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April 2, 2020 / Articles We Like / Blog / Stress / Work-Life Integration

Four Tips to Navigate Working from Home

by Anne Loehr, Executive Coach, anne@mariposaleadership.com

I talk for a living, whether it’s through keynotes, employee trainings, executive coaching, human capital consulting, writing articles or just a chat with a client. I’m lucky enough to have clients from a variety of industries and sectors, giving me a wide view of how organizations are handling similar situations. This week alone I had the honor to chat with people from large consulting firms, start-ups, Federal government, tech firms, mid-size companies, biopharma organizations, large school systems, manufacturing firms, real estate industry leaders, and HR professionals. I learned a lot of best practices for navigating the Covid-19 work from home (WFH) situation and I’d like to share those with you here.

Schedule daily white space

Someone said to me, “It’s just telework. It’s not a big deal.” Wrong. It’s not just telework and it is a big deal. Why? Because the old paradigm of telework was that you worked from home 1-2 days/week, usually while others in your home were at work and/or school. Now everyone is working and learning under one roof, which adds complexity to the situation. I have it fairly easy; our high school daughter can self-manage her day. However, I have one client who has 3 children under the age of 5 at home while both he and his wife are trying to work. Ouch! That’s a tough situation!

So what are organizations doing to manage this? One best practice is to create intentional white space and schedule set times for team calls. One firm only holds calls from 8:30 am – noon and then 2 – 5 pm, local time. This allows people to have a midday break to attend to their own personal needs or the needs of those who live with them.

Learn together

It’s easy to disengage on employee development right now. I’ve heard “Training and development is a non-essential, so we’re cutting the live employee training we had planned”. I get it; financial stability and cash flow is vital right now. However, don’t forget about your teams who want to feel a sense of normalcy. So instead of offering a live employee development training, conduct a 60-minute virtual ‘lunch and learn’ on living through change or a 45-minute webinar about stress management instead. It’s easy to do and shows the teams that you are still there for them.

Lempathy

It’s easy to lose focus when WFH, so set clear focus on short term goals and how the goals align with the organizational mission. Create a 2-minute podcast or video to remind your team what you’re working on and use shared docs to create accountability.

It’s also easy to tilt toward excessive empathy, such as “It’s OK that Biva didn’t achieve his tasks today. He has 4 kids at home.” Giving a pass every once in a while shows flexibility; excessive empathy breeds missed deadlines. So use ‘both/and’ instead; in other words, try “Wow! Having four kids at home while working is hard. How can you achieve the biggest deadline today and have the kids home? What’s the first step? Second step?” Bottom line: show you care AND that goals still need to be completed. One of my coaching clients calls this “lempathy”: leading with empathy. It works for him; see if it works for you.

Focus on self-care

Stress manifests in different ways, for different reasons. In general, there are three pillars of health: physical, mental and emotional. Take a self-assessment and ask yourself how you’re doing on:

Physical: Maintaining the nutrition, sleep and exercise that your body needs
Mental: Focusing on the task at hand
Emotional: Self-regulating your emotions appropriately with those around you

Whatever you do to manage your WFH situation, remember to keep it fun! People want to feel connected; they are looking for the water cooler experience, where they can just have a fun chat for a few minutes with each other. So set this up with virtual coffee chats, happy hours, walks, exercise classes and even hobby times (knitting anyone?). One company in Boston creates daily entertainment videos for the employee’s children to watch while the parent is working. Another organization spreads smiles via Skype. What will work for you?

I’d love to hear how you are navigating your work from home in these stressful times. What is working for you and what is not? Let’s share experiences. Send me an email or contact us on Twitter.

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March 23, 2020 / Blog / Mariposa Articles

Six Keys to Leading in Crisis

by Barbara Baill, Executive Coach, barbara@mariposaleadership.com

Leaders have an increased responsibility to lead during times of crisis and this current COVID-19 crisis is certainly one of those times. We have identified 6 C’s as keys to demonstrate your leadership today.

Calm

In any crisis, we look to our leaders for signals that we can either, get through this, or on the other hand, that it’s time to panic (the boat is going down). It’s important, as leaders, that we project a sense of CALM – that we can get through this. This can have a huge positive impact on our teams as we focus on addressing the challenges we will face whether they are personal (how do I make working from home work for me) or business (how do we continue to produce, generate revenue, keep our business alive) in this time of crisis.

Connect

Connecting to your team is more critical than ever! Ensure that you are increasing both the frequency and amount of information you communicate to your team. Here are some ideas:

  • 5 minute daily huddles to check in with everyone
  • Virtual lunches
  • Slack or text channels that are focused on ideas for working at home with children, surviving social isolation, funny things that happen while WFH
  • Increase 1:1s, even for short check-ins at the beginning and end of each week
  • Increase overall business updates, new strategies, redirection of projects, etc.

It’s also critical that you are connecting with your peers and maintaining important relationships across the organization. We are all in this together. Reach out to your peers and colleagues to support them, share ideas for managing in this new environment, for creative ways to socialize where being isolated.

Clarify

Ensure that you take this opportunity to clarify the goals for each of your people. Are they clear on what needs to be accomplished by when? What, if anything, has changed in terms of what they are expected to delivery by when? It’s also an opportunity for you to take the time and space to reflect on your team’s mission and priorities. How might they need to change in this crisis? Is there an opportunity to refocus and/or reprioritize to increase your team’s impact?

Create

Crises are a time for creativity and redesign. Look for opportunities to be creative with your team. Hold a Zoom meeting with the team and use the Chat function to brainstorm ideas, whether about current projects or coping with the “shelter-in-place” challenges. Here is our Design Thinking approach to guide you (all practices can be adapted to videoconferencing formats).

Coach

It’s important to coach your directs, but during a crisis, it is even more imperative. Use this opportunity to reach out and coach your people. We have developed In-the-Moment Coaching that is highlighted by the RAR Model (Rapport, Assess, Reframe). Giving feedback and problem-solving with your team is a daily practice, and it’s also a great time to help each member of your team learn and develop.

Care

Most importantly, it is THE moment to show that you CARE personally about each member of the team. In your 1:1s, ask how they are coping with the crisis, what is most challenging for them, what are their concerns/worries. You don’t have to have all the answers, you just need to listen and ask if there is anything they need from you. This demonstrates that you care about them personally. As the crisis continues, we all need support. Reaching out proactively to your team, your colleagues, your customers is a key leadership role for you now. This is about leading with your heart, not leading with your head. Heart-based leadership breeds loyalty and commitment and is one of the most powerful leadership tools we all possess.

Finally, it’s also important that you practice SELF-CARE. As a leader, the demands on you escalate in crisis. You have your own worries, challenges and concerns. Ensure that you are taking time to rest, regenerate, and exercise. Find a friend, colleague, family member to co-support each other. You can only be your best leader if you are taking care of yourself.

To download a PDF of this article, click here.

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March 12, 2020 / Blog / Stress / Work-Life Integration

Swimming in This Sea of Uncertainty…

by Therese Tong, Executive Coach, therese@mariposaleadership.com

I injured my foot a couple of weeks ago so no running probably for the next 6 – 8 weeks. For those who know me well, you know how that puts me in “just” a little bit of a funk. I am feeling restless and then I’m picking a fight for no rhyme or reason with my hubby…but of course, right? Given the much lower dose of endorphins and we are all swimming in this sea of uncertainty… “I don’t want it…I don’t like it…”

Three things have helped me:

  • Loving Kindness Meditation
  • Self-Care & Support  
  • Assessment & Moods

Loving Kindness Meditation

With the growing murmur of uncertainty somewhat getting louder, I realize I need to return to gratitude for what is and to start remembering that I need a little bit more kindness [for me]…plus to sit with breath in and breath out seems impossible — my mind is bouncing off the wall! Is it only me? At times like this, I take a few breaths, a couple more and settle into my body; repeating:

“May I be safe and free from danger…may I be healthy in body, mind, spirit…may I be at peace…”

Find out more and to continue the practice expanding from “I” to “we” to “all beings” as you feel ready.

Self-Care and Support    

For our immune system to be healthy, all the usual sleep, movement, sunshine, diet are required and with COVID-19 declared a pandemic — we need nourishing conversation, relationships and support. We don’t get to go this alone — I/you/we care about others and he/she/they care about us, too! So, even with “social distancing”; reach out to a trusted friend, colleague…and be kind to you, your partner, kids, neighbor…take time to pet your dog — it will all help.

Assessment & Mood

This is a framework I share with clients and this time, it has helped me to acknowledge that even though typically I have a mood of gratitude, laugh easily and wholeheartedly and am upbeat; at this time, this is not the mood I have and my emotions seem to be on a roller-coaster all of her own doing – easily irritated by the slightest inconvenience, feeling both angry and sad that in the US – a developed country, we are ill-prepared and the most vulnerable are usually hit hardest.

In naming the space I am in, am now more aware — I can step back, not be caught in it, see and reassess/reframe the story and therefore what is possible and choose again. In this case, I decided to write this up, gave my hubby a hug, apologized and have reached out to my peeps for a walk and coffee.

There is much more agency in having some awareness, seeing more clearly – knowing that you have emotions and a mood rather than being had by your emotions/mood.

So, wiggle your toes, take a few deeper breaths – what do you choose? Go for a walk, sip your favorite drink, complete your email to your team, anticipate business implications…call a friend, hug your child …

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March 9, 2020 / Blog / Mariposa Articles

Working from Home: The Opportunity

by Sue Bethanis, CEO/Founder of Mariposa, sueb@mariposaleadership.com, @suebethanis

If you’re a knowledge worker living in the Bay Area and are not already working from home (WFH) by choice or by company policy, my guess is you soon will be. I suspect we will be following Seattle’s lead this week or next.

I have been working from home for 24 years as an Executive Coach, and I work with tech leaders who have made the transition to WFH in the past. Am working from home today, in fact, keeping tabs on my sick teen (he’s without-a-fever, but keeping him home for public health reasons).

Last Tuesday, I “penned” an article on “How to Be Leaderly in Utter Uncertainty.” Today, I am addressing WHAT AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY WE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO WORK FROM HOME. The Economist addresses the business opportunity of WFH here. The WSJ addresses the practical things of WFH, like your tech set up, here.

I am looking at a different opportunity: what you can do with that hour (or two) you just got back from no commuting and not having to sprint from meeting to meeting. And you’re not traveling, so you’re getting that time back, too. So, you really do have more time on your hands. I imagine you’re spending time getting set up and getting used to the idea that you’re using your dining room table or old card table as your workstation.

Once you have your set up, what are you going to do with that extra hour?

Three Ideas: Self-care, Family, Strategic Thinking

Self-care: meditation and exercise

If there is ever a time to practice meditation, now is the time. There is no question our collective anxiety is heightened because of COVID-19, the economy, uncertainty; and our individual anxiety is increased as well. Meditation and mindful breathing can calm us. Perhaps you have let your meditation practice go; if so, start it up again with 10 minutes in the morning. If you have never had a meditation practice, perhaps it’s time to start one up. One way to start is through repeating a mantra. I have used this practice for 30 years; it has never gotten old.

Sit in a quiet place with your feet on the floor.

Focus on your breath so that you can feel it go in and out of your nose.

Repeat this mantra:

  • May I be happy,
  • May I be safe,
  • May I be healthy,
  • May I live with ease,
  • May I be free.

Next, choose a person you’re closely connected with. Say his/her name in your mantra. You may want to choose a different person each day or repeat the mantra a couple of times in a day with various people:

  • May (name) be happy,
  • May ____ be safe,
  • May ____ be healthy,
  • May ____ live with ease,
  • May ____ be free.

Family: walking and connecting

You can create a “two-fer” opportunity if you walk with one of your family members or friends in the morning or as a break in the late afternoon. What an incredible opportunity we have that we get to see our family members more. Yes, I know – especially if you have kids – you’re going to have to create some boundaries for your work space and time; however, use this opportunity to put attention on your family members that you haven’t been able to do the past year, 5 years, 10 years…you know what I am talking about. Connect with them in a way you haven’t been able to in the past.

Strategy/Design: (Yes, you have been putting this off)

Once you get into your daily routine of WFH, think about that hour you have because you’re not sitting in your car. You have been putting off doing strategy work. And whatever strategic or vision documents you do have, they might need to be revised based on the new normal – the business climate took a huge detour last week, and today, March 9th, the DOW dropped 2000 points.

Re-looking at your business proposition, product, or market(s) might make some sense! So, what new scenario planning should you do? What approach could you take? For the past 10 years, I have used a Design Thinking approach with my company, Mariposa Leadership, and have worked with many execs and their teams using this approach. This requires looking at the market in a different way and bringing in your customers to solve problems WITH you. This Design Thinking method is outlined here. Typically, these types of journeys are done in person. Now, you have the time to do these types of brainstorming meetings via videoconferencing. What a cool opportunity!

To download a PDF of this article, click here.

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