Embrace Your Night Owl Employees

I can’t even imagine working at night. Anything I do after 8PM had better not need strategic thought.  But at 6AM (or earlier), I can plow through creative, thoughtful, strategic work like an Olympic runner at a marathon.

Yup – I’m a morning person. Even on weekends ‘sleeping in’ past 8AM rarely happens.

And then there’s my friend Catherine. Catherine is a Night Owl. For Catherine, she’s not at her ‘best’ in the morning; her energy patterns – her Circadian Rhythms – are ‘different’ than 80%-90% of the population.Circadian Rhythm

No matter what time you sleep, each of us does our best, most strategic, most creative work when we are rested.

As a chronic morning person I used to believe Night Owls routinely went to bed too late and that if they changed some of their habits they could also enjoy getting to the office early. Now, as a Time Management Trainer I’ve see over and over evidence that tells me Night Owls are only embracing their natural way. When I’m training there’s usually at least one person in the team that says they do their best work at night.

Thankfully for Catherine and other Night Owls like her, work spaces are changing so Night Owls can better embrace their late-night energy spikes.

As work environments change businesses are becoming more accepting that people work on different schedules – whether employees want to because of family commitments – or have to because they are Night Owls. Virtual ‘work wherever & whenever’ companies that have employees throughout the country or the world are becoming more and more common.

Benefits Of Embracing Night Owl Employees

  • If you are an “in-the-office” company, see if you can give employees more flexibility. It’s not a perfect solution for a Night Owl, but if someone can travel during off-peak hours it means they will be working when THEY are more productive. It likely also means your employees are less stressed and will be happier because they spend less time sitting in traffic and more time doing the work they enjoy or being with their family/friends. And, happy employees are more creative, more productive and will be more loyal to your organization and your values – meaning better customer service and less time having to rehire, retrain, re….
  • If you are a “virtual” company, it’s likely you’ve already embraced the idea of hiring the best people vs. the best people living within 100kms of… wherever; your employees are likely in a different time zone. It’s also likely you and your employees are happily experiencing a ROWE (Results Only Work Environment), who cares when they do their work as long as they meet their timelines, budgets and work quality. Your virtual employees can work when THEY are most productive… it also makes them happier. So – what you have is a happy, productive employee who again, will be more creative, more productive and will be more loyal to your organization and your values – meaning better customer service and less time having to rehire, retrain, re….

No matter what your company structure is like, leaders need to explore what is right for each member of their team… and to focus more on keeping their team collaborating and focused on the vision and goals vs. when or where they are doing their work.

When Should Night Owls Send Email?

I get asked this more and more often when I deliver Email Etiquette Training. Proper workplace etiquette has put more pressure on employers to leave employees alone during their time off. For most, this roughly means no contact from 6PM to 8AM.

If you are a Night Owl like Catherine I recommend you use a delay-send feature for email so the email you write gets sent closer to 8AM vs. 11PM, 2AM or 4AM. Other than not disturbing your fellow co-workers, I believe this is especially important if you are emailing clients. Consider that a 1:30AM email might give your client a negative feeling that you are out of control.

Conclusion

What is your Circadian Rhythm and work-life pattern? What are your most productive hours? More importantly, as a leader when are your employees most productive? As work-spaces change it’s important we enable our employees to be productive when people are productive. If you are a leader – help your team find joy… you will be rewarded with loyal, hard-working, creative team members.

Our work and our work schedule should give us joy. Hopefully you can find a schedule to help you be the best person you can be and do your best work.

Happy communicating… interviewing… mentoring… and training.

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

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

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Change Beliefs At Work

Changing a belief is rarely an easy thing to do (if at all possible). On one hand beliefs can be as socially harmless as food preferences and on the other hand beliefs can be as socially controversial as religion and politics. At work, beliefs can hold you back professionally and hold back the future success of the organization you work for… if your beliefs cause you to resist change.

Changing Beliefs

Changing beliefs is like a house of cards.

People resist change because beliefs help define our social network; and frame how we behave; they establish boundaries. Beliefs are the foundation for what we believe about ourselves and the world around us… they may also represent what we WANT to believe about ourselves and the world around us. They begin developing when we are born and we never stop building new ones or reinforcing the ones we already have.

Don’t expect all beliefs to be rational. We – as a species our natural pattern builders. That is often how we learn and often how we build beliefs… including irrational or untrue beliefs. For example: Say you tried spinach as a young child and didn’t like it. Justifiably, from that moment on you would believe you didn’t like spinach. And then, you were introduced to kale and lettuce. It is likely you would believe – without even tasting kale or lettuce – that you also do not like those vegetables. That ‘pattern building’ is called Cognitive dissonance (see below).

Pressure to change beliefs and embrace new ideas can catapult us into a scary, undesirable departure from the security we know and depend on. Also, beliefs are built one on top another; one belief may be a cornerstone of many… so changing beliefs is often like a house of cards – one impacting many others. To change (or evolve), one belief, many beliefs may be ‘adjusted’.

Understand Beliefs / Change Beliefs / Evolve Beliefs

Changing a friends’ or co-workers’ beliefs can take seconds… or years. Blind spots, prejudice, and ingrained biases are among the hardest things to overcome. In general, when trying to change beliefs show emotion but don’t be emotional. To do this, listen with empathy and understanding not judgment or attitude. NOTE: This doesn’t mean you have to agree.

Before you begin to influence others, take a look at yourself. How do your beliefs control your opinions and actions? Are you open to new ideas? Where did some of your most prominent beliefs come from… you know – the ones like food preferences, politic and religion? Did you inherit any of them from your family?

Already – by reading this post you are far ahead of the next guy when it comes to understanding and changing beliefs (yours and theirs). Most of us are not aware our thoughts, feelings and actions are largely controlled by beliefs we’ve never explored or questioned. So, be mindful that it’s natural for people to put up a wall / get defensive when they feel judged, fear of being wrong, looking stupid or losing their social network / standing. Your friends or co-workers may be putting up a wall because they feel vulnerable and attacked.

Much of our ability to rationalize unsubstantiated, hurtful and even harmful beliefs is explained by Cognitive dissonance and Confirmation bias… neither I will explain here – but I do recommend you look into further.

  • Cognitive dissonance: When your mind tries to hold two conflicting ideas at the same time – like doctors who smoke and justify their habit because they believe it helps them not gain weight… another health risk they may be justifying as more risky.
  • Confirmation bias: Seeking confirmation of our beliefs using any possible evidence… even far-fetched evidence… thereby minimizing the importance of conflicting, highly relevant evidence.

Until we become self-aware and willing to explore ‘old’ biases and a ‘new’ ideas, our beliefs will – at some point – block our future potential. The wonderful thing is that once people voluntarily change / evolve beliefs, the new behavior is usually permanent and fully supported by the individual.

Remove The Threatening Voice

I find it really helpful to find a common goal and to acknowledge that while we my have different beliefs, we agree to have a respectful discussion. I like the idea of each of us self-identifying how / where / when our beliefs create possibilities for us… and also limitations. Create a safe place… socially and emotionally. Explore your and their beliefs by looking at:

  • Why they were formed
  • How are your beliefs helping you
  • How  your beliefs are hurting / restricting your / our possibilities now
  • Could there be new evidence that supports or disproves your beliefs

Give people encouragement and space. Perhaps though listening and non-threatening discussion, the person will likely come to their own conclusion that their beliefs are holding them back and it’s time to change beliefs / evolve beliefs. You may be surprised of the power of deep – non-judgmental listening.

At some point you may feel you can ask them if they want to change their belief and the impact it has on their life and the people around them. At this stage you may need to explore what is (has been), holding them back from changing (Cognitive dissonance / Confirmation bias). But be careful, if you make someone feel wrong or feel threatened, their defenses will likely turn on strong… and once defenses are up it will be near impossible to gain their trust.

When you help them understand why some of their beliefs exist and the impact they have on their actions / thoughts… you can begin to help them accept new beliefs (without judgment). When you do there’s a very good chance that you both will become even more committed to your relationship.

Conclusion:

Remember, we can really only control our own beliefs… so allow yours to be elastic – not rigid. Recognize when your beliefs are holding you and or others back. Learn to listen to your subconscious and to respond with thoughtfulness and compassion – not ReAcT… which often comes across with frustration and judgment.

The important part is to never stop exploring your own mind and your reasons for your actions – otherwise, you might find yourself holding on to out-of-date beliefs that are limiting your potential before you know it.

Work on changing hearts – not minds. Once you change a heart you make a permanent change.

Happy communicating… interviewing… mentoring… and training.

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

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

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

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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.

3 Tough Interview Questions for Employers

These 3 interview questions are often not asked, but I find very helpful to identify the best candidate to hire.

Let’s back up a second. Interviews offer a micro-opportunity for you – an employer – to assess a prospective employees’ abilities and compatibility with the work, the organizational culture and the customers / clients. During the interview you are looking to hire a person who will:

A: Go above and beyond, be creative, be dependable, be respected by co-workers/customers/clients.
B: Manage their responsibilities well, be respected by co-workers/customers/clients.
C/D: Nobody wants to hire a C or D option, so I won’t even talk about the employee that just gets by.

A or B would be great… but really, we want to hire the A employee every time – and we want them to stay with us for more than 2 years.Storytelling Word Mix By Bruce Mayhew

These examples follow the Behavioral Event Interview (BEI). What is a behavioral interview question? A BEI is a structured interview usually used when selecting employees. It gathers information about the history of an applicant as a means of predicting future performance. A Behavioral Event Interview asks for examples of a candidates past actions / behaviors… not answers to hypothetical situations.

A BEI can easily have 10 to 15 prepared interview questions that the interviewer asks every candidate. The following are 3 interview questions I find very helpful to find A-class candidates.

Behavioral Event Interview (BEI)

1: Tell me about a time when you have been promoted or given more responsibility?

A-class employees are hard workers who look for opportunities to grow and do great work. This often leads to being promoted – or at least frequently being given more responsibility and greater challenges.

Sub-Questions Level II:

  1. Why did your supervisors / leaders give you this promotion / more responsibility?
  2. How did you feel about being given this promotion / more responsibility?

2: Share a large project or challenge you have led.

A-class employees often find themselves running large or important projects; even introverted A-class employees. Why? Because they are creative, collaborative, dependable and have a high work-quality ethic.

Sub-Questions Level II:

  1. Please share the key deliverables and what you did to achieve them.
  2. Discuss any crisis that came along and what you did to correct it.
  3. Share experiences you had with delegating tasks and/or collaboration. Questions b&c explore leadership abilities/qualities in forming, leading and mentoring teams.
  4. What did you do to create something new? Here you are looking for them to demonstrate that they are a thought leaders… by either coming up with a new idea/process… or repurposing something that exists into a new format/purpose (like taking blog posts and creating a webinar from them for team training).

3: Are you committed to continual learning??

A-class employees love learning – especially Millennials; they want to gain experience. In addition, most exceptional employees also want to meet new people to add to their professional network. Learning can be books they read, courses they took or Professional Development they participated in… or a combination.

Sub-Questions Level II:

  1. How do you learn best? What is your learning style?
  2. Describe something that pushed your limits – engaged you to learn in your previous role.

Conclusion:

Interview questions are critically important and often not given the forethought they deserve.

It’s important employers look beyond a list of credentials and education and discover how candidates will act in the future by explaining what they’ve done in the past. Look for how they think, their personal and professional values and how they communicate.

Encourage candidates to share stories about their past experiences – both work experiences and perhaps (especially for Millennials), experiences they’ve had elsewhere (volunteering, education, vacation etc). Look for their expressed behavior in situations – because if they can tell you how they handled a stressful situation in the past, it’s a very good indicator that they will handle stressful situations in a similar way in the future.

Happy communicating… interviewing… 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 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.

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