Personal Development, The Leader

Tips To Reduce Spring Break Vacation Stress!

Does the thought of ‘spring break’ approaching cause you grief?  Sure we all love our vacations, but unfortunately taking vacation and returning afterwards can be stressful.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  Here’s some things you can do to help!  If you’ve seen them before, it might still be worth a skim through as a reminder.

Just recently having the opportunity to take vacation with my family, it reminded me how stressful vacation can be, unfortunately.  In today’s world of always being connected and the on-going expectations and demands placed on us in our work lives, it can be very difficult for many to get away on vacation easily.   Then there is the mess when we return!  The result too often is the week before we leave is high stress and the week we return is brutal!  Then there is the time we are actually off on vacation.  Regardless whether we are able to disconnect while away, the first few days can be tough as we de-stress from the week before, and then a few days before the end of the vacation we begin to think of what awaits our return and the stress and anxiety ramps up.

To help out just a little, I’ve re-posted some information from previous posts that may help.

Before you go:

  • TIP:  When you book your vacation, block off in your calendar the last day before you go and the first day you return, then be very selective as to what meetings you book on those days, if any.  Give yourself the opportunity to clear your inbox, ensure delegation is set-up, take care of any priorities that need to be looked after when you are gone, and give yourself sometime to deal with the inevitable last minute before vacation “crisis” that surely will pop up.
  • Appoint a delegate to look after things for you. Advise your team who this is and how to contact them.  Turn on your out of office notification and put this contact information in the notification so that when others beyond your team try to contact you, they will realize you are out of the office and will know who to contact should they need to do so, rather than wait for your return.
  • Depending on your level of responsibility, provide someone you trust with your contact information should there be a urgent matter or emergency in which you need to be reached. This maybe your cell phone number or contact information as to where you will be staying.  This may or may not be your assigned delegate.  Let your team know you are not checking or responding to emails or texts while you are gone.  Be sure to leave clear instructions as to what constitutes an urgent matter or emergency.
  • TIP:  Leave instructions with your team to summarize key issues or problems you need to be aware of or where they need your help immediately upon your return.  If you have an assistant they can consolidate all these items in one email and send to you upon your return.  If you don’t have an assistant, then you can assign this to your delegate.  The intent here is that this short list will allow you to quickly focus on the most important items immediately upon your return rather than trying to sort through all your emails or reacting as things come to your attention somewhat randomly throughout the day.

Upon Return:

  • Review the consolidated list from your team of the urgent matters they need your immediate assistance with. Use this list to set your priorities for your first day back.  Schedule urgent meetings or phone calls as necessary to address these issues.
  • Check-in with your delegate to see how things went and if there is anything you need to know about or follow-up on.
  • TIP: Create a “Vacation holding” file within your email and move all the emails received while you were gone, other than the last 1-2 days, to this file.  Then sort through and process the remaining emails from the past 1-2 days.  If something comes up that you need to search through the emails in the vacation holding file, you have them available.  After a week or so, if you haven’t found you need any emails from this folder you can go ahead and delete them.
  • Reflect on what worked well and what didn’t before, during, and after your vacation so you can tweak your vacation routine accordingly.
  • TIP: Book your next vacation!

Work-life Balance:

Whether you are on vacation or not, everyone must have the proper balance between work and life.  Finding it is a real challenge that so many people struggle with.  So what is this work-life balance thing anyway?  Is it real, or just a myth?  This article discusses two analogies to describe work-life balance.  Having the right mindset and expectation helps you find a sweet spot to get you through the twists and turns that life will surely send your way.  With these 10 steps to improve your work-life balance you can get closer to a healthier and happier place in life!

Personal Planning:

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During the summer months when your co-workers are taking time off, or you are taking time off, it is very easy to get out of your routines.  This is likely when you need these routines the most!  This post on personal planning discusses 6 key steps to getting and staying organized on your priorities.  Even if you are familiar with them, review them again and do an inventory to ensure you haven’t mistakenly dropped some!  When you are picking up the slack for others that are away, or playing catch up when you return, managing your time effectively is key to treading water.

Email:

angry-annoyed-coffee-52608Is email easier in the summer months?  Maybe, but not very likely!  There are some very helpful built in tools within Outlook and several email apps that can assist you with staying on top of your email.  It is surprising how few people use them and often enough aren’t even aware of them.  You may be a quick and easy mouse click away from some much needed help!  After it was first published, this second post on the @5 Essential email folders. received positive feedback from several who tried these tips.   If you aren’t aware of what the @5 are, check it out!

Other Related Posts:

Here’s some additional posts related to this topic written by others.

How to Beat ‘Vacation Guilt’ and Make Sure No One Bothers You on Your Day Off –

12 Key Strategies to Achieving a Work-Life Balance – Tim Kehl

Most of these ideas are pretty common and nothing special perhaps, but hopefully you picked up a couple of new tips or at least were reminded of them.

Please leave a comment and let us know any tips you may have to help others reduce their vacation stress!

Contact me:

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

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

Visual Controls

A Benchmarking Gemba To Demystify Visual Control Boards

Visual control boards may not look overly complex, but establishing an effective board and establishing a robust review cadence can be more challenging than initially anticipated.  The benefits, however, can be phenomenal!  We learned first hand what some of these benefits are during a recent visual control benchmarking gemba.

On 12 and 13 February, High Performance Leaders Inc. (HPL) facilitated a visual control board workshop for the Technology Team lead by Travis Vokey, VP and Head of Technology at Dream Unlimited.  The first day was a workshop focused on the key attributes of visual control boards, and a working session to begin defining the team’s value proposition and key performance metrics.  On the second day, there was a benchmarking gemba to Crystal Fountains, Baylis Medical, and Bell Mobility to see and learn first hand from their experiences and existing visual control boards.

Our focus during the benchmarking gemba was to see non-manufacturing areas.  Since there can be a stigma that visual control boards are only for manufacturing, we wanted IMG_20200213_1232410to see how different businesses, industries, and non-manufacturing teams set-up their boards and use them.  We saw boards used by Sales & Marketing, Product Design, Process Engineering, Equipment Engineering, Project Management, and yes one from Manufacturing.  We reviewed boards at the tier 1, 2, 3, and 4 levels, with tier 1 being at the working staff level and level 4 the organizational level.  Each host company had a representative appropriate for each level of board explain how their boards work and how they are used.

Dream---Control-board-BMThe Dream team was able to participate in a regular daily huddle in action while at Crystal Fountains.  It was fantastic to see and hear the enthusiasm and see the high level of engagement from each of the host company staff members.  They were all believers in visual boards.  However, that was not always the case.  When we asked an engineering team who was the biggest skeptic when they first introduced the boards, an engineer stepped forward and boldly said “Oh, that would have been me!”  He went on to explain that he first thought it would just be more work and a waste of time.  However, now he admits, the board and the daily huddle has improved communication and work distribution.  He’s now a believer!

IMG_20200213_1236595It was motivational to listen to each of the host company staff members talk about what they like about the boards and how they have made their jobs easier, improved team work, and driven solid improvements.  Here’s some of benefits and results they shared with the Dream team:

The boards and huddle have improved our cross-functional communications

We have much better visibility to unplanned work

Saves so much time and there’s less stress

Made us care about each others work, and we want to help each other

I know what’s going on now

It’s not about not being successful (when a target is missed), but rather what do you need to be successful

People feel empowered to get things done

IMG_20200213_1220457

When properly established, visual control boards add value to both the teams and the leaders.  Laura Conquergood, VP of Operations at Baylis Medical said, “when I want an update on a project, we just go to the board.  We don’t schedule a meeting.”  Jongmu Lee, Director Creative Operations at Crystal Fountains said, “whether I’m in the building or not, I know the team is coming together and discussing important topics.”  Many of the team members and leaders at all 3 host companies similarly stated, that communications had improved and wasteful meetings had been dramatically reduced.

At Bell Mobility, the Regional Operations team is involved in over 2,000 projects across the country.  Approximately 8 years ago they started tracking key aspects of their projects using typical white board style visual control boards.  Then about 3 years ago they implemented digital boards (D-boards) to track and coordinate these massive projects between all stakeholders across the company.

According to Nitin Gautam, Network Access Manager and Robert Dillenbeck, Senior Manager, Territory Operations at Bell Mobility, the D-boards provided certain advantages over the traditional visual control boards including:

  • Reduced cycle times to update the boards and get information
  • Staff working remotely can keep informed through the D-boards and have better engagement and participation in meetings
  • Quicker access to graphs and all data
  • Easier to roll up information and data from tier 1 to tier 4 levels
  • Executives can retrieve updates and information without requiring meetings to obtain project status

In my opinion, D-boards should be implemented with extreme caution.  As discussed in a previous article Should Smart Screens Replace Pen & Paper on the Shop Floor?, D-boards can be problematic with potentially lowering visibility if they are not frequently and routinely interacted with becoming nothing more than a information board that over time can become virtually invisible.  The most concerning problem though, is that changes to what is tracked and displayed can be slow and costly to revise and continuously improve.  So, if D-boards are going to be implemented, be sure to anticipate these problems had have a solid plan to address and overcome them.  No doubt they can be powerful and do offer some great benefits, but do watch out for the pitfalls.

The Dream team learned a lot and received some good advice from the 3 host companies.  A few of the key points they were advised on included:

  • Just start, don’t wait for perfection
  • Encourage rapid cycles of improvement to the boards as you go
  • Make the boards easy to change quickly and easily
  • Use habit changing challenges to motivate and create new disciplines around the board cadence and routines
  • The staff or team members own the tier 1 boards meaning they update them and report out on status, not the managers

IMG_20200213_1612559The two day workshop concluded with a Dream debrief where each of the Dream leaders identified the biggest thing that they had learned, and each making a commitment as to what they were going to do when they returned to their office.  With the mystery of visual control boards revealed, they are excited to embark on this exciting journey.

Contact me:

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

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, The Leader

Want To Get Organized In 2020? Free Personal Planner & Leader Standardized Work Templates

Do you want to get yourself better organized this year so you are ready to lead more effectively?  Then these two tools will help you!  Yes you!

At High Performance Leaders Inc., we help develop leaders to be more effective, everyday!  Although there are many important aspects to being an effective leader included in our program, one straight forward but critical way is to get and stay organized.

Unfortunately, too many leaders say they want to spend more quality time with their teams, have more focus on their top priorities, and feel less overwhelmed.  Sound somewhat familiar?  Two vital tools that can dramatically assist with these far too common issues is Leader Standard Work (LSW) and a personal planning sheet and routine.

To assist in these areas, download these free basic LSW and personal planning templates and start off the year more organized!

Download tool here

Leader Standard Work

If you think LSW doesn’t apply to you or your position, you are missing out on a very helpful tool.  LSW is not only for first line manufacturing supervisors.  It’s a powerful tool for any leader in any business at all levels.  Another myth is that a leader’s job is not standard, so therefore LSW will not work.  Absolutely there are aspects of a leader’s responsibilities that are not standard, however, there are likely many responsibilities and actions that are standard when you step back and evaluate what needs to be accomplished.

LSW is simply an organized list of the most important responsibilities, actions, or tasks that a leader needs or wants to accomplish, and the frequency with which they need to be completed.  This list then is used to remind the leader what they need to get done.  When integrated into a robust scheduling and personal planning routine, it will result in improved results, accomplishments, and feeling of accomplishment.  It will also avoid important things from falling off the radar over time or when things get hectic.

Read more here on developing leader standardized work

Download template here

Personal Planning

Surprisingly many leaders also only use their calendar and maybe a note book for personal planning purposes.  This can lead to losing control of your time and schedule, and not having time to get to those things that are most important to get completed.  Important tasks or follow-up items may get buried within the notebook and get overlooked or forgotten.

A regular personal planning routine of reviewing your LSW, scheduled and new meetings, your priorities, outstanding actions and follow-up, is critical to being an effective leader.  Coupling the routine with a single page weekly planner can have a dramatic impact on a leader’s effectiveness.

Update and revise your personal planner once per week, print it out and then keep it up-to-date throughout the week using the old pen and pencil method, or maintain it live on  your computer.  Your choice.  Add tabs to keep a log of actions or tasks that need to be completed at some point in the future, but that you don’t need on the current week’s planner.  Categorize the tabs based on key areas of your life such as, “Follow-up”, “Actions”, “@Computer”, “Errands” etc.

If this sounds basic to you, great!  You should be all set and maybe already effective in this regard.  However, indications are that many leaders lack a robust planning and organizing routine.  A 20 minute weekly planning routine is all that is required to get organized and stay on top of the important things.

Read more here on personal planning

To assist in these areas, download these free LSW and personal planning templates and start off the year more organized!

Download template here

 

Contact me:

 

For additional information on High Performance Leaders Inc., click here.  Or follow on LinkedIn.

 

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

Are You Accomplishing Your Goals?

Did you set goals this year?  If so, when was the last time you checked-in on them to see how things are progressing?  When?  Oh boy, it’s likely time you did a check!

In January there were a series of posts that stepped through the process of setting personal and professional goals and objectives.  If you missed this series, they are summarized with the links at the bottom of this post for your reference.  Now that you are a few months in since setting your goals and objectives, please use this post as a reminder and catalyst to do a check-in and reflection on them.

Some key considerations for your review:

Relevance of the goals & objectives – Things change quickly in this age!  Review your goals and objectives to ensure they are all still relevant.  If not, scratch them off and move on.  Add critical new ones as necessary and be sure to develop tactics and action plans for them.

Target check – Check to see how you are progressing towards your target.  If on target, great, but confirm that it is your actions that are driving this and not just good luck!  If not on track to hit the target, it’s important to dig deep to understand why not and then adjust your tactics and actions accordingly.

IMG_20190427_1843462Action plan effectiveness – Review your action plans and record your status within your plan.  Indicate which ones are completed, in progress or not started.  Confirm if you are on track schedule wise; on, behind, or ahead of schedule.  Consider if there are any barriers that you hadn’t previously considered that may impact your plans and develop mitigation for each of them.  Identify any ground that needs to be made up.  In other words, do you need to double down on some to get them back on track?  Rate your actions for their effectiveness based on whether they are delivering the expected results or not.  Cancel the ineffective ones if you think course correction isn’t in the cards and develop new ones to overcome and get back on track.

Don’t despair – Particularly if you are reviewing your personal goals and objectives, don’t despair if this is the first time your have looked at them since setting them up.  That’s why we have this post!  The good news is, you have now looked at them, right?  So don’t get frustrated and know you are not alone, but do set yourself on a refreshed path to get on track and achieve what you set out to achieve.  Don’t give up!  Do it!

No! Try not!  Do or Do not, there is no try!

– Yoda

Execution – To ensure execution of your actions, you needed to have “operationalized” them.  Take this opportunity to honestly reflect on your execution and be self-critical.  You might be the biggest problem stopping you from achieving your objectives!  Are you following through on the methods you had determined to operationalize your action plans?  If not, why not?  What and why are they not working?  What do you need to do differently?  Do it!  Adjust your plan and go!

Plan, Do, Check, Act/Adjust – Setting goals and objectives follows the continuous PDCA1improvement cycles of Plan, Do, Check, Act/Adjust or PDCA beautifully.  What we’re doing now is obviously the check phase.  Once you’re done this part adjust your plans and start doing again!  Going forward, ensure your operational steps include the full PDCA cycle, very frequently!

 

If you missed this original goals and objectives series or just need a refresh, the posts are summarized with the links below for your reference.

Reflections Vs Resolutions – It’s That Time Of Year!

Although written with the Holiday Season in mind, this is still a timely post to refresh yourself on the importance to reflect on your goals and objectives.  Key points to think about that are relevant at any time of year are covered in this post.

Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Mission Statements

Whether you are doing so as an individual, family, or for an organization, establishing a mission is a critical first step.  A mission acts as your compass which will establish your direction and keep you on track.  This post discusses mission statements and the values that support them.

Setting Personal and Professional Goals and Objectives – Goals & Objectives

After the mission is created, the next step is to develop the areas of focus to be deployed to achieve the mission.  This post describes how to set meaningful goals.

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 makes things happen!  This post discusses how to convert goals to objectives and specific actions, including some tips on how to “operationalize” your plans.

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