Taking a Moment to Connect

I am working near one of my groups this week. About 30 minutes ago, one of our newest team members walked up and asked if he could chat. He wanted to tell me what he was learning from a book I bought for him a month ago. He also asked what activities I had been involved with recently. I shared with him my experiences with our local Chamber of Commerce annual meeting as well as the leadership networking group I co-founded with my brother (www.firstfridaysfw.org). We talked of attending events together to get some networking experience under his belt.

Just a few moments, I was reminded of the power of staying close to your teams. I currently work in another building or at home most of the time. But this brief encounter reminded me how much touch points such as this one charges my batteries. Question: what do you do to connect with your teams?

Trust & Vulnerability

So a manager you lead approaches you to say they need time off to deal with significant family issues. You can hear the tension in their voice. What do you do?

  1. Listen to them. Hear their emotion. Accept that emotion.
  2. Ask appropriate questions. “Are you worried about work?” “What can I do to help you and your family during this time?” Connect with your team member.
  3. Feel. Feel what they are feeling. If you are not an emotional person, that’s ok. Work hard to empathize with them. They need to know you understand (even in part) what they are going through.
  4. Think. Think of actionable things YOU can do to make them feel less guilty about work, take the load off of their shoulders and place the work load on you and their team members. It’s not a forever thing, but you can communicate and demonstrate “we are here for you” during this difficult time.
  5. Act. Set up a time to meet prior to their leave of absence to plan the course of action.
  6. Follow-up/Follow-through. Keep the communication going for the entire team. Touch base with this team member.

This is a crucial time to communicate how much you value your team member. Difficult times come – that’s life. But with some intention, care and concern, as well as humanity, you help your team member navigate through their current stormy waters.

If you have built trust within your team, this is a critical time to put that to the test. Allow vulnerability. Allow tears. Encourage communication and promise it. Be human.

VULNERABILITY QUOTES [PAGE - 22] | A-Z Quotes

What Happens When You Appreciate a Team Member

Kim Harrison writes: “Appreciation is a fundamental human need. Employees respond to appreciation expressed through recognition of their good work because it confirms their work is valued by others. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity rises, and they are motivated to maintain or improve their good work. Gallup studies show employee recognition is the key factor influencing employee engagement, and therefore organizational performance.”

When was the last time you took the time to write a note or email of appreciation to a team member of yours? Or even shared this with them face-to-face (or via Skype/Zoom)?

For some leaders, this is difficult. Hopefully, the old-school thought patterns are fading away (i.e. “You get a paycheck – there’s your appreciation from me!”). Maybe some leaders are afraid that if they give this affirmation to an employee, that employee will no longer work hard to be successful for the company (this was actually said to me years ago). And then, some leaders have never had this modeled in their own lives.

But as leaders, it is critically important that we exercise this appreciation muscle with our team members. Here is what I have found to be impactful.

APPRECIATION:

  • Make it specific. Appreciate them and tell them why. What brought this on from you (especially if this is new for you)? Tell them what they did that caused this appreciation.
  • Make it personal. Recognize the individual’s work. Don’t dilute it by being vague. If you would like more of what you are seeing in them, fan the specific flame in your appreciation. You will see that they will will be inspired to do more, be more (see above quote).
  • Make it timely. Catch someone doing the right thing and let them know soon. It does not take long to write a specific, personal appreciation note/email. They will connect the dot from what they did that is bringing on this appreciation and your encouragement. Weeks or months later will not work. Appreciate now or very soon.

Employee Appreciation Quotes & Sayings | Employee Appreciation Picture  Quotes

More of. Less of.

On this early morning (4:51 am) of September 11, I woke up with this on my mind.

Tony Jeary first introduced me to an idea, a concept that changes lives. This idea helps people become better. Goals become focused. Behaviors take on new meaning. This is not only practical – it is doable.

More of. Less of.

Think about a goal you have:

  • Monthly sales goal
  • Weight loss
  • Self-development
  • Relationships

Now that you’ve got that one goal in mind, ask yourself, “What can I do more of to move me closer to my goal?” Then ask, “What do I need to do less of that is hindering me from achieving my goal?”  Now go do it!

It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? We already know what we need to do more of to hit sales goals (more calls, more follow-ups/follow-throughs). We already know what we need more of to become healthier (drink more water, exercise, eat more veggies). And you can list what you need to do less of to develop yourself into becoming the better version of where you are today (i.e. less TV?). And you have a lot of experience already to know what you need more of and less of to make your relationships thrive.

Let’s broaden this thought out. My country…our world…needs more of something, and it all needs less of something.

  • Prosperity?
  • Equity?
  • Justice?
  • Violence?
  • Chaos?

What I woke up to was this: more love. This is not new. This is not radical. This is and has been the answer forever. And we all know how to do more love.

  • Smile – let your spirit brighten someone else’s day.
  • Laugh – it’s healing.
  • Care – do something for your elderly neighbor. Buy someone’s meal at a restaurant (without them knowing it was you). Volunteer.

What do you think would happen in our world if everyone did one random act of kindness today? Just one. More love. That’s what would happen.

So, why don’t we? Perhaps we are so wrapped up in ourselves that we become blind to others. Maybe we are so inwardly focused on our own fears, worries, anxieties that we cannot see how others struggle. Perhaps we need less focus on ourselves and more attention on those around us.

Today I challenge myself – and you – to do more of something that moves you towards love in your part of the world.

  • Smile more.
  • Tell someone you appreciate them. Literally, tell them and be specific.
  • Be helpful.
  • Compliment more.
  • Find the good in someone else.
  • Say “thank you” often.
  • Email/Call someone you have not been in contact with. Tell them you have been thinking about them.
  • Do a random act of kindness.

In my country, today is a somber day. We remember a day filled with hate, destruction, and murder. But we also remember more about our heroes who gave their lives so others lived. We remember a city that rebuilt itself as our nation rebuilt its hope. We remember buildings filled with people who loved others, helped others, and inspired others in the face of unspeakable horror. We remember.

And today, we do more. We love…more. And one by one, person by person, this love changes our nation and our world.

 

Tuesday Tip – Who else would benefit from knowing this?

Many of you read articles, blog posts, books or listen to a TED talk and you are inspired. You learn something new. You actually make changes in your professional/personal life as a result. Does it all end there…with you?

My tip for today is take this one step further. Why else would benefit from knowing or getting exposed to this information?

  • Your team?
  • Your colleagues?
  • Another leader in your community?
  • Your family?
  • Your mentor or mentee?

Of course learning and developing as a leader is critically important. Take it one more step and share what you have learned with someone else. Email them a link to that blog post. Send them a podcast link. Take a photo of a powerful paragraph and email that to them. Share what you’ve learned over coffee or lunch.

Some folks will be receptive to this. Others will not. You’ll learn who is open to this. Focus on adding value. This sharing – it is about them, not about you. You could help someone launch something incredible in their life!

Be Passionate by Jim Johnson

To many folks, this idea sounds too dramatic.  Why be passionate about your job or even your company?  Well, you are investing a significant amount of time each year at work.  Why not throw yourself into what you do?  Why not seek the real purpose behind what it is that you do?

Do you know what you company’s vision/mission statement is?  If you do, write it down below:

My company’s purpose is to…

Why is this idea so important?  Perhaps this can be answered by asking this question:  would you want to work at a job where there was no meaningful purpose to what you produced? 

But I hear you say, “I just work on an assembly line.”  “I only balance a GL.”  “I have to answer the phone and hope to not get yelled at.”  “I cash checks and make deposits.”  “I have to make sure items are stocked on the shelves on time and answer questions from customers.”

What is the real purpose behind your job?  Do you know? 

Years ago, I traveled from Indiana to Orlando, Florida.  I spent the night in Indianapolis at a La Quinta Inn prior to leaving on a very early morning flight.  I was allowed to leave my car at the hotel instead of paying for short-termed parking (a great service).  I was shuttled to the airport and told to call the hotel back when I returned so they could pick me up.

When I returned, I called La Quinta.  I was informed that their shuttle van was broken down.  I was then instructed to take a taxi back to the hotel and they would pay for the fare (they did).  After I loaded my luggage into my car for the drive home, I discovered that my battery was dead (it was winter and very cold out).  I went inside to call AAA.  While I was on hold, the front desk manager asked what had happened.  I told her. 

“Oh, hang up, honey.  We’ll take care of you!”  And they did!  Within 20 minutes the hotel manager (it was his day off) drove to the hotel, jumped-started my car and I was on my way home.  The hotel personnel all treated me as if I was the most important person around.  They did it with smiles and enthusiasm.  I felt as if I had known these folks for years.  They were genuinely nice.  La Quinta’s brand statement is “wake up on the bright side”.  They certainly brightened my day more than once. 

If you work on an assembly line, focus on the product your team is producing and the part you play in this process.  If it is manufacturing a car, you are not just working on an assembly line.  You are creating a quality driving experience for the consumer. 

If you work in a call center, you are serving your customers by listening to their issues and providing solutions that can help them save them time, save them money or fulfill a need.  If you wait tables at a local restaurant, you are actually selling an experience rather than merely getting hot food to patrons on time. The better the experience, the more likelihood the customer will be back and even recommend others to visit your eatery. 

You can personally impact your company’s success!

Being the right person means you will passionately discover and live the true purpose behind your job.

From The Path to Promotion: by Jim Johnson

You are a Marvel

Pablo Casals, the famous cellist, composer, conductor, once said (modified a bit):  

“Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all of the world there is no other person exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another person like you… You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. You must cherish one another. You must work—we must all work—to make this world worthy of each of us.”

Do you approach your day with this mindset? What would change if you did?

I’m inspired. Oh, how our world would change for the better if we all worked “to make the world worthy of each of us.”

You are a marvel.

Gourmet Chicken Salad – Making My Wife’s Lunch

I love to cook, and I love to create. I also love my wife very much! So I make her lunch on the days she goes into the office.

So today, I’m sharing a simple lunch salad recipe my wife loves. Why? We are called to serve others – for me, this starts at home.

Gourmet Chicken Salad by Jim Johnson

Ingredients:

* 2 boneless, skinless grilled chicken thighs (or half of a chicken breast) – note: this is a great way to use leftover grilled chicken from the night before. I marinate mine in a sesame ginger marinade. I find this makes the best tasting chicken for the salad.)

* 5-7 green seedless grapes cut in half

* 1 Tbsp of a great relish – I use Sechler’s Hungarian sweet relish. It’s made about 40 minutes north of my city. Simply the best relish!

* 1 overflowing Tbsp of mayonnaise (use your favorite)

* iceberg lettuce chopped

* fresh spinach chopped

Putting it together: Simply mix the grapes, relish, mayo, and chopped chicken together. Place on the lettuce/spinach.

Try this easy and incredibly tasty salad.

From Depression to Stronger Together

In Shawn Achor’s book, Big Potential, he shares this sobering data:

“The average age of being diagnosed with depression in 1978 was twenty-nine.  In 2009, the average age was fourteen and a half.  Over the past decade, depression rates for adults have doubled, as have hospitalizations for attempted suicide for children as young as eight years old.  What could possibly have changed so much to account for this?”

Achor points to rise of technology and social media.  For kids, there is a never-ending need to announce accomplishments and the whirlpool of competition (from boyfriends to athletic prowess to stupid tricks to selfies) keeps spinning faster and faster dragging more and more people in.  And then there is the pressure that continues to ramp up in schools and on the athletic fields and arts platforms.   Better grades.  Higher batting average.  Flawless performances.  Pressure! Pressure!  Pressure!

For adults, it is not much different.  Promotions, projects, and performance all set the stage for continual pressure points.

Achor’s challenge and call is for us to understand that our potential is “interconnected with others.”  “We need to stop trying to be faster alone, and start working to become stronger together.”

Good words for today, right?

We are about to enter a time when we need each other more than ever.  When the economy opens back up, we face choices.  Everyone for themselves or everyone helping each other to recover.  People want and need to get back on their feet.  Each of us can help someone succeed.  How?

  • Be an encourager.
  • Help someone find work.
  • Listen to a hurting friend.
  • Support a local business and encourage others to do the same.
  • Celebrate someone else’s win.

“Because when we work to help others achieve success, we not only raise the performance of the group, we exponentially increase our own potential…making others better takes your success to the next level.”

happiness Achor