Recently I did some 360 interviews for a client named Heather. She was experiencing high turnover in her team and knew she was too harsh and demanding. What I discovered in the interviews is that her team loved her! They consistently said things like, “Oh yeah. When we are at off-sites and Heather is relaxed, she is amazing! So much fun! If she could only be like that more of the time.” Despite being identified as the future of her organization, Heather was so anxious and worried about her goals and performance that she spent most of her time focused on what still had to be done, and what her team wasn’t getting right. She’d lost them.
We focused on letting “Off-site Heather” show up more consistently in her daily work. She shared with her team that she was working on changing her intense behavior. She practiced smiling more and using her sense of humor, saying things like, “Uh oh, here comes the General. Better take a moment and step back.” In those step back moments, she and the team said one or two things that were going well, then moved on to discussing the work at hand.
We also worked on having Heather feel more confident and less defensive. She spent time writing down her wins and learnings. She also spent some time writing down what she feared might go wrong. Just to get it out of her system.
So. Much. Better. Remember, her team wanted her to be fun more of the time, not all of the time. Her efforts meant so much to them. They learned not to take her intense moments personally, and those moments shifted to how much she cared about their collective success. With that, they were much more willing to roll up their sleeves and collaborate with her.
Being real doesn’t have to be weird or end in a pile of public tears. Being real is different for everyone, but here are a few things to get you started:
- Smile more;
- Share about your tough weekend;
- Apologize! If you overreacted or were unprofessional, say you’re sorry;
- If you need alone time or a break, say so. It tells the team you are real and lets them stop wondering why you look unhappy or dissatisfied;
- Write down the stuff that you are afraid of/worried about, so it stops derailing you.
If you want to learn about how you, or one of your managers, can connect better with direct reports, click here to schedule a complimentary 30-minute strategy session.
Again and again, managers tell me that they want their teams to work more independently. They want to stop herding cats and micro-managing. They want to actually leave at 5:00! Or reasonably close to it.
If you don’t take the time to figure out what they want, you will lose them. You will discover too late, that they are faking it.
How do you learn what really motivates your managers?
- Asking them is a great place to start. And don’t judge what they want from your lens. Remember times have changed. And, it’s not the same for everyone.
- Become aware of what they are good at. Compliment them when you see them using those skills.
- Teach them what you know about navigating politics at work.
- And do your best to create a safe space. When failures happen, be patient and focus on their intention. Most of us know when we’ve messed up. Usually, there’s no need to point it out.
Catherine Hayes, Enneagram Facilitator and Author of
Everything’s Going to Be OK – The Housing Projects to Harvard to Freedom
In a career there are moments of re-invention and some are really big. Catherine Hayes was a Harvard Professor of dentistry and something of a workaholic. Watch our Clarity Conversation to learn how a life-changing event led her to re-evaluate, with the help of the Enneagram, and how she uses this innovative tool to help professionals be happier and more effective.
Click Catherine’s photo to access this week’s Clarity Conversation:
The Happiness Advantage
Last Monday I got to see Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, speak live. He is so funny, so smart and his work is fascinating. Here’s a study his team did that I love.
When an individual looks at a mountain peak, they will report that the peak has a steeper pitch and looks more difficult to climb. When a person has just one other person standing next to them, they will report that peak as being less steep, easier to climb. It turns out that to be more optimistic, work is the perfect place to start. When groups of us work together, we can measurable shift our optimism, creativity and productivity. It is amazing stuff.
Here’s an exercise. Before your next meeting (let’s assume 10 people or fewer), take 90 seconds total for each person to say one thing they are grateful for that another team member did in the past week. Do it round robin, so that everyone gives and gets one acknowledgment. Specificity and recency are important. One of the teams I worked with this week did this at the start of their off-site and reported the most productive meeting they’ve ever had.
I hope you pick up this book. I am officially adding it to Claire’s Faves (see my website).
As a former cosmetics professional, a lot of my audience and clients are women. And recently, I’ve become increasingly aware of the challenges that men face when it comes to personal growth and connecting. Today I speak with Ken Mossman, master coach, former fitness trainer, ski instructor and guitar player with a masters degree in fine art. Ken has coached thousands of men on how to connect, increase confidence and be more effective in life and work. Please watch our conversation on men. Whether you are a man or a woman, learn how you can better support the men in your life, and see what we can learn from Ken — it might surprise you.
If you are interested in how Ken’s work can help you or the men in your life, please contact him.
As always, you can learn more about how to use the skills Ken talks about by scheduling a 30-minute Career Clarity session with me. Simply click here.
In my mid-20’s, after spending a few years in the fragrance business, I decided to write a book. I would travel the world, visiting the beautiful and exotic places fragrance ingredients come from: Madagascar, the South of France, the Spice Islands, Italy. The book would have Pulitzer-prize level research and Vogue-worthy photo shoots. It would be the “Eat, Pray, Love” of its generation.
I didn’t share my dream, convinced that someone would steal the idea. And I thought about it all the time. Finally, a friend suggested I write “just one chapter.” So I booked a trip to the Banda Islands, Columbus’s original “Spice Islands” destination. It was super exotic.
I picked clove and nutmeg from trees, I learned about the Dutch rule and Indonesian independence. I drew lots of attention knitting on the airplane (the local craft is batik dyeing), I swam in unbelievable coral reefs, I looked up and saw the Southern Cross instead of the North Star. I spent a balmy evening drinking beer with a group of single-boat sailors who were teachers from Darwin, Australia on academic break.
And I never wrote a single chapter of the book.
Does the “leaky tire” dream sound familiar? It’s the one that keeps you tolerating a reality you don’t like. Like the confusion of managing the two or three people who report to you, the disconnect you have with your boss because you don’t know how to talk to him or her, or the relationships that drain you at work…the Sunday night blues.
Careers have ups and downs, and situations that start out great can shift slowly without your realizing. Being in a rough stretch probably means you need to take stock and make a shift. Before you change jobs, have you learned the tools to manage your boss, your direct reports and your colleagues?
Here’s an exercise I love. Grab a friend or two. Imagine you are meeting in five years, and share where you are as if it’s all happened. What you are working on, who you are working with, your outside of work life, your influence, and position at your job. And have your friend (or two) role-play and add to your story. If they know you, they are likely to add details that matter to you and you hadn’t thought of.
In the end, I loved the trip I had so much more than the one I’d imagined. And when I got home, I started the work of taking stock.
“Let’s face it, work-life balance is a myth,” is something you hear a lot today. And yet the more I work with people, the more I see that they are exhausted and need a little peace. Meditation, yoga, vacation are great remedies for staying in a positive, creative mindset. And, I believe that balance also comes from dealing with the underlying issues:
- Do you know what energizes you so you can craft a career that lets you spend more time doing those things?
- Do you have the communication skills to manage the relationships around you so you can ask for and get what you need?
- Do you take action, even if it’s not perfect, so that you can stop procrastinating and move forward (not just with a big career move, but in the little everyday things)?
What would work (and life) be like if you knew what you bring to the table and had a ton of confidence around it? If you could know what matters most so you can let go of therest and stop feeling overwhelmed. And, if you knew how workplace politics work so you could have a strategy because just putting your nose down and doing the work, isn’t working. Today’s change is accelerating the uncertainty around career, and around life. The sooner you learn to ride the wave, the better.
This is what I do with clients every day. Sometimes I call it “Houdini” leadership because it’s about making small shifts that have a big impact, without changing the situation you’re in. This week, would you think about two things that feel out of synch and are distracting you? What do you need to do to clear that energy?
It feels like every day I speak to someone who says,
“Claire, my job search isn’t going well.” To which I say, “OK, what actions are you taking?”
“I’m applying to jobs online and I never get a response.”
Radio Silence – on the outside. On the inside, I’m going, “Argh!” (bang head against the table) “What am I doing wrong?” (bang again) “I say it over and over and they don’t listen.”
Hearing that the only thing someone is doing is responding to online job postings Drives. Me. Crazy.
A friend sent me this article on resume writing today It makes a few good points about how to get noticed by applicant tracking software. It also says that today people’s careers are much less linear. Problem #1: If your career is less linear, how are you going to create a resume with just the right words to get picked up by a machine? Even a slight “shift” puts you at a disadvantage.
But really the key stat the article ignores is that you are now applying along with an exponentially larger number of people. Here’s the thing about applying online. It’s safe. It’s comfortable. It gives you the sense of having crossed off a To Do. But you are spending precious time and energy on black hole work. This article is a perfect example of how the media’s love of hype distracts us. Hype is great for their click bait and advertising. But please don’t let it be your guide to managing one of your most precious assets — your talent and career.
Phew. I get emotional.
Here is a better way:
- Start with a target. Where do you want to work, and in what job role? Specific is better; don’t be open to anything at this stage.
- Make a list of companies in the industry. (Include your current company. Often the issue is that you are not selling yourself effectively for the promotion you want).
- Figure out who the people are who would be at the right level to hire you.
- Get a list of industry groups that have events where you could meet those people.
- Craft your message and start talking to people. First, your friends and family, then your alumni network, then people you meet at these events and continue outward from there.
- Ask for exploratory meetings – these are not informational; they are you asking to introduce yourself in case they have a job in the future.
If you are feeling a bit stuck in your work, here is a challenge. Pick a target that includes a job title and at least one company. Use the company website or LinkedIn to figure out who works there at a VP or above level. Then, find a few industry groups (hint: these are often in the interests section at the bottom of a LinkedIn profile). Then yes, the next step is having a good message. But just knowing the who’s who is a big step forward.
The internet can be an incredible tool, as long as you don’t let it run the show. If you want to chat about how you are focusing (or not focusing) on your target, please click here for a complimentary session with me.
In March I was invited to deliver a time management workshop to 200 NYPD Captains, Inspectors, Chiefs and Deputy Commissioners. It was an honor and it was fascinating. I learned how much these leaders are juggling — managing their precinct, developing their teams, community relations, and the constant disruption of emergencies.
The day was also moving. I realized that first responders are trained, and hold as a defining value, to serve and respond. And that can come at a cost — to balance, to home life, and to their own recognition, success and growth.
Sound familiar? Yes, these professionals have the same challenges we do, just revved way up. It is really hard to prioritize when that means saying no to someone. Thing is, being in perpetual overwhelm can lead to consistent distraction, which can make you lose focus and be checked out with those you care about most. It can lead to chronic stress that affects mood, energy, weight, and health. It can lead to career goals going off the rails — You do projects well, but don’t have time to celebrate, or get the learning and recognition you deserve. You don’t have time to work on what will grow you as a leader, and progress and promotion become elusive.
Here’s the good news. You can change it with a shift in mindset. Saying no and putting your needs first can be hard, but as the “oxygen mask” instructions on the airplane, you must take care of yourself first even when it feels counterintuitive. And if you can’t put yourself first, get curious about what’s getting in your way. Hint: It’s usually not “them” or the situation.
This week would you give some thought to what matters most to you right now — balance, personal or career growth, or something else. Where do you want to be in a year? What quarterly goals do you need to meet to get there? If those are non-negotiable, what do you need to delegate (or learn to delegate) to get there? What outside instruction might you need to learn. If necessity is the mother of invention, make your needs a necessity, and get inventive.
If you would like to schedule a complimentary call to talk about shifting your mindset, please click here.
This year I’ve been making a push to scale my business. It is also, despite having gotten a flu shot, the sickest winter I’ve had in a long time. Introduce the “lizard brain.” It takes enormous energy to expect a different outcome, when you are trying to do things the way you always have. And yes, that can wear you down.
Take the leader who wants to motivate her team, reduce turnover and have more time to meet her own goals. The voice of resistance, the lizard brain, might say something like, “Really. I mean, can’t they just take it. I didn’t fall apart every time someone told me I’d messed up. And aren’t I being inauthentic if I coddle my people when it’s just not my style?”
Or the professional who wants a promotion, but isn’t willing to identify the key decision makers and work at improving his relationship with those people. Instead, it’s “That’s for self-promoters. My work is solid. I’m just going to put my head down and keep at it.”
Or those of you who would love to feel excited about going to work every day, but tell yourself that work is work. Wanting a sense of purpose and to feel like you are living up to your potential is spoiled and whimsical.
Remember the furies in Greek mythology? They were the townspeople, or the voices, that kept the hero from doing what he or she needed to do. Here’s an exercise to try. Imagine all the doubts are like those furies. See how eager they are. And just put them aside. Head to another space, put gags on them, whatever you need to do. Then think of one thing that makes you uncomfortable, but that you’ve consistently heard can help shift things. Then, like a star athlete, imagine doing that. Feel into what could happen and what is possible. It’s OK if it feels uncomfortable. Once you do that, plan and commit to one time that you will try the new thing. Doesn’t have to be forever; just try it once.
I always love hearing your experiences, so please write once you try it. If you would like to schedule a conversation to chat about the chatter in your head, please click here to schedule a complimentary session with me.