A recent survey found that 66% of workers in the US struggle with finding the right work/life balance – and they aren’t all parents. With our 24/7 culture, even employees without children find it challenging to keep work and home priorities in reasonable proportions. The real issue isn’t the continual balancing act between work and home; rather, it is the fact you don't know what the balance is all about. When you are clear about what's important to you, choices are easier to make, and you are more content with your decisions. In contrast, when you aren't clear and find yourself struggling with decisions about where to spend your time and energy, your feelings of stress and guilt go up and your energy plummets. To get back more energy and to counter the stress and guilt of where to focus, re-frame the idea finding “work/life balance” by harmonizing your personal identity and purpose with your current employment.
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It’s easy to lose focus on the fact that your team’s work is part of a strategic plan to accomplish the company’s big picture vision and mission. You can get so caught up your own focus and tasks that you assume everyone else is automatically aware of how their work connects to the company vision and mission. Consequently, your team and its work becomes mundane, reactive and uninspired. This kind of atmosphere can lead to higher turnover and lower productivity and engagement. This disconnect between vision/mission and daily work happens in part because you forget that leading others requires you to continually make the connection between their work and the company’s vision, purpose, and mission. Also, you might be making assumptions that others can read your mind and that they know why they've been asked to complete various tasks. People are not mind readers. This is why you must be transparent, explicit, and quite frankly, redundant. After all, it’s said that people don’t really “get” something until they’ve heard it 7 times. When you don't share the vision and overall outcome with your team for a project or individual assignment, you’ll likely experience less cooperation between team members because they will focus only on their piece. Your team doesn't volunteer their perspectives or participate in problem solving because they can only see as far the tip of their current task -- they don't see the bigger picture or the final aspiration. When your team is this myopic, they can become defensive when mistakes happen and look for someone else to blame. After all, they did what they were assigned. Daily work happens routinely and re-actively; direct reports are uninspired; and your team dreads meetings because they are boring. Even one-on-ones become simple updates with little discussion or input from your employees.
How To Use Vision to Re-Inspire and Engage Your TeamTo inspire your team and to increase their engagement in their work, use these tips to re-connect daily work to the big picture vision and mission:
- Communicate the vision and mission regularly. At the start of a project, during meetings, or when processing through mistakes or failures, make a brief introductory statement to remind everyone involved why you’re working on what you’re working on and what overall end results you’re headed for. Embrace any chance you get to remind your team of the big picture for why your company exists.
- Connect the dots from general vision to daily work. When assigning work to your team, describe the general outcome desired and why this outcome impacts the world, your customers, the team, etc. Then describe how the team’s work is meant to contribute to moving the company in that direction. Doing this provides your opportunity to discuss which aspects of the work are critical along with the timing of the work to reach milestones.
Do you feel like you’re not getting the respect you deserve with your colleagues? Here are 6 suggestions for enhancing your credibility in meetings:
1. You don’t pre-paveFind out what people are thinking about the agenda items ahead of time and start to plant seeds for your point of view on important topics. A quick check in with others a day or two before the meeting is all it usually takes.
2. You arrive “late” or leave “early”If you are only showing up for the actual meeting, you might be missing out on an opportunity to strengthen relationships with others. Arrive about 10 minutes early to chat and network with others when you can talk about non-work-related topics. Avoid leaving right at the end of meeting and consider staying for the “after-party” to wrap up conversations, build rapport with others, or gather more information on an important topic discussed during the meeting.
3. You act like a personal assistant instead of a colleagueThis one is especially for the ladies: You teach people how to treat you! Once in a while it’s fine to do little things for others, but don’t get in the habit of always fetching beverages for others, making copies, or taking notes. Encourage your peers to rotate these duties if they are regularly required at your meetings.
4. You back down when interruptedPeople in management can often be very fast-moving, driven, and impatient. That means, some are in the habit of interrupting and talking over others to make a point. If this happens to you, don’t back down. Instead, calmly and directly callout the interruption and continue on. Also, be sure to speak up for others when someone interrupts them.
5. You don’t confidently own your ideas and positionsHave you ever offered a comment or idea that was met with silence, then minutes later someone else re-asserts your idea as though it’s their own? When that happens to you, calmly call attention to the fact that you previously said the same thing, and use humor if appropriate to make your point. For example, you can say, “That is a great idea, and I think it was just as great a few minutes ago when I said it.” Also, another way to show your confidence is to avoid backing down when challenged. Instead, realize that many of the personalities in your meeting are forthright and maybe even skeptical. Now worries. Calmly assert your position and provide back-up rationale to support it.
6. You use too many wordsAvoid thinking aloud or appearing to ramble. Make sure you state your point up front then provide pertinent supporting information to substantiate it. Adapt these suggestions to the norms in your workplace regarding meeting expectations. Then, regardless of how others treat you, remain calm and collected, don’t be shy about asking questions to understand issues better, and stand your ground when you need to. WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with women in leadership who want to have more influence inside their organizations, by gaining greater focus, self-awareness, and impact with their teams. Learn more at: firebrandconsultingllc.com.
Early in your career, your idea of being a good communicator might have been making cogent arguments and clearly expressing yourself verbally and in writing. This would prove your capability. But those things, while very important, are not the keys to becoming really great at communication. With experience and more confidence in yourself, you gradually discover that communication is less about how you express yourself and more about how deeply you listen to others. Listening allows you to focus on what is important to others. In turn, you can then tailor your communication to them to find common ground or to respond appropriately. Listening requires that you move beyond merely hearing the words expressed by others. Instead it requires that you tune into communication aspects other than words. Like the insight tied to your “3rd Eye”, it’s as if your physical ears are tuned to the words used and your “3rd ear” is tuned to a deeper level. Use your “3rd ear” to listen for one or all of the following to deepen your listening:
Commitments, Aspirations, Point Of View, InterestsWhat is important to this person that they would put whatever it took into accomplishing, preserving, exemplifying, etc.? What’s their vantage point?
Emotions, Fear or DisappointmentsBased on tone of voice, word choice, and facial expressions, what is the overriding feeling this person is experiencing and what does that tell you? What might they regret or want to avoid?
Values or PrioritiesFor which principle(s) are they taking a stand? What’s important to them?
AnalogiesAre they using similes, metaphors, or other comparisons? How can these analogies apply to the way forward?
The Crux of the MatterWhat is at the heart of their message that they might not have put into words?
ImpactsHow did you or someone else impact them? Did it help or hinder them in their pursuit?
How to Help or ServeUnderneath it all, are they asking for or do they want/need something from you?
Simply Hold SpaceSometimes, others just need a witness as they wrestle with a conundrum or to clarify their own thinking. You don't really need to DO anything. Your presence alone is enough. Next time, you’re listening to someone, practice zeroing in on one of these areas. What do you hear? How does it add to their words and your understanding? WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with leaders who want to confidently become the leaders they are meant to be while maximizing the “people side” of business. Learn more at: firebrandconsultingllc.com.
When was the last time you got out of your "comfort zone"? Here's a story, from storyteller Michael Meade, about the fact that seeking safety might be costing you something: On the ancient savannas life pours forth in the form of teeming, feeding herds. Nearby, lions wait in anticipation of the hunt. They send the oldest and weakest member of the pride away from the hunting pack. Having lost most of its teeth, ITS ROAR IS FAR GREATER THAN ITS ABILITY TO BITE. The old one goes off and settles in the grass across from where the hungry lions wait. As the herds enter the area between the hunting pack and the old lion, the old lion begins to roar mightily. Upon hearing the fearful roar most of the herd turn and flee from the source of the fear. They run wildly in the opposite direction. Of course, they run right to where the strongest lions of the group wait in the tall grass for dinner to arrive. “RUN TOWARDS THE ROAR,” the old people used to tell the young ones. When faced with great danger run towards the roaring, for there you will find some safety and a way through. Sometimes the greatest safety comes from going to where the fear seems to originate. Amidst the roaring of the threatened and troubled world, surprising ways to begin it all again may wait to be found.
Michael Meade, Excerpted from his book, The World Behind the WorldWhat you can take away from this story:
1. Running towards what appears “safe” can be deceiving and lead to its own kind of trouble.
2. Run towards what scares you.Look for those situations and circumstances that scare the crap out of you. You will never know your true talents and gifts if you don’t face what you fear to test yourself.
3. Things almost always seem worse in your head than they turn out to be.Once you identify those fears, move beyond your comfort zone to face them. What you originally feared could end up being an elderly, toothless lion that can’t hurt you and is only a distraction.
4. By facing your fears, you find out what you can truly do and what’s possible.And with each successive time you venture out toward a “scary” adventure, you’ll find that you are safe and capable. At the worst, you might fail but you’ll find out where you stand and what you have to learn. Then, at least you can figure out a way through to what you want. And in all likelihood, you’ll live to venture out another day. Which current “roar” are you avoiding? How might you test it to see if it really has teeth? WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with leaders who want to confidently become the leaders they are meant to be while maximizing the “people side” of business. Learn more at: firebrandconsultingllc.com.
Is it difficult for you to find the right balance between being task-focused and relationship-focused? Is it simply challenging to figure out how “nice” you need to be at work? Do you ever wonder what it really means to be a good team player? If you’ve never had these dilemmas, you’re lucky. Read no further. For the rest of you, making sense of the mixed messages you receive as a woman in the workplace can be distracting and down right maddening. Mixed feedback about how you’re supposed to act can make you hesitate and even hide behind an inauthentic persona. This can keep you from realizing your full potential or embracing your leadership role. The timeless mythological story of Psyche’s Four Tasks provides guidance.