Living life is can be very challenging at times. Getting the hang of what works for you and what doesn’t may take a very long time. Sometimes you get confused and frustrated by what you’re doing, or where you’re going. You may try to follow your own wisdom, but there are times when your internal navigational systems may throw you way off course. You may be lured away from where you need to be. Often, this siren’s call comes in the form of well-intentioned people who may want to help you direct your life so that you do "the right thing.” But people are not always so well-intentioned.
Sometimes, we trust other people more than ourselves, accepting another’s opinions and views as more valid than our own. Somehow, we think they know what’s better for us than we do—or we’ve been told that so often that we come to believe it. It’s frequently the early influence of our family that sets this scenario in motion. Sometimes, confusion about who we are and what is best for us involves a deep-seated conflict focusing on allegiances to and boundaries with people who we deemed vitally important to our lives. Unchecked, this same familiar pattern may find its way into future relationships with spouses, bosses, mentors, or friends.
For some people, it’s just simpler to allow others to keep doing for them what they need to learn to do for themselves. For others, there is a naive expectation that things will just come their way without having to take action on their own to make it happen. Still other times, there may be an unspoken agreement to sacrifice one’s own authenticity in return for love.
The bottom line is that by not taking responsibility for ourselves, we too often allow others to take responsibility for us. And in doing this we are essentially giving them permission to take charge of our lives.
It doesn’t stop there.
There is an enormous price to pay for giving your life away in this way. It’s simply not your life any longer; rather, it's someone else’s projection of what your life should be. If this seems familiar to you, if you’re passively drifting through life, barely participating in actively creating what happens to you, consider these suggestions:
Take back ownership of yourself.
This is much easier said than done since this involves extricating yourself from a relationship where you’ve really been a passive participant. There may be a lot of protest and challenges from others who like things just the way they are and wish to keep the status quo. You may have to put up with this for a while before you learn to stand your ground. But before you can fully take your life back you may need to acknowledge regret for time lost. The only way to move forward is to acknowledge what has happened to you—how you got there, and what you need to do that’s different from what you’ve done so far.
Although you may mourn the past and the fact that perhaps you should have taken charge of your own destiny years ago, it’s essential to recognize, acknowledge, and accept that you have been responsible in part for the life you find yourself in, since you have not been fully present for yourself. You need to begin to identify and shift your attention to your own needs and goals. From a practical perspective, prioritize what’s most important to you, regardless of what others think and feel about it.
Create a healthy space between yourself and your relationships.
Admittedly, this is a hard thing to do since so much of who we are as individuals is tied up with and dependent upon our most significant relationships. It’s often difficult to be emotionally attached to someone while still remaining somewhat removed psychologically and intellectually. But creating enough room, a kind of “psychic space” between yourself and others, allows for enough personal expression while minimizing emotional and psychological entanglement. The goal is to gain a healthy perspective of others, without creating conflict within yourself.
Recognize and acknowledge your own worth.
We all have specific abilities, talents, and skills but need validation, which at times we don’t get from those we most want it from. When someone you count on for support refuses to acknowledge your positive qualities and abilities, it can undermine self-esteem and confidence. Beyond manipulative, this withholding behavior is often designed to keep a person dependent and needy. This is not someone who really cares about you.
Learn to recognize those individuals who have their own agenda. Limit especially your involvement with those who insist that you live in their shadow rather than shine on your own. This is not a hard thing to recognize since there is usually nothing subtle about other people trying to organize your life around theirs and their agenda. As a corollary, don’t undertake anything that serves the good of someone else when it’s at your expense or hardship.
Heed the warning signs.
Watch out for individuals who don’t have the time or inclination to work on the relationship they have with you—or on themselves, for that matter. Be wary of those who make you feel inadequate or “less than,” or put you down, instead placing the burden on you to clean up your act so that the relationship can stay on course. Don’t accept a relationship that is one-sided, limiting, and subtly undermining; where there is simply no room for you in the equation. Existing in an environment fraught with unhealthy undercurrents, threats both subtle and overt; jealousy; and one-sided conditions are potentially hazardous to your health and well-being.
Don’t try to fix people.
Although “fixing” others may seem like a good idea it usually doesn’t work because, from the other’s perspective, there’s nothing that needs to be fixed; there’s nothing wrong with them—it’s you that’s the problem. Inevitably, these people will want not accept the fact that you’ve changed and will try to convince you to return to the way things once were. Don’t do it. And if they continue along the same course, unable to accept who you’ve become apart from them, let them go.
Making some extra side hustle cash doesn't actually have to be that complicated. As someone who's been immersed in the field of online income generation for nearly two decades now, I can tell you that it takes some work. However, there are several clear paths forward. At the end of the day, it all boils down to what your goals are and just how much you're looking to automate your income.
1. Become a virtual assistant.
One simple way to make money from home is to help others complete tasks as a virtual assistant. If you're highly organized and can properly manage your time, then becoming a virtual assistant presents a low-friction entry point into the digital services industry. You can easily perform these functions as a remote worker no matter where you live.
Finding work as a virtual assistant can be easily done through sites like Upwork, Indeed.com and Remote.co. Search the existing posted jobs and create bids. You'll need effective communication skills and fluency in English and popular web and business software applications.
2. Sell stuff on eBay or Craigslist.
A large subset of our society is earning a full-time income by selling items on Craigslist and eBay. You can do this by selling your own items, or you can help sell items for other people and take a small commission. Selling on eBay offers more friction than Craigslist and you'll need to establish solid reviews before you can begin to move high-ticket items.
However, eBay does provide resources for sellers to help you get acclimated to selling on the platform. Take the time to do your due diligence and research the platform. If you have some solid online marketing skills, you'll find this much easier than if you're a complete newbie to the world of digital marketing.
3. Online tutoring
Websites like Skooli, Tutor Me and Tutor.com provide resources for entering into the online tutoring space. While you don't need to use a platform like these, they provide a lower friction entry point into the market. You could also search for online tutoring gigs on a variety of other sites like Upwork, Freelancer and many more.
What types of things can you tutor online? You could easily tutor a subject like math or science, while also teaching a language if you're bilingual. You could also tutor musical instruments like the guitar or piano, along with a slew of other subject matters.
4. Sell services on Fiverr
Fiverr has grown significantly since its inception. Today, it's a vast marketplace where you can sell just about any service under the sun. This is great if you're looking to make money online as a digital nomad or even while sitting at home on your laptop while in your pajamas.
What, specifically, can you sell on Fiverr? Anything from graphics and design services, to digital marketing, writing and translation services, video and animation services, music and audio, programming and application development, business services and lifestyle services that includes anything from celebrity impressions to gaming.
5. Create webinars
Webinars follow a specific template and format. They're formulaic. If you can master that formula, you can quite literally dominate in this space. Find a great business idea or opportunity that you can sell that delivers massive amounts of value.
6. Create online courses.
One of the ways to make extra money from home is to create online courses. Now, this does take an upfront investment of time. But, as any other passive income generating activity, you do the work once and get paid repeatedly for it.
Take whatever skill you have and find a way to build a course around it. Use sites like Udemy, Ankur Nagpal's, Teachable or Jonathan Cronstedt's Kajabi to build those courses then begin marketing.
The Pareto Principle is the observation (not law) that most things in life are not distributed evenly. The Pareto Principle helps you realize that the majority of results come from a minority of inputs.
This “universal truth” about the imbalance of inputs and outputs is what became known as the Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule. While it doesn’t always come to be an exact 80/20 ratio, this imbalance is often seen in various business cases:
• 20% of the sales reps generate 80% of total sales.
• 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits.
• 20% of the most reported software bugs cause 80% of software crashes.
• 20% of patients account for 80% of healthcare spending (and 5% of patients account for a full 50% of all expenditures!)
How can we apply this principle?
There are at least seven ways that the 80/20 rule can be used to enhance your own productivity or that of your business.
1. If you look closely at the items on your “To Do” list, chances are only a few are tied to important issues. While it may be satisfying to cross off a large number of the smaller issues, the 80/20 rule suggests you focus on the few more important items that will generate the most significant results. The list might not grow much shorter, but you will be practicing effective prioritization.
2. In assessing risks for an upcoming project, you'll find that not every risk carries equal significance. Select the risks that pose the highest potential for damage and focus your monitoring and risk planning activities on them. Don’t ignore the others; just distribute your efforts proportionately.
3. Focus on the 20 percent of your customers that make up the bulk of your revenues and invest your time in understanding, identifying, and qualifying similar customers.
4. Regularly evaluate the 80 percent of your customers that generate 20 percent of your business and identify opportunities to shed them for customers that drive better results. Some managers and firms actively cull their customer listings every few years, effectively firing the bottom performing customers.
5. Look for the 80/20 rule in your customer service. If 20 percent of your products are creating 80 percent of your complaints, do some root cause analysis to identify the quality issues there. Focus on any documentation issues, and take corrective action as needed.
6. Entrepreneurs and independent professionals can use the 80/20 rule to evaluate their workloads. They might find that a disproportionate amount of their time is spent on trivial activities such as administrative work that can be easily and inexpensively outsourced.
7. When evaluating your mid-year progress on your goals, focus on the few that are most critical to your development or success. As in that task list, not all duties and goals are created equally.
Practical Limits to the 80/20 Rule:
The 80/20 rule has many applications in our work and personal lives, but there are minefields here, too.
• If you're a manager, don't focus on the 20 percent of top performers on your team at the expense of the other 80 percent. You are responsible for increasing the number of top performers, not just assessing and potentially eliminating those who are poor performers.
• As an investor, you might think the 80/20 rule suggests reducing your investment diversification. You might make adjustments to your portfolio if only 20 percent of your investments are driving 80 percent of the results but pay careful attention to your overall portfolio mix.
Pareto’s principle is a useful construct when analyzing efforts and outcomes. It is valuable when applied to lists of tasks or goals. It can provide a useful framework for addressing many problems. Use it liberally, but don’t forget that 20 percent of anything is not an insignificant amount.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
Neale Donald Walsch
Unfortunately, many people have problems with getting out of their comfort zones. They want to do more in life, but they’re afraid to challenge themselves and push the envelope on what they think is safe. So only when you stop letting fears and anxiety hold you back, will you start to make those major breakthroughs in life.
A comfort zone is a self-imposed boundary where a person will refuse to push past. Doing so often fills him or her with nervousness and anxiety.
For instance, let’s say you just started a new sales job. Probably there are certain aspects of this job that you feel comfortable doing, like talking to individual co-workers or clients.
On the other hand, the idea of cold-calling fills you with anxiety. Basically, you feel uncomfortable with doing anything that’s not a one-on-one conversation.
It’s really easy to fall into the trap of never pushing your comfort zone. The problem with this is it often prevents you from true success and happiness in life. That’s because one of the best ways to grow is to test the limits of what most people consider “normal” to live the life you want.
So let’s talk about the seven steps for getting out of your comfort zone.
1. Start getting out of your comfort zone by getting information. Information is power. And the more you know about something, the less scary and more powerful you’ll feel.
To break through your comfort zone, you need to first educate yourself. Your goal here is to find out about whatever skill or activity you’re pursuing. You’ll talk to people who have done the same thing. You’ll read books on the subject. And you’ll check-out articles on the Internet about this subject.
2. Create a plan of action for pushing the boundaries on what you think is possible.Start with the easiest thing to do.
Then you create a plan to get to each level. In this plan you need to create benchmarks. These are mini-goals that put you one step close to pushing past your comfort zone.
3. Identify the key challenges you’re going to face and what you’ll do to overcome them.This is an important step because the people in your life will keep you on track. You want them to give you that ‘push’ as you’re pushing your boundaries. They will make it hard for you to quit because you know you’ll look foolish if you did.
4. Taking ‘baby steps’ is a great way to de-sensitize yourself to the feelings of anxiety caused by leaving what is familiar and safe to you.“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu
You’re not trying to become an overnight success. Instead you’re steadily pushing the boundaries of your comfort levels and working towards an overall goal.
5. Take aggressive challenges to shock your system into becoming comfortable.
This is a rapid-fire approach where do a lot of something that makes you scared. You won’t have time to think about your fear. Instead you’ll be so busy pushing your boundaries that you forget about what used to make you scared.
6. Remain positive and recognize that you will have negative outcomes. It’s a natural part of the process.
Something that shakes your confidence and makes you feel scared. The trick is to not let anything prevent you from blasting past the point of comfort.
Don’t allow negativity to creep into your mind. Remind yourself that it’s going to happen. In fact, you should recognize that you’re actually being given feedback about how you can do something better.
7. Never stop expanding your comfort zone. Even if you arrive at your stated goal it’s important to keep pushing those boundaries.
Look for new challenges. Find stuff that you would never imagined you would do. Like teaching a class on the subject that once filled you fear. Or you could work on a related skill.
The world of business has been in a state of great upheaval during 2018. Populist movements are rising up around the world demanding change. Customers are tired of being taken for granted, their data being stolen and other forms of mistreatment and lack of care. AI is taking a larger role in business.
All of these point to the following trends that will have a large impact on business in the coming and future years.
Demands for corporate accountability
According to Forbes Magazine, companies today are being called to task for not being good citizens of the planet and for not treating their customers with care, diligence and respect. Many people are spurning companies such as Facebook, Wells Fargo and Nike because they have shown a callous disregard for consumer rights, the environment, their workers or the workers of their suppliers.
In response to this sense of consumer frustration, there has emerged a non-profit organization - B Lab - that evaluates companies who apply for a "B-corporation" certification. If certified, the business has proven that it operates in a manner that is ethical and sustainable, balancing the needs of all shareholders and stakeholders in the company. Such stakeholders can be customers, members of the local community, workers, suppliers, and the environment.
Safety of customer data
Entrepreneur Magazine suggested that, in light of growing customer anger over the lack of concern by too many companies for the privacy of their data, that companies gather their own customer data in-house through interactive means and simply keep it there. Entrepreneur also stated that studies have shown most purchased customer data is not reliable.
Personalization of services
Zuu Online, an Asian financial education website, suggested that businesses look for every opportunity to customize their outreach to customers, such as with personalized emails and content that truly is valuable for the customer. Entrepreneur Magazine suggested that businesses offer recommendations and coupons based on past buying behavior or past services purchased.
Renting instead of owning
Many industries have found that their customers either no longer need or cannot afford to own everything they purchase. In these cases, renting of items has been on the rise. Spotify, Zipcar and Netflix are all examples where a rental will satisfy the customer's needs. According to The Digital Reader, textbook rentals and used textbook purchases account for the majority of textbook sales, eclipsing new paper or ebook versions. Forbes Magazine suggests that all companies consider how they might work in rentals into their offerings for customers.
In a very similar vein, Entrepreneur Magazine spoke of the rise of subscription services. If you are in the food, beauty or apparel industry, they recommend you offer a subscription box because such subscriptions lead to three times the sales volume of one-time purchases.
Cutting costs and localization due to instability in global economy
With trade wars occurring as well as anger over outsourced jobs and substandard working conditions in some countries, Forbes Magazine suggested that companies follow the example of Nike who brought some of their production back to the East Coast. Also, since the global economy appears to be teetering on the edge of financial upheaval, Forbes also suggested that companies cut costs in advance and find ways to weather recessions and economic downturns.
Why should a workplace be concerned about healthy eating?
When a workplace can help employees to make wise food choices, as part of a workplace health program, it can influence the person’s long-term health and wellness.
Together - healthy eating and active living - combined with a positive outlook can lead to:
- Reduced risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer.
-Elevated mood, energy and self-esteem.
-Reduced anxiety and stress.
-Opportunities to spend enjoyable time with family and friends.
How do you start a 'healthy eating' program?
While it's most important for an employer to provide a safe and healthy workplace, it's also important to encourage healthy lifestyles among their employees. Healthy eating programs can be an important step. They can bring lots of people together to learn how to improve their health both at work and at home. As always, these programs should be part of a complete workplace health program and should not take resources or attention away from workplace hazards that may be present.
Before you start:
No matter how much you plan or make people aware, healthy eating programs are voluntary - not everyone will join or be interested. Survey employees to help you decide what types and levels of programs to offer.
When planning a health program, be sure you know the interests of your audience. In this case:
-Know why people are interested in a healthy eating program. Are participants looking for general nutrition information, or more specific programs such as heart health?
-Be sure to consider what types of programs have been offered in the past. Which programs worked? Which did not?
-Know exactly who your target audience is.
-Plan when will the program be offered (seasonal, or all year).
-Identify who people can go to if they have individual questions or want more help.
What should a healthy eating program focus on?
Workplaces that are going to start a healthy eating program should focus on the main messages from the food guides. They should also make sure that wherever their employees get their food - whether its vending machines, canteens, or cafeterias - that these venues should offer some healthier food choices.
-Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable each day.
-Choose vegetables and fruit prepared with little or no added fat, sugar or salt.
-Have vegetables and fruit more often than juice.
-Make at least half of your grain products whole grain each day.
-Choose grain products that are lower in fat, sugar or salt.
-Drink skim, 1% or 2% milk each day.
-Select lower fat milk alternatives.
-Have meat alternatives such as beans, lentils, and tofu often.
-Eat at least two food guide servings of fish each week.
-Select lean meat and alternatives prepared with little or no added fat or salt.
-Be active every day.
-Satisfy your thirst with water.
What are sample topics for a workplace healthy eating program?
When offering nutrition information at the workplace, be sure to offer a wide range of options. Topics for programs may include:
-Understanding the basics.
-Weight management and body image.
-Fats and cholesterol.
-Planning balanced meals for the whole family.
-Making smart choices while grocery shopping and reading food labels.
-Programs for specific health conditions (e.g., diabetes, heart conditions, etc.).
-Healthy eating on the run.
Some more specific options for a workplace healthy eating program are:
-Offer material for employees to take home to help them make healthier choices when planning meals. For example:
-Provide a sample shopping list and a plan for the week's meals you can make from that list.
-Have handouts of a food guide.
-Provide information about how to make healthier food choices when shopping, ordering in restaurants, etc.
-Teach people how to read and understand food labels.
-Provide cooking tips for making healthy foods.
-Post a list of local restaurants that offer balanced food menus, dietary options, and dietary information such as calories per portion.
-Invite a speaker to a 'lunch-n-learn' session.
-Have "theme" weeks or months.
Stock vending machines with healthier options.
-Arrange for the on-site cafeteria to offer a range of healthy food choices.
-Have a refrigerator and microwave at work so people can bring healthy lunches from home.
-When lunches or drinks are provided at meetings, be sure to provide healthy choices.
-Arrange for a group to go to a weight management program together, or have the program come to your office at a convenient time.
-Give people a way to share healthy recipes with each other by using Intranet, e-mail, or posters.
-Provide information about how to use low-fat ingredients in favourite recipes.
-Organize a potluck lunch at work featuring healthy food choices. Try a multicultural day.
-Offer incentives, if people are interested.
-Offer a new tip or goal for each week, such as:
-I will eat 7 fruits or vegetables each day.
-I will eat breakfast every morning.
-I will have an extra piece of fruit every day.
Does the workplace influence how people eat?
Yes. Always remember that the workplace environment influences the health of its employees. For example, if a healthy eating program is offered, remember to look at where the employees eat their lunch. A safe and clean eating area is a requirement under most occupational health and safety laws. Beyond this, it is important to look at what is offered at vending machines and staff cafeterias. If you don't look at the larger picture to see how the workplace itself influences the eating patterns of the employees, the program will not work as well as it could.
Be sure the workplace supports healthy eating programs by providing time for employees to go to information sessions, offering appropriate foods in the cafeteria and vending machines, and by providing refrigerators and microwaves so that meals can be stored and prepared appropriately.
What are some tips for snacks to keep at work?
If you need a confidence boost in your day-to-day routine, check out these tried-and-true tips. You’ll bolster your sense of assurance, come off more poised, and hit excellence in the workplace, too.
1. Ask Questions
Not knowing everything—whether that’s because you’re new on the job or have incomplete information—can make you feel insecure and lead to a lack confidence. But remember that (no matter what stage you’re at in your career) you’re never going to have all the answers. So don’t be shy about asking questions, especially when you’re feeling uncertain or insecure. Instead, arm yourself with the information you need to do your job well by asking for it.
2. Be Curious
Curiosity not only sends the message that you’re ambitious and eager to learn, it also positions you well to interface with more people and take on new projects. So don’t just do the work that comes easily. Try something new, something that scares you just a wee bit—whether that’s asking your boss to lead the next client meeting or learning HTML. You’ll emerge more confident and empowered than if you stick to what you already know.
3. Accept that Everyone Makes Mistakes
If you always need to be perfect, you’ll always feel inadequate: that standard is wholly unattainable. Everyone makes mistakes on the job. You will too, and that’s okay—you’ll learn from them, and you’ll move on. Plus, once you let go of the need to be perfect, you free yourself to take risks and take on new responsibilities.
4. Go Above and Beyond
With each new assignment, think of ways you can knock the ball out of the park. Can you suggest new ideas, clients, or products? Make a process easier or more streamlined? Or even just get the report on your boss’ desk three days early? You’ll feel better about yourself if you go the extra mile—and you’ll probably get some good feedback from others, too.
5. Ask for Feedback
Don’t wait to be told that your work stinks or shines—ask for feedback along the way. Doing so demonstrates that you care about your work and want to succeed in your job. Plus, instead of anxiously wondering what you’re doing wrong, you’ll gain a better sense of your performance, your strengths, and your areas for improvement.
6. Find Supportive Allies
Seek out positive co-workers and mentors who support you, who boost you up when you’re feeling down, and who can help you succeed in your job and within the company. There are always naysayers and jealous types who want to see you fail, but if you reach out to enough people, you’re sure to find a critical mass who have your back.
7. Look the Part
Turns out, there’s some truth to the old adage, “fake it until you make it.” Dressing well, having good posture, being friendly, and making eye contact with people will all give the impression that you’re confident and in control. And when the rest of the world thinks you’re self-assured, you’ll start believing it, too. So smile, stand up straight, and yeah, go ahead and treat yourself to that new blazer.
8. Trust Your Gut
If you feel that you work isn’t getting you where you want to go, it’s sure to impact your frame of mind and sense of confidence. So be really honest with yourself about your personal goals and expectations, and make sure that you’re being true to them. If you find that you’re not able to use your talents to their fullest or your job isn’t putting you on the right track for your career, think about how to change your situation—whether it’s having a discussion with your boss or looking for a new gig.
9. Celebrate Your Achievements
If you’ve received an amazing performance review or nailed the client meeting you’ve been stressing over, celebrate—you deserve it! Acknowledging those successes and rewarding yourself will remind you how great you really are—and there’s no greater confidence boost than a job well done.
By Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
Smartphones give you the ability to get things done no matter where you are, and they are quickly becoming an essential part of conducting business. But distracting notifications can take your attention away from what you’re doing and make it difficult to focus.
A study by the University of Texas at Austin found that the mere presence of your smartphone reduces “available cognitive capacity and impairs cognitive functioning, even though people feel they’re giving their full attention and focus to the task at hand.”
It’s crucial to set clear and formal boundaries regarding cellphone use in the office. Consider this simple list of rules to help keep everyone present and productive at work:
The “3 Cs” of Cellphone Etiquette at the Office
1. Cellphone-free meetings.
Every office is different, so you will need to tailor your rules to your specific circumstances. For example, you may want to consider allowing exceptions for people with children or family members who rely on them.
Take Control of Your Cellphone Use
Smartphones are great for staying in touch for business and personal matters, but with everything in one place, it can be hard to separate work and personal time.
One solution is to have two phones—one for work and one for personal use. Another is to remove all distracting apps from your phone or disable the notifications.
Or, consider using technology to fight technology. Apple’s new Screen Time controls include a Downtime feature, and Android has a similar feature called Digital Wellbeing. When this feature is turned on, you’ll only receive phone calls and have access to pre-selected apps. Set your downtime period to be during your work hours and select only the apps that are essential to your work (if any).
You can also set a time limit for any apps you feel you spend too much time on. Once your time limit is reached, the app is grayed out and can’t be opened. You can easily override this feature, but it may be enough to keep you from checking your phone while at work.
Both Apple and Android also offer a Do Not Disturb feature that silences phone calls and routes all notifications straight to the Notifications Center, bypassing your lock screen entirely. This is designed for use while driving or sleeping, but it can also be used in the office.
This feature can be enabled in Settings on both iPhones and Android phones. You can choose to allow phone calls from specific people (such as Favorites) and set a custom auto-reply to text messages. In case of an emergency, the recipient can type “urgent” to bypass your Do Not Disturb, and you can also enable the Repeated Calls option, where a second call from the same person within three minutes will not be silenced. Once Do Not Disturb is set up, you can add a shortcut in your Control Center and easily toggle it on or off when you need to focus.
Smartphones may be essential, but it’s important to create boundaries. Collaborating with your employees will allow you to create a set of rules that fit your specific workplace needs.
By Abigail Brenner
When we think of renewal we often think of rebirth; something old dies and something new is born. This year, winter seems to be hanging on, unwilling to give way to spring and the promise of new life. Although we have a little way to go to really enjoy the warmth and light that spring brings, we can still begin to think about what we can do to renew ourselves and to make new the life we live in.
I love writing about this topic because it’s so hopeful. By allowing our lives to mimic the cycles of nature we are reminded that no matter what happens to us there are always opportunities to shift a situation, to optimize our chances, and/or to start all over. Spring is a wonderful time of the year to consider who we are and how we want to be. It’s a great time to consider making changes and to set the course for the year moving forward.
Here are 5 ways to help you regroup, reprioritize, renew, and perhaps, re-invent yourself. Many of these are actual things you can do, while others are ways to “re-think” who you are and what you want to be.
1. Streamline Your Life.
Although not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, it’s a concept that has been recently re-energized and re-imagined in the popular movement of “decluttering" your life. There are two big areas to consider.
De-clutter Your Living Space. Do you use everything you have? If not, get rid of anything you no longer need. “Someone’s junk is someone else’s treasure.” Donate clothing and household items that are in reasonably good condition to an organization or charity, and books to your local library or hospital. Learn to do with less. In fact, some people make a conscious decision to limit all purchases for a period of time. More drastically, some people elect to downsize their living space, economizing on a smaller home or apartment.
Clear out mental and emotional clutter. Why not use this season of renewal as a reminder to get rid of things that are weighing you down and consuming your time and energy? What do you value most in your life? How much quality time do you spend with the people and the things you care about most? What is the best way to use your time to create the life you want to have?
2. Begin something new.
3. Start a Practice.
A new discipline will ensure that you invite mindfulnesss into your life. A daily practice affords you a timeout from your every day routine. This is a gift to yourself; a commitment and promise to honor who you are.
4. Be in Nature.
The outside world connects us to the cycle of life and the meaning of the seasons. Sometimes, when the world is still and Nature is dormant we need to be quiet and still as well. When the world comes back to life we are reminded that what has been still and quiet within us is ready to germinate and grow again. The cycle of life is the best reminder that nothing stays still, that life is always in constant flux, and that change is the norm.
5. Take a trip.
Travel to some new place—country, state, or some place you’ve never visited close to where you live. It doesn’t matter how far away you go; that’s not the point. The point is to find the newness within yourself as you react to a place you’ve never been before. Do you feel excited, anxious, uncomfortable, free, or anything else?
Do you spend most of your waking hours at work and struggle to fit everything else (like exercise) into your “free time”? Sometimes by the end of the work day there’s little time or energy left for getting active.
What if you could work out while you work, without having to carve out a big chunk of time? You can – by taking all those little opportunities to move more throughout your day. Just because you have a desk doesn’t mean you have to sit at it for eight hours straight.
Try Some of These Ways to Move More:
You may be saying, uh uh, that would never work at my office! But you may be surprised. Here are some tips to make it a little easier to transition to standing and moving more at work.
If you want to become successful, then it you should work on your bodily-language right away. It is just as important — even more important at times — than vocal language because it subconsciously conveys how you really feel, even when your words might not. Since the surfacing of this fact, people have been polishing their own body language as well as their ability to detect them in others.
We thought that since everyone with their eye on success — whether in business, relationships and so on — is capitalizing on this new wave of non-verbal’s, we should present a list of 10 body language secrets every successful person knows. Apply these in day-to-day life and you’ll be rocketing to success without having to say a word.
1. Smile When Appropriate.
Some call this basic, but actually, it is fundamental. We all know that smiling is a great tool in gaining instant trust and acceptance from others, however the key is knowing when it is appropriate. When meeting someone new or giving feedback to a boss, yes. When discussing why you failed to hit your quota for the month, or why your relationship isn’t working, no. Smiling when in-appropriate conveys insecurity and a lack of confidence. Know when to smile, a fundamental key.
2. Don’t Give a Weak Handshake.
A weak handshake shows a weak person, and weak people are rarely successful. A job interview, a business venture, meeting possible partners, you name it, just don’t take this to an extreme and turn it into a squeezing match. Bonus tip: when shaking hands with someone rotate your wrist so that your hand is slightly on top of theirs, a subconscious display of dominance.
3. Utilize the Facial Triangle.
People sure love to be listened to, it shows respect, interest and trust. Now whilst solid eye-contact can be great, it can be overly-intense. Using what’s called the facial triangle not only helps to lower the intensity of a gaze, but by rotating between the two eyes and the mouth, you show that you are reading their lips, a sign of intimate attention. What’s great about this is that it applies to every direct communication scenario you can think of. Watch as peoples trust in you rockets.
4. Don’t Rub Your Palms, Face or Neck.
We all know this one, the universal sign for anxiety and stress. This displays that you can’t handle the work set out for you, or are worried about how your work/image/business is being received, and if you lack confidence in yourself, others will lack confidence in you also. Successful people don’t do this (not publicly at least), they show security and strength even when the odds are against them.
5. Tower Your Hands.
If you want to come across as interesting, intelligent and confident, then you should adopt this trademark gesture. Also known as the “Merkel-Raute”, this is a favorite amongst politicians as it shows that they can (according to them) be trusted with important duties. This works better in more formal environments, use it when talking to your superiors and watch your credibility go skywards. Tip: Don’t lower your steeple mid-conversation as this shows a sudden loss in confidence.
6. Don’t Look Overly-Agreeable.
Even though it’s great to be on equal terms with people, whether they are your boss or your employees, it’s damaging to pretend that you agree, when in truth you completely disagree. This is the employee who nods uncontrollably while their boss lay’s blame on them. Don’t be afraid to show a curious, or even a bewildered expression when a false statement is made, then follow it up with your reasons. There are some crazy people out there; if you’re not disagreeing with some of them then you’re probably doing it wrong.
7. Strike a Power Pose.
Yes, this is the superhero’s go-to pose — and for good reason — because it literally powers you up! Research has shown that they not only make others perceive you as confident and powerful, but that it makes you feel just that. Practicing power poses before a high-stakes scenario raises your body’s testosterone levels, whilst decreasing cortisol levels (your stress hormone). In business, successful people know the incredible power of this pose, a confidence booster not only in yourself, but in others opinions of you.
8. Don’t Face Away From Whoever You are Engaging With.
This one can mean a multitude of things, and they’re all negative. From fear, anxiety, distrust, ignorance to contempt, not facing someone — let alone making eye contact — when you’re engaging with them will see that your success stays a product of your imagination. Success is more often than not a team effort, and if you can’t build a team who is even fond of you, the only way you’re going is down. Don’t be ignorant; you wouldn’t appreciate someone doing this to you.
9. Maintain Good Posture.
Nothing says sloppy like someone who can’t even carry themselves physically, let alone mentally. Poor posture is often a product of our lifestyles, too much time sitting or craning your neck over your phone for instance. Not only is it bad for your health but it’s bad for your appearance and your respect. It’s hard for others to see you as equal or as a superior when you’re foreheads facing the floor. You’ll add a couple of inches to your height, and perhaps some zero’s to your pay-check.
10. Don’t Exaggerate Your Gestures.
It’s hard to take someone who is overly flamboyant seriously; exaggerating your gestures in an effort to come across as enthusiastic or confident will only cause others to think the contrary. There is no shame in remaining reserved; in fact it is often a sign of maturity and mystery. Successful people know not to be boisterous if they want to remain respected. Though you may want to appear energetic for that job interview, too much is overkill.
“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.” — Robert Waldinger, director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development. This was a conclusion of a study that took over 75 years by Harvard’s Grant and Glueck study.
“The biggest predictor of your happiness and fulfillment overall in life is, basically, love.” Melanie Curtin reported on Inc. And, if you have healthy relationships, your chances of survival increase by 50%. Nearly everything in life is impacted by WHO is around you, and how those people support you.
During Childhood, undergoing a trauma, for example, is not about what happens to you, but about what happens “inside” of you, according to Dr. Gabor. i.e. if you go through a terribly horrible experience and you have someone there to help you process it, you’ll likely recover quickly. If you don’t, you’ll internalize it, isolate yourself, and that trauma will turn into a lifetime of pain.
Healthy relationships, then, could help you avoid addiction, overcome life’s challenges, you reach higher than you could on your own.
“Social relationships, or the relative lack thereof, constitute a major risk factor for health — rivaling the effect of well established health risk factors such as cigarette smoking, blood pressure, blood lipids, obesity and physical activity.” As authors House, Landis, and Umberson stated in their article in SCIENCE
“You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” — John Wooden
Brad Pitt once provided the most beautiful evidence of the science of gratitude and giving. Check out this love letter Brad wrote to Angie several years ago:
“My wife got sick. She was constantly nervous because of problems at work, personal life, her failures and problems with children.
She had lost 30 pounds and weighed about 90 pounds in her 35 years. She got very skinny, and was constantly crying. She was not a happy woman. She had suffered from continuing headaches, heart pain and jammed nerves in her back and ribs.
She did not sleep well, falling asleep only in the morning and got tired very quickly during the day. Our relationship was on the verge of break up.
Her beauty was leaving her somewhere, she had bags under her eyes, she was poking her head, and stopped taking care of herself. She refused to shoot the films and rejected any role.
I lost hope and thought that we’ll get divorced soon…But then I decided to act on it. After all I’ve got the most beautiful woman on the earth…
I began to pamper her with flowers, kisses and compliments. I surprised her and pleased her every minute. I gave her lots of gifts and lived just for her. I spoke in public only about her. I incorporated all themes in her direction. I praised her in front of her own and our mutual friends.
You won’t believe it, but she blossomed. She became even better than before. She gained weight, was no longer nervous and she loved me even more than ever.
I had no clue that she CAN love that much. And then I realized one thing: The woman is the reflection of her man. If you love her to the point of madness, she will become it.”
This works. However, relationships aren’t a quick-fix thing. You have got to stick to these incredible practices of giving and gratitude or the relationships will stop being transformational. It will die.
Living For Something Beyond Yourself
“For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.” — Viktor Frankl
Great power is not what creates great responsibility. Instead, great responsibility is what creates power.
The writer says: “When my wife and I became foster parents of three kids a few years, our lives changed. We had something bigger depending on us. We had to rise to the occasion.”
According to what psychologists call, “The pygmalion effect,” you as a person either rise or fall to the demands of your situation. If your situation doesn’t demand much, you won’t rise up.
Having other people depend on you is a beautiful thing. It’s the pressure that will turn you into a diamond. It will cause you to dig deep within yourself, and overcome the addictions and bad habits holding you back.
You have so much more to live for now.
In the digital world we now live in, it’s not about the amount of hours you work, but the amount of thought and humanity you put into your work.
The deeper and more transformative your daily experiences, the more perspective you’ll have into what the world needs, the better you’ll be at your job, the happier you’ll be as a person —despite hardships you may experience throughout life.
When you have people around you who love and help you, you become a different and better person. You become transformed. You become capable of doing amazing things. You are enabled to overcome hardships that would destroy most people.
Do you have deep and loving relationships?
Have you expressed gratitude lately?
Have you given your greatest gifts in complete love and generosity?
By Brittany Hodak
No one enjoys stress. Managers of distressed teams scramble to lead their worn-out employees and struggle to keep their companies productive.
Not all stress is bad, though. Eustress, unlike distress, describes psychological discomfort that’s beneficial to the person dealing with it. According to Alia and Thomas Crum on Harvard Business Review, people who learn to deal with stress in a positive way are better equipped to handle challenges and avoid burnout.
“Stress is a natural part of life,” says Curt Cronin, a former Navy SEAL and the co-founder of Ridgeline Partners. “If we run from it, we can’t learn from it. But, if we embrace it, we emerge from the experience stronger and more prepared to tackle tougher challenges in the future.”
Leaders can help their teams avoid burnout and stay productive, but to do so, they first need to change their own ideas about how stress works.
The Good Kind of Stress
In terms of evolution, stress is the state the body enters when it feels a looming threat. It is a big part of the fight-or-flight response, which inspires people either to run from problems or to tackle them aggressively.
A little stress can motivate someone to meet the challenges of the day and work harder to reach important goals. Too much stress, however, turns positive motivation into negative reactions. In fact, excessive stress can cause illnesses, negatively affect relationships and hamper productivity.
Unfortunately, leaders cannot always control the amount of stress their teams encounter. Tight deadlines, client demands and budgetary concerns can all turn normal days into panicked situations. Rather than attempt to influence factors outside their control, leaders should learn to view stressful situations as challenges they’re ready to face—and encourage their teams to do the same.
Stress as a Motivational Tool
Leaders can follow these best practices to transform stress from an imposing obstacle into a powerful weapon:
1. Identify the stress factors.
Research from a team of neuroscientists found that simply acknowledging a stressful situation can shift the brain from a panicked state to a proactive one. The stress won’t leave on its own. Rather than hide from it, name it and face it head on to limit its power.
Delaying the response to stress makes it easier to handle. When someone delivers bad news, don’t let it create a cloud that looms over the whole day. Set a time to plan a response to the issue and handle the tasks already on the calendar so you can return to the problem later, ready to solve it. If the problem requires immediate action, take a minute to sit quietly and plan a response rather than barge in without an agenda.
2. Break the stress into smaller pieces.
Big problems create big stress. Rather than attack big stressors directly, break them down into smaller components and delegate responsibility for each component to a different person. Communicate the entire issue to team members so they understand the context of their work.
This approach serves two purposes. First, it increases engagement by showing employees the value of their work to the whole. Second, it reduces the individual stress felt by each team member as every person works on a specific task less scary than the sum of the parts. Managers can reduce their own stress levels by tracking the contribution of each component to the solution, rather than the immensity of the problem.
3. Translate vague stress into definite facts.
The anxiety of stress is directionless. In a stressful environment, people feel the cloud of stress on top of all their work—unless they isolate that stress by tying it to specific, achievable actions.
Reduce the bandwidth of the stress effect by connecting the stressful feeling to concrete deadlines. Research from the University of Rochester found that students who viewed their pre-test jitters as a positive motivating factor performed better than students who did not reframe their stressful feelings. When team members complete the task associated with the stress, they free themselves from the burden of the feeling and gain a sense of accomplishment in the process.
Stress at work is unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be unpleasant. By following these tips and reframing stress as a motivating factor, leaders can help their teams stay focused and accomplish more—no matter how big the task.
The increased competition in the workspace with every talent envying for the coveted job role, has led to need for higher dedication and greater efforts from everybody, right from the top management to the lowest level of employees.
Being Workaholic is not wrong, if someone really wants to thrive in a competitive job market, and get lucrative offers coming your way, then it is important for you to be completely dedicated and committed to meet strict deadlines at work.
HR managers should realize that most employees today, are confronted with greater challenges, both on personal and professional fronts on a daily basis. Besides accomplishing the regular tasks assigned, they are required to be competent and willing to take up new challenges on projects, thus resulting in stress at work.
There is not always a smooth flow of operations at work, times can sometimes be demanding of you to clock in extra hours at work and stay back after office hours to meet deadlines. How can managers help decrease the work pressure on employees, prevent productivity burnouts and train them to prioritise effectively such as to get the job done on time?
However, as easily said is not easily executed though – in a real-life workplace situation priorities often collide and deriving optimum performance from employees during urgent times isn’t always easy. Employees are stressed, exhausted, drained off energies, and sometimes choose to be absent from duties to evade off the work load. How do you maintain clarity of thought and stay sane when crazy schedules create havoc?
Well, here are some tips for you to help manage your workforce to stay focused, achieve peak performance, maximize productivity and deliver within the time-frame committed:
Prepare a Collective List of the Tasks to be Done
First thing to do is to list all the tasks, in the order of importance, shuffle align and realign them depending on their importance and sense of urgency, the time span required for meeting the deadline etc.
While doing so, it is important to not forget that every single task is important, and each job needs to be well done to meet superior quality standards.
Important vs Urgent
Since all of the tasks listed are important, there are some which are very urgent and those for which you can buy in some more time (perhaps a day more to accomplish). An urgent task is a task that needs immediate attention, and if it is not completed within certain timelines, your employer brand could face serious negative impact to hamper the brand repute.
Urgent issues such as meeting deadline committed to a client or prospective partner, publication of newsletters or press releases, and immediate reports for the top management and stakeholders have to be prioritized.
By prioritizing a task or two, your employees can easily manage time and postpone other less important tasks to be accomplished later.
Ask the Manager to Prioritize
A good communication with your immediate manager to understand the job scope, urgent business requirements always help you to be prepared for such urgencies at work.
When the employees have enormous stacks of immediate tasks to be neatly accomplished at the same time, seek help from your manager to decide on the ones most important and those which could wait for sometime.
A manager in turn is required to be understanding and co-operative of the work deadline and support efforts of the team to accomplish the targeted deadline.
Stay Flexible and Accept the Changes
It is important to realize that priorities can change at any point of time, over an email dialogue or a business conversation and employees are required to be prepared for sudden urgent business needs.
If the workers have enormous workload to accomplish, remind the company that it needs a flexible worker, who is able to prioritize things and postpone some at a later point in time.
Seek for Help
If you see the employees are increasingly burdened with pressures and deadlines, ask them to seek help from a senior manager or at times, colleagues from other department who have the ability grasp quickly and learn can be great problem solvers.
It is during these critical hours of business requirements and sense of urgencies, that the quality of the company’s team work is put to test. During such testing times, collaboration between employees is even greater and they are more engaged at work to work in tandem and accomplish remarkable feats of success.
However, if the deadlines stated are utmost unreasonable and difficult to accomplish, then ask the manager to set clearer expectations and priorities, before the employees go beserk and crazy at work with erratic working schedules.
In these fast-paced technologically advanced times, as business requirements grow so do the priorities of businesses change rapidly, at times seems like the wink of an eye. Hence, employers and HR managers should invest in training and development to upgrade the talent with necessary skillsets that meet the industry and business demands.
Furthermore, to achieve quality goals it would be wiser of organisations to allow some breathing space and room for creativity, innovation at work, before they commit to strict deadlines.
Understand the competencies of your team, before assigning tasks and giving an affirmative nod. Equally value their contributions and reward them with huge benefits for all their hard work, through team lunches or weekend outings soon for the much-deserving break.
Discussing your salary is really just a form of negotiation. And negotiation in business is fundamentally about creating value for everyone involved. It’s something you probably already have experience with, especially if you’re in sales.
You got hired by knowing your value and communicating it effectively. The whole hiring process, from learning how to build a resume, to submitting the resume, to the “welcome aboard!” handshake, was all about you and your employer creating value for one another. Those same skills also apply when negotiating your salary once you’ve gotten proficient at your job.
Think of discussing your salary as continuing the conversation that you started back when you and your employer first agreed that you were going to be good for each other. Chances are the two of you are now even better for each other. And it’s time to make sure your price is still in line with your value.
Here are three things to keep in mind as you prepare for the tough talk:
1. Get in the right frame of mind
Most people start thinking about discussing their salary when they sense a mismatch between their contributions to the business and the compensation they're receiving. That’s okay. Where things usually go wrong is in the motivation for initiating the conversation. Some wait until they start having strong negative emotions about it. Others feel anxious about needing to keep up with the Joneses, or finance a lifestyle.
Research shows that you are more likely to reach a higher value outcome if you can neutralize negative feelings when you decide it’s time to discuss your salary, and focus on what’s truly relevant.
How do you do that? Step back to where you sense the mismatches are, and recast them in a positive light. Ask yourself, which key performance metrics have you exceeded? What performance areas have you shown improvement? What new skills have you gained? What incentive targets have you exceeded?
Don’t think just about your wheelhouse. What additional capacity have you brought to your team? Are you contributing in ways different from what you were hired for? How are you more valuable to the company now than six months ago?
You can’t assume your manager is aware of all that you’re accomplishing. Use this time to give your manager visibility into all your accomplishments, and how everyone benefits. Keep track of those accomplishments in a Word or Google Document to share with your boss when the time comes.
2. Do your homework
Having the right motivation puts you at ease to discuss your salary. And good preparation lets you show confidence when you actually do so.
The two main things you want when preparing are information and alternatives.
Specifically, you need to determine the range of outcomes which both you and your manager could reasonably agree to. That involves getting an accurate dollar value of what you're worth on the job market, and what additional value you bring to the company in your role. That’s no trivial task. But remember, it’s not your manager’s responsibility to know whether your pay is in sync with the job market. It’s yours!
It’s also your responsibility to understand your manager's side of the deal. What are the company’s compensation policies regarding raises? What are the pay bands that apply to your role? How do you stack up against specific skills or accomplishments associated with those bands? And most importantly, does your manager have sufficient budget for raises?
Finally, what alternatives would you accept if your manager were unable to offer a pay increase at this time? Think in terms of your overall compensation package. Common alternatives include greater bonuses or incentive payouts, increased PTO, stock options, accelerated promotion, or increased healthcare benefits.
3. Set everyone up to win
There is no shortage of advice on how to talk salary with your manager. But the research is clear. There are only two approaches that work: playing to win, or playing it so everyone wins.
Playing to win seeks the biggest payoff for you, no matter the cost. It is generally not a good idea if the cost includes generating resentment in your manager or your higher ups.
For most people, playing it so everyone wins is much better. Your goal is for both you and your manager to walk away feeling satisfied, and recommitted to working even more productively with each other. You seek a win-win deal. Your conversation covers both what’s in it for you and them. You talk value first, and price second. All the while, you seek to make the experience a good one for your manager.
Checklist on how to discuss pay with your manager
Few things are as costly and disruptive as managers who kill morale. Demotivated employees underperform and then walk out the door at the first opportunity.
The scariest thing is how prevalent this lack of motivation is.
Gallup research shows that 70% of employees consider themselves to be disengaged at work.
Organizations know how important it is to have motivated, engaged employees, but most fail to hold managers accountable for making it happen.
When they don’t, the bottom line suffers.
Research from the University of California found that motivated employees were 31% more productive, had 37% higher sales, and were three times more creative than demotivated employees. They were also 87% less likely to quit, according to a Corporate Leadership Council study on over 50,000 people.
Gallup research shows that a mind-boggling 70% of an employee’s motivation is influenced by his or her manager. It’s no wonder employees don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.
Making Things Worse
Before managers can start creating motivated, engaged employees, there are some critical things that they need to stop doing. What follows are some of the worst behaviors that managers need to eradicate from the workplace.
1. Making a lot of stupid rules. Companies need to have rules—that’s a given—but they don’t have to be short sighted and lazy attempts at creating order. Whether it’s an overzealous attendance policy or taking employees’ frequent flier miles, even a couple of unnecessary rules can drive people crazy. When good employees feel like big brother is watching, they’ll find someplace else to work.
2. Letting accomplishments go unrecognized. It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all. Rewarding individual accomplishments shows that you’re paying attention. Managers need to communicate with their people to find out what makes them feel good (for some, it’s a raise; for others, it’s public recognition) and then to reward them for a job well done. With top performers, this will happen often if you’re doing it right.
3. Hiring and promoting the wrong people. Good, hard-working employees want to work with like-minded professionals. When managers don’t do the hard work of hiring good people, it’s a major demotivator for those stuck working alongside them. Promoting the wrong people is even worse. When you work your tail off only to get passed over for a promotion that’s given to someone who glad-handed their way to the top, it’s a massive insult. No wonder it makes good people leave.
4. Treating everyone equally. While this tactic works with school children, the workplace ought to function differently. Treating everyone equally shows your top performers that no matter how high they perform .
5. Tolerating poor performance. It’s said that in jazz bands, the band is only as good as the worst player; no matter how great some members may be, everyone hears the worst player. The same goes for a company. When you permit weak links to exist without consequence, they drag everyone else down, especially your top performers.
6. Going back on their commitments. Making promises to people places you on the fine line that lies between making them very happy and watching them walk out the door. When you uphold a commitment, you grow in the eyes of your employees because you prove yourself to be trustworthy and honorable (two very important qualities in a boss). But when you disregard your commitment, you come across as slimy, uncaring, and disrespectful. After all, if the boss doesn’t honor his or her commitments, why should everyone else?
7. Being apathetic. More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people, even when it hurts. Bosses who fail to really care will always have high turnover rates. It’s impossible to work for someone eight-plus hours a day when they aren’t personally involved and don’t care about anything other than your productivity.
Making Things Better
Once managers have eradicated the seven negative behaviors that demotivate their best people, it’s time to replace them with the following seven behaviors that make people love their jobs.
1. Follow the platinum rule. The Golden Rule (treat others as you want to be treated) has a fatal flaw: it assumes that all people want to be treated the same way. It ignores the fact that people are motivated by vastly different things. One person loves public recognition, while another loathes being the center of attention. The Platinum Rule (treat others as they want to be treated) corrects that flaw. Good managers are great at reading other people, and they adjust their behavior and style accordingly.
2. Be strong without being harsh. Strength is an important quality in a leader. People will wait to see if a leader is strong before they decide to follow his or her lead or not. People need courage in their leaders. They need someone who can make difficult decisions and watch over the good of the group. They need a leader who will stay the course when things get tough. People are far more likely to show strength themselves when their leader does the same. A lot of leaders mistake domineering, controlling, and otherwise harsh behavior for strength. They think that taking control and pushing people around will somehow inspire a loyal following. Strength isn’t something you can force on people; it’s something you earn by demonstrating it time and again in the face of adversity. Only then will people trust that they should follow you.
3. Remember that communication is a two-way street. Many managers think that they’re great communicators, not realizing that they’re only communicating in one direction. Some pride themselves on being approachable and easily accessible, yet they don’t really hear the ideas that people share with them. Some managers don’t set goals or provide context for the things they ask people to do, and others never offer feedback, leaving people wondering if they’re more likely to get promoted or fired.
4. Be a role model, not a preacher. Great leaders inspire trust and admiration through their actions, not just their words. Many leaders say that integrity is important to them, but great leaders walk their talk by demonstrating integrity every day. Harping on people all day long about the behavior you want to see has a tiny fraction of the impact you achieve by demonstrating that behavior yourself.
5. Be transparent. Good managers are transparent and forthcoming about company goals, expectations, and plans. When managers try to sugarcoat, mask, or euphemize in order to make things seem better than they are, employees see right through it.
6. Be humble. Few things kill motivation as quickly as a boss’s arrogance. Great bosses don’t act as though they’re better than you, because they don’t think that they’re better than you. Rather than being a source of prestige, they see their leadership position as bringing them additional accountability for serving those who follow them.
7. Take a genuine interest in employees’ work-life balance. Nothing burns good employees out quite like overworking them. It’s so tempting to work your best people hard that managers frequently fall into this trap. Overworking good employees is perplexing to them; it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for their great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive. New research from Stanford shows that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that you don’t get anything out of the extra work.
Bringing It All Together
If you cultivate the characteristics above and avoid the demotivators, you’ll become the kind of boss that people remember for the rest of their careers.
Do you get overwhelmed at the beginning of a project? Do you struggle to boost team productivity?
The secret to alleviating common project challenges is to set specific goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals are designed to provide structure and guidance throughout a project, and better identify what you want to accomplish. This method is especially effective in helping employees set goals that align with company.
What Are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?
S.M.A.R.T. goals are a relatively new idea. In 1981, George T. Doran, a consultant and former director of corporate planning for Washington Water Power Company, published a paper called, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.” In the document, he introduces S.M.A.R.T. goals as a tool to create criteria to help improve the chances of succeeding in accomplishing a goal.
The acronym stands for:
S – Specific
When setting a goal, be specific about what you want to accomplish. Think about this as the mission statement for your goal. This isn’t a detailed list of how you’re going to meet a goal, but it should include an answer to the popular ‘w’ questions:
M – Measurable
What metrics are you going to use to determine if you meet the goal? This makes a goal more tangible because it provides a way to measure progress. If it’s a project that’s going to take a few months to complete, then set some milestones by considering specific tasks to accomplish.
A – Achievable
This focuses on how important a goal is to you and what you can do to make it attainable and may require developing new skills and changing attitudes. The goal is meant to inspire motivation, not discouragement. Think about how to accomplish the goal and if you have the tools/skills needed. If you don’t currently possess those tools/skills, consider what it would take to attain them.
R – Relevant
Relevance refers focusing on something that makes sense with the broader business goals. For example, if the goal is to launch a new product, it should be something that’s in alignment with the overall business objectives. Your team may be able to launch a new consumer product, but if your company is a B2B that is not expanding into the consumer market, then the goal wouldn’t be relevant.
T – Time-Bound
Anyone can set goals, but if it lacks realistic timing, chances are you’re not going to succeed. Providing a target date for deliverables is imperative. Ask specific questions about the goal deadline and what can be accomplished within that time period. If the goal will take three months to complete, it’s useful to define what should be achieved half-way through the process. Providing time constraints also creates a sense of urgency.
The Easiest Way to Write S.M.A.R.T. Goals
When it comes to writing S.M.A.R.T. goals, be prepared to ask yourself and other team members a lot of questions. The answers will help fine-tune your strategy, ensuring the goals are something that’s actually attainable. While you should be as realistic as possible, it’s important to approach writing S.M.A.R.T. goals with a positive attitude. After all, this is something that you want to achieve.
Here are two examples of initial goals we'll use to walk through this process:
This is a typical approach to creating goals, but both of these are very vague. With the current wording, the goals probably aren’t going to be attainable. The statements lack specifics, timelines, motivation, and a reality check.
Now, let’s use the S.M.A.R.T. goals formula to clarify both and create new and improved goals.
Goal: I want to complete a project
Goal: I want to improve my performance
Once you go through and write your goals according to each S.M.A.R.T. characteristic, you can then combine and consolidate all the work you’ve done into one S.M.A.R.T. goal.
Establishing Clarity Around Success and Failure
Just like everything else in business, S.M.A.R.T. goals can change. Someone might ask you to write a SMARTER Goal. This acronym adds Evaluate and Re-Do. The idea behind this is you should constantly be evaluating your goals and re-setting them as needed. Company directions change, personal goals evolve, so maybe a goal you set six months ago no longer makes sense.
Whether you write S.M.A.R.T. or SMARTER goals, you’ll find that having some clarity about what you want to achieve can make all the difference between success and failure.
It sounds easy, but it’s surprisingly hard for most of us: To become a better listener, stop focusing on what you’ll say next.
Next time you’re at a meeting when you are not a central participant, take a couple of minutes and watch some of the other people at the table. Most of them won’t even look like they are listening carefully. Some are fidgeting in their seats. Some are checking their email under the table. Few of them are really listening to what is going on around them.
Listening is a skill that can make you a better colleague and a more effective leader. When people feel as though they have been heard, they trust you more. In addition, there are a lot of problems that arise through miscommunication. A lot of miscommunication isn’t because someone fails to express themselves clearly, it happens because the other person doesn’t listen carefully.
THE PROBLEM WITH MOST CONVERSATIONS
Many listening problems emerge from the way most of us think about conversations. The structure of a conversation seems obvious. One person speaks. Then, another one picks up the thread of the discussion, and the different people contribute their thoughts.
Just from this description, it might seem that your role in a conversations is to think about your reaction to what has been said so far, and plan what you are going to say next, but there are several problems with this strategy.
First, you haven’t given the other person a chance to say what they wanted to say completely. It’s possible that the last thing they say will change the tenor of their earlier remarks, and you’ll miss that if you are focused on your next turn.
Second, by focusing on what you are going to say, you are paying the most attention to your own perspective on the conversation. That can make it difficult to see things from another person’s point of view. By trying to understand the context in which someone else makes a remark, you can often get a deeper understanding of the issues they are facing.
THINKING MINDSET VS. DOING MINDSET
Remember that when you listen, you are learning from the other person. Research on motivation by Arie Kruglanski a social psychologist and his colleagues at the University of Maryland suggests that there are two distinct motivational mindsets: a thinking mindset and a doing mindset. When you listen, you put yourself in a thinking mindset. It gives you a chance to really try to understand what is going on around you. When you focus on planning your next contribution to the conversation, you enter a doing mindset, and you don’t think through the events carefully. Give yourself that chance to think.
If you jump too quickly into a mode of trying to solve the problem you are facing, you may cure a symptom rather than curing the disease.
Shifting yourself out of a doing mode can be difficult. Often, colleagues come to you with a problem, and so your initial reaction is to prepare yourself to solve the problem. However, the problem that people come to talk to you about is not always the real problem that needs to be solved. If you jump too quickly into a mode of trying to solve the problem you are facing, you may cure a symptom rather than curing the disease. Taking the thinking perspective is the conversational equivalent of the carpenter’s saying “Measure twice, cut once.”
When you focus on your next contribution, you may miss the emotion behind what is being said. You communicate a lot more than just the statements we make with the words we use. Your tone of voice, posture, and gestures also say a lot about how you feel. After all, the simple sentence “That was a great point,” can be a compliment or an insult just based on how it is said.
It is important to get a sense of how deeply someone cares about the issue being discussed and their satisfaction with how the issue has been dealt with so far. Often, there are issues that you don’t care about at all that are extraordinarily important to someone else. Failing to recognize and appreciate that difference can undermine your colleagues’ trust in you.
THE SIMPLEST WAY TO TEACH YOURSELF TO LISTEN
Finally, get in the habit of repeating back at least some of what colleagues have said to you when you are dealing with important issues. Give that summary before you launch into your own solutions. There are three reasons why this is helpful.
You have to listen carefully to what other people have said in order to be able to repeat it back. When you accurately state what other people have said, they feel like you have taken in what they had to say. As a result, they trust your response more than if they don’t feel they were heard. By repeating it back, you also ensure that you really understood it. If you missed something, you may find you have trouble actually summarizing what was said, and so you can ask for clarification. In addition, your summary gives other conversation participants a chance to correct or clarify the point.
Ultimately, the ability to extract what people mean from a conversation is one of the most important tools of any leader. It takes a lot of work. And it requires curbing your natural tendency to jump right to a solution to people’s problems.
Being a great leader takes more than smarts, hard work, and determination. According to management consultant Julia Tang Peters, all great leaders encounter certain decision points throughout their careers. The choices they make at those moments will shape the rest of their careers, she says, and this is as true for those who climb the career ladder at large companies as it is for those who go out on their own as entrepreneurs. "Everyone should look at it as a marathon, not a sprint," says Peters, who explores these critical moments in her new book, Pivot Points: Five Decisions Every Successful Leader Must Make."
So many people in the digital economy hit a home run early with a new company. They want to max out that opportunity, so they get some investors, and they grow quickly. Then, five or six years into it, the investors say, 'Thank you very much; we now need a real leader to get this to the next level.'" The reason this happens often, she says, is that "Leading is a hard thing to do. You have to have the experience to grow." Understanding the five pivot points and making the right decisions when you reach them are what create effective leaders.
The first decision point often comes early in a leader's career--but not always. It's the moment you make a commitment to gain mastery of a skill you need. "Typically, when we start our careers, we all have to face this decision, 'What do I really want to be best at?'" Peters says. "It's not necessarily your first or second job, but it's hopefully a decision all young people starting out reflect on." Some people have later launch points. "You've tried out two or three jobs, and none of them lit your fire. Or perhaps you studied accounting, but now you're in your 30s and don't want to spend the next 30 years as an accountant. That is your first launch and hopefully, having learned about yourself, the next time you've made a more thoughtful decision, and that becomes your real launching point."
2. Turning Point
The turning point comes when you decide to embrace a major opportunity or a major problem. "Not, let's see about this opportunity, but really committing to it," Peters says. Why is commitment at this moment so important? Because, inevitably, you'll encounter roadblocks, especially as an entrepreneur, she says. "It is a tougher challenge. There are obstacles and fewer resources. You feel the setbacks more. That's why it's important to make the emotional commitment of being all in. 'Comes a setback, I'm not giving up. I'm going to do whatever it takes to get through this.'" Just as important, if you really commit, other people will see that in you. "People respect that, and if your energy is out there in a committed way to do something specific that's important to you, it's very compelling," Peters says. "People pick up on it and want to be around that energy and drive. It builds the platform for establishing your leadership in your field."
3. Tipping Point
The tipping point occurs when you encounter a fundamental barrier and decide to break through it by taking a significant risk. "It can be an internal barrier; for instance, the fact that you've never done something before and you have to get through it," Peters says. "Or it may be an environmental barrier, such as a significant competitive threat to your business, so that to stay competitive, you have to do something really bold or head in a completely new direction. You're saying, 'Yes, I can get past this, and by breaking through this barrier, I will take my leadership to the next level.'" One business owner Peters interviewed reached his tipping point during the economic downturn. He responded by building out his management team, hiring great executives when they needed jobs. It was a big risk with a big payoff: Once the economy recovered, his business more than doubled.
Twenty or twenty-five years in, everyone faces this decision," Peters says. You've had some accomplishments and successes. Things have gone well for a long time, but you don't bring quite the same passion to the work that you used to. "When the decision is to recommit to the same company or job, it's really based on recommitting to a more purposeful goal," Peters says. "You've had business success, and now you want to create your legacy. It's moving the goalposts further. That recommitment gives the decision maker the energy and drive to continue on." Sometimes, Peters says, recommitment means making a change. "You think you've done everything you want to do here, and now you want to do this other thing. And you're in your mid-50s--which is a typical age for this--so it's now or never. It winds up being a recommitment to yourself."
5. Letting Go
Letting go is a strategic business decision, especially for a company founder, Peters says. Whether you decide to move on when you reach your recommitment point or recommit to the same company and spend many more years in your role, there comes a time sooner or later when even the best leaders need to move on from their roles. "How gracefully you make that decision and handle the transition depends on succession planning," Peters says. It can take as long as five years to choose, mentor, and train the person who will take over your role, and then step aside when he or she is ready to lead without you. "So many founders think, This is my baby; it all depends on me," Peters says. "Part of being indispensable is taking on the responsibility of choosing the next leader and preparing that leader for success."