The benefits of pausing before a response

The benefits of pausing before a response

“I want it right now” is the expectation that has become ingrained in our desires in all parts of our lives – from that order that you placed online today, to health goals, and expectations in your business. Instant gratification can be a difficult and sometimes unwise goal to chase. Hasty decisions can lead to costly mistakes for you and others. As you take in a request or are asked for your opinion and direction here are some reasons why you may benefit before giving a response. 

Avoiding your impulses

One of the common signs of a person with low self-management skills (Show 147) is that they will react emotionally without thinking clearly. The reaction just comes out for better or worse. This trait can also lead to a lot of regret on the person’s part, apologies that need to be made, and damaged relationships as a result. Taking time before a response is important especially when the topic is critical towards you, your team, or the work you do. It’s natural to get defensive during these times. 

Take the time to cool off. Find a trusted advisor or friend to bounce your frustration or potential response off of. Put some effort into understanding where the other person is coming from. They could still be totally wrong, but their perception is their reality. Craft your message so that your response is factual, understanding of their position, and doesn’t do harm to the relationship. 

Consider additional options

There are times when you aren’t afforded the luxury of time when it comes to giving a response – think emergency situations or critical errors in customer service.  Many times though, we quickly throw out a response just to get the issue off of our to-do list or to prevent it from hindering more of your day. 

Taking time to gather your thoughts and perhaps the thoughts of others will help you come to a more holistic and well-rounded solution. That pause may seem unnatural or forced at times when you stop work that is currently going on, but the benefit of fully understanding the situation and potential solutions is worth the effort. 

Let your active listening skills and empathy take the wheel

A pause in conversation also gives you a chance to showcase and use your active listening skills.  Rushing to respond may result in missed cues, overlooked emotions, or subtle nuances in the speaker’s message. Pausing doesn’t always mean sitting in silence in front of the other person (although that may be appropriate at times). Pausing could be asking reflecting and follow-up questions back as you take in what the person is, or isn’t saying.

Slowing down your response in order to listen more also shows empathy and understanding, and creates space for a genuine connection. When you pause before responding, you are also acknowledging the speaker’s perspective and responding in a way that reflects a true understanding of their thoughts and feelings. We’ve covered empathy quite a bit over the years and a great place to start is with our short series beginning with Understanding Empathy (Show 245-247)

Be sure to check yourself when a quick response is being asked of you. Ask yourself “Do I need to take more time on this for the business or the person?” You’ll find yourself creating better solutions and stronger relationships as a result. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Manage your energy

Manage your energy

There are days when you wake up early, get ready for the day, and knock out a few important things off of your to-do list all before mid-morning. And while you take a moment to give yourself kudos, “Wow, I’ve gotten a lot done this morning!” there’s probably nothing too special about it, you just get things done. 

On the flip side, when you are having a tough day, a stressful day, or one that stirs you emotionally, each little thing adds up sucking your energy away. You may find yourself struggling to pull out enough energy to make it through the day.  

It can be difficult to balance the ever-changing starting balance of your energy as well as all the surprises that pop up through the day that further impact your energy. Today we’ll look at sugar, containers, and spoons to help you understand your energy and how to manage it. 

A spoonful of energy

Think of your day like a clear container in your kitchen that holds something like flour or sugar. The container is your actual day and the item represents the amount of energy that you have in a day. A great day may mean that your container is fully or nearly at the top. A challenging day may mean that your container is only half full….. or even less.

Your activities throughout the day are represented by a spoon. every time that you do an activity, you reach in with your spoon and scoop out a little of what your container is holding. That’s your energy being depleted for the day, bit by bit. Some things like getting out of bed or taking a shower, may only an even spoonful out of the container while your upcoming 2-hour meeting on camera about a stressful topic may take a heaping spoonful out. 

It’s important to realize two things; 1) What the starting volume is in your container. Are you starting off with a full container or do you already know that it’s a half-full kind of day? 2) That unexpected things happen throughout the day that pull from your energy reserve. That could be an unexpected ask from your leader to present a project later that day or a difficult conversation that needs to happen when you get home. 

It is also important to communicate your energy levels, as much as you are comfortable with, with your co-workers, family, and friends to manage expectations. If you are going out for dinner after work, you may let them know that it was a long day at work and you are worn out. Letting the other party know when you’ve hit a low spot in your energy level helps manage expectations for both of you as you interact. 

Keep track of the spoons

To gain a better understanding of your energy levels and what impacts your reserve, keep track of your spoon patterns and pay attention to what contributes to a lot of use. What adds energy to your reserve? Did you hang out with your friends? Did you spend some dedicated time on your hobby? What on your to-do list energizes you?

What contributes to removing a lot of your energy in a day? Do you have a heavy meeting day that involves you being on camera for long periods? Family members have a tough day at school or work? Rehashing a recent personal conflict in your head over and over?  The National Safety Commission lists the time of day, sleep deprivation, time on tasks, work, and personal factors as the top five categories that deplete your energy. 

Having a good understanding of what adds to and takes away from your energy reserve helps set expectations for yourself and as you interact with others as well. Again, communicate those low moments to others, and if they aren’t getting the hints that you are laying out there, be blunt and tell them that you don’t have the energy or capacity to take on more at the moment. If you find yourself in a long season of low energy reach out for professional help or seek medical attention. 

Additional ways to boost your energy

Harvard Health has a short list of four ways to help boost your energy throughout the day. 

  • Eating a protein-rich diet. The study says that increasing your protein intake helps tremendously in increasing your energy. Also splitting your meals into smaller snacks throughout the day can help as well. 
  • Drink your water. For men, the recommended fluid intake is 15 cups a day, and 12 cups a day for women. The study does call out certain fruits as a way to get your liquids including melons, strawberries, and citruses.
  • Sleep. One we all probably need more of. 
  • An exercise routine. We all know exercising boosts our energy among its many benefits. Along the same lines, a good morning routine (Show 236) can give you a boost as well. 

Managing your energy can be hard, but having a good understanding of what contributes to your reserve in a positive and negative way can go a long way in helping make sure that you aren’t running on fumes. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Create a culture of leadership

Create a culture of leadership

I love a team that has a strong culture of leadership. There is a maturity there, where everyone is putting others above themselves, letting go of egos, and while always looking at ways to go above and beyond to service the team, their customer, and ultimately the larger business. Leadership is for everyone regardless of title. Today we’ll dive into tips and strategies to help elevate the culture of leadership in your team.

Infuse the Values into what you do

At the heart of any leadership culture lies a set of core values that serve as the organization’s, and your team’s, compass. Leaders must articulate and embody these values, providing a foundation for decision-making and guiding the behavior of every individual within the community. Think of your Values as the shared agreement on the behaviors that each of you have. It shows your team how to do their work and lead themselves and others. If you need help understanding your personal values or how to ingrain your work values into yourself check out Living Your Values at Work (357) and Living Your Values at Home (358)

Shift the mindset of what leadership is

Leadership is not just about being in charge. It’s about building and sustaining relationships. It’s about understanding the impact of our words and actions on others. It’s about being intentional about how we show up and inspire others to achieve their goals. Does everyone on the team see themselves as a leader? Talk about leadership regularly in your talks with your team, and especially about their leadership in your shared success. As you build a culture of leadership, there is a likelihood that some don’t consider themselves leaders. Perhaps no one has ever told them that they are leaders and shown them that extra layer of respect.  Show them that a culture of leadership is inclusive of everyone. 

Promote open communication and collaboration

Communication is the lifeblood of leadership culture. Establish open channels for dialogue and encourage a culture of listening and understanding. Leaders should be approachable, and feedback should be viewed as a valuable tool for improvement. Strengthen collaboration by breaking down silos and creating opportunities for cross-functional engagement, both big and small. A culture of shared ideas and diverse perspectives breathes life into a culture of leadership.

Recognize and celebrate achievements

Acknowledging and celebrating achievements, both big and small, is a regular part of sustaining a positive leadership culture. Recognition reinforces the desired behaviors and motivates individuals to continue striving for excellence. Publicly acknowledge contributions, express gratitude, and celebrate milestones to create a culture where achievements are valued and rewarded. Recognition should highlight both the small things and the small moments of progress. You can find more tips on how to celebrate and recognize your team at Celebrate! (Show 140), Create Disney Magic with Lee Cockerell (Show 200) and Prove Me Right – Positive Reinforcement (Show 267)

Imagine a workplace where everyone is encouraged to take on leadership roles, regardless of their job title or level of experience. It doesn’t have to be a dream; this can be your reality! Embrace leadership for all, and create a space where collaboration, innovation, and creativity thrive because everyone feels empowered to contribute and make a difference.

Make a better tomorrow. 

Work backwards to hit your goal

Work backwards to hit your goal

Dreaming big and setting lofty goals can seem intimidating. At home, a personal goal may seem extremely difficult or impossible in your current situation. Mobilizing different groups to execute towards a work project may seem like an insurmountable game of cat herding. Today we’ll help you break down those big goals in a way that makes the work and stress manageable so that you can hit your goal. 

Start from the end

Before embarking on your journey, clearly define your end goal. Whether it’s a career milestone, a personal achievement, or a project completion, having a well-defined objective is what everything else will be built on. Be as specific as possible when thinking of and dreaming of that end goal. Instead of losing weight, have a specific amount and a date to achieve the goal. With a project, be specific on what you want to deliver by a certain time. “I want to have $3,000 saved in 6 months for emergencies.” “We want to run a pilot on mobile-friendly technical support for our employees in 16 weeks.”

Identify your milestones

Once your end goal is established, break it down into key milestones. These are significant achievements or checkpoints that, when reached, signify progress toward your ultimate objective. Each milestone should be distinct, measurable, and representative of a distinctive advancement towards the goal.

In the pilot project example above you may identify your key milestones as designating the pilot group, vendor selection, securing funding, completing integration work, training and socialization, and rollout.

Looking at the breakdown above you’ll see that they are significant achievements that signal progress and accomplishment. Each milestone becomes a strategic stepping stone, allowing you to gauge your progress and adjust your course as needed.

Determine necessary actions

With your milestones in place, identify the actions required to reach each one. Consider what needs to be accomplished at each step and the resources, skills, or support necessary for success. This detailed understanding of the necessary actions transforms your goal into a series of manageable tasks.

Let’s take our first milestone from above of designating the pilot group and break it down into actions. We’ll first need to determine how large of a pilot we want to run to get a clear indication of if it’s successful and scaleable. Next, we’ll want to pull data on where the most calls for support are coming from. We then need to partner with the business leader to align on the pilot group. They may have requests or changes based on their better understanding and context of what is going on. 

Create a timeline

Establish a realistic timeline for achieving each milestone. Working backward requires a strategic allocation of time, ensuring that you have adequate resources and opportunities to complete each task. A well-structured timeline provides a sense of urgency and helps you stay on track. Many organizations break down the work into two-week sprints. This injects a sense of urgency to get the work done and keep the work going at a quick pace. 

Set your timeline for each milestone and then add up all the time. How did you in relation to your initial end goal? We stated that we wanted the pilot to roll out in 16 weeks, but let’s say that after we dig into the milestones and actions we come up with a timeline that is 20 weeks long. They must equal the same amount so now you have a choice: do you condense some of the work or extend the project?

Time to execute

With a clear roadmap in place, prioritize your tasks based on their importance and dependencies. Execute each step, focusing on one milestone at a time. Prioritization ensures that you allocate your energy and resources effectively, minimizing the risk of feeling overwhelmed.

Starting out with your goal and drawing a plan backwards, is a great way for you and others to see the work in manageable sections and how they stack on each other to reach your ultimate goal. Remember, success is not just about reaching the destination; it’s about the meaningful steps you take along the way.

Make a better tomorrow. 

What to do when business relationships aren’t working

What to do when business relationships aren’t working

You can’t be successful on your own, no matter how hard you try. Your success as a leader, and as an individual contributing to your company’s larger success depends on how well you build good working relationships. There will be times when those relationships slip or break down causing issues for you and the business to now overcome. Today we’ll look at some areas to consider as you evaluate relationships and tips on what to do if things have started going off the rails a bit. 

Lack of mutual respect and value

Experiencing a lack of mutual respect or value added to one another is one of the surest ways to see if a business relationship is not working. In a healthy business relationship, both parties should benefit and contribute fairly equally. However, if you find that one side is constantly benefiting or not contributing while the other is not receiving equal effort, priority, or attention, it may be time to reassess the relationship.

For example, if you are part of a project team, and an individual shows up consistently late, is unprepared, and doesn’t seem engaged in the work, while the rest of the team continues to push the progress forward, you may have a problem. Another example would be a client asking for more and more without being willing to adjust their payment for the product or project. 

Lack of or broken communication

Solid communication is key to building a strong business relationship with someone else. Shakey or inconsistent communication can also lead to an erosion of trust which of course impacts your relationship with the other person. How is your communication with the other person? Do you feel left out as updates and decisions are made? Do you find yourself following up more than normal with the person? Perhaps you are communicating less with the individual because of a personality rub with them. 

A drag on business or progress

Another sign that a business relationship is in trouble is when it has a negative impact on the results or it is a drag on the business. For example, if a coworker or vendor consistently fails to deliver on their commitments, it can impact timelines that ultimately flow down to impact the business itself,  There is also other residual fallout that can occur including a hit to their, and your, reputation, among other things. Another example is when a business partner makes decisions that are detrimental to your business without informing or consulting with you.

Tips to work through business relationships that aren’t working

  • Open Communication Channels: Establish open and honest communication with the parties involved. Clearly express concerns, expectations, and any issues that may be affecting the relationship. Encourage others to share their perspectives as well. Effective communication lays the foundation for understanding and resolving issues. Have an open and honest conversation with the other person to discuss your concerns and explore possible solutions. The issue may have nothing to do with you personally and could be rooted in the other person being over-stretched or under-resourced. 

  • Seek Mediation or Facilitation: If communication breaks down, consider bringing in a neutral third party, such as a mediator or facilitator, to help navigate the challenges. A neutral party can provide an objective viewpoint, facilitate discussions, and guide the parties toward finding common ground. This external perspective can often lead to constructive solutions.

  • Define Clear Expectations: Ensure that all parties have a clear understanding of expectations and responsibilities. Misalignments in expectations often lead to conflicts. Regularly revisit expectations to make sure that they are still relevant. Clarity in expectations can prevent misunderstandings and foster a more collaborative environment.

  • Establish Boundaries: Clearly define boundaries and professional limits within the business relationship. Understanding each party’s roles and responsibilities helps manage expectations and reduces the likelihood of overstepping boundaries. Setting clear guidelines for communication, decision-making, and collaboration can contribute to a more harmonious working relationship. Consider if you have a toxic co-worker (Show 205) and respond accordingly. 

To be successful in your work, it’s essential to have good working relationships. Evaluate those connections to determine what the gaps are and then work to establish deeper and more meaningful connections when needed. 

Make a better tomorrow.