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.

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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15 Ways To Be Sure Your Business Meeting Isn’t A Waste Of Time

How you manage a business meeting with colleagues, clients or a combination of both can be a good indication of your leadership abilities. And while I’ve outlined 15 ways to be sure your business meeting isn’t a waste of time, I’m sure you’re already doing some. So perhaps, add them up your ‘Do’ column and ‘Need To Do’ column and see which list is longer.

Why is it important to review your business meeting management best practices?

It takes far less time to organize a great meeting (and reinforce a great personal reputation), than it takes to sit through a poorly organized meeting that is a waste of time… for everyone.

Great business meetings are about choice. Do you choose to:

  1. Plan the meeting with no more than 3 key objectives to discuss or 3 key decisions to make?
  2. Invite only the people who need to be there?
  3. Build a reputation that your meetings start on time in order to respect everyone’s time?
  4. Build a reputation that your meetings finish on time in order to respect everyone’s time?
  5. Send your agenda out days in advance?
  6. Stay on topic, on agenda?
  7. As a participant, do you read the agenda in advance?
  8. As meeting organizer or participant, do you arrive prepared with the background and / or support documents you need to participate?
  9. Listen with purpose to learn? During the meeting, are you trying to understand (not necessarily agree with), other points of view? Please say yes.
  10. Participate? Stay relevant? Ask questions / provide your opinion only when you have meaningful contribution? Do you create value? If people have questions they will / should feel free to ask.
  11. Use a ‘Parking Lot’ for new topics… and new business meetings?
  12. Be respectful when you agree and when you disagree?
  13. Get to the point, not waste time, don’t ramble. Do you choose to be efficient and effective… especially if you have executives in the meeting.
  14. Review decisions and action items before you close to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  15. Document and distribute agreed-upon decisions and action items?

Conclusion
Far too many meetings leave us with the feeling our time and/or our opinion aren’t appreciated. And while much responsibility sits with the organizer, I believe it’s each of our responsibility to know what we can do to make sure business meetings are not a waste of time.

Happy communicating, leading, mentoring, learning and hosting great meetings.

We facilitate courses including Email Etiquette, Time Management training, How To Run Effective MeetingsLeadership Skills, Generational Differences, Difficult Conversations training… and more.

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

Call us at 416.617.0462.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Examples of Noticing and Reinforcing Each Others Work, at Work.

One of the most effective ways to get the behaviour we want is to see in others is to sincerely reinforce that behaviour when it happens. In many ways this falls into the space of intrinsic motivation.

That said, providing feedback can sometimes feel like we are babying your co-workers. Get over it. We are not babying them or hand-holding. What we are doing is letting them know their efforts matter; that they are important and are making a difference.

One easy approach I would recommend is to focus on their effort and/or outcome and not make it too personal.

Here are some examples.

Awareness / Caring I

  • “Bob, you came in later today than usual. That’s very different for you so I just wanted to make sure everything is OK and ask if there is anything you might need?” Or
  • “Is that a new jacket? It is a great looking jacket.” Or
  • “How did your team enjoy the conference yesterday? They seemed really excited to attend.”

Awareness / Caring II

“I noticed you started the training meeting by reviewing the departments vision, values and how the training fits into us all achiving our goals. That really helped me focus my attention on how to use the training and where I needed to change.”

Appreciation I

“Thank you for your hard work. Your attention to detail made a difference.” (a focus on their effort)

Appreciation & Collaboration I

“You both found an interesting way to solve the problem and work together to complete the project even though you are in different time zones. Well done.”

Appreciation & Collaboration II

“Thanks for helping the marketing team get those financial numbers together. Having the finance departments input and suggestions helped clarify the expenses and potential ROI.” 

Being Clear – Getting To The Point

“You shared the objective and desired action item in the first sentence of your email. I want you to know this really helped us understand the reason for the detailed background you then provided.” (a focus on email etiquette / email writing technique)

Reinforce Desired Behaviour I

“Everyone is here on time and ready to start meeting. My thanks to each of you. This should help us get out on time as well.” (a focus on time management)

Reinforce Desired Behaviour II

“Before we close off today’s update meeting, I want to point out I noticed everyone gave each other the opportunity to speak without interruption and with an open, inquiring mind. Thank you – I think it is great how our team is really coming together.”

Reinforce Desired Behaviour III

“Bob, you worked really hard on this proposal outline and submitted it on time. It looks really good and gives each of the other managers a great foundation to all add their content while keeping a consistent objective and a consistent look for the company. Well done.”

It’s important to sincerely reinforce behaviour. If we are not sincere – it will show. It’s also important to say something as close to the behaviour as possible; don’t wait for their next performance review.

As with all things, practice makes perfect. When you see behaviour you want, especially if it’s behaviour that’s in the process of changing, try letting that person or people realize you see their effort and the positive impact they are having.

Reminders and positive feedback help others (and ourselves) visualize and recall expectations and the skills / actions associated with the behaviours we want to see / experience. The characteristics of good reminders and positive feedback include being:

  • Simple and brief (not a lecture)
  • Focused on the positive (what is), not the negative (what is not)

Little things 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.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

Employee Burnout May Point To Time Management Challenges.

Are your employees burning-out doing the same thing over and over for 10 or more hours a day? There are five main challenges with that:

  1. There are now more Millennials in the job market than Boomers.
  2. Millennials want work-life balance / work-life integration as well as autonomy and opportunities.
  3. Millennials want to keep growing – they don’t like the same thing over and over.
  4. Gen Z employees are beginning to enter the job market (and they also like balance, autonomy and opportunities).
  5. Most Boomers and Gen Xers want the same thing Millennials and Gen Zers want.

Most people don’t want to leave the company they have chosen to work for. People quit because they don’t feel:

  • They are respected as individuals
  • Their work and efforts are respected
  • They are given opportunities (and challenges) to grow
  • They have the flexibility / autonomy most workers want

Unfortunately for both individuals (and the companies they work for), sooner or later if leaders don’t take care of high-potential employees… their most dedicated employees, they usually quit. You know the saying, “People don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses.”

While most employees don’t want to quit their work or the company they work for, they do quit to survive. They quit because they know they can do better elsewhere – either working for someone else or starting their own business.

Is this a time management challenge?
At first glance no… but on a bigger scale, absolutely.


Studies show Millennial job loyalty / job retention increases when their responsibilities change… when their new responsibilities give them new opportunities to grow.

To keep your best people it’s important to pay attention to both the work that needs to get done and the needs of the people doing that work. Some of the best companies don’t keep the best people by slotting them into pre-existing jobs; they find (and keep) the best people by designing flexible work and workspaces that meet their employee and company needs… and therefore their customer needs. When employees see the companies they work for trying hard to create balanced, flexible workspaces, many of those same employees become even more loyal.

A great leader takes the time to learn about their employees. Great leaders also take the time to recognize the potential (and dreams), within those employees and then develop that potential and helps support those dreams.

Is employee burnout a time management challenge? At first glance no… but on a bigger scale, absolutely. If you are overworking your employees, not helping them grow and be proud of their work, be ready for high turnover and high recruitment and on-boarding costs that are unavoidable when you have an never-ending stream of new employees.

Little things 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.

 

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.

 

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