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Counterbalancing

In my gym work, I am usually good about laughing and having fun while pushing myself to my limits. However, today at the gym, I found myself frustrated. It started with my warmup. I was working on a simple lift and just couldn’t get my form right. One of the coaches at the gym gave me some great pointers but I struggled to find my groove. Then on another lift, I found myself missing some simple form pieces in spite of the solid coaching I got. And mentally, things just kind of spun out and I got away from who I am and the usual feeling of fun the gym brings to me. 

I processed this to find out what was so unusual. I’ve had similar moments from time to time and there’s something there. Icame  to the conclusion that my counterbalancing was off. 

Balancing involves having similar pull and push forces on an object, which keep it neutral in its net movement. Counterbalancing refers to negating the push or pull on an object. In my case, my internal dialogue and my surroundings were out of balance. My inner dialogue is usually tough on myself while remaining focused on enjoying my activity. I make an effort to be in an external environment that is usually supportive and positive. 

Today my inner dialogue was tougher than usual. “Why can’t you do this?!” kept coming up and my environment was (rightfully) pointing out shortcomings that needed to be corrected. Way more push than pull and I just felt like crying out of frustration. 

As leaders, we are used to pushing ourselves to grow but balance is essential. Healthy dialogues, affirming environments, and personal care cannot be understated in achieving additional success and growth while not compromising one’s character and health. 

So why did this morning stink? Maybe I didnt get enough rest. Maybe I tried to do too much. Maybe I didn’t have enough for breakfast. I don’t know. But I do know that by seeking better balance, I can counterbalance the adverse voices that want to pull me back. 

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Above the treeline

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I was talking to a person close to me the other day. She has an opportunity to build her resume and plug her talents into an organization that she loves. To get it started, all she has to do is call them. I asked her “Have you called them?” and she responded “I just didn’t have time today.”

I recently had another person close to me mention their interest in getting a promotion… but to do that, they needed to create a strategy for what they’d do in the prospective position. When I followed up with that person, they let me know that they’ve been so busy with their day-to-day job that they haven’t been able to make the necessary hour of time for this task.

How many times do we have greatness within our grasp but we are too caught up in maintaining the status quo to reach out and grab that opportunity?

It’s like hiking on a mountain. There is a nearby trail that is heavily wooded and absolutely beautiful. It’s hard to dislike the trail in any way. However, as tempting as it is to be satisfied with the wooded view of the trees and surrounding forest, a much more marvelous view exists just a mile above the start to the trail. Think: a view above the tree canopy featuring snow-capped volcanoes, alpine lakes, and an endless sky. The push to the top is well worth it.

So ponder this: How would your life, your career, your well-being change if you made 30 minutes a week to look beyond the daily life? To think beyond what is immediately around you? And how would those 30 minute sessions impact your life a year from now?

There might be something really cool above the treeline.

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9 ways to keep great employees from quitting

Travis Bradberry just wrote a nice article on inc42.com that deserves a share. It’s regarding employee turnover and how a manager can best manage their relationships with their team. Even though I’d prefer a positive point of view (eg 9 great practices), Bradberry effectively shows 9 negative behaviors managers can exact to push people away. So here goes…

It’s pretty incredible how often you hear managers complaining about their best employees leaving, and they really do have something to complain about—few things are as costly and disruptive as good people walking out the door.

Managers tend to blame their turnover problems on everything under the sun, while ignoring the crux of the matter: people don’t leave jobs; they leave managers.

The sad thing is that this can easily be avoided. All that’s required is a new perspective and some extra effort on the manager’s part.

First, we need to understand the nine worst things that managers do that send good people packing.

They Overwork People

Nothing burns good employees out quite like overworking them. It’s so tempting to work your best people hard that managers frequently fall into this trap. Overworking good employees is perplexing; it makes them feel as if they’re being punished for great performance. Overworking employees is also counterproductive. New research from Stanford shows that productivity per hour declines sharply when the workweek exceeds 50 hours, and productivity drops off so much after 55 hours that you don’t get anything out of working more.

If you must increase how much work your talented employees are doing, you’d better increase their status as well. Talented employees will take on a bigger workload, but they won’t stay if their job suffocates them in the process. Raises, promotions, and title-changes are all acceptable ways to increase workload. If you simply increase workload because people are talented, without changing a thing, they will seek another job that gives them what they deserve.

They Don’t Recognize Contributions And Reward Good Work

It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back, especially with top performers who are intrinsically motivated. Everyone likes kudos, none more so than those who work hard and give their all. Managers need to communicate with their people to find out what makes them feel good (for some, it’s a raise; for others, it’s public recognition) and then to reward them for a job well done. With top performers, this will happen often if you’re doing it right.

They Don’t Care About Their Employees

More than half of people who leave their jobs do so because of their relationship with their boss. Smart companies make certain their managers know how to balance being professional with being human. These are the bosses who celebrate an employee’s success, empathize with those going through hard times, and challenge people, even when it hurts. Bosses who fail to really care will always have high turnover rates. It’s impossible to work for someone eight-plus hours a day when they aren’t personally involved and don’t care about anything other than your production yield.

They Don’t Honor Their Commitments

Making promises to people places you on the fine line that lies between making them very happy and watching them walk out the door. When you uphold a commitment, you grow in the eyes of your employees because you prove yourself to be trustworthy and honorable (two very important qualities in a boss). But when you disregard your commitment, you come across as slimy, uncaring, and disrespectful. After all, if the boss doesn’t honor his or her commitments, why should everyone else?

They Hire And Promote The Wrong People

Good, hard-working employees want to work with like-minded professionals. When managers don’t do the hard work of hiring good people, it’s a major demotivator for those stuck working alongside them. Promoting the wrong people is even worse. When you work your tail off only to get passed over for a promotion that’s given to someone who glad-handed their way to the top­­­­­­­, it’s a massive insult. No wonder it makes good people leave.

They Don’t Let People Pursue Their Passions

Talented employees are passionate. Providing opportunities for them to pursue their passions improves their productivity and job satisfaction. But many managers want people to work within a little box. These managers fear that productivity will decline if they let people expand their focus and pursue their passions. This fear is unfounded. Studies show that people who are able to pursue their passions at work experience flow, a euphoric state of mind that is five times more productive than the norm.

They Fail To Develop People’s Skills

When managers are asked about their inattention to employees, they try to excuse themselves, using words such as “trust,” “autonomy,” and “empowerment.” This is complete nonsense. Good managers manage, no matter how talented the employee. They pay attention and are constantly listening and giving feedback.

Management may have a beginning, but it certainly has no end. When you have a talented employee, it’s up to you to keep finding areas in which they can improve to expand their skill set. The most talented employees want feedback—more so than the less talented ones—and it’s your job to keep it coming. If you don’t, your best people will grow bored and complacent.

They Fail To Engage Their Creativity

The most talented employees seek to improve everything they touch. If you take away their ability to change and improve things because you’re only comfortable with the status quo, this makes them hate their jobs. Caging up this innate desire to create not only limits them, it limits you.

They Fail To Challenge People Intellectually

Great bosses challenge their employees to accomplish things that seem inconceivable at first. Instead of setting mundane, incremental goals, they set lofty goals that push people out of their comfort zones. Then, good managers do everything in their power to help them succeed. When talented and intelligent people find themselves doing things that are too easy or boring, they seek other jobs that will challenge their intellects.

Bringing It All Together

If you want your best people to stay, you need to think carefully about how you treat them. While good employees are as tough as nails, their talent gives them an abundance of options. You need to make them want to work for you.

About the Author: Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, TIME, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

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25 traits of a great manager

I’ve recently started a job in a new store. This challenge carries with it great opportunities but new challenges – a different pace, different employees, and different storewide needs. I’ve been self-reflecting and meditating before and during my shifts to center my focus on who I am and what has gotten me to this point in my career. I thought it’d be helpful to share my brain storm on the qualities that can build a great manager of people.

1. Humble confidence (don’t let the job intimidate you)
2. Open-mindedness to change
3. Including others in the plan
4. Having a plan
5. Not talking too much – but talking words that have power and meaning
6. Remaining calm
7. Remaining calm again
8. Trusting others – but verifying that things were completed right
9. Compassion
10.Ownership
11.Passion
12.Fun
13.Simplifying the task at hand – constantly
14.Jogging the marathon – not constantly sprinting or walking
15.Putting oneself in timeout to regroup (self-care)
16.Observing with an open mind
17.Being an advocate of others – personally and professionally
18.Communicating the results (every race needs a finish line)
19.Modelling success from the top down
20.Using different communication styles to reach each person accordingly
21.Influencing change proactively (not waiting for things to just happen)
22.Consistency
23.Adaptability
24.Challenging others in order to help them grow
25.Balancing the short-term picture with the long-term pictureIMG_0211

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Better Eating = Better Brain = Better Management Ability

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Eating differently made me a better interviewer and manager. Actually, before getting into that, let me rewind a little bit.

Growth and development is a major focus in my development as a manager. My focus isn’t just on getting that illustrious promotion that many dream of – but growing in my current role and my overall effectiveness as an employee of a company I love. A few months ago I hit a roadblock.

Mock interviews are a regular part of development for me as a manager. I’m not the most amazing interviewer ever but I’m also far from bad. I’d completed a few mocks with success (while also receiving constructive input on goals to work on) but one day I ran up against a new challenge – I mentally froze.

The interviewer I was working with brought a different style to the table and I felt my brain lock. I stumbled, I bumbled, and I was overall bad. That is absolutely not good enough for what I expect of myself. From that, I set out to improve through practice, practice, and practice. I came to the table again a couple months later and had a similar response my from my brain – the flight response was in overdrive. I continued to practice and saw some improvement but I needed something more.

My psychology background came in handy here. I looked at my brain and figured out that my amygdala was hijacking my interviews for one reason or another with the fight/flight instinct and a massive influx of cortisol (distress hormone). The exact reason for this still is unknown but it was clear I needed to fix it. Some supplements like Gingko Biloba, DHEA, and GABA seemed to help a little but there was still room for improvement. Enter the cyclic ketosis diet (ckd).

Huh?

The human brain typically runs on glucose (sugar). If a person limits eating carbs (below 25-50g per day), the body switches its primary fuel source from carbohydrates/glycogen to ketones, which the liver produces. Here’s the cool thing: Ketones deliver quite a bit more energy to the brain than more typical glucose. In other words, the brain has more fuel to run better and more effectively – and to keep the amygdala in check.

Within a couple weeks of switching over to this diet, life felt easier. It was hard to stress me out. My stuttering and mental freezes pretty much went away. I felt much more in control of my attitude, speech patterns, emotions, and overall ability to lead others at work and to speak to my efficacy. My ability to interview increased dramatically.

Give this diet a shot. Or at least consider the biological/neurological health of your brain. I know brain health probably is something far from what you might read in “Business for Dummies” but if you think about it, the health of your brain is paramount to fulfilling potential. It’s probably not for everybody but the effect ckd has had on my cognition so far has been nothing short of awesome. Oh – and there’s evidence that it may also lessen the threat of cancer, epilepsy, and other diseases.

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How to Develop High-Impact Employees

Some leaders have a specific “voice” or passion that they focus on to drive results. Mine is development; developing my peers, bosses, and employees to maximize their skillsets to surpass and sustain our metric goals. The word “development” can be somewhat nebulous, especially for people who are new to management. I’ve spent some time researching and analyzing my own results – and I’ve come up with 11 Ingredients to developing amazing people around me.

The 11 Ingredients For Developing High-Impact Employees
1. Training – Are written resources effective, memorable, and concise?
2. Self-directed learning – What resources can we provide for employees learning on their own? This enables employees to control their own development.
3. Job aids – What small checklists, cards, and aids can our employees keep with them in their day-to-day job that will help them?
4. Modeling – How do our attitudes, performance, and priorities model expectations for our employees every minute of the day?
5. Expectations – How have we communicated clear expectations of how success looks?
6. Coaching – How are we actively and regularly seeking to demonstrate ways to improve employees’ skill sets?
7. Recognition – Are progress and successes celebrated in a timely manner?
8. Job Enrichment – How do we demonstrate trust to our employees to take on more responsibility when it’s earned – and do we compensate appropriately to this?
9. Job fit – Is this the best position for an employee’s passions and interests?
10. Activation – How can we help an employee realize the abilities and potential they have that they might otherwise miss?
11. Personal connection – How do we demonstrate care for employees as people?
(some input taken from https://alis.alberta.ca/ep/eps/tips/tips.html?EK=8784)

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It’s not about increasing our bottom performers – but empowering our top performers….

I’ve been inching through Jim Collins’ book From Good to Great over the last few months. There’s some really good stuff in it about how to get a successful company over the hump to be truly special. 

In the last chapter I read, Collins pointed out three observations that most great companies make regarding their personnel:

1. Don’t hire simply to hire. Instead, wait for the right people to hire the best.

2. When change in personnel is needed, do it – don’t wait.

3. Put the best employees on the biggest challenges

I find Collins’ book to be nothing revolutionary but instead a remarkable and motivating reminder of how to be successful. These points are no exception to that. As I grow into a stronger leader and manager, I’m reminded to focus on my bright spots to make them brighter and to empower my employees’ passion, skills, and desire to impact our business on a more profound level. Thanks Jim Collins.

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