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Archive for March, 2019


Communicating with Different Generations

How each generation prefers to communicate is one of the major areas of conflict in the workplace. How well you communicate among generations and how well you teach generations to communicate with each other are major factors in creating effective, productive cross-generational teams. The key to success is knowing the communication preferences for each generation and using a variety of media to reach your entire team. Here are some quick tips you can use to improve communication with different generations.

Traditionals (1922-1943/46)

  • Use high touch, not high tech.Many Traditionals are uncomfortable with high-tech communication media and distrust messages delivered this way. They prefer to communicate in person—one-on-one, at meetings where everyone is present in a room.

Baby Boomers (1943-1964)

  • Keep communication two-way. Communication is a shared activity and can come from anyone, anywhere. From face-to-face meetings to coffee shops, Boomers like to interact, express their opinions, and share their expertise.

Gen X (1964-1980)

  • Send it via email and text.Gen Xs prefer email and instant messaging to in-person meetings, which are a “waste of time.” As long as the result is achieved, why meet?

Gen Y (1980-1995)

  • High tech, not high touch. Keep communication short, fast, and informal.Instant messaging, texting, email, social media are all preferred communication media. Why talk when you can type?

Gen Z (1995-2010)

  • High tech, social media.  They absorb information quickly.  They want all types of feedback – positive and negative – as along as it gives them what they need to improve and move forward.

Understanding each generation’s attitudes about communication can help lessen differences and prevent misunderstandings. Think about the people you work with and your customers from each of these generations and decide how you can communicate with them more effectively.


How to Take Good Meeting Notes

The ability to take clear, effective notes at meetings is important for productivity and professionalism. You have to listen for key messages, capture them quickly, and be able to translate the notes later! Here are some tips to help you improve note taking.

  • Go Old School. While some people prefer to take notes on an tablet, laptop, or smartphone, these devices create a separation between you and the speaker. It gives the impression that you are working on other things rather than participating in the meeting. Also, it can be hard to capture notes on a device if someone is speaking quickly since they will speak faster than you can type.

Many experts agree that using an old-fashioned pen and paper for note taking is accepted practice—at least for now! If you do use electronic devices, make sure you turn off incoming alerts.

  • Use Shorthand. Create your own shorthand or learn standard shorthand. Those who frequently take notes, especially notes for meeting minutes, use shorthand. This includes visual note taking, such as drawing an arrow from a task to the name of someone at the meeting. You can also use color coding, for example assign a color to each person and code tasks by the person’s assigned color code: “Task A—Red, Task-B—Green.”
  • Capture Key Points.Start before the meeting by checking the agenda and set up your notes with a new page for each agenda item. Place the agenda topic at the top of the page and fill in important details as each item comes up. Listen for key messages and note them as briefly as possible on the appropriate page.
  • Write Up Your Notes ASAP. As soon as possible after the meeting ends, write up your notes while they are fresh in your memory.

Taking good notes is a useful skill at every level of your career and helps you become more positively productive.


Remember to Remember

Short-term memory is how the brain stores small pieces of information that you need to access right away, like someone’s name or title. According to experts, the maximum you can store in short-term memory and have immediate access to is about seven pieces of information. Long-term memory, in the other hand, stores the information you don’t need right away, and long-term memory has much greater capacity than short-term memory.

Keeping your brain healthy with physical activity, puzzle solving, eating right, sleeping well, and improving your general well-being can improve your memory, and so can these tips.

  • Practice focusing more and multi-tasking less. Paying attention helps your brain handle information more efficiently. If you need to memorize something or remember key points for a speech or report, focus completely on that activity to improve your ability to remember it later.
  • Break down large pieces of information into smaller sets of items. Remember a speech by organizing key points into sets of three or four related points. Learn each set one at a time. When you have learned three sets, practice them until you can easily remember them, and then tackle the next three sets.
  • Engage your senses to imprint the memory. When you meet someone, shake their hand, say their name aloud, deliberately see something significant about their appearance, and ask them a question. This involves several of your senses and will improve your ability to remember the person later.

Improving one’s memory is not just for older people. Anyone can use these tips to keep their brains sharp!



Simple Tools for Greater Productivity

“Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.”         Oscar Wilde

Keeping things simple is a good way to be organized and positively productive. Here are some simple productivity tools to implement:

  • Set priorities and take action to support your most important goals each day.
  • Learn to delegate effectively. When you delegate, you gain time to focus on your most important activities, and you have an opportunity to develop employees. See my blog post Delegate for Results.
  • Stop multi-tasking. Instead focus on a single task and give it all you’ve got until it’s completed. Focusing is one of the most important skills you can use to get things done better, faster, and easier.
  • Organize your workspace for productivity. Keep items you use daily within arm’s reach of your computer and file away documents as you finish with them.
  • Optimize technology tools, so they fully support you and your team and improve productivity.
  • Stay fit and healthy to be as productive as possible. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, stay hydrated, and make time for non-work activities.
  • Start the day with planning the night before. See my blog post An Easy Morning Starts the Night Before for some tips.

Choose one of these tips, focus on it, and make it a habit—then add another and another to help simplify your work and be more positively productive!




Don’t Run Away from Conflict!

No one likes conflict, especially with team members or coworkers. When a conflict arises, many people avoid handling it, and sometimes, that is the best way to go. Some conflicts resolve themselves with time, and some are related to short-term stresses that go away when the stress does. While avoidance may work in the short term, it is not a good solution for conflicts that persist or that escalate.

Good leaders and managers know when to let a conflict resolve itself and when they need to step in. One tactic for addressing conflict is to use your positional power to resolve it. While this can work, it should be used only when absolutely necessary, such as in matters of safety or security or if tempers are raging and people need time to settle down. As a long-term solution, it doesn’t work. Unless the source of the conflict is dealt with, it can simmer and eventually boil over.

Addressing conflict requires you to have a conversation with everyone involved to discover the underlying cause of the conflict and determine how to handle it. Require people to be objective and refrain from making personal or derogatory comments. Focus them on behaviors, explain how the conflict is harming the team’s ability to be positively productive, and state the need to resolve the situation.

Bring people together for a facilitated conversation to focus everyone on a common goal. Reframe the situation and encourage them to find solutions that eliminate the conflict and that everyone finds acceptable.

Handling conflict requires resilience and strong communication skills, and it is a hallmark of professionalism. See my blog post Build Resilience for more information.