Mastering Those Difficult Conversations

We have all been there. Needing to have a conversation with either an employee, an independent contractor or a vendor we are not pleased with at the present moment. I am sure each of us can name multiple situations when faced with this. It could be someone’s work has fallen off and is no longer at the standard it used to be; or it could be someone just not responding in the same timely manner they used to; it might even be a feeling that your work has slipped in the hierarchy of the individual’s priority.

First of all, say something at the very first inkling that something not going right. Ask if everything is ok. The person may say, “Yeah, why are you asking?” Then you can say what you’ve noticed. They may or may not respond. If not, just keep noticing and even making some notes to yourself. In fact you can create a notebook and write down thoughts, ideas, and feedback for each employee or independent contractor with whom you are working. Notes should include all the positives as well as that which needs improvement.

Sharing the positives is always much easier. It is sharing what needs improvement that is often most challenging. If you wait too long to say something, your list just keeps on growing, and you wind up with a pile of things with which you are dissatisfied. It’s like telling a spouse or child to hang up their clothes at the end of the day. If you wait until weeks go, they’ve created a very big pile and you are really annoyed. As a result, your comments are much stronger, and you might even explode.

It is much easier for a person to receive needs improvement feedback in small doses. They can then take specific action steps, some of which may be your suggestions, to improve. In the long run this builds trust as the person realizes you are not out to get them, but rather are coaching them to be an outstanding employee.

Although independent contractors are not employees, this is also true when working with them. All too often, people just say I won’t hire them again. Sometimes it is worth the extra effort to let them know where improvement is necessary. Wouldn’t you like to know if you were in their shoes?

My best tips when preparing for these discussions:

• Keep a list with specifics dates, times, situations

• Check in with yourself—did you provide the needed information or parameters?

• Be willing to own up to the person if you didn’t share the responsibility

• What is the best outcome you can imagine, or what do you want to happen?

• Take at least three deep breaths before scheduling, and then again before having the conversation with the other person

I’m open to hearing any additional suggestions you may have. Please share your ideas here, or reach out via the Contact Us page. I’d love to hear from you.

Are You a Good Manager?

There are generally so many working parts to an organization that it can be difficult to pinpoint what exactly is going wrong when morale is down, employees jump ship or business suffers. When these things happen, one of the first places to look toward should be management.

Management, unlike leadership, has a rigor associated with it. While leadership, on the other hand has a more amorphous quality. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of management is accountabilities—being accountable for the outputs of those who work directly for them. And being a good manager means taking such accountabilities very seriously.

Of course different managers have different management styles. That we can all agree on. But we may not agree on what it is that makes a manager good or bad at managing.

Whether it is a Fortune 500 company or a small start up, bad management is bad management. And, bad management impacts everyone and everything in an organization. It is entirely possible for a large, multi-tiered company to experience dissatisfaction and turnover among its ranks or a financial slowdown, while that start up is cruising happily toward success—and with a happy staff. But it can certainly be the reverse as well.

All types of organizations, big and small, have their share of both good and bad managers. Where do you fit in?

A demanding job—which many of us have—can be both frustrating and fulfilling. The frustrating part might come into play when you have less control over your own actions, how you do your work and what you do to fulfill your responsibilities. Inevitably this causes stress; and stress can lead to exhaustion, anxiety, and even depression.

This is where a good manager comes in offering perhaps a different perspective, support and/or autonomy. A good manager is one who understands what helps vs. what hurts employees. Meanwhile a bad manager is what stands between happy and productive employees, lower turnover and business success.

What other accountabilities do you think managers have? What quality to do you find important in a good manager?

Stand Up & Lead

Martin Luther King was the epitome of true leader, a great leader. A driving force behind (and in front of) the civil rights movement, Dr. King’s legacy extends far beyond the fight for racial equality and human rights. Dr. King showed the world that you can indeed stand up in peaceful protest with tremendous impact. The effects of his leadership will continue to be felt for generations to come.

This weekend, people are gathering throughout the United States for the second Women’s March. Women everywhere galvanized since the election of our current president; the many accusations of sexual harassment and violence led to the #metoo movement; and the actions of singer R Kelly has caused advoceds to rise with #MuteRKelly and such movements.

Leaders emerged. Leaders have and continue to emerge in response to so many important issues. The young survivors of the Parkland High School shooting are now outspoken advocates on gun control; new leaders have come out in response to the immigration injustices; new environmental leaders are stepping up to help our planet. I can go on and on. People today are really energized by what they believe in. Strong new leaders are emerging to step into their own leadership.

If asked, I am sure we could all name leaders we greatly admire—civil rights leaders like Dr. King, activists, former presidents, community leaders, business leaders, spiritual leaders, and so on—all of whom have different passions, leadership styles, priorities, etc. It seems during this tumultuous period of American life that we are in, new leaders emerge in all sorts of capacities, for a myriad of reasons and from communities all across our great country.

Just as life and social changing movements require great leaders, so too does business. Without strong managerial leadership, a business will certainly struggle.

What leader has impacted you? What are you doing to stand up and be a great leader?

Indeed we all have a lot to think about and reflect upon this long weekend.

Do Ritual!

We are 11 days into the New Year and I like many of you I just finished the first full work week. Last week I shared with you a challenge I was given and also talked about some new behaviors I am incorporating into my life. I am consciously designing my daily experience. This got me thinking about ritual.

Late last spring, I was meeting with someone in Chelsea. In an effort to waste some time I went into a store called Ritual. At first I wasn’t sure what type of store it was, but what had caught my eye were some clothes. I walked into a store that was calm, beautiful and comfortable--an oasis from the hustle and bustle moving outside on the street. After making a small purchase I left. The experience lingered with me and when asked what I wanted for Christmas, I mentioned Ritual.

I received a beautiful “deluxe” box of their products. Products of Ritual.

The concept of ritual got me thinking. More often than not we all are extremely busy. Each of having many demands on us simultaneously. We get caught up in doing. We lose a sense of being grounded, often feeling untethered to ourselves. In fact, I've just had a day like that myself--energetically disconnected with my body, mind and spirit.

What if we spent a few minutes throughout the day tuning into ourselves? Checking in to see if we are grounded in that moment. By grounded I mean are we actually in touch with all of ourselves, our bodies in particular. Each of us has the ability to create a simple ritual which can make all the difference in our lives.

Those of you who have read my white paper, know that self-care is one of the four elements essential to transforming a person’s effectiveness, experience and happiness at work. I have come to appreciate more deeply the fact that creating little rituals throughout the day is a wonderful way to keep oneself in the present. It can be as simple as having an aroma candle lit while you do deep some pondering on an issue, or setting an alarm every few hours to remind yourself to take 5 deep breaths or get up from your chair and gaze out the window. I know it sounds a bit corny but it does work. If you are interested in learning more about the four elements mentioned above, reach out to me on my Contact Us page to receive you own copy.

Remembering

Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Prior to September 11th, 2001, this was the day of the most deaths of Americans on our own soil. An official day of remembering, we honor lives lost and families who lost loved ones. This week the country also mourns the death of our 41st president, George H.W. Bush. The news of his death was broadcast late last Friday evening, and the entire weekend and past week was subsequently characterized by reflection, looking back on his life and legacy. Not a political “junkie,” this past week I learned a lot about “41” as I heard all about his life of service, his accomplishments and the values that shaped his legacy and our country.

While we all may not agree with many of President Bush’s policies, we can look back on a leader who cared deeply about his country, and understood the importance of compromise, coalition-building and respect. Some of the words and phrases that stand out for me during this week’s coverage, include: Youngest pilot in the Navy; Flew 58 combat missions; Shot down and rescued by a submarine; Married 73 years; Lost a daughter, Robin at age 3 to leukemia. President Bush experienced many losses--runs for Senate, the presidential nomination in 1980, and a second term as President in 1992. A class act, his niceness was interpreted by many as weakness.Yet he was a man of toughness, fiber, courage, prudence, character and faith. He simply was not afraid to show tears or tenderness. The last of the “greatest generation,” he served the country with ideals, and he strove for a kinder, gentler nation.

It’s the holiday season. For Catholics, it is Advent, a time of darkness and anticipation of the coming of our Saviour’s birth. A new year on the liturgical calendar. It is a time of watching, waiting and preparation; quite different from the frenzy of shopping, gift giving and partying. It is a time to prepare for what is to come.

I may be going out on a limb here, but I’ve decided to use remembering as the backdrop, to ask you to reflect on your own new year, your values and behavior. How do you live each day? How do you go about managing your employees? Are you teaching your children values in your actions as well as your words? How will you be remembered? Please ponder and reflect on these questions and If you feel comfortable enough, please share with me.

The Key to Conflict-Free...

Thanksgiving is upon us—a time for giving thanks and a time for family gatherings. As we get ready to gather ‘round the table, lets pause and see that we can indeed have a nice, relaxing and conflict-free holiday.

Think of it like this… Do you realize how your actions impact those around you? Or perhaps how it is that you are impacted by the actions of others?

We’re all guilty at least sometimes—of just sort of doing our own thing and not realizing the impact we may be having on our colleagues, our friends and even on our family. But what if we did realize it…

Realizing it, being aware of ourselves and our behavior, and our impact on others—that’s all a part of your emotional intelligence. And this is just the tip of the EI iceberg.

Not only can emotional intelligence help you enjoy a conflict-free holiday but it will also help you be more successful in meeting your goals, bringing in more revenue and improving your standing in business overall.

Being vs. Doing

It sure seems as though many Americans heeded the call to exercise their right to vote this week. As election results continue to roll in, we see that as a people we are indeed getting in touch with ourselves, who we are and what it is we stand for. So many brave individuals around our country have stood up, put themselves on the line and their name on the ballot, at every level of government. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel very proud to be a part of this deep-rooted foundational process of American life. I also feel a strong inner sense of having just taken control of my life and my place in our collective American life. How about you?

It is easy to fall into a regular state of doing-ness rather than being-ness. In other words, going about your daily work and social/family responsibilities without giving much thought to what you are doing and what those around you are doing and feeling. For many, the elections gave us pause. We were forced to consider the interplay of issues, change, demographics, people, money, health care, etc. Much to ponder and so much to consider. Forced to reflect, we found ourselves in a state of BEing.

I have a suggestion... Why not take this concept of BEing-ness, and taking pause and carry it into your daily routines. Today’s corporations and workplaces really could use more managers and workers who can marry the two—doing and being as a continuum. Give it a try. See if you can get yourself out of a constant state of doing and infuse a state of being. You’ll be glad you did in the end, and so will your business.

By the way, Bova Enterprises can help you with this.

Take some time this weekend to think about how much you are making conscious choices and being in the present vs. being in that state of doing. Let me know how you make out.

VOTE

It’s time. The mid-term elections are firmly upon us now, and early voting has begun in many states. In last week’s blog, I talked about how it is we come to making our decisions, and now here we all are—faced with some very big decision-making.

Voting.

I hope you are planning to vote. The fate of our democracy depends on it. It depends on your vote, on my vote, on everyone’s vote. As citizens of this great country, it is our civic obligation to figure out who we are, what we believe in and what we stand for. Then it is our more important obligation to cast our votes accordingly. To creatively paraphrase Winston Churchill, a country's greatest asset is an informed citizenry.

Sadly there are millions of people around the world who would die for the right to vote, yet we here in the United States seem to almost take the opportunity for granted. Year in and year out, our elections result in low voter turnout.

Just like in a strong business, democracy thrives with greater participation. When your business’ staff is actively engaged they share ideas, they solve problems, they succeed. Then, what are you left with? A thriving business. Simillarly, when citizens thoughtfully and actively participate and let their voices be known, what have we got? A true and flourishing democracy.

So please, whatever it is you stand for and wherever you may fall on the political spectrum, I sincerely hope you take some time out of your busy schedule to make your big decisions and cast your vote.

What’s Stifling Your Innovation?

I think we can all agree that innovation is vitally important to the success of most any business, especially now with so many disruptions in business.

Keeping up with changing times, a changing market and keeping fresh ideas flowing—all are necessary, and all are not always so easy. Yet if a business is not doing these things, it can’t really succeed.

First and foremost, what exactly is innovation? Innovation is the actual process of bringing those fresh, new ideas to fruition. This simple sentence almost makes it seem easy. So what could it be that is stifling you and your business?

Perhaps you have what has been a successful business over the years. Or, maybe you manage one. What do you need to be sure your company remains innovative? Sure, you need ideas, but you also need a solid team to come up with those ideas, to work through those ideas, to execute those ideas. You get the… Idea.

The truth is there can be many reasons why your innovation seems to be stifled. However, one of the first places to look for your answer should be with your team. Start by asking yourself some questions…

  • Are you empowering your team?

  • Do you trust your team?

  • Do you consent for your team to delve into new ideas and be creative?

  • Are you inspiring your team?

  • Are you open and transparent with your team?

Do you allow for change—with your market, with your product, most importantly with your team? Let me know what you come up with. Bova Enterprises can help.

Have any of my comments evoked something in you? What is your thinking on this topic? Sharing your reflections helps all of us to grow and expand our thinking. Comments can be left here or on the Contact Rosemary page.