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Isn’t Conflict Exciting?

Posted by on Dec, Wed, 2018 in Leadership, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Conflict And Solution Tex - Business Concepts

Thinking about conflict gets me energized!

Yes, you are probably thinking I’m odd right now…and let me tell you what’s happening for me. As a consultant and coach, I recognize that I have an unusual ability (perhaps it’s a gift) to hold space for healthy conflict to happen.

I’ve been doing research and a great deal of thinking about conflict. It’s very expensive to Canadian Business with an estimated cost of $161 Billion annually. Leaders avoid it, team members avoid it and a lot of needed information is left unshared. It’s an epidemic in our organizations!

Yet, so many books are written on it, Crucial Conversations, Dealing with Difficult Conversations; to name a few. What’s getting in the way of engaging in conflict or even embracing conflict?

One of the key things from my research and reflection is that we are struggling with conflict because we all believe the 160-year old definition – that conflict is a lose-win or lose-lose scenario. Carl Marx proposed that there were an inherent inequality and high potential for loss in any conflict. Yet, here we are in Canada in 2018 and the assumption is no longer accurate.

You see, using this definition, we hold back sharing honest information as our subconscious tells us we are at risk. We make an assumption and it’s below our consciousness.

We are no longer living in a landowner; servant society. In Canada, we have laws that protect employees, yet we continue to act like conflict can kill or seriously harm us.

Next time you have a conflict arise (even what’s been called a difficult conversation) ask yourself,

“Am I really at risk?”

Chances are that the risks of embracing the conversation are very low, while the benefits of exploring the differences are huge.

In my experience, as a co-worker and as a consultant, each time I have embraced conflict and had the conversation, I have ended up with a closer relationship, a better solution and getting better results.

#MeFirst Campaign – 7 Suggestions to Energize You

Posted by on Nov, Wed, 2018 in Motivation | 0 comments

Musical Puppy

It’s time to focus on self-care. I’m suggesting a #MeFirst Campaign where you begin to focus on your own needs and desires.

I’m hearing people bogged down by the recent time change, the dark mornings and generally feeling tired.  So, by fulfilling your needs to be nurtured and pampered, you’ll actually have more bandwidth to be there for your team.

So, here are 7 ways you can do some quick self-care:

  1. Take a Break – Yes, this is self-care 101 – take timeouts. Research shows that this improves your ability to think and problem solve. So, schedule 10 to 15 minute breaks into your day.
  2. Focus on YOU – What makes you feel joyful? Perhaps you can put your earbuds in and listen to your favourite tunes for 5 minutes? Or it may be a guided meditation that energizes you, whatever sounds can re-charge you, take a quick listen.
  3. Sleep – Allow yourself to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Sleep hygiene is getting to bed at a consistent time every night so that your body has a clear rest cycle. Shut down your laptop at least 40 minutes prior to shut-eye time. Don’t listen to the evening news just before falling to sleep, but read, create a gratitude list.
  4. Have Fun! – Schedule fun and laughter for your team. How can you shift the focus on your next team meeting to share joyful moments or a funny story that they’ve experienced? Shifting up the energy of your meeting can then bring forward more creative solutions forward in the remainder of the meeting.
  5. Diet – Yes, pay attention to how you are eating. Make sure you are getting healthy meals and snacks. When you are depleted and eating sweets, your energy will plummet and leave you even more tired. Consider having protein snacks like yogurt, nuts, or even healthy fruits close at hand throughout your day.
  6. Breathe – Take time to take in some deep breaths. This can refocus and recharge your body and mind. You might even visualize yourself at your favourite spot. Mine is at the beach with warm weather and a light breeze. Ah, I’m already feeling more relaxed!
  7. Get some Exercise – Find a way to exercise that you like, whether it’s dancing to your favourite tunes, running or taking a class it doesn’t matter. And finding what you enjoy that allows you to be active is most important because you’ll have fun at the same time.

So what can you do today even if you have only 5 minutes for your #MeFirst moment? Make yourself a priority in your day and energize yourself so you can be present for yourself and your team members today.

Google Employees are Standing Up Against Inappropriate Behaviour – Are You?

Posted by on Nov, Wed, 2018 in Team Dynamics | 0 comments

businessman shoes stand on road with star sign

Google employees are walking out to make a stand against sexual harassment. The challenge, like in many organizations, is that there is a difference in how “star” employees and other employees are treated. Somehow those seen as “gifted” are allowed to engage in toxic behaviours.

In my work as a Team Dynamics Catalyst, it is not uncommon for me to meet with Business Owners or Executive Directors who have a highly dysfunctional (on the interpersonal level), yet “star performer,” on their team. When I lean into the conversation with them, I consistently hear “we can’t afford to let him/her go”.

But, as an Executive Director, CEO or Business Owner, can you afford to keep them? Have you done a true cost-benefit analysis? Let me help you with areas to consider.

Regardless of whether the harassment or inappropriate behaviour is of a sexual nature or verbal disrespect of others, it’s extremely expensive for organizations to continue to allow these individuals to work for them.

Ask yourself:

  1. How many good performers are underperforming because of the stress of working in your environment? How many of them are missing time at work because of their fear and discomfort? And, what are the impacts of this toxic treatment having on their mental health?
  2. What is your staff turnover level in the department? Have you considered the costs of having to rehire and retrain new staff?
  3. When it really boils down to the bottom-line results in your organization – is that “star performer” really getting outstanding results? Or is it possible, they are taking credit for other people’s work?
  4. What is it that your customers are not telling you? Oftentimes, these individuals are equally toxic to clients and customers as well. And clients won’t tell you, they will simply move to a different company to supply their needs.

In my experience as a Catalyst for Team Dynamics, there has been a long pattern of accepting these individual’s toxic behaviours.

The expense of staff turnover, sick time and presenteeism that results from the consistent stress of working with these individuals are often not part of the “can we afford to let them go” conversation.

If you are struggling with a situation like this, let’s have a conversation today.

Conflict, Curiosity, and Compassion

Posted by on Oct, Wed, 2018 in Team Dynamics | 0 comments

Creative Abstract Success, Perspective Vision, Marketing, Strate

What exactly is Conflict?

 

It is a concept that is often viewed as negative and is associated with danger or high risk. There is a perception that we are going to lose something if in conflict, so people’s egos create stories that necessitate the need to avoid it. Often at all costs (at least that is what the ego says).

I worked with an agency that so incredibly conflict-avoidant that there was zero trust in the organization. Gossip abounded as individuals sought allies in their version of the truth. In this process, they were “RIGHT”, so their ego could stay intact. The challenge was that in this process they became incredibly stuck and were unable to move forward with any new ideas if, in fact, they could find the creativity in this culture of stuckness.

Instead of exploring potential differences (otherwise called conflict in their personal ego stories) silos were created based on points of view. So each time one of them was challenged by another, they could simply reach out to the silo of allies and feel “RIGHT” again. Once again, any attempts at making real change were stymied.

While this is an extreme example, the process of avoiding conflict is a common theme for many individuals – whether in their work life, home life or volunteer pursuits. Including serving on Boards of Directors where everyone went with the status quo and growth of the agency was highly limited.

What if we challenged the inner dialogue about conflict and really looked at it. What are we losing by our avoidance? What might be best served by leaning into a difference of opinion and exploring the other perspective with someone filled with curiosity?

During Executive Coaching sessions, I often challenge my clients to explore what the motivators are for the other party – and often discover that the other person is attempting to reach very similar goals. They are simply expressing the action steps of the goal in a different way. Once they discover this level of compassion for the other person, relationships deeply shift to respect and collaboration.

My definition of “conflict is a process that creates an opportunity for powerful and dynamic solutions.” 

So, I invite you to consider how might you use curiosity to lean into a difference of opinion, and shift your definition of conflict to deeply explore another person’s perspective today?
How might you use compassion for the other person and for yourself to create a deeper, more trusting relationship?

If you are working on a Board of Directors or in an organization that is stuck in unexpressed conflict, let’s have a conversation about how I can help shift the operational definition of conflict and get the ideas flowing again with deep respect, curiosity, and compassion for one another.

7 Ways You and Your Team Will Benefit from Gratitude

Posted by on Oct, Wed, 2018 in Motivation | 0 comments

October 10 gratitude

 

The days are getting shorter. As I look out of my office window, the leaves are turning beautiful orange, yellow and crimson. It’s time for harvesting and thanksgiving. It is the season to share my personal gratitude for all the wonderful abundance in my life. Gratitude is a gift that keeps on giving.

Here are 7 benefits to expressing gratitude:

  1. It causes us to feel joy. When we focus on what’s working and appreciate it fully, it unlocks our feelings of happiness and joy. It has been said, what you focus on you get more of. In fact, while I was writing this blog, I was gifted with an opportunity to a night out with a colleague.
  2. It improves our relationships. When we focus on the positive, it brings people closer to us. When we share the positive impact another has on our lives we honour them as they experience feelings of being appreciated.
  3. It helps our mental health. When I worked in mental health, I would have my clients with depression create a gratitude practice. It could be the smallest thing as long as they thought about having something good in their life. Consistently, their mood would improve with this exercise. And as they did so, they began to see even more things to be grateful for.
  4. It helps us sleep better. Having trouble sleeping? I recommend that you lie comfortably in the position you sleep in and start to list the things that you appreciate in your life. As you think of each one, focus on the energy of thankfulness. You will begin to relax and may just drift off into a wonderful slumber too.

And you can also influence your team with your appreciative energy:

  1. It makes you a more effective leader. When you practice gratitude, you will have a positive attitude. People tend to follow and respect positive people. You’ll be putting out a vibe of appreciation that will help you to notice and acknowledge more fully what’s happening that’s great!
  2. It improves team morale. Imagine having a moment of gratitude at each team meeting where people can share what others did that they appreciate and want to celebrate. Talk about team bonding!
  3. It motivates people. Ever notice when having a bad day and suddenly you are reminded of something you are grateful for?  It’s as if all of a sudden, that motivation you needed for the task at hand shows up just when you need it. When we are grateful, we exude the energy of possibility and our problem-solving abilities are enlightened.

One of my clients adopted an exercise of gratitude and appreciation that I offered them in a workshop. Years later, they continue to acknowledge each other’s greatness by posting a star in their staff room with the person’s name and what they did that was appreciated by their co-workers, and/or leadership team.

I challenge you to develop a gratitude practice … and watch as it keeps on gifting and giving!

I Hit a Wall!

Posted by on Sep, Wed, 2018 in Motivation, My work | 0 comments

Deepest fear

 

A few years ago I was introduced to a term “tolerations” referring to things that you are not fully happy or pleased with, but that you tolerate from either yourself or others.

It could be as simple as a messy desk or as complex as tolerating work that does not suit you. This is one way we tend to put ourselves second and prevent our own success and happiness.

Yesterday, I hit a wall – I literally couldn’t continue to work the same way. Fortunately, it’s the not type of work I do, as I do love my speaking, consulting and coaching work! And even more, recognizing the results I get. I feel complete and full when a client shares the impact of my work and that people are experiencing positivity in their workplace that enables them to be happy and productive team members.

No, it’s realizing that I have a tendency to play small in my work. I second guess myself on a regular basis, I don’t own that I would be the best coach or speaker for your company. And the problem is, by playing small, I don’t have as much impact on the world as I want to. In my humbleness, I likely cause potential clients to doubt my abilities. I see others who readily accept and even brag about their accomplishments – and good for them! They are living fully in their truth and I intend to do more of that now.

As Marianne Williamson said,
“Who do you play small to in your world?”

Do you fail to step up to an opportunity because you don’t think you have what it takes?
Perhaps you are afraid of failing?
You don’t like the spotlight?
Or a multitude of other reasons.

Today, I invite you to join me in my decision to fully accept and share my abilities to have that impact that we can have to make this world a better place. I would love it if you would share with me what you will do differently so that you can step fully into your brilliance.Say yes to you and goodbye to those tolerations you have allowed about the way you work! Let’s step into our greatness together!

I am Struggling with Change – Again! Argh!

Posted by on Sep, Wed, 2018 in Individual Purpose | 0 comments

Time For Change. Red And Steel Edition

 

I believe that change is an important part of life. In fact, the very thought of not learning has caused me to make significant life changes – for the good!

Having shared that, if I’m truly honest, I still struggle with it – especially with technology. A few years ago my accountant suggested that I shift to QuickBooks and you would have thought he was suggesting that I sign up for torture.

Last year, I had to shift my business email system to a new system. Today, I’m sitting here in GRATITUDE because I have done both. Yes, I whined to anyone who would listen. Yes, I questioned and challenged the change. Yes, I struggled to learn a new way and had fears arise. Yet it all was for the best! So why did I fight it so much?

Comfort Zone

We all have a comfort zone of how we like things to happen and what we like to do. The challenge is that the status quo can shift and if we don’t shift with it, we can become obsolete in our thinking and practices. When that happens, we can lose out on opportunities because we fear or reject them. Just like those old slightly smelly slippers, it feels really comfy!

We all need to be careful that our Comfort Zones don’t become our Constriction Zones!

The amount of challenge we experience with change is directly dependent on how we approach it.
Growth and learning is part of the human condition. So what can we do differently for ourselves and others in our work and life?

Change Management

I know Change Management is an often overused phrase. Yet, the number of changes we are all faced with on a regular basis – especially those that we perceive to be outside of our control, can be overwhelming. And regardless of whether we choose the change or not, we all have 100% control over how we choose to cope with it!

Become aware of what your process is. Change is always a process – and we all deserve to find a way to assist us individually to maneuver through it with better ease and grace.

  • Look back at the last 3 or 5 significant changes that occurred in your life. Make a list of them.
  • Note whether you perceived each change to be in your control or not?
  • What did you do to cope with the change?
  • Were they business or personal in nature? Do you tend to cope the same way or differently depending on this?
  • What part of the process helped? What hindered?
  • Review the parts that hindered your change process. What could you shift to create a smoother experience where you lessen your struggle to enable a smoother transition for yourself?
  • Make a list of change coping strategies that work for you and keep them in a location where you’ll remember to look at them the next time you experience change.
  • Finally, make note of the benefits of the change that occurred.

Next time you are about to experience another change, you can be comforted that you’ve learned to cope even better with change and that you can get through it successfully. Partially because you have a plan and because you recognize you have succeeded in the past!

The Real Costs of Allowing Poor Behaviour in the Workplace

Posted by on Aug, Wed, 2018 in Leadership, Team Dynamics | 0 comments

August 29

 

My husband and I decided to have a new well drilled at our cottage. One might think this is a simple process. You call someone, get a quote for the work and then have it completed…right!?!

Well, this is not my experience. Initially, I was promised a date in June, which then became July and turned into August. Finally, in mid-August, the work began.  However, it got stopped by the well-driller one hour later as they had not brought the supplies they needed to do the work the first day. Then the following Monday and Tuesday he called to say he couldn’t make it. One week later, the well is almost completed.

While I’m grateful to have water, I’ve lost trust and faith in this person’s work ethic – even though he is an expert in his field.

This experience reminded me of the organizations that keep a difficult but long-term employee who they say does good work, but yet their interpersonal behaviour is abhorrent.

Do you have an employee that fits this bill? Are you even addressing the issue or are you hoping if you ignore it, it will simply go away?

Whether the behaviour is not showing up for work, being unprepared for work or especially lacking appropriate interpersonal skills, these people need to be held to task. I’ve heard the argument that “we can’t afford to pay a severance package.”

Here are some real-world examples of the hidden costs of enabling the behaviour to continue:

  1. Other team members avoiding speaking with and dealing with the individual resulting in decreased productivity and poor workflow.
  2. Other team members will question your leadership. It is common to lose significant trust in the leader’s ability to lead.
  3. The impact on other team members’ mental health. You may end up either paying sick time or re-assigning work when other team members do wish to cope with the difficult person.
  4. This not only impacts your internal customers (co-workers) but also your external customers (clients).  It is having a negative impact on your company’s brand. You are at risk of losing valuable clients.

These are very expensive when sometimes the solution is not dismissal but being fully honest and holding space for the individual’s full potential.

The first step needs to be having an open and honest conversation with the individual outlining the impact of his/her behaviour and co-creating a plan for improvement.

This plan will be more successful when it includes coaching – whether hiring an external coach or providing a coach within the organization. This individual deserves clarity and an opportunity to make a change. Have regular meetings with the individual to both support changes and encourage growth through accountability. If there is no improvement, you may need to take further action.

However, in this process, they are given the opportunity to dig deeper into their own well of potential! And they may just surprise you! At the very least, you have primed the pump for improving your team’s dynamics!

Don’t Talk AT Me

Posted by on Aug, Wed, 2018 in Communication | 0 comments

Boss threatens finger to businessman. Pop art retro vector illustration

 

How Passionate People Can Talk so others Want to Listen

 

Recently at two meetings I attended, I experienced individuals speaking being so passionate about their message of helping other women in business that they started to speak at us vs. to us. Initially, with both women, I was interested and then found myself shutting down as they shared some “absolutes” about how we as women need to be or should be if we wish to succeed. Their goal is very admirable, as with many leaders, however, their delivery is sadly missing the mark for their success!

Now, I don’t believe this is a women’s issue per se, as men can be equally as passionate and get caught up in their excitement of how they think things should be better as well.

How does this transfer this into the team environment?

Perhaps you are a new leader and have lots of great ideas, and in your excitement, you start to prophesize about your vision. In doing so, you can inadvertently offend people who believe that you are criticizing or even condemning their past work. Take a moment to think about where your team members are at prior to making a lot of recommendations before you get your feet wet in the team. Make sure that you ask for their ideas upfront and incorporate them. Remember that the “critical voice” in the team can be a great source of information and is often able to see the potential risks of a new idea. Then use their insights to problem solve how the particular risk could be mitigated. When solutions and visions are co-created with the team, the probability of success is enhanced.

Or you’ve been the leader for some time and you learn of a new product or service that you are really excited about. You walk into the meeting and share this idea – and perhaps – even instruct the team that we are going to go this way. Remember, none of us really love to be told what to do! If you want adoption of your idea, then introduce it and ask for team members to share their perspective with you. Think about how you can make this a more interactive conversation vs. talking at them. It may be helpful to have a brainstorming session on the potential benefits and pitfalls from the perspective of a team member, the team as a whole and the organization. Then look at all the data and proceed accordingly. Teams tend to adopt new ideas when they have input and influence on what and how they are carried out.

Or you are sharing your personal passion. Be very careful not to use words like “should”, “must”, “have to”, and so on.  These words come across as absolutes and when team members don’t fit the absolute, they may shut down and stop listening too. We tend to become overwhelmed and at times experience an Amygdala Hijacking when being passionately spoken too.

Help enhance your level of success and give a generous thought to how you can make your message easier for your audience to hear. If you relate to this struggle, let’s chat about how Coaching can help you shift your energy and get even better results!

 

Time for Self-Reflection

Posted by on Aug, Wed, 2018 in Motivation | 0 comments

august 1 take time to reflect
We are in high cottage season here in Canada. When at the cottage, I tend to lay back, relax and savor the beauty of my surroundings. Sitting in complete appreciation for what I’ve created (my husband and I build our cottage with our own hands).

Have you as an executive or manager, sat back and appreciated your surroundings? Often you’ll find yourself focused on putting out fires, dealing with crisis and planning for the future. One of the key opportunities is to take stock of the current situation. So this week, plan some time to sit and reflect on the current situation in your organization.  Take time to review feedback you’ve received from team members, clients or customers, as well as your own perceptions.

What is going really well? What lead to that success? Was it a particular sequence of events, the attitude you shared with staff or their excitement for the project? Perhaps it was ensuring that they had access to all the tools and resources they needed to work on the project.

What needs some work? What in your sphere of influence could have been more effective? How might you have done it differently? What skills, attitudes, tools, communication were missing or less effective?

What needs immediate attention? Breathe and remain in reflective mode – what were the factors that lead to this result? Who was involved? What skills or attitudes or tools do they need to get better results? What conversations do you need to have to get these addressed most effectively? Take a time to strategize.

How might you improve the situation or roll out of the next venture given these insights? Take some notes that you’ll look at prior to starting the next initiative to remind yourself of these guidelines to create a rollout plan for the next initiative in your organization.

Taking a “time out” to reflect and evaluate can help you create dynamic solutions that you never conceived of. Doing this on a regular basis will help you become an even better leader! This is one of the great benefits of Executive Coaching – you have another set of eyes and ears to assist you to reflect on and improve your current situation.

If you are looking for that support, just give me a call.