June 29, 2015 / Articles We Like / Leadership

On “The Top Complaints from Employees About Their Leaders”

Trust is a key ingredient for creating an engaged and productive workforce. Yet competing priorities, daily pressures and sometimes a lack of self-awareness can get in the way of effective communication and leadership. When we read the survey results in this article, the list of complaints employees have about their leaders seemed all too familiar to us as executive coaches. But by bringing awareness to the power of meaningful connection with employees, we know leaders can make a huge impact on productivity in the workplace.

We share the Harvard Business Review article, “The Top Complaints from Employees About Their Leaders“, by Lou Solomon, to help raise awareness of your communication and connection with employees. Try implementing the suggestions to build more trust!

Tell us: What communication practices do you find most effective for connecting with your employees?

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April 2, 2015 / Leadership / Mariposa Articles

The Communication Toolbox

We all grow up with our own unique communication style. Some people by nature are very direct. They come right to the point. They tell it like it is. They don’t mince words. Other people are more diplomatic, more indirect, more subtle in their communication. Indeed, there are a variety of communication styles—quiet, loud, forceful, caring, showy, authentic, and many more.

One metaphor I have found helpful in working with leaders to develop their communication skills is what I call “The Communication Toolbox.” The idea is that we each have a communication style that is most natural and comfortable for us.  Usually, it’s a style we began to develop early in our lives or careers, and that somehow has served us well.  But no one communication style is going to be right for all situations, and leaders encounter a tremendous diversity of people and contexts.  Part of being a well-rounded leader means having more than just one tool.  The further up you go in an organization, the more important it is to have a broader set of tools in your communication toolbox.To read the entire article, visit the Sierra Leadership blog.

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March 3, 2015 / HR / Talent Management / Wisetalk

WiseTalk Summary on Disrupting Talent Management

On February 26, 2015, Sue Bethanis hosted Steve Cadigan, a Silicon Valley talent, people and culture expert, founder of Cadigan Talent Ventures LLC, a Silicon Valley-based talent strategies advisory firm, and former Vice President of Talent at LinkedIn. Steve helped us understand why traditional talent sourcing and hiring methods are in need of disruption, shared his vision on how disruption can benefit both prospective employees and employers, and shared innovative ideas for changing the way employers source talent.

Favorite Quote:
“If you want to win the war for recruiting, you have to change the game.”

Insights:

  • The process of recruiting and building an organization is still in its infancy of what it can be and could be. The traditional model is “I have a need”, put a job description together, hire a recruiter, and the recruiter hunts for talent. Steve thinks the reason this model perpetuates is due to priority and ownership. He believes talent drives value creation but rarely sees the right investment of priority, attention and time from executive teams. It’s the last thing on their agenda, the people systems are an afterthought bolted onto an ERP solution, and boards of directors rarely have people serving on them who have a strong understanding of the powerhouse muscle of talent. He believes ownership of talent belongs with the whole company, not just human resources, especially in Silicon Valley, where the biggest thing a company needs to be great at is building a great team. It should be a core responsibility and the biggest muscle being working on.
  • Steve believes the employee-employer relationship is changing, and power is shifting to employee, particularly in Silicon Valley. Potential employees have more information available to them, more choice, and can decide where they want to go to. He argues that an employer brand in a company that’s growing is almost as important if not more important than your product brand. Consumers want to buy from someone who treats their employees well and is providing a good work environment. Brand can’t be spun anymore. It’s the collective voice of Glassdoor, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, bloggers, all of which is the manifestation of the voice of your employees.
  • In an increasingly transparent world, instead of investing in a huge recruiting team, Steve argues the better investment is to try to make your organization the desired destination for the best people in the world. This is different from needing a few hours to source and interview every week. This is about what kind of environment, culture, organizational structure, communication plan, relationships, how the workspace is designed, etc., which contribute to a differentiator in answering the question, why does someone want to come work here? Steve believes if companies do that well, and they know what kind of person they’re looking for, they’ll create a magnetic pull for talent. Hunting for talent in the traditional sense won’t allow a company to scale fast enough.

What we found most interesting:

Inherently, Steve thinks recruiting is broken because, as has been proven time and again, the traditional hiring process is not the best indicator of job performance. The best hires he’s made were those hired through internships, where the candidate is interviewing the company and the company is interviewing the candidate.

To learn more about Steve’s experience, and hear some of the innovative ideas for recruiting, hiring and building company culture, listen to the recording here.

 

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August 26, 2014 / Blog / Coaching Skills / Stress / Work-Life Integration

Five Tips for Setting Boundaries in the Always-on Workplace

I recently attended a panel event on the topic “Lines in the Sand: Setting Boundaries in Today’s Global, Always-On Workplace.” It seems pretty obvious that being “on” and accessible at all hours of the day, on weekends and even during vacations is not a recipe for success – individually or for organizations. People need time to disconnect and recharge in order to be at their most creative and productive when they are working. (Not to mention in order to be a pleasant parent, partner, friend, etc.) But sadly, many organizations constantly push boundaries. It is up to individuals and leaders to keep defining, communicating and demonstrating effective boundary-setting to ensure healthy, productive, engaging work environments.

Here are several great tips from the event:

Establish agreements
Openly establish agreements and boundaries with co-workers. Figure out what works for you and the team and stick with it unless there are extreme circumstances. For example, set a regular start and end time to your day in the office and a time that you might usually scan email later in the evening or first thing in the morning. Or perhaps you will take calls while commuting. Have a clear understanding about how and when you will cover for each other when someone needs to be out of the office during the day, for vacations, etc. Discuss boundaries around weekends. Define “emergencies.”  Teamwork and transparent communication are key.

Boundaries outside of work are important too. Agreements around device-free time, children’s bedtimes, gym time, sleep-in days, etc., can go a long way to enabling regular downtime.

Get clear on what’s important
Get clear on what is important to you outside of work; otherwise it is easy to let work creep into too much of your personal time – robbing you of your work effectiveness and of having a joyful life! For example, many people say that family is important – but get really clear and specific about what is important. Is it important to have dinner together every night? To read bedtime stories? To attend events together? To have family-focused weekends? Clarity and inspiration will make it easier to set and keep boundaries.

Also get clear on what is important at work. Many times boundaries are crossed due to false crises. Don’t create them and don’t overreact when others create them. Often good listening, a few calm questions and quick brainstorming of options can reduce anxiety and panic and allow for a more reasonable approach to an issue that doesn’t have to include it being taken care of tonight. Granted, there are times when crises are real and extra time is needed, but those don’t have to be the norm.

Use technology to your advantage
Leverage technology – especially your calendar. Indicate working hours and/or block out times when you are not available for meetings, including appropriate morning and evening hours. Use auto-reply if you will be unavailable to respond for a longer-than-usual amount of time, e.g. – you are in an all-day meeting. Our love/hate relationship with our addictive mobile devices requires some care too. These things which keep us “on” are also very capable of helping us be “off” by auto-replying to texts if we are driving, in a meeting, sleeping, etc., or by alerting us when a specific person contacts us. (Many apps available.) You can also establish no-device zones or times, e.g. at the dinner table, in the bedroom, on Saturdays.

Be brave – yes is not the only answer
Saying no to a direct request of your time is not easy, especially when the request comes from your boss or an important client. But oftentimes an over-eagerness-to-please can cause you to say yes when you are making an unneeded sacrifice. Always giving an unequivocal yes and/or being overly flexible can set up bad behaviors and expectations from that boss or client. Take a pause and a breath before immediately answering yes. Ask questions to clarify needs and timing – it’s okay to offer alternatives while making sure needs are met.

Remember you have a choice
It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the “always-on” nature of the workplace today and to slip into a victim mentality about it.  But you always have a choice. Focus on what you can control and do your best to maintain healthy boundaries. If your boss or organization has a very different philosophy or culture about boundaries, then it may be time for a new role or organization. You deserve to be thriving, not just surviving.

Let us know your best tips for thriving in today’s always-on workplace. What works for you?

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March 21, 2014 / Stress / Work-Life Integration

Habits of the Mind

We all know there are simple things we can do to have a more healthy body, like eat well, rest and exercise.  But it only dawned on me recently that there is an equivalent sort of hygiene for the mind.  Here are three powerful “habits of the mind” that I believe contribute powerfully to long-term mental and emotional strength.  They take effort, but the payoff is huge:

  • Optimism
  • Positive self-talk and self-regard
  • Forgiveness

Click here to read more!

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October 31, 2013 / Articles We Like / Blog

On: "Your Brain is Hooked on Being Right"

We share this article by Judith E. Glaser, CEO of Benchmark Communications and the chairman of The Creating We Institute, because it offers a glimpse into communication patterns that can be detrimental to relationships – in life and the workplace.  The need to be right causes others to either fight, flight, freeze or appease, all of which prevents honest sharing of information and opinion.

In the article, Your Brain is Hooked on Being Right, Judith explains the brain science behind why we become addicted to arguing our case and winning and offers practical tips for breaking this addiction.  Read it now.

Are you addicted to being right?  How are you trying to break your addiction?

Comment below! Or pose a question via Ask Mariposa.

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August 9, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa: Difficult Conversations

Erica asks: My department head is an extremely brilliant man and I have nothing but the utmost respect for him.  But lately, I’ve noticed a shift in his behavior that is beginning to strain our working relationship.   He has become very irrational, negative, and all over the map with requests and demands.  What can I do to keep our relationship in tact without stepping over any boundaries?

Eric Nitzberg, Executive Leadership Coach responds:

A lot depends on the level of trust an openness you have with him.  This is a delicate situation, so you’ll want to be thoughtful about any approach.  If you have a pretty open, high trust relationship you might broach the subject directly, “It seems like you have been a little on-edge lately.  I’ve noticed some changes in your leadership style.  Would you be open to talking?”   If you can’t address the issue directly, then I would consider which of the new behaviors are the biggest problem for you, and what you might do about them specifically.  If “requests all over the map” is the most frustrating issue, you might try having a neutral conversation with him about that issue, “I want to make sure I’m aligned with your priorities.  Can we talk about what’s most important among your requests?”

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July 23, 2013 / Ask Mariposa

Ask Mariposa: Creating Positive and Collaborative Communication

Demitri asks: My colleague has an answer for everything and dominates all of our team meetings, screaming for attention.  She bulldozes ideas and ridicules anyone who disagrees. No one on our team wants to step up and call her out on this “annoying” behavior.  What can I/we do to create a more effective and positive experience in our meetings when we need to work with this type of person?  

Dina Silver, Executive Leadership Coach responds:

Tough situation!  As you are already experiencing, colleagues who dominate meetings create a range of challenges for other team members including: creating an atmosphere of annoyance, distaste, disaffection and disappointment for all present who are unable to participate fully and see no way to stop the bulldozer.  Meetings become solo acts for the benefit of the loudest voice instead of forums for team collaboration.

It is the responsibility of the team leader to intervene in order to create a safe, innovative and participatory forum for all employees.  Consider speaking to the team leader offline about this issue.  Frame it as a need for stronger team dialogue and a desire for your meetings to be a forum where all voices are essential.   Offer ideas for improving team communication.

Consider these suggestions:

  • Limit the number of minutes each member speaks at a time (3 minutes, for example).  You can use an egg timer, your watch or phone’s timer application.  This will force everyone to pare down his/her thinking and share the crucial core of his idea.
  • Every person who wishes to contribute to the conversation has  the uninterrupted opportunity to do so.
  • Phones and other devices are turned off during the meeting.  If you are present in the room, be present.  This ensures all participants are listening to each other and not simply waiting for their chance to talk.
  • Start and end meetings on time. Do not catch late people up by rehashing what others have heard.  This will be awkward at first, but people will adapt and appreciate this.
  • Agree on meeting communication norms:  no personal attacks, blaming, eye ball rolling or disdainful comments.  Stop the behavior the moment it occurs.

Finally, every person in the room, including you, has a responsibility to enforce positive and collaborative communication.  Do not let old habits creep back. Gently remind team members of the rules of engagement and help the conversation get back on track.

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July 9, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Stress / Work-Life Integration

Ask Mariposa – 6 Keys to Effective Delegation

James asks:  I am working long hours and am starting to feel burnt out. My manager says I am a high performing manager but I should be delegating more. So, I did.  Things are not getting done right or in a timely fashion.  I’m worried this will affect my own performance. What’s the secret to delegating effectively so as not to diminish results?

Barbara Baill, Executive Leadership Coach responds:

Effective delegation is a challenge for many high performers who are responsible for managing others.  Delegation is not a simple of task of tossing an assignment to one of your people on the way to a meeting and waiting for the final product. It does take time and attention initially, but, over time, you will find your employees growing in their capabilities and feeling more challenged and empowered. Eventually, the investment will pay off for all.  Here are some key elements of effective delegation:

  1.  Choose the right person who has the skill sets for the task. Discuss with the person why s/he has been selected for the assignment.
  2. Articulate the assignment carefully any specific timelines, requirements, performance standards, checkpoints and other expectations. If you have any sample outcomes (reports, slideset, etc) from previous projects, share them. Point the delegatee to other resources that can be helpful.
  3. Solicit questions, comments and suggestions from the delegatee. Gain commitment to take on the challenge.  Ask what support he/she will need from you and others.
  4. Empower the individual by informing others that the delegatee is leading the effort.
  5. Establish and conduct regular check-ins and monitor project progress. Ensure the individual knows how much communication you need to keep you well informed and in what particular circumstance immediate contact is required. Be encouraging and offer feedback and support but don’t take back the project.
  6. Ensure the person is recognized for successful completion of the work. (Don’t inadvertently take the credit – common mistake.)

These steps can help you become a master at delegating which will help you and your people continue to grow and will magnify the output of your entire team.

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July 3, 2013 / Ask Mariposa / Stress / Work-Life Integration

Ask Mariposa: One Powerful Way to Reduce Stress at Work

Stuart asks: I am feeling increasingly unhappy at my job. My stress level is so high that it is affecting me physically and mentally. How do I manage my stress without burning out?

Anne Loehr, Executive Leadership Coach responds:

“Bad stress” is an ever increasing problem at work and it is essential to find ways to reduce it. “Bad stress” causes us to worry, experience fear and feel anxious. Any form of stress that makes us perform below our potential is considered bad stress. Bad stress increases the cortisol levels in our blood, which can lead to many problems such as high blood pressure, early onset diabetes, heart problems and central obesity (bulging belly).

There are many ways to reduce bad stress at work. I’m going to discuss one way now, so I don’t stress you out with too much info! 🙂

More and more people are using email, text and instant messaging as their chief communication tools for daily work life. It’s instant, it’s easy, AND it creates lots of stress! Researchers have identified three major problems:

  1. This form of communication lacks cues like facial expression and tone of voice. That makes it difficult for recipients to decode the meaning. It is the poorest form of communication because it only uses words.
  2. The prospect of instantaneous communication creates an urgency that pressures online communicators to think and write quickly, which can lead to carelessness.
  3. Finally, the inability to develop personal rapport over online communications makes relationships fragile in the face of conflict. Online communication is great for confirming meetings, getting an address or sharing a short piece of data. Unfortunately it is used for a lot of other communications which should be done in person.

Here are some tips:

Never argue by email. Save discussions, especially on controversial topics, for when more direct forms of communication are possible. Pick up the phone and/or set a time to discuss issues.

Keep it short. We’re talking less than 50 words. We have about 15 seconds of attention span to offer any incoming email. If you can’t get the message across in that time, either attach a separate document with all the details, or pick up the phone for the discussion. Or use the email to set the time for the discussion.

If you want to lower your stress levels, limit your email communications and switch to phone and face to face conversations for better results. It is more meaningful, more effective, and can generate new relationships in an already tense world.

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