In a Summer Slump?

In a Summer Slump?

Summer is here–a time to relax and recharge. But if you’re like many people, you might be experiencing a “summer slump.” It happens to the best.

slumpedSigns are:

You’re not being as productive as you need to be.

You’re not as energized about your work or the business.

You’re feeling stagnant or lethargic.

You’re procrastinating more than usual.

You’re not clear about next steps.

You’re not focused.

The business seems to have slowed down.

Seems like everyone else is out enjoying the sun and sand, but you’re treading water in place.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you feel a slump coming on:

1. Do less. Summer slump is normal. (Doesn’t that make you feel better already?) It’s easy to feel like you’re out of sync with the rest of the work world. Days are longer, so it’s natural to think that you should be “doing more” to fill the time and get more done.  Be okay with doing less–at least temporarily. Sometimes you can actually accomplish more by doing less. Work smarter. The world will keep spinning.

2. Find a new rhythm. With school out and vacation time scheduled, change how you’ve been working. Unplug if you need to. Decide how you’ll work differently during this season. Expect to be thrown off. Trust that you will adjust accordingly.

3. Think about NOTHING. Give yourself permission to take the pressure off of yourself–even if for a few minutes or hours.  For a change, you don’t need to think about how to be better or more productive, more profitable, more competitive, more strategic, etc.  Some executives confess, “I’m tired of thinking!” It’s okay not to think at times. And it will likely help you think better when you do.

4. Get pumped! This is the best way to beat the slump. Get brutally honest with yourself about what you really want now in your life, work or business. Take some time away, if needed, to reflect on what you really care about. What’s the significant impact you truly want to make, now? What would that look like? Complete this sentence:

I would be most happy, rewarded or fulfilled if ___________________________________.

Be around people who have positive energy and who can play a role in helping you make it happen. (They might be out at the beach.)

A slump is a sign. Acknowledge it.

Keep moving, even if it’s at a slower pace.

You’ll be out of it before you know it.

The Key to Being the Best Leader

The Key to Being the Best Leader

Help other people do the same.

When working with leaders and executives, it’s common to have discussion about personal performance.  Leaders who want to grow are curious about their strengths and areas to develop.

Some take assessments. Some get 360 degree feedback.  It’s easy to become overly self-focused in the process if you’re not careful.  Getting feedback is necessary in order to grow, but if you become too concerned about every nuance of your behavior, communication or performance, you risk losing sight of what matters most–helping others be the best they can be.

There is a correlation between managing perception (how others see you) and managing people (how you influence others). Why does one person see you as approachable and supportive and another person views you as aloof and arrogant? Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.

Don’t let one person’s negative perception of you get to you. As I often tell clients when conducting 360 interviews, I learn as much about the person giving the feedback as I do about the person being evaluated.

Some executives lose sleep worrying about how to increase their ratings on surveys or assessments. But trying to please everyone is futile. In many cases, organizations are not measuring what’s most important anyway.

Keep your focus on what really matters at work. That’s the people with whom you work.

As you become more experienced as a leader, you will find that your role is not simply to get work done, but to help others develop in their own roles.

This week make extra effort with your team members or colleagues.

Here are three keys to keep in mind as you engage with them:

1. Show interest. Show direct interest in them as a whole person, not just the work that’s being done. You don’t need to pry into their personal life, but you do need to know what they care about or are concerned about that might potentially impact their work.

This may mean simply making yourself get out of your office more than you ordinarily would to inquire about things. Or it might mean changing the nature of the conversations you’re already having.

2. Create a 30-day challenge.  A challenge is an opportunity for growth. Find out what they want to work on that would help them improve their effectiveness or contribute more value to the business. Do this informally one-on-one or in a small group.

Many employees are only using a small portion of their talent. Ask, “What’s something new you’d like to try to help you learn more or do more in the business?”

When you know what they want to work on, ask them to report back on any progress in 30 days. Make it clear you are there to support them, not to judge or critique.

3. Encourage. A little encouragement goes a long way. You don’t have to be a cheerleader or feign enthusiasm.

Simply offer statements like these:

“I know you will do well.”

“You’ve got it handled.”

” It’s good to know we can count on you.”

“You will figure it out.”

“We’re lucky to have you on the team.”

“Your work is really making a difference.”

What kind of encouragement (or even acknowledgement) would you like to hear yourself?

Now go tell that to someone else.


IN CASED YOU MISSED IT…

I hope you’ll check out the new My Daily Coach app that became available earlier this year.

It’s a simple mobile app I created for busy leaders like you who want a little coaching message from me each day to prompt their thinking–and action, of course.

It’s available for iPhone, iPad and Android.
 
And it’s FREE!

Learn more here:

MY DAILY COACH APP

I hope you find it helpful throughout the year and welcome your feedback.

Thanks to those of you who have already downloaded the app and given me your feedback. I’m excited to hear so many like it.

An app update is expected soon.

PS — Feel free to share this with other friends or people in your network who may benefit!  

Get clear. Stay focused. Lead well.

Make 2015 your best year yet with a little coaching–every day!

MY DAILY COACH APP


In Other News…

Gayle Lantz is co-author of the new #1 Amazon bestselling book, Happiness Recipe!  She writes and speaks about happiness in the workplace. See her recent TV appearance:

happiness video

Gayle Appears on “Talk of Alabama”

 

Gayle was the keynote speaker at the AUM Human Resources Conference recently. She spoke about how to take charge of your career and professional growth.


About Gayle Lantz 
Gayle Lantz is a leadership expert, management consultant, executive coach, and president of  WorkMatters, Inc., a consulting firm dedicated to helping leaders think and work smarter.

She is author of the award winning book, Take the Bull by the Horns: The Busy Leader’s Action Guide to Growing Your Business…and Yourself.

(Now available on Amazon Kindle and in audiobook at Audible.com)

Find the audiobook here:

Take the Bull by the Horns AUDIOBOOK

A sought-after consultant, coach, facilitator, and speaker, Gayle works closely with executives and leadership teams to expand their vision, think and act strategically, and inspire change. Together, they increase business results and help make work matter at every level of the organization.

Fast Action Required

Fast Action Required

It’s still early in the New Year.

Have you hit a roadblock already? Or failed to do something you thought you’d do by now?

Even if you’re serious about growing your business or team, you know that intentions alone won’t drive your success.

It takes action–a lot of it.

Three types of action can speed your progress more easily:

1. Immediate Action

2. Small Action

3. Accountable Action

When you have a good idea that comes to mind, do something immediately to act on it. It could be as simple as writing it down, putting an action item on your calendar or making a quick phone call.

Something small.  Easy.

The key is doing something as a first step to get a little momentum going.

Putting the date on your calendar will help you hold yourself accountable.

For example, let’s say someone tells you about a networking connection you should make.  Contact the person that day, or as soon as possible, through email or social media and schedule an introductory call or meeting.

Act while the idea is fresh.

Perhaps you read an article about a new marketing idea you’d like to try.

Ask yourself, “What’s a simple step I can take right now to make it happen?”

Hold yourself accountable by telling someone about what you’re doing. It could be your assistant, a team member or colleague. Your mastermind group.

Talking about what you expect to do will help you build better accountability.

Then it’s not an idea in your head. It’s voiced. You’ll get better traction.

Or you notice a team member has been going the extra mile to get results. You think to yourself, “I’ll make a note for the performance review.” Instead acknowledge the person’s work right away. Doesn’t take more than a minute to express a little appreciation.

Take immediate, simple action.

If you’re an analytical type or strategic thinker, you might have to work a little harder at taking fast action. You probably prefer to think through things a bit or weigh your options. Resist the tendency to overthink. Act.

Challenge yourself by asking:

What is something I can do now that’s a simple step?

How will I make sure to follow through?

Many executives express a sense of overwhelm this time of year. They have lofty goals for the year. Thinking about everything they have to do can often feel paralyzing. Instead think about the first step, then the next step.

Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed, it can be difficult to even identify a starting point.

In my work with executives, I help them determine simple basic steps they can take.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Make this your year to stop talking about all the reasons you can’t get something done.

Don’t let “busyness” be an excuse.

Look for ways to take small actions consistently to accelerate your business and leadership growth.


IN CASED YOU MISSED IT…

Speaking of small and simple, I hope you’ll check out the new My Daily Coach app that became available earlier this year.

It’s a simple mobile app I created for busy leaders like you who want a little coaching message from me each day to prompt their thinking–and action, of course.

It’s available for iPhone, iPad and Android.

And it’s FREE!

Learn more here:

MY DAILY COACH APP

I hope you find it helpful throughout the year and welcome your feedback.

Act fast!
 
PS — Feel free to share this with other friends or people in your network who may benefit!  

Get clear. Stay focused. Lead well.

Make 2015 your best year yet with a little coaching–every day!

MY DAILY COACH APP 

 

Time to Detox Your Team?

Time to Detox Your Team?

How’s the weather where you are?

OfficeNot the kind of weather that you experience when you walk outdoors, but the weather when you walk in your office.

Earlier this year I had a conversation with an employee in a business that was really struggling. He said, “When I enter the office in the morning, I can feel the tension. People barely acknowledge each other.”

There’s an undercurrent that’s creating a toxic environment. He said people are out for themselves. They’re sabotaging each other. There’s no trust.

Over the years I’ve had similar conversations with a number of people in different industries and businesses of all sizes. Even virtual teams sense when negativity is in the air. As the volume of work increases, stress escalates too.

When teams become dysfunctional, it’s easy to point fingers at the people who aren’t working well together. “If she would communicate better, things would improve. ” “If he stopped hoarding information, we could get more done.”

Some teams do their best work under extreme pressure when there’s much at stake.

Others crumble under the pressure.

What’s the difference?

Leadership.

You can’t control the weather outdoors, but as a leader, you can influence the climate in your office. In fact, you already are.

Think about how you’d describe your current work environment.

As an exercise, ask your team members how they’d describe the work environment. If you’re concerned they’re telling you what they think you want to hear (a common concern for many executives), find an outside resource to help.

Then set your intention about the environment you want to create. Talk about it openly with your team. Give specific examples of the kinds of behaviors, attitudes and interactions you’d like to see.

Some questions to prompt your thinking:

What kind of physical environment would best support your team’s work?

Maybe you need to reduce clutter, change space or lighting, etc. An office that’s too quiet becomes problematic when people are distracted by colleagues’ conversations. If too noisy, some people get frustrated. More companies recognize how the physical environment affects employee morale.

What kind of mental environment would best support your team’s work?

Maybe you need to create more opportunity for open communication in group meetings or one-on-one conversations. Maybe you want to create an environment that encourages creativity or collaboration. An environment to help you think better.

What kind of social/human environment will best support your team’s work?

Consider how you want to engage with each other, respond to conflict, deal with challenges, etc. Also note how the team can express appreciation, gratitude or share accomplishments. You might need to establish or re-establish rules of engagement that work well for everyone.

If you believe there’s a negative vibe brewing on your team, address it quickly.

One of the worst mistakes you can make is to do nothing–to hope the situation will resolve itself.

People become disillusioned when they’re all paddling and the captain is nowhere to be found. They’re exasperated when “no one at the top seems to care.”

skyDon’t underestimate your influence.

If you’re intentional about creating the best environment for your team, you’ll get better results, and you’ll make work more enjoyable for everyone.

Wishing you blue skies ahead…

PS – When you feel like something’s off in your own work, check your own personal environment.

Make sure you have the space, support, resources and people around you to help you thrive.

Are you outcome oriented?

Are you outcome oriented?

What’s the biggest business obstacle you’re facing?

Obstacles are a part of business. Some are external, like the snow storms that hit the country this winter. Businesses scrambled to make the best of a difficult situation.

Some obstacles are internal, like employee conflicts that make getting work done next to impossible.

I’ve always contended that the most dangerous and difficult obstacles are the ones in your own mind. Your own thoughts and beliefs have power to do good or do damage.

resultsWhen obstacles appear, you’re forced to take your eye off the road and deal with the challenge of the moment. You’ll likely take a detour that costs you time and money.

As Henry Ford said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”

But problems occur when the obstacle is ignored.

You have a better chance of dealing with the issue if you acknowledge it.

Acknowledge the obstacle, but don’t fixate on it.

Sometimes the obstacle is elusive.

You thought you had it all figured out, but you missed an important element. For example, the problem may not be the bad hire you made. It could be your selection process.

Or you might be looking at symptoms, not the real cause.

Sometimes the obstacle is complicated.

Why aren’t you making enough sales? Is it poor strategy? Is it the market? Is it the economy? Is it the capability of your people? A combination?

Too many executives are quick to identify what they think the issue is.

I challenge their assumptions and assess the issue from different perspectives.

The best breakthroughs occur when clients shift their focus from the obstacle to the outcome they want to see.

It’s simply a better starting point to achieve the results you want.

If you focus too much on the obstacle itself, you risk slowing down the process.

Old Worn Red Vacuum IsolatedMy dog won’t get near the vacuum cleaner, even when it’s turned off and standing perfectly still.  She won’t go in the same room with it. But if you offer her a treat on the other side of the room, she’ll run by the vacuum cleaner to get her reward. It’s no longer an obstacle.

The more you focus on your desired outcome, the better chance of going around or eliminating the obstacle in your way. Even if you can’t go around it, you’ll be more motivated to work through it.

What the dog sees as an obstacle is something we think is a good thing to have in the house. People (and dogs) have different perspectives about problems.

I’m often approached by executives when they sense something’s wrong in their business.  They keep bumping up against something that impedes their progress.

They are weighted down by it. Losing sleep. Stagnated.

Often they are so consumed by the obstacle that they have difficulty articulating what it is they really want — their ideal outcome.

Although it may sound cliché, where there are obstacles there are opportunities — opportunities to improve, grow, learn. And the more you focus on opportunities, the better the outcomes.

Even without visible obstacles, confirming desired outcomes at the start helps you achieve better results.

When I’m working with clients who want to help employees perform best in their jobs, we don’t look at the job descriptions. Those descriptions often look like formalized “to-do” lists.

Instead we start by clarifying the most important desired outcomes for the positions. Although they may be clear to you, employees may be in the dark. Everyone gets on the same page from the start.

You can choose your focus. Catch yourself when you’re dwelling on a problem.

For example, you can obsess over the dysfunction of a team, OR you can commit to creating a high performing team. That’s the ultimate outcome you want. Right?

Once you commit to what you really want, you increase the probability of achieving it.

What outcome are you fully committed to?

Obviously you want to create a profitable business. Or you want to grow your business. Or you want to advance the mission of your organization.

Be more specific. Quantify the outcome to the extent you can.

Whatever the obstacles are in your business, answer this question:

What role can leaders play to improve the situation?

In many cases, you can trace the issue — whatever it is in your firm or business — back to leadership. Whether you have a challenge related to client service, financial issues or employees, there’s likely something that leaders are doing, or not doing, that affects the situation.

I observe co-workers spending too much time behind closed doors ruminating about a “problem employee.”  They complain, gossip, criticize. The problem isn’t necessarily the employee or the co-workers. It could be that the leader is allowing the behavior.

Obstacles hold clues. They may point to areas of your own performance that need strengthening.

They may point to the need for you to brighten the vision so that people move toward it more easily.

Obstacles are a wake up call to focus more deliberately on outcomes. When you do, you’ll find a variety of ways to achieve results.

Instead of thinking, “I have so much to do this week” …ask:

 “What are the three most important outcomes I want to achieve this week?”

As a leader, strengthen your outcome thinking, and help your team do the same.

Make sure you’re not your own obstacle!

Become more outcome oriented.

The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room

It’s there. Sometimes sitting quietly while you maneuver around it in conversation. You’re hoping it might just go away.

elephantOther times, it’s so big and blatant that it becomes your sole focus.

It’s the elephant in the room, of course. And it’s one of the greatest threats to your business.

In my consulting work over the years, I have realized that one of the greatest challenges facing executives is how to deal with the elephant in the room.

You may have missed that lesson in school. Unfortunately, many executives struggle in this area. Consider it an undervalued “leadership skill.”

The elephant comes disguised in different ways:

  • The disconnect between employees and management
  • The manipulation of numbers or processes
  • The tension between partners
  • The disagreement about strategy
  • The clash of different personalities
  • The hidden agenda
  • The wrong job fit

You know what it is for you.

The question is what to do about it.

Almost always, the key lies in communication.

Part of your responsibility as a leader is to create a safe and trusting environment in which people can communicate openly about what’s on their minds.

Here are some factors to weigh as you consider how to address the elephant in the room.

  • What’s the upside of addressing the issue? The truth is there is usually more reason to address the issue than not. You’ll get to the heart of matters that are keeping you stuck or hurting performance. Many executives report that they actually feel better after airing issues constructively. Be optimistic.
  • What’s the downside or risk of addressing the issue? Some people may be sensitive. Feelings may be hurt. Determine what’s really at stake – the business, your reputation, relationships. What’s the worst that could happen? Be realistic.
  • What’s the risk of not addressing the issue at all? In many cases, the risk of not doing anything is the greatest risk. You might be losing potential opportunities or focusing on areas that are not growing the business. Constantly sweeping issues under the rug makes you trip when you walk on it. Be brave.
  • Who needs to be involved? Can you address the issue privately with another person in the business? Perhaps you need to talk in a small group. You might benefit by including an outside resource or neutral party. In some cases, you may hold an open meeting with your team.
  • What is the best timing? The best time is when you’re least likely to be emotional, when you’re thinking clearly, when you’re least stressed. Understand what timing works best for others involved. If people are working on deadlines, wait. Schedule time to meet on the calendar. That shows the issue is a priority.
  • What is the outcome you’re looking for? When addressing any potentially sensitive situation, it’s a good idea to stay focused on the ultimate outcome that you’d like to achieve. State your intent up front. Listen a lot.

It’s natural to dread a sensitive conversation. Instead, believe you will handle the conversation in the best way.

If the elephant remains in the room too long, it’s probably taking up space in your head as well. Ruminating about a problem is not solving it. Take the action you need to take to resolve the issue.

The sooner you address the issue, the sooner you can focus on priorities that are most relevant to your business — and minimize disruption.

Don’t let the elephant turn your business into a circus.