How to Support Your Staff in Challenging Times

If you are like many of my clients, you are looking for how to support your staff in these challenging times. While the times have changed, what motivates and fulfills people is the same. Let’s take a look at what you can do. 

We’re living in an era where we can’t escape headlines — the economy, the climate, war, political divisiveness – or that the pandemic radically changed our way of life. All of it has had an impact on our psyches. People are drained and are having a hard time to keep up in all areas of their lives.  Employers, managers, and team leaders need to recognize that this is absolutely being brought into the workplace.

Last month we talked about how you can lead through anxiety in ways that can reflect positively with your team, because your staff (and clients) likely are struggling with it too.  

The most effective leaders are those who acknowledge the challenges they face — and invite their employees to do the same. 

When times are difficult, the success of any organization comes from how motivated and productive its employees are. And if they’re not, they will likely become minimally engaged, and a business literally can’t survive without it.

Employees need more encouragement, attention and appreciation, to feel valued and like they can make a contribution. How do you get a happy team with increased morale?

Money is not an issue when it’s enough. The real key is in making people feel they have some authority to make decisions, giving them proper training and time frames for the work they are expected to achieve, being clear on the goals and objectives, and are harmoniously connected to those they are working with.

Here’s some tips on how to help your employees rethink how they work and come to feel, engaged, acknowledged and more satisfied in their roles. 

Talk Openly

Explain exactly what you need, by when, and why. Clarifying the context goes a long way to help them see how their contributions matter. This will hone and direct their decision making toward the shared goal.

Involve Them

Each person will be motivated by something different. Discuss what captures their interest and effort. It will be good for you both to know. This will help you assign tasks to match their abilities, with just enough stretch of their comfort zone to keep them alert and learning. Expecting too much or assigning mismatched goals may have filled them with dread and led to under performance. 

And, make sure they hear that what they contributed did matter to the ultimate outcome, especially if they were not involved all the way through. 

Inspire

This is my favorite. Sit them down to tell them how their skills, track record, ease with the team, etc made you choose them for a particular task. Tell them you have every confidence that they will succeed. 

Instill Trust

Within reason, which you need to present clearly, allow them to decide how to run the task or project. Make it theirs. And, let them know you are there if needed.  

Show Appreciation 

Thank them sincerely. Find an opportunity to publicly appreciate them. When there is positive feedback, be sure their managers or teammates know. And make this an equal habit with everyone, so no one gets left out. And when there is team success, be sure to recognize what each person contributed.

Rewards

Praise, especially in front of others is golden, but it can also be appropriate to do something more tangible. Small things, like being entered into an office pool for gift cards, a MVP tee shirt or plaque, being employee of the week or month go a long way. So does a handwritten note of appreciation or recognition from you. Giving them a sought after project next, or greater duties can be a great motivator.

As you work on new ways to support your staff by creating engagement, positive challenges and encouragement, and showing your appreciation and gratitude, remember that using your heart and gut as well as your head will prove invaluable. 

This unparalleled time of change will continue, and creating the new can be exciting if you have the right tools and plan. When you’ve worked courageously with what’s coming up for you and apply what you learn in the workplace, your leadership is better set up to focus, inspire and reward your staff. 

If you’d like support around to how to listen to your staff, appreciate, challenge and reward them, encourage their goals, and show how much you value them, let’s talk.  We’re all in this together.

This New Year Can STILL Be Your Best Yet!

Photo of 2 round loaves of bread on a table with flowers

Even in all the tumult and uncertainty, this new year can still be your best yet.  And those aren’t empty words. What we’ve all been through has its hidden blessings as well as its lessons. This time of year naturally inspires reflection on what has been, and what may lay ahead… That can seem daunting when so much is unknown. It’s hard to even count on what’s happening week to week!

In answer, I posted the first of a two-part Primer. Part one was November’s blog entitled The Time is Ripe for Getting Clear on Priorities. A few simple questions hone in on your true priorities – which may have changed or become clearer due to the challenges of the last 20 months. With those in mind, you establish just a few main achievable goals. Imagine the peace of mind that comes from narrowing it down, and getting clear.

In Part Two, the focus is on making intentional strides toward your goals and priorities, by quarter, month and day. We break it down into manageable bites. It works. You’ll spin your wheels a lot less and instead spend your valuable time and energy where it matters most to YOU. How amazing would that be. Are you in?

If you haven’t done the first part yet, visit November’s blog, then come back here to do Part Two! 

LIFE LIVED BY THE QUARTER

Begin by dividing the calendar year into four 3-month quarters. 

  •     Q1 January-March 
  •     Q2 April-June 
  •     Q3 July-Sept
  •     Q4 Oct-Nov

SIZE UP THE BIG PICTURE

Chose a 12-month calendar that works for you whether a big desktop calendar, a spreadsheet or a digital planning board like Trello or Infinity. It’s good to be able to see the year and quarters at a glance, if possible.

COLORIZE YOUR CATEGORIES

Then think of main categories that take time in your life, WORK, FAMILY/LOVE LIFE, SOCIAL, SPIRITUAL, HEALTH/EXERCISE, and any major PROJECT (from home reno to having a baby) or EVENTS (from concerts to trips). Assign colors to each, picking your favorite for Self Care.

Taking it quarter by quarter, begin to fill in, in the corresponding color:

  1.  WORK SCHEDULE –Start by filling in your work, plus vacation days, related events to create a framework. If you freelance, or pick up extra work as it comes, this is where planning only in 3 month chunks, or monthly/weekly really helps.
  1. MAJOR LIFE EVENTS – Add holidays, trips, weddings, taking kids to college, medical procedures, moving, renovation, having a baby, etc. Those are pretty solid and will make the time in-between stand out more.
  1. SELF CARE – A non-negotiable category! In the remaining white space, plug in Self Care every day. Some days it can be generous, others it might just be 10 minutes. And know you will keep each, like you would a doctor’s appointment or a trip to Italy! In other words, this a priority, and frankly, what makes all the rest work.
  2. SOCIAL – Yes this comes after Self Care, but can be part of it too. This is anything you do regularly, like a book club, lessons, church or volunteer work, which goes into the calendar to work around. If it conflicts with your self care, consider if you’ve committed to too much, or what can be worked around. Save things like concerts or dinner with friends for when they crop up. 

All the rest you fill in by week, day and hour as it comes up during each quarter. But the framework of the most important things are what remain solid, to work around (give or take a social commitment that may change). Reviewing the next quarter every few months gives you great flexibility to roll with the unexpected and keep living the life you want with intention and awareness. 

PRE-QUARTER REVIEW 

PLAN THE COMING QUARTER – Now this is key. The quarter closest in time can be the easiest to foresee in more detail. So a month out from the next quarter, schedule in a half hour to review the quarter you’re in and sketch out the coming quarter. Bring forward anything that is really important. Ask yourself with each thing you put on the calendar, is this a priority, is this within what I value, is this taking me toward my goals. 

Not every dentist appointment or garbage night has to fit that. And each day, recommit to scheduling in self-care.

ADD A LITLE PADDING – Just like we may pad a budget to handle any mishaps, build in a little open time to each week or month for the unexpected to crop up by not overbooking yourself. BONUS: This calendar set up will make it very easy for you to get back on track.

Congratulations on doing amazing work! Whatever you put in writing sets you on a course where you’ll naturally make decisions based on the work you’re doing now, even if you don’t refer to the calendar religiously. Why? Because it plants a seed in you based on your authentic intentions and what you truly value. You will inherently make choices toward that and 12 months from now you’ll see that you still walked the path you set out now. 

This new year can still be your best yet! Welcome a fresh new year as much as a fresh new you. What means most to you will be you top of mind, and the overwhelm of life will be exchanged for very manageable bite size pieces, with the flexibility to handle the unexpected.

The pandemic did us a service by showing us what really matters.  Don’t let that slip away.

If you want support for your planning process, I am happy to help!  Let’s talk and see what what is possible for you.

The Time is Ripe for Getting Clear on Priorities

Trail-Newburyport-Fall-Leaves

As this year is fast coming to a close, the time is ripe for getting clear on priorities. The holidays ahead will bring a lot of joy and add to your already full days. But it also is a really great time to reflect, looking back and then forward to the coming fresh new year.

In today’s tumultuous world, we’re wise to look for any window of respite we can find. You may be thinking that November isn’t a typical time of new beginnings… but it can be. Now is a great time to begin looking ahead to the coming year, and sketch out some goals – both personal and professional.

You may be thinking: Sounds nice, but how do I do that?

I’ve put together a two-part Quarterly Planning Primer to get you started! This is not the average to-do list or work forecast plan. It’s a different approach, based on how we all have changed over the last 20 months. My Primer begins by clarifying what matters most to you this month. Then, my December blog will cover how you can incorporate your priorities regularly, by breaking the year ahead into manageable blocks of time.

This is where we are evolving to, and we need the tools to take us to the top of our game, both in the present and into the future.

IDENTIFY YOUR PRIORITIES

We start with identifying what you value, personally and professionally. It’s good to write this down in a way you can keep it to return to as things shift or are accomplished.

Name the top 5 of these:

  • What you most value
  • People/groups that mean most to you
  • What want to spend your time doing
  • What makes you happy, whether big or small

Now name these top 5:

  • Personal goals at work
  • Goals expected of you at work
  • Rewards from your work
  • Biggest work challenges

If you want to continue along these lines of discovery, I think you’ll find my May blog, How to Transition Toward Your New Work/Life Balance, interesting.

 ASK YOUR HEART AND GUT

I wrote about Heart Intelligence and Gut Intelligence  in my blog series earlier this year. They are super-skills. Science is finding Heart and Gut Intelligence to be as real and calculable as our brain function. We know those times we’ve ignored our body’s cues. The key is to combine what all three have to offer in all aspects of your life.

So look at your answers again, this time tuning in to your body’s signals. How much really feels right? Can’t tell exactly? Here’s a clue: when you read each, do you find you feel happy? Frustrated or discouraged? A little tense somewhere (your throat or jaw, hands or chest)? Tired? Grounded? Ask if your answers are based on what’s expected of you, or what you ‘should’ want, rather than what you really want.

This is just applying a different layer of perspective, to make sure your heart and gut intelligence was involved, not just your head. After looking at it this way, is there anything you’d adapt or change on your lists? Go ahead and do that.

FANTASTIC! Now you have a lot of authentic information to apply.

THE BIG PICTURE 

Now you have a grasp on your PRIORITIES about what makes you happy and what is more obligatory. The big picture focuses on what you truly want in order to actively be pursuing it. So let’s boil it down even more.

What would you love to say you’d accomplished, both personally and professionally, if you could project yourself to 12 months from now?

Answer in three areas, keeping it to 1-2 items each:

  • Work:
  • Self-care:
  • Family/Friends/Love life:

Now, look at the answers using your gut and heart intelligence. What do you feel when you look these over? Do they ring true to you? If not, revisit them and do your best to tweak them. No need to get hung up here, but to begin using these new tools to root out your highest good.

This exercise has narrowed down your most important GOALS for the year ahead!

Now you know your priorities, based on your values, and have formed a short list of the most meaningful goals for yourself, at work, and with family and friends!

In December’s blog, we will talk about planning – how you create the path to these goals and intentionally work toward them each month. Sounds great, you may say, if I only had more time.  We’ll cover that too! We can make time for what’s important if we stop giving it away to what’s not.

It is a a really positive turning point. If you want support for your planning process, I am here to help. It’s easy to reach out to me for a chat and see what can happen! 

Survive the Great Resignation by Looking Within

An unprecedented number of workers are quitting – but what if you aren’t?  Survive the Great Resignation by looking within to find grounding and purpose amid the change.

We don’t hear much about those at the helm (from global companies to small businesses), those who lead teams, or staff who stay in their positions. This blog is for you. 

The Great Resignation is Real

The headlines are splashed with what is being called the Great Resignation. A Microsoft study has concluded that 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their jobs this year. The Harvard Business Review points to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report that 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021 alone. All seek remote work, better pay and benefits, more flexible hours, often with value-driven companies, in an environment that fits their level of safety. Some want their own small business, others are flat out retiring.

The pandemic gave many time to reflect on what matters most to them and how they spend their time. But company owners and leaders may have been forced to focus on keeping afloat in incredible uncertainty. And that’s a recipe for burn out, which may be being felt even more now with the break in the most recent surge.  

You may have decided to stay put, for good reasons. But how do you process how all this has affected you personally? 

Looking Within

Because so much is changing externally, it’s causing internal changes. This is a golden opportunity to look at how you can transform just pushing through every day into something interesting and fulfilling — even invigorating! It’s a time to redesign your definition of success.   

I invite you to contemplate this, and view it as developing a new, very important professional skill. Because it is. Inc.com put it well: “Instead of chasing an antidote to burnout, we need to incorporate well-being and recharging practices into our work and our lives.” 

Everything is really driven by what you value – the rightness you feel about what you’re doing or what feels off when it’s not. And we can’t fit that bill 100% of the time, but our big picture view can certainly make it all work. 

What to Ask Yourself:

1. Have my values changed or deepened?

  • Are those being reflected in the work you are doing?
  • If so, how? In what ways does it present each day?
  • If they’re not, how does it impact you? Can you see ways to bring more meaning into what you’re doing? 

2. How can I change my sense of purpose?

  •  Try on new ways to look at it. A new perspective can be as true as an old one.
  • In August’s blog, I wrote that you are playing a part in a historic change that will set the standard for how businesses run for the next generation! How’s that for perspective? Can you find a fresh or energizing way to embrace that purpose, rather than see it as daunting?
  • Look at what your work asks of you to be considered a success. Then really look deeper at what YOU consider being a success within that. How big is the distance? And what can you do to narrow it?

3. What can I incorporate on a daily basis to sustain me? 

  • What are the triggers that most cause you to stress or feel overloaded? If you can learn to identify those, you can begin to be aware when they happen.
  • Prepare for those by listing way to reset your work habits and flow when things get too jammed up. Where can you fit stress reducing techniques in real time? Plan how to try them out.
  • Write up how you’d onboard a new employee in this new, changing environment. That can open up new avenues for you to find purpose in your own work, and aid you as you work with others.

If you go by your own value fulfillment, you will experience more daily passion and purpose and less burn out. Not only you, but everyone around you, will benefit. That’s potent motivation. 

What if  you’ve looked within but are still unsure how to meet what’s being asked of you with courage, skill and cool?

If you want a partner in this, please reach out to me! Helping people explore this is what I do best.

And why not sign up for my inspirational monthly newsletter?  You’ll receive my newest blog, written on timely, relevant topics, and resources to inspire, feed your spirit, and fill your well – the ultimate in working toward work/life balance.

What is a Courage Coach?

What is a Courage Coach?

You might ask, what is a Courage Coach exactly?

Whenever I talked with my clients, regardless of their industry or title, the topic of courage always came up. Some were just starting out, some were reaching for big goals, others were in the midst of juggling it all, and a few had reached their pinnacle and were looking at what was next. Technical skills, expertise, good relationships and connections all count for a lot, but when you are not certain and everyone is relying on you to be certain you have to dig down deep and figure out the right thing to do. How do you trust your instincts, show up as your authentic self and stay the course?

It takes courage.

I know because I’ve lived it. For a decade I’d worked as an attorney, growing to a senior position at a Fortune 500 company. While it brought many rewards, I began to hear a calling toward other work that became too loud to ignore.

But making that change would be a big one. Leaving the practice of law was a leap of faith. As I embarked on an entirely new path into uncharted territories with no map, I set up my first email as Courage to be a grounding reminder.  It represented what I was doing – leaving behind a secure position that was financially rewarding, in a role that garnered respect, to follow goals and dreams with no net. In addition, there was the unexpected hurdle that not everyone understood why I left.  There was a lot of pressure to go back to being an attorney, so not only starting something new but staying on that road took a lot of courage.

When you think of the word courage, it may conjur up a warrior on a horse with armor, riding on the front lines into battle.  But when it comes to your unique personal situation, courage can display in a variety of ways, and not all are obvious.

What’s your brand of courage?

  • Bold —You can be very much out there, visible, lobbying, breaking down walls.
  • Quiet —Slow and steady, you take deliberate steps , not ruffling feathers but steadfast.
  • Resolute —You may have the ability toto inspire people around you to follow the course to accomplish what you want and how.
  • Tentative — In in the face of uncertainty, you feel the fear and do it anyway

Regardless, in the span of your career and your life you will have to make tough decisions. It takes a lot of courage to stay the course – especially if some may disagree or discourage you.

Where you see challenges, I offer solutions to those challenges. I’ve walked that path less traveled.  I now want to help you do it!

Let’s CONNECT and move on, together!

The Role of Heart Intelligence in Leadership

The Role of Heart Intelligence in Leadership

Leadership. When you think of what it takes, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s education and skills, strategic planning and execution, or the ability to marshal talent and manage teams. And you’d be right… but it also takes courage, vision, empathy, and instinct. Each of those qualities come from one of three sources — the head, the heart or the gut. Those three have been called the Three Brains of Leadership.

Heart Intelligence is an essential part of leadership, especially in these challenging times. And that is more about the person leading than it is about the title. I saw this aspect emerge within my own work and that of my clients, to the point that my focus toward being a Courage Specialist came out of a clear need for it.

“Wise decisions aren’t always analytical.”

Doris Quote Testimonial

The new world that we’re quickly adapting to working within — and the future it’s taking us toward — begs for innovation, original thinking and fresh business models. And those require that we tune into the untapped resources of our heart and gut intelligence rather than solely relying on our rational, strategic brain.

In Asian Cultures, the values are that head and heart are often connected. There are even words for this. In Japanese, it’s called Kokoro; In Chinese it is xīn, where the word for heart and mind are actually one in the same!

Yet in Western society we’ve separated the head from the more instinctual heart and gut, and we’ve done so at our peril. When immersed in the responsibilities of a leadership position, it’s easy to focus on our intellectual resources and yet wise decisions aren’t always analytical. By valuing only our head we are losing access to information that would help us every day.

The awareness of this connection goes far back. Aristotle, a student of Plato and tutor to Alexander the Great, taught a ‘cardiocentric‘ model of human anatomy, where the heart was the true center of human intelligence, not the brain. In our age, science has evidence to back that up. Modern neurologists and scientists have pioneered and furthered the concept of a functional brain in the heart and the higher level of awareness available from it. From these analyses and the work of groups like the HeartMath Institute, we’ve come to know that “the heart has its own nervous system, which actually sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart.”

Really good leaders harness this Heart Intelligence and navigate from intuition with courage and conviction.

ThePerformanceSolution.com summarized this beautifully: “Without the head intelligence, the decision will not have been properly thought through and analyzed. Without the heart intelligence, there will not be sufficient values-driven emotional energy to care enough to act on or prioritize the decision against competing pressures. Without the gut intelligence there will not be sufficient attention to managing risks nor enough willpower to mobilize and execute the decision once challenges arise.”  

In today’s world, especially when you have to make critical decisions, having the ability to access all the three modes is key. It requires a whole new level of self-awareness and self-facilitation. One of the precepts of my work is about reawakening your heart and gut and connecting them to your head. I find helping people to access wisdom and grow their consciousness as they make decisions and carve out new paths for themselves exciting!

If this resonates with you, let’s connect and learn how we can work together on your specific path.

This is the first in a continuing series on this fascinating, cutting-edge topic. Keep an eye out right here for the next post — or sign on to my mailing list to be notified about them, my workshops and more!

This is the first of a three part series on Intelligence to raise awareness of all – from the heart, gut and head. They all work together, and this series is to help you realize you may have only been aware of, or using, using one. My goal is to help you be aware of them all, how you can access each, and work toward balancing how you switch between them based on what kind of wisdom and courage you need to access at any given moment in your endeavors.