Leadership, Personal Development

“But that is your job!”

As leaders, we all have a lot of demands on our time.  Sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in other things and forget that one of the primary responsibilities we have as leaders is to support our teams.  It might be surprising, but in reality our teams are not there to support us.   Leaders are there to support their teams!  Of course a primary job of a leader is to set the vision and direction that the team needs to go, but after that, our job is to facilitate the team in accomplishing and reaching those goals.

How do you think you stack up in this area?

What would your team say about you?

I’ve realized recently that I need to get better at this.  I know this is a key and important part of my role, but I’m not as good at this as I need or want to be.  You know what I mean?  The frown or sigh you make when one of your team drops by your office and says “Bill, do you have a minute?”.  Sure, you are in the middle of catching up on emails, or reading that monthly report and it interrupts your train of thought.  You aren’t necessarily making the gesture or sound effect towards the individual, but nevertheless, the impact it has on your team is tremendous.

I remember when I worked in a totally open office concept and an engineer came to my desk to ask me a question.  We had a brief conversation and I answered his questions after which he walked away.  Then I sighed and made a comment to the person next who was like my Sensei, that, “It is impossible to get anything done around here without getting interrupted!”.  He looked at me with a surprised look on his face and very sternly said,

But that is your job!

He went on to explain to me that the purpose of my role as a leader was to be there for my team.  To answer their questions, provide direction, coach them, teach them…

I never forgot that.  He was so right!  Ever since then, I have made a concerted effort to make myself accessible.  However, what I realized recently is that I had gone too far.  If I wasn’t in a meeting or on a phone call my door was open, and I encouraged anyone to come in anytime.   In my attempt to give my time to my team, I hadn’t given any time to myself.  To my surprise, the complete opposite to what I was intending was happening;  my “open door policy” had lead to frustration on my part which resulted in a poor experience for someone that did come to see me.

I’ve talked to my team about this and they have given me some suggestions because they also realize, I need time to work and get things done.  They don’t expect me to be available whenever they want, but they do want access to me and want to know I will get back to them.  After all, we all do need to get things done that require our full attention and concentration.  So the first suggestion I have, is to discuss accessibility with your team and get their input as to what they need and expect of you.

Below are a few suggestions to help make yourself more accessible to your team and more supportive when you do:

  • Determine the best days and times of day when you are at your best to receive your team and give them your full attention.  Similarly, determine when your best time of day is to focus and get your own things done.  Plan your schedule with these times in mind.
  • Have open “office hours” in your schedule and communicate in advance to your team to which anyone can drop by to see you.  You may want to schedule the person in to avoid conflicts, but the point is that the time slot is always open in your schedule until someone books it.
  • Close your door or go somewhere private when you cannot afford to be interrupted, but set a time frame as to how long you will do so before coming up for air.
  • Establish an SLA or Service Level Agreement to which you will respond to emails or other requests and commit to it.  Mine is 24 hours.
  • Schedule regular 1:1s with each of your team and allow them to discuss whatever they want to discuss as a priority ahead of anything you want to discuss.
  • Establish informal opportunities to have discussions with them, such as meeting offsite for a coffee, lunch or sometimes dinner.
  • If someone does come to see you, or calls, and you are in the middle of something important that requires your full attention,
    • Ask if it is urgent – nothing worse than telling someone you will get back to them later then finding out it is a drop what you are doing 911!
    • If not urgent, explain to them that you are in the middle of something that you need to get finished, but that you will get back to them by a specific time.  Make sure you do!
  • When someone does drop in to see you, or during a scheduled meeting with you, turn your phone upside down so you can’t see the screen and leave it away from where you are, turn off notifications, lock your lap top and give them your full attention.  Turn and face the person.  At the end of the discussion, summarize what you discussed, agreed upon, and the follow up dates/requirements.

Coincidentally, as I was drafting this post in my mind, I came across a post by John Hall  on social media that was similar in concept and had some great advice.  Worth a read:

Why saying I don’t have time is a great way to lose trust of your teammates

Leave a comment with what you find is a great way in which you give your time to your team.

Contact me:

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com.

Personal Development

Simplest Stress Reducing Thing Ever!

I’ve always been a believer in using technology to assist us and to not become a slave to it,  but at some point it got the better of me and sucked me in.  I’m not even sure when it happened.  It was slowly but surely eating away at my well being and sanity.

With 2 personal email accounts, work email, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, my website, Messenger, text messages and many other apps, my phone was constantly buzzing to alert me about the latest and greatest communication that had been received.  I was “smart” though, and used technology to change the tones of the various apps, which ones would vibrate, how many vibrations, and even had different coloured LED flashes to differentiate them.  It was an engineering masterpiece!  It was great the way I utilized technology to bring audible order to my mayhem of social media notifications!

Overtime as I added more apps it became out of control.  My stress levels were going up.  I’m not talking nervous breakdown levels, but nevertheless, my focus and concentration was constantly being broken and I found I had a heightened level of constant irritation.  I didn’t even know it was there really and when I did notice it I didn’t realize the source.

So what did I do?

I simply turned off all the notifications for all my apps, except my phone itself.

That’s it.

For many of you perhaps this is as obvious as your natural instinct to breathe, and for you kudos!  I’m happy for you.  However, this post is to help the many others that I know and see daily falling slave to our technology.   Like me, they likely don’t even realize it nor the negative impact it is having on them.

It is widely accepted that once interrupted, it takes 20 minutes to get back in focus and be productive.   Now stop and consider how many alerts you are getting.  Even if you don’t open the app, that “ping” is usually enough to snap you out of your train of thought, pause during a conversation, or lose focus on the task at hand, as your eyes sneak a quick peak at the text alert flashing on the display.

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Originally posted by Mary Garza

Recently, a teacher in the U.S. had her students turn their phones on loud, and every time they received a notification they went up and put a tally mark under the correct category.   The flip chart indicates the number of notifications received in one class, one period.  Incredible!

Of course we all have responsibilities that we can’t ignore and I’m not suggesting that.  Schedule times throughout your day to check and respond to emails and other necessary communications.  Request your team and family to call your cell phone if urgent.  Establish and communicate a response SLA (Service Level Agreement) to which you will respond and commit to it.

It was shocking to me the difference turning off the notifications made to my state of mind!  It truly was amazing!  Try it!  You’ll like it!

What simple changes have you made to reduce your stress levels?

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

 

Other Related Posts:

Effective Leadership Skills – Personal Planning

Effective Leadership – Part II – 6 Steps to Manage Your Time Effectively

Effective Leadership – Part III – Email

Effective Leadership – Part IIIb – @5 Essential Email Folders

 

Contact me:

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

If you are enjoying my posts and find the information useful, please “Follow” me by entering your email in the follow box on the right-hand menu of my website www.glennsommerville.com 

Leadership, Personal Development

Steps To Build a Professional Network

So you have decided to build a professional network, but don’t know where to start?  Well the first step is NOT to start sending hundreds of LinkedIn invitations to random strangers.  Ok, so where do you start?

In the last post, Is A Professional Network Even Necessary?, we talked about what a professional network is, and why having one is important.  If you missed it, check it out now before reading this post further.

Getting Started

To get your network started, make a list of people you know.  As this is a professional network, with professional being the key word, be particular about who you place on this list.  They should be of good character and reputation.  Someone you trust and is trusted by others.  Remember this is just a start and that to build your network, you will be relying on this initial list to get you going.  Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Family and friends
  • Known acquaintances of close friends
  • Co-workers
  • Past co-workers
  • Former classmates
  • Fellow members of professional associations you belong to
  • Former teachers, professors or instructors
  • Parents of your children’s friends

Once you’ve got your initial list done, establish a prioritization criteria.  This criteria will establish how often you want to make contact with each person.  For example, a very close network member you may want to touch base with monthly, while another member might be once per year.  The criteria may also be based on the importance they hold within your network based on influence, mentoring, gaining new connections.  It’s up to you.

Rules of Engagement

Networking can take a lot of time.  How much time can you commit?  Once you establish your network, people within your network are going to make requests of you for various things.  What are you willing to do or what won’t you do?  At first you will be reaching out, but in a short time, others will be reaching out to you to connect.  Who do you want to connect with?  What is your criteria to connect with someone?  You should establish your rules of engagement right from the get go.  Here are a few things to consider:

  • What is the main purpose or goal of your network?
  • How much time per week will you spend building your network?
  • How much time per month will you spend meeting people within your network?
  • What is your budget for networking?  i.e. Gas, coffee, lunches, dinners, drinks
  • What is your connection criteria?
    • Do you have to know them personally?
    • Will you insist on a referral from someone you know and trust first?
    • What industries do they need to be from?
    • What level of experience?
    • Any educational requirement?
  • Will you provide “recommendations” on social media such as LinkedIn?
    • Recommendations are a reflection of you as well.  You should never recommend someone if you truly do not endorse them.  As such, consider how you will accept some requests for recommendations and not others.
  • Will you endorse members of your network for their skills on LinkedIn or other social media?
  • How will you handle job reference checks?
  • Who will you meet over email or phone vs for coffee or lunch?  Who will you meet over dinner?
  • How will you handle the tab for a meeting?  Will you pay?  Split it?  Decide in advance or at the meeting?

The First Connections

If you are serious about your network, integrate it into your personal planning routine to ensure that you are scheduling time for it and are taking specific actions to build your network.  It will not happen by itself.  You will need to work at it and when first establishing a network, it will take a great deal of time, focus and energy to do so.

Using your contact list, go back now and indicate your preferred means of connecting with each person whether it be by email, phone, or face to face.  Based on your personal planning, start reaching out.  You may decide to send several emails a week to some contacts, calling one or two, while arranging to meet one for coffee in a given week.  To make it happen, schedule or plan time to send the emails, have the phone numbers available and again schedule time to call.  Predetermine a mutually suitable place to meet that doesn’t inconvenience one person more than the other.

HINT:  When planning to meet someone face to face, plan several weeks to a month in advance.  Don’t expect to call someone on Monday and arrange to meet them on Tuesday.  It typically doesn’t work that way!  Again, build this in to your personal planning, so that you are taking actions this week, to arrange a meeting in a month’s time.

Growing Your Network

Now that you have your network established, you need to look after it and grow it.  The best way to look after it is to maintain contact with the members of your network on some frequency.  It doesn’t have to be overly frequent, but maintain contact somehow.  We all get busy with life and work, and at times, you will not have the time you really want to spend on your network, but keep it alive.

You don’t want to be that person who reaches out only when they want something!  You know who I mean.

This also applies to members of your network.  They may not be responsive or appear to make an effort at some point, but don’t give up on them.  They may be back.  There maybe something going on in their life at that moment that is demanding more of their time.  For example, we’ve had a very challenging couple of years in my family dealing with aging parents and ultimately their passing, which has demanded a massive amount of my time, leaving me with very little ability or energy to spend on my network.  However, I’ve tried to keep it going as best I could, and now with this family need behind me (unfortunately), I’m trying to revive my network again.

To grow your network, look for opportunities to meet new people.  Within your existing network, ask a member if they can recommend someone for you to connect with from their network.  This can be done through a LinkedIn referral, or ask them to connect you virtually by sending an email to both of you to introduce you to each other.  Arrange to meet with them and their colleague for a coffee.

You can make great connections at leadership development seminars or training, or when attending trade shows or conferences.  Wherever you are, whether it be for personal or business purposes, be looking for good opportunities to add to your network.  Remember though, the game is not to get as many “connections” as possible and LinkedIn connections do not necessarily define your professional network.  In a truly professional network, you know each member personally, you can vouch for them, and they for you.

Other Related Posts:

How to Build and Maintain a Professional Network – Dawn Rosenberg McKay

The Most Common Professional Networking Mistake – Alison Doyle

 

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

 

Leadership, Personal Development

Is A Professional Network Even Necessary?

Do you have a professional network?

A professional network is very important for your career.  A healthy network takes years to build.  How’s yours?  Is it active and healthy?

What Is a Professional Network?

Well, let’s start by saying that it is not having 10,000 connections on LinkedIn!  Sure, LinkedIn is a very powerful networking tool, but professional networking is much more than having many connections on social media.

A professional network is a system of business contacts with the intent to connect with each other for career, business, or developmental purposes to the benefit of all involved.  Sure, a professional network may help you find your next career move, or your next great hire, but it is much much more.  They may also assist with problem solving, recommend vendors, suppliers, or professional services.  Professional networks can also establish life long mentorship relationships.

How I Got Started.

cafe-coffee-shop-coffee.jpgWay back, I was one of those that thought that a professional network was only necessary if you were looking for a new career opportunity.  As I was challenged in my position at the time and not seeking new external opportunities, I did not maintain a professional network.  Maintain?  Well, I really didn’t have one!  Then, a colleague of mine that I hadn’t heard from in a number of years contacted me.  He was currently between positions and suggested we get together for a coffee.   Believing that my employer wouldn’t be a good cultural fit for this individual and not aware of any openings that would be suitable for him anyway, I declined.  But that didn’t stop him.  To me, he was relentless and eventually I gave in and met him for a coffee.

That’s ok if you don’t know of any opportunities for me.  Let’s just get together and catch up.  You never know how we’ll be able to help each other.  If not now, someday.

I met this leader that time and to this day have continued to meet with him, exchange phone calls on a regular basis, and we have helped each other out in one way or another countless times over the years.  Today, he is the CEO of a large company, and I feel pretty confident, no I know, that he is still there for me today.  And I’m there for him.  In fact, I spoke to him just yesterday.

If you wait to create a professional network until you need a new career opportunity, it’s too late!

Why Have A Professional Network?

Of course a professional network is critical if you are searching for new opportunities.  Or as a leader, your network can be an important source of new hires for your organization. In fact, in this regard your network can be a great form of a “pay it forward” system.  You can help others find their next new career opportunity or colleagues find their next superstar hire and some day, they may repay you with the same.

However, the benefits of having and sustaining a healthy network go much further.  Below are some examples of additional advantages to having an established professional network:

  • Your own growth and development by learning new skills, technology, and approaches
  • Give/receive career advice.  Others’ points of view are healthy when evaluating careers, next steps, evaluating opportunities, and making career choices/decisions
  • Connect others to your connections or each others connections
  • Provide mentoring to other leaders
  • Receive mentoring from other leaders
  • Increase your exposure in an industry, technology, or field of focus
  • Exchanging non-proprietary business ideas
  • Benchmarking opportunities and exchange of best practices
  • Learn of development opportunities such as seminars, training, on-line learning, books
  • The social interaction beyond those you interact with daily within your organization can be extremely motivational and inspiring

 

In a future post, we’ll review the steps necessary to build your network and the investment necessary keep it healthy and active.

So what do you think, is a healthy professional network necessary? 

What are other benefits of having a professional network?

Leave a comment…

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.

Leadership, Personal Development

Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Tactics or Action Plans

The tactics or action plans are what brings goals and objectives to life and make things happen!  Whether setting personal or organizational action plans, this is also a step that if not done well, can lead to disappointing results.

In the last post, Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Goals and Objectives, we discussed the various important points of strategy or focus areas and how these then lead to goal development and then SMART objectives.  In this post, we discuss the critical execution stage of developing Tactics or Action plans used to deliver a successful objective.

The tactics or action plans clearly describe the tasks that you and/or your teams will do to achieve an objective.  Action plans are typically developed annually describing the tasks to be taken by whom, and when they are to be completed.

Action Plans are the detailed and specific tasks that will be taken to achieve one or more goals. 

When determining the action plans, be sure to review all the information gathered during the strategy brainstorming such as the SWOT analysis. Involve as many of the stakeholders as possible when determining the action plans. You need to define as many tasks or actions necessary to achieve the objective.  The more detailed you are, the more likely you are to achieve the objective.

Each action to be taken should include the following details:

  • What action is to be taken
  • Who is responsible for taking each action
  • When is each action to be completed
  • What resources are required to make the action happen

road-closed-sign-1-1165296-1279x591A key step I believe that is very important, is to identify the main barriers or risks to completing the individual tasks.  These are the things that can block progress or achievement of the task, or distract you or your teams.  Identify what they are up front and then invest time and focus to determine what mitigation steps can be taken to reduce the risk of impact.  For each barrier determined, consider multiple mitigation ideas or steps you can take to avoid or reduce these risks.  Build those into your plans.  These barriers and mitigation ideas can then impact or cause you to revise multiple parts of your action plan such as the what, who, when, or how.

For example, let’s say you have a personal objective to develop a 3 year strategic plan for your team.  While considering the barriers that can stand in your way, you identify that the day to day operational nature of your responsibilities may prevent you from having time to spend thinking strategically.  As mitigation to this you may decide to block a certain number of hours per week in your calendar for the entire year specifically for “Strategy Development”.  You go further by selecting a day of the week or afternoon in which you can work off-site to reduce the chances of casual interruptions.  Reviewing your calendar, you find that the best day to do so, would be Thursdays as there are typically less head office meetings, your team is heads down on priorities for the week, and you have the most control of your calendar.  Blocking your Thursdays across the horizon for “Strategy Development” will go a long way towards removing this identified barrier.

“When something is scheduled, it is 92% likely to happen!”

In the post Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Goals and Objectives, we used the following objective examples:

  • Personal Objectives:  Reduce my weight to 165lbs by June 1st and sustain through an active lifestyle.
  • Organizational Objective:  Reduce operating costs by 12% within 12 months.

While considering the barriers to achievement of these objectives, we determine that in the case of the personal objective the dark and cold mornings during the winter months are a real deterrent from a morning run.  Furthermore, for the organizational objective, a barrier is determined that many of the operating costs are governed by existing contracts and purchase agreements.  What action plans can be taken to achieve the objectives while taking these barriers into account?  The following are potential examples:

  • Personal Action Plan:  Purchase a treadmill for less than $1500 by 1 September.
  • Organizational Objective:  Establish a cross functional team comprised of operations, engineering, procurement and legal and identify top 10 contracts based on annual spend and opportunity, to review/renegotiate by 15 March.

The next step is a step that is often overlooked.  The problem is that after the action plans are determined everyone goes back to “normal life”.  However, soon after returning to “normal life” the action plans are forgotten.  Why?  Usually because the action plans are not integrated into daily routine and cadence.  The action plans will not happen on their own; you need to make them happen.

Here are some methods to “operationalize” your action plans:

Personal Action Plans:

  • Add repetitive actions to your Leader Standardized Work
  • Add an action plan review cadence to your Leader Standardized Work
  • Post a copy of your objectives and tasks where you will see them daily
  • Integrate into your regular weekly planning routine by adding specific tasks or actions you need to take that week as well as to review your progress and adjust as necessary
  • Set repeating calendar reminders or scheduled tasks in your calendar to review objectives and action plans on a regular basis

Organizational Action Plans:

  • Involve your team throughout all phases of developing the goals, objectives, and action plans
  • Create charters for each goal that clearly describe the problem, objectives, inputs/outputs, action plan, milestones, deliverables,  and team
  • Post or make visible to the entire organization the goals, objectives and the teams responsible for the action plans.  Regularly post updates on progress and performance.
  • Create a project plan and schedule, complete with gantt charts
  • An entirely separate topic is to implement the Hoshin Deployment Matrix to deploy and align your entire organization on your most important organizational objectives
  • Add an action plan review cadence to your Leader Standardized Work
  • Schedule regular cadence reviews with your team in which they report out on action plans and metrics, request your help, and you can provide direction
  • Conduct a gemba to review the results of actions within the operations
  • Celebrate and recognize accomplishment and completion of tasks.

 

What do you do to “operationalize” your personal or organizational action plans?  Leave a comment.

 

Other related posts:

  1. Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Goals & Objectives
  2. Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Mission Statements
  3. Reflections Vs Resolutions – It’s That Time Of Year!
  4. Lead with Vision
  5. Elements of Strategic Planning – Systemico.ca
  6. What Are Your Goals? – Valiance Coaching
  7. New Year’s Resolutions/Goals and How to Keep Them – The Whole House
  8. Don’t Make Resolutions! Set Goals... – Gloria Green Entertainment
  9. Demystifying the Hoshin Kanri X Matrix – Kanbanize

You can email me with any questions at glennsommerville@hotmail.com, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/glennsommervilleL2R/, or on Twitter at  https://twitter.com/gsommervilleL2R.