business coaching

How Can You Hold Effective One-On-One Meetings with Direct Reports?

As a leader, your time is tight. If you have more than 4 or 5 direct reports, then time is even more crunched. One-on-one meetings may feel counter-productive when you have limited time and the option to meet virtually. However, these meetings are a key opportunity you have to develop each of those direct reports.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders, the author of How to Invest Your Time Like Money, says "One-on-ones are one of the most important productivity tools you have as a manager."

These are times when they can learn from you what it takes to get to the next level, and you can learn from them what is happening closer to the front-line and gain more practice developing a flexible management style.

Do your directs look forward to their one-on-one times with you?  Do you look forward to them?

The higher up you are, the more structure you will need to have since you will have fewer one-on-one times per month.

Here are a few tips that should help in establishing effective one-on-ones:

1. Come prepared.

One of the first one-on-one conversations you should have with your directs is how to have a one-on-one.

Is there a structure that you want to follow?  How about them?  What would make that time most valuable to them?

There is probably going to be a lot of overlap between the two of you but for clarity’s sake, encourage them to share their expectations, and you share yours.

After you’ve established what one-on-one’s are going to look like, you will know how to prepare for those meetings (see below).

Send an agenda for the one-on-one a couple of days in advance.  Be sure you have learned what it is they most want to talk about during their one-on-one.  Ideally, agenda items should be phrased as questions since questions get people thinking about answers.

This will help you both to prepare or at least start thinking about the topics.

2. Determine how often you will have one-on-ones and where.

Some direct reports may need more time than others, especially those who are newer to their role.  It is important to determine the pace of the meetings and stick to it.

3. Create an environment of focus.

One of the keys to effective one-on-one's is to create an environment where both of you can be fully present and focused.

Silencing or turning off phones completely helps.  But so does making sure there are no interruptions.

Another way to create a high level of focus is to shorten the meetings.  This forces both of you to be sharp.

4. Create a dialogue.

One-on-one meetings should feel more like a dialogue and less like a monologue.  One way to accomplish this is to start personally (see below).  Another is by starting with what the direct wants to talk about.  A third is by asking open-ended questions.  This limits the amount you speak and encourages your directs to say a lot more.

5. Start personally.

What is meaningful to them in life in general?  For many, it is going to be their families or another significant relationship.  For some, it is going to be favorite hobbies, restaurants, or adventures.  Show them that you care by remembering what matters to them.

Moving this way helps both you and your direct to be positive, open and vulnerable, ready to engage the meeting in a spirit of trust and collaboration.

Use your humor.  Laughing bonds people together.  Having a team that is tight with one another and with you will go far in developing the high performing team you’ve always wanted.

6. Start with a Win.

If each of you can share a win that you’ve had since the last time you met, that will go a long way in making the conversation positive.

7. Move to the core - discover what your report is doing in the most important area of their role.

Since time is usually tight, many clients have found it helpful to start with the most important area of their direct report’s role.  This is the point where you especially want to have influence.  It can help set them up for success.  Moreover, their best results will come by focusing on what is essential (cue Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism).

As part of your preparation, know what you want to know about the core.  Brainstorm here so that they can see how you process.  Also, they can sense how much you believe in them through this collaboration.

8. Update on project.

There is probably a project that you especially want to keep an eye on.  Typically, you do that by receiving email updates ahead of the meeting, then the update during your one-on-one is more about moving the project further.

This could also be a brainstorming time.  It could be an opportunity to discover the obstacles that your direct is facing, which you could help them remove.

Here is where you want to know how you could be of most value to them as they work on this key project.

9. Find ways to increase engagement.

You want to get a feel for what their overall engagement is like.  Do they love their role? Company? Their team? You?  What would help increase their engagement?

Getting a pulse on engagement is really important with your higher-performing directs.  Throughout the meeting find ways to increase their engagement by giving them opportunities to do the things that generate engagement for that specific direct report.

10. Feedback.

Feedback doesn’t need to be limited to formal reviews.  Start by sharing something you are grateful for concerning their performance since the last meeting.  Then give them some positive affirmations about their work, and one thing to focus on improving.  This kind of interaction can go a long way.

Hopefully, the more this becomes part of the dynamic between you and them, the more you will see how to help them grow and build upon their strengths.

11. Ask, “What can I do better?”

Asking for feedback is your chance to grow further.  You might not be able to accomplish everything all your directs want, but it is likely that gaining their feedback and modeling change and growth will go far for everyone on the team.

12. Both sides should send an email to one another with next steps

At the end of the meeting, it would be helpful to talk through next steps for each of you.  Get buy-in, and then each of you should send an email with those next steps to each other to make sure that you both are on the same page and know what each of you is empowered to do.

Chew On This:

  • What has been your experience with effective one-on-one meetings?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company.

 

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

A Path To Real Clarity for Your Business

Chris Kisley, President and CEO of Life Long Leadership, recently came to my office and sat with me as we answered the Six Core Questions for Organizational Clarity from Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage for my company.

  1. Why do we exist? (Core purpose)
  2. How do we behave? (What are our values?)
  3. What do we do? (Business definition)
  4. How will we succeed? (A collection of intentional, purposeful and unique decisions a company or team makes to give itself the best chance to maximize success)
  5.    What is most important right now? (Thematic Goal – every organization, if it wants to create a sense of alignment and focus, must have a single top priority within a given period of time.)
  6. Who must do what?

Mind you, we’ve been working on these for several weeks, but now it was time to nail the answers down.

I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate Chris and her incredible gifts for combining the core of who I am with corporate business wisdom in order to help me steer my company in the right direction.

Whether you are running a company or a department in a company, answering the six questions will bring a level of clarity that you and your team have not seen yet.

I’d like to share some of the general takeaways from my time with her that I think might be valuable for you.

  1. Really understand who you are, using insights from those who are discerning and can articulate their perceptions of you.

Turning the windows in my office into writing boards, the first thing she wrote was my Myers-Briggs type (ENFJ) and my top five strengths from StrengthsFinder (1. Communication 2. Strategy 3. Empathy 4. Achiever 5. Developer).

She then turned to me and said, “As I have experienced you, you are a strong J.”  I was floored.  I had not seen myself that way at all.  As she explained the ways in which I come across as a strong J, I gained invaluable insight and understanding as to how I am coming across to others.

More than that, I started realizing that I was “trying to be” a low J because I love some of the qualities of P’s.

Feedback can feel intimadating and exposing, but when it comes from a trusted source who knows you and is for you, it can be paramount to your success.

  1. Know how you work best and get rid of the last vestiges of who you think you “should” be.

The insight from that first point above, coupled with my answers to Lencioni’s first three questions, showed her that I try to super-specialize.  “You keep trying to box yourself in,” she said.  “You need to be broader so you can have multiple avenues to get to what you want to do most. It makes sense that you want to box yourself in because, as a J, you want to know what box you fit in.”  Man, those words rang so, so true.

My mom is a strong P.  I admire her so much.  The way things come together for her, with her ability to put out fires quickly, and seamlessly adjust to change is almost magical.  It’s part of what makes her a top surgeon.

Growing up, I wanted to be like that.  However, that’s not how I was wired.  Consequently, like many of you, several years ago I had to make concerted efforts to be who I am and stop trying to be someone I wasn’t.  I had to embrace the fact that unless I am discussing something I am very familiar with, things just don’t fall in place for me like they do for her.

I kept holding on to being a low J.  But a shift has occurred.  I may not be as strong of a J as Chris shared with me, but her words have helped me to just be, and enjoy my own wiring.

How can you start to operate out of your more authentic self?

  1. Lead with your desires.

I am really fortunate in that I absolutely love what I do.  I love coaching individuals, groups and teams, but even more, I love delivering trainings.

When we were coming up with a list of the conferences where I should do my trainings, Chris asked me what I am passionate about.  “I’ve always loved innovation and technology,” I replied. “I might not know how the latest gadgets work, but I do love using them so much that usually I am an early adopter.”

Consequently, it turns out that my passion for innovation and for the leadership development trainings that I do are a natural fit for technology conferences.  Our new intern, Megan Koh, is already at work applying on my behalf to different tech conferences where I can train leaders.

What are your desires and how can you see them come to fruition in your business? What topic or problem stirs you the most? Begin brainstorming ways you can lead from your desires.

  1. Understand how your industry and target audience works.

In the leadership development industry, who I hire will influence my target audience.  I’ve dreamed of increasing the amount of trainings (or facilitations) I do to about 50% of my practice, then spending the rest of the time with individuals, groups and teams, and growing and developing my own team.

I thought I should hire more coaches to cover for the time I want to spend facilitating or training, but I learned from Chris that if I do that, I will get more coaching work.  Instead, I should be hiring more people who can train or facilitate.  Then I will get more training and facilitation work.

Make your hiring intentional to the audience you want to reach and the goals you want to pursue within your company.

  1. Know what you will not do.

When we got to the question, “How will we succeed?” we started off by making a list of what we will not do.  Seeing that list confirmed that I need to stay in my strike zone, and not take on things for which I am not best-suited, just to please my clients.

I was already saying, “No” a lot, but I believe I have the clarity now to say “No” to more.

You can start by making a list of “things you do” and “things you do not do” within your company. Talk with your team as you determine what is most essential for your overall productivity.

  1. Know that you will adjust your answers to the six core questions as you get deeper into your work.

When we finished, I felt incredibly clear on who my company is and, more specifically, how I was going to pursue what I want to pursue.  It was so comforting and relieving.  My stress levels dropped.

I felt like one of my twins in a playpen.  When my twin boys were crawling but not yet walking, they would often cry if they were on the floor.  But if my wife or I would put them in the playpen, they would be immediately comforted and begin having fun.

I now have clear direction, focus, and know how to utilize my time and resources.

One last thing Chris mentioned was that I need to remember that the clarity I have now will become even sharper as I get farther into fulfilling the plan.  In other words, I will be further tweaking my responses to the six core questions as I go.

I am really good with that insight.  Even though I prefer routine, I love having options to plug into the routine, especially when the routine starts feeling a little old.

Chew On This:

  • How can you begin walking through Lencioni’s six core questions for organizational clarity with a trusted source?
  • What question feels most challenging to answer and why?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of a company that catalyzes the transformation of leaders’ lives.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

Your Best Self In The New Year

This blog is going to be short. If you followed last week’s blog, we discussed how busy the holiday season can get, and I am discovering that is truer than I realized ;-) Many of us are looking into the new year with a desire to better ourselves.  We may have received some feedback as to what areas need to be improved.  We may also know intuitively of other areas that need improvement.

A helpful question my coach once gave me is, “If you had to replace yourself with an idealized version of yourself, what traits would your replacement have?”

So let me be clear... Since we are talking about ideal traits, we may never reach that idealized version of ourselves, but excellence and mastery can still be achieved.  For a goal to be SMART, it must be achievable.

For me, one skill my replacement would bring would be the ability to apply just the right amount of structure into coaching meetings without losing connection or movement towards the essence of what a client wants resolved.

1. Create SMART Goals

My advice is to make a list of ideal traits then consider creating SMART goals around each of those idealized traits. 

So for me, it is: In January, I will ask clients whom I sense want more structure to describe the structure they want, and I will start a process of trial and error to nail the structure they are looking for within three months.

If you create SMART goals around the idealized traits, then you can set yourself up for success by breaking those goals down into smaller steps.  Given the above goal, my steps can include:

  1. Determine which clients want more structure.
  2. Depending on personality type, phone, Skype, email, or wait until our next meeting to talk about the structure they desire for our meetings.
  3. After they share what they want, repeat what I hear them say until they feel like I’ve nailed it.
  4. Let them know that I want to nail it down as soon as possible, and if there are further tweaks that need to be made along the way, I will be happy to make them.
  5. Implement.
  6. Review and assess how it’s going with the client.

2. Get Accountability

Next step is to have accountability for the change you want to make.  How would you like to be held accountable for the realization of those idealized traits?  In my case, I have my coach. But more importantly, the client will naturally provide accountability.  Accountability would also come from what I am sensing as the structure is implemented.

3. Celebrate Your Victory

Finally, once repeatedly nailed, it will be time to celebrate.  How would you like to see yourself celebrate once you’ve achieved what’s possible to achieve, with respect to that idealized trait?

The celebration could be small, like “I will buy a couple of songs on iTunes that I have saved in my wish list.”  For goals that really impact your leadership or team, you could choose something bigger, like “I will take my wife and kids on a three-day beach vacation.”  The idea is to visualize how you will celebrate so you are further motivated to achieve that goal.

If the goal is a bigger or long-term one, consider having celebrations each time a milestone is met.

If you dream of the idealized version of yourself, you can achieve your best you.  Make small, steady progress, and you will be surprised by how different you will be by this time in 2017!

Have a fantastic holiday season and very happy new year!

Chew On This:

  • What traits does your idealized self have?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

Stay in the Strike Zone by Discovering Your Bent

discovering-your-bent-to-stay-in-theEveryone has something that they are especially gifted in.  It is something that is really them, something they can use to effect the greatest good for the greatest number. Do you know what yours is?

Or, to put it another way, do you know what your “thing” is?

Your thing, or your bent, is something you could apply anywhere in life.  Typically, it transcends arena, but you would especially use it at work, since you spend so many hours there.

Clients have shared things like:

  • “I innovate”
  • “I refine”
  • “I make things right”
  • “I bring order out of chaos”

Do you see how any of those things could apply anywhere in life?  Do you see how someone could be innovative at work but also at home--planning meals, parenting, etc?

That is what you are looking for.

Is there something stirring in you now that you think may be your thing?  Maybe you are still not sure.

I ask my clients three different questions to help them discover their thing:

 

  • What have your greatest accomplishments had in common?  What have you been known for?

 

If you can’t think of what to list as your greatest accomplishments, then start by telling yourself your own story and see what stands out as the greatest accomplishments or something you were known for. Let me tell you a little bit of my story to help you see how I discovered what my thing is, and maybe that will help you discover yours.

I was the little kid who knew everyone’s secrets.  Two friends would be at odds with each other, and both would talk to me without ever knowing that the other was doing the same thing.

I went to the second largest high school in the country, Brooklyn Tech.  There were so many students that when we walked the stage to get our diplomas at graduation, some of my friends and I remarked that we had never seen some of the people on stage before.

Somehow at school my name got around as the guy you talk to if you are having girlfriend/boyfriend problems or “parent issues."

My mother, who is a surgeon but goes by her last name Paoli, used to jokingly answer our home telephone line by saying, “Dr. Bailey’s line," then hand me the phone.

Everyone knew that I was going to be a therapist (no one knew what coaching was back then).

When I started heading in the therapy direction, my parents encouraged me to go into business. I did.

Throughout my time working for a stockbroker (who eventually became a venture capitalist), writing business plans, and being a financial consultant, clients would say things like, “You know you sound like a therapist”;  “You ask questions like a therapist”; “Are you sure you are not a therapist?”

Eventually I became a therapist, but despite really enjoying therapy, I missed the business world.  My wife started saying things like, “It’s a shame you have this expensive business degree but use it only for your business."

Then she read an article on coaching and exclaimed, “Ryan this is you!!!  This is so you!!!  You’ve got to read it!”

Since a lot of my therapist friends at that time pooh-poohed the idea of coaching, I did not read it.

But my wife persisted over the next few days until I finally relented and read it.

I’m glad I did, because she was right again.  It was me.

I immediately bought a book on coaching, then hired my own coach, got trained, and began calling counseling clients whom I had not seen in years.  Since many of them were executives, I added executive coaching to my list of services.

When I looked at my biggest successes in counseling and executive coaching, what they had in common was that I “got to the heart” and worked at that level.

 

  • What have others told you that you did to achieve the greatest home runs?

 

To gain confirmation on the “getting to the heart” thing, I contacted clients who had experienced home runs and asked them, “What did I do that most helped you to have the home run you experienced during our time together?”

The vast majority said some version of, “You got to the heart.”

I could have just started with this step if I would have thought of it.  But the home runs were in seemingly different areas (i.e. porn addiction recovery, marriage counseling, leadership development, high performance team formation, etc.).

What about you?  What’s your story?  What does it reveal about what your “thing” is?

 

  • What natural gifts do you have that have always been better than average and make you feel alive when you use them?

 

A third way you can discover your "thing" is to ask, “What have I always done at a better than average level?”  See if any of those gifts can be applied across your life.

With some of them you may have to look deeper.

For example, I had a client who was in his 50’s, who said, among other things, that he was always able to hit a great forehand.  When we analyzed what he did to hit that great forehand consistently, and what he experienced while hitting the best forehands, he described how he would get into a zone where the court would look huge so it felt like he could not miss.

We then worked on ways for him to get in that zone more often.

The more he got into the flow of that zone in any area of life, the better he did.

So he became intentional about “getting into the zone”.

Once you discover what your thing is, use it intentionally in any and every area of life.  The more you do that, the more you stay in your strike zone.

The more you stay in your strike zone, the more you will see your “thing” as a gift.

The humility that comes from seeing that brings real contentment and a desire to use your gift as much as possible for the greatest ends.

You will also experience more confidence, more meaning, and even taste joy.

Finally, you will also notice that your gift can be improved and grown.  Making small incremental progress brings a sense of true enjoyment.

When team members discover what their thing is and directly apply it to their role, their engagement goes up, camaraderie increases, and they become much more helpful to their fellow team members.

As a final thought, make sure you can explain what your “thing” is in less than seven words (preferably four or less).  You will love the clarity that comes from that exercise.

Chew On This:

 

  • What would be different about your life if you discovered what your “thing” is and constantly used it at work?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

MBTI Bite: Must-Have Tips For Working With The Dominant Personality Type In the Corporate World

mbti-bite-estjESTJ’s dominate middle management and above, for lots of reasons. This personality type loves work. They are dedicated, tough, and they delight in making order out of chaos. They know how to delegate and how to do it fairly. They are direct and honest. These are all traits that senior leadership values. Even without knowing anything about personality types, it’s not hard to spot patterns in who gets promoted, and to notice that it often happens to the ESTJ’s. They are naturally-bent leaders, and it shows in the hiring and promoting process. However, there are 15 other equal personality types in the workplace. They too have gifts and talents that are extremely valuable to the corporate world.

We are entering an era in which a flexible management style is imperative for drawing out the best our teams have to offer. A flexible management style results when a leader learns the personality type of each person he/she leads, draws out their particular gifts, and utilizes those gifts to produce superior results for the team.

We have learned that if we allow one personality type to dominate, blind spots are created through the lack of diversity on our teams. This leads to a sharper and often more diverse competitor taking market share.

We can’t afford that any more.

So we are seeing other personality types ascend to the top of the corporate ladder. However, I think we will always have more ESTJ’s in leadership because their natural gifts are so crucially beneficial.

Here are some tips on how to work with the ESTJ's on your team:

1. ESTJ’s are unlikely to experiment with new ways of doing things, but they are open to a new idea that is proven to work better.

ESTJ’s love creating order out of chaos. Once in order, they will follow whatever routines are necessary to enforce that order.

This often leads to them doing things just ONE way.

This can get boring to those who have a personality type that values variety or experimentation.

What’s worse is that a team that is not taking risks will stop growing. So ESTJ’s need to have their one way appropriately challenged with a proven new method.

Once the new method is proven, the ESTJ will see great value in you and your thought leadership.

Those of us who like to speculate on ways that something could be done better would do well to prove it to ourselves first, before presenting it to an ESTJ boss.

Another option is to announce ahead of time that you want to brainstorm a possibility with your ESTJ boss. Most ESTJ’s want to take action on ideas; they don’t relish “just talking about ideas for the sake of talking."

2. Since ESTJs do things by the book, you have to be careful when you challenge the book, because that can be viewed as a direct challenge to their authority.

So for me, the key phrase in point one that will help us with point two is “appropriately challenged." ESTJ team leaders want to be respected. They will defend their team hard against those who may want to harm the team through a cutback or some other threat. Since they are loyal to their team, they get rankled when they perceive that someone on their team is disrespecting or questioning their authority.

Challenging the rules or established routines that have saved the team from chaos in former days is often perceived by an ESTJ leader as a personal core challenge.

If you catch your ESTJ boss on a day when they are especially stressed, don’t be surprised if you are hit with an outburst of emotions.

Before you challenge the established way of doing something, make sure you’ve proven that it works, or at least ask to brainstorm a new solution.

Then make sure to ask the boss for time to discuss.

Be direct yet tactful with them. If you’re brainstorming, say something like, “I think I see a way to make XYZ even better. Would you be open to discuss it?”

If you have actually proven the solution, then it could be, “Jack and I may have found a way to make XYZ even better. We have run some experiments that show promise. Would you like to hear about it?”

Even though S’s on Myers Briggs love details, if your boss is a VP (or above) at a large company, don’t be surprised if they can fill in the details once they hear your bullet points. So let them know what the bullet points are and that you have details behind them.

3. ESTJ’s will micromanage or be overbearing, especially if they believe you are not working smart or, even worse, have a bad work ethic.

If you want to kill your chances of being promoted with your ESTJ boss, just let them see you have a bad work ethic and they will find a way to silo you. ESTJ's are hard workers. They respect and value a team that works hard as well.

If you are the type of person that does your best work as the deadline gets closer (See P is for Perceiver), then let your boss know about that. Specifically request that the project be broken down into smaller pieces, with hard deadlines for each of those pieces. Then let your boss know that you will get the highest inspiration about “an hour” before the deadline is due.

Let them see the magic you can do in that last hour so that they understand that you don’t necessarily have a bad work ethic the rest of the time.

ESTJ’s are incredible managers. They will fight for you and the team and stand their ground even through some tough resistance. Play to their strengths and you will see the dynamic between the two of you grow stronger.

Chew On This:

  • What does your ESTJ boss need to know about how you work best in order for the two of you to work more effectively?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients. No one single client is being singled out.

How To Consistently Get Great Sleep

how-to2untitledIf you smiled or chuckled reading the above meme then this blog is for you. When was the last time you had an entire month of really good sleep?  Here is a scarier question: “When was the last time you had a full week of great sleep without being on vacation?”

What about your team?  Are they getting enough sleep?  If they are not, you may want to encourage them to.

Sleep could be the number one productivity tool.

According to health.com:

Sleep:

  • Improves memory
  • Extends life
  • Curbs inflammation (reduces chance of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, etc.)
  • Spurs creativity
  • Increases winning
  • Improves job performance
  • Sharpens attention
  • Facilitates losing more fat
  • Lowers stress
  • Reduces accidents
  • Lowers chances of becoming depressed

We absolutely need a full night of sleep if we expect our memory, creativity and stress levels to be in an optimal range to bring out our best.

I used to sleep only 4-6 hours per night, but after switching to 7-8 hours consistently for a month, the difference in my life has been tremendous. I've found that I:

  • Am happier
  • Feel more confident
  • Get much more done in less time
  • Listen better
  • Feel alive and engaged
  • Function with far less stress
  • Am able to read people better
  • Etc.

I wish I could say that I ALWAYS get great sleep.  There are plenty of times that I wake up at 2am or 3am and can’t fall back asleep.  But I am learning tips (see below) to help me fall back asleep.

Try some of the following techniques and let me know if they help:

1. Create a sleep ready room.

 

Sleep is serious business.  Turn your bedroom into a sleep-ready room.  For me that means:

  • A really cool room (we turn down the temperature at our house)
  • A warm blanket
  • A fan blowing on me (my wife can’t stand a fan on her but for me it is just the right amount of noise to help me fall asleep fast)
  • Heavy drapes that eliminate light in the room
  • The right setting on my Sleep Number bed
  • Not having any visible clocks in the room (see below for why)

Think of times when you had really great sleep.  What did those times have in common?  Include those commonalities in your sleep ready room.

2. Workout four hours before you want to fall asleep.

 

If you are like me, you might not have much problem falling asleep, but you may wake up at 2am or 3am and not be able to fall back asleep.

Studies have shown that if you want to stay asleep longer you should do a strenuous workout about four hours before you want to fall asleep.  For many this has not only increased the amount that they sleep, but it has improved the quality of their sleep.

3. No screens, including TV, for 2-3 hours before you want to fall asleep.

 

Study after study has shown that the light created from laptops, tablets, smartphones, TV, etc. detracts from our ability to sleep.

4. Develop a bedtime routine.

 

If you set up a thirty-minute bedtime routine and you repeatedly follow it, don’t be surprised if, as you start the bedtime routine, you start to get really sleepy.

The body can be trained to fall asleep fast.

5. If you are struggling to fall asleep quickly, read about this weird breathing technique that helps many to fall asleep within 60 seconds.

 

6. If you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t look at your clock.

 

Sometimes when we look at our clocks, we worry about whether or not we will fall asleep, or if it is closer to morning, we can decide not to fall asleep and miss some really needed sleep.

If I let time rule me, I get far less sleep than necessary.

Here is a radical thought. Don't have a clock that is visible in the middle of the night so you can avoid seeing the time.

7. No matter what, if you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t look at a screen.

 

I love tennis.  Sometimes when the tennis season moves to Asia (like it is right now), I am extremely tempted to see if favorite players like Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams won their matches.

If I see that they have won, I feel excited and happy, which means my heart beats faster and I find it hard to fall asleep.

If they have lost, I feel down and that, too, can keep me up longer than I’d like.

If they are in the middle of their matches, well, of course I want to cheer them on.  So I'm tempted to stream the match. So that is not good either.

It is much easier to eliminate the temptation by not even looking at my smartphone if I wake up early.

Plus, as stated above, my sleep is not hindered by the screen’s light.

I really hope you discover what it is like to consistently get great sleep.  If you have other tips that would help increase the chances of consistently getting great sleep, I would love to know.

Chew On This:

 

  • What will you do to encourage you and your team to prioritize sleep?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

How to Recover from Major Setbacks, Part 2

how-to-recover-from-major-setbacks-part-2Last week, we began the discussion on how to recover from major career setbacks. In some capacity, we each have been impacted by these setbacks. But we often stay stuck in bitterness, shame or disappointment without fully recovering from it. We explored 5 ways to recover from setbacks last week, and today we are going to continue the conversation with 5 more: 6. What Good Can Come From How It Actually Played Out.

Turn to what actually happened. Think through it. What good could come from what actually happened?  Yes you can borrow from number five above (see previous post).

Once again, go for a big long list till you feel hope.

7. How Can You Win From Here?

Now that you are in a better place having completed step 6, it is time to capture what you learned and to create a plan to help fix the setback and continue your growth.

You want to design a plan around how you can win from here. Typically that would include making amends and protecting the future from a repeat of the current mistakes.

8. What Base Hit Can You Make To Start Moving In The Right Direction?

Don't even try to go for hitting a home run right away.  You will build confidence, repair your view of yourself, and encourage others by making consistent base hits.

Daily consistency is key here.

Small daily steps motivate more than the home run at this stage.

9. Forgive Self.

If you have not fully recovered from a setback, then you have not fully forgiven yourself.  You may have forgiven yourself for part of what happened, but not all of it.

In order to forgive someone fully, including yourself, your first step is to make a list of the obvious things you need to forgive, but then you also need to make a list of the not-so-obvious things as well.

For example, say you lost your cool in a meeting with your direct report. You will need to forgive yourself for the outburst, but there may be a need to forgive yourself for something deeper, like a belief that you have created a fear in your direct report that they will never recover from.

You need to forgive yourself for all of it, whether it is true or not.  (Stay tuned for a blog post on how to forgive yourself.)

10. You Are Not Your Setback.

Too many times when we have a setback we start seeing ourselves through the setback. We seem to forget all of the good that is in us, and we just focus on the bad.

A way not to define yourself according to your setbacks is to remind yourself of your core values.  Where does your worth come from? 

Is the source of your worth greater than the nature of your setback?  If not, from what can you derive self-worth that will be greater than your setback?

It would be a crime to waste time by not recovering from a setback.

You have so much to offer the rest of us.

We need all of us working together with the best of what we have.  Don’t let yourself be robbed of a quality life because of a setback.

Life is way too short to get stuck.

Chew On This:

  • What would life be like if you fully overcame your setbacks?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

 

What Every Boss Wishes You Would Do When You Royally Mess Up

messup I was waiting in a client’s office.  She was running late from a meeting with her boss.

After walking in, closing the door behind her, and giving me one of those appropriate corporate hugs she said, “I am in big, big trouble.  I mean it is bad, Ryan.  I have really failed.”

Then she described how she screwed up.

It was bad.

Now mind you, she is at that level in a Fortune 500 company where you never have to guess about competency.  If you get to that level, you have gone through a tremendous vetting process.  So for her, there was a lot more fear involved as she struggled with how to rebuild credibility.

Moreover, her boss has a reputation for being completely insensitive, harsh, and lacking in grace.

She debated as to whether or not she could fix it before anyone knew.

But when she thought through the question of what she would want her direct reports to do if they were in her shoes, she decided she would want them to tell her.

Then she flipped back.

She wondered if her boss’s reputation did not warrant that she hide the error.

Later she realized that if he ever found out, she would probably be terminated because he would feel he could not trust her again.

How many of us have been in similar shoes?

In toxic work environments, there is a high level of manipulation, covering up, blame-shifting, office politics, positioning, and often backstabbing.  Toxic work environments are toxic because managers have not embraced their responsibility to create a culture where it is safe to risk for the greater good or to own our mistakes when they are made.

If you find yourself in a toxic environment, the plan that I present below will feel really uncomfortable.

I hate to say it, but if your work environment is toxic and there is no desire on the part of your superiors to move towards health, I really hope you can quickly find a place where your gifts are valued and the environment is healthy.

Fortunately for my client, despite her boss’s reputation, the overall work environment is fairly healthy.

Here is the plan that my client and I came up with.  It worked for her, and I hope it works for you:

1. Fully own your mess-up, with no “marketing” whatsoever.

The conversation can open with the following: “Bob, I made a real mistake.  I did X, and it cost Y. I apologize.”

Do not try to blame-shift, minimize, rationalize, or “market” what happened.  Be direct.  Be succinct.  Fully own it.  And don’t forget to apologize.

Make sure to let your boss know that you will also be owning it to whoever else is involved.

If you do not own it, know that if it is major, it will probably be discovered and your boss will be more likely to fire you because your deception has led to a breach of trust.  Toyota Chairman Katsuaki Watanabe explains it best in an interview with Harvard Business Review:

“Hidden problems are the ones that become serious threats eventually. If problems are revealed for everybody to see, I will feel reassured. Because once problems have been visualized, even if our people didn't notice them earlier, they will rack their brains to find solutions to them.”

2. Give alternatives for how you think it can be resolved.

“I have a few suggestions for how to resolve it….” This part of the sentence shows them that you are coming up with options, not just the problem.  It shows that you have fully owned it and that you own the ripple effect.

3. Ask them for input and collaborate to build a solid plan.

“...And I am looking for your insights to build a plan that will bring us to resolution.”  This second part of the sentence encourages your boss to partner with you to solve it.

Your boss may have an initial reaction that seems negative.  However, the higher up you go in a large company, the higher the emotional intelligence tends to be.  So don’t be surprised if they regulate their emotions and even move towards protecting you, and showing you grace.

4. As you and your boss work to develop the plan, pay close attention to why your boss is suggesting what they are suggesting.

Hopefully, you will begin to brainstorm together as to how to handle the situation.  Your boss will want to hear your options first, which will help him/her to see your heart better.

Then your boss will probably refine the option they think is best.

Seek to understand the reasons for the suggestions they are giving you.  The “why” will give you insights that you will be able to use throughout your career.

You will learn how they view an issue, how to protect corporate culture, and, hopefully, how to extend grace when those under you fail.

Be sure to share how you plan to prevent yourself from making such a mistake again.  Never just say, “It won’t happen again.”

Ask for their input. You can say, “In the future I will pay attention to the triggers that led me to lose my cool” (preventative), but then ask if they see things you could do that would encourage growth, like signing up for a course on how to build better work-relationships, for example.

5. Afterward, continue to prove that you’ve grown from your mess-up.

Fully commit to implementing the plan you discussed.

Execute with all you have.

Use the insights that you learned in the brainstorming session in multiple contexts.

People who have grown from mistakes don’t live in self-condemnation.  Instead, they forgive themselves and enjoy the restoration they have been given.  Be grateful for it.  Share your gratitude with your boss and even others on the team, if it is appropriate to do so.

You are still competent and valuable.  You just screwed up and proved you are human.  Don’t be surprised if your boss and others pull closer to you as they see you display the humility and gratitude that come from growing through a mess-up.

You will rebuild credibility faster by having multiple small wins than one big win.  So don’t look for the home run; focus instead on consistent base hits.

As an FYI, the next time I met with my client, she said her boss had done the unexpected.  He really jumped in to protect her.  He was completely gracious and even shared one of his own big failures.

Chew On This:

  • What are you hiding that needs to be owned?  What would be the consequence if it were discovered?

 

 

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

How To Participate In A Meeting Effectively

How to participate in a meeting effectively.About a month ago I wrote about how to lead a meeting effectively. Now it is time to look at some principles that will help us to participate in a meeting effectively. As the leader of your team, it is imperative that you help your team make the most of the meetings they participate in.  

The common perception of meetings is that they are drudgery.  The reality is, however, that meetings can be a time when the magic happens.  But magic won’t happen if the wrong people are in the meeting, or if not everyone is fully engaged, giving everything they have for the time at hand.  

And think about how expensive each meeting is.  If you add up the hourly rate of those participating in the meeting, you will want to make sure that there is magic for those dollars.

If everyone participates effectively, you will see the following:

  • Overall engagement of team members goes up.
  • Team members fight for each other.
  • Meeting time is used most beneficially.
  • The members are taking steps towards becoming a high-performing team.

The good news is that any team member can be trained to participate in a meeting effectively.

Use the following principles as a guide. Teach them to:

1. Be Prepared.

Encourage your team to read the agenda as soon as it comes out.  Help them to remember that the earlier the agenda arrives, the more pre-work they need to complete.

If they don’t understand an agenda item, encourage them to discuss the meaning of that item with the presenter or someone else who understands that section.

Ask them to determine where they will be counted on to give the best input.  If they don’t see it in the agenda, this is a great time to ask the presenter where it is. The last thing your team members need is to be sitting in a meeting where they don’t need to be.

Also encourage them to have questions for each of the agenda items.  If they have pertinent questions, they will focus better during the meeting because they want to receive the answers.

Make sure they know what the desired outcome of the meeting is so they can focus on that and fully orient themselves to it.

2. Be early to the meeting.

As stated earlier, meetings are an expensive process.  As such, it is important that they start on time and end on time.  I am a big believer in running 50min meetings instead of hour-long meetings.  The shorter time brings focus, and if your team members have back-to-back meetings, it gives them a chance to get to the next meeting early, which helps the presenter feel respected and valued.

3. Listen to understand, not necessarily to reply.

Encourage your team to listen to understand the presenter’s perspective.  They will be of tremendous value to the presenter if they show that they see the presenter’s perspective before they reply or ask questions.

Listening to understand also increases engagement.

4. Contribute Meaningfully.

Share with your team the fact that if they are asked to be in a meeting, it is because their contribution is valued.

As such, they should be making a contribution in each meeting they are a part of.  

As you know from my last post on leading effective meetings, I am not big on having informational meetings.  I believe meetings need to be about decisions.  So find a way to ask a question, make a comment, lend an insight, or be sincerely supportive in a way that helps make effective decisions.  

Also encourage your team not to forget to keep the goal of the meeting in mind when they contribute. Derailing a meeting by introducing side issues has a ripple effect that will be costly.  

Finally, encourage the extroverts on your team to resist their natural inclinations to interrupt (see point 3 above).

5. Choose Their Timing.

If you want each team member’s ingenuity, encourage them to speak before you do. Like it or not, they may be waiting to hear what you or someone higher up the chain of authority has to say about a presentation. But it you let them know that you value their perspective, it can make a positive difference in the decisions that come from meetings, even if not everyone’s perspective is used in this particular meeting.  

They do need to choose their timing, so ask them to be considerate. If one of their peers is more of an expert in the area, they need to defer to that member.  It will help them to grow to listen to what the expert has to say.

6. Fight for What is Essential.

Encourage them to be careful when they correct someone.  Others in the room may feel like the person doing the correcting does not have that person’s back, which can ultimately lead to others pulling away from them.

If what needs to be corrected is essential, then encourage team members to correct it in a way that shows they value the presenter.  One way to do this would be to ask a question instead of flatly stating that someone is wrong.  So instead of saying, “We don’t have time to complete this project by your deadline,” ask “What needs to happen for us to meet this project deadline? And then they can follow up with, “How much time do you believe each of those parts will take?”

7. Not Dominate. 

The name of the game in meetings is to get the magic going.  Magic comes best when multiple people are contributing towards a decision that needs to be made.  Therefore, encourage your team not to dominate the discussion.  Instead, they should make a point, then see if others add things that they had thought of with respect to that point.  If not, then the person can come back and add what they had thought of initially.  The more people that are engaged and contributing, the more likely magic will happen.

8. Speak up if there are any future topics that you want discussed.

Since you’ve encouraged your team to stay focused on the desired outcome, there may be other topics that need to be discussed.  Encourage them to speak up and get those topics on the calendar.

9. Read the minutes as soon as they are published.

If minutes were taken during the meeting, encourage the team to read them as soon as possible, while their memories are still fresh, and submit any significant differences.  That way the record can be amended before other people read the minutes with the error in them.

10. Complete the work assigned to them as soon as possible after the meeting.

It is really impressive when someone bangs out their assigned work quickly after meetings.  Encourage your team to block off time after the meeting to do just that.  If the work can’t be fully completed in the allotted time, then even an outline detailing how the work will be completed and when meaningful segments will be completed, would do a lot to assure the team that the member has it under control.

The more your team is trained to participate in a meeting, the more you and your team will realize true value from them.

Chew On This:

  • What will you do to train your team to participate in meetings effectively?

Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams. *This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

How To Help Your Team Reach Their Potential

potential A business leader who was running a very successful organization spoke to me about one of her direct reports. “He has to learn to adapt to those who report to him, not the other way around,” she said.  

I started thinking of how true that is.  For leaders to succeed, they need to draw out the best in those that follow them.  Since their followers have different personality types, a one-size-fits-all approach will leave some on the team less engaged.

What if the leader really understood those who follow him? What if he learned how his team was wired?  Then, the leader could tap into the strengths of his team and, as a byproduct, benefit from their ingenuity, engagement, and support.

So, how do you become a flexible leader?

  • Understand how each member of the team is wired.

There are objective and subjective ways to understand how each team member is wired.  Objective assessments such as Myers-Briggs, Birkman, and DiSC can give you many clues.  When the team members digest the results of the assessment, be sure to ask them what parts really fit and what parts did not fit as well.  

Make note of those.

Subjectively, you can observe when they come alive more.  You can also be alert to what others on the team say they do better than average.  Ask them about their dreams and goals, even if they are not work-related You will gain lots of insight into what makes them tick.  

  • Understand what their strengths are.

Very often with the objective assessments, the strengths are pegged in the results report.  

However, dig in deeper with them.  Ask them under what circumstances they come alive, and what it is about those times that causes them to feel more alive.  

You can also ask them and those on their team what they do better than average.  

Just go for the top three strengths.

  • Provide them with opportunities where their strengths shine.

Once you know their strengths, think about how you can encourage those strengths to be displayed more.  It might be that someone on the team does the majority of the presenting to clients.  However, it could also be that after you brainstorm with them, you discover how to leverage their strengths across their role.  

For example, I love getting to the heart of things and then developing actionable plans around those things.  As I do this with clients, or talk about my services to potential clients, I am more in my groove. 

When I try to get practical without getting to the essence first, I am not as strong in what I do.  I greatly admire people who are quick with the “right” steps, but that is not me.  I need a little more time so we can get to the essence of the matter, then plans seem to flow much more easily.

Take one of your direct reports.  What is their top strength and how can they leverage it more?

  • Encourage them to find ways to contain their weaknesses.

Time can be greatly wasted when someone focuses on overcoming their weaknesses instead of strengthening their strengths.  I am not saying that weaknesses should not be worked on, but I am saying that their time might be better spent on learning to contain those weaknesses.  

For example, I can be impulsive.  I can tell you a bunch of now-humorous stories from my past to illustrate how my impulsiveness did not gain me the results I desired.  Today, even though I run my own company, I don’t let major decisions be made without a “committee” of different personality types giving feedback on that decision.  Just recently we made it a policy that I will discuss major decisions with the team and solicit their input.  In addition, I will solicit help from those whom I believe would have good insights into the decision.

This has done wonders for my business life.

  • Enjoy the fact that they will do things in a style that is different from yours.

Very often when we see one of our direct reports doing something in a different style, we get a sense of foreboding that “it is not going to go well."  This fuels a sense of insecurity which, in turn, may prompt us to try to make them do things in the style we would do them in.  

If this is our response, we are missing out on the ingenuity of those who are different from us.  The other option is to learn from them.  Perhaps we may grow even more by adapting some of what they do to our style.

Before the sense of foreboding takes over, turn on your curiosity and ask yourself, “What if their style can work really well for them?” 

If you are still feeling insecure, then ask more questions before making any corrections.  See if they have answers for some of the fears you may have.

Adapting your style to your team will help you to reach and pull out the potential that is inside of them.  

In appreciation, those who follow you will increase their engagement and will want to support you even more.

Chew On This:

  • How are the members of your team different? How can you meet them where they are at?

Ryan Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.