Try This Surprisingly Simple Way to Raise the Bar

She looked right at me and yelled across the gym floor with conviction, “You are a dancer!”

Now there are a lot of labels I’m ready to buy:  “You are a leader!” I hope so.

“You are a Mom!” Well, that one could go both ways, couldn’t it? Anything from “Good job, Mom” to “Is this your kid? What was he thinking?”

“You are a keynoter!” I’m working hard every day on my craft, so yes, I’ll take that.

But “You are a dancer?” Seriously? Not me.

But there I was in Barre class at my gym, trying to tone away the Christmas cookies, and the instructor, who clearly IS a dancer, once again looks at me.

“Dancers look at the audience not the floor.” I straightened up. I quickly glanced around the studio, everyone else was standing taller too. Hmmm… maybe she wasn’t just speaking to me.

“Dancers present their legs with a little more attitude in this move. And “YOU are a dancer. A little more attitude please.”

I watched as this entire room of stressed out moms of toddlers, athletes, executives, and folks clearly in it for their January resolution all brought a little more positive “attitude” to the dance.

A Simple Way to Raise the Bar

Want to raise the bar? Help your team get beyond the just.

“I’m just a keynoter looking to tone and be more graceful on the stage.” True. But how much faster will I get there, if I also embrace my lurking dancer?

“Oh, I’m just a tech guy without an eye for design. Just tell me exactly what you want on your website and I’ll do it, but don’t ask me think to about the way it looks.” Or, “You are a website genius. What do you think is most compelling?”

“Oh I’m just a ticket agent, I don’t make the rules.”  Or, “You are creative travel steward.”

“I’m just _____, ” is a self-limiting cop-out which squashes potential and lowers the bar for all of us. Just because you’re this, doesn’t mean you can’t serve the world more effectively by also being a little of that.

How will you raise the bar for yourself and your team in 2017?

5 Signs Diaper Drama Is Destroying Your Culture

Diaper Genies are a FABULOUS invention– for parents and nurseries. They hide the stink of a poopie diaper and exponentially increase the interval necessary to empty the trash. The stink stays conveniently wrapped tightly in plastic so no one can smell it. The stink is unavoidable and the Diaper Genie provides a welcome reprieve.

But sadly, in so many companies around the world, I see a similar effect. Employees take the stinky issues, and disguise them so cleverly with spin, sandwiched feedback and carefully crafted Power Points, that no one can smell the real problem.

The Diaper Drama Includes…

  • Spinning the truth
  • Watering down feedback
  • Omitting information that may trigger alarm
  • Manipulating data

Signs You May Have a Diaper Drama Culture (and what to do about it)

The minute I pull out the Diaper Genie in one of my keynotes, the heads start to nod. Ahh, yes. We do that here. So if this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

Here are few signs, you may have a diaper genie culture.

  1. Meetings are readouts, not discussions.
    If meetings are more of a one-way information dump, it’s likely you’re not having the tough conversations that would up your game. Ask questions. “What else do I need to know?” “What are you most worried about? What’s making you nervous?” “What could possibly go wrong…. and how can I help?” See also our thinking on how to “own the ugly.”
  2. You spend more time crafting the communication than having the conversation.
    I once worked for a boss where we would have at least 27 rehearsals before any executive presentation. We were all coached on exactly which topics to avoid at all costs– lest we draw attention to our challenge areas. If you’re more worried about font size than fixing problems, you’re likely in a diaper genie culture. Even if you’re working in such a culture, stop that crap on your own team. Encourage your team to focus on substance over form at least in their readouts to you.
  3. Bad news is a powder keg.
    If you’ve got bosses running around that react poorly to bad news, check closely for diaper genies. They’re probably filled to the brim. It doesn’t take long to train your people to lay low and avoid the tough conversations. If you want a diaper-genie free culture, encourage bad news and respond with supportive solutions, not anxiety-laced freak outs.
  4. It’s “Groundhog Day” all over again.
    Like in the movie Groundhog Day, if you’re constantly “fixing” issues only to have them pop up again, you may be in a diaper genie culture. Be sure you’re asking the strategic questions to get to the heart of the problem. Are there performance/job fit issues that need to be addressed? Are there processes that need to be changed? Rip through the plastic and smell what stinks so you can address it.
  5. Don’t ask, don’t tell, is the norm.
    I’ve worked with companies where the employees tell me the unspoken rule… “Never ever bring up the the truth in a focus group.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about employees being coached (and in some cases even “bribed” with extra treats to paint a rosy picture on an employee survey or in a focus group.) Nothing crushes morale faster than feeling you don’t have a voice. This is one of the worst examples of gaming the score.

More About The Diaper Genie Syndrome (an excerpt from one of our Winning Well workshops)

If you’re living in a diaper drama culture, you may not be able to fix the scene over night, but you can focus on your team and cutting through facade and exposing the stink at least in your sphere of influence. When the results start to soar, spread the word. One secret to success: eliminating the diaper genie effect.

A Fresh, Fast, and Fun Way to Focus Your Team

If you’re like most managers, you’re neck deep in performance agreements, stretch goals, and the dance between managing your boss’s expectations and warning your team not to sandbag. How you spend January can make the difference between a breakthrough and mediocre 2017.

Too many managers take the goals handed to them, wring their hands for a day or so, and then pull the team together to figure out how the heck they’re going to accomplish all THAT and still “Do their day job.” That approach will get the job done, but it’s unlikely to unleash breakthrough innovation or a head-turning year.

A Fresh, Fast, and Fun Way to Focus Your Team (or Yourself)

One of the most important questions you can ask your team (or yourself) is “What will it take to make 2017 the very best year of your career?” In my exec role at Verizon, this was always one of my favorite questions. It’s amazing how few people start their year thinking that way.

We now build that question into the strategic planning work we do with teams. Here’s one easy DIY exercise you can do to help focus your team (or yourself).

The End of Year Letter

Ask each member of your team to write you a letter, as if it were January 2018.  This can be done in email, or the old fashioned way. Just be sure you save it, so you can review at midyear and again this time next year.

It’s helpful to give them a few prompts. Here are some to get you started.

Dear __________ (insert your name here, if they report to you; if you are doing this for yourself use your bosses’ name).

2017 was the very best year of my career.

From there, pick some sentence starters as prompts for them to complete.

We totally changed the game by ____________.

The most important thing we accomplished was ___________.

Everyone is looking to us to understand how we ___________

I (we) got so much better at ______________.

Our customers are delighted because_______________.

I really improved my working relationships with __________ by___________.

Feel free to make up your own. You don’t need to pick many. The point is to ask your team members to reflect individually about what an extraordinary year would look like and then to identify specific behaviors and actions to help them get there.

I encourage you to proactively write a similar letter to your boss, and to ask them to pull it out mid year. It’s amazing how motivating this can be.

Let Us Help You Jump Start Your Team in the New Year

In our strategic Winning Well workshops and off-sites we always include exercises to get past the “Ugh, how can we get all this done?” mindset to identifying what matters most, isolating key priorities and behaviors.

Stop This Terrible Habit You Don't Even Know You Have

How do I know you have it? Because I have it too. Most high-performers do.

It’s a sneaky little bugger, because on the surface it really feels like you’re doing the right thing. And on most levels you are. It’s a Winning Well core competency taken to extremes.

But if you go too far, the stress will crush your spirit and undermine your confidence. It’s one more way great managers lose their soul.

In an effort to know your vulnerabilities, to admit mistakes, to always look for ways to improve… it’s so easy to beat yourself up.

  • “What a stupid decision! I can’t believe I didn’t think through all the potential consequences.”
  • “Oh, I didn’t see that coming. I should have been better prepared.”
  • “If I’d only thought about the contingencies early on I could have saved my team a lot of angst and re-work.”
  • “I should have counted to 10 before I sent that email.”

If you’re thinking any of the above or something equally frustrating, I get it. You’re probably right. You made a mistake. You learned something. And you’ll do better next time.

Yes. Own the ugly. Apologize. Get creative and make it right. And then, move on.

Don’t hold a grudge.

Treat yourself with the same level of compassion
you would offer your team, your boss, or the people you love.

I’m writing this as much for me as for you.

When people ask me what’s the hardest part of running my own company, my answer is always the same. “I’m the hardest boss I’ve ever worked for.” And that’s saying something because I worked for some doozies.

Be the leader you want your boss to be… for yourself as well as everyone else. That includes a good dose of compassion every now and then.

4 Secrets to a Successful Performance Improvement Conversation

You sit down for an earnest performance improvement conversation. Things improve for a minute. And the next day (or the day after), she’s back to her “hot mess” behavior.

Sound familiar?

Maybe it’s her. Some people are hard to reach.

But before you write her off as “unfixable,” take a hard look at your approach.

Center Your Performance Improvement Conversation Around These Four Components

Successful performance improvement conversations should include discussion around the following components:

Clarity: “I know what to do.”

Almost every time I work with supervisors on improving their coaching, they are sure they have communicated what to do. And, of course, they’ve been crystal clear on many levels. What is often missing is isolating the very specific behaviors that must change for the employee to be successful. What exactly do you want your employee to do? How will they (and you) know that’s happening. Isolate and breakdown the behaviors you most need for success. Note: “A positive attitude,” “More customer focus” and “Being more strategic” don’t count. Be specific.

Conflicts: “This is where I’m stuck”

Listen here. Closely. It’s easy to discount the “reasons” they can’t improve:  competing priorities; overload; mixed messages; customer angst. This is the part of the conversation that will give you insights to not only what’s getting in the way for her, but also what is driving your high-performers nuts and frustrating your customers.

Confidence: “I can do this.”

Okay, here comes the hard part. If you don’t think she can get there from here, she will see that a mile away. First do a gut check. Are you giving her the benefit of the doubt? Do you believe this is possible? (If not, cross your t’s and dot your i’s on your performance documentation.) But if you are coming from a place of “Yes you can,” be clear on why. Show her examples of how she’s done this before. Break down the goals into bite size behaviors. Start small and be impressed.

Conviction: “I’m committed to doing it.”

If here in lies the challenge, start by asking questions. Why does she choose to work here? What makes here feel great at the end of the day? Connect what you’re asking of her to why it matters.

Holding successful performance improvement conversations takes practice. Consistent focus on these four areas will help you get to the root cause of the issue more quickly. Don’t be afraid to ask her, “What else can I do to be most helpful?” And then, really listen to the what she has to say.

leading for results

3 Ways to Rock Your Role in the New Year

Carol was visibly shaken on the other end of the phone.

Karin, you know that new job I got, well I lost it. I mean, it’s not really my fault, the contract they had anticipated didn’t come through. I get it. But what bothers me more than anything is what my boss said a few days after I got the news. He said, “You never showed up in any meeting as well as you did in the interview. That was disappointing.” So I wonder if I could have saved my job, if I had showed up differently.

The thing is, I didn’t prepare for any of those other meetings like I did for the interview. For the interview, I thought through every possible question and rehearsed my answers. I made sure I got a good night sleep the night before. I was careful to showcase my expertise. What makes me so mad (at myself) is that I’m 50 years old and am just now learning this. The need to prepare and always be your on your game is so obvious.

It’s never too late to up your game.

3 Ways to Rock Your Role in the New Year

“I worked hard. Anyone who works as hard as I did can achieve the same results.”
– Johann Sebastian Bach

Whenever anyone asks me the secret to my career success, my answer is simple. I work very, very hard. Yes, I’ve had great mentors, built great teams, gotten a few breaks… but honestly at the end of the day, the common denominator in any success I can think of has been– effort.

Carol’s not alone. It’s hard to bring your A game 100% of the time. But there are people who are giving that a shot. Want 2017 to be your best year ever? Rock your role.

  1. Perform at Concert Level Every Day
    When I was in high school our  band director drilled into us the cliché, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” Hokey but true. If you want to be seen as an A player, perform at your very best even when you think it doesn’t matter. People will notice, and you’ll get better each day you show up stronger.
  2. Find the Hook
    The hook is the part of the song you find yourself humming 17 years later when you walk down the street. In Winning Well terms, this is the MIT (Most Important Thing). If you want a truly stand-out year pick the right success to be known for, and nail it. Start by talking to your boss. Ask, “What could I accomplish this year that would add real strategic value?” “What contribution could I make that would turn a few heads?” And then work with your team to establish a strategic plan for execution. Focus on the behaviors you would need to perform every day to build toward that success.
  3. Learn From the Virtuosos
    If you want to rock your role, you can’t just keep doing what you’ve always done. You need to hone your craft. Read what the experts are saying about the future in your field. Find a mentor or two who has skills you admire. Invest in a leadership development program for you and your team.

It’s never to late to sing a stronger song. What will you do to rock your role in 2017?

Get Your Team Off To a Great Start

Contact me for a free Rock Your Role leadership consultation to discuss how you can make 2017 your best year ever. You can see learn more about my approach by watching my new 2017 speaking reel. 

 

7 Surefire Ways to Gain More Credibility in the New Year

It’s the time of year where many of us are talking about what we want to lose–a few pounds, some bad habits, a toxic relationship. Today, I’m inviting you to consider what you have to gain– investing in a few key actions to improve your credibility and enhance your reputation.

7 Surefire Ways to Gain More Credibility in 2017

Focus on these behaviors, early and often to give your credibility a boost in the new year.

1. Admit a mistake.
No. not just a small one. I’m going to assume you do that every day. Is there a decision you regret? A strategic move that took the team down a rabbit hole? Or perhaps you let your personal stress bleed into your work, and were harsher in that meeting than necessary.

The truth is when you screw up, your team already knows. You’ll gain instantly credibility points by admitting it.

2. Stop doing something stupid.

I’ve yet to work with a company where folks couldn’t list the “stupid” things they are still doing for stupid reasons. Want credibility as a leader? Pick one of those things and figure out how to stop doing it. Your team will want to kiss you, and you’ll free up more time for them to work on their MITs (Most Important Things).

3. Take a stand.

I bet if I asked you to describe the leaders you most admire, or your favorite boss, we’d only be a few sentences in before you told me a story about them standing up for something that mattered.  Be that person. You know that thing you’re not saying because you’re too afraid? If it really matters, figure out a way to say it well.

4. Forgive a grudge.

I know. This is a hard one. But you know who you’ll gain the most credibility with if you can pull this off? Yourself. There’s huge value in knowing you’re the one that can take the high road and give someone a second chance.

5. Open a door.

The most credible leaders are ones who help people when they have nothing to gain. Building a reputation as a door-opener is a great way to catalyze credibility, not to mention karma.

6. Have a real conversation with your boss.

I was exchanging stories with an old boss the other day about times where we had found ourselves being the only ones having the tough conversations with our bosses. That audacity has served us both well over the years, and has helped me build the muscles I need to now be a successful consultant. There’s huge power and influence in being viewed as the person who will speak the ugly truth in a way people in power can hear it. Gain credibility by being the one who will own the ugly and work to make it better.

And guess what? If you do it well, your boss will start proactively coming to you asking for advice.

7. Rock your role.

Of course you can’t beat the credibility that comes from being ridiculously great at what you do. Show up every day with your A game. Give 10% more than is necessary to every task. Be constantly learning.

Credibility is built through small and consistent actions over time. Imagine the power of paying some extra deliberate attention to a few of these vital behaviors as you turbo-charge your career for the new year.

what if my team is having conflict?

5 Questions to Help You Resolve Your Conflict

We’d both been looking forward to it–our first Thanksgiving together. We’d each been the primary holiday cooks in our previous marriage, which can feel lonely and overwhelming at times. But not this year. Now we had each other. We’d planned the perfect menu the week before while eating sushi over candlelight. We’d had fun shopping. We were all set.

I was full of anticipation of a snuggly time of gravy tasting, stolen kisses, the warm glow of the fireplace in the next room, and the happy ruckus of the parade marching in the background.

Apparently David had a vision for the morning too, which included precise execution, a clutter-free work space– and not so much noise.

So when I started peeling potatoes while still neck deep in the residue of pumpkin pancakes and bacon grease from breakfast, and he pulled out his spreadsheet to do some “backward mapping…”

We decided to take a time out and go for a walk in the woods.

“I just want this to be a romantic time of cooking together. I’m so glad to be with you and want share the experience.” I shared, a bit choked up.

“You’ve told your Dad I’m a great cook, and your Dad IS a great cook. I’ve got to live up to expectations.  It’s important for me to make a good impression on your family.” David explained.

And there we were neck deep in the frustration of miscommunication and unmet expectations.

Ever happen to you?

5 Questions to Ask When Trying to Resolve a Conflict

1. What am I trying to achieve?

What do I really want the outcome of this situation to be? Have I shared that? What does the other person want? And how do I know?  Have we shared our objectives with one another?

2. What is this conflict really about?

Conflicts are almost never about what you’re talking about. At least at first. Despite the obvious dialogue, we were not really talking about whether the apple pie needs an egg white wash before the apples. We were defining how we were going to roll as a couple, in real life. It’s amazing how we can write a book, share many stages, negotiate the financial aspects of the business, and then get worked up about how to mash a potato.

3. What am I expecting?

What are my expectations? Have I said them out loud? Not once did I say, “Hey what I really want here is for you to pay more attention to me than the Brussels sprouts.” Nor did he say, “It makes me feel better to start with a tidy work space.” As it turns out, all that was a nontroversy. I’m always happy for him to clean the kitchen 😉

4. What’s the best way to communicate about this?

Clearly, we needed a time out. A walk in the woods reconnected us to what mattered most– we were together at Thanksgiving and delighted to be a team. We then laughed and pulled out our Winning Well techniques of clarifying expectations and talking about our MIT (most important things).

Another great tool is to consider the range of style-options you have for resolving the conflict and picking one that may come less naturally for you. The TKI indicator is the best tool I’ve found for working with teams on this.

5. How can we achieve the results we want AND enhance the relationship?

Winning Well teams have conflict. Conflict is valuable and often inevitable whenever two or more people are passionate about creating something remarkable. It’s important to keep both the results and the relationships in mind as you’re working through the conversation.

In our case, relationships won on this one. The walk was productive, but the potatoes cooked too long. My nephew ran out to get a box of instant spuds to save the day. I’ll take it.

how do I raise the tough issues at work?

4 UGLY Conversations to Have With Your Team Before Year End

The second half of December is a great time for recognition, celebration, white elephant gifts and other fun. Yes, yes, please do all that, but don’t stop there. The best holiday gift you can give your team is to “own the ugly.” To help your team have the tough conversations they’re longing to have; to stare squarely in the face of what’s not working and clear the decks for a remarkable 2017.

Own the Ugly

The other day I was facilitating a 2-day offsite strategic planning retreat for one of my start-up clients. We’d designed a “speed-generation” problem solving session where groups rotated through stations to identify the ugly issues that needed to be addressed and worked on real solutions.

Within 60 seconds of the first rotation, one group listed every “efficiency” tool their company was using to make “work easier” and then created two columns on their easel sheet–a  “should it stay or should it go” vote.  Everyone who rotated through their station got a vote and indicated what work group they were in. By the end of the session over half of the tools were “voted off the island.” The chairman raised his eyebrows, but took the lead in initiating a curious conversation.

What they found was that the tools they had selected one at a time for good reasons all made sense, but the requirements to keep everything up to date were driving people crazy.

I’m convinced that 40 minute conversation (which everyone gladly stayed beyond our promised closing time to continue– even though beer was being poured in their next agenda item…a holiday happy hour right outside the door) will save them thousands of hours of frustration next year.

“Why didn’t you raise this before?” Well, “No one asked.”

Own the Ugly. Make it safe to talk about what’s not working. It’s getting talked about somewhere. Best to lift it up, stare at it, vent if needed and then figure out what must happen next.

4 Ways to Own the U.G.L.Y.

Here are four ugly conversations worth having with your team. Ask, and then really listen.

U– What are we Underestimating?

Competitive pressures? New technology? The destruction that new manager is doing to our culture? The opportunity that we “don’t have time for?

G– What’s Gotta Go?

What are we doing now that doesn’t make sense anymore? What processes are more habit than value? What meetings are wasting our time? What’s gotta go for us to be remarkable?

L– Where are we Losing?

Where are we still under-performing despite our best efforts? Why? Who’s doing it better? How?

Y– Where are we missing the Yes?

What must we say “Yes” to in 2017? What new opportunities are yearning for our attention? Where must we invest more deeply?

Teams admire managers who “own the ugly.” Winning Well managers have the confidence and humility to go there– to start the conversation, and then listen deeply to the solutions.

9 Ways to Strengthen Your Personal Brand

If you Google you, do you like who shows up?

Do you feel like you’ve got a powerful message to share, but without the right positioning, find yourself talking to the metaphorical mute button?

Are you having trouble outgrowing an outdated reputation at work?

Or maybe you’re just looking to get a better seat at the table.

9 Ways to Strengthen Your Winning Well Brand

If your brand could use a power boost, take a step back and give your brand a Winning Well refresh using these nine approaches.

Results

1- Rock your Role
If you’re not knocking your current job out of the park, start there–even if you’re looking for something else. There’s nothing better you can do to enhance your brand than having a long track record of success. 

2- Mind the MIT (Most Important Thing)
Pick something extraordinary to accomplish and prioritize getting it right. If there are 27 metrics on your balanced scorecard, trust me, they are not all created equal. Pick one or two that matter most and be known as the guy or gal that cracked the code. 

3- Focus on the Game (Not the Score)
Don’t go around talking about metrics and stack ranks (even if you’re on top). Identify the key behaviors that will change the game, and focus yourself and your team on executing on those consistently. You build a brand by playing the game, not by measurement and commentary. 

Relationships

4- People before Projects
Of course projects are important (see above) but results without relationships leave people burned out, frustrated, and unlikely to give you their best effort. Take the time to establish genuine connection with the people you work with. Yes, you have time, because it will save you time downstream, not to mention building a reputation that will attract “A players” to want to work with you the next time, which of course, makes everything easier.

5- Prioritize Peers
Most managers understand the importance of supporting their team and making their boss look good. But to build a brand that lasts– have your peers backs (see 8 reasons your peers rate you low on your 360 feedback assessment) and go out of your way to make their lives easier. Trust me. I wish I learned this one sooner. Your boss may want you at the top of the stack rank, but your bosses boss wants a team of people working together to accomplish the bigger picture. A high tide rises all boats. Do what you can to be helpful.

Confidence

6- Take a Stand
When I first started writing my blog, the folks at Verizon got a little twitchy. And, I had no intention of leaving my day job at that point. I just wanted to help spread the word that you can get results without losing your soul, and yes, you can blend the bottom line with the human spirit. I loved my work at Verizon (and received the highest performance reviews during this time) AND I had something larger to say. I thank God every day that I had the courage to speak up and was open to next steps.

7. Expand your Expertise 
If you want to build your brand, get very, very good at something important. When everyone tells you, “You’re the best!”–that’s a great sign… keep learning and work harder. AND work on broadening your knowledge. I started at becoming the best HR expect I could be… and then made a career out of leading teams where I was not the expert in the field. I learned so much. It pays to be a “utility player” with deep knowledge in at least one arena.

Humility

8- Channel Challengers
One of the best ways to improve your brand is to know what people are saying behind your back. Ask for feedback. Say thank you. Work to improve. If you want to be the best possible version of you, surround yourself with people you respect who will tell you the truth.

9- Own the Ugly
Here’s a secret. When you screw up… your team already knows. If you want to foster respect and build a trusted Winning Well brand, admit your mistakes and make it right.

There are no shortcuts to a Winning Well brand. It’s showing up consistently day after day oriented in confident humility with a laser focus on results AND relationships.

Five Ways to Win Well with Your Assistant

He’s in the background responding to emails, setting appointments, or fixing your website. She’s overseeing projects, and clicking off those daily/weekly/monthly tasks that you may forget about while you focus on what YOU do best. He’s the glue that keeps things together, she’s the one who graciously gatekeeps, protecting your time and workload when she can. That’s why it’s vital for you to develop a Winning Well relationship with your assistant(s.) 

Let’s Grow Leaders/Winning Well has a team of several people who assist in the mission. My particular role is Executive Assistant / Winning Well Ambassador, which means I take care of a myriad of things for Karin (and David) including staying in communication and coordination mode with other team members. Karin invited me to write a blog post and I decided to share five of the Winning Well principles that you can apply as you interact with those “rock stars” on your team.

Blend the bottom line with the human spirit. Your assistant is not only your right hand, but also a vital, interesting person with lots to contribute! Make sure to take time to get to know them as a person and learn what energizes them. In our case, Karin and I enjoy being connected on Facebook, and having a regular Zoom meeting. She’s also willing to listen and give input into my journey as a small business owner.

Leaders don’t motivate, they cultivate. I’ve grown in my professional life since being on the LGL/WW team. We’ve seen the business expand, and the day-to-day needs change. We talk honestly about the best place I can fit and areas in which we both can grow in how we communicate, the roles we play, and more. Have regular conversations with your assistant about how they are growing and what areas of responsibility and workflow may need to be looked at again.

Nothing inspires a team more than being willing to admit a mistake. Some time ago, I made what I considered to be a pretty substantial mistake with Karin’s work. I owned up and made a commitment to making sure it didn’t happen again. Instead of hammering me about it, Karin acknowledged it but helped us quickly move on. She could tell that I already had thought through how to avoid it in the future. She also has taken responsibility when she felt responsible for an oversight.

If you’ve communicated once, you haven’t communicated. We’ve found it valuable to revisit the “why” behind why certain tasks are needed. Even recently, Karin reiterated the rationale behind a particular initiative I run with regularly. As an administrative pro, it’s easy to get caught up in the systems and workflow, and neglect to remember the big picture. A good manager will make sure their “behind-the-scenes” staff are up-to-date and on board with the organization’s mission and values.

Make the MIT (Most Important Thing) clear. Karin doesn’t play the MIT card on everything…but when she tells me that a particular task is an MIT, she explains why, and I know that is something to make sure I focus on consistently and make a priority.  

One of my daily MIT’s is to Help Overwhelmed Professionals Excel. It’s a privilege to have Karin as part of my client family and to help her have a smoother day. In fact, I recently released a free 30 minute course to help professionals Unlock the Doors to a Peaceful Work Day: Five Keys to Putting Together a Smoother Day. With her encouragement, I invite you to check it out for a few tips about how you can experience a little more peace in yours.

7 Reasons to Be A Little More Grateful At Work (Reflections and an Exercise)

With all the stress and pressure, sometimes it feels really hard to cultivate a feeling of gratitude at work.  You might feel stuck. Or passed over. Or taken advantage of. Or just wanting someone to say “thank you” for all you’re doing–for goodness sakes.

Or _____________________ (it’s okay, let it out first). Life it tricky. Gratitude is never simple. The situation could always be better.

But this week, I encourage you to consider this question. What are you truly grateful for at work?

7 Reasons I’m Grateful at Work 

First, let me start here (because sometimes people think this looks easy). Starting up a business is tricky, with ups and downs. I’ve got my fair share of the fill-in-the-blank concerns.

But I choose gratitude. Here are a few of mine.

I encourage you to play along and share your top 7 (or even one or two).

  1. Partnership
    Hands down the magic of 2016 for which I’m most grateful is my expanded partnership with my co-author, David Dye.  Finding the right partner makes all the difference. If you don’t yet have a friend like this in your life, I encourage you to find someone who will challenge you, encourage you, tell you that you are wonderful, and help you work on your flaws. My biggest gratitude of 2016 is for this real deal partnership in work and in life.
  2. Mistakes
    A few times, I’ve rolled the dice big and lost. I trusted the wrong people, bet on the wrong collaboration. And yet, I’m still grateful for playing full out. More bets have gone right than wrong. And now I’m entering the next phase a little more well informed.
  3. Our Team
    This year we couldn’t have scaled the way we did without our amazing team. What I love best is how they work together, even when we’re off speaking or consulting… they’re holding down the fort and passionately working to advance the Winning Well mission. Beth, Vickie, Megan, Amy, Paul, Chris W, Chris H, Doug, Sean et al, and of course, Sebastian and countless others who’ve helped along the way. We are grateful for you.
  4. Collaboration
    We have an army of kindred spirits whom we believe in and who believe in the work we do. I am deeply grateful for the leaders around the world we’ve had a pleasure to work with in their businesses or ours–speakers, consultants, journalists, bloggers, podcasters, family and friends who are doing all taking action to blend the bottom line with the human spirit.
  5. Stretching
    First, I’m so grateful for the many folks who’ve worked to convince their bosses that Winning Well was right for their organizations. They bet on the ROI and it proved out. I’m also so grateful for the stretching you have caused me to do. “Can you do this?” “How can you challenge us in this way?” I continue to grow because of all of you.
  6. Progress
    When David and I were writing Winning Well, this was our theme song. Inch by inch… row by row… it’s a constant reminder for both us (or at least one of us, reminding the other of us when we hit a setback). When we can be truly grateful for the milestones and the progress and enjoy the journey, it makes all the difference.
  7. Learning
    Every time we do a program I have two emotions… How did we serve? And what could I do better? This year has been a tremendous journey of learning and improving. Which stories had the biggest impact? Which tools? Where should I have challenged more? I’m grateful for every single client with us along this journey.

Our recent Frontline Festival gave contributors a chance to give thanks.