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How to JUMPSTART Your Morning

alarm clock jumpstart your morning

The buzz of an alarm clock can be a dreaded sound, but sometimes a new element in your routine can make a difference. Here are some helpful strategies to prepare you for a day at the office:

  • Prepare the night before:

When you know the location of all your daily work necessities, your morning won’t feel like a mad dash around your house. Packing your gym bag, compiling work documents, prepping your lunch, and even setting out your keys can help you avoid that stressed-out feeling you get when you’re searching for that one last thing. When you can transition from home to work in a calm state, instead of an anxious one, you set the tone for the whole day.

 

  • Switch up your breakfast routine:

Sick of cold cereal every morning? Tired of the same ol’ bagel and cream cheese as you rush out the door? Plan a new, delicious breakfast. Introducing new foods to your breakfast menu breaks up the monotony and gives you something to look forward to. Swap out your instant oatmeal for steel-cut or Irish oats. Trade your yogurt for cottage cheese with fresh berries or cinnamon. Ditch your bagel for an English muffin with jam and honey. Put your morning apple or banana to work by throwing it in a smoothie with greens, ginger, avocado, or almond butter. There are plethora of recipe websites that can inspire your next breakfast.

 

  • Exercise:

Waking up in the morning is difficult enough; waking up early to hit the gym might be downright impossible. However, the benefits of an early-morning workout are multiple: better sleep, improved metabolism, better long-term results, and increased mental clarity for four to ten hours after exercising. Your workout routine doesn’t need to break world records, but it needs get you moving and be enjoyable enough for you to stick with it. With your mental clarity, plus the endorphin boost, you will be alert and ready to take on your day with a clear head and positive attitude.

 

  • Meditation, affirmations, and visualizations:

Though these might feel unnatural at first, mental preparation for the day ahead can bring great benefits. As few as five to ten minutes of meditation in the morning exercises your brain so you can sustain voluntary attention throughout the day. Reciting affirmations and visualizing goal achievement bolster self-esteem and solidify ambitions. Write down affirmations and stick them somewhere you will see them every morning, and recite them as you brush your teeth or wait for your coffee. When you visualize yourself accomplishing a goal, it makes the event feel possible, and gives you confidence to chase down those goals. With your eye on the prize, you can enter the office with determination and a sense of direction.

Any or all of these changes can jumpstart your morning. A word of advice: just like New Year’s resolutions, don’t try to overhaul your whole life overnight. Start with one change, maybe two, and incorporate more once you have mastered the first few.

Lost in Translation

Communication lost in translation

Ah, those vexing things called words. Putting them together to convey a clear, easy-to-understand message can seem like a Herculean feat at times. Differing communication styles and preferences can lead to serious misunderstandings or even conflict. Our differences are what make us unique and wonderful creatures, but they also set the stage for miscommunication when we don’t take the time to understand each other.

This is why communication is one of the most difficult things to get right in the workplace (or anywhere for that matter). I have heard numerous stories from my clients about projects derailing due to miscommunication, so I want to provide some insight on ways to develop solid communication skills with your team. Here are 5 tips to help keep communication clear:

  1. Keep it simple.

    We are bombarded with a constant stream of communication each and every day. Say what you mean and mean what you say in as few words as possible. Practice simplifying complex messages so your team understands what you are trying to convey. And don’t forget the power of positive body language to drive your point home with fewer words while ensuring the “tone” of your message is conveyed in the manner you wish (smiling, hand gestures, etc.).

  2. Keep it real. Keep it you.

    Don’t sound like a robot! While it is important to simplify your message, you can still personalize it by delivering the message in your unique style. It is important to be authentic and let your values shine through. It will keep your audience more engaged, especially during those times when a complex message is unavoidable. Build a reputation as someone with integrity and rapport and your message will never be lost.

  3. Keep your ears perked.

    A big part of being an excellent communicator is listening—truly listening–to your audience. This means taking the time to listen without interruption, ask follow-up questions, and zero in on the concerns of your team. Having a true conversation is much more effective than just droning on and on.

  4. Keep your thinking hat on.

    When you are going to present a message to your team, ensure you are confident in the subject matter. Write out your talking points ahead of time to help you stay on track. Carefully communicate one message at a time to avoid confusion when there are multiple messages to share.

  5. Keep the individual top of mind.

    Get to know your team and their communication styles so you can cater to their distinct needs. Each person will have a preference on how they receive and interpret communication. When you engage in one-on-one conversations, it is helpful to tailor your messages so each person has a solid understanding of what you are trying to say. Your team will appreciate this customization and attention to detail, which in turn will build trust.

Keep these basic tips in mind and you won’t get lost in the maze of communication. Start having a meaningful conversation with your team today!

For additional guidance on communicating effectively, feel free to contact me at your convenience.

Making the Dream Work

make the dream work

We’ve all heard the sayings “There is no I in team” or “Teamwork makes the dream work!” But what does it take to have a happily functioning team, where trust and morale are strong? Stop micromanaging your team.

There is nothing like an incessant micromanager to create uncertainty and curtail confidence.  “If your mind is filled with the micro-level details of a number of jobs, there’s no room for big picture thoughts,” says Karen Dillon, author of the HBR Guide to Office Politics. Trusting in your team to step up their job performance and to make important decisions instills confidence and encourages strong leadership qualities.

How to make that dream team a reality? Here are a few tips on building trust and pulling back on micromanaging tendencies:

 

  1. Let go of the reins a bit.

    “You need to understand where this is coming from,” says Dillon. “Most likely it’s because of some insecurity—you’re afraid it will reflect badly on you if your team doesn’t do something exactly the way you would do it or you’re worried you’ll look out of touch if you’re not immersed in the details, so you overcompensate,” she says. Train your team, then delegate responsibilities. You can’t take it all on yourself; that is why you hired a team in the first place! But be available to support and coach your team; you don’t want to pull back so far that they are left wondering if their leader went on a permanent vacation.

  2. Communicate.

    Tell your team your goals and your vision for each project, and let them know how you will support their efforts. Ensure that everyone knows their role and encourage them to collaborate when necessary. Make it clear when you need to be involved and how to communicate with you. Remember: seek and give honest feedback to ensure projects are operating smoothly.

  3. Recognize and reward diverse paths to success.

    As a leader, it’s important to recognize that your way of doing things is not the only Your team has a diverse set of skills and talents and you should capitalize on that instead of stifle it. Recognize others’ unique strengths and help them grow by giving them space to do things their way. It may be difficult to take a step back and let your team work the way they want to, but it is the best way for talents to rise to the surface.

  4. Be a cheerleader.

    If you want to build trust in your team, allow them to shine. Don’t let micromanaging tendencies stifle confidence. Lead by trusting in the team dynamic and encouraging them to bring their best selves to the table. When they succeed, which they will in this environment, lift up their successes to greater visibility within the organization. By shining a light on your staff’s accomplishments, there is no threat to you, as you will simultaneously demonstrate how your leadership, trust, and encouragement produce greater teamwork and results.

 

Trusting your team and peers will create a harmonious workplace where team members will feel that their work matters and that they are contributing to the big picture. Next time you feel the need to micromanage that spreadsheet Sally is working on, or peer over John’s shoulder as he types up that report, resist the urge and trust your team’s abilities. Now that’s a dream come true.

 

Looking for more team-building strategies? Contact me today.

Caring Workplace, Happy Employees

Diverse business team hugging in a circle in the office

Everyone wants happy employees. They’re more productive, loyal, and valuable. But what makes employees happy?

The Star Tribune examined that question in their 2015 list of “Top Workplaces.” The organizations that made it onto the list were recognized solely based on the results of a survey taken by employees. The companies on the list vary widely in size, industry, and mission, but they all have one key thing in common: they care.

What does being a caring workplace mean? According to Clockwork Active Media, which ranked number one in the survey, it means acknowledging that your employees have a life outside the office. “We don’t talk about work-life balance,” said Nancy Lyons, CEO. “It’s all about life. We’re human, and to expect that to be compartmentalized is ridiculous.”

It’s easy to view your employees in terms of numbers, but the fact is, they are much more than that. A caring workplace is one that fosters an open line of communication with its employees, so that they feel comfortable approaching their superiors with both work and personal issues.

Another way to create a caring workplace is to provide opportunities for your employees to engage with their community (both internally and outside the office). SPS Commerce, a company that took the number one spot on the survey among large organizations, provides ample opportunities for their employees to have fun together and give back to the community. They sponsor company picnics, organize charity auctions, and even hold overnight sessions to build websites for charities.

Giving back is not just a trend. The next generation of workers are actively seeking companies that are altruistic and caring. An incredible 88% of Millennial women and 82% of Millennial men believe it’s important to be able to give back to the community through work.

A caring workplace can take many forms. How will your organization show it cares?

 

Want to figure out your company’s “caring strategy?” Contact me and let’s discuss ways to create a compassionate workplace.

Your OS!M (A concept developed by Steve Farber)

Your OS!M, on taking daily risks

In my last newsletter, I discussed taking a personal leap and making a major career change. That was the kind of life-altering move that only comes around every once in a while. But there’s another kind of leap: the kind you have the potential to make every day.

If you are truly striving for growth or pursuing authentic leadership, you will encounter many moments where you’ll be required to take a leap—to either act and push forward, or stop and back away. This is the moment that Steve Farber, founder of Extreme Leadership calls your “Oh Sh**! Moment” or your OS!M. It’s the moment where you realize you’re on the edge of a major decision. You can either look your fear in the eye and overcome it, or you can back away.

Great leaders will choose to face their fears and do what they think is right, even if it’s scary to do so. If you’re not a little scared, you’re not achieving growth. As Steve Farber puts it, “[If] you’re not experiencing that visceral churning in your gut, and you’re not scaring yourself every day, and you’re not feeling that Oh Sh**!Moment as regularly as clockwork, then you are not doing anything significant—let alone changing the world—and you are certainly not leading anyone else.”

Ask yourself as you step into the New Year:

  • Have I challenged myself lately?
  • Do I regularly stand up for my beliefs and values?
  • When was the last time I took a substantial leap?
  • What vision do I have for myself and my leadership and how can I achieve it?
  • What’s holding me back from making major changes?

Are you ready to embrace your fear and face your OS!Ms? Let’s talk.

QUIZ: How Well Does YOUR Workplace Communicate?

How is communication at YOUR workplace? Image courtesy of PhotoDune

How is communication at YOUR workplace? Image courtesy of PhotoDune

Clear, effective communication is one of the keys to creating a successful business. A company might employ the brightest, most innovative, highly competent individuals, but all that talent is wasted if communication is ineffective or nonexistent.

How does your workplace measure up? Take this ten question quiz to find out!

  1. During a typical meeting, how involved are the participants?
    1. Not involved at all
    2. Somewhat involved—a few people speak up
    3. Very involved; meetings usually contain an open dialogue between all participants
  1. When your superior gives you an assignment that you don’t fully understand, what do you do?
    1. Try to figure it out for yourself
    2. Ask a co-worker or two if they can shed some light on the assignment
    3. Go directly to your supervisor and ask her to clarify the assignment
  1. How often do co-workers mingle?
    1. Rarely; we usually keep to ourselves
    2. Occasionally; we like talking to each other during lunch or at work functions
    3. Often; we seek each other out for discussion
  1. When you’re working with a team, how engaged is each team member?
    1. Not engaged at all
    2. Some team members are engaged, but some hardly participate
    3. Everyone is engaged and involved; all ideas or opinions are considered
  1. If you’re dealing with a personal hardship, what do you do?
    1. Nothing; I keep it to myself
    2. I might tell a trusted co-worker or two
    3. I approach my supervisor and let him know that I may not perform at my peak, due to the personal hardship
  1. Imagine you are working with a team that clashes. How would your team members likely deal with the situation?
    1. They would fume silently or only communicate with “allies” (those with whom they agree)
    2. They would involve some people in solving the problem, but would not consider everyone’s opinion
    3. They would have an open discussion to get at the root of the issue and make sure everyone is on the same page before moving forward
  1. If you have an idea that might benefit the company, how likely are you to share it?
    1. Not likely; I would probably keep it to myself
    2. I might share it with one or two people
    3. I would approach my boss and ask to meet with her so we can discuss the idea
  1. If you’re asked to complete a project that is out of your scope of expertise, how comfortable are you with saying no?
    1. I never say no; I would figure out some way to handle the project
    2. I might say no if the project is truly beyond my scope, but I would likely say yes
    3. I am comfortable saying no; if that’s not an option, I am comfortable finding the help I need to successfully complete the project
  1. Does your company provide opportunities to offer feedback
    1. No, it does not
    2. Sometimes I am asked to give feedback during meetings or one-on-ones
    3. Yes, we are regularly encouraged to give feedback
  1. Overall, your co-workers’ listening skills are…
    1. …terrible; they often don’t seem to care what others are saying
    2. …okay; some employees are good listeners, but most are not
    3. …great; we practice being present for each other

NOW, calculate your score:

      A. = 1 point

 

      B. = 2 points

 

    C. = 3 points

How did you do?

Between 10-15

Uh-oh. Your inter-office communication is severely lacking. You do not feel comfortable communicating with others about issues and there is little room for offering feedback or bringing forth new ideas. This closed-door type of workplace can create tension among co-workers or frustration when an issue arises.

Next Steps:

Your communication strategy could use a jumpstart! If you are in a decision-making or leadership position, consider hiring a coach that will identify trouble spots and create an organization-wide plan to improve communication. If you do not have the power to hire a coach, schedule a meeting with your supervisor and express your concerns about the current state of your workplace’s communication. If nothing else, you’ll start a dialogue and hopefully your supervisor will begin to tune-in to the communication issues in the office.

Another action you can take: Start talking! Ask your co-workers about their weekends, engage others in conversations, and offer your opinions during company meetings. Your positive communication can help open the door for others to follow your lead.

 

Between 16-25

Your workplace communication is okay, but could use some improvement. You may feel comfortable discussing some matters with some people, but there are instances when you feel that your voice isn’t welcome at the table. When a conflict arises, it is often not dealt with in a direct, open manner.

Next Steps:

Start a dialogue. Begin talking with those you trust about the workplace’s communication issues and develop a plan for improving the current system. Bring your ideas to the HR team and begin a discussion about how to create a more accessible, open workplace. Consider hiring a coach to identify areas for improvement and develop a strategy for solving your company’s communication trouble spots.

 

Above 25

Wow! Your company gets a gold star in communication. Your upper-level management keeps an open-door policy and welcomes feedback. Everyone feels fairly comfortable with each other and people are not afraid to bring forth new ideas, opinions, or reservations. When a conflict arises within a team, it is openly discussed and sorted out.

Next Steps:

Keep up the good work! Identify any areas of improvement that may need to be addressed and create an open dialogue that addresses those issues. Continue to encourage others to share their thoughts, so that everyone feels welcomed and valued.

 

Communication is vital to the success of a business. If your company is struggling in this area, Peer Performance Solutions can help. Contact us today to find out how we can help improve your company’s communication strategy.

 

Get People EXCITED About Your Business

Line Of Business People Listening To Presentation Seated At Glass Boardroom Table

Every company would love to be Apple, with their thousands of loyal customers and lines out the door whenever they put out a new product. The Apple phenomenon is incredible, considering there are plenty of other companies that do what they do (and sometimes do it better and for a cheaper price!). So, how do they drum up so much excitement? How do they motivate people to stand in line for hours to get their hands on the latest Apple offering?

Part of the answer has to do with the years of brand-building Apple has undertaken (and there’s no shortcut for that), but another part of their success comes from extensive research about their audience base and a skillful marketing plan.

Know your customer

Get familiar with your target customers by gathering market intelligence, conducting interviews or surveys, and analyzing data from sales campaigns and website traffic. Observe your competitors and notice what they’re doing effectively and what isn’t working. There are tons of great intelligence-gathering tools out there and PPS can help you get started.

Practice integrity

It’s more important than ever to build a company’s brand around transparency and trustworthiness. With online reviews, social media, and the ability of a news story to travel around the world within minutes, it’s crucial for your company to practice honesty and integrity. Take this principle a step further and actively involve your company in good works. Sponsor charitable events, encourage employees to volunteer in the community, or retrofit your company’s building to be more eco-friendly.

Build your credibility

Showcase your expertise by encouraging customer reviews and displaying testimonials and case studies on your website and literature. According to FirstRain.com, “Assembling reliable testimonials from authoritative sources or speaking to how an expert in the field uses the product can help customers understand that you can back the claims you’re making about the product.” Don’t forget to also show measureable results whenever you can.

Foster brand advocates

Your fans matter! Create a space for customers to advocate your brand through social media or online reviews. Forbes Magazine advises that engaging your company’s followers, encouraging feedback, or offering rewards for social sharing helps foster brand advocates. This kind of customer commitment makes people excited to be a part of your brand.

Let your own excitement shine through

If it wasn’t for the big dreams and perseverance of Apple’s founders, the company would not be what it is today. As thought leader and author Simon Sinek says in his TED Talk, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Let your vision be the centerpiece of your company’s marketing strategy.

Be memorable

What distinguishes your company from the pack? What do you offer that no one else does? What do you do best? Capitalize on your strengths and give your audience a reason to select you. Geoffrey James, contributing editor to Inc.com suggests adding emotion to your campaign to make it resonate with your audience on a more personal level. However you decide to market your company, make sure to keep your core values in sight and remain true to your company’s mission.

Creating excitement around a company takes planning, a clear vision, and a group of people who are enthusiastic and passionate about your company and its goals. Keep in mind that enthusiasm for your company probably won’t generate overnight, but a business that is built on integrity and excellence will likely find its success and maintain it for the long-term.

Let’s talk about creating excitement around your business! Reach out and contact me today.

Thanksgiving All Year

give thanks and be grateful

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. It’s a time to pause and express our gratitude for the things we often take for granted—the people in our lives, the roof over our heads, the food on the table. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget the spirit of Thanksgiving and fall back into old habits. Just a day after Thanksgiving is Black Friday—a day marked by consumerism and incivility—and all the thankfulness and simplicity of the prior day seem to go out the window.

It’s a shame that this tends to happen because grateful people are often successful people. According to author and leadership speaker, David Horsager, “Gratitude is the number one magnetic trait.” People tend to gravitate towards grateful individuals because they are viewed as trustworthy, sincere, and optimistic.

How can you hold onto the spirit of Thanksgiving and maintain a positive, grateful attitude all year round? Here are a few activities that will help you see the positive side of life and express your thankfulness.

  1. Let gratitude be the first thing you think about in the morning.

Your morning mindset can influence your entire day. According to Kate Bratskeir of the Huffington Post, “Adding intention into your morning routine is in your best interest: It sets the tone for the rest of your day, and may ultimately reflect how productive, happy and calm you’ll be for your following waking hours.” Before you get out of bed, think of three things for which you are grateful. Are you grateful for your family? The healthy breakfast you’re about to eat? Warm socks? Employment? The education you received that allows you to read this blog post? Let your three things guide you into the day.

  1. Keep a gratitude journal

Spend a few minutes over lunch jotting down a few things that you’re especially thankful for today. Try to write something every day so that gratitude because a habit. If you’re feeling down, pull out the journal and read some of your past entries—I guarantee they’ll get you smiling again!

  1. Say thank you

Don’t assume that a thank you is implied. Say it out loud. Tell someone you are grateful for their contribution or their positive presence.

  1. Practice simplicity

A big part of gratitude is being thankful for what you have. Do you really need that new pair of shoes or that brand new smartphone? Be grateful for your perfectly good possessions, not captive to the latest trends.

  1. Avoid pessimists

There’s nothing like a persistently pessimistic person to bring down your mood. This year, make a point of avoid toxic influences and, instead, seek out positive, caring individuals who will support you in your mission to embrace gratitude.

Once you establish a “gratitude routine,” you’ll find yourself becoming happier, more sincere, and optimistic. Make gratitude part of your brand and transform your personal and professional life.

 

As Peer Performance Solutions turns one year old, I would like to say THANK YOU to all of those who helped make it a successful year. Your support and encouragement is priceless.

Keep in touch!

Leverage Your Team’s Strengths with Insights Discovery

Teamwork 1

Last week, the Kansas City Royals won their first World Series game in 30 years, and it got me thinking about teamwork. To have a top-notch team like the Royals, you have to have great pitchers, hitters, fielders and base runners. You need a diverse set of talents and excellent communication between all players.

Not so different from a work team, is it?

When you’re part of a professional team, you need a lot of the same attributes as the KC Royals—diversity of skills, great communication, discipline, motivation—but work teams are not hand-selected like professional baseball teams. You might encounter clashing personalities, a lack of understanding, poor communication, or misaligned goals.

How can you work with a team when not everyone is on the same page? Insights® Discovery can help.

Insights® is a science-based program that helps you gain a better understanding of yourself and others by using a simple, four-color model to articulate aspects of your personality. We are all capable of tapping into each of the four colors on the wheel, but the average person typically “leads” with one or two of the four color energies (more on Insights® Discovery HERE).

By giving you and your co-workers the language to talk about and explore your differences and similarities, Insights® helps create understanding and empathy among teammates. It may help explain why Joe is always quiet (he might lead with blue energy and is therefore highly analytical and likes to think over all the data before he speaks) and why Lucy seems abrasive at times (she may lead with red energy and likes to see immediate action).

Insights® also helps teammates appreciate their differences and better understand what roles might be suitable for certain people and unsuitable for others (i.e. those that lead with yellow energy enjoy planning and brainstorming ideas, but usually do not like sitting down with data and analyzing it).

The best teams are diverse groups of people that have an excellent understanding of one another and know how to leverage each other’s talents. You wouldn’t want a catcher playing center field, would you? The same applies to your team.

How can you get started with Insights® Discovery? As an Insights® Licensed Practitioner, I can guide you. Contact me today and let’s talk about making a positive change for you and your entire team.

Leading with Love

Lead with Love and Compassion

It may seem strange to associate leadership with love. Leaders are supposed to be tough, right? Thick-skinned. Fearless. Implacable. That’s what conventional wisdom has taught us, but these traditional views of leadership may be fundamentally flawed. Evidence is mounting that shows that tough leadership only works well in the short-term, while love-based leadership is more effective and sustainable in the long-term.

Ray Williams, leadership development advisor and author of The Leadership Edge, has conducted extensive research on both love-based and fear-based leadership. According to Williams, “Driving, directive, coercive styles of leadership may move people and get results in the short-term, but the dissonance it creates is associated with toxic relationships and emotions such as anger, anxiety, and fear.” Fear might motivate your staff in the immediate future, but a more sustainable leadership model is one based on love.

What does love-based leadership look like?

Love-based leadership means showing genuine care for others, really trying to understand and appreciate your co-workers, and practicing empathy. It also means developing an atmosphere of trust and openness, so that others will not hesitate to approach you with a problem or bring forth an idea. This kind of open communication and mutual respect is what makes people want to get up and go to work in the morning. Doctor Maria Church, author of Love-Based Leadership, says, “Happiness can be directly translated into engagement, productivity, and satisfaction—that is the wide definition of productive work. Likewise, positive affect is associated with multiple positive outcomes including better performance ratings at work, higher salaries, and improved health.”

Keep in mind, workplaces do not transform over night. It takes time to build your leadership brand and establish an atmosphere of empathy, love, and trust. What’s the key to making love the center of your leadership style? Practice compassion every day.

You can start by paying attention to your co-workers and asking them questions. Inquire about their weekend, their family, what they are doing after work. Ask them their thoughts about a current work project or challenge. Get them talking and truly listen to what they have to say. Stop thinking about what you’d like to contribute to the conversation and start focusing on the person in front of you. Intentional listening is one of the keys to developing a good understanding of others.

Take time to learn about and care about someone every day. You’ll find that your leadership brand will naturally evolve into one based on love and genuine compassion. Remember, a workplace that is open, compassionate, and healthy starts with one loving leader at a time. Be that leader.

 

Like what you’re reading? Get in touch!