Staying Connected – We’re Better Together

I produced a video yesterday for our local leadership networking forum, First Fridays Fort Wayne.  I wanted to share the text of what I said on video.  This is all about how we can stay connected during this quarantine environment that we are all hoping ends soon.

child zoon

…We’ve moved meetings and events to Zoom and Skype platforms.  We’ve been entertained by the sound of barking dogs, children asking a parent for something to eat, and squealing brakes of a garbage truck in front of our house while these meetings go on.  We’ve hoped and prayed our internet speed holds up.  We’ve been bombarded with emails, instant messages, and more meetings.

And we do all of this in relative isolation from each other.

We are suffering from what someone in our area has called technology fatigue.

Don’t get me wrong.  Technology is great!  But is cannot ultimately replace the face-to-face interactions that so many of us are missing.

So how can you stay connected professionally during this quarantine?

  1. Talk with another leader outside of your company. Pick up the phone, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, etc. Literally, talk with someone you were connected with prior to the quarantine.  It does not have to be about work or your career.  Just make a person-to-person contact.  A friend called me the other day to ask some questions.  It was SO GOOD to hear his voice.  We need this kind of interaction.  Just like the old telephone commercial says, “Reach out and touch someone.”  (just don’t physically touch them…we’re not supposed to do that!)  You get the jist…

Contact me

  1. LinkedIn connections. So many of you are on LinkedIn today.  This is a great tool to stay connected.  When you read someone’s post, comment on it.  Send them a message.

 

  1. Write a note and mail it. Let me say that again – write someone a note and mail it.  That still works!  Encourage someone.  Tell them you are thinking of them.  Ask them to pass this idea along and to send someone they know a similar note.

 

  1. Email someone. About once a month, I send a few people an email thanking them for their contribution to our community.  I thank them for how their company is positively impacting us all.  It makes a difference in that person’s life.  Try it.

book                                                          podcast

  1. Recommend a book to read or a podcast to listen to. Do this through your socially media channels.  There are many of us out here who are looking for the next book to read or a podcast that will help us grow.  You can be a resource for someone’s personal, professional growth.

 

  1. Even in the midst of a quarantine, you can network. Attend a First Fridays online event.  As I shared earlier, we have some great online events coming in May. Greater Fort Wayne (our local chamber of commerce) is offering a variety of sessions with flexible times/days to connect with others.  Take advantage of these great opportunities.  Make technology work for you to network!

 

  1. Give back. We all know how devastating this quarantine has been.  So many businesses are at risk of closing never to open again. I’ve driven by small businesses in town seeing their site closed with For Sale signs out front.   Support local businesses in any way you can.  Order carry out from local restaurants.  Buy a t-shirt from them.  Buy other products that they offer.  Recently I order a t-shirt and hand sanitizer from Three Rivers Distillery Company here in Fort Wayne.  It was a simple way to support a local company who has pivoted their business to serve the needs of our community.  It was an investment of $24 from me to do this.

three rivers distillery

 

hand santizer

 

I hope that this quarantine comes to an end very soon.  We need to get our economies going and growing again.  But in the meantime, do what you can to connect with local leaders.

Let’s keep our community’s foundation strong.  Encourage one another.  Help one another.

As my new t-shirt says, “We’re better together.” 

Invest in Praising Someone

big potentialI am currently reading Big Potential by Shawn Achor.  It is a great book, and Shawn is challenging my thinking and reminding me of some great truths.

In today’s reading (chapter 5), Shawn shared some strategies to “enhance your resources.”  One of these resources is praise.  “Praise,” as Shawn states, “is actually a renewable resource…praise primes the brain for higher performance, which means that the more we praise, the more success we create.”

I’m pretty certain that the teams we lead could use more praise.  Praise that inspires them.  Praise that sparks some new idea.  Praise that builds up the individual and the team so that they commit to success and excellence.

One of the ideas Shawn encourages the reader to try is this:  Every morning, write a simple yet detailed message (text, email, actual card you mail) to someone in your life.  In this message, tell them “thank you” and “I appreciate you.”.  Be specific and authentic.

This not only will brighten that person’s day, but it will cause your brain to seek out others who you can encourage tomorrow and the next day and the next.

I did this today already.  It’s 7:59 am.  I have sent a “happy birthday” email to a mentor of mine.  He has blessed my life in so many ways.  I have told him so and today I told him he also blesses so many others – in fact, he is heading to Michigan today to give a talk.  I know that the audience will love what he shares.

I texted my 14 year old son.  He set out to improve his grades this year.  And he has done  it.  He’s been consistent.  He’s focused on his goal.  I told him all this and how I much I notice this and appreciate this.

I emailed my worship pastor.  Last night as we together lead worship with a group of nearly 150 kids, I majorly screwed up the intro to the first song.  I mean I was on a totally different planet than the rest of the band – and I had the lead part!  After our set, I apologized to Sam.  He didn’t scold me.  He laughed with (at?) me.  I deserved it.  He is so gracious.  He keeps the bigger picture in perspective – nobody went to hell because of my mistake.  I told him I appreciate him.

So, I encourage you now to take a moment to find someone to thank and/or appreciate.  Text them.  Email them.  Send them a card.  Use a social media messenger.  But do it.

As Shawn wrote in chapter 5:

dont be merely good

Creating Culture Confidence by Jim Johnson

In this final post on Culture Confidence, I want to share some practical things you can do to help build your company’s culture and by merely doing these, you will gain more confidence in becoming a team member who PROMOTES, PRACTICES, and PROTECTS your culture.

Just do it.  Intentionally, sincerely PROMOTE, PRACTICE, and PROTECT your company’s culture.  I know this sounds obvious, but we are all prone to getting in and remaining in a rut at work (and in life).  Watch and listen to your work environment and find ways to positively impact others.  Such as…

spotlight

 

Spotlight coworkers.  If your company periodically recognizes outstanding work coming from the team, do you part by nominating someone for this recognition. Even if the other person never knows you nominated them, do it!

 

High 5.  At my company, we have developed a way to send digital “High 5’s” to coworkers when we “catch them” doing great things.  This High 5 – one of our superstars created this process in Hyland’s OnBase – is a simple form filled out and then sent to the identified team member and sent to their supervisor.  The supervisor can then save this to our company’s performance software for review considerations.

thank you

Thank You Notes.  Yes, actually sit down and in your own hand writing jot down your appreciation of someone and send it to them.  Or walk it to their desk and give it to them.  People LOVE to receive these.  Be thoughtful and specific.

 

“I appreciate you.”  This one may be a little bit harder for some of us, but actually tell someone you appreciate them – out loud.  Or at least write it down and send your thoughts to them in a note, email, instant message (not my favorite because it typically cannot be saved).  These are powerful words that can turn someone’s day around, lift their spirits, and build better relationships.

Assume the Best.  Too often, culture suffers because we assume the worst.  Turn it around.  Assume in best in what you are hearing or seeing.  If an email comes off fuzzy in its meaning, get up and go talk with the sender to get the clear meaning.  Assume the best.  And expect the best – from yourself and your team members.

 

questionsAsk Questions.  Asking great questions will help you get to the heart of an issue.  Asking great questions helps you learn more about a person’s role in a project.  Asking great questions helps you understand the other person’s point of view.  Ask great questions and listen carefully.

 

coffeeLunch/Coffee.  Ask a colleague out to lunch/coffee with no agenda other than to get to know them better.  How do you do that?  Ask great questions about them.  It may shock your colleague, but this earns great relationship dividends.

 

Self-Talk.  Be careful of what you say when you talk to yourself.  We so easily talk ourselves out of becoming more confident.  We talk ourselves down when considering our performance.  Your company hired YOU.  Step up and shine!  Reprogramming your self-talk will surely help you to become more confident in your work, your behaviors, your thinking, and your significance.  You are worth it.

We spend so much of our lives at work.  Let’s make that work meaningful by creating great company cultures.

You will benefit from this.  Your team will benefit.  Your company will grow.  Your community will be positively impacted.  Your customers will notice.

Culture Confidence.  We can do this.

smartselectimage_2016-05-04-09-52-36.png

What Great Mentors Do

I attended a meeting a week or so ago on mentoring.  At this meeting, several people shared about mentoring from different points of view.  One of the speakers was a young man, Brad Thomas.  He shared how being mentoring has changed his perspective and life.  His presentation was outstanding.

He shared that he believed a great mentor does 4 things for their “mentee”.  Here is it:

Great Mentors

So, leaders, are you a mentor?  If not, find someone today!  Our company promotes this and many of us are actively mentoring.  When you get this privilege, don’t forget Brad’s words:

  • Expand – a great mentor will expand someone’s world-view.  They will expand knowledge and help point to resources.
  • Engage – a great mentor will cause the “mentee” to think and act.
  • Encourage – a great mentor will build up the “mentee” and help them build on their strengths.
  • Empower – a great mentor will reveal to the “mentee” that they have power to act and make an impact.

Make the investment to pour yourself into the life of another.  It is so worth it!

To Encourage or Not by Jim Johnson

image

We’ve probably all had this kind of manager – the person everyone fears to annoy, anger, or simply encounter.  This manager’s words and actions are harsh, demening at times, and down right nasty. 

What kind of productivity does this sort of person get from his/her team?  Just enough.  Just enough performance from the team to avoid being yelled at, threatened, and targeted. 

A team that produces “just enough” will eventually produce less and less. Team members will come and go and the productivity, as well as the very life of the team, will dwindle.

There is a better way. 

In his book, “Life is a Series of Presenations”, Tony Jeary quotes University of Michigan psychology professor James V. McConnell who said, “People who smile tend to manage, teach and sell more effectively, and to raise happier children.  There’s far more information in a smile than in a frown. That’s why encouragement is a much more effective teaching device than punishment.”

Think of your team right now.  Who needs to take their performance to the next level?  Who has recently demonstrated a behavior that is hurting the team? Who seems to be in a slump?

How you interact with this team member will make all the difference in the world in turning the situation around. 

Smiling and being encouraging isn’t giving them a pass.  As a leader, you want to connect with your team member.  By being abrasive, you are putting up walls.  Communication and understanding is being impeded. 

A positive approach to leading people breaks down walls.  It brings life to your relationships.  Your team will be more open to your guidance and coaching.  Your team will become loyal.  Others will want to join your team. 

Remember this thought from Tony: “The substance of your communication is the response it generates.”