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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Your Goals: Don’t Have One Foot on the Accelerator, One Foot on the Brake – Part Two

Step 1: Here’s how you find out what your hidden, competing commitments to your improvement goal are. Let’s say you want to delegate. Ask the question for each of the actions you’ve listed that go against your improvement goal: “What worries me if I were to do the opposite of what I’m presently doing?” For example, I don’t share information with Fred. I worry that if I gave Fred the information I’d spend more time holding his hand than doing the job myself. Here is another example. I don’t give Nancy the more difficult customers. I worry that if she messed it up I’ll get a bad review. Notice that you’re stating the worry in terms of what big bad thing would happen to you, not to someone else. This is about YOU! While the worries you have are not yet stated as the commitments that compete with your improvement goal, they should give you a clue as to what the commitments might be. Usually we think of worries as passive. But they’re not. They generate active commitments that act like the foot on the brake to your improvement goal. You’re stuck. But help is on the way with Step 2. Step 2: Take each worry and turn it into a self-protective commitment. These are not the lofty commitments we feel proud to shout out to the world. No, they are commitments that we think protect us from some danger. Never mind that they sound silly or irrational. There’s a part of us that’s quite convinced we’d be in trouble if we didn’t do what we’ve always done even though it isn’t getting us what we consciously very much want. An example of a self-protective commitment derived from the worry about Fred is: I’m committed to not spending time empowering my employees. Oops. I don’t like that commitment, but it’s so. Hmm. Interesting. As to my worry about Nancy and the difficult customer, I’m committed to not getting a bad performance appraisal. Hmm. Notice we’re protecting ourselves against the big bad thing NOT happening. And you thought this was about Fred and Nancy! Once you have your competing commitments, you should see your immunity to change in all its brazen glory. Curiously enough, some people can change as soon as they see that change is impossible with one foot on the accelerator and the other on the brake. Seeing is a point of power. For others there are two more steps to take. For more information on the immunity to change read The Immunity to Change by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey and check out www.mindsatwork.com or contact Ingrid Martine at coach@ungamebook.com to lead you through the entire process. Step on the accelerator and use the brake only when needed. See you at the finish line!

IS YOUR DRIVEN BEHAVIOR TAKING YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO GO?

Few would deny that managers work hard.  Many have long hours and constant deadlines.  Some pride themselves in being workaholics.  Whether a relentless or compulsive need to work will take us where we want to go merits examination. A caveat, however. When we’re willing to pause and take a look at our lives, yes, there can be moments of insight. Expect discomfort as well. The Practical Demands of the Profession Starting our careers, we have a lot to learn.  Understanding the requirements of the job and developing the skills of managing that weren’t taught in school can be daunting. We strive to prove ourselves professionally. We may want every project to be completed with perfection.  We watch the work hours of our supervisor, hoping to arrive before her and leave after her. We face challenging many requirements, even while learning. Competing demands from all directions cry out for our attention. Technology Increases Client Expectations With current technology, the demands of clients for our responsiveness are higher than ever. If we’re out of the office, a client may insist that we be called on our cell phone.  If a client emails us after business hours, they can call before we have even started our workday to ask when we’re going to respond. While technology has increased our efficiency as managers, it has also accelerated the pace of communication and the speed with at which we must respond to client expectations.  This can leave us feeling as though our minds can never rest. Our experience is that we no longer have the luxury of time.  The old complaints we had ten years ago about “not enough time” now seem quaint. Am I Working Toward My Goals or Running Away From My Fears? Have you ever observed the thoughts which come to mind when you consider taking time for rest rather than filling every waking moment with action?  Here are some of mine: If I stop working, the work will never get done.             Others will think I’m lazy.             I’ll feel anxious.             My unit will fail.             Coworkers will think I’m not committed.             I’ll feel guilty.            You may or may not be aware that the following messages are also contained in those anxious thoughts: If I work, the work will get done. Others will think I’m admirable. I’ll feel great. Coworkers will think I’m committed. I’ll feel at peace.  Do you really believe that?  Of course not.  Your rational mind is very clear about that.  But it’s not our rational mind we’re trying to convince. Our irrational behavior comes from a different place, and convincing will do no good at all.  And by the way, just as an fyi, our colleagues in Italy would think we were crazy and wave us away dismissively, saying “Oh well, that’s just the Americans.”  In other words, you won’t get “points” for your behavior everywhere in the world. It could be said that our inability to stop work is driven by a fear that something bad will happen if we do.  We keep our nose to the grindstone out of fear that some disaster will befall us if we change.  We trudge on, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. In contrast, when our motivation is derived from something meaningful, rather than our fears, we are inspired by our goals.  We look forward to reaching them.  We celebrate and rest before going on to the next one.  We pay less or no attention to our fears. As you look at which of these scenarios you find more interesting, it’s clear which one your rational mind would choose. Being moved… that’s what motivated means… by what has real and deep meaning for you rather than by fear, of course.  So what keeps us going ‘round and ‘round a vicious circle when the virtuous circle is a choice as well? You do see that you have a choice, don’t you (You must see that you have a choice before you’re able to make a new one.)?  It could be said that we’re out of our mind, in a manner of speaking!  Out of our rational mind, that is.  Tom Peters’ quote may be helpful for those of us who are sick and tired of being sick and tired of our driven behavior.  He says:”
“Any closely held value, no matter how well concealed, even from yourself, inevitably prompts action that’s consistent with it.”   What value will you choose to move you? 
An Absence of Joy  Perhaps the most poignant of the symptoms of driven behavior is the absence of joy. The driven manager may notice an absence of enthusiasm. Challenges which we once tackled with the zeal, we now take on with mournful resignation. Work which used to be the subject of thoughtful discussion now falls into a litany of complaints. What once thrilled us now drains us.  Worse yet, we may be so fatigued or distracted by our work that we fail to notice the utter dissatisfaction which is present. Others around us, however, do notice how we’re being.  They see the furrowed brow.  They miss our shared laughter at a moment of office levity.  They hear our martyr-like comments about working over the weekend while others share stories of reading a novel or relaxing. When we’re driven, we fail to take time to celebrate our accomplishments and successes.  Rather than pausing to acknowledge a project completed while exceeding expectations, a promising protege developed into a great manager, or a financial goal reached, we trudge on to the next burdensome task on our “To Do” list.  Play is Not Rest “I work hard and I play hard,” boast some managers. “Isn’t that a great work/life balance?” Probably not.  Hard might need to be balanced by “soft.” We often confuse our social or athletic activities with rest.  After working a long day, if we head out to join friends to stay up to the wee hours drinking alcohol, we might fool ourselves into thinking that our fun time fulfills our need for rest.  While it may be a break from work, if you wake up the next day exhausted and out of sorts, you might want to think again. How we get our energy is not the same for everyone.  I’m an extrovert so when I come home from a party where I’ve talked to many people, I feel energized. In contrast, my introvert friends are exhausted at the end of a social event with lots of people.  They get their energy raised by spending some time alone. Regardless of how you get your energy boosted, rest is essential for everyone.  All peak performers know this principle:
Rest. Quiet. Without activity.  No doing.  Just being. Rest. What’s Wrong With Working Hard?
Everything is right about working hard. We can work hard with ease, that is, we’re clear about the purpose of the work.  We “own” the purpose.  The work is a demonstration in the physical world.  We’re just focusing energy on achieving the goal that expresses the purpose. It’s just that working hard and driven behavior are not the same, and it’s useful to make the distinction. Driven behavior has a very different quality. It’s the things we do over and over again that result in no satisfaction or satisfaction that’s short lived.  It doesn’t move us forward.  Nor do we enjoy it. It’s disconnected from a purpose we can identify, and it reminds me of the senseless activity of moths trying to assassinate my porch light. Over time, driven behavior can rob us of energy for the other intentions we have in life, such as to be physically fit or to be a loving partner.  Increasingly we blame our work for our lack of time, our grim mood, or our fatigue.  We may see we need to make changes, but we lack the energy to take action or the time to make them. It may not be immediately clear to us that our longstanding work habits are impacting our health, our relationships, and our very enjoyment of life.  Here are some questions which might help you answer the question: AM I A DRIVEN MANAGER? Indicate how true each of the following statements is for you, ranking from 1-5: 1              Rarely or never 2              Sometimes 3              Usually 4              Most of the time 5              Almost always
  1.  Others avoid me when I’m stressed while working.
  2. I’m exhausted.
  3. I take one or more vacations each year.
  4. When I’m away from the office I check my work email, take phone calls or perform other work.
  5. I work 7 or more days in a row without taking a day off.
  6. My relationships have suffered in the last year because of my work.
  7. I miss out on enjoying activities or events because I’m so tired.
  8. When I’m with my loved ones, my mind is often preoccupied with work.
  9. I don’t know what it’s like to take a full weekend off without working or thinking about work.
  10. I break promises about when I’ll be home from work.
  11. I drink more than 4 caffeinated beverages during my typical work day.
  12. I feel resentful of others who have time to have fun and do what they really want to do.
  13. Because of work, I’ve missed participating in events which were meaningful to me.
  14. I don’t schedule medical appointments I see I need because my calendar is so full.
  15. I don’t take time to think about my life or what’s important to me.
  16. I forget to eat lunch or eat at my desk because I’m so busy.
  17. I sleep less than 6 hours per night.
  18. I don’t have time to exercise because I’m working such long hours.
  19. My family or friends complain about my work hours.
  20. I’m afraid of what will happen if I work les,s or I don’t go to work when I’m ill.
  21. I consume alcohol or drugs to help me relax from the pressures of my work.
  22. I break promises to clients because I take on more work than I can complete.
  23. I don’t use resources I’ve invested in for my leisure or enjoyment (e.g., a vacation home, boat, tickets to events) because I have to work.
  24. I race to take care of the next urgent matter, seldom having time to be proactive.
  25. I strive to have my work be perfect; I constantly make one more change that I think will improve my work.
What did you notice as you answered these questions? Acknowledge yourself for being willing to take a look at your past behavior. It requires courage to tell the truth about what we have or have not been doing. There is no technical score on this survey, as its true purpose is to invite you to begin examining how you’re living your life right now.  However, you might want to consider the following: 30 or less    Congratulate yourself on being on the path to a healthy balance in your life. 30 to 75      While you have some good habits, you sometimes forget how important other aspects of your life are to you.  Target a few areas where you would be  willing to make small changes. 75 to 100    Ask yourself how long you’ve been working like this and whether you’re willing to let in support for beginning to make changes in your life. 100 or More  Get help today.  Invite a trusted friend, family member, or professional to help you start back on the journey to living a healthier and happier life. Managers who are prone to driven behavior often ask “Well, what can I do?”  What we’re proposing here is that you do nothing. You heard it correctly.  Take this advice: “Don’t just do something, sit there!”  I suppose you might be saying: “What?  Are you nuts?”  Nevertheless, consider this:  Observation of your behavior may just be the ticket.  Observation is curative.  Just notice and then notice some more.  You may be surprised as to what happens in the next couple of weeks!    
 

Your Goals: Don’t Have One Foot on the Accelerator, One Foot on the Brake – Part 1

OK, so you’ve been wanting to get organized, delegate, or confront that under-performing employee, (son, daughter, student, volunteer- remember we’re all managers somewhere!). And it’s not happening. Or you delegate a little while, and soon it’s back to you doing all the work. What’s going on? You want to delegate, but come what may, you’re doing stuff that assures you don’t delegate. The phenomenon you’re experiencing could be called Your Immunity to Change. You want something and yet you’re working against achieving it. Hmm. Shouldn’t you just follow Nike’s advice and “just do it?” Just get an organizing system. Just delegate. Just screw up your courage to tell that under-performing employee… What’s going on is that your actions that go against you achieving your goal make sense. Yes, you heard it. Those actions make sense. In fact, they are brilliant. They make sense in light of some hidden, competing commitments you have that you aren’t seeing. If you saw them, you’d do something different than you’ve ever done before. When you know better, you do better. Your objective for the time being shouldn’t be to stop the behaviors that guarantee you won’t achieve your improvement goal. You’ve already done that, and it doesn’t work. Your objective should be to find out what commitments you have that make the behaviors not only reasonable but necessary in your mind. Your current so called unproductive behaviors are very productive, just not in terms of achieving your improvement goal! They are a perfect anxiety-management system. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s a fact. Everyone, even the most successful people have anxiety. We may not notice it. It’s like our screen saver—practically invisible to us but nevertheless there. And we all have a system for managing it. But it’s not a hopeless situation. There are two steps you can take after you’ve made a list of all the actions you do that go against reaching your improvement goal.

What Employees Must Say “YES” to in Order to Love Coming to Work – Part Two

The questions employees must answer with an enthusiastic “yes” in order to love coming to work follow a rigid order. Number 1 really is first. It can’t be the Avis of questions. And number 2 must precede number 3. Once employees know what’s expected of them(question #1), they ask “Do I have the materials and the equipment I need to do my work right?” You can see easily that this question wouldn’t interest employees if they couldn’t say “yes” to the first question: “Do I know what’s expected of me?” As with the first question, the second must be answered again and again. Will you notice when your team doesn’t have the materials and equipment to do their work right? Expect them to tell you. But don’t stop there. Make it YOUR responsibility to do what it takes for them to answer question #2 affirmatively all the way from goal-setting to achievement of the goal. This is easy to see when you have a new project you have to roll out in 3 weeks. You’re back at the starting line in a new game. Great managers remember this and spend time conditioning the project. It’s time well spent. Spend time now to save time later. Plus you build your relationship with your employees when you ask if they have what they need, what’s missing, and how you can support them to do their best. The manager becomes the service provider. Your job is to clear the obstacles off the playing field so that your team can play its best game. Your reward? They can’t wait to come to work.

What Employees Must Say “YES” to in Order to Love Coming to Work – Part One

No one goes to work saying “I think I’ll produce ordinary results and annoy people today.” Yet despite thirty-year-old solid, credible, and irrefutable information that should enable us to create a place of business which people can’t wait to get to each morning…we haven’t created them en masse. If the gap between the principles and the practice interests you, you can learn about it by
  1. Being aware of the concerns employees bring to work, and
  2. Observing day to day how well you help them answer that question favorably
The first of twelve questions on your employees’ mind , which they, not YOU, must answer with a resounding “YES” is “Do I know what’s expected of me at work?” This is not a question that’s answered once and for all. It’s an on-going question, and managers must be alert to signals that can offer a clue to how the employee would answer it. Is the employee productive? Is she absent frequently? Is he focused? Pro-active. Do you wish they’d do better? Do they irritate you? There are other clues. Now notice your thoughts, opinions, and conclusions you have about the employee or the situation. Do you have thoughts like “They should know. I told them.” “They have a job description.” “There goes Bob. At the water cooler again, instead of talking to clients.” “I don’t have time.” “Hmm. I wonder if Bob knows what’s expected of him?” The moment you notice your thoughts is a point of power. You have just expanded your choices for action. Which one of these thoughts would lead to action that might help the employee answer his or her first concern at work “ Do I know what’s expected of me?”