executive 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.

What the FitBit Taught Me about Healthy Competition

When I was younger, I trained to be a professional tennis player.  I had a competitive drive back then, and it served me well.  But as I became established in a helping profession, and being an ENFJ, I found myself working more towards harmony than competition.  I allowed myself to get out of balance and worked an insane number of hours.  I stopped tennis and most other forms of exercise, and gained a lot of weight.

Now I’m committed to getting back in shape.  I joined WeightWatchers, got a weight-loss coach, and got a Fitbit.  I posted on FaceBook that I wanted accountability and competition, and I asked FaceBook friends to connect to me on Fitbit.

I’d barely gotten the post out when a friend invited me to compete on his WorkWeek Hustle Challenge.

I know I must be behind the times a bit, but I had no idea what that was.

So then I read that it was a competition to see who takes the most steps between Monday at 12:00am and Friday at 11:59pm. The winner is the one with the most steps.

Until I was invited to join the WorkWeek Challenge, I had no idea how much of a competitive spirit was still in me.

When the WorkWeek Hustle started, I pushed myself hard and spent the first two weeks physically sore.  Like, so sore that my wife laughed when she heard how slowly I was walking down the stairs.

However, by the end of the second week, I could see that the number of steps I took had increased by a huge percentage over the first week.  My friends encouraged me and even gave me some tips as to how to improve.

At the end of each week, we “Cheered” the winner of that WorkWeek Hustle.

That got me thinking....  Is there a way to create a similar type of healthy peer-to-peer competition in the business world?  I believe that there is.

Here is what I learned from Fitbit WorkWeek Challenges and how it can apply to competition among peers who want the best for each other:

1. Healthy competition ends excuse making.

As implied above, when I was invited to compete, I felt an incredible drive to start.  No hesitation, no resistance. I did not care about having to wake up a little earlier, and I found I could workout when I would otherwise be somewhat brain dead. Even going to the gym after a long day was suddenly doable.  In other words, excuses went away.

How many times have we let excuses get in the way of what we know we need to accomplish?

What do you need to improve?

What if you got a small group of peers who were willing to compete with you in that area?  Make sure it is an area that is tangible. For example, a tangible area could be a specific sales number or percentage, the number of calls made, number of minutes spent thinking and brainstorming, number of ways you can encourage team members to excel, etc. Also, make sure it is something that can be done in a short amount of time (a week or so).  The idea is to push yourself, and one another, to really grow.

2. You can play to win even when you really like your competitors and want their good.

When I trained to be a professional tennis player, unless I was playing my tennis partner or someone from my team, I viewed my competitors as neutral “other” figures.  I did not hate them, but neither did I really want their good.  I just wanted to win.

When my doubles partner and I played matches against each other, it was different. Even during the match we would share how each other could improve.  The result was that it would make the matches even better.  We loved the challenge of beating each other at our best.  It was exhilarating.

During the Fitbit challenges, some of my friends have given me tips on how to take more steps.  It has been so encouraging and helpful.

Could you imagine what it would be like if your small competitive group wanted to make the improvements so badly that they pushed each other to improve and grow, even risking losing just to gain mastery in an area?

3. Increased fun.

It has been so much fun busting out a bunch of steps--only to see one of my Fitbit friends blow me out of the water. I can’t help but laugh and realize how much further I have to grow.  What is even more fun is when I outdo them the next time :-)

The same could be true for you and your small group.  Think of how much fun you will have as you each outdo each other.

4. Increased creativity.

When I first started these challenges, I was using strictly the elliptical.  I love the elliptical, but then I discovered I can take more steps per minute on the treadmill, and now the elliptical is a weekend thing, or a short alternative when my left shin feels like it is going to explode.

Being a creature of habit, I never would have come to enjoy the treadmill the way I do, had it not been for the Fitbit WorkWeek Hustle Challenge.

Anticipate that you will get creative in order to beat your peers.  Think of how much productivity that will bring to you.

5. Push myself above what I perceived was a limit.

I work long hours, having back-to-back sessions (face-to-face, Skype, FaceTime, or phone), so the thought of getting to 10k steps per day seemed like a fantasy.

Then I saw that most of my Fitbit friends were nailing their 10k steps, and I knew some of them worked long hours in back-to-back meetings as well.  In fact, some of them were consistently over 15k steps per day.

So I looked for ways to increase it.  Every little bit counted.

Then it happened.  I passed 10k.

So I went for 15k steps per day.  Nailed it the next day when I realized that if I pace during phone calls, it actually helps me to focus and coach better.

Then I wanted to see how far I can go.... I figured I could reach 18k if I went to the gym twice per day and went for a walk with my wife when I got home from work.  I was completely wrong.  I hit 21k steps in a day.

This would not have happened had I not seen Fitbit friends hit 18k-20k steps in a day.

So just think of how you will reach new limits through competing with your peers.  It is incredibly encouraging when you see your peers reach limits that you did not think you would reach.  And it is exhilarating when you blaze the trail by hitting the new limit first.

6. Chance to compete again next time.

With the WorkWeek Hustle lasting only 5 days, you have the chance to compete again next week.  This is a great opportunity to see how you can refine and improve your strategy.

If you are competing against your peers, make sure that the time of each competition is short, to give you plenty of opportunities to refine and implement a new strategy for the next time.

7. Competitors can celebrate together.

What has also been encouraging is to have fellow competitors “Cheer” each other on.  The winner of the week often gets showered with “Cheers.”  Yet, as much as we can be happy for one another, there is naturally a deep desire to beat them next week.

How often do peers cheer you on when you accomplish something?  How often do you cheer peers on?  I am not talking the short bravos that may take place on a team call.  I mean a heartfelt cheer.

Your small group of peers can do that for one another.

Developing a peer group to compete with will create a team of people who want one another’s best, who give each other tips to improve, who cheer one another on, and want to maximize their own abilities.

Chew On This:

  • Who are the peers that you will ask to join your company WorkWeek challenge?
  • What are the options for tangible areas in which you can compete?

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

How To Turn Around A Bad Performance Review

It was so uncomfortable.  I was sitting in the room while a client I had recently met laid into one of his direct reports during a performance review, and it was painful. I could tell that both the boss and his direct report were nervous.  The boss revealed his nervousness through anger and an attempt to wield power.  The direct report was just nervous.  A couple of times his hands shook. He did not say much, but that only seemed to anger the boss more.  It was horrible to watch.

A few years later, I was asked to sit in on a performance review between another boss (once again my client) and a direct report with whom he wanted me to work. As in the first case, it was not a good review, but this direct report used an entirely different approach as she responded.

Here are 6 things she did really well:

1. Lowered her defenses. She viewed the review as the start of her comeback story.

When the boss came in with lower scores than she expected, she openly said something to the effect of, “These scores (performance review scores) are lower than what I thought.”  Then she leaned in, smiled slightly, and continued.  “I will listen to you so that I can make any and all changes to ensure that the next review is a big step up from here.”

Her boss smiled and said something to the effect of, “I am going to help you get there.”

It was obvious that she did not let the poor review go to her core.  In that is a huge lesson for us.  The truest you is not your performance.  If you can separate yourself from your performance, you can gain a lot of insights that will be effective in raising you to the next level.

When receiving negative feedback, it is easy to get defensive.  We can be so afraid of how an authority figure is perceiving us that we want to make excuses, or deflect the criticisms, in hopes of convincing the person that the perception we fear they have of us is not true.  But defensiveness usually makes things worse.

Instead, view a negative review as the start to your comeback story. (Everyone loves a comeback story.)  If you can see it as the start of your comeback story, then you will probably regulate your emotions well enough that you can gain clarity on what and how to improve.

2. Listened carefully to the feedback and repeated back/paraphrased what she was hearing.

She continued to lean forward slightly as she took notes on what her boss was saying. She used positive body language (i.e. nodding her head up and down) to connote that she wanted to receive the feedback and was taking it in.

She repeated back or paraphrased at times, which had the effect of engaging her boss so that they were aligned together against the problem, instead of her feeling like he was against her.

Anytime she was unclear about something her boss said, she would ask for clarity.

3. Searched for what is true.

It is easy during a bad performance review to pick apart what isn’t true.  However, if you do, you will miss a huge learning opportunity, which will, in turn, hinder you from being the person you were meant to be.

Focus on what parts are true.  Repeat back or paraphrase those parts.

If some aspects are not true, and these are important, ask how you could address these without sounding defensive.  For example, “XYZ is true. I will work on that. There are a couple of aspects of what you said that seem to be important, and I want to address those in a way that doesn’t lead you to believe that I am defensive. Should we set up a time to talk about those?”

4. Developed a plan and asked for a plan feedback time.

When the review ends, don’t forget to thank your boss.  As you probably know from personal experience, giving a negative review is tricky.

Let your boss know that you are going to develop a plan around the areas of concerns.  Inform your boss that you are open to hearing what, if anything, was not included that might be helpful for you to implement in order to grow in the areas you need to grow in.

Also be sure to ask your boss if you could gain feedback on the plan.  This will further align the two of you towards the common goal of helping you reach your potential.

When making the plan, be sure to create small tangible steps that will encourage you and empower you to continue to make the journey towards transformation.

5. Included mentors and coaches in the plan.

Be sure to ask, if you don’t know, who the people are who are excellent in your areas of weakness.  Contact them and see if they are willing to mentor you.  Hiring a coach could also be effective in helping you continue in your turnaround story.

6. Made sure that the feedback time was clear.

When you have the feedback time with your boss, make sure you are completely clear on any points they are making.

Be sure to mention that you are grateful for the opportunity to grow and that you are committed to making the changes.

A poor review doesn’t mean that you are bad.  It can actually be the start of something fantastic.  Having watched a few people get promoted within a year of a poor review has more than convinced me that the sooner we let go of our egos and embrace a humble posture, the faster we can continue the climb.

Chew On This:

  • What will help you to believe at a core level that you are not your performance?

 

 

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.

Forgiveness At the Executive Level

You give a lot of yourself in order to develop those on your team.  You’ve taken some hits for them, provided cover for them, and you have also shown them a lot of loyalty.  You take leading your team seriously.

So what happens when a team member betrays you?  What happens when you realize that the loyalty you thought was mutual isn’t there?

If you are not careful, you might start to over-lead with self-protection.  That is, you can protect yourself from being hurt again by giving less of yourself to your team.  Without realizing it, your passion, drive, and even desire to make an impact through your team can be crippled.

In order to do your best and develop a high performing team, you need to be fully engaged, willing to risk betrayal for the sake of developing others.

If you find yourself being too defensive or self-protective, and you can see that part of the reason was a betrayal, you need to learn to forgive.

What purpose does forgiveness serve?

Forgiveness satisfies the debt that the offense created.  If you can forgive the offense, you will stop thinking about it.  You will function out of a sense of wholeness and peace, not out of the sense of loss that the offense generated. You will see yourself become stronger than you’ve ever been, and more resilient than you thought you could be.

However, the sad reality is that most of us don’t really know what forgiveness means, much less know how to forgive.

What do you believe would happen if you fully forgave the one who hurt you?  Some believe that a part of forgiving is to treat the offense as if it did not matter.  Others believe that if they forgive, they have to be close to the person they forgave.  Some believe that if they forgive, they are actually enabling the other person to continue to repeat the behaviors that caused so much damage.  What if I told you that none of those things is what forgiveness is about?

According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ to forgive is:

1a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for

1b : to grant relief from payment of

2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon

Notice that forgiveness has nothing to do with reconciliation. Notice that it doesn’t even have to do with whether or not the offender has changed, whether or not they have asked you for forgiveness, or if they even want it.  In fact, the offender does not even need to be part of the process.

  • Forgiveness is not saying that what the offender did is okay.
  • Forgiveness is about you being free from the burden of the offense. It prevents more from being stolen from you than what the offensive act(s) already stole.
  • Forgiveness prevents you from closing off your heart and not letting anything in. When you close off your heart, not even good can come in.
  • Forgiveness prevents bitterness and a life that is utterly unfulfilling and frustrating.

Eventually, those who do not forgive isolate themselves as they perceive that more and more people are like their offender, and systematically remove them all from their lives.

But how do you forgive?

First, you need to know what you are forgiving. There is going to be a part that is obvious. For example, one of your directs, whom you poured yourself into, took a job with a competitor.  There are also going to be parts that are not as obvious. For example, you feel used and discarded.  You need to know both the obvious and the not-so-obvious parts.

Once you know what you need to forgive, we can use one of the following six options or a combination of them. Each one requires that you really chew, or thoroughly think it through, if it is going to help you fully forgive:

1) We can choose to pay down the debt ourselves. When we have not forgiven someone, our hearts often look for ways to get justice that are not appropriate. One way could be gossiping about the offender. Another could be just thinking about the offender in negative ways.

When we actively choose not to pursue inappropriate justice, it diminishes our feelings of vengeance.

The more we make that choice, the more we pay down the debt the offense created.

Eventually, we won’t even seek the inappropriate justice because forgiveness has happened.

2) Chew on what it would be like to have forgiven the offender. Dream here. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What would your life look like if I forgave the offender?
  • What would I think about instead of dwelling on the bitter scenes that come into my head?
  • What would my energy level be like if I released myself from the burden of carrying un-forgiveness?
  • What would my moods be like?

The more details you give to the answers to those questions, the more you will desire to forgive. The more you desire to forgive, the more likely you are to forgive.

3) Recognize that, in some cases, the offense is so big that no amount of justice can satisfy it. When the offense is great, nothing the offender can do will ever make up the loss created.  Furthermore, if the offense is great, no amount of vindictive actions on our part will assuage the injustice we feel.

So even if the person spent an entire lifetime trying to make it up, and we spent our entire lifetime being as vindictive as we could be, at the end of life we would feel like we had not begun to mitigate the offense. We would die bitter old people.

The more we chew on that, the more we will sense that our lack of forgiveness is a trap. Therefore, in order to keep ourselves from being trapped, we forgive.

4) Need to make the offender an equal. By refusing to forgive someone, we make ourselves a judge over that person. It leads to a one-up/one-down relationship.

The one-up/one-down relationship leads us to believe that we have the right to judge them, and so we don’t pursue forgiveness.

If, however, we note that there is something in our hearts that, if left unchecked, could cause damage comparable to the damage that was done against us, and if we “chew” by thinking through the logical implications of that, we start to see that the offender is not that much different from us.

It is easier to forgive someone who is “just like us” than someone who is beneath us.

5) Repeat to yourself in many different ways that you forgive the offender. Sometimes we need to say we forgive in different ways for the forgiveness to be released at a heart level. “I forgive Jim.” “I release myself from pursuing the justice I deserve from Jim.” “I choose to no longer try to make Jim pay for what he did to me.”

6) Write a forgiveness letter to the offender (you can choose to mail it or not). First take some time to understand your offender. What led them to do what they did against you?

Doing this will not minimize the harm they have done to you. Nor will it lead to excusing what they did. Instead, it will start to humanize the person.

Writing a letter in which you 1) express all the harm done to you, 2) attempt to understand what may have led to it, and 3) clearly declare that you hold nothing against the offender, can be cathartic and lead to forgiveness.

Some people choose to mail the letter, some save it, some decide to burn it.

I wish we could all forgive as easily as little kids seem to, but we can’t.  Know that forgiveness is going to be a process.

You know that you are done forgiving when you can think about it and it no longer feels raw.  I know that I have forgiven someone when I no longer randomly have an argument in my head with them.

Forgiveness brings about freedom.  It helps you to fully engage your team and do the work that you are best at, with joy.

Chew On This:

  • What would your leadership be like if you fully forgave?

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

How To Work With Someone You Don't Like

how-to-work-with-someone-you-dont-likeHigh performing teams exist when there is a high degree of mutual trust and respect.  Team members need to believe in each other’s abilities and fight to draw out the best in everyone on the team.  All members need to know that they belong. But what happens if there’s someone on the team that you just don’t like? Maybe the person is too abrasive, too blunt. Or maybe it’s the opposite: they are too passive. In order to avoid conflict, they appear inauthentic. Or maybe they are ego-centric.  Then again, maybe you can’t put your finger on why you don’t like them; you just don’t.

Whatever the reason is, you need to know that when you don’t like someone, it will affect your ability to work with them.  Your degree of trust in them, your respect for them, and your belief in their abilities will all be impacted, with the result that you are not going to want to fight to draw out the best in them.  Most of us want to spend as little time as possible around people we don’t like.

The good news is that you can learn to trust and respect them, and even believe in their abilities.

1. Get to the root of your reason for not liking them.

What is it about them you don’t like?  List the character flaws or behaviors that really bother you.

Next ask yourself, What is it about those traits that leads you to feel that way?

Is it that you have some of those traits?  Yup, ouch!  If we don’t like someone, it is often because that person has traits that we see in ourselves, and don’t like.  The good news on this one is that you can start turning your dislike into empathy just by realizing that the person you don’t like is a lot more like you than you thought.  You have a negative trait in common, and if both are willing, you can even partner with each other to overcome it.

Is it that this person has the same traits as someone who hurt you in the past, someone whom you have never forgiven? Do you seem to keep bumping into that kind of person? If so, that could be a sign that you have never fully forgiven the person who hurt you originally. Consequently, when you meet someone with similar traits, you become defensive and over-react.  The key here is to forgive fully the original person.

Or is it that you just don’t like a particular personality trait? For example, Thinkers vs Feelers.  Thinkers are about truth.  So they freeze their emotions in order to get to what they would consider objective reality.  In the process of freezing their emotions, they can come across as cold, abrasive, and too blunt.  Understandably, this can lead to conflict or disharmony. Feelers are about harmony.  They hate conflict.  As a result, they can appear inauthentic, or even manipulative in order to avoid disagreement and maintain harmony.  But this can prevent the truth from coming out. Can you see why it would be easy to dislike someone who is the opposite of your personality bent?

2. It’s okay that you don’t like them.

I know, I know... This is not what we were taught in kindergarten.  But it’s true that at the end of the day, we can work through whatever forgiveness issues we may have, we can learn to appreciate personality differences, we can even overcome our negative traits, but still not really like someone.  We may have learned to tolerate them and even to see value in our differences, but we are not ready to start hanging out with them.  That is okay.

The important thing is that you work through your stuff, while still showing them the dignity that all humans deserve to be shown.

In addition, if we are going to work with them we are going to have to up our trust, respect and belief in their abilities.

3. Increase your desire to trust, respect, and believe in their abilities.

If you don’t want to like them, you are not going to like them.  The same is true if you don’t want to trust, respect, or believe in their abilities.  Sometimes we need to list reasons why we should increase our desire for the good of the team.

You can go about this in several ways. One staple of mine is to ask a “What if” question.  “What good could come if...” So in this case it is, “What good could come if I trust, respect, and believe in their abilities?”  Notice I did not say what good will come.  I said what good could come.  Here is where you want to list as many good things as possible that could come.

If I am struggling to want something that I don’t want, and I ask a “What good could come?” question, I may come up with only 2 or 3 things, and not feel really satisfied.  Try Googling “Benefits of trusting a co-worker,” and you will find more to add to the list.

You can also think of the benefits you yourself have received from trusting, or respecting, or believing in a co-worker, and add those to the list.

The idea is to come up with as many things as you can think of until you see your attitude changing to one of increased desire.  Then, as that desire gets fueled, you won’t be able to stop yourself from taking action.

4. While you are working on the first three, know that you don’t have to act on what you feel towards them.

One of the things that I love about emotional intelligence training is seeing how someone learns to increase their emotional self-awareness and then learns to regulate their emotions on the fly.  The confidence that comes is tremendous.  You can learn to do the same.

As you learn, stay away from gossiping about them.  Instead, actively find ways to help them.  That will help you to change your attitude towards them.

5. Find the good in them for you and the greater whole of the team.

They are on the team for good reasons.  Identify and focus on those reasons and you will find yourself able to handle the less desirable traits much better.

6. Set boundaries with clear upfront communication.

If part of why you don’t like them is that they “push your buttons,” then know that you are not their victim. You alone are responsible for your response to those buttons being pushed.

Read some blogs or books on boundaries, and learn some basic techniques for minimizing your exposure to toxic behaviors.  One of the biggest ones I have learned is to use clear upfront communication, like speaking in terms of, “When you do X I feel Y.”  Notice you are not telling them what to do. Instead, you are making them aware of your response to their behavior.

If they don’t want to do anything about X, then you can step it up a notch and request a change in the behavior. Or you can say “If you don’t want to stop doing X, then I am going to leave the room for a bit and consider how we can find a different way to communicate. You have a lot to offer this team and I don’t want to let my response impact the success of this project.”  In other words, fully own that it is your response you're working on, and then take active steps to work on it.

7. How do those who work successfully with them interact with them?

Are there some on the team who work better than you do with the person you don’t like?  If so, what are they doing that’s different?  Adopting some of their techniques can be helpful.

8. Celebrate the times when they are displaying likeable behaviors.

During times that they are doing things that are much more likeable, recognize it and celebrate it.  “I really love it when you do ABC." That type of emphatic acknowledgement could go a long way towards long-lasting behavioral change.

9. Radical idea #1: Choose to work on a really tough project with them.

People who work on something really tough together tend to bond better.  It also helps to draw out the interpersonal dynamics more, and that forces you to deal with them more quickly since the tough project needs to be accomplished.

10. Radical idea #2: Find ways to laugh with them.

People who laugh together start to like each other more.

I remember watching a really funny movie when I lived in New York.  After the lights came on and audience members made eye contact as they left the theater, it was obvious that they felt warm towards each other.

On a team, that warmth develops into a real liking of each other.

If you don’t like someone on your team, you have the choice either to be stuck with them, or to find ways to make the most of the relationship. The person you thought you never would like may become one of your closest co-workers. Stranger things have happened!

Chew On This:

  • What will you do to escape the sense of being stuck with someone and, instead, make the most of the relationship?

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.

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: How To Pick Up Someone's Personality Type Over The Phone

mbti-bite_-how-to-pick-up-someones-personality-type-over-the-phoneJust think of what it would be like if you could figure out a new stakeholder’s personality type while you speak to them on the phone. Think of how quickly you could connect with them, tailor your dialogue to their preferred communication style, and even know how to balance their weaknesses so that they feel empowered to stay in their strike zones.

It's possible.

Myers-Briggs is the most popular and most researched assessment in the world. It breaks down personality types into four dichotomous pairs.

1. E vs I, Extrovert vs Introvert.

You know the person on the other end of the telephone is an E if they consistently talk things out with you. We E’s are notorious for thinking as we speak. We've also got a case of verbal diarrhea. That is, we are verbose.

I’s, on the other hand pause, think things out and give more concise, formed answers. They also tend to process new information internally instead of with others.

2. S vs N, Sensing vs Intuition.

S’s, or Sensors, are 75% of the population. So when in doubt, you can guess that the stakeholder you are speaking to is an S. But another way to know is if they speak in specifics. Do they give detailed descriptions as they lay out information? Do they talk in more tangibles (sights, smells, sounds) than in abstract concepts?

You know you are speaking to an N, or Intuitive, when they focus on the big picture. N's often think broadly, basing their ideas more on intuition than sensory cues. N’s also love new ideas and possibilities.

3. T vs F, Thinking vs. Feeling.

T’s, or Thinkers, can be spotted because they talk about the logical implications of things.

F’s, or Feelers, may first talk about a task but will often interject with the impact the project will have on the people.

4. J vs P, Judging vs. Perceiving.

J’s or Judgers, feel more comfortable once a decision is made. Over the phone, you will sense them wanting to lock down a decision.

P’s, on the other hand, like to keep their options open. It will be harder to nail things down.

Here is a cheat sheet that gives you all of the above in one page:

rcba-mbti-cheat-sheet

rcba-myers-briggs-cheat-sheets

Once you can pick off the letters, go to 16personalities.com and get detailed descriptions that will help you get them better.

Even if you can't nail all the letters use this cheat sheet to tailor the way you communicate with them not just over the phone but in email too.

Chew On This:

 

  • How can you implement this mindset into your phone calls today?

 

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.

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.