5 Strategies to Manage Your Overwhelm

Posted by on Dec, Wed, 2017 in Motivation | 0 comments

Crazy inventor helmet for brain research

We’re in the final stretch of 2017! Rushing to get those deliverables completed so that you can relax over the holiday season. It’s the last month to ensure you’ve met your goals for the year.

We’re also into the crazy season of shopping, overeating, and celebrating. While it’s lots of fun, we are not only jugging our regularly busy schedules, we are adding a lot of extra social and family activities resulting in decreased energy, overwhelm and over-tiredness.

So, being able to operate at optimum energy is a challenge. Here are 5 tips to help you maintain a healthy vibe this Festive Season:

  1. Focus on your budget: Time and Money

Make a plan and decide this year about your priorities for the season. What events will you attend? Who will you provide gifts for? What is your financial and emotional budget?

Make an active choice about what events you really want to attend, you can be fully present rather than thinking about the next event you have to dash to. We cannot do everything so by making a choice and attending only meaningful celebrations, you create a more meaningful festive season.

  1. Stay Grounded

We all need to take care of our energy. Keeping grounded is important to remain calm, and balanced. Ensure that you do this every day.

Go to the quiet spot inside of you. If you can’t find it amongst the busy-ness, try the following visualization:

Sit with your feet flat on the floor. Now imagine roots growing from the balls of your feet and growing deep into the center of the earth. See a large boulder or rock in the middle of the earth and watch the roots grow around this.

  1. Take a Time Out

Spend quiet time with yourself every day. This may be meditating, walking the dog, listening to favourite music or reading a good book. By taking some time to simply relax each day, you lessen the risk of overwhelm.

Whether you budget 5 minutes or 30 minutes a day, making yourself a priority helps to calm your body and mind so that you are better equipped to deal with holiday stressors.

  1. A Treat or not a Treat?

Be thoughtful about the foods you are eating. Many of us have the tendency to overdo it during the party season. Having a special “treat” or drink may feel wonderful in the moment, but what’s it doing to your body? Have healthy meals or snacks before going to parties so you aren’t overly tempted with all those rich foods and desserts. You will be more likely to use moderation and really savour each bite.

  1. Sleep

Ensure you get enough sleep. Make sure you are getting to bed at a reasonable hour. When you are feeling stressed and having difficulty dropping off to sleep, use deep breathing techniques. For example, as you exhale see the dark, stressed energy leaving your body and breathe in the pure clear energy into your lungs.

Using essential oils, such as, lavender can be helpful to simply relax and get those much needed zzz’s. Simply drop a little on your pillow each night.

These techniques will help you to maintain your energy and keep vibrant through stress in work and in life.


Wishing you all a safe and festive season – be it Christmas or Yom Kippur or another holiday in your personal tradition.

7 Things that Erode Trust from a Leader

Posted by on Dec, Sun, 2017 in Leadership | 0 comments

Cracked cement symbolizing broken trust between people or partie

Trust and integrity are often used terms in business.

Do you ever take the time to reflect on how honest your personal behaviour is? When we become stressed, our behaviour tends to revert to less than optimal behaviour. A manager that I was working with some time ago prided himself on being honest, yet often failed to be clear and direct with his thoughts and goals to his staff. When he engaged this in this behaviour, his staff became stressed and became much less effective in their work.

Sometimes we can experience “creeping” of our ethics and this impacts those all around us – our direct reports, our relationships and our clients.

Ask yourself if you have engaged in any of the following behaviours:

  1. Embellishing things. This can be either exaggerating how wonderful something was (when it was only okay or good), or how bad things were (often done to illustrate your point and get others to side with you on an issue).
  2. Talking about other people.  Have you found yourself complaining about someone’s behaviour behind their back? If you are gossiping like this with your direct reports, rest assured, they’ll be wondering what you say behind their back and trust in you becomes eroded.
  3. Rescue people. Do you have a tendency to become uncomfortable when others are receiving feedback that is uncomfortable? I’ve witnessed senior managers who then start to defend the individual despite having very similar concerns themselves. This creates confusion for all. No one is clear on what you really think and your credibility becomes eroded.
  4. Ignore bad behaviour and reward positive behaviour. As a manager, you need to ensure that you are giving equal weight to both successes and areas of growth. When you fail to hold others accountable, you fail to allow their growth.
  5. Sugarcoat your message vs. giving clarity on where you really stand on a topic or issue. Perhaps you are looking for the perfectly politically-correct phrase to announce in a meeting rather than speaking in a direct and respectful way. What is driving you to find the phrase that pays? Are you attempting to get “buy in” or manipulating vs. allowing employees to understand what is really happening?
  6. Ask your workers to complete tasks or reports and then redo the work without sharing your rationale so they can grow. This micromanagement technique will certainly give you rationale to continue to micromanage. When you don’t coach your employees to complete strong reports and redo them yourself, they become offended and insulted and then will lose the incentive to do great work. After all, why ensure it’s a great report if it’s only going to get redone by someone else?
  7. Make decisions that could easily and effectively be made by your managers or employees. When you take over control, your managers and leaders will start to rely on you to make decisions and when those decisions are not the best, you can expect blame to come shortly thereafter. Encouraging responsibility and ownership at all levels of the organization is a key facet to successful business.

Take the time to review these 7 areas – have you gotten feedback (whether verbal, written or even non-verbal) from others that would suggest you’ve been engaging in these 7 self-defeating behaviours? If so, genuinely want to change, look for an Executive Coach to assist you in greater self-awareness and change.

Gossip: The Cancer for Trust and Team Dynamics

Posted by on Nov, Wed, 2017 in Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Colleagues gossiping with sad young businessman in foreground at

You see your staff gathered around the proverbial water cooler and connecting with co-workers. Perhaps they are catching up on what’s happened over the weekend. So, how does this inane behaviour become like a cancer? It happens when the conversation wanders off course and people start conversations with, “Did you hear that Sally in accounting…” Sometimes you may be inadvertently passing on dishonest and inaccurate information. I’ve worked with organizations where gossip was abundant and it appeared to be a symptom, as well as, cause of a dysfunctional team.

What began to happen, probably some years ago, was that people started to complain about each other making statements to one another that ‘she doesn’t even do her job’, ‘did you hear that …?’ The problem was twofold – the person was spreading gossip and it was based on a lie that someone had told. No one went directly to the person being gossiped about to see if it was an accurate statement and in actuality, it could be slanderous statement if it challenged the individual’s character. Gossip undermines people being direct with one another and resolving differences and challenges effectively.

Gossip is not helpful as it enables individuals to continually talk about other people with no accountability – often times team members will become pseudo-connected through this negativity. In other words, they become fused “as friends” through the common interest of criticizing another person. This is caused by the release of dopamine in the brain. So, when these individuals get together, they’ll fall back to their common interest which is gossip. It’s very rare to gossip about another’s strengths. Gossip tends to create cliques of individuals while it excludes others. This cancerous behaviour will undermine trust in one another. After all, if he says that about Sally, what would he say about me behind my back? These team dynamics create suspicion, mistrust and a negative workplace.

When there is a performance issue, the gossip can play the role of sweeping it under the proverbial rug. This happens as people complain together and avoid the direct conversations that might result in awareness and personal growth for another person. In this way, everyone is supporting the inappropriate behaviour. Gossip avoids the personal risk of having a difficult conversation.

If people are gossiping in your organization, challenge it by developing a zero tolerance policy and hold people accountable (including yourself). Let them know that gossip will not be tolerated and what the consequences will be should they continue.  If you know specific individuals who are frequent gossipers, then speak with each person directly and be clear on your expectations going forward. Ask your staff what they wish to achieve through their behaviour – is their goal to undermine people’s trust in them? Inquire how they would feel if others were treating them the same way. Gossip tends to break down trust in both individuals and teams, as it undermines direct communication, personal accountability and problem solving.

Instead, be a role model of direct communication. Take the time to have those difficult conversations. Encourage your direct reports to speak with the person they are impacted by and have them make a request for a change in behaviour. And you might just help an individual change their behaviour and be even more effective in their role.

Why Team Dynamics Training is Important

Posted by on Oct, Wed, 2017 in Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Business people collaborate to put pieces together find solution


The cost of conflict from poor team dynamics can be high for an organization. Poor dynamics within your team can cause absenteeism, chronic sick time, and higher turnover rates. In turn, these problems can lead to decreased productivity and the increased costs associated with constant hiring.

Want to cut down on these costs for your organization? It is important to have a healthy and positive group dynamic within your team. This blog will explain the basics of team dynamics, show how to identify poor group dynamics, and lay out 5 simple strategies to improving group dynamics.

If you’re looking further support with the dynamic of your team, On Purpose Consulting offers specialized team training services to improve group dynamics, including executive coaching and team facilitation. Keep reading to learn more about these services.

What are Team Dynamics?

Team dynamics are the interactions that occur between individual team members, subgroups with the team, and the entire team. These are influenced by communications at all levels, including verbal exchanges, non-verbal, and written correspondence. They are also highly impacted by organizational structure, the leadership’s management style, and the values of the organization.
Learn more about team dynamics here.


How to Identify Poor Group Dynamics

Here are a few ways to identify poor group dynamics within your team:

  • The blocking of new ideas
  • Bullying between team members
  • Consistently missed deadlines
  • Formation of cliques and silos
  • Lack of trust between team members and leaders
  • Presence of free riders in group situations
  • A prevailing groupthink mentality
  • Overall negativity and low morale

If you observe any of these traits within your team, it’s a good indication that you are suffering from poor group dynamics. You need to take steps to correct the situation.

5 Strategies for Improving Team Dynamics


1. Work On Purpose

As we explained in another blog, employees are seeking purpose in their work. If you can align your team’s work with a strong purpose, this can inspire them to go beyond the compensation and provide more discretionary effort on a daily basis. They will stay longer without expecting returns because they will find their work rewarding.

One concrete way to help your team work on purpose is to create a strong mission, vision, and purpose for your company and communicate it to your team. Establishing a mission, vision, and purpose that resonates with your team is the starting point for building a positive culture within your organization.

2. Know Your Team

If you are looking to improve team dynamics, it is essential to know your team and know yourself as a leader. You should understand the strengths and weaknesses of everyone on your team, including learning styles, behavioural tendencies, and natural proclivities.

If you’re trying to build a high performance team, you should also ask the following questions:

  • Who is results-driven?
  • Who is a relationship builder?

  • Who is an innovative thinker?

  • Who is a pragmatist?

These types of individuals will be assets to a high-performance team. It is important to ensure your team includes a balance of individuals with all characteristics.

3. Define Goals, Roles & Responsibilities

Especially with a new team, it is crucial to provide direction. This can be achieved by setting goals that align with the organization’s mission, vision, and purpose. It should also be reinforced by assigning roles and responsibilities to the individuals on your team.

Roles and responsibilities help people know where they fit in the team and make them feel accountable for the team’s success. You should create realistic goals for the group, assign roles that fit the strengths of each individual, and divide work equally amongst the team. It is also important to acknowledge the contributions of each member and make them feel valued.

4. Take Quick Action When You Spot Poor Dynamics

If you see any of the common symptoms of team dysfunctions (which we described above), it is important to act quickly to prevent the negative behaviour from spreading. As soon as you identify a problem scenario, it is time to step into conflict resolution mode.

Provide the team member in question with honest feedback that emphasizes the impact of the their actions and offers a positive solution. Achieve a healthy and productive resolution to the conflict — make sure you bring the team member back into the group.


5. Encourage Open Communication

Teams function best when everyone is able to talk and have useful conversations with each other. Be sure to encourage open and honest communication on the team, emphasizing the value of giving and receiving feedback in a constructive way.

Our Team Dynamics Training Process

At On Purpose Consulting, our team dynamics training uses a discovery process to understand exactly what’s happening inside the organization. Our trainers will conduct a company-wide survey and interview a cross-section of the team to uncover the underlying causes of a poor team dynamic.

Then we’ll deliver actionable recommendations, based on the invisible patterns that we’ve identified in your organization, and help you create solutions to resolve the situation. These solutions may include executive coaching, coaching with individual team members, or team-building activities. Everything we do is based on real conversations and learning happens in real time.

If you’re looking for group dynamics training for your team, contact On Purpose Consulting today to get started.

That Negative Voice in Your Team

Posted by on Oct, Wed, 2017 in Team Dynamics | 0 comments

elephants fighting

Having been labelled in a previous life as the “difficult employee”, I’m writing from a new perspective on how to deal with those challenging, negative complainers. Years ago, while working, I would attempt to bring up things that weren’t working. I often had some ideas for solutions, but these suggestions were never explored because of my negativity. Or, in retrospect, was it because of the defensiveness of my superiors? Perhaps both!

There are several reasons that people can show up as negative and complaining. Here are some possibilities:

  1. They are aware of a key problem that, like the elephant in the room, is not being talked about. So when it’s brought up, you need to be an open and approachable leader to really listen and not become defensive.
  2. They’ve attempted to share the concern and felt shut down. This may be caused by not feeling heard, by being labelled as difficult or because they are uncomfortable with confrontation.
  3. Leaders are defensive about something and not open to new information or feedback. Sometimes when leaders are overwhelmed with stress, shutting down listening skills is an unconscious strategy to cope.
  4. They need coaching on how to share concerns. They may lack the assertiveness required to share in a constructive manner.
  5. The individual is unhappy in their role, the culture isn’t a good fit or they are simply a complainer who sees the glass as half empty.

The challenge is determining what type of “difficult” or “negative” employee they are. Here are three tips on uncovering what’s really happening for that individual:

  1. Set up a one to one meeting with the individual. Become curious and ask questions to uncover their point of view fully. Consider that they may have some valuable information for you.
  2. Breathe, really listen and repeat back the content (not the delivery) of what you have heard. Remain calm and own any defensiveness that you experience.
  3. Ask how the individual would like to see things done differently. This shifts into solution finding. What action would they like to take on it? This helps encourage personal responsibility. What supports do they need to shift to solution finding and personal responsibility? And finally, what would they like to see you do differently?

Often by really being listened to, the person will be able to be coached on their delivery and show up in a more constructive manner. If this doesn’t work, and the individual continues to complain and be difficult, you will need to shift into holding the person accountable for their behaviour. By investigating with an open mind, you can have a positive impact on your team dynamics.

When We Categorize People We Exclude or Hate: So I Choose Love

Posted by on Sep, Wed, 2017 in Communication | 0 comments

September 27- I choose LOVE


I have read many responses to the recent hate events in the world on social media, many of them attempting to create acceptance by talking about external factors (e.g., skin colour) which are sadly another form of prejudice. I’ve even found myself in a blog last month using a photo of “stop workplace bullying”. One of the challenges is our human desire to categorize to make sense of it.

In Appreciative Inquiry Processes, we say “words create worlds”. This speaks to our problem – we have not found the positive words that embrace the complete energy of the opposite of Bigotry/Hate or the energetic opposite of Bullying. So we end up defaulting to the words we really don’t want, which can actually serve to reinforce the negative.

I’ve often said that our need for labeling has created prejudice. For example, as a young Social Worker, I worked for the Metro Toronto Association for the Mentally Retarded. I cringe as I type these words – because I know of the negative connotation that has been placed on this label. And, let’s be honest, we keep making “politically correct” labels that end up with the same stigma.

How do we find the appropriate words that can bring forward the energy of love, acceptance, respect, and dignity for all without creating a label that somehow excludes?

Being Fully Present in Life and at Work

Posted by on Sep, Wed, 2017 in My work | 0 comments

Enjoy every moment here and now. Motivating poster.


This summer, I learned a lesson in focus – and like many lessons, it started in a place of lack of [focus].

You see, I have a lovely cottage that I wanted to spend more time at – so decided to work from the cottage on some Fridays. Sounds wonderful – but it’s had some glitches.

I started to feel like I was never really present – when I was at the cottage, I was thinking about what I had to remember when I got back to my office and when at the office, I was distracted by what I needed to remember to take to the cottage to work effectively. This got tiring – very quickly!

So, if you are finding yourself not being fully focused or present in your work here’s some suggestions to help:

  1. Become aware of what’s working well and what isn’t. Once you identify the challenges, solutions can be found.
  2. Write an action plan to address what’s not working. What steps could be taken to make a smoother transition? What helps you to focus?
  3. Create systems to help. Look at the how. For example, I needed to shift my to-do list to add another column of what was needed to complete each task (so any files, etc., I needed to take).
  4. Schedule “transition times” between work and home. I actually scheduled time to focus on where I was going to be and how I would best execute these tasks. I would make notes of anything I needed to pick up when back at my home office. This enabled me to be laser focused on tasks and see them through to completion.
  5. Enjoy the focus.

This allowed me to be fully present and enjoy the cottage and to enjoy the satisfaction of completing my work effectively and easily.

Limiting Beliefs, Hate Crimes and Office Bullying

Posted by on Aug, Wed, 2017 in Leadership, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Stop workplace bullying road sign
Many of us have been outraged by the recent hate situations in the U.S. It is truly baffling how in this age of awareness, and access to information, people continue to condemn each other based on prejudice and ignorance. So where does this hatred come from? I believe it is from two sources – fear of the unknown and the unhealthy need for power. Both are based on very limiting belief systems.

We like to think these are isolated incidences. However, in the workplace there is often a bully that is allowed to negatively impact others without being held accountable. People regularly tell me about the one individual in their workplace whose behaviour continues to create stress and drama for the other workers. Sometimes this is their boss and sometimes a co-worker. And often they continue their behaviour for years without being held accountable.

For both situations, there is a culture of acceptance – often by default. It may be the manager who turns a blind eye to the bullying. Yes, it’s scary to stand up to a bully. Yet, if you consider the damage that happens when you do not address inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, there are dire consequences on others (and I believe on your bottom-line too). Perhaps it’s creating a mental health challenge for other team members, increased absenteeism and/or staff turnover.

If you are one of those managers who has not been addressing aggressive and inappropriate behaviour in the workplace it’s time to step forward and address it. Here are some steps to help:

  1. Make a list of the behaviours that you have witnessed and that others have shared with you. Stick with behaviour that is specific and observable – and stay away from “attitude” type comments. For example, instead of “being rude” it would be “raised your voice and yelled”.
  2. Start to document current situations with the date, parties involved and what happened. Make notes of the impacts on others in the department. This is to help you recognize the impact and hold yourself accountable to address this pattern.
  3. Speak with your Human Resources person about the situation in depth and create a plan to actively and consistently address it. You might like to ask them to join the meeting with the employee to support the process.
  4. Hire an Executive Coach to assist you in understanding and shifting your behaviour so that you can appropriately address the situation.
  5. Arrange a meeting with the person engaging in bullying behaviours. Share the information with the person in a respectful and clear manner. If possible, use the most recent examples as it is easier for the individual to reflect these situations.
  6. Be prepared to call a brief time-out if either you, or your employee get triggered. Then return to the discussion.
  7. Encourage the person to look at what causes the behaviour in them.
  8. Create a plan to address this behaviour pattern. How might they find new avenues to address situations that arise?
  9. Share a written summary of the conversation including the plan to shift the behaviour pattern.
  10. Set up a time for a follow-up meeting and hold them accountable for their behaviour. Also, help them to acknowledge any progress they make towards shifting this pattern of behaviour – even the small steps – while ensuring that they hold themselves fully accountable.
While it is challenging to address these situations, the long-term consequences of brushing it under the rug far outweigh the benefits of ignoring the situation. It is time to shift those limiting beliefs in yourself and your employees. Shift to a new dynamic of respect.

The Aftermath of Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Posted by on Aug, Wed, 2017 in Communication, Motivation, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Business, Technology, Internet And Network Concept. Young Busine

Many companies are aware of the importance of measuring employee engagement or satisfaction. In fact, many organizations complete an annual survey to observe how their employees are experiencing their work. The challenge becomes what to do with those pesky survey results when they need improvement.

During a recent conversation with my sister, we discussed how her employer conducts an annual survey. However, they do not appear to address the employees’ responses. I have heard a similar concern from numerous employees over the years. As a result, the employees end up feeling unheard and that their opinions are not valued, which in turn can decrease their engagement.

From my perspective, this is an expensive endeavor to conduct surveys with no action might actually reduce employee engagement. So let’s look at how to address those pesky areas of improvement.

  1. Before you administer the next survey, decide what level of engagement would be ultimate for your organization. Or in other words, what is the crucial rating that means we need to take action steps to improve in this area?
  2. Once the survey is completed, share the results with all your team members. Highlight and celebrate your successes. Next review the areas for improvement. Chose 1 or 2 that will be the highest priority for the next quarter. Identify the 3 action steps and commit to them in front of your team.
  3. Take regular and consistent action to improve those areas. Hire a good consultant to assist you to create and take action on these if necessary. A consultant can help you to keep this project at the top of your priority list.
  4. At the beginning of the next quarter, review with your team what action you have taken and ask for input on how it is working. Getting feedforward in real time can assist in making effective and lasting changes in your culture.
  5. Next, pick the next 2 highest priorities for this quarter. You might need to keep working on the priorities from last quarter if you have not yet achieved real results. Again, share the action plan with your entire team.
  6. Continue to communicate and select priorities each quarter moving forward.

Taking these action steps will create an even better workplace culture and increased engagement. It will ensure more value from the surveys and help you to improve your results. As employees feel valued, they will give increased discretionary efforts and drive stronger bottom-line results.

Releasing Patterns for Success

Posted by on Aug, Wed, 2017 in Individual Purpose, My work | 0 comments

Recently I had the pleasure to work with a client who has a successful business, however, finds her coaching client work exhausting. During our coaching session, we chatted about her ‘need to be needed’ and how this played out for her and her clients. This pattern was sabotaging both her clients’ and her success. You see, she became over-invested and her clients stopped doing the work and waited for her to inspire, energize and take full responsibility for their work. Whether you are an Executive or Business owner, how you play out your own unmet needs impacts others. For some, it’s an addiction to perfection and you will find yourself correcting the reports written by your direct reports. You may tell yourself,  “it is vital to get this right and professional” is your motivator. Yet, when you make all those corrections, your direct reports never learn how to do it for themselves and thus a dependency is created. For those folks who are consistently getting re-written, it’s frustrating and demeaning. And many of them give up and submit reports that are mediocre because they know it will be edited anyway.Or maybe you are “in the weeds” all the time, wanting direct reports to inform you of their work and progress on each task. Or as a consultant or coach, you are double checking if your clients are taking action on the tasks they committed to and/or completing some tasks for them. When this plays out, you’ve lost your leadership and/or coaching edge. People will experience this as a lack of faith in their abilities and it can erode their trust in you.Being aware of your patterns and how they operate, often outside of your conscious awareness, is paramount in great leadership. Here’s a process to help you understand what’s happening under the surface for you:

  1. Think about what irritates you or tires you in your work/others – these are often our “energy leaks” where unmet needs are playing out at some level. By energy leaks I mean that you are expending your energy in a manner that will leave you feeling drained, overwhelmed and stressed. How do you typically act in these situations where you feel tired or irritated by others?
  2. Ask yourself, when I do “X” (your unmet need or habit) I find that people consistently do “Y” (their actions/words). Then pull out your journal or piece of paper and using the good old-fashioned cursive writing, make a list of what creates that pattern for you by responding to these questions:
    What thoughts arise when you think about this situation?
    What questions are you asking in your mind?
    What emotions are you experiencing?
    What needs is this pattern meeting for you? This is a tough question – you may need a good coach to help you get to the bottom of your pattern.
  3. How does this mindset serve me in my day-to-day interactions? How does this pattern create chaos in my day? What would I gain by releasing or letting go of this pattern? How might that create space for something different and better to arise?
  4. Now that you’ve identified your pattern and underlying need, how might you directly meet that need? Make a list. For example, if you discover a perfectionist pattern, you might explore other ways to address your anxiety of imperfection such as taking deep breaths, going for a walk, or reviewing what the worst possible scenario would be if the imperfection wasn’t corrected. Most often you’ll find that the consequences are not that dire.
In every area of life becoming increasingly aware of your own patterns of behaviour can unlock success for you. Allowing your patterns to continue to run unaddressed is exhausting and creates those energy leaks. I challenge you to uncover those old patterns and explore new ways to interact that support you, your direct reports and clients.