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Just Simply ASK, for Breakthrough Communications

Posted in Blog on August 9th, 2017 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

The idiom ‘herding cats’ brings a visual image, from the award winning commercial, of a cowboy with his trusty lasso stating anyone can heard cattle but herding cats is another thing altogether. The coordination of many different groups or people, within organizations, is as difficult as ‘herding cats’. With the need for quick results we don’t have the time to build consensus, ensure everyone is on the same page and ultimately coordinate different groups and people with different thinking styles. Thus, disagreements or misunderstandings can arise between employees, colleagues and even customers. The individual gets under your skin, causing your emotions to come to the forefront and you react to that situation, not putting your most effective behavior forward.

ask a questionOne of my clients is wrestling with a difficult and demanding customer. I outlined the following process for her to keep things on track while taking the emotion out of the situation. My process is called ASK.

Acknowledge
The first step is to recognize an individual’s feelings and let them know they’ve been heard. By acknowledging the individual’s feelings, experiences and challenges you are going a long way to resolving the disagreement or misunderstanding. This lets them know you not only heard them but you are listening to what they said. Showing empathy can help them avoid focusing on the negative or why things went wrong and move in a positive direction towards achieving the goal. Examples of phrases or questions to Acknowledge include:

  • “I hear what you are saying.”
  • “What I heard you say is…”
  • “Help me better understand what you are feeling.”
  • “This must be hard for you.”
  • “How did that make you feel?”
  • “I can tell you are frustrated, let’s work together to resolve this.”

Watch out: The goal in this step is NOT to solve the problem but rather to diffuse the situation and take the emotion out so ‘cooler heads prevail’. This isn’t about admitting wrong doing or placing blame but rather showing empathy and recognizing how the other person is feeling, whether you agree with them or not. This lets the individual know that you appreciate their feelings and you want to work with them to resolve the disagreement or misunderstanding.

Situation Analysis
We pride ourselves in our ability to solve problems and when disagreement occurs, we naturally want to fix it. However, this can leave the other individual questioning whether you truly understand the situation, from their perspective. This leads to a breakdown in communication. In this step, you want to ensure you both share the same understanding about the Situation and uncover the facts. Most people are rock stars gathering the facts but not necessarily understanding the other individual’s point of view. By asking open ended questions, asking for clarity and summarizing what you’ve heard, you will ensure breakthrough communications in this step.

  • “Help me better understand the situation.”
  • “How would you like it to be?”
  • “What are your expectations?”
  • “What have you already tried?”
  • “What worked; what didn’t work?”
  • “What do you think will dramatically improve this situation?”
  • “What is one thing I can do to improve this situation?”
  • “Here’s what I hear you saying, is that correct?”

Watch out: Don’t make assumptions that you know what’s occurred but rather be curious and listen for content or new data points that you may otherwise miss. And don’t forget to keep your emotions in check. Operating at the emotional level can cloud solid decision making, causing you to lose sight of the overarching goal which is to gain agreement on the facts surrounding the situation.

TaKe Action
Now that you’ve acknowledged feelings and gotten a solid grasp of the situation; you are ready to TaKe Action. This is where you discuss the next steps and the necessary actions to resolve the disagreement or misunderstanding. It should be clear who is accountable for what action and when. Examples of phrases or questions to TaKe Action include:

  • “Here’s what I’m committing to do, what are you committing to do?”
  • “What specific steps do you want to take? Here’s the steps I will take.”
  • “As a result of our conversation, I will take the following steps.”
  • “Have I fully addressed your concerns?”
  • “What will you do and when will you do it?”
  • “How would you like to measure success?”

Watch out: Without this third step, you risk thinking there is agreement on the next steps when there isn’t. It’s important to agree on key actions and how you will measure success to reach the desired outcome. This will prevent future misunderstandings.

I promise if you simply ASK, you will avoid the common pitfalls associated with disagreements and misunderstandings. These three steps lead to breakthrough communications, even with the most difficult and demanding people.

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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What has shaped you as a leader? Is it an experience, person or situation?

Posted in Blog on July 7th, 2017 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

shaped as a leaderThrough my executive coaching I have found a lot of leaders found answering this question rewarding. It’s an opportunity to self-reflect on what has gotten us to where we are today and it helps us understand what motivates and drives us as leaders based on key turning points in our lives. It also helps identify what kind of leader you are today or ultimately the type of leader you aspire to be.

I have a client who as a young child was training for the Olympics. She was extremely competitive and learned at a young age the importance of setting goals and achieving them. She also learned about the dynamics of working as part of a team and winning for the team. And finally, she learned how to bounce back from disappointment when she was injured and determined continuing on was not practical. When we talked about her leadership, we uncovered threads of each of these qualities in her current leadership style.

We reviewed these qualities and came up with the following list.

Goal driven – I set my sights on what I want to achieve
Planful – I set out a plan to achieve these goals
Determined and unwavering – I am resolute in reaching my goal, often times having to make sacrifices to stay on course
Overcomes setbacks – I’m able to handle obstacles even in the face of adversity
Competitive – I like to win for myself and the team

My client summed things up this way; “this is exactly who I am as a leader but I wonder if there are opportunities for me to continue to grow and hone these skills.” She gained great clarity from this exercise and wanted to leverage these insights for continued leadership growth.

With this in mind, we needed to determine what was most effective and what was least effective about her leadership style. She accomplished this by asking her team, coworkers and management for feedback on these qualities. This was a simple exercise where she sent an email asking for honest feedback on her leadership style, sharing the above list of qualities and traits. She followed up with in-person meetings to discuss the feedback she received.

What she found out was eye-opening. While her higher-level management applauded her competitive nature, she realized her coworkers looked at this very differently. They questioned her motives as a more myopic view of what winning would mean for her, not the whole team. This was a big surprise for my client who placed great value on teamwork. We determined her competitive nature was signaling a different message than teamwork and working more closely with the team was needed. Armed with this insight she is now bringing her coworkers in earlier on projects she is working on, communicating more about why she is recommending a particular direction and being more open to contrarian views and ensuring her coworkers gain visibility for their efforts so everyone benefits from the success of the project.

What has shaped you as a leader? What experience, person or situation has made you the kind of leader you are today? Please share your…

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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Infographic: ONE Word to Describe Your Personal Brand

Posted in Blog on June 13th, 2017 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

Can you boil your personal brand down to the ONE word that describes your value? I posed a similar question on LinkedIn; What ONE word do you want people to think of when they think of you? I was amazed by the responses with over 68,000 comments. I never imagined how this question would resonate with people. As a result, I created an Infographic to highlight how people position their brand in ONE word. What was somewhat surprising was the responses fit into three overarching categories; Expertise, Character and Drive. When people describe their brand, they typically identify a word that falls into one of these three categories:

Under Expertise, descriptors used include competent, talented, productive and strategic. Additional words include versatile, resourceful and adaptable. You’ll notice there is a diverse set of words in this category but they all point to what people can count on when they work with this individual, their expertise. The words in this category focus on skills and abilities, how the individual does his or her job well.

For Character words include honest, reliable, sincere and trustworthy. The responses in this category for the large part had to do with a high level of integrity or character. Character points to strong moral and ethical principles and for those that identified a word in this category, it means above all else this is how they want to be known. Don’t get caught up in thinking if you didn’t pick a word that falls into a particular category you don’t possess these qualities, e.g. high integrity. Instead, this means this is not the singular focus of how you want to be known.

And the third category, Drive highlights words such as determined, trailblazer, intense and game-changer, and yes I know this is two words. If you find you are someone who “gets things done and makes things happen” your one word points to “Drive”. Words in this category stress “movement”, taking things from one point to another point.

One Word

What is your ONE word? For some people the word immediately comes to mind. Other people tend to struggle coming up with just ONE word. I ask a similar question in my personal branding workshops and speaking engagements and with my one-on-one coaching clients. You see, this query is a great way to define your brand. This helps you figure out who you are, what you stand for and where you add value. This represents your point of differentiation. What I mean by this is what people uniquely think of when they think of you. The answer to this question helps us cut through the clutter. Instead of telling people everything you do or everything they will experience when they work with you, you are simplifying this to just ONE word that sends a clear message of your value!

My word is Impact. While this doesn’t describe what I do, it describes where I add value. In my coaching, workshops and key note speeches I seek to make an impact. What’s most important to me is that my clients gain insights and walk away with an “aha moment”, something they learned that makes an impact in their professional lives. This is how I measure success! I recently started with a new coaching client who stated he wanted to gain real-life best practices and achieve tangible results through our coaching. I explained my philosophy in one simple word, my coaching makes an impact. He was thrilled!

The process for identifying your ONE word is just as important as your actual ONE word. To do this, ensure you seek feedback from family, friends, colleagues, mentors, customers and anyone who will give you honest feedback. If you get multiple words or “themes” determine if one word stands out more than the others. In most cases you will find consistency from your feedback providers. But if not, determine what resonates with you the most or ask your feedback providers to rank the list in order of priority of what comes to mind when they think of you.

In the end, it’s not the exercise of boiling this down to ONE word, it’s about gaining clarity around your point of differentiation; who you are, what you stand for and where you add value. However, as with most things, it’s far more effective to keep it simple then to overload people with a lot of information that can take away from where you really add value. This ONE word helps to define YOU!

Happy personal branding and finding your ONE word that communicates your value!

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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SAGE Coaching Model: Doing More with Less – Part II

Posted in Blog on May 8th, 2017 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

Check out my Audio Interview on the topic of “Doing More with Less” – Part II

 

SAGE Coaching Model: Doing More with LessSituation Analysis

The first step is Situation Analysis, and that really is the focus on what the current situation is, to clarify what’s going on and identify what the challenges are, where is the individual struggling. This may differ from what current leaders do. Leaders are really good problem solvers, and so we want to solve a problem. So instead of asking all the great questions and trying to uncover what’s going on, we’re already on solution mode. “Oh, I hear what you’re saying. Well, I’ve had that same problem or here’s what you should do.”

What we’re really trying to do here, is to take a step away and not solve the problem, but really understand, not only what’s going on but why it’s going on. As an example, let’s say an individual isn’t delegating, but do we know why they’re not delegating? Is it because they’re fearful to lose control? Or they don’t trust their employees, or maybe they need more training. What we want to do in situation analysis, is uncover not only what’s going on, but why is it going on. Why is this individual struggling or even coming to you in the first place?

Alternatives and Options

The next step is the A, which is Alternatives and Options, and this is quite simply exploring different options. There’s typically not one single right answer that will solve one problem. There’s different answers, and different approaches. What we want to do is explore what those options are and get those on the table.

You may be thinking, “So things like that would be really time-consuming. I mean, once you find the answer, wouldn’t you just stop the brainstorming and get started?” Remember, we’re not trying to solve the problem. And I know that sounds counter-intuitive because why else are we having this discussion, but what we’re really trying to do is empower our employees. We’re trying to train them and get them feeling more comfortable taking risks, making decisions on their own.

We’re brainstorming and we’re coming up with different options and then we’re weighing the pros and cons. And if we were just stop when we had the right answer, then we may never get to, “well, why won’t we do this?” It gives leaders the ability to help train their people and I will tell you that as a leader, if you continue doing this, my clients tell me this all the time, their employees come in into their office and they’ll say, I know what you’re going to ask me. You’re going to ask me what options have I thought of and what are the pros and cons. You’re really training them to think ahead like that.

Goal Setting

Step number three is goal settings. We all know it’s important to have goals. Right? We have goals everyday of our lives. “I want to lose five pounds, or I want to get promoted”, or whatever it is. But we don’t always tie it to the action at hand, and so it’s really important because we’ve explored options to be real clear. What are we trying to achieve here? Let’s just use delegation as an example. If the goal is to delegate more, what is the goal? I mean, what is truly the goal? If we say, “I want to delegate more”, how do we know when we’re successful? The goal needs to be something a bit more specific. I mentioned this in our first, part one, but the goals need to be SMART.

They need to be specific, and measurable, and attainable, time-bound so we need to make sure that we’ve identified all of these things. The other thing that I find is sometimes there may be a short-term and a long-term goal. So a short-term might be, “I’ve got a project, how am I going to delegate for this particular project?” Now long-term, “I need to improve on my delegating because that’s something that’s going to make me a better leader.” So what do I want to do longer-term? Sometimes we may have more than one goal. The other thing to keep in mind is that it needs to be really specific and actionable. Again, let’s get back to SMART, “I want to do more but what specifically do I want to do?” How will we measure it, how will we know when I’ve achieved it and then what’s the time frame? And that’s SMART!

Again, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.

Execution and Accountability

I know that this step probably doesn’t need a lot of explaining, but what are the measurements, what’s our timing, how are we going to take action, what does the plan look like and how are we going to remain on course and accountable?

If you’re wondering what some of the common mistakes people would make in this step, I would say the biggest mistake is that accountability isn’t real clear. So, maybe we’ve had a discussion, and there’s something that someone else needs to do, or you as the leader needs to do – so accountability isn’t real clear. This goes back to “ownership”. And that’s why the coaching model stage is so important, because it puts ownership back on to the employee. When you have the discussion, and you ask certain questions, like “How likely are you to achieve this? How do you want to be held accountable? How will we measure success?”

All of these questions are going to ensure that the individual stays on track. And I am a big believer that if the individual isn’t committed to doing this, then it’s probably not going to get done. Even though they may know that they need to delegate in our example, they may not be committed to make the change, and this is where you can identify that. And then you set milestones.

Our favorite coaching question is: “What will you do? When will you do it and How will I know?” So, what are you going to do? I’m going to delegate five times. When will you do it? I’m going to start tomorrow with Sarah. And how will I know? I would like to circle back with you and meet regularly so that we could talk about every Friday at 2:00.

I hope learning and implementing the four steps of the Sage Coaching Model will help empower your employees, and make you a more effective leader.

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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SAGE Coaching Model: Doing More with Less

Posted in Blog on April 8th, 2017 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

Check out my Audio Interview on the topic of “Doing More with Less

 

As a business leader, where do you feel you struggle the most? It may be hard to boil down into just a few words, but I’ve found leaders are looking for ways to do more with less. They’ve got greater responsibilities, tight deadlines, budgets that are not as large as they’d like and they’re looking for ways to delegate, empower their team, encourage employees to take initiative and take risks and make tough calls – and all the while, taking ownership and remaining accountable while doing this.

Doing More with LessI developed a model called SAGE, (from my company Sage Alliance), and here’s the acronym: S is Situation Analysis, A is Alternative & Options, G is Goal Setting, and E is Execution & Accountability. The model is very easy to use and the leaders I have trained and coached on this model have told me how easy it is because it follows a very easy format.

Situation Analysis

The first step is Situation Analysis, where you sit down with your employee and you clarify the situation. You are identifying, with the employee, what the challenges are, the obstacles and the specific things are that are standing in the way of them being successful. Here are some questions that can be asked…

• What’s the current situation or what’s your assessment on things?
• Where do you need help or what’s getting in the way of success?
• What obstacles are standing in your way?
• What have you already tried?
• What’s worked, what’s not worked?

The objective is to get a grasp of what’s going on, where the challenge is, what the obstacles are, and what’s stopping the employee from proceeding forward.

Alternatives & Options

Once you’ve gotten a good grasp of the situation, you really want to explore alternatives. Because in most cases there’s not just one specific answer that can work, but rather there could be multiple answers or solutions. It’s a question of getting all those options on the table, and then exploring what could work, and what won’t work.
You as the leader are the facilitator in getting those options on the table. Some questions you can ask are:

• What are some options?
• What else can you do?
• What are some ideas that can work?
• What could you do differently?
• Would you like to brainstorm some options?
• What have you already tried?

While brainstorming, I like to say, okay what’s another option and then what’s another? This helps to get them thinking. You also want to ask them what are the pros and cons of each option? There’s lots of options, and what we really want to do is weigh the pros and cons and understand which one has the least risk but is going to afford the greatest benefit.

Goal Setting

We’ve weighed pros and cons and now it is decision time. You may find there are actually two decisions, a short-term and a long-term decision. In this case, the longer-term goal is going to be something different, so here’s where we set these goals. You can ask; “short-term, what are you going to do?” Here’s an example of a response; “I’m going to delegate just a few projects now but long-term, I need to work on getting my people up to speed. I need to get them more training.” So you can see how you might be setting more than one goal, a short-term and a long-term goal, with your employee.

There’s usually an opportunity to tie this step to a larger goal. The larger goal in this example could be, if you want to take that next step in leadership, you are going to have to get more comfortable delegating. As coaches, we never want to lose sight of the individual’s larger goal. I know a lot of people are familiar with SMART goals but making them SMART, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound is most important. It’s not enough to say, “I’m going to delegate more.” Some questions to make this SMART include:

• How are you going to do this (in this case delegate more)?
• When are you going to start?
• How will we measure it?
• What is the timing for getting started on this?

Execution & Accountability

I have observed so many people having great discussions with their employees, but they never bring it home. They don’t talk about the accountability and then they are surprised when the employee doesn’t follow through. The employee didn’t follow-up, in our example, with delegating and you as the leader are wondering why they didn’t go forward with this goal. This step is your ability to tie everything you discussed in a nice clean knot. Questions to ask include:

• When are you going to start this?
• When are you going to finish this?
• What support do you need from me as your leader?
• How will we measure success?

In our example, is delegating once enough? Does this constitute success or is it multiple times? How will we measure this? One of my favorite questions to ask is, “on a scale from 1-10, what’s the likelihood of you doing what you said you would do?” Using our example; “you agreed that you were going to delegate x number of projects to x number of people, what is the likelihood that you are going to do it?” And if you hear an 8 or a 9 or even a 10, that’s great. It sounds like they are committed and going to do what they said, but if you hear a 3, or a 4 or even a 5 this should give you pause. You can then ask; “what will it take to turn that 3 into a 7 or into an 8?” This is how you will find out where that employee is really struggling and why.

Don’t forget to make sure you know how you are going to communicate, with the individual, about their progress. Ask; “when will you and I get back together again?” And then – a little encouragement always helps here. “I know you can do this. This is something I believe you can master.”

In my next blog, SAGE Coaching Model: Nuances of Being a Great Coach, I will take a deeper dive into my coaching model!

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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Reenergize and Power-Up Your Brand

Posted in Blog on February 21st, 2017 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

power up your brand

Take a Personal Inventory of yourself to help identify your brand by downloading this questionnaire.

As we kick-off the new year we often times set lofty goals only for us to veer from those goals soon thereafter. I’m a big proponent of setting goals but I suggest starting the new year off right by first taking the time to reflect on what you want to be known for, i.e. your brand and how you want to leverage this brand in the coming year. Only after you have established your brand position can you set meaningful goals. The first step is to gain a deeper awareness of where you are now by reflecting on the past year and conducting a personal inventory. Some questions to consider include:

transparent-green-checkmark-smWhat were your key accomplishments?

transparent-green-checkmark-smWhere did you add value?

transparent-green-checkmark-smWhere have you made the greatest impact?

transparent-green-checkmark-smWhat are you most proud of?

transparent-green-checkmark-smHow are you perceived?

transparent-green-checkmark-smHow have you grown as a leader?

It’s important to ensure your brand is consistent and focused around your key strengths since this is where you add the greatest value. The best leaders are self-aware and they continually look for ways to leverage their strengths and close the gaps on their development areas. Once you’ve taken a personal inventory you are in a much better position to set goals which will help you remain consistent, focus on the key things that matter and narrow the gaps on your development areas.

This time to reflect can help you position or reposition your brand. If you haven’t defined your brand, now is the perfect time of year to do so. The results of your personal inventory can help you not only define your brand but help you zero in on your key areas of expertise that differentiates you! This differentiation demonstrates to your organization where you add the greatest value. Why is it consumers are willing to pay 12% more for a branded product than a non-branded product? It’s about perceived value. And those with strong brands enjoy greater success than those that don’t intentionally manage their brand due to this perceived value. A strong brand enables you to help others by leveraging your expertise and helps guide your actions and behaviors. See my blog on Tips to Power up Your Brand for additional insight into creating a powerful brand.

Once you’ve spent time thinking about how you want to be known, the next step is to think about the times where you weren’t consistent or true to your brand. What derailed you or got in the way? We all work in high stress situations which can cause us to react in the moment and lose sight of being consistent in our actions and behaviors. What are your hot buttons? What causes you to go into a reactive mode? Think about the times where you could have led with a more consistent brand. I’m not about should have, could have, would have’s but rather using this post-mortem as an opportunity to gain greater self-awareness enabling you to be focused on the areas that can derail your effectiveness.

Armed with this information you are now ready to set goals. Don’t forget to keep them SMART, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. For the new year, ensure your brand is consistent, focused and differentiates you and your unique expertise. Reenergize and power-up your brand for greater success!

Take a Personal Inventory of yourself to help identify your brand by downloading this questionnaire.

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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Success Breeds Success: Your Top 100 Accomplishments

Posted in Blog on January 9th, 2017 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

The phrase Success Breeds Success points to the notion that when you are successful it paves the way for further success.  To help my clients here, I challenge them to create a list of their top accomplishments.  They take this challenge on with abandon until they hear my ask; “I want you to create a list of 100 accomplishments from the past year”.  The typical response is; “are you kidding me, 100?”  Or “there is no way I can come up with that many.”  After the initial shock wears off, my clients are excited thinking about all they’ve done even if there’s still a little trepidation mixed in with the prospect of coming up with this magnitude of accomplishments.

Before we jump in, let’s look at the business case for why this is essential to your success as a leader.  I was speaking with one of my clients who told me his manager stated he didn’t have any experience in removing obstacles and getting everyone on the same page.  My client was shocked.  He told me he does this every day and was puzzled how his manager didn’t have a clue this was a strength.  Through our coaching we uncovered while he has great success here, he doesn’t communicate the incremental wins until the project is completed.  The problem lies in the only in-depth conversation with his manager is when he reaches an obstacle he can’t solve at his level, leaving the impression he is not good at removing all obstacles.  In fact, he is very good at removing obstacles and is the go-to for many of his co-workers.  However, there are times where things require a higher level of oversight and his manager is interpreting this as a weakness.

Whatever your situation, I bet you don’t update your manager with all the things you do to make a project successful.  Learning from this situation, my client is letting his manager know, “hey the project is on-time but we ran into a snafu and I had to do these three things to keep it on track”, essentially communicating how he removed the obstacles.  Let’s dive in and create your list of 100 accomplishments.

Step 1

Reserve time on your calendar, initially I suggest reserving 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to create your list of accomplishments.  You will need to schedule additional blocks of time to finish your list.  I prefer reserving time at the end of the day, but any time that works for you is best.  You will find accomplishments pop into your head, so keep this list handy, allowing you to add these new thoughts to your list.  But remember your goal is 100 accomplishments and this takes your commitment to keep at it until you are done!  I challenge my clients to come up with the first 25 in their first sitting.  Then I ask them to set time aside for the next 25 accomplishments.  It typically gets harder at this point which takes us to the next step.

Step 2

If you are having trouble coming up with your 100 accomplishments, break each of these items into smaller accomplishments.  Here’s some guidance.  Let’s look at a real accomplishment from a client; Implemented the change initiative throughout the division.  This is a great accomplishment, I bet this took a lot to implement this change and get everyone on board.  With that in mind, this can be broken down into several discrete accomplishments.  Using this as an example, think about the people that you had to gain buy-in from, the challenges or obstacles that you had to remove and the leadership you showed to bring the team along.  Maybe there was a communication plan you had to develop or training you had to deliver.  The point is, each of these actions, while they led to the larger accomplishment, they are accomplishments in and of themselves.  Don’t sell yourself short of all it takes to do what you do.  You should be a lot closer to that elusive 100 target.

Step 3

What themes stand out for you as you read your 100 accomplishments?  You should see your key areas of strength, e.g. solving problems no one else can solve or bringing disparate people together for problem resolution.  Identify three to four themes.  An example of one of my client’s three themes are the following: Business Improvement, Connects the Dots and Coaching/Mentoring.  These are all areas of strength for her.  Through our coaching, we added a fourth category, Clear and Concise Communications.  This last theme is a development area she is working on.  By tracking this, it helps her remain accountable and enables her to see all the progress she is making as she lists examples of where she is improving.

Success breeds success.  Congratulations, you should be proud of all you have accomplished!  I bet it feels good reviewing this list which fuels further motivation.  Without getting into the scientific side of things, reviewing and reflecting on your list ignites a feel-good response in your brain.  This is a great way to boost your confidence and feel proud of all you do.  Review your list at regular intervals and use this boost as motivation to continue attracting even greater success.

But don’t stop there.  Your manager probably knows you successfully completed that important project but does he or she know what it took to get there?  Share this in your one-on-one’s, end of quarter as well as input into your annual review or whenever you have an opportunity to let others know all you do.  This is how you position yourself for greater leadership success.

I suggest doing this for the prior year but get started on the current year too.  It’s so much easier when you keep this file open, on your desk top or wherever you do your thinking, and add accomplishments as you go.  Good luck and wishing you continued success!

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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Step it Up the Ladder of Success

Posted in Blog on November 30th, 2016 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

Thomas Jefferson said it best, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” Where do you want to go next in your career? Whether it’s stepping it up to the next level, taking on more responsibility or working on more interesting and challenging projects, it’s essential to think about the things you need to do to prepare yourself for success. And these may be things you’ve never done before or never had to do in your current role.

career developmentI work with high-potential leaders who have either landed a new role and want to figure out how to go from 0 to 60 seamlessly or who are preparing for their next opportunity and want to determine how to step it up to get there and begin performing at a more senior level. Through my coaching, we explore areas where they can leverage their strengths, illuminate blind spots and close the gap on development opportunities. You can accomplish much of the same by conducting your own self-assessment in these three key areas. To help you accomplish this, the below questionnaire will help you zero-in on the things you need to do or do differently to step it up.

1. What additional skills do I need to develop further?
2. What are the situations with which I need to gain more experience?
3. Where can I make the greatest impact and what are some quick wins?
4. Where can my skills and talents add the greatest value?
5. Who are the people I need to build relationships with and further develop my network?
6. Who can I reach out to who has mastered my areas of opportunity that I can learn from?
7. What do I fear most and what actions should I take to address my fears?
8. What are risks I should take to continue my growth and development?
9. Where do I need to stretch to put myself in uncomfortable situations to grow?
10. What can I do differently that will make me more valuable and have a greater impact?

This self-assessment requires reflection and feedback from others. The answers to these questions will help point you in a direction that you may not have thought to take or to do things you may have never done before. Ensure you gain feedback from your manager and the key people in your network to help round out the answers to the above questionnaire.

Armed with these insights, sit down with your manager for suggestions and support for putting together your action plan to step it up the ladder, for greater success in your career.

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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Do you find it difficult to give tough feedback to your employees?

Posted in Blog on August 25th, 2016 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

In response to my blog OWN It: Giving Feedback Is as Easy as 1-2-3! I created a poll to better understand the challenges you encounter with giving feedback.  Below are some of the responses to my discussion question, “Do you find it difficult to give tough feedback to your employees?”

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with these comments? What is your experience giving feedback? Let me know by leaving a reply to submit your Comment below.

COMMENTS

Without a doubt – praise in public and counsel in private. But at the end of the day – don’t be afraid to say what needs to be said. You are a leader – not a friend. ~ James F.

It’s interesting. Many of the managers noted in the post assume that giving tough feedback is due to the employee doing something wrong, or that the employee is somehow responsible for something that needs discussing. Tough feedback could also include organizational changes, and impact to finances/raises, and more. And you can have all of the policies and procedures in place you want, but employees are humans and not robots, they need to be communicated to in a direct, respectful, and clear way, appropriate to the situation. I have always been comfortable with giving great and difficult feedback, but have certainly changed approaches – to be engaging, collaborative, and collective. For example, asking them to define the solutions and next steps. I also like the one response regarding ‘share, concern, help’…. Great piece Shelley Hammell. ~ Bernadette B.

I think “own it” is the most important. Feedback is your perception of the situation and should be stated with permission to share your thoughts. ~ Laura D.

I have no problem providing tough feedback to employees or subcontractors because as long as the feedback is provided from a place of genuine caring for the person’s improvement, then it can be done in a way they can hear it. I do think that managers need to be very careful to create a safe space for employees to receive that feedback as opposed to everything being documented for HR. When items are documented and put in the employee file, they can be taken out of context later by another party. Managers have to find the right balance. ~ Felicia K.

Two things I learned and practice. Praise in public and coach in private. Second, use these three magic words. share, concern help. “I have a concern I need to share with and I need your help.” Worked for me every time. ~ Tom S.

The “O”bservation piece helps so much. Not “you are defensive” generally, as an employee, but “yesterday, you got defensive when”. . . Great, easy to remember teaching. Do you ever think it’s okay not to give the why? For example, when someone is late? ~ Melissa M.

Great conversation. One thing I see (I run nipping things in the bud workshops to support staff to give feedback) is that we make things personal – either when we give feedback or when we receive it. Feedback is never about us as a person – it is about the way we did something that required a different quality – but it was never saying we are bad. And when we give feedback it is about saying something that was done was out of line/kilter with what was needed, not that that person did anything wrong as such – simply learning the quality needed to provide the services/tasks required. We also need balanced environments where we give great feedback and appreciation ( and be specific – not general or insincere) and when needed we give feedback where something could be more/different. ~ Jane K.

What helped me to give feedback was: 1). having a high standard 2).holding myself to that standard and 3) only hiring perfectionists .. if my crew aren’t perfectionist..I’m wasting my time..the work environment shouldn’t be day care. ~ Judith C.

It is amazing to me how much time and money is devoted to nurturing employees’ personalities & office communication. Can anyone submit hard numbers that support the special attention to overall financial gain? Or… is it less costly than wage increases in securing productivity gains? Personal & social skills education begins in elementary school and are expected as part of the required curriculum by high school. As long as business supports lower expectations of adults’ character, professionalism, and work habits our national economy and reputation will continue decline. ~ Ingrid H.

I don’t generally have a problem letting employees know where they stand on a regular basis. They all pretty much understand the policies of my company and are expected to follow them. I am fair but strong and I want them to enjoy working for us but if they try to put one over they can expect strong criticism. I have little to no problems with my employees. ~ Danielle D.

That’s a land mine. Feedback is always an opinion. If you don’t particularly like an employee, something about them, or they think differently than you do, does that merit a quick ‘learning opportunity?’ I’m skeptical of those who are over eager to generously offer feedback to employees who didn’t ask for it. It feels more like micromanaging under the Tzar. There are usually review schedules to give the ‘tough’ meaning negative, feedback by supervisors. Impromtu ‘tough feedback’ will create a culture of fear. Employees might complain to HR of a hostile working environment, or look elsewhere. Keep reviews professional, scheduled, and let everyone know what is expected. ~ Mary Jo Q.

Feedback is only as good as the person’s ability to accept it. Many people just don’t want to hear it. ~ Sandra M.

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OWN It: Giving Feedback Is as Easy as 1-2-3!

Posted in Blog on July 23rd, 2016 by Admin Jones – Be the first to comment

public speakingWe’ve all heard that people would rather die than get up in front of an audience for public speaking. Giving feedback conjures up the same feelings of fear and trepidation. However, to develop your employees, it’s important to give them regular and timely feedback. When I’m facilitating workshops on leadership I talk about creating a feedback culture. What I mean by this is a culture that promotes giving feedback as a regular occurrence and not solely reserved for annual reviews.

In these workshops I ask the participants to raise their hands if they like giving feedback. On average no more than two or three people raise their hands, that’s less than 1/8 of the class. But when I ask how many like receiving feedback, almost every hand goes up. I also conduct 360 feedback sessions on behalf of my coaching clients and invariably I hear “this is the first time I’ve ever heard this” when they receive their feedback report. We are doing a huge disservice to our employees by not giving them regular and immediate feedback to help them continue to grow.

OWN It: Giving Feedback Is as Easy as 1-2-3So why is it there is such a great dichotomy between giving feedback and receiving it? Probably the biggest reason is it takes courage to give tough feedback. No one wants to hurt someone’s feelings intentionally. But how else can we grow if we don’t get feedback? When I look at the business case for giving feedback, a more engaged workforce tops the list. Research shows employee engagement goes up dramatically when employees receive regular feedback, even when it’s centered around their weaknesses.

It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to give actionable and valuable feedback. I’ve developed a simple and proven 3-step process that I call OWN.

Observations – Describe the behavior you observed using specific examples. Focus on the facts and don’t make it personal.

Why is this important – Describe the impact on you as the manager, on the team, morale, etc.

Next steps – What specific actions can they take or behaviors they need to change to address this feedback.

Here’s a real-life example of how you can use OWN.

What I observed is in yesterday’s meeting you became defensive when other people offered an alternate viewpoint to yours and you got impatient and cut them off.

Why is this important? Because people see you as not being open or not listening when you defend your position and cut them off. The impact of this is you will find it hard to get buy-in if people don’t feel they are being heard. This makes it challenging to move your initiative forward.

Some next steps include taking a breath and pausing to think what you want to say when someone disagrees with your idea. Another option is to say “here’s my point of view I’d like to hear your point of view when presenting a new idea. And a third option is to state, “help me better understand more about your idea” when you feel yourself getting defensive.

I offer three helpful tips for using OWN:

1. Keep the focus on the specific behavior you observed and not on the person. This should not be a personal affront.
2. Provide the feedback in a timely manner. The longer you wait, the less effective your feedback will be.
3. Make sure it’s actionable. If the feedback is too vague it will not be clear what they need to do as a result of your feedback. Gain agreement on how you will measure progress and when you will circle back to check-in on their progress.

I promise you if you OWN it you will get more comfortable giving tough feedback. Your employees will feel engaged and happy that you are investing in helping them grow. Giving feedback really can be as easy as 1-2-3.

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at shammell@thesagealliance.com.

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