Work vs. Life

Often people ask me how to achieve balance. I have learned to answer that you never have balance – because I have stopped fooling myself that you do. You make choices on what you do and what you don’t. Harvard Business Review  just published an interesting study on this subject in their March magazine, and I encourage all to review, reflect, and decide what works best for you.

Friday Fast Tip: Toot your horn

Don’t assume everyone knows about you or your accomplishments. Getting ahead often requires making those things more apparent. However, I say “toot” your horn, not “blow” it for a reason. No one likes a braggart. Be strategic about your self-promotion.  For example, someone mentions they are working on a new project that requires XYZ skill; it’s the perfect time to mention your experience with that and offer to help. After all, the best way for people to learn about you and what you’re good at is to show them.

What I’m reading now: We is Bigger Than You

Have you ever noticed how sports fans talk about their favorite sports team? Right, everything they say is about we: ‘we won the game’, ‘we should not have used this tactic’, ‘luck was not on our side’. If your employees, customers and other stakeholders are talking about ‘we’, this is a sign that you are really reaping the benefits from ‘murmuration’, with everyone flying together in perfect harmony and positive spirit.

Follow up on Eight Lessons from Leaders Part 2

Last week I began my deeper dive into the eight lessons from leaders that Michael Keegan outlined in his post Leading Across Boundaries. This week, I will finish with the last four lessons.

  1. Define and focus on your goals and objectives – Goals aren’t just the destination, but the compass that guides us. Goals keep us on track, working together congruently.  They provide us something to measure our progress against; are we going in circles, are losing ground? Without goals, it’s impossible to tell. The more complexity you add to an environment, the more important clearly outlined objectives become. They don’t have to be lofty or intricate, they don’t even have to be long term, but they need to be there.

Assess yourself: Do you know your end goal? Do your employees? Do your strategies and tactics support it? Do you minimize the time you spend on efforts that don’t? Do you know where you are on the path to achieving your goals? If yes, keep working.

  1. Articulate a strategy for moving forward – Once you know your goals, you’ll need a path to get there. Consider what initiatives you’ll need to implement, what changes you’ll need to make, how you will position yourself, and what milestones should be reached along the way. However, developing the strategy is only the first step, you’ll need to share it with your team and get them onboard to help execute.

Assess yourself: Do you know your goals, but aren’t sure how to achieve them? Does it seem like your employees are working towards a different objective? Do you find yourself making more last minute decisions than deliberate ones? If so, it may be time to revisit or outline a clear strategy.

  1. Engage employees and put customers first – Putting customers first is about recognizing the role of engagement in customer satisfaction. “Engaged, highly satisfied employees increase levels of customer satisfaction and drive bottom line profitability,” wrote Jane Flaherty in her blog post Engaged Employees Create Happy Customers. As leaders, we need engage our employees and all our stakeholders in how to provide the best service to clients. If in the end what we’re doing doesn’t contribute to a happier customer, we need to ask ourselves, why are we doing it?

Assess yourself:  Do you actively provide your employees opportunity for leadership and development? Do your employees have a voice in decision making? Are employee incentives aligned to customer satisfaction? Do your business decisions result in better client service? If yes, enjoy the results!

  1. Seize the moment – Though not always easy to find, there is an opportunity in every situation – perhaps an opportunity to learn or grow or even transform into something better. Don’t let the moment pass without making the most of it.

Assess yourself: Do you wait for perfect? Are you more concerned with risk than opportunity? Do you spend more time with analysis than action? If so, it’s time to let go of perfect, stop waiting, and make something out of now.

Friday Fast Tip: Reconnect

We all get into a “head’s down” mode now and then – the mode where you are so focused on a particular goal that all else takes a backseat while you’re accomplishing it. However, once you resurface, it’s important to reconnect. Take time to catch up on missed calls and emails, but more importantly, make time for people. Check in with your network, not just digitally, but face to face as well. Taking this step back to reconnect with people and the bigger picture is a critical part of progressing forward.

How do you reconnect after an especially busy, hyper-focused time? Share in the comment section below!

What I’m reading now: Stop Trying to Control People or Make Them Happy

No amount of structures, processes, and systems are ever enough to anticipate the kinds of problems employees face everyday on the front line of the business. So, instead, companies need to give their employees more autonomy and, at the same time, encourage them — impel them, even — to cooperate with each other. Only then, when they are liberated in this way, will employees be able to make critical judgments, balance complex trade-offs, and come up with creative solutions to new problems.