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Archive for December, 2018


Focus on Results

Focus is necessary if you want to excel in any activity, be positively productive, and achieve the results you need, but focusing at work can be challenging. Here are some tips to make focusing easier.

  • Be proactive about interruptions. When you are interrupted, it takes up to 20 minutes to regain your focus. Be assertive when someone tries to interrupt you. Tell them politely that you cannot be disturbed now and will contact them at a specific, later time. If necessary, move to an unoccupied office or conference room and close the door. See my blog post Take Charge of Interruptions.
  • Be prepared to work. Set an appointment on your calendar to work on a critical activity and add a 15-minute notification. When you hear the notification, immediately stop what you are doing and gather everything you will need for the scheduled activity. Turn on your voicemail messaging and out-of-office email responder, stating when you will be available to reply. At the appointed time, focus solely on the scheduled activity without interruption
  • Take breaks. Intense focus is good for only about 50 to 60 minutes before it is depleted. Set a timer to remind you to stop working and move for about 5 minutes. Get out of the office, stretch, grab a snack or drink. When you return to your desk, you will be ready for another round of focused activity.

The ability to focus is a critical factor in being positively productive and getting things done. Practice focusing for a set amount of time each day, and you will see dramatic results in what you achieve.


Happy Holidays!

I wish you, your family and your employees a happy, healthy, prosperous holiday season and new year!



Brush Up Your Leadership Skills in 2019

Improving leadership skills should be an ongoing activity since by devoting time to enhance your skills, you improve your career potential. Remember to develop the leadership skills of your staff, too. As we move into 2019, consider starting a book club where every team member reads and discusses a book or listens to an audio, YouTube video, or podcast series. Consider offering or taking a training program that improves key leadership skills for both you and your staff.

Here are some key skills to focus on in the coming year.

  • Emotional intelligence. Leadership isn’t commanding others; it’s inspiring them to achieve more than they thought possible. Emotional intelligence helps you create a supportive, encouraging environment so that others are eager to follow and emulate you.
  • Listening and assertiveness are key skills that serve you in all aspects of your life, but they are especially important for effective leadership. See my blog post Reduce Barriers to Listening.
  • Decision making. People look to leaders when hard decisions need to be made. Honing this skill enables you to be a more effective risk taker, to look for and apply creative solutions, and to lead your organization in the right direction.
  • Team building. Teams are the lifeblood of the organization, producing the results needed for success. The ability to form, manage, and motivate teams can help you get the results you need. (Look for my newest program “Building High-Performance Teams” in 2019!)
  • Like it or hate it, networking is a major factor in long-term career success. Whom you know—and who knows you—can expand your pool of resources for finding answers to questions, gaining advice from peers and other experts, and discovering advancement opportunities. See my blog post Networking Made Easy.

Developing leadership skills is a year-round activity, and I can help you with several programs that focus on different aspects of leadership. See them all at


Leading Remote Employees

If you’re like many managers, some of your staff are virtual, working from remote locations that may not be easily accessible for in-person communication or hands-on management. Data from Global Workplace Analytics show that the number of employees working from home has grown by 140% since 2005. A 2017 Gallup study reported that 43% of Americans spend at least some time working remotely—either at home or at distant locations. Even if you don’t currently have remote employees, it’s probable that you will in the not-too-distant future. As Boomers leave, their ranks will be filled with Generations X, Y, and Z—employees who value work-life balance. This means that flexibility will become the new norm. Here are some guidelines for managing remote employees.

  • Set performance expectations. Both you and the employee must clearly understand what needs to be delivered, how results will be measured, and how much authority they have to make decisions.
  • Empower employees.Show that you trust them to produce results by letting them act independently and providing resources and support, as needed.
  • Establish lines of communication.Based on your company’s policies regarding virtual communication, privacy, and confidentiality, consider texting for quick communication and questions. Outlook rules and Gmail filters let you set up inboxes for remote staff that bypass the regular email inbox.
  • Brush up your virtual meeting management skills. Set up regular check-in meetings with remote staff and send an agenda before the meeting that includes topics, speakers, and allotted time. Make sure the technology you are using works on remote desktops. Ask participants to mute their speakers to eliminate random background noise and have everyone identify themselves before they speak.
  • Recognize and reward. Since remote employees often feel disenfranchised from their peers in the office, it’s important to make them feel valued and important. Make sure you recognize accomplishments and freely pass out rewards to remote staff. When promotional opportunities arise, look beyond the staff in front of you to those working at a distance.

Don’t let remote staff stay gone too long. Regularly bring them in to meet in person and to strengthen team bonds. This helps you deepen your relationship with them, lets you see how they are developing, and shows you what they need to continue to excel.



What You Don’t Say Is Important

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words.”  When it comes to effective communication, your body language and voice carry more weight and have more meaning than the words you use. They can make or break your communication.

As soon as you start to speak, your listener is sizing you up. Your facial expression, your gestures, and your tone of voice create an impression that communicates many things—your trustworthiness, your expertise, your confidence, and so on. All of this is measured in just a few seconds, so you must use non-verbal communication to capture their attention. Here are some tips to improve what your body is saying.

  • Communicate involvement by leaning forward and slightly tilting your head to one side.
  • Relax your facial muscles and smile genuinely. Just separating your lips a bit softens your expression and makes you look friendly and approachable.
  • Match your pace of speaking to the listener. If they speak very quickly, and you don’t, you must speed up and vice versa. The more closely you match their pace, the more comfortable they will be with you.
  • Avoid walking around aimlessly when speaking since it makes you seem nervous or uncertain; just stand in one place.

Your body speaks louder than your words, so use your body language to communicate credibility and congruence. See my program, “Getting Results through Influence and Persuasion” for tools to be a more effective communicator.