Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Time Management for 2011--Ruthlessly Protect The Gift of Time

Is "using my time more effectively" on your list of resolutions for the new year? Remember that time management has an emotional component. Make sure to deal with the emotions under your habits. These principles are from my popular "Tenacious Time Management" presentation.

Tenacious Time Management--Principles
 Ruthlessly set priorities.
 Courageously plunge into “A” tasks.
 Heroically hold focus.
 Dare to match tasks to energy cycles.
 Boldly batch tasks.
 Fearlessly decide—touch each task once.
 Face the truth—do a time audit.
 Assertively use smart goals.
 Bravely defeat procrastination.
© 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Breaking through the Conflict Cycle

I was sitting in Kathy’s office, explaining what I’d done for one of her clients while she was away. For a split second, Kathy looked angry. But when I asked what was wrong, she denied it. I persisted. I knew that look and I trusted my feelings. Kathy again replied, “Nothing’s wrong.” Then, trying to understand her point of view, I wondered aloud—was Kathy afraid I was stealing her clients? Her face changed again. I knew I had found the truth. It took a while for Kathy to admit her fears but as she opened up, I heard her concerns and she heard my explanations. Our relationship grew closer that day.

Conflicts build over time from small events. During a meeting with Amy, we can interpret her tone of voice or facial expression negatively and leave with a vague feeling of discomfort. Over time, we slowly begin to mistrust Amy. Soon we see more evidence of her rudeness. We begin to treat her differently. Soon there is tension in all our interactions. Finally, there is an outburst and the conflict is recognized. Because it has been building over time, it will be much harder to overcome.

Cycle of Conflict
A sense of something wrong-->a small event-->an attitude begins to form-->
More events confirm our attitude-->tension and discomfort-->conflict explodes.

If we can intervene in the cycle earlier, we can prevent attitudes from forming and hardening. We can prevent a growing (if unconscious) cycle of nonverbal behaviors that increase defensiveness and inhibit trust. We can prevent words and actions that we’ll later regret.

Do I recognize the small signs of another’s anger or fear?

Unfortunately, it takes perseverance and skill to intervene at the smaller levels of conflict. Because our society frowns on anger, we’re often tempted (like Kathy) to deny it. Through trial and error we will learn when to trust our own intuitions and when to believe a denial. We will also learn to always check our assumptions about nonverbals.

Team reflection: Do we have explosions of conflict that seem to “come out of the blue?” If so, how can we intervene sooner into the conflict cycle?

Journal prompt: This week in addition to basic journaling, reflect on any conflicts in your life. Can you think back in time and discover when the conflict started? Can you intervene sooner in milder conflicts that may be forming now?
© 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To Train or To Coach--That is the Question

Does our team need training or coaching?

Because I specialize in emotional intelligence, companies often contact me when they are having a problem---conflict, poor communication, or lack of healthy assertiveness in the team. But digging deeper, I soon learn that the problems often stem from only a few employees. Then why train everyone? Perhaps there’s a desire to “not single out” these workers. Or the company thinks that the best value comes from getting large numbers into the training room.

Coaching may be a better answer for several reasons.
1. The larger the group, the harder it is to customize training for the needs, learning styles, and questions of every group member. Even if I allow time for questions and pair-sharing, it isn’t possible for each person to tell me their unique issues and concerns. Coaching allows me to give a laser-like focus to the individual. We won’t waste time on irrelevant topics (that may be vital to someone else).

2. Any resentment at “being singled out,” should disappear quickly. Coaching is a profound gift from the company. It demonstrates the company’s commitment to the employee – and shows (through hard earned cash) how much he/she is valued.

3. The workers who most need training will receive more individual time and attention. I will be able to fully teach listening techniques or emotional awareness, without needing to rush through key skills. I’ll be able to answer questions, objections, or confusions.

4. During the coaching session, through intense listening, I can create trust and build a bridge of empathy. I’ll have time to help the employee understand the “whys” of a skill, not just the “how.” The participant will be more motivated, knowing that the session is being tailored just for him/her. Conversely, a large group in training may be less engaged. They may feel that the training isn’t really meant for them. The few employees who really need the training are also less open. They don’t see the need, or they resent the plan.

How much is a calmer, more efficient workplace worth? While it may look more economical to train larger numbers, if our goal is to solve problems at work, one on one coaching may be a better solution.
© 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Making Training Stick

I presented DDI’s Supporting Leadership Development workshop yesterday. This program offers best practices for how to make training stick. The attendees (a stellar group of manufacturing managers) devoured the materials. They understood how vital their role is—before, during, and after training. We talked about soft and hard measurements of training success, the obstacles within their culture, and some of the core content they could model for their learners.

Training is not a single event. To obtain lasting impact, training must be reinforced and aligned with daily goals. Learners will make mistakes and face anxiety. Managers play a vital role in offering reassurance and support during the learning process.

I admired these managers. They have committed themselves to a great deal of additional work--to mentor a new generation of leaders. It will not be easy. But the rewards are great. With perseverance, they will not only help develop new leaders, but also continue to model an organization that values learning.
© 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Take Time for Yourself

In this era of technological wonders, accepting our human limitations may be the greatest time management challenge we face

Are you taking time to refresh, recharge, and contemplate?

© 2010 Laura Lewis-Barr all rights reserved