leadership development

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.

How To Effectively Deal With Anxiety In 15 Minutes or Less

One of the top struggles for leaders is learning how to manage their anxiety. As a leader, you carry an incredible amount of responsibility. You have people counting on you. You want to continue to grow and excel, and you want to have an impact. Given the complexity of the obstacles before a leader, their anxiety can often go through the roof.  However, they know that they are being watched carefully, by those who report to them, peers, and those they themselves are accountable to.  Consequently, many try to stuff their anxiety. They “act as if” everything is okay, finding the silver lining in whatever it is they are going through, and waiting till no one is around to allow themselves to fully feel the anxiety that is just under the surface.

Studies have shown that some amount of anxiety can actually help performance.  However, many times anxiety can get so strong that it works against us.  We are not able to generate solutions. We may find ourselves unable to fall asleep, or we wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to fall back asleep. Or we may start stress-eating, or stress-fasting.  Perhaps we are not fully present in meetings, or are not hearing our direct reports when they really need us.  Anxiety can take different guises.

I want to offer a simple, tangible tool to decrease your anxiety in the workplace (and in your personal life!).

Do you want to deal effectively with your anxiety in 15 minutes or less?

Download this Excel spreadsheet and I will walk you through a way to do just that. Afterwards, I will give you an example of how I used it to overcome one of my worst recurring anxieties.

Looking at the worksheet, follow me along. You need to be detailed in columns B-F.  The more details, the more you should feel your anxiety being impacted as you go from column to column.

Column A: The date when you are doing this exercise for the anxiety you are currently facing (no details here :-)

Column B: Write in detail the absolute worst case scenario that could arise from the situation that is currently making you anxious.  Describe the factors that make this the worst case scenario, and write what you would feel if that scenario arose.  Do not hold back on details in this column.  You know you are doing a great job if your anxiety picks up, or you can clearly recognize that your anxiety would be horribly higher if that worst case scenario were to happen.  Once you feel that, immediately go to column C.

Column C: Write what good options can come if the absolute worst case scenario happened.  If you did a good job in column B, it should be hard to think of more than one good thing that could come from that worst case scenario.  This is where you have to break down the question by relating it to specific parts of life.  In other words, what good could come....

  • Vocationally
  • Relationally
  • Emotionally
  • Mentally
  • Financially
  • Spiritually
  • Physically
  • For each person directly impacted from the scenario
  • For loved ones
  • For your team
  • For your overall organization
  • Etc.

You know you can stop thinking of options when the edge has been taken off the anxiety and you are starting to feel hope.  You probably still feel anxious, but it has gone down a couple of notches and you can begin to see a way forward.  Then go to Column D.

Column D: Describe the actual scenario you find yourself in.  Once again, you want to state the facts of what you feel along with what you would feel about the facts.  You need to be detailed here.  Really describe it until you can taste it.

Column E: Generate options for what good things can come from Column D.  Since you have found options through the worst case scenario, you should see options for column E.  Literally, you can copy and paste many of the ones from Column C, but here you will get more specific about what you’re actually facing.  You need to keep generating options until you feel hope and your anxiety has gone down tremendously.

My Personal Success Story

Here is a template for what this exercise could look like.  It is a bit embarrassing for me to share this, but it proves how well this tool works.

I used to write business plans for a living and, with the exception of two years of my life, I have always run my own business.  I went to business school and studied business cycles.  So you would think that I would not get overly anxious about the down side of the business cycle in a calendar year.

Yet, despite all of the evidence that shows how predictable the down time is, and even more, the clear evidence that things pick up at about the same time every year, I used to get really anxious during the downtime of the business cycle.

My wife would always look at me and say, “It was like this last year” or “This year is not as bad as last year." And sure enough, things would start to turn around. But year after year, I lived with anxiety.

So if you have the What Good Could Come From This? spreadsheet up, let me walk you through what has put a permanent stop to this recurring anxiety.

A few years ago, I wrote the date in Column A.

Then in Column B, I wrote out the absolute worst case scenario that could come from the downtime in the business cycle.  Here is what I wrote:

During a down business cycle, not just 20-25% of clients drop, but all drop.  As much as I try to generate income for my family, we wind up losing all of our assets, including our house.  Then my wife, my kids, and my in-laws are forced to live under a bridge.  I would see them suffering and feel guilty, ashamed, desperate, isolated.  I would believe it was all my fault that this scenario happened and I would feel crushed by it.

When I got to Column C, I could hardly think of one good thing that could come from the worst case scenario.  So I focused on what good could come in different parts of my life.  Here is what I saw, and I wrote:

Any time I have gone through a career change, a better option has emerged. It could happen again in just the same way. My wife and I have always been tight during hard times - this one could be the same.  I could get more time with my kids.  My in-laws are incredibly gracious and resourceful.  They would help brainstorm ideas. I would be walking a lot more so I would be in better shape.  If I lost all my assets, then anything that gets added would be better financially.  I would have more time to think and get creative.  I could even get positive about this situation if I saw good things come.  It would teach me to be mentally resilient.  I could see people at my church help us in unexpected ways.  God and I could get tighter and I could see Him act in unexpected ways.  Those on my team could find other opportunities.  They are gifted and resourceful as well.  Or they would brainstorm options with me and our company could emerge better than ever.

At that point, I started to feel a little better and had a little hope, so I jumped to Column D.  I described the actual scenario as follows:

There are only two times of the year when the business cycle is lower.  Just as summer is starting there is a brief 10-15% drop. It lasts a couple of weeks and then picks up again, especially with more training gigs.  Then, a week before Thanksgiving through the second or third week in January, there is a 20-25% drop.  Although I get really anxious during this time, all that happens is that we eat out less and we dip into savings a little.  But I get really anxious and believe that it is going to dry up.  I get clouded, don't make the most of the time I have, stay down despite others noting that we experience this drop every year. The holidays help but I am still somewhat distracted.

Then when I got to Column E, it was much easier to generate options for what good could come from the actual scenario.  Here is what I wrote:

  • Vocationally - I have time to do what I don't get enough time to do (i.e. business development, train the team, get ahead on blogs, get trained on the things that will advance clients, take a longer vacation, etc.)
  • Relationally - I can take advantage of the situation and spend more time with my wife and kids.  It would be great to hang more with friends.
  • Emotionally - I can rest up more and do a better job at processing my own emotions.
  • Physically - I can work out more--go after more FitBit Workweek Hustles and beat top competitors.
  • Financially - I can review how my company and family spend money, and eliminate where we are wasting money or find better, more economical ways to accomplish what we want to accomplish.
  • Mentally - I can dream more, focus on gratitude more, do more brain games, even get unplugged more.
  • Spiritually - I can up the times I spend connecting to God in ways that have been meaningful.  My wife and I can take an extra weekend away right in the middle of the holiday rushes.  The kids and I can do more fun things.  The team and I could also do a fun holiday party.  Our company can volunteer and help others.

By the time I was done, I felt great.

I’ve found that in order to experience what I did, you have to give Columns B-E lots of detail, especially in the emotional description of what you could feel (if the worst case scenario happened) or what you are currently feeling (from the actual case scenario).  Then you have to generate lots of options in Column E.

You are going to feel so much hope if you do a good job of generating options.  Capture that hope in Column F.  So I wrote:

I feel hopeful and alive.  I feel free.

The very next year, not only did I not have fear going into the biggest drop in the cycle, but I was looking forward to all the things I would do that would move the needle forward.

Clients who have used this tool share that after they have used it a few times, when they face the next anxious moment and open up the spreadsheet, in the process of scrolling down to the next free row, they don’t even have to write anything because the reminder of how they felt hope when using this tool has led them to feel hope about the current situation.

Moreover, clients have shared that eventually, they begin to feel hope when they just see the spreadsheet in their Finder window.

What’s been freaky to hear is that some clients who were diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder and were being medicated for it, have had their meds reduced, and a few have even gotten off anxiety meds completely.

Genuinely hoping this tool pays as many dividends for you as it has for them and for me.

Chew On This:

  • What would remind you to use the What Good Could Come From This tool the next time you feel anxious?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of an organizational effectiveness company that equips leaders to 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 Make The Most Of The Workshop You Attend

I'm on a flight to Los Angeles to deliver a workshop on Myers-Briggs and Emotional Intelligence. I'm thinking back to the training I did to become certified in the EQi-2.0 and how I wish I had taken more notes and spent more time reviewing.

Even though I love EQ work and use it extensively with clients, there are nuances of the EQi-2.0 assessment that I don't remember (already put a coaching meeting with an EQ trainer on my calendar).  This has got me thinking about how many of us attend workshops throughout the year, but don’t retain as much from them as we wish we could. According to Forbes, attendants of a lecture retain only about 50% of what they learn after two weeks.

So many helpful nuggets are given in a workshop that I wish I had a system to retain them all and then implement them well.  If you are still reading this blog, you probably can relate.  Here are some things I have found helpful throughout my years of attending and giving workshops:

1) Before you go into the workshop, perform brain dump.

Brain dumping is a way to get clear and be fully present. I wrote out 7 tips on how to be fully present when you have a lot on your mind in a previous blog. One exercise is called the “Brain Dump.”

This exercise involves listing on a piece of paper all of the things that are on your mind at the present moment. Think not just about work, but also about home, family, hobbies, entertainment, etc. Take 10 minutes to write them out.

Next to each item, quickly jot down the ideal outcome you want for that item. Then write down the next action step that needs to be taken to achieve that outcome.

This exercise clears your mind and creates space for more information.

2) Take really really clear notes.

I like taking electronic notes during workshops I attend. However, if I'm not careful, as the days, weeks and months go by, I may not fully understand what I wrote down when the time comes to review them.  Make sure you set aside some time to review your notes right away, as close to the end of the workshop as you can. The breaks during a workshop are even more ideal.

3) If the facilitator says anything that is unclear, ask them to clarify.

Don't be afraid to ask the facilitator to clear up a point they made. You will be doing yourself, your fellow participants, and the facilitator a favor. This is often how I get the best refinements to the workshops I conduct.

4) If the facilitator has not done so, see if you can whittle down the workshop to three main points. 

A client, after previewing slides, asked me to come up with five "pithy" phrases that the participants could use as a review slide. That advice alone moved my workshops to the next level. It turned out that senior leaders especially valued that slide.

5) See how you can immediately implement at least three core parts of the workshop - personalize it.

To make the most of the time you invested in participating in a workshop, look for ways you can immediately use what you've learned.

The idea is to start using what you've learned before you forget it.

See number 7 for one of my favorite ways.

6) Set up a few review times.

Typically, when I deliver a workshop, I like to have a group coaching call a month after the workshop, and another one three months after the workshop. This gives participants a chance to implement and develop questions to better utilize what they've learned.

If that feature is not offered to you and your team, request it, because it will dramatically increase retention and use.

If you're met with resistance, do it on your own. Don't feel shy about emailing the workshop facilitator with your brief questions. We'd love to be at further service.

7) Teach others what you've learned.

Before the beginning of the workshop, have in mind that you are going to teach others what you've learned.

This will help you be present, make sure that your notes are clear, and that you yourself understand everything.

Generously share with others what you've learned.  In the process, you will learn and implement much more than you would have otherwise.

Imagine the impact on your team if they got the nuggets that have helped you.

There is a reason you are participating in the workshops you're attending. You’ve invested time and money and energy into this opportunity. Make the most of it for yourself and for your team as you move your team towards higher performance.

Chew On This:

  • What difference would it have made to you if you had been able to remember more of the workshops you attended?
  • What steps can you take to make the most out of future workshops?

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

What the Fitbit Workweek Hustles Taught Me About Pacing

 

It might be hard to make out from the photo, but this is a picture of my swollen foot and the red rash that covered my lower legs not too long ago.

In a previous blog, I related what I had learned about healthy competition through participating in Fitbit Workweek Hustles.

I shared how I had rediscovered what a competitor I am.  Given my schedule, I thought at first that it would be super hard to get to 10k steps per day. Then, thanks to the encouragement and example of my just-as-busy-friends, I started averaging 18k-21k steps per day.

I realized that when I did phone meetings, walking actually helped me focus more on my clients, and get to the heart of their concerns.  That was a side benefit, but during the first couple of weeks, I did not win a Workweek Hustle.  I marveled at how the winners could get over 100k steps in a five day span.  I wanted to reach that mark, but doubted if I could.

Then it happened.  I got into a deep competition with a friend in NY.  We pushed each other hard throughout the week.  Late at night on the last day of competition, we were both walking--she in NY, me in Atlanta.  We reached 100k at about the same time.

Though I was tired, I kept moving.  My socks were itchy, but never in a million years did I think I was doing to my foot what you see in the picture.

We both continued to walk until midnight, and I actually won.  It was close, but I was thrilled to finally have won my first workweek hustle.

As I approached the front door of our house and slowed my pace, I could tell I was somewhat sore. But when I started going upstairs to our bedroom, the soreness really hit.  My legs continued to itch, and when I took off my shoes and socks so I could shower, I could see that my feet were swollen, even though the light was dim.  “Oh well,” I thought, “I’ll elevate them with pillows and sleep that way.  I’ll be ok.”

But when I turned on the lights, I could see all the red splotches on my leg.  I had no idea what they were, and I feared what it might mean.

After showering, I felt even more sore, so I got into bed.  When my wife came upstairs, I asked her to check my legs.  She gasped when she saw them, and it was one of those gasps of real concern.  “I’ve pushed it too far,” I thought.  “I’m really going to pay for it.”  She looked at me as if I should have known better.  And she was right.

I am an overweight 47-year-old man who had just resumed working out a couple of weeks earlier, and I had overdone it.

The next day, I had a doctor look at my legs and feet.  The doctor said to keep them propped up, do light walking on the weekend, and then encouraged me to get back into the competitions.  She assured me that I had not done any serious harm, and that I would be fine by Monday.

That weekend I took it easy--maybe did 7k steps the entire weekend.

When I got to the office on Monday, I showed my assistant the pictures of my leg and foot and she said, “I know a blog is coming about this one.”

That got me thinking.

I did not want to write a blog about a setback since I recently wrote a two-parter on it (1, 2). I wanted to write something that showed the lesson learned.

So, taking my cue from business, where there is a need to pace yourself and your team and go for the most critical wins, I worked on pacing myself and building up stamina.

Over the next two weeks, I stayed between 15k-18k steps.  Then I built up to 25k steps and stayed there for a couple of weeks.  Finally, I did 56k steps in a day.

Here is the kicker.  I felt great after the 56k.  Yes, tired.  Yes, sore, but not that sore.  I felt really great.

So what does all of this have to do with business?

Often in business, we can let our impulsiveness and desire to win do tremendous damage to ourselves, our team, and those we care about.  We push ourselves hard to get results.  But we don’t stop to ask ourselves: can our team and even ourselves handle the pace?

I started thinking about some of the more successful people I’ve worked with and the price they paid to achieve their success.  Many of their key team members quit because, at the heart of it, they felt like they were being used.  The leader cared more about the glory of the leader than about those who were working really hard to get them their glory.

As a leader, how are you handling the pace you are setting?  How is your team handling the pace?

Sometimes we have to push ourselves to the limit to get a crucial win, but at quieter times, is there a way to change the scope of what you are trying to accomplish so that your team builds more and more stamina in their reach for the top?

How can you show your team that you love them enough to help them reach their potential at a pace that doesn’t break them?

Ultimately, pacing allows for a sustainable, steady high-performing team.

Chew On This:

  • What is the right pace for you and your team right now?

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of a company that equips business leaders to develop the teams that everyone wants to work with.

Combining a Strategic Mindset With Your Tactical Base

A few weeks ago, we discussed the marks of a master tactician. A tactician is project-oriented, fast-moving and responsible for the implementation of day-to-day tasks. We then dove into the marks of a master strategist.  A master strategist values taking time to think, processing through the long-term impact of decisions while considering the views of others. But any leader needs to be able to combine a strategic mindset with a tactical base.  This is a necessary skill if one wants to ascend to the Vice President role and above in a large company. If you are running a smaller business, you already know that you need both strategy and good tactical skills in order to succeed.

Here are ways to merge a strategic mindset with your tactical base:

1. Must develop a keen sense and drive for strategy and execution.

To advance, you must develop a keen sense and drive for both strategy and execution. It is not enough to merely see a need; you must have the skills and capability to carry that need out. One cannot exist without the other. Both must be nurtured, grown, and improved upon.

2. Know how to develop a strategic plan that encompasses your keen sense and drive for execution.

A strategic plan that doesn’t keep in mind how it will be executed is just a dream (See Marks of a Master Tactician for more details on the elements you will need to remember). While thinking long-term is crucial, it is important to be able to craft tangible, short-term objectives to move towards the overarching goal. A goal becomes muddied without specific steps to get there. Moreover, craft the plan to the strengths of the individuals who will be executing.  This will increase the likelihood of success.

3. Understand what competitors are up to and relay important competitor info up the chain as quickly as possible.

Part of the above plan will include understanding your competitors' strengths and weaknesses and how to position your company best in light of that knowledge.

4. Get buy-in from so many different parties.

Before executing a strategic plan, it is important to gain buy-in from other departments and teams. This buy-in could prove invaluable as you will probably need their help from time to time and they could also notice any blind spots in the plan that will help you to refine it.  As an aside, getting buy-in from different parties also helps to diffuse accountability.

5. Making sure that each person executing is clear on their role, the decisions they can make and what they are responsible for.

Sometimes you can come up with a brilliant strategic plan but if your team is not clear on their roles, what decisions they can make and what they will be accountable for that can lead to things being dropped and poor execution. This must be clear before the project starts.

6. Don’t second-guess plan once you start to execute.

Once all of the above is accomplished and you start to execute it, it is important that you don’t second-guess the plan.  This doesn’t mean that you won’t make some course-corrections as you receive feedback (see below) but it does mean that the overall direction won’t drastically change.  The larger your company is, the harder it will be to make a dramatic change.

7. Must assess the initial feedback after executing the strategy and make course-corrections on the fly.

As feedback comes in, you will start to spot trends, make subtle changes, and improve the tactics. However, the overall strategy should not change that much.  The course-corrections typically are about the tactics not the strategy.

8. Review, Refine, Review, Refine.

Continually review the strategic plan and refine it as you go.  It will help to sharpen the next strategic plan that you develop.

Chew On This:

  • How can you integrate both strategy and tactics to optimize your effectiveness in your role?

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of a company that equips business leaders to develop the teams that everyone wants to work for.

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

The Marks of a Master Tactician

I am coaching a group of directors who all want to become vice presidents in their companies. These men and women are sharp, gifted individuals. Already they are making a significant impact where they are. They are master tacticians, skilled at executing the strategic initiatives set by those over them.

There used to be a day when vice presidents could be either tactical or strategic. However, those days are gone. More and more companies are wanting to see that prospective VP’s can do both.

The group I'm coaching already shows great signs of being able to flex their strategic muscles, but they've been in roles that are heavily tactical.

Moreover, they are so busy implementing what they are tasked to do that they have little room for what it takes to practice the art of strategy.

In this multi-part blog series we are going to discuss:

  • The Marks of a Master Tactician
  • The Marks of a Master Strategist
  • Combining a Strategic Mindset With Your Tactical Base

As a leader, you may already be identifying in your mind who on your team is more strategic and who is more tactical.

To advance excellence in your team, all members of the team need to understand and implement principles of both--what it takes to be a Master Tactician and what it takes to be a Master Strategist.

The higher up they move in the company, the more they will be working through others, so they will need a strategic mindset to succeed.

However, those who are closest to the front lines, who require a tactical mindset, will also need to understand what you as the leader need in order to make effective decisions for the good of all.

For example, suppose your frontline had a basic training on how to spot trends not yet revealed by the data you are seeing. Imagine what a difference that would make to you and to the company.

If a team were to take this basic training, what might they draw out about what it means to be tactical? Basically, it is “work done below the shoulders.”

Those who are strong at being tactical are strong at executing. So tactical people are operational.

Tactical people’s line of vision is focused on the shorter term.  Sometimes it means being focused in the moment.  As such, they can be reactionary, but must definitely be adaptable and flexible.

Let’s look at what the work life of a master tactician entails:

1. They achieve the strategy for their small part of the business.

While they may have some awareness of the overall strategy for the company, tacticians usually don’t have overall details, but they do have details for their part of the business.

Once they receive the strategy, master tacticians know who on their team needs to do what in order to accomplish the goals.  They put together solid plans and work the plan. This gives them a great deal of control in the day-to-day operations, as long as higher ups trust them to execute.

2. They are resource management oriented.

Master tacticians directly use the resources of the company to accomplish the strategy.  As such, masterful ones are wise with how they allocate the resources, and they are accountable for how they use them.

3. They are project-oriented.

Tacticians go from project to project, often working a few different ones at the same time.  They get the benefit of seeing the fruit of their labors in shorter term bursts than the strategists do.  This can be incredibly rewarding.

4. They are fast-moving and always busy.

There is never a break.  There is always a ton of work. There are always decisions to be made as to what gets dropped. There is a constant need to filter all that they have through Julie Morgenstern’s 4 D’s - Delegate, Delete, Delay, and Diminish.

Many have at least double digit unread messages -- if not triple.  Their work is such that they can’t stop.  There are always more meetings, or stakeholder calls to make, in addition to the projects they are on.

However, those who are master tacticians thrive in that type of fast-paced environment.  If they are in the right tactical role, they are never bored.  There is always something to do.

5. Typically, the only time they think about the business is when they are on vacation, or about to fall asleep.

As you can infer from above, the thought of being able to stop and really think about the business seems like a luxury to them.  Many say that the only time they do is when they are on vacation or about to fall asleep.

For some personality types, that could be a gift.  Yes, it could be frustrating not to have more of a say in the strategy, but those who love to execute thrive here.

It is easy to see why some people would never want to leave the tactical realm.  If they are wired for it, they can get into their comfort zone and never leave.

However, as I said earlier, the days are now here that in order to move to higher levels in a company, there has to be a strategic mindset as well as a tactical one.

Chew On This:

  • Who on your team is more tactically oriented?
  • Who is more strategic?
  • Who seems to balance both really well?
  • Who are you thinking of promoting? :-)

 

Ryan C. Bailey is President and CEO of a company that equips leaders to develop the teams that everyone wants to work for. *This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.

How to Ensure People on Your Team are Heard

Have you ever witnessed an argument, where one person is saying X but the other person is hearing something completely different?  Where the first person makes repeated attempts to clarify, but the second person still hears something completely different? Have you ever wondered why the second person is not hearing the first person?

One reason is that the second person has an entrenched belief.  Once we believe something, we filter everything through it.  The more intense our emotions are, the more we hear what we want to hear, regardless of what the other person is saying.

When this happens in a boardroom, it can be quite costly and embarrassing for the one who is not hearing.  But if you are a witness to such an argument, here are a few things you can do that can help them to hear:

1. Get the parties' agreement to help resolve the conflict.

First, ask the parties who are arguing if you could jump in to help resolve the conflict. You want to work in collaboration with them, which requires their consent. Then,

2. Slow things down.

Shift to a calm tone.  It helps the ones who are arguing to calm down.  If there is anyone else in the room, ask them to leave.

3. Normalize what is happening.

Look for a way to minimize embarrassment for the one who is not listening.  You can say something like, “When things get heated, it can be really hard for us to hear one another.  It can happen to any of us.” Do not place blame on the non-listener; instead, meet him where he is at.

4. Ask the one who is not hearing, “What do you hear the other person saying?”

Ask the the first person to refrain from responding or interrupting.  Then turn to the one struggling to hear and ask them, “What do you hear the other person saying?”

When they respond, don’t judge or condemn them, regardless of what they may say.

Instead, ask them if you could share what you are hearing the other person say.  It’s helpful to get their buy-in, but then share what you heard and ask them if you are off.

Then, ask them again what they heard the person saying.  Hopefully, they hear it more clearly now.

But a quicker resolution is possible.

5. Ask both, “What is the one message you want the other to hear?”

Start with the one who was not hearing.  Ask them to state the one message they want the other person to hear.

Ask the first person, the one who was saying X, to repeat what they just heard.

Then ask the second person, the one who was struggling to hear, to repeat it back.

At this point, you can move to resolve the conflict by asking them to align with what the other wants them to hear. Where they had been arguing, they are now partners attacking the problem, and you are moving towards resolving the conflict. Instead of seeing each other as the 'enemy,' they are teammates combating the problem together.

In a future blog post, we will go through conflict resolution principles.

Chew On This:

  • How can you empower your team members to better hear each other?  What beliefs keep you from listening well?

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 Do You Know If Someone Will Really Change?

You are leading a team, and you want them to do their best. As with all people, including ourselves, there are areas that need to be improved.

Your team member says they will work on the change you suggested.

However, you have some doubts as to whether or not they will make the change, and if they do, you wonder how deep it will go.  Will it be temporary, for the sake of their job, or will it be a true transformation?  How can you know?

Furthermore, how can you help them, or coach them, to make the change?

Over my 26 years of counseling and coaching, I have observed that clients who have made significant changes in their lives have several traits in common:

1. Humility

Those who want to change are humble.  They take full responsibility for their weakness.  There is no minimizing, blame shifting, or rationalizing.  They offer a clear, “Yes, I see that. I need to improve that.”

This is often followed by an awareness that their behavior has had consequences. A humble person looks to make amends when possible.

2. Commitment

People who want to change will commit to the change.  This is not a surface level commitment, but a commitment that goes to their core.  Sometimes you can hear it in their voice, but most of the time it will be their actions that show their resolve.

3. Open-mindedness

Along with humility and commitment, they show open-mindedness.  They know they need help, so they listen for truth in order to determine how they will make the change.  Sometimes that means being willing to try things that are different.  They open themselves to new ideas from trustworthy sources.

4. Seeking Out Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom, and Insights

As implied above, their open-mindedness leads them to seek out knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and insights from whatever trustworthy sources will get them there.

Some will research, hire experts, seek out mentors, etc.  The idea is that they want to have a plan for how to make the change happen for them.

5. Action Over Words

A striking thing I’ve noticed about those who really want to change is that they emphasize action over talking about the change.  I want to be clear.  It is not that they don’t talk about the change they want to make.  They definitely do.  However, talking about the change is usually the conversation starter, and those observing them can see them testing tangible actions to determine what helps them with the change.

6. Risk-Taking

As implied above, those who really want to change take intelligent risks as they try new things to effect the change they are looking to make.  Intuitively, they know that not everything they try will work, but they will give it everything they’ve got, even at the risk of being crushed if the change doesn’t happen.

Those who really want to change get up faster when they fail. They are willing to take more risks in order to get it right and see the change they want to happen.

7. Develop A Great Support Network

When someone wants to change, they develop a great support network.  Sometimes they may not be aware that they are building a support network, but often, in the process of seeking guidance, they find that those who give guidance become their supporters.

To make a real change, they need to be encouraged and know that there are others behind them when they feel weak.

They also need those who notice that the change is happening and will celebrate with them as they go.

As leaders, we can champion our team members who want to change just by encouraging their desire and drive to change.  If we see they are lacking in any of the above traits, we can encourage them to pursue it.

Some people start off with a half-hearted commitment to change, but through our coaching we can encourage them to fully commit to the process.

The great news is that as your team members learn how to make real, lasting change, they will become addicted to growing.  This will move them more and more towards becoming a high performing team.

Chew On This:

  • Who on your team will you coach towards a real and lasting change?

 

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.