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Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Improve Your Professionalism

Continuous learning is necessary for a successful career, to become a valued employee, and to enhance your professionalism. Here are four strategies to focus on this year.

  1. Enhance a skill you’re good at. Sometimes we get complacent about what we do well and don’t think about becoming even stronger in this skill. Like any muscle, your areas of strength need to be worked and improved to become even stronger. Choose one skill that you’re good at and set a goal to deepen this skill by taking a class, reading a book, or listening to an audio. 
  2. Strengthen an area of weakness. Where do you need improvement? Focus on an area that will do the most for your career. For example, many people are afraid to speak in public, but this skill is necessary if you aspire to advancement or to a leadership role. Join Toastmasters, take a class in public speaking, or hire a coach to help you.
  3. Network inside your company. Networking is invaluable for long-term success. Who you know and who knows you can open doors to opportunities that you may not otherwise discover. Each month, meet at least two new people in your organization and get together with someone you already know for lunch or coffee and reconnect with them. See my blog post Network within Your Own Organization for more information. 
  4. Join professional organizations. Join and become active in professional organizations to enhance your reputation and demonstrate your abilities outside your company. When you become known as an expert in your field, you burnish your reputation and open the door to opportunities for advancement.

Improving your skills is a career-long activity. Set an intention to continue to learn and grow in order to remain competitive and enrich what you have to offer your organization.


Coach for Results

Coaching is a valuable tool that does more than correct or improve the performance of your employees. It demonstrates your commitment to their careers and shows them that you are willing to invest time and effort to help them improve. 

  • Create a safe environment. Let your employees know that during coaching sessions, they are free to communicate what is on their mind and what may be challenging for them. Be clear that anything discussed in the coaching session is confidential. Be responsive and demonstrate emotional intelligence.
  • Communicate and collaborate. Ask employees their opinions about how and where they could improve to be more positively productive. They are closer to their jobs than you are and may come up with ideas you hadn’t considered. Listen to what they say and offer guidance and advice.
  • Set a plan of action. Decide on a plan of action and suggest tools the employee can use to improve. Research training opportunities within and outside your organization and support the employee by giving them the necessary time and resources to learn and grow.

There is an added bonus to effective coaching. You and your team get to know each other better! You learn what motivates them and what they aspire to, and they learn that they can trust you to lead them and help them excel.

See my blog post How Accountable Is Your Team? for more information. 


Jumpstart Your Productivity

There are few worse feelings than sitting in front of your computer and drawing a blank about what to do and where to start. Sometimes this arises when you have a long list of tasks, deadlines, and stuff that needs to be handled. Other times, your creative juices just won’t flow. Then there are those huge projects that are so unwieldy, you don’t know where to start. When this happens, here are some tips to get you out of neutral and into drive.

  • Review your priorities. You can get so caught up in daily minutiae that you lose sight of the overarching goals that you and your team need to achieve. Take a step back and re-evaluate your top priorities to clear away the fog and stay focused on the most important tasks.
  • Start anywhere. Many large tasks do not require you to start at the beginning. Decide where you can make the most progress and jump in. The sheer act of starting will give you momentum so you can tackle the tough parts later.
  • Get a second opinion. Ask someone to help you figure out what comes first. When you are too close to a situation, when you are in overwhelm with what seems like too much to do, a second opinion can give you needed perspective.
  • Get and stay organized. Does your workspace contribute to productivity or detract from it? Stacks of paper on your desktop or dozens of open files on your computer can lead to confusion and stifle productivity. If this is the case, take some time to put things in order. 
  • Apply the Pareto Principle. I teach this in my GO System. The principle states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your activities. Identify the tasks in the 20% and focus on those first. See my blog post How to Use the Pareto Principle for Productivity at Work for more information about this powerful tool.

Are you stuck? Get unstuck and into action by employing one of these tools and become positively productive


Do Your Employees Have What It Takes to Lead?

Developing your team is an important part of being a manager and leader. When you effectively identify and cultivate the leadership skills of your team, you strengthen your team’s ability to achieve the results you need. What do you look for in evaluating the leadership potential of team members? Here are some things to consider.

  • Relationship skills. Leaders understand how to get along with many people and create mutually beneficial relationships. Look for employees with strong empathy skills and the ability to see past personalities to focus on the issues.
  • Communication skills. Leaders must be able to effectively communicate with a wide range of people up, down, across, inside, and outside the organization. Look for demonstrations of professional speaking and writing skills among your employees.
  • Decision-making skills. Leaders are confronted with tough situations and must make savvy, well-conceived decisions. In addition to being able to determine and analyze risks and potential consequences, look for employees who take responsibility for making considered decisions and acting on them.

There are many more skills that go into making a leader. Check out our website for our leadership courses.


Clean Out Your In-box

With the start of a new year, it’s time to get rid of e-mail clutter—all those old, completed e-mails that are lingering in your in-box.  Here’s a quick system to clean out your in-box and start 2021 fresh.

Start by creating an e-mail folder labeled, “Pre-2021” and move all completed e-mails into this folder. Take a few minutes each day to go through these e-mails and file them into appropriately labeled folders or trash them. 

Now the only e-mails left in your in-box are those you haven’t completed. Sort them from recent to oldest and start with the most recent e-mails. Read them and do what is required then file them away or trash them. If you have to delegate the e-mail or an action to someone, do so. If you need more information or cannot complete the e-mail, take whatever action is required and then move the e-mail into a folder labeled, “Follow Up.” 

Pretty soon your in-box will be empty. You can use this same system for incoming e-mail, too. 

Need more help with e-mail? Check out my Writing and Managing E-mail workshop


Shhhh! Listen!

How often have you thought you were listening to someone only to find yourself asking them to repeat what they said? It’s not uncommon! According to William James, American philosopher and psychologist, the mind can hold a single thought for about four seconds. Even if you think you’re listening, your mind has probably wandered. So how do you truly listen? Here are some tips.

  • Focus on the other person. Stop what you’re working on and pay attention to what they are saying.
  • Be aware of the other person’s body language. Most of a communication is non-verbal. Watch the person’s gestures and facial expressions to help you understand the entire communication and what’s not being said.
  • Communicate listening. You can show you are listening by leaning toward the person and cocking your head slightly. Repeat key words they have used and ask questions for clarification.
  • Summarize what you heard before responding. Before jumping in with a response, make sure you have correctly heard and interpreted what the person said. 

Listening to someone with full attention is one of the highest compliments you can pay someone, especially in our frantic, hurry-up business day. It’s also positively productive since you don’t need people to repeat what they have said.

For more information, check out my blog post Three Key Listening Skills.


Happy New Year!

Wow! What a year! I’m sure we will all remember this one. I wish you all good health, much happiness and a year full of blessings. Cheers to 2021!


Merry Christmas

Sending warm greetings and best wishes for a safe, healthy, joyful Christmas!


Manage Stakeholders

Every project has stakeholders–people who have a vested interest in the project either succeeding or failing. A critical mistake in project management is failing to communicate regularly with your stakeholders. Here are some tips to help you. 

  • Identify your stakeholders and what you need from each. Consider people who will be affected by the project, who can influence the outcome, and who can advocate for the project.
  • Prioritize stakeholders from high to low priority. High priority stakeholders have power and/or influence over the project and are key to its success. 
  • Decide who on the project team will have responsibility for managing stakeholders since you may only have the bandwidth to manage the high priority ones. Match project team members with lower priority stakeholders. 
  • Meet with each stakeholder to go over the project and its objectives, discuss their expectations for the project, and learn their preference for status updates–frequency, mode of communication, and so on. Introduce the member of the project team who will be the stakeholder’s primary contact if it isn’t you. 
  • Make sure team members understand when and how to communicate with their assigned stakeholders and set up a schedule of status reports to you on how the process is going. Immediately take action if you see a problem so it doesn’t grow into an obstacle for the project or jeopardize the outcome.

A stakeholder plan can build positive, productive relationships with key stakeholders and help you manage their expectations about outcomes. Keep in mind that this is an ongoing, critical part of your project and must be controlled to ensure a good result.


Grow Your Team in 2021

One of your most important responsibilities as a manager and leader is the development of your team. When you provide career guidance, training programs, and opportunities for growth, you strengthen your team and improve their ability to be positively productive. As we move into a new year, invest some time and thought into where and how you can develop each team member. 

  • Identify each employee’s strongest and weakest skills. You want to enhance areas where they are proficient and strengthen areas where they need improvement. 
  • Research the training resources offered by your HR department and what options you can pursue on your own.
  • Create a list of recommendations for the employee’s development in 2021. Include classroom (if possible) or virtual training and e-training programs, books, audios, and other types of media for professional development. 
  • Meet with each employees either virtually or in person to discuss your recommendations, and get input from them. 
  • Put together a final development plan and meet with the employee one more time to motivate them and encourage them to take action on the plan. 
  • Periodically review the plan with the employee and make adjustments as necessary. 

Remember that delegation is one of the most powerful tools you have to develop your employees. Some managers avoid delegation because they think it takes too much time, and it’s faster if they do the task themselves. If you have avoided delegating tasks to your team, change how you think about it. The process is an investment of your time that will save time later.