4 Time Management Hacks

Do you find yourself faced with lots of work but are having some difficulty getting yourself into “work mode”? Here are 4 time management hacks that may just work for you to get you into the groove and help you be more productive and feel more proud of the work you do.

Set a “time-oriented” goal not a “task-oriented” goal:

This is great if you don’t enjoy the job and/or you don’t know how long it will take you to complete because it is a new job and/or there are many variables.

Saying, “I’m going to work on this problem for the next hour” allows you to stay focused on the quality of your work and what you may be learning along the way versus risking cutting corners (consciously or unconsciously), to get the job done. And, with a 1-hour cut off it allows you to still be happy about your effort and what you accomplished versus being frustrated because you didn’t finish.

Note: Many productivity experts suggest 1-hour as a maximum time for a meeting or work. Then, even a 5-minute break helps you reset and reenergize your focus.

Work when you have to… and then some more if you want to:

You have to put in the time that you’ve committed to. But, if you use the time-oriented goal mentioned above and you find you are still ‘in the zone’ or are finding the work interesting… and you have the time to invest, I recommend you keep going. Set yourself another hour as a new goal and see how you feel. Just be sure you:

  • Have the extra time to invest and don’t throw off another project or commitment (don’t rob Peter to pay Paul).
  • Don’t burn yourself out.

If you are tired or distracted… STOP!

If you are not making progress my recommendation is to take a break. Do something different, get something to eat or drink (water preferably) and/or go for a walk and then come back and try again. If at that time you still are unproductive, do a full-stop. You don’t want to get angry/frustrated at yourself or the project.

If your mind was wandering to another project or person – go take care of that. Perhaps have a nap. If it’s late, get a full night sleep and start fresh the next morning when you and I are at your strategic, creative best.

If you are stuck for no good reason, try this:

If you are having a mental block, a writer’s block or a logic block, welcome to the club. It happens to us all.

As when you are tired, first start rebooting by taking a break or doing something different. If that doesn’t work, find someone to brainstorm with – talk out your project and then perhaps ask them, “what would you do next?” Even if their idea makes no sense, be polite and thank them for the conversation. The benefit is that between talking about it out loud and the mental break you just took, you likely will get a few fresh ideas that will help get you on your way.

I hope you enjoyed my ‘4 Time Management Hacks’ post.

Happy communicating… mentoring… and training.

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 is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Difficult Conversations Training.

Plan.  Engage.  Succeed.

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.

 

Links to other articles I’ve written that are posted on other websites.

Procrastination and self-sabotage sometimes come up in my coaching work. They can be difficult obstacles to overcome without a focused approach and sustained effort. And with procrastination, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between when you’re actually procrastinating, or when you really do need a break.

I wrote two articles: Know When to Fight Or Embrace Procrastination, and How to Deal With Self-Sabotage. These are great resources for anyone who wants to know more about these obstacles.

How To Run Group and/or One-on-One Meetings

Meetings are meant to boost productivity and efficiency by getting everyone aware of major events / projects and to get a collective brain for solving challenges. And yet, many people who attend meeting say meetings are their number one time-waster.

There are a few ways to run effective group or one-on-one meetings. How your meetings unfold will depend a little on the purpose of your meeting and how many people are participating, e.g. is it an ‘update your staff or team’ meeting, a ‘planning meeting’ or a one-on-one ‘problem-solving’ meeting? That said, there are certain basics all meeting leaders and participants will want to consider and agree to in advance to uphold an environment of respect and agreed-upon meeting etiquette.

  1. Recognize everyone wants to be part of something important. We want to contribute, be respected, appreciated and make a difference.
  2. Meetings should be arranged to follow a predictable time and location. Meetings should also be scheduled long in advance.
  3. Create a positive environment where participants appreciate each other, listen and help. Everyone has to be accountable for their actions and their responsibilities, but the meeting also has to be a safe environment. Be aware of what you care about and how you affect others. Are you seeking to understand before you want to be understood? Are you ready to learn and practice listening skills?
  4. Always have a clear objective for the organization and for the meeting. Have a compelling vision, strategy and clearly defined values from which to hold discussions and make decisions. Participants have to believe and have a shared sense of purpose. Meetings with a vague purpose we will be more likely to not be a good use of time and resources. Everyone should be able to easily see what the meeting purpose is and what they are to accomplish, e.g. is the meeting to:
    • Share information / keep the team / person up to date on a change of strategy or project?
    • Take a vote?
    • Discuss a problem?
    • Generate new ideas?
    • Make a decision on a particular matter?
  1. Agree in advance that not all decisions need a formal meeting. As referenced in a community post on quora.com No decision should ever wait for a meeting.’ A part of leadership is making decisions based on your experience. As long as you (your team or committee) are within your mandate and have done your due diligence, decisions should proceed. If a meeting is necessary, relevant individuals should be scheduled immediately.
  2. Every meeting should have an agenda – even a 10-minute meeting with one item for discussion. Agendas should include all discussion points along with a time allocation for each item. Speakers who are contributing to the agenda should prioritize their list of items and next to each major topic, identify what is going to happen, e.g. is the speaker looking for a discussion, a vote, to assign tasks etc. (see point 3). The agenda should include:
    • A list of topics to be covered
    • A brief description of the meeting’s objectives
    • Who will address each topic?
    • Any background information / reading material
  1. Share the agenda and relevant reading materials at least 2-days in advance or based on a previously agreed-upon schedule. In addition, keep the agenda visible throughout the agenda and stick to the schedule.
  2. Everyone comes prepared having read relevant previously distribute materials. They have also made their suggestions to the agenda prior to the meeting.
  3. Start on time, end on time. Starting on time respects those who showed up on time and everyone will learn to be more efficient and to prioritize their items. Try to keep meetings to less than 1-hour. Studies show that 1-hour is generally the longest time people can remain truly engaged. For long meetings perhaps have an intermission or break them into two meetings.
  4. Keep up momentum and watch the time. All relevant reports should include an update on what has happened in their area (good and bad) and the key objectives in the forceable future. One of the biggest challenges around meetings is people run out of time and they go too long or only cover half of the times. Everyone should agree to stay on track and to not derail the meeting with topics not included on the agenda. Also, don’t rehash older discussions / decisions. Use a parking lot where extra items are set aside to discuss at the end of the meeting or at other meeting / the next meeting. New topics should be ‘managed’ at the start of the meeting and perhaps slated for another meeting.
  5. Leave time for crisis or another topic. A time management best practice is to leave blank space in our daily agenda for unexpected. Consider including 10 minutes to the meeting agenda for unexpected topics.
  6. Leave space for creativity and questions.
  7. Follow up with minutes. It is common for people to come away from a meeting with slightly different interpretations so minutes help everyone be on the same page. Minutes don’t have to be complicated or a word-for-word transcript. Because action items and responsibilities will be included, share minutes within 24-hours after the meeting. Include:
    • Key topics
    • Key point of views / options
    • What was decided (if a decision needed to be made0
    • Who is doing what?
    • Timelines / deadlines
  1. Close the meeting with something interesting. Have everyone share what they:
    • Learned
    • Are hopeful to see/experience
    • Are thankful
    • Were most interested in
    • Feel good about

I hope you enjoyed my ‘How to Run Group and/or One-on-One Meetings’ post.

Happy communicating… mentoring… and training.

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 is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Difficult Conversations Training.

Plan.  Engage.  Succeed.

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.

 

Links to other articles I’ve written that are posted on other websites.

Procrastination and self-sabotage sometimes come up in my coaching work. They can be difficult obstacles to overcome without a focused approach and sustained effort. And with procrastination, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between when you’re actually procrastinating, or when you really do need a break.

I wrote two articles: Know When to Fight Or Embrace Procrastination, and How to Deal With Self-Sabotage. These are great resources for anyone who wants to know more about these obstacles.

 

How To Get Promoted

Should seniority be why you are promoted to a leadership position? What about education, should that count? What if you have lots of experience within the industry and/or with other industries and other markets? What about your performance record – or your success working with, mentoring and / or leading others. If you haven’t had leadership success (or have had challenges), should your seniority education or experience matter?

How To Get PromotedI don’t believe there is one simple answer to the important decision of who to hire and what criteria to use. Even within a union environment where seniority is a significant factor, the best hiring decisions are made when many variables, performance criteria are considered… and many of those variables deal with emotional intelligence and soft skills.

Because getting a promotion is complicated you and I have to prove ourselves in many important areas… not just one or two. So, I thought it would be interesting to look at (in no particular order), how to get promoted… especially into a leadership position.

1. Keep a Positive Attitude

Think glass half full. Nobody likes to be around someone who is negative. And positive workspaces experience higher everything from productivity to performance to creativity to loyalty. Stay in control of your emotions, especially when you are under stress. Be a role model for people around you. Whatever you do, don’t let negativity be your default attitude… and don’t shoot down ideas just because they have been tried before; technology and customers are changing quickly – that idea might work now. Sure, you have to weigh the cons of projects, but this is about risk analysis, not a positive or negative attitude.

2. Live Up To The Values Of The Organization

Intentionally and consistently live up to the values of the organization. Be so familiar with the values that you never have to look them up and then, align your behaviour with these values. Also, use the organizational values as a frame of reference for everything you say and for everything you write whether it is a cover memo or a report or your online copy.

3. Work With Integrity

Keep your word, tell the truth, be transparent and consistently respect the law, your values and the values of the organization and society. When you act with integrity you will gain the trust and confidence of everyone around you.
Note: Integrity cannot be given to you or taken away from you; you are the only one able to uphold or give your integrity away.

4. Meet Deadlines

Don’t disappoint people who are counting on you. If you can, have your work done in advance so you can beat deadlines. Do not get a reputation for delivering things last-minute.
Note: People who routinely work under pressure will have fewer opportunities for collaboration and delegation and there is a greater chance their quality of work and creativity suffer which will hurt their reputation.

5. Be A Problem Solver

Show you can take the initiative and think outside the box and not just do what has always been done. When you have new ideas be sure you back them up with examples or proof from research. Don’t be superior or arrogant. If you are going to be a leader you have to prove ahead of time you are able to manage risk and can come up with creative and effective solutions and not have to be told what to do every step of the way.

6. Manage Expectations – Especially Mistakes and Challenges

Be sure you always agree on project goals, your deliverables and the timeline. If you are going to be held accountable you have to know what you will be measured against. Doing this allows you to manage expectations. And, when a mistake happens (and they do to everyone) or it looks like you won’t meet a deadline, don’t hid it – get out in front of it. Keep your boss informed! Don’t let them be surprised. And, as best you can, come with solutions or options. If you have a challenge be sure you discuss it with your boss asap. When you do, recommend a few possible solutions – even if they are only idea starters. Give your boss a chance to coach you on next steps but don’t make it their responsibility to fix every challenge.

7. Ask Smart Questions

Ask smart, relevant, intelligent questions. Ask smart questions that will make your product or service better or will clarify objectives – to make sure everyone is on the same page. Do not ask questions just to try to impress everyone else; that is annoying. Note, unless you are directly involved in the meeting and/or conversation, it may be inappropriate for you to speak up. If this is the case and you really do have a question you want to ask, ask your boss after the meeting.

8. Show You Are Committed

There are lots of ways to show you are committed. One of the best is to intentionally and consistently live up to the values of the organization. You will also want to show you are a team player by promoting your boss and your team / co-workers and make sure they look good. Never throw someone under the bus or take responsibility for someone else’s work. And, when the team, project or company need you to put in extra effort, your first question should not be, “Will I get extra time off?”, “Will I get over-time pay?” or some variation of “What’s in it for me?

9. Promote Other Peoples Performance / Success

Leaders give credit where credit is due and they use specific and effort-base praise but, you don’t have to be a leader to support other people. Even before you become a leader, get the reputation as the person who points out everyone’s success… from your co-worker to your partner to the person making your lunch and your auto-mechanic.

10. Give People Opportunities

Great leaders give their team members opportunities to grow – to experience new people, ideas and new situations. You don’t need to wait until you are a leader to help someone have a learning experience. Who can you help get more experience? They will be grateful when you do. And be sure you take every opportunity to learn new things.

11. Show You Want To Learn / Grow

Take classes, ask to go to conferences, ask to audit meetings you normally would not need to attend, read books, watch TED Talks, listen to POD casts. Perhaps let others know they can count on you if they need help with a special project. Don’t let your current ‘job description’ stand in the way of helping on a project or file and the learning opportunity. Also, ask to job shadow a colleague or someone in a higher-level position. We never know too much – and we can always help others.

12. Embrace Change

The only thing you can truly count on is change. Leaders drive change so if you want to get promoted you cannot be resistant or complain about change to others. When you do face change in the workplace, focus on the positives and the negatives. Positive helps you take advantage of all of them, and exploring the negatives lets you proactively work to lower their impact (risk management). With the right attitude change doesn’t have to be scary… or at least not as scary.

13. Show Pride in Your Work

Show pride – but don’t be annoying and self-absorbed. When / if other people helped, show pride in their work. Give them credit.

14. Have a Great Engaging Attitude

Be polite. Some days when you get to the office take the long route to get to your desk; take 5 minutes to say hi to people you don’t usually see. At the beginning of meetings greet people by name. Hand write a thank you note for someone who helped you with a project. Help someone with no expectation of getting something from them. Don’t let hierarchy isolate you. Only one rule; be authentic.

15. Do Your Job Very Well

You don’t want your job to suffer while you have your eye on a bigger prize. You have to exceed expectations within your responsibilities to prove you are ready for a new learning / growth experience. But you also have to show you are ready and mature, which brings up the next tip.

16. Show You Can Manage Others

You don’t need a team to demonstrate you have leadership experience and that you can respectfully manage up, manage sideways and manage down. Take a lead on your companies United Way campaign. Not only will you get leadership experience, almost every VP and Director in your immediate circle will notice this – and you may meet one-on-one with some of these leaders. Alternatively, volunteer on your spare time and take a leadership role. There are always organizations looking for board members. Just don’t over-extend yourself.

17. Take Notes During Meetings

It is annoying when people sit in a meeting and don’t keep track of what is going on or decisions that are being made… and then waste everyone’s time later because they forgot half of the tasks that were assigned to them. You don’t want to be the person who misses a great opportunity or forgets a great idea because you didn’t take notes you could have / should have referred to later. Prove you are responsible. My recommendation is to use an old-fashioned notepad to take your notes – not a laptop. Alternatively, there are many Pads / Tablets now that you can write on and transcribe your handwritten notes to an electronic Word file.

18. Don’t Mansplain… or Womansplain

Mansplaining is condescending and patronizing… and everyone notices it. Nobody thinks a man interrupting a woman to explain how she feels or what she knows is motivating, smart, helpful or respectful. Not only do people who mansplain diminish the trust of the people around them, mansplaining wastes everyone’s time. If you are going to build a reputation for being annoying, there are far better things to do – like be an over achiever.
Note: Womansplaining is just like mansplaining and is also not a good quality to exhibit – i.e. when a woman attempts to tell a man how his brain works and what the motivations are behind his various thoughts, words and actions.

19. Avoid Office Politics and Gossip

You do not want to be the gossip in the office or be known for spinning webs. Work should not be a mind-game. Everyone has to trust each other for your team / any team to do their best work.

20. Make Your Boss Aware You Want the Promotion

If you want a promotion don’t expect your boss ‘must know’. You have to let them know otherwise they may think you’re happy where you are and that they are doing you a favour by letting you do work you are good at and enjoy. The same applies if you want to gain a new skill and/or work on a team. The promotion may not be possible immediately, but it’s unlikely ever going to happen if your boss doesn’t know you are interested.

21. Network

Get to know other leaders internally and externally and more importantly, make sure they know who you are. Work on special projects and get on cross-functional teams and volunteer on social committees. If coaching is offered within your organization, it is a great way to meet leaders, increase your performance and overcome some obstacles. An executive coach will also help you expose blind spots and challenges.

22. Prep For Job Interviews

Plan in advance for the questions they will ask, knowing they are going to ask about your leadership skills and how you’ve resolved conflict and managed change. Practice for the interview by having someone ask you questions and then answer them seriously. If you can, record your mock-interview and listen to yourself. Evaluate where you can improve and perhaps shorten a rambling answer? Doing this will also help you feel less stress before and during your actual interview. It will also keep you from struggling to remember your key successes and/or experiences.

Conclusion

Your attitude will have a lot to deal with your success in getting promoted. Now is the time for you to consider your goals, how you are going to achieve them – and what you want your reputation to be when you get there.

These tips will also help senior management who are looking to hire by identifying those important skills that will impact a company’s long-term success and filter back into employee engagement.

I hope you enjoyed my ‘How To Get Promoted’ post.

Happy communicating… mentoring… and training.

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 is an Executive Coach who facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Generational Differences, Time Management, Leadership and Difficult Conversations Training.

Plan.  Engage.  Succeed.

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.

 

Links to other articles I’ve written that are posted on other websites.

Procrastination and self-sabotage sometimes come up in my coaching work. They can be difficult obstacles to overcome without a focused approach and sustained effort. And with procrastination, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between when you’re actually procrastinating, or when you really do need a break.

I wrote two articles: Know When to Fight Or Embrace Procrastination, and How to Deal With Self-Sabotage. These are great resources for anyone who wants to know more about these obstacles.

 

Overcome Your Resistance To Change

Everybody resists change. Sometimes resisting change is good… but often it’s not.

  • Resistance is good when it helps us pay attention and focuses us.
  • Resistance is unhealthy when it paralyzes us or holds us back from being our best.

Being aware of what you are resisting and what is holding you back is informative and empowering. If you are going to be the best you can be, you have to learn to explore what is going on when you feel resistance. In today’s world, not changing usually means falling behind and eventually being left behind. But, by adapting to change you are more likely to reach your full potential.

So, lets explore how to overcome your resistance to change.

Step #1: What Do You Feel?

You don’t resist all change – even today. Change is exciting for many reasons, like when you get a new smartphone, a new car or a new home. Under those circumstances you deal with the learning curve and discomfort with a big smile.

Change is also difficult for many reasons. For example, when you are feeling:

  • Disrespected from not being involved
  • Frustrated with the amount of work required
  • Loss of what you built and will have to leave behind
  • Fear from not knowing what is going to happen next.
  • Other?

Nothing is going to empower you more than understanding the source of your resistance. When you begin examining what‘s holding you back, you may find the exact resource you need that will help you move forward productively.

And yes, you will likely feel vulnerable. If you are the strong confident type who others depend on you are likely not used to exposing your vulnerabilities. You are going to have to find a safe space or a safe person who you can confide in. You need to create an impartial, reliable, qualified support system. Note: your best friend may be reliable, but they may not be impartial or qualified. This is where a professional, certified coach may work. More on this below in #5.

Step #2: Consider The Upside Of Change 

Many people resist change because they fear the unknown and/or don’t want to repeat a negative experience. Unfortunately, using resistance as a way to protect yourself often backfires because it limits your experiences. Instead of looking at the limitations and risks that come with change, try to look at change as the very thing that opens the door to your next opportunity.

Most beliefs are learned or put in place to protect us emotionally and physically. So, choose to believe that change is a good. When you choose your perspective, you can easily rewire your internal system around change. For example, you can choose to believe “change is doable because I are resourceful,” or “change brings me amazing opportunities”.

Ask yourself “What would I do if I wanted change to work?” Explore what is important to you – and what isn’t? And, it’s always a good idea to explore how your resistance may jeopardize your personal / professional priorities.

Step #3: A Little Research Goes A Long Way

Find out more about the change you are being asked to make. Empower yourself by informing yourself, especially if you are naturally risk averse.

If change is happening at work, speak with your supervisor or someone appropriate. Why is the change happening? Your senior team should have explained this, but if your nature requires more detail then it’s OK to ask for it. Another way you can find out more is to go online and do some research on the topic. If your company is using a service provider, are they leaders in their field? Are there other service providers? Are there product or service reviews you can learn from?

Step #4: Stop Playing Hide-And-Seek

Pain and discomfort only happen during the transition… soon you’ll find the requested change isn’t so bad after all.

Hiding the problem won’t make it go away. If you start isolating yourself and / or you have lost interest in important things like work, hobbies, friends and family, be careful that you are not sliding into a depression. Monitor your anxiety is negative self-talk. The story you tell yourself can seriously affect your default behaviours. If you catch yourself saying, “I’m scared,” replace it with, “I’m courageous,” or “This is the right move forward.” Judging yourself only keeps you stuck… so stop it.

Accept that the future will be better when you do what you need to… for you, your family and/or your company. Be proud of yourself, and each time you do remind yourself that you are human and that it’s ok to lean on someone from time-to-time.

Warning: Too much positive affirmation can become an endless circle of never-ending non-action. You have to take action – don’t get stuck in reflection and planning. Care enough for yourself to not get stuck.

Step #5: Involve Someone Else

Resisting change is a serious thing. A little can be tolerated but a lot can really hold you back. When you are faced with a big decision and you are resisting, look for someone experiencing the same change request. If you are at work there is likely are a few of you being asked to change, so help each other. I don’t mean get together and groan because misery loves company. Instead, get together and explore how you can support each other to move forward and accept, influence and implement change… to get over your resistance. Explore the upside of change together.

A coach can help ensure you are held accountable and can provide the reality check you need. Things are less scary when you have someone with you. Note: Not every coach will be the right fit for you / your personality. If you go that route, interview a few and see who fits.

Step #6: Take A Step – Do Something

Make a list, take baby steps if necessary…but do something. Even if you can’t change 100% right away, do something to help you build a new habit. One approach when you are unsure how to start is to start anywhere. At least you are doing something and you can always back-track as necessary.

Accept that it is scary… and may be humbling, especially if you are used to being in control. Accept you will not be perfect… at least at first.

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” (John Lubbock: Banker, Liberal politician, Philanthropist)

Conclusion: Overcome Your Resistance To Change

Resisting change is the same as resisting reality.

Embrace a learning mindset in every situation. Evaluate the change request before you respond to it. Ask yourself, “Would I want to work with someone looking for solutions or someone known to resist change?” Hopefully you want to work with someone looking for solutions.

Change always takes time and effort. Change means you have to build new habits – and this usually takes 20-30 days to lock down a new habit. You have to reinforce that bundle of nerves in your brain to change your default settings.

You can’t hold onto something (a job for example), whose time has passed. This will only narrow your options… quickly. No amount of wishing, manipulating, forcing. or hoping can change that. Change allows you to be innovative. Now is the time to learn as much as you can. Don’t miss all of the wonderful opportunities that are right in front of you by staying focused on the past.

PS: People often get to a point where they are done resisting, they can’t do it anymore because they realize there is a far to great a cost to their:

  • Self-esteem
  • Reputation
  • Talent
  • Attitude
  • Emotion
  • Weight
  • Relationships
  • $ / Job / Promotion
  • Health

I hope you enjoyed this post. Thank you for sticking with me – I know it was a long one.

Bruce

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Leadership Skills, Motivation Skills, Difficult Conversation Training, Business Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and more.

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

Call us at 416.617.0462.

How To Build Employee Engagement

Why do companies care about employee engagement? Two top reasons are:

  1. Measuring employee engagement is possible, and while it isn’t an exact science, it does become quantifiable, tangible and actionable.
  2. Sustained profit growth can almost always be linked back to engaged employees.

Furthermore, sustained profit growth (as it relates to employee engagement), may be the result of one or more of the following:

  • Higher customer satisfaction rates (customers become more loyal and make more referrals)
  • Greater employee productivity (output)
  • Fewer employee mistakes (less waste and less customer frustration / dissatisfaction)
  • Increased employee pride (greater creativity, strategy and attention to detail)
  • Greater employee loyal (meaning turnover, hiring & training costs go down)

So, with employee engagement being so important, how can leaders build employee engagement?

As a leader you and I have a responsibility to remember employees are individuals with feelings and ambitions who have chosen to work for us. They have families and stresses just like you and I do, and two of their greatest needs are to feel safe and respected. And, while our company may experience short-term gains when we add pressure to do more with less (less time, less support, less rest, less time to be creative, less time to take pride in their work), we will also get long-term losses when these people begin to quit and/or burn out.

My best advice as a corporate trainer and executive coach is to stop trying to make employees more engaged and start working on plans to make employees feel proud, safe, respected and more interested. While employee engagement is the outcome we want, the tactics we need to use to meet that outcome has to be about helping employees feel that they ‘want to produce’ not ‘have to produce’. If you are still reading after that last sentence, I’m betting you are comfortable with the reality that employee engagement is more soft-skill than hard-skill, or in other terms… more carrot than stick… more empathy than indifference… more discussion than policy.

Employee Engagement Begins With Trust & Teamwork

An ADP Research Institute 19-country study identified people are 2.3 times as likely to be fully engaged if they are on a team. And teams that trust their leader are as much as 12 times more likely to be fully engaged.

It seems to me that the question shouldn’t be. “How can we build global employee engagement?” Instead we should be asking “How can we create trustworthy leaders and a corporate culture that empowers employees and maximizes team support.”

Employee loyalty is about leaders helping employees do their best work. We do not need leaders who are experts in software design, aircraft maintenance, accounting or power generation. We do need leaders who are committed to strategy, integrity and being a beacon of the values of the organization. We need leaders who know that the road will get rough now and again and tensions may rise, but the best way forward… the best way to de-escalate the situation is to stay open, calm and respectful… and to help their team learn to do the same. We need leaders who know that mastering the ‘art of people’ is as real as being a master architect, chef or banker.

When a leader’s goal is to help employees be more creative, innovative and proactive, their corporate culture will begin to change accordingly, and we will see the employee engagement results we want. To explore how you and I can help the people who work for you do their best work in more detail I’m going to explore the following seven critical skills I believe great leaders have to master… and continuously demonstrate:

  1. Help Employees Understand The Organization
  2. Get to know your team
  3. Help Employees Contribute
  4. Give Employees Responsibility
  5. Set / Manage Expectations – Great leaders establish agreement around expectations
  6. Manage Performance: Provide Timely Praise & Feedback
  7. Build Trust

Help Employees Understand The Organization

Help people understand and bond with your organization’s goals and values. Don’t (only), remind them through dull presentations and lectures. Remind employees of the goals and value by connecting every decision you make and that they make. By connecting goals and values to actions you give employees the chance to learn through direct experience that they are responsible for being a representative of the organizational and that they are an important part of a corporate culture they can feel proud.

Get to Know Your Team And Help Them Get To Know You

Caring for your team, understanding their needs, embracing differences and helping your colleagues experience their potential cannot be over-stated… and you can only do this if you know your team.

We are not all motivated the same way and our motivations can change / evolve. Knowing each of your employees on your team means you have invested the time to understand their talents, experience, ambitions and even family (if they want to share).

Familiarity instinctively builds trust, respect and cooperation. The best way to determine what people need is to keep lines of communication open and to check-in regularly.

NOTE: I like to use the C.A.R.P.C.S. model as an outline of what may motivate each person and how to frame a discussion… whether you are a leader or not. I’ll create a link when I write about C.A.R.P.C.S. If you don’t see a link please send me a note if you would like to discuss at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Help Employees Contribute

Help employees show you what they are capable of doing. Keep them up to speed on the major goals and initiatives the department and/or company are involved in. Give them the opportunity to feel what it’s like to contribute to the corporate strategy and have their voices heard.

This step also means you have to prove to yourself that you can trust them with autonomy to make good decisions (even if they are not EXACTLY the decisions you would make). But, you know what? When employees know what the goals and organizational values are, they make good decisions. Let me repeat that… when employees know what the goals and organizational values are, they make good decisions.  This will almost always increase their job satisfaction, productivity, creativity and loyalty.

Give Employees Responsibility Before People Are Ready

Most employees want to learn new skills and/or to prove themselves and professional development is one of the greatest benefits Millennial and Gen Z employees crave.

There is almost no better reward for an employee than the pride they feel when they learn new skills, experience new situations, finish a new project and/or work with a new audience. When people feel pride (an intrinsic motivation), their work becomes more purposeful. Giving reliable employees increased responsibility often results in an increase in a person’s productivity, creativity, work satisfaction and in most cases lower employee turnover.

As a leader, look for opportunities to demonstrate trust by giving people responsibility before they’re 100% ready – and let them know you are there for support. Your most important job here will likely be to keep them focused on the project goals and organizational values. They also need to know (they need to trust), that asking for support shows maturity not weakness.

Set / Manage Expectations

When leaders treat employees like children, they often get demotivated employees. Alternatively, when leaders treat employees like adults, they mostly get responsible employees.

If you want your employees to be empowered you have to first let them know what you expect of them. Equally important, you also must share what they can expect from you; employee engagement is a two-way street. When you are clear about expectations you lay the foundation to build trust and a community. For example, imagine how excited your team will feel when you tell them your goal is to:

  • Help them contribute and reach their short and long-term goals
  • Give them the autonomy and to contribute in a meaningful way (how, when and what they work on)
  • Keep them informed
  • Help them be proud of their work

And equally important, that you expect them to:

  • Be professional, proactive, creative, strategic and demonstrate organizational values
  • Reach their goals – as they’ve agreed to with you, on time and on budget
  • Provide you with accurate and timely updates
  • Come to you early with challenges and not to surprise you

Great leaders realize change is everywhere and every project will have unique challenges. Great leaders coach their team to expect change, not fear it and to expect to work differently tomorrow than they did today.

Manage Performance: Provide Timely Praise & Constructive Feedback

Give your employees the praise they earn. Not praising someone because “they’re doing their job” is an old-fashioned approach that needs to change. Everybody deserves to have their contribution recognized and to feel pride in their work and their team. Also, everyone should be encouraged to offer praise – even to a fellow team member.

Constructive feedback should never be seen as punitive or a surprise; it is as important as praise. If an employee is actively trying to avoid work or is not able to fulfill the task at hand they should expect to be held accountable. But this doesn’t mean their leader should be discourteous or unsympathetic.

Great leaders share that challenges and feedback can teach us more than successes; that they are professional development opportunities. Explore solutions they may be able to apply now… or in the future to other situations. Recognize that feedback often causes stress and anxiety so be clear that your goal around feedback is to help them… and the team be the best they can be.

Effort-based Praise

Effort-based praise reinforces self-awareness and feelings of pride in how hard a person has worked; in other words, their dedication, persistence and how hard they applied themselves. Effort-based praise may sound something like, “Thank you Bruce, you did lots of research and one-on-one interviews to understand the unique training goals of this prospect.”

Specific-based Praise

Specific-based praise builds greater commitment and sustainable results by reinforcing the exact behaviour or actions you want repeated. Specific-based praise may sound something like, “You shared important suggestions about how to approach the training the client wants and to stay within budget.”

With both Effort-based Praise and Specific-based Praise, even if Bruce didn’t land a new client, he can be proud of how hard he worked and what he learned through the process. How can you get into the habit of giving Effort-based praise and Specific-based praise? First, identify the behaviours you want to encourage. Your corporate values and mission statement are good places to start. Then, when you see those behaviours be sure you point them out. Side suggestion: Are your corporate values and mission listed in your offices and/or meeting rooms as reminders?

Build Trust To Improve Engagement

When you trust employees, they will likely to trust you.

Everything we have discussed here flows back to the issue of trust. When leaders trust employees, employees almost always become more engaged – even some of your lowest performers. When employees trust leaders they will take more ownership and want to exceed expectations. When leaders and employees trust each other they both know there may be moments where they may need to have difficult conversations, but everyone knows the ultimate goal is to bring out what is best for the employee and the team and the company.

Google conducted a two-year that showed the highest-performing teams believe they won’t be punished when they make a mistake (called psychological safety). This belief is rooted in trust in their leaders and that their corporate culture believes everyone is expected to learn from setbacks – not fear them.

When people trust each other, they know they can count on each other. When people don’t trust each other, they will not share information and will guard themselves and their work. Also, in organizations where employees don’t trust their leaders and the corporate culture, there is also increased resistance to change which can have significant implications to an organizations long-term competitiveness and success.

Conclusion

Being a great leader requires a keen understanding of people, their strengths and what gets them excited to work. You also need to know your own strengths… and weaknesses.

It takes a special kind of leader with unique competencies and skills to successfully master the ‘art of people’. Employee engagement isn’t a ‘thing’ you do in Q1 and Q3. It’s a full-time culture your leadership style builds and sustains. And, once you do create a great corporate culture you will have to maintain it. Building a corporate culture is like going on a diet. If you lose 20 pounds you have to maintain it with new, better habits. If you go back to your old ways all your successes will be washed away. Anne M. Mulcahy’s quote Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage” was true when she wrote it and it is still true now.

One last point.

Who Should You Try To Engage?

For this I think it’s important to decide who are we really trying to engage because different people will take more or less effort… and some may not ever be possible. Consider, every organization has people who have:

  • Low engagement and Low productivity
  • Moderate engagement and Moderate, dependable, meets expectations productivity
  • Moderate engagement and High productivity (not really common)
  • High engagement and Low productivity (likely new employees)
  • High engagement and High productivity (for a few reasons – usually more personally motivated)

It’s difficult to find engagement studies that reference the same results however, most seem to be in general agreement that:

  • Approximately 15% of employees are low producers because they are new and learning or existing and disengaged
  • Approximately 15% of employees are high or top producers
  • Approximately 60% of employees are dependable, meets expectations people.

So reflecting on this information, your opportunity to have the greatest impact may be to focus on your dependable, meets expectations employees.

We hope you enjoyed this post. Thank you for sticking with me – I know it was a long one.

Bruce

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Leadership Skills, Motivation Skills, Difficult Conversation Training, Business Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and more.

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

Call us at 416.617.0462.

 

Are We Doing Positive Feedback And Praise At Work All Wrong?

It’s supposed to be easy and motivating to shower our employees or our coworkers with praise. But it seems many of us are managing to do feedback and praise at work all wrong with potentially terrible impact on self-esteem, not to mention the short-term and long-term productivity for the individual and the company.

This is important because an organization’s success is largely determined by how driven, productive and creative employees are. This is strongly associated with how proud employees feel about their contribution (effort + talent), and the impact their work has. And, a person’s pride is largely impacted by how they receive feedback and praise.

The first thing to know about how feedback and praise are used in the workplace is there are two important channels to deliver praise:

  1. Effort-based versus Person-based
  2. Specific-based versus General-based

While this also impacts how we share feedback and praise with our children, I’m only going to focus on how feedback and praise are used in the workplace and let you translate how you help your friends and family become smart, resilient people.

Effort-Based Praise versus Person-Based Praise

Effort-based praise reinforces self-awareness and feelings of self-worth and pride in how we work. When we use effort-based praise we help people learn there is great value in how hard they work, or in other words, their dedication and persistence. Effort-based praise may sound something like, “Thank you Bruce, you did lots of research and one-on-one interviews to understand the unique goals and needs of this prospect.” In this case, even if Bruce didn’t land a new client, he can take pride and the joy in the work he did. In addition, using this example Bruce has the opportunity to reflect on what he learned and how he might use this knowledge in the future. He can even look positively on the relationships he built during the project.

Effort-based praise is especially important for people learning new skills because it inspires them to learn from their mistakes and move on – to not give up. Individuals learn to believe in a Growth-mindset, which means they realize their ability can increase with effort and practice.

In contrast, person-based praise reinforces an individual’s natural or existing skills, talents or abilities over effort. This is harmful to short-term and long-term success because peopleare more likely to give up when they experience a challenge. They are also more likely to see setback as a failure versus individuals whose effort is praised. Person-based praise may sound something like, “You have a way with words and are a natural public speaker.” Person-based praise tends to train people to believe their intelligence and/or natural ability is fixed (Fixed-mindset). The old saying ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try try again’ may only frustrate them because trying again would be a waste of time.

Unfortunately, most of us have learned to praise people for their natural ability, not their effort.

Other examples of less-effective Person-based praise and language a leader might use versus Effort-based praise are:

  • “You are our smartest lawyer.” versus the better “You spend a lot of time researching cases and exploring options.”
  • “You are our top salesperson.” versus the better “You work well with the team and to find creative solutions.”

Specific-Based Praise versus General-Based Praise

Specific-based praise builds greater commitment by pointing out and reinforcing the exact behaviour or actions an employee or team is doing that you want repeated. Specific-based praise creates sustainable results. Specific-based praise may sound something like, “You shared important suggestions about how to streamline proposal writing in the sales meeting.” How can you get into the habit of giving Specific-based praise? First, identify the behaviours you want to encourage. Your corporate values and mission statement are good places to start. Then, when you see those behaviours be sure you point them out. Side suggestion: Are your corporate values and mission listed in your offices and/or meeting rooms as reminders?

General-base praise is often better than nothing, unfortunately it leaves space for interpretation and therefore potentially miscommunication and even instances where you may inadvertently reward behavior you don’t want. Furthermore, your employee may interpret this general comment as insincere and feel demotivated by it (Yikes). General-based praise may sound something like, “Good Job!” or “Thank You!”. While thesemay seem like appropriate ways to be supportive, unfortunately, this general language doesn’t clearly define the exact behaviour or actions. Instead of saying “Good job!”consider:

  • “I respect how you kept trying without giving up.”
  • “You kept cool and stayed focused during that difficult conversation.”

Conclusion:

How leaders provide feedback and praise plays an important role in determining if a person and/or a team embrace a growth mindset or a fixed mindset and the honour they show in their work. In the end, both Effort-based praise and Specific-based praise help create a more positive and productive workplace where employees are proud of their work. When people feel proud of their work their natural motivation flourishes. Once leaders learn how to use these two ways to give praise and feedback, they will also learn they take the least amount of effort (and expense) withthe greatest possible impact.

We hope you enjoyed this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Leadership Skills, Motivation Skills, Difficult Conversation Training, Business Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and more.

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

Call us at 416.617.0462.

Never Argue Again… With 1 Easy Idea

Daniel Goleman, is the father of Emotional Intelligence (EI). He defines ‘Experience’ as our Senses (what we see, hear, taste etc.) + Perception (what we understand, believe etc.).

Senses + Perception = Experience
see, hear, taste + understand or believe = Experience

Think about this simple equation next time you have a disagreement.

Your disagreement will almost certainly depend on the emotion you feel (anger, disgust, fear or surprise) in response to an experience you are having versus the experience I (as an example), am having.

Let’s break that down. You and I are likely sensing (seeing) the same thing. This means our disagreement is almost 100% based on what you understand or believe and what I understand and believe. So, instead of getting into a heated argument that is emotional… and risk us both getting irrational… you and I should instead try to calmly explore what each of us believe with an open mind. For example:

  • Where did you learn what you believe? What supporting evidence do you have?
  • Where did I learn what I believe? What supporting evidence do I have?
  • Could things have changed since you and I learned what we believe? Has the software been upgraded for example? Has there been a new policy the company has adopted? Have the neighbours had another child – or moved?
  • Could you possibly be wrong, just a little?
  • Could I possibly be wrong, just a little?
  • Does our disagreement matter to the bigger picture? Is there an even bigger – more important objective to focus on?

I often think we as a society get our backs up far too quickly and put each other into ‘My Camp’ or ‘Your Camp’ far too quickly and easily. Who says we need to be adversaries Instead, by being curious, being open minded and sharing each other’s experiences we both might come up with a unique and new solution… and more respect for each other.

We hope you enjoyed this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Leadership Skills, Motivation Skills, Difficult Conversation Training, Business Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and more.

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

Call us at 416.617.0462.

 

Our Brains Get More Capable When We Challenge Them.

Growth Mindset versus Fixed Mindset… and what Leaders should know.

Our minds are powerful tools that can ignite sustainable change and unlock new possibilities throughout our lives… and for the organizations that employ us during our careers. Only when we are aware of our potential can we effect the meaningful positive change we are capable of achieving. This is where the concept of Growth Mindset versus Fixed Mindset is important for individuals and their leaders.

Dr. Carol Dweck coined the terms ‘Growth Mindset’ and ‘Fixed Mindset’ as she described what people believe about intelligence and their ability to learn. The key question is, “does an individual believe that with awareness and consistent effort that their own mental abilities like critical thinking, creativity and even curiosity can be enhanced over time… or do they believe intelligence is fixed?”

What Is Growth Mindset?

Neuroscientists have shown that when our brains are routinely stimulated, our mental capacity and abilities are not fixed. It is called growth mindset when people know their mental effort can have a positive physical, emotional and an intellectual benefit. Let’s look at these three benefits one at a time.

Physically, the brain has the ability to grow new neurons every day. Each of us can easily boost this process within our own minds by being curious, asking questions and thinking through challenges. In addition, scientists have found a growth mindset not only helps build new neuron, existing neuron networks are strengthened and/or build more insulation which speeds transmission of electrical impulses.

Emotionally, knowing our brain can grow makes most of us approach learning and difficult situations (challenges) differently including being more likely to take an active role in learning. People who believe in growth mindset see learning as an opportunity to develop new skills and are curious about what they might be able to accomplish as they challenge their brains.

In a study where students were taught the mind grows, three times as many students showed an increase in effort and motivation compared with the control group. In addition, when we believe our effort matters, we are more likely to choose a greater challenge rather than look for an easy win and, we are less likely to give up when we experience difficult mental (and physical), challenges. It isn’t only our belief in ourselves and our effort to learn new things from our surroundings that matters. There is also a correlation between our ability to grow new neurons and external influences like good sleep habits and what we eat and drink (saturated fat and how much alcohol we drink are harmful). When people recognize our mindset is not fixed – that growth is not fixed – it’s also likely to lead to increased intrinsic motivation.

Intelligence also improves when people believe in growth mindset. People get smarter because they practice / study / research… or in other words, because of the effort they apply to learning. Because of their effort to challenges (their perseverance), their investment will likely lead to higher achievement and success as they increase their experiences and knowledge. People with a growth mindset also see failures as learning opportunities – not ‘failures’. They see feedback as valuable information to consider and enjoy putting in effort because they know hard work pays off. They might say, “Even if I make a mistake, I can learn and/or experience something new – and if I keep trying, I will get better and eventually I will succeed.”

In a nutshell, our belief and confidence in ourselves and our ability to learn influences our actions and therefore our future possibilities / successes.

People who believe in a growth mindset understand that as they learn a new skill, that learning is difficult and their progress will likely be slow. They know they may even make mistakes, but by trying over and over the challenge (opportunity) gets easier. As we learn our brain is building new neurons and/or strengthening existing pathways.

What Is Fixed Mindset?

Fixed mindset is when people believe their intelligence is ‘what it is now’ and their ability to learn / to become good at something they are not good at now is limited. People with fixed mindset believe more in ‘natural talent’ rather in their ability to learn. Studies show fixed mindset believers tend to put less effort into learning than people who believe in growth mindset and less effort in personal practice / study / research. Fixed mindset believers often see mistakes as failures not learning opportunities and are more likely to give up when they experience failure rather than to try again. They might say, “I’m likely going to make a mistake, so I don’t want to try, I don’t know how to do it and I don’t have the natural skills, so I can’t learn.”

Every successful person has failed and… they have not given up. A growth mindset is especially important for people who are aware of their natural talents because ‘talented people’ can easily learn to rely heavily on their talent and give up (far too easily), when they begin to struggle. They must learn they can reach even greater success (and awareness), when they study and work through difficulty.

For most of us our mindset is reinforced by our social environments and especially by our parents and teachers. For adults our mindset is often reinforced by our leaders at work and mentors. For example; as a teacher or a leader do you encourage your students or employees to choose a project that will challenge them… or do you give them projects they can complete easily? As a teacher or a leader do you act as a mentor and a coach? Just as people with a growth mindset are motivated by other people (and their environment) to exercise their cognitive abilities, people with a fixed mindset (sadly) learn to conform and embrace status-quo from the people around them and their environment.

Fixed Mindset language you might hear at home, school or at work:

  • “I give up.”
  • “You can’t do this. Try this easier project.”
  • “I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake.”

Growth Mindset language you might hear at home, school or at work:

  • “I’m not good at this yet.”
  • “You can do better. Take until tomorrow to see what you can come up with.”
  • “When I make a mistake I will learn – at least what not to do.”

Conclusion

Our brains get more capable when we challenge them… when we experience new things and information.

Our mindset is a choice, it really is.

We all have beliefs about ourselves; what we are good at, what we are proud of, what we can and cannot do. The important thing to learn is that even though we may struggle at first and look like failures, the struggle is often the most important part of the road to success.

And it’s important to be clear that I am not suggesting you ignore your natural talents and strengths. I am not! Playing to your strengths is likely going to be satisfying and profitable. What I am saying is to not only do what comes easy for you – there is great benefit when you challenge yourself – including within the area of your strengths.

In today’s workspaces change is everywhere and constant. That is why today’s leaders must bring a growth mindset and language into your workplace culture; the alternative is to fall behind. If individuals and teams are not learning they are falling behind. When leaders adopt a growth mindset approach to how they lead, they apply a whole new level of motivation and excellence.

The most important aspect of a growth mindset environment (after knowing growth is possible), is to feel safe. We must feel safe to make mistakes and we must learn to learn from them. Feeling safe from mistakes isn’t a go-be-irresponsible get out of jail free card. We all have to be responsible and accountable. But when employees feel safe and experience a growth mindset environment, they begin to see every project as an opportunity to improve their skills, enhance their knowledge, make a positive difference… and as a way to show off their existing skills (all of which are especially important to Millennials and GenZ). These employees will also be more loyal.

We hope you enjoyed this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Leadership Skills, Motivation Skills, Difficult Conversation Training, Business Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and more.

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

Call us at 416.617.0462.

What Is A Real Leader?

Real Leaders recognize leadership is a relationship between you and your employees. You have to value their well being, their effort, their successes like you would your family.
 
Leadership is being a coach and mentor just like you would coach your grandchildren – sharing respect and security; feeding their desire to grow… knowing there is always a learning curve.
 
Leadership is knowing that even though you may be an expert, we live in a culture of change and there is always something new to learn…. or you risk falling behind.
 
Real leadership is communicating with people as they are… not as if they were you – with your goals, your knowledge, your stresses. Leaders recognize people are individuals and do not wish to be mini-clones of you.
 
Leadership recognizes everyone has emotions – they do not freeze when they (or you) walk through the door. Leaders also recognizes the relationships you need to nourish and respect are based on emotions. Trust is an emotion; so is Motivation and so is Respect… and the list continues.
 
Leaders build relationships that last… and the foundation of a leaders legacy… the foundation of a leaders personal and professional brand is their ability to build trusting, respectful relationships while motivating the people around them to achieve their greatest potential.
 
Real leaders are not perfect… but they try and are transparent of their shortfalls as well as their efforts and their successes. Leaders know their vulnerability only builds greater loyalty from others.
 
Real leaders want to make a positive lasting impact in the lives of their employees as well as their suppliers, customers and shareholders.
 
Real leaders never want to make a positive lasting impact at the expense of their employees, suppliers, customers and shareholders.
 
Bruce….

What we do every day of our lives is what matters.

We hope you enjoyed this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Leadership Skills, Motivation Skills, Difficult Conversation Training, Business Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and more.

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

Call us at 416.617.0462.

 

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

 

 

31 Time Management and Productivity Tips for People Living With ADHD

People living with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), traditionally have extra challenges at work including completing tasks on time, staying focused / feeling restless, planning in both the short- and long-term and noticing the passing of time (too fast and/or too slow). How much ADHD (also called ADD), affects a person’s work depends quite a bit on how severe their condition is and the impact of their environment. Thankfully, work-around solutions do exist that can help the approximate 4% of adults impacted (1.4 million in Canada and 12.0 million in the USA).

Should people living with ADHD be apologetic or feel embarrassed?
No. Absolutely not!

When one’s mind has a tendency to wander and/or get distracted, employees usually work late, take work home and work weekends to complete their important work. This can create even more challenges for people living with ADHD as they get less of the important down-time and rest they need.

Should people living with ADHD be apologetic or feel embarrassed? Absolutely not. People who are not morning people find work-arounds and employees who are not good with numbers find work-arounds. Why should it be different for people living with ADHD? Instead of being self-critical or judgmental, remember there are many operational and time management techniques for people living with ADHD that can help… techniques their Leaders should be aware of as well.

Here are 31 time management and workplace productivity skills people living with ADHD (and their support network) can consider:

  1. Always be fair to yourself and others.
  2. Be grateful for the 90% of your life that goes well. Don’t linger on the 10% that doesn’t.
  3. Stay positive. Think glass half full versus half empty. Self-talk like the following is helpful, “I had a great morning and even though I had to course correct twice I did finish my XYZ on time. Now, to pull that energy forward into this afternoon.”
  4. Practice Mindfulness or meditation to help yourself stay present and calm yourself if you feel triggered, frustrated or restless. Mindfulness or meditation at work can be as simple as sitting still, taking a short walk or taking a few deep breaths. It may also mean excusing yourself from a meeting to ‘go to the washroom’ if you are feeling overwhelmed and want to gather your thoughts and refocus your intention.
  5. Let a few coworkers close to you know you live with ADHD. They may be able to support your unique communication needs.
  6. Have someone who can help you be accountable – someone you can call, text or email to share your goals, successes and struggles.
  7. Keep photos of your support group close-by to remind you that you are not alone and that people are routing for you.
  8. You may need to stay away from open office concepts. In many new office structures small pods are available and these may help you as long as you don’t feel claustrophobic. Basically, you likely want to eliminate sensory distractions. When all else fails, you may have already discovered noise reduction headphones. Again, share what you need with your coworkers so they can understand and help.
  9. Try to keep meeting sizes small to reduce distractions.
  10. For large meetings that you have to attend, try to sit away from the key players and/or where other people’s attention will be focused.
  11. The Time Manager and Leader in me would love to think all meetings would end by someone creating and sharing simple minutes that summarizes important conversations and action items. This doesn’t need to be complicated, a short email written as the meeting recap happens often is all that is needed. This best practice helps manage everyone’s expectations – keep everyone working toward the same goal and timeline.
  12. Summarize conversations. Paraphrasing what a person says helps you confirm everyone clearly understood the conversation and key information, timelines and deliverables.
  13. Make a list of what you have to do today, this week and this month. Include short-term and long-term goals. Write everything down in a diary or log-book. Keep it up to date as new priorities come in so you no longer have to worry about forgetting something. Equally important, you’ll be able to see when you may be overloading your schedule… which is a BIG concern. NOTE: I like keeping a paper-based version of my to-do schedule. Find a system that works for you and stay with it.
  14. Always break work into smaller tasks spread over many days / weeks. Breaking tasks into smaller pieces can help you to feel less overwhelmed and helps you avoid procrastination.
  15. Schedule extra time you may need to complete a task
  16. Always schedule time in your day when nothing is planned. This way, when a crisis happens you don’t feel even more pressure because you have time to work on it.
  17. If you finish a task early or have to wait for an appointment, don’t fill that time by getting on social media. Try using that time for reflection and to calm yourself. Try a simple meditation technique of focusing on your breath. Use this time to recharge your batteries (and your brain).
  18. Avoid trying to multitask. Nobody can focus on two or more important things at a time so give yourself a break from trying.
  19. Use a Timer. One of the best techniques I’ve come across for anyone is to use the Pomodoro Time Manager. This timer-technique suggests 20 minute of work, 10 minutes of rest and then repeat.
  20. Another timer-technique is to set your cell phone to vibrate every 15 minutes. When the alarm goes off, use that as a cue to re-orient yourself. Ask yourself if you are working on your important work in this moment?
  21. Remove distractions – all the things that get in the way. Turn off unnecessary electronics – even background noise may be a challenge.
  22. Only you know what works best for you. Instead of absolute quiet and lack of action, background noise, white noise or music might work better for you. Take charge of what you need. Do you need to squeeze a stress-ball or hand-weight? Does sitting on an exercise ball or using a stand-up desk help? Even a gentle desk fan is known to help. Whatever you do, try not to disturb people around you – just like you don’t want them disturbing you. NOTE: Music, a metronome, tapping or a bouncing leg can be distracting to others even though it may help you. The trick is to find a balance within you and your coworkers.
  23. Have only what you are working on in your line of sight. Keep your workspace clear.
  24. Set up ‘HOMES’ for special things and make a habit of using those places… all the time:
    1. Important files
    2. Files you are going to need today
    3. File for today’s meetings
    4. Phones
    5. Keys and wallets
  25. Set a personal goal. Do something for yourself.
  26. Hire an executive coach. He or she can help you talk through any issues you face and may also be able to help you consider solutions.
  27. You know how much sleep you really need and how to get it… so be sure that happens. You have to feel rested.
  28. Work when you are at your best. For many, that means the first few hours after you wake you are at your strategic, creative best.
  29. Follow any medical plan you have that has been prescribed by a doctor who specializes in the treatment of adult ADHD.
  30. Eat sensibly. You don’t want sugar highs and low and carb crashes adding extra challenge to your day.
  31. Get regular exercise. This may mean daily for you. Again, you know yourself best.

Conclusion.

Perhaps you’ve already come to the conclusion there isn’t a single best practice listed here that isn’t good for everyone. All of these are great time management and workplace productivity skills for all people – it just so happens that they are especially important for anyone living with ADHD.

What we do every day of our lives is what matters.

We hope you enjoyed this post.

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Generational Differences, Leadership Skills, Motivation Skills, Difficult Conversation Training, Business Email Etiquette, Time Management, Mindfulness and more.

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

Call us at 416.617.0462.

 

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