations.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post

Are You Racially Bias? How To See Bias Within Ourselves.

There is a surge of discussion in the news about cognitive bias, and more specifically, unconscious bias. Much of this discussion is because of an incident on April 15, 2018 in a Philadelphia Starbucks where two black men were arrested after simply asking to use the restroom while they waited for a business associate to arrive.

Following this incident, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross said the officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.” On the flip side, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson called the incident “reprehensible” and quickly apologized. Johnson also began making plans to “help prevent such an occurrence from ever happening again [at Starbucks]”.

How did Starbuck do this? In no small gesture, Starbuck’s closed all of its 8,000 US corporate stores and offices for the afternoon on May 29 to provide employees racial bias training. Anti-bias training in Canada was on June 11.

What are cognitive biases and how do they impact our behaviour?

Cognitive biases act like short-cuts our brain uses to make decisions instead of analysing every piece of information. Many times throughout our day, cognitive biases like unconscious bias speed up our decision making at work or keep us safe in unfamiliar places. However, it’s true that these short-cuts can lead to ill- informed decisions and/or negative judgements and therefore misguided behaviour.

Another important fact about biases is that once we make a decision about someone or something, our biases will begin to find information and other examples to support our belief. In short, we will begin to see what we want to see. So, if we were to unfortunately learn to ‘discriminate’ against a person, a body type or a culture as in racial bias, it’s highly likely we won’t see our judgement or behaviour being negative or being driven by an unconscious bias.

Where do we learn biases?

We learn biases everywhere and all the time. We learn by absorbing messages from our family and co- workers, suppliers, the media, from society, from our social network, the books we read, the movies we watch and the history we study. A huge challenge comes when we limit our access to information. For example, if we only watch one news channel, don’t read much and don’t engage in open dialogue with people who challenge us, imagine how our beliefs and behaviours… our biases might slowly become skewed.

Also, because our brains try to create shortcuts every chance it gets, sometimes biases are formed based on only one piece of data; this is called a halo bias. Examples of halo biases are:

  • If I believe someone to be honest – I will see honesty throughout their character. I may even ignore, downplay or justify dishonesty.
  • If I believe someone to be greedy and incompetent I will see greed and incompetence.
  • When we find someone physically attractive, our biases often inflate our trust, respect and honesty of this person.

Two other types of bias are:

  • Confirmation Bias: This is when we favour information that confirms to our existing opinions and beliefs. In addition, confirmation bias may even urge our unconscious to discount evidence that does not conform to our existing opinions and beliefs.
  • Self-Serving Bias: This is when we blame external influences when bad things happen and give ourselves credit for being smart or creative when good things happen (as an example).

Can we learn to control our biases including our negative judgements?

Psychologists and lead bias researchers Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald seem to think the answer is mostly yes, we can control our biases and our negative judgements / prejudices. The key to any transformative process begins with awareness.

One approach to learn to control biases is to study Mindfulness. Why Mindfulness?

Awareness of why and how we do and/or say things is a serious characteristic of Mindfulness. Because of this direct connection Mindfulness has effectively helped people become aware of their biases and learn to control and/or change them.

Conclusion

Biases help us react quickly and when we are faced with imminent danger this is good. But, when our biases (like discrimination), risk our long and short-term success it’s time to take action. For Starbucks taking action meant helping their employees to learn to recognize when they may be discriminating and to learn to respond with controlled, mindful, thoughtful intent. Can we expect that change will happen after one half- day training program? Likely no… but every change event has to begin somewhere.

In many ways our biases inform our expectations of ourselves and other people. When any of us study our own cognitive biases‚ especially when we begin to discover our unconscious biases it will help us:

  • Recognize the behaviours we expect to see in other people.
  • See how we treat people and even better, it helps us evaluate ‘Why’ we treat people the way we do.
  • Take better control over our actions and responses.
  • Change. Become better partners, employees and better community partners.

My belief is that until we learn about our own personal and professional biases we are all at risk of doing or saying something we may regret later. This is especially true when we are stressed, tired or multitasking.

I hope this article helps you explore your own cognitive biases including your unconscious biases at home and at work.

Happy communicating, mentoring, listening and learning.

We facilitate courses including email etiquette, time management, leadership, generational differences training… and more.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

How impressive is your employee retention when you hire Millennials?

Millennials have just become largest population in our workspaces with approximately 42% of the labour population. Next in line at work are:

  • Gen Xers – about 33% of the labour population
  • Boomers – about 25% of the labour population
  • Generation Z – just coming online

How do you attract quality Millennial employees (and soon to be Gen Z), who will stay more than 1 year, work hard and work conscientiously?

Generational Breakdown

  1. Give Millennials leadership responsibilities, give them leadership training and mentor them to become great leaders.
  2. Beyond leadership, they want to be changing – constantly. Professional growth is very important for most Millennials.
  3. Let them know their work is important by sharing WHYit is important. If possible, let them see / experience the difference they are making.
  4. Respect them. Say thank you. Take notice when they plan ahead and solve a problem before it became a problem. And let them know you appreciate their initiative.
  5. They want Work-life balance… preferably tied to flexible work schedules.
  6. They want work to be friendly – to make friends with the people they work with… and even with your clients.
  7. For the most part, they like to collaborate – to work in teams. This is a bit different from Gen Xers who generally are OK working alone and Boomers who prefer to work alone.
  8. They want to work ethically / environmentally / for the society… for their community and they want the company to do the same behave ethically.

How well do you do (as a leader), and how well does your company stack up?

If you can answer ‘YES’ to most (or all), of the above then you are a great leader and likely, your organization is a great company to work for. If you answer ‘YES’, then I expect recruitment is reasonably easy for you and retention is a bit higher than your peers, and your team are committed to your clients… you… the company… and to the work they are doing.

Happy communicating, hiring and mentoring as you create a remote / flexible workplace culture .

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

How well do you support Emotional Intelligence at work?

In the 80’s and 90’s employers used to tell employees to leave their emotions at home. Today, we can’t afford employees to be so cold and by-the-book.

If we ask employees to ignore their feelings we are asking them to ignore a wealth of valuable information that will help them build trusting relationships with each other and with customers. When we trust and respect each other we make our work easier, more successful, more enjoyable and more fulfilling. When our customers trust us they are more loyal, less price sensitive and more forgiving.

In the 80’s and 90’s it seemed counter intuitive to ‘waste time paying attention to emotions’ but consider this:

  • A person who is appreciated and respected will always go the extra mile.
  • An employee will almost always work harder, more proudly and give their best when they feel appreciated and when they feel their work makes a difference.
  • A customer who feels their needs were understood and the company tried to help as best they could (a display of empathy & compassion), will always feel better about the solution (even if they are not 100% satisfied), and have greater loyalty to the service provider.

Soft skills create loyalty, dedication, commitment. And usually demonstrating soft skills costs little or nothing.

Happy communicating… and paying attention to your emotional intelligence.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:


Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Difficult Conversations, Generational Differences, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

 

 

Judgement: How it can damage your success and relationships.

When we judge someone we are most likely creating a cognitive bias or reacting to an existing cognitive bias we already have created.

What do I mean?

A cognitive bias acts like a short-cut our brain uses to make quick, reaction based decisions. These unconcious decisions are often helpful – keeping us safe as we walk through high-traffic areas for example. However, it’s true these short-cuts can also lead to ill-informed decisions like when we quickly judge someone we don’t know based on only one piece of superficial information.

For example, perhaps you experience a driver of a BMW cutting in front of you and other cars. You may quickly pass judgement creating an unconscious bias the person is reckless, irresponsible, entitled and self-centered. You may even create an unconscious bias so that every time you see a BMW driver you treat them as if they are reckless, irresponsible, entitled and self-centered. But what if in that same moment you also learned there was a sick person in the car and the driver was rushing to the hospital? Exactly… in this case a very positive, cognitive bias would form.

What researchers suggest is that once we have judged someone, it’s difficult to fully clear that judgement. Our unconscious mind keeps track of the initial assumption (the initial short-cut). In many cases our biases will even selectively notice certain behaviour or selectively ignore or discount certain other behavior in an attempt to unconsciously reinforce the bias. Yikes – can you imagine? In short, our mind begins to see what it wants to see – we stay stuck with the unconscious bias we made (because of our initial judgement), whether or not the circumstances change.

Now what if we wrongly create negative biases about people we work with, clients and sadly… about friends and family? Imagine how judgements can damage our success and relationships.

Our brain is about efficiency. It wants to make decisions as quickly as possible and this is one way it accomplishes its goal. Sometimes it works for the best and sometimes it hurts us.

So my recommendation is to be careful making any judgements. As best you can try to:

  1. Be Self-Aware – Know your personal moods and emotions. Also be aware of what sets-off your positive and negative triggers.
  2. Self-Manage  – Manage your personal preferences & actions and how you react… and respond.
  3. Be Socially-Aware – Try to ‘see’ other people’s feelings, needs and concerns. Take note of your surroundings and what is important to others.

Our judgements can keep us from ever trusting someone who may be important to us now… or in the future. When we judge someone, we may be throwing away an opportunity to learn about ourselves, about them and about the world around us.

And… never forget, “Those who judge will never understand, and those who understand will never judge.” (Wilson Kanadi)

Happy communicating… and be careful of the cognitive biases you may be creating.

Click here to join our priority list to receive our latest Business Communication blog posts.

If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:


Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Difficult Conversations, Generational Differences, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Call us at 416.617.0462.

View Bruce Mayhew's profile on LinkedIn

Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: